Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dating Boot Camp: Part Two

Tuesday night, the second part of Dating Boot Camp at Lord & Taylor featured a Q&A with “The Man Panel.”

Taking part in the panel were Cosmopolitan editor Ky Henderson, YourTango.com's Tom Miller, Thrillist.com founder and editor-in-chief Adam Rich, SexySlang.com’s Tom Scofield and From Schlub to Stud author Max Gross.


The Man Panel: (from left) Tom Scofield, Tom Miller, Max Gross, Ky Henderson and Adam Rich

Married NYC-based dating coaches Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal fielded questions from the inquisitive crowd, including yours truly.

Earlier, the duo had advised against talking too much about yourself on a first date. So I posed the question -- what do you do when a guy doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise?

“Time him,” Matt said without missing a beat. “Then tell him ‘you’ve been talking about yourself for 15 minutes. Now I’m going to do the same and you’re going to ask me interesting questions. Go!’ "

Another single lady asked, should you end a first date with a kiss? Adam and most other guys on the panel shared my point of view on this (assuming the chemistry is there, of course) -- absolutely.

Adam also weighed in on the meat market mentality of guys in the Big Apple. He admitted that men aren’t easily captivated because they know they’re in a city teeming with smart, attractive women. To quantify that, Matt cited the well-known stat that there are 200,000 more single women than men here in Gotham. How reassuring.

After the Q&A: Dating coach and author Tamsen Fadal and me

After the Q&A, everyone made their way to Lord & Taylor’s little black dress section for complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Matt happily dispensed no-nonsense advice to inquiring women, among them one whose current beau has a penchant for last-minute plans (“He’s got a girlfriend,” he told her).

Matt Titus listening to the ladies at Dating Boot Camp

He also filled me in about PerfectFind.com, the new dating website he and Tamsen are starting. Though I’ve about had my fill of Match.com and the like, I’m signing up for this one. It’s free and it encourages friends (i.e. wingmen) to join too.

Dating Boot Camp continues with two more Tuesday sessions on June 2nd and June 9th. For more info, visit Lord and Taylor’s website.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Say It With SingleTease

When it comes to meeting members of the opposite sex, I’m a big believer in thinking outside the box -- or, in the case of SingleTease, inside the wardrobe.

Launched by single ladies Tamera Lawrence and Kristin Moore, SingleTease makes fun and flirty t-shirts designed to be conservation starters.

“Our male friends are surprised when we tell them that guys don't approach us,” the duo writes on their website. “So we started to think…are they intimidated by the idea of starting a conversation? Is there a way we could let them know that we’re available…and approachable?”

Their sassy SingleTees keep it simple, emblazoned with quick one-liners like “just ask me (out)” and “support your local library (check me out).” Mariah Carey wore one -- “boy scouting (are you prepared?)" -- in her “Touch My Body” video.

The pre-shrunk cotton shirts cost $28 -- cheaper than two months of online dating membership. That's my kind of recessionista bargain. I can’t wait to order mine and let the flirting begin.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dating Boot Camp: The Look Men Love

Tuesday night, I headed over to Lord & Taylor for Dating Boot Camp with married NYC matchmaking duo and bestselling authors Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal.

After grabbing a glass of free champagne, I took my seat among the sassy audience of about 125 women for a lively two-hour session about “The Look Men Love.”

Dating Boot Camp: Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal with (left) Cosmopolitan editor Ky Henderson and YourTango.com's Tom Miller

Citing a poll of 5,000 singles, Matt and Tamsen confirmed what most of us already know – looks are what attracts a man first (versus financial status and personality, the top two draws for women). And nothing’s sexier than confidence. The kind of confidence, they said, always exemplified by the Bond Girl.

Of the many tips Matt and Tamsen offered women on the prowl (always look your best, maximize your assets, etc.), my favorite was about keeping your eyes open.

“Lift your head and put it on a swivel,” Matt said. “You can’t schedule love.”

He’s right. Especially in a city like New York, you can never underestimate the power of looking around. Smiling at a stranger, or even being bold enough to say hello, can lead to a surprise connection. If nothing else, it offers the opportunity to flirt – a skill that’s always fun to practice.

Coming up…Q&A with the man panel at Dating Boot Camp and dreaming big during a girls night out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Drinks With NYPD Blue

Last week, I met up with 37-year-old Long Island native Rich, a member of Match.com and the NYPD.

Over drinks at Merchant’s on NYC’s Upper East Side, Rich filled me in about his legendary barbecuing talents and what led him to life on the beat.

Merchant’s: Rich and I enjoyed drinks at this UES bar/restaurant/cigar lounge hybrid

After a stint in the military and a semester of studying public health at the graduate level -- with a detour in Russia to learn the language -- Rich went to the police academy, eventually finding himself working one of the city’s toughest sections, the South Bronx.

I couldn’t resist asking Rich to give me the 411 on what being part of NY’s Finest is really like. He happily dispelled some myths and clarified others.

Of the multi-talented, charismatic cops on shows like CSI who also happen to be forensic experts, Rich told me -- they don’t exist. Detectives don’t typically do double duty, while forensic guys tend to be nerdy science geeks.

As for donuts hitting the NYPD blue’s sweet spot, that’s true. But only, Rich explained, because they’re easy to find and quick to consume, the latter being especially important when suddenly dispatched to a crime scene mid-bite.

Rich has been shot at, chased drug dealers and faced down hostile crowds. But, he said modestly, it’s all in a day’s work -- and most days involve a lot of waiting around.

After humoring me in my interrogation, Rich showed equal interest in my day job, and in checking out the new Yankee Stadium together on a second date. Our evening ended with him walking me home and giving me a chaste kiss on the cheek.

A cute cop who likes the Bronx Bombers and loves to cook. Take me out to the ballgame!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kansas City Getaway: Part Two

My weekend in Kansas City with best galpal Lisa continued on Saturday, with a visit to Briarcliff Village.

An upscale shopping and restaurant complex set on a hill, Briarcliff is home to The Spa Tuscano, where Lisa treated me to a heavenly facial.

Spa Tuscano: First class pampering in the City of Fountains

I felt relaxed right away, thanks to a warm welcome from Tuscano’s friendly staff.

We were given a quick tour of the spa, which boasts signature rooms such as the Amazon RiverWalk (pictured above and featuring a fireplace, whirlpool and massage table) and the Tuscano Float, offering flotation therapy. Complimentary with all services – the European Bath Ritual, a haven of jetted pools with faux cliffs and waterfalls.

After unwinding robe-clad for a few minutes in the Ana Capri Lounge, I was whisked into a treatment room by the lovely Diane.

Sixty minutes later, my skin was exfoliated, toned and moisturized – and, if I do say so myself, positively glowing. I briefly contemplated leaving my pores in peace and never wearing makeup again.

Diane spoke with great affection for my hometown, quipping at the end of my facial—

“We’re not New York, we’re just Kansas City!”

When it comes to first class pampering, KC more than holds its own with the Big Apple. Lisa and I are already planning a return visit to Spa Tuscano next time I’m in town.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Getaway: Kansas City

Friday night, my weekend jaunt to Kansas City kicked off with dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants.

My best galpal Lisa and I, along with Beth, one of her other longtime close friends, headed to Brio, an Italian bistro in the heart of The Plaza, KC’s charming downtown district.

Girls Night Out: Lisa, Beth and me at Brio in Kansas City’s Plaza district

We started off with some sangria and a mouth-watering spinach and artichoke dip (the best I’ve ever had). Next, I enjoyed shrimp and crab cakes with roasted vegetables, stealing a few bites of Lisa’s lasagna along the way.

As we savored our delicious meal and the attentive service of our perky waiter Jeremy, the three of us talked about flirting with men in hotel lobbies, dealing with sibling dramas and having kids when you’re over 35.

A married mom who had her daughter after 35, Beth got me thinking about fertility and being proactive about tilting the reproductive odds in my favor.

Eventually, we moved onto lighter conversational fare and a third course. Resistance to dessert proved futile when Jeremy showed us a tempting tray of demitasse cups filled with such delights as chocolate cake and Tiramisu. I opted for the vanilla crème brûlée. Divine.

After dinner, we headed upstairs to Brio’s cozy bar and lounge, where Brazilian-born manager Carolina treated us to a round of drinks.

As we raised our glasses, I thought of the gracious hospitality that characterizes the City of Fountains -- and how lucky I am to have a best friend who exemplifies it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Musing About May-December Love

When it comes to May-December romance, I’m about as intimately acquainted with it as Mr. and Mrs. Kutcher.

Ashton and Demi: the poster couple for May-December love

My first two boyfriends were 16 years older than me. And my late and much-loved parents (who adored each other) had a 25-year age difference between them.

For as much, though, as I’ve always been and continue to be drawn to older men, I know the May-December dynamic isn’t for everyone. And that in some cases, it’s downright creepy.

Take, for example, the sixty year old guy who recently emailed my 25-year-old friend Diana through a dating site -- eight times. In his ninth attempt to make contact, he asked why she wasn't responding to his messages.

“Sorry,” she said politely. “I think our age difference is too steep and I'm just not interested. Thanks, though, and good luck!"

His response, as another friend of mine quipped, suggests he hasn’t dealt with rejection since the Reagan years--

“I'm surprised that someone who claims to be so sweet would make a nasty, gratuitous comment like that. A simple no would have been fine. That comment was very nasty for no reason. But I feel better as I never want to be with a mean person and that was, needlessly, mean. I bet I still see your [profile] for a long time.”

I guess even among the AARP set, ettiquette is fleeting in cyberspace.

Up next…drinks with a member of NY’s Finest and Single Gal In The City--the book?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Seven

Once you’ve endured the drama of a long-distance relationship, it makes finding love of the local variety even sweeter. So it was when I began dating 36-year-old Brooklyn native Larry.

Larry and I met while I was temping at the Thomson Financial subsidiary where he worked. After my summer stint ended, I took the initiative to ask him out -- prompted largely by weeks of playful flirting between us.

Valentine’s Day Surprise: A dozen roses from Larry, February 1996

Like my California-based ex, Mark, Larry was sixteen years older than me and divorced. Tall, brooding and brilliant, Larry captivated me with his intellect and touched me with his tenderness.

A complicated man whose gruff exterior belied a hopeless romantic streak, Larry treated every date like our first -- and treated our age difference as an asset rather than a liability.

Still, our relationship was not without its complications, some of which stemmed from the major professional exam looming before him -- and the revelation that he still occasionally used recreational drugs. I now Open The Vault to Volume #63 and take you back to the spring of 1996...

April 28th, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

Larry and I shared a blissful reunion when I returned from my business trip to Chicago. I was glowing the next morning (as I usually do after our encounters).

But I can’t deny my anxiety about his drug use. Granted, he’s kept his promise to keep it away from me, but that doesn’t make it any less frightening.

He first told me back in February of his long history with recreational drugs. I remember going to the bathroom and thinking I would have nothing more to do with him.

But then, as it often happens with us, I became engrossed in our conversation -- and overwhelmed by the passion between us.

* * *

May 6th, 1996

Last night, we went for a walk along the river and addressed the drug issue. I told Larry it’s going to take time for me to deal with what he told me.

As he spoke of the future, and how spending more time together this summer would prove I can trust him, I wondered whether I wanted things between us to progress that far. He said he felt tainted.

“You’re one of the best things that’s happened to me this year,” Larry declared. “And I don’t want to lose something good because of something bad and because I was honest.”

“You once told me that I had reawakened feelings in you that you haven’t had in a long time,” I reminded him.

“You have,” he said firmly.

“Well, you’ve done the same for me,” I said.

And he really has. Larry has made me feel things that, in the aftermath of breaking up with Sparky, I thought I would be numb to for a very long time. That being said, I’ve decided to wait a month before letting him go. There’s no point in hurting him before his exam.

* * *

Though Larry assured me his drug use was waning, it took time for me to believe him. Just as our relationship was getting back on an even keel, another unexpected development conspired to pull us apart.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

First Date Postscript: Paying It Forward


As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Jacques brought our recent date to a close pretty quickly.

I attributed his exit to lack of interest -- or the increasing recession trend among online guys to bolt after one hour and one cocktail.

Turns out I was wrong on both counts, as I learned when Jacques sent me the following email:

“I enjoyed getting together. I was attracted to you and I found you fun to talk with and was looking forward to getting together. Upon reflection, I do think that religion can be a problem. Like you said commonalities make a relationship more likely to succeed. I never had an expectation of a mate practicing a different faith. I wish differently. Best to you”

Jacques and I had talked about religion during our date. I reiterated what I said in my JDate profile, that I grew up in an interfaith family (Dad was Jewish, Mom was Catholic) and consider Judaism a part of my heritage but am a practicing Catholic. My beloved parents deftly negotiated their religious differences so that it wasn’t an issue between them.

Still, I understand being with someone of another faith isn’t a bridge some people want to cross -- and I respect Jacques for being so gracefully candid about saying so.

I told him as much in an email, adding that I’d love to stay in touch, and set him up with some of my Jewish friends. He responded like the perfect gentleman that he seems to be.

“I'd really appreciate the introduction. We're both in the same boat-just trying to make a deep and enduring connection. I would be happy to reciprocate when I can.”

When you don’t click with a date, it’s nice to pay it forward and give someone else the chance to -- especially when the date is truly a great catch.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Smooth (But Short) First Date

Last Friday, I met up with 45-year-old Jdate.com member and radiologist Jacques at Accademia di Vino on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Accademia di Vino: One of the best wine bars and restaurants on the UES

Knowing from experience that older men tend to take dating more seriously, I opted to kick it up a notch wardrobe-wise and wear a dark blue Ann Taylor Loft sundress with a white Gap cardigan.

Jacques didn’t disappoint. Nixing the all too common first date attire of jeans and an untucked shirt, he showed up in a beige sports jacket and matching slacks with a striped collared shirt. Nice.

In keeping with his attire, Jacques' knowledge of local theater and literature was pretty sophisticated too. He mentioned recently rereading the French classic Madame Bovary, which led to a brief debate about the merits of fiction versus non-fiction. True to his y chromosome DNA, he admitted a preference for the latter.

Jacques expressed his appreciation that I emailed my phone number as soon as he contacted me on JDate. I told him I like to move things along, a preference he demonstrated in an unexpected way -- by bringing the evening to an end a little more than an hour after we’d sat down.

Just before parting company, Jacques said we should get together again sometime. I resisted the urge to laugh. If our first date wasn’t compelling enough to last more than 60 minutes, odds are there won’t be a second.

Still, our brief encounter was a much-needed reminder of how much fun it is to have a grown up date with grown up conversation. Even when you’re in your mid-thirties, that’s hard to come by.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Desire Under The Elms Scorches

Last weekend, my friend Leila and I went to see “Desire Under The Elms.”

Robert Falls’ production of the revered Eugene O’Neill classic about longing and deception pulls you in right away. Two siblings struggle to build a stone wall in oppressive heat, an example of the hard labor they’ve been forced into by their widowed father Ephraim (Brian Dennehy).

At odds with their stepbrother Eben (Pablo Schreiber) over who will inherit the family’s farm, the men sell their shares and take off for California. Eben is left to battle it out with his father and the young new bride Ephraim brings home, Abbie (Carla Gugino).

Carla Gugino as Abbie Putnam and Pablo Schreiber as Eben Cabot in “Desire Under the Elms" (photo courtesy: Liz Lauren/New York Times)

Embittered that the land of his late mother is up for grabs, Eben lashes out as Abbie plays the two men against each other to get what she wants. Hate soon gives way to passion for Abbie and Eben, with an affair that leads to a pregnancy -- and a devastating twist at the end.

Schreiber is explosive as the wronged son wanting to claim his birthright, while Dennehy is at his ferocious best in his portrayal of a patriarch who refuses to give up control. But the show truly belongs to Gugino, whose chilling performance of a woman blinded by love and desperation has you riveted until the final curtain call.

“Desire Under The Elms” is Greek tragedy at its best. The show’s shortened Broadway run wraps up on May 24th.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Celebrating Travel Therapy

Last Thursday, my friend Lauren and I had the pleasure of meeting travel writer and author Karen Schaler at a signing for her new book, “Travel Therapy.”

Travelgirls: Author Karen Schaler and me at a Border’s book signing for “Travel Therapy”

Karen shared her experiences of travel therapy -- including a life-changing stint as an embedded Scottsdale TV reporter in Afghanistan.

“That trip was great therapy for me--as crazy as that sounds,” she says. “I loved the experience and was supposed to go back again with ground troops. When my tv station canceled, I knew I could do more then just cover local news. It made me realize life is short and I quit.”

And so, the idea of “Travel Therapy” was born. After several agents had expressed interest in her manuscript, Karen picked up and moved to NY without knowing a soul – optimistic that her idea would find a publisher. By the time her plane landed in the Big Apple, a publisher had signed her.

“Travel Therapy” features interviews with travel experts and therapists, and quizzes designed to help you find the perfect getaway for any occasion. And the stunning photography makes you want to book your next trip immediately.

Before Karen’s signing was over, I won one of the raffle prizes -- a spa gift certificate to Scottsdale’s swanky Phoenician Resort. The freebie might inspire Lauren and me to take a Southwestern girlfriends getaway this fall. Now that’s my idea of travel therapy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ladies Night Out: Double Header

Last Wednesday, I enjoyed a double dose of female bonding, beginning with a cocktail reception at the Ana Tzarev Gallery in Midtown celebrating Asian Contemporary Art Week.

While taking in Tzarev’s colorful, bold canvases, I caught up with friends and fellow writers Nadine and Gwen.

Nadine, Gwen and I enjoying cocktails and colorful art

Gwen filled us in on her birthday celebration at Feinstein’s at NYC’s Regency Hotel, where her longtime friend, actress Tyne Daly surprised her with a special serenade. Nadine and I mused about old flames – the one she’s currently reconnecting with, and the one I’m happy to be leaving in the past because he’s been divorced three times.

With plans to get together again soon, we parted company and I headed over to Bar Italia on NYC's Upper East Side for drinks with J-school classmate and blogger Liz.

Liz has launched Travelogged, a fun and fabulous site that gives new meaning to the word wanderlust. We gushed about some of our favorite recent travels – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and St. John in the USVI for me, Costa Rica and California’s wine country for her.

While enjoying a scrumptious plate of Italian meats and cheeses complemented by a smooth Sauvignon Blanc, we also talked about the perils of class reunions (Liz skipped ours) and the perks of life in the blogosphere.

Coming up…a look at “Desire Under The Elms” and more outrageous online dating tales.

Monday, May 18, 2009

SATC 2: The Countdown Begins

Ever since the big screen sequel to “Sex and The City” was confirmed, there’s been much speculation about what comes next for Carrie Bradshaw & Co.

While the guessing games continue, I’m excited to report some official news about when and where filming for SATC 2 will take place.

New Yorkers -- myself included -- excitedly watched as SATC: The Movie filmed in the Big Apple back in ‘07

I learned today that the two-month shoot kicks off in NYC on August 19th. And that cast and crew will also spend two weeks filming in the United Kingdom.

What will take the fabulous four across the pond? How will Carrie and the girls express their passions for labels and love during an era of mortgages instead of Manolos? I can’t wait to find out, and to be front and center when they take over the streets of NYC once again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Singles Event Pick: Spring Tuesdays

One of my favorite rooftop bars is at the Empire Hotel on New York’s Upper West Side. From a Time Out New York summer soiree to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I’ve enjoyed many memorable evenings here.

NYC's Empire Hotel is hosting Spring Tuesdays

The Empire Hotel Rooftop is currently hosting Spring Tuesdays - Sunset Cocktails and (Free) Jazz. Music is performed by the Stephane Wrembel trio from 6:30 to 9:30pm and you can RSVP for the event here.

Spring Tuesdays run through May 26th. For a look at the swanky crowd that has attended so far, check out the Sunset Cocktails feature at GuestofaGuest.com.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Six

When you break up with someone, you inevitably find yourself wondering -- is it really over? It didn’t take long for that question to come up after ending my relationship with California-based beau Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

Single in St. Louis: A girlfriends getaway here was my first stop after calling it quits with Sparky, June 1995

Just one week after we said goodbye, Sparky called. And he continued calling on a regular basis, making it clear the door was open for us to see each other again. While slowly getting my bearings as a newly-single college grad, I also contemplated what the future would bring for our complicated love.

I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1995...

June 20th, 1995
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

Guess who just called? Sparky! He just returned from Hawaii and said he was calling to say “I love you.”

I apologized for being difficult when we were together.

“You, difficult?” he quipped and we both laughed.

I mentioned having a had a weird dream about being pregnant.

“I hope I was involved in that,” he said.

Before saying goodbye, Sparky promised to call before the week’s end.


Wow. I guess men really do want what they can’t have. Could it be that, now that we’ve ‘broken up,’ our relationship will be stronger?

I’m still intending to move full speed ahead with my life. But I can’t help liking the idea that Spark Plugs will still, somehow, be a part of it.

* * *
June 25th, 1995

Sparky called again today. He said he dreamt that I had called him to say I’d found a prince and was getting married.

“You’re not so easily replaced,” I assured him.

When I teased him about moving on with Polynesian princesses in Hawaii, he said firmly--

“It doesn’t work that way.”

Mom insists that I’ll hear from Sparky “400,000 more times" and that I can bank on him coming to New York before the year is out.

“When a man is in love,” she said, “he doesn’t give up.”

* * *

July 20th, 1995

I’m hanging in there. I still have my blue moments and I’m in dire need of a steady job and stable social life, but I’m okay. Being in touch with Mark takes some of the edge off my loneliness. Hopefully, a fling will occur sometime soon.

* * *
Much more than a fling awaited me when I began a temp job as a receptionist. One of my co-workers would end up becoming the next big thing romantically -- and showing me just how much better it is when your significant other is of the local variety.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Breaking The Rules

One of the big surprises of thirtysomething singlehood -- apart from the surprise of still being single -- is the attitude shift that happens when it comes to dating.

Call it a learning curve or mellowing with age, but the rules of dating become more bendable as you get older -- a welcome twist I’m rediscovering with Cedric.

The NY International Auto Show: Where Cedric and I first crossed paths


Cedric and I met last month at a gala preview for the New York Auto Show. Smart, adorable and Swiss born (yes, he has a sexy accent), he intrigued me right away.

We ended up sharing a few tipsy kisses and the next day, I found myself emailing Cedric to wish him well on his imminent vacation. He replied immediately, which encouraged me to initiate contact again after he returned a few weeks later.

During my twenties, making the first move after meeting a guy was unfathomable to me. After all, popular wisdom says that if a man is interested, he'll do the follow up, right?

While I’m still inclined to agree with that particular rule, I’m also finding that very liberating to depart from tradition and see what happens.

What’s happened here is Cedric asked me out and we met for drinks last week. The easy banter between us was still the same, the kissing still exhilarating. We’re seeing each other again on Monday.

It’s too soon to tell if all this chemistry will amount to more than a passing flirtation. Then again, isn’t that what breaking the rules is all about?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

By The Numbers: Girlfriend Getaways Edition

Next Friday, I’ll be heading to Kansas City to visit my best friend Lisa. We last saw each other in 2008 for a girlfriends getaway onboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.

Cruising Along: All smiles on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of The Seas, January 2008

In addition to our high seas adventure, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with many of my galpals over the years. From wine tasting in New York’s Finger Lakes region to castle tours in Scotland, girlfriend getaways have taken me to some of the world’s most magical places. Here are some of the highlights – By The Numbers:

Number of girlfriend getaways taken: 8
Number of girlfriend getaways involving road tripping and singing in the car: 4
Number of friends who made great roommates despite opposite body clocks: 2
Number of girlfriend getaways leading to unexpected romance with a fellow traveler: 1
Number of getaways featuring celebrity sightings and schmoozing: 1

That star-studded trip was to L.A. with Lisa back in 1997. She spotted Jay Leno at a local supermarket, while the both of us mingled with the cast of “General Hospital” at a fan club event for the show. Good times.

I’m looking forward to another memorable weekend with my best buddy of more than 20 years. And to seeing an old flame who just happens to live in her neck of the woods.

Coming up…flirtatious fun with an adorable European and drinks with this week’s JDate.com guy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Great JDate

Last week, I met up with fellow Upper East Sider and Jdate.com member Scott.

Our first stop was Per Lei, a hip neighborhood eatery that attracts a mixture of locals and Eurotrash. Over drinks at the bar, I soon learned that Scott and I have a few unfortunate experiences in common – losing a parent to cancer and dating people with pets.

Thankfully, we were able to share a few laughs about the latter. Scott became turned off to dogs after he got stuck walking one girlfriend’s Shitzu every day. When another significant other informed him three months in that she’d bought a pooch, he had an announcement of his own – it was over.

A very warm and smiley guy, Scott also impressed me with his varied career. After stints as a social worker and investment banker, he picked up and moved to China to launch his own teddy bear company (which explains his profile photo standing beside a giant bear).

Felice: This wine bar on the UES is a great date spot. And the Tuscan bread is delish.

At our second destination, the much quieter and more appealing wine bar Felice over on First Avenue, Scott told me about his current gig as a pet pharmaceutical sales rep. He filled me in on the science of making pet prescription drugs, a task he is occasionally charged with as the company’s backup pharmacist.

Though I tried to stay focused during his lengthy tangent, I could feel my eyes glazing over as he spoke of chemical compounds and pill pricing. A little science talk goes a long way.

Scott walked me home, squeezing my hand and giving me a quick kiss before saying goodnight.

He has since invited me to join him during one of his daily workouts. It's a departure from my idea of a traditional second date, but why not? With bathing suit season approaching, I need all the incentive I can get to set foot inside a gym.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Live Music Pick: J. Cabrera

Discovering fabulous new artists is one of the best parts of living in the Big Apple. One of my current favorites, singer/songwriter J. Cabrera, is performing tomorrow at Broadway Baby, a lounge and bistro in Midtown West.

J. Cabrera performing at The Set

I had the pleasure of hearing Cabrera not too long ago when he took the stage at The Set, Time Out New York’s free monthly performing arts showcase.

The nattily dressed singer knows how to deliver soulful R&B with a hint of Justin Timberlake. Ever the charmer, he says he got his start "singing in kindergarten to the pretty 5 year olds” in his class.

You can find out more about Cabrera on his MySpace page. “Imagine That” is a catchy tune worth downloading.

He’ll be performing at 8pm on Wednesday at Broadway Baby. For more info, visit the show’s Facebook Events page.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Outrageous Online Dating Tales: Part Two


In the uncertain world of online dating, romantic chemistry isn’t always easy to find. Also increasingly rare – the art of handling rejection gracefully.

Last week, a good friend of mine forwarded me an email exchange with a JDate.com bachelor whom she didn’t feel any sparks with. She politely told him her feelings:

“It was lovely meeting you, though to be honest, I don't think we are a match. I appreciate your not playing games and being very up front - it's sweet and flattering. I know you'll make "the" girl very happy one day. Best of luck in the search.”

This was his grammatically challenged response:

“I guess you should have told me right after we wet for yogurt that you didn’t feel it..I would have saved blowing the additional $20 at the shrimp bar. I would have much rather given the money to some beggar. I try to be mentsch and a gentleman and treat a girl with class, and what I get in return is, as to be expected from women like you, a punch in the gut…

When you are 40, and still single, which I am certain you will still be (no offense, just being candid) you will look back and say: wow I can’t have any kids at this age and I am all alone. There were so many guys out there that were nice to me, but I had to play “Miss Big Shot” and pray that a shining knight on a white horse from Jdate no less, will sweep me off my find. Get real and good luck to you too!”

So much for being a gentleman.

Speaking of ungentlemanly behavior, the above email got me to thinking about one of my online dating horror stories with a guy from TheSquare.com.

Seconds after we met, he said I looked “different” from my profile photo – and that that was neither good or bad.

Upon returning home from our 10-minute date, I couldn’t resist the impulse to email him and say it’s impolite to insult someone straight off the bat. His reply—

“If I had told you what I really thought, you would’ve slapped me across the face.”

And this was from a man whose profile headline read, “Harry Seeking Sally.” Talk about false advertising.

Fortunately, online dating disasters like the above are occasionally balanced out by the unexpected good guy. Coming up…details about my recent encounter with a sweet bachelor in that category.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Five

In a long-distance relationship, you get plenty of practice at saying goodbye. Still, all the practice swan songs in the world don’t make parting for good any easier -- as I discovered when I broke up with California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking: Sparky took this picture of me during my tumultuous visit to L.A., June 1995

Like the many goodbyes that preceded it, our final farewell took place at LAX. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1995...

June 9th, 1995
San Diego, CA

Dear Diary,

After telling him we were breaking up, Mark and I went to dinner. We had a heated conversation about where we had gone so wrong with each other.

“We’ve played everything by your rules,” Mark said bitterly, about the pitfalls of our situation [being miles apart, my inability to make a commitment].

At no point during his monologue did he acknowledge the lengths I had gone to for the sake of our relationship -- lying to my parents, skipping school and eventually going head to head with Mom and Dad, all so that he could have me in his hometown.

Mark faulted me for crying.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m not 37, so I haven’t learned how to control my emotions.”

“Don’t do that--okay,” he answered angrily. “Just because I’m not crying doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. I’m hurt. I’m disappointed.”

Eventually, we calmed down. Mark’s voice softened when he said--

“I still think I’m going to get a call from you in two years.”

“You just might,” I said, laughing through my tears.

* * *
[I wasn’t due to leave L.A. for three days. For some reason that I have no logical explanation for, I didn’t change my plans. And, after much back and forth, Mark said I could stay with him for the duration. Somehow, we managed not to kill each other.]

June 12th, 1995

Ironically, the drive to LAX took only 20 minutes. Every other time Mark has dropped me off, we’ve encountered horrendous traffic on the freeway. Now, with the end for us finally at hand, there was no doubt I would catch my flight.

“I’m sure we’ll keep in touch through the years,” he said.

At the airport, we hugged. Sparky said he would probably be in New York before the end of the year. Hand in hand, we walked to the gate.

“I’m trying to think of something profound to say,” I said.

“There isn’t any -- just be happy, be successful,” he said.

“I will,” I answered. “You too.”

We arrived at the point of departure to find passengers already boarding. I put down my bag and we stood with our arms around each other. The final moment for us had arrived. We hugged tenderly.

“Have a good life,” he said.

“You too,” I replied.

And with that, I let go of Mark and proceeded to the gate.

Just before rounding the corner of the ramp, I looked back at Sparky one last time. Then, with no tears but merely a profound sense of sadness and loss, I walked onto the plane that would take me away from Mark’s world and to a new life -- without him.

* * *
Though I didn’t know it then, the final chapter had yet to be written for me and Sparky. He would remain true to his word and stay in touch, paving the way for a new phase in our relationship -- one that would keep us in each other’s orbit and yet also reveal the wisdom of my decision to walk away.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blithe Spirit: Positively Enchanting

Last week, my friends Sara, Leila and I went to see “Blithe Spirit.” Uproariously funny, the classic comedy boasts a stellar cast -- and exemplifies the talents of late, great British playwright Noel Coward.

Angela Lansbury is at her scene-stealing best in "Blithe Spirit"

“Blithe Spirit” begins with author Charles (Rupert Everett) and his second wife Ruth (Jayne Atkinson) bantering about dinner party plans that include a séance with medium Madame Arcati (Tony-nominated Angela Lansbury). As skeptical as his guests, Charles invites Madame Arcati in the name of research for his next book -- and gets quite a shock when the spirit of his first wife Elvira (Christine Ebersole) suddenly appears.

What follows is hilarious farce, as Charles tries to convince Ruth that he’s not imagining things and she eventually decides to take Elvira on for her husband’s affections.

Everett is at the top of his game, rattling off Coward’s snappy dialogue effortlessly, while Atkinson and Ebersole are irresistible as his long-suffering spouses.

As for the lovely Miss Lansbury, she delights as the flighty medium with a penchant for dancing that belies her 84 years. If you’re looking for a fabulous night on Broadway, it doesn’t get any better than this.

“Blithe Spirit” is playing at the Shubert Theatre. For tickets and info, visit http://www.blitheonbroadway.com/.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Girls Night Out: Meatpacking District

Last night, I headed down to NYC’s Meatpacking District for a girls night out with my galpal Lauren and her sister Donna.

Our first stop was the Tory Burch Boutique, for a private sale hosted by Lauren’s friend Jennifer Skylakos.

While enjoying complimentary champagne, we browsed through Tory’s colorful signature tunics and ballet flats, eyeing a few ladies who managed to carry off the shirt dress look.

Champagne, anyone? Donna, Lauren and me at the Tory Burch Boutique

For dinner, we went to Nero, a rustic, low-lit Italian bistro with friendly wait staff and a papardelle Bolognese to die for. Another must-have on the menu -- tuna tartar with yucca chips and spicy mango sauce.

While pleasing our palettes, the three of us talked about crossing the platonic line with male friends, promoting the Starlight Foundation’s mid-summer benefit and organizing a happy hour with my brother Andy, temporarily in town from Texas on business for a few weeks. There’s nothing like cross pollinating social circles to increase the odds of striking a love match.

Coming up…outrageous emails from rejected men and a review of Tony-nominated “Billy Elliot.”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Celeb Chef's Soirée

Last night, I caught up with travel and lifestyle writer Sandra Ramani at the swanky W hotel in Union Square.

Sandra graciously allowed me to be her plus one at a cocktail reception promoting the new season of “Food Trip” with Todd English. Much to our great surprise and delight, the charming celeb chef was in attendance.

Celeb Chef Todd English is a real charmer in person (file photo)

Just before a screening of the upcoming episode covering Todd’s jaunt to Israel, he quipped—

“I want to thank Israel for the 15 pounds I put on in hummus.”

Speaking of mouth-watering food, hors d’oeuvres at the event included falafel with pita bread, white bean soup and pork belly sausage and tomato ragu mini-sandwiches. Delish.

Sandra mentioned she’s been back in NYC for three consecutive weeks. As a travel writer, this is no small feat. So far this year, she’s gone to China and India on assignment. In the coming weeks, Sandra is off to Turks and Caicos, Vancouver and Jordan.

As for me, I’m eagerly anticipating a visit to the City of Fountains, otherwise known as Kansas City, two weeks from tomorrow. Sometimes, the best getaways are those of the domestic kind—especially when they offer the promise of reuniting with a best friend and an old flame.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Conundrum Of Being Around Couples

When you reach your mid-thirties and still find yourself single, you invariably also find yourself, at times, surrounded by couples.

That’s turned out to be the case with Zog, the co-ed sports league I signed up for about a month ago. Our volleyball team of 10 people is populated with three couples, one of whom is fond of embracing at regular intervals before and after every game.

Speaking of touchy feely behavior, there was plenty of it at a dinner I attended not too long ago with three couples. One of them thoughtfully brought along a single guy for me. Still, I couldn’t decide what made me more uncomfortable -- being surrounded by couples engaged in PDA or the fact that I had zero chemistry with bachelor guy.

The Third Wheel: Sometimes it's hard to avoid feeling like one when you're around couples

Being around lovebirds often makes it difficult not to feel like the odd woman out. Which is why it’s refreshing when a couple manages to have the opposite effect.

Like, for example, my colleagues Greg and Danielle. The formerly closeted couple, who recently came out at Quinn & Co. with news of their engagement, had an adorable exchange in the office earlier this week.

Upon catching a glimpse of his fiancée all gussied up for a black tie event, Greg exclaimed--

"You look so hot!”

Pumping his fist in the air, he quickly added--

“Yes! I can [finally] say that now.”

Danielle gave him a reproachful look that quickly melted into a radiant smile.

I couldn’t help smiling too. Witnessing two people who are perfect for each other does that to you -- and somehow makes it feel more probable that, one day, you’ll be part of a perfect pair too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Weekend Event Pick: Unforgettable Fire Returns

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite live music venues is NYC’s Canal Room in Soho. And one of the best cover bands I’ve ever seen there, Unforgettable Fire, is making another appearance on Saturday, May 9th.

Unforgettable Fire (UF) is one of the longest-running U2 cover bands


I had the pleasure of seeing the U2 tribute band last fall. Like the rest of the standing room only crowd, I got swept up by UF’s electrifying performance – and lead singer Tony Russo’s uncanny resemblance to Bono.

UF knows how to put on a slickly produced show, with video montages and a frenetic mix of both classic and current U2 hits. I can’t think of a better warm up for U2’s upcoming 360 tour – which I’ll be seeing twice at Giants Stadium in September!

Tickets to this Saturday’s UF show are $18 in advance ($20 at the door) and UF will be performing with Grammy-nominated Reggae singer Pato Banton. For more info, visit http://www.canalroom.com/.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Online Exposure Of A Different Kind

When you work in journalism or public relations, quoting other people is part of the job. It’s rare to be quoted yourself as an expert -- which is why I was doubly excited to enjoy that particular honor twice recently.

A few weeks ago, my Quinn & Co boss John Frazier and I were interviewed for Bulldog Reporter, a PR trade publication, about our experiences working on Tourism Queensland’s Best Job In The World campaign.

In addition to sharing our observations on why the initiative -- a global search for an Island Caretaker -- has been such a runaway success, we had the opportunity to offer tips to other PR practitioners.

Best Job In The World: Tourism Queensland will announce on Wednesday who the destination’s Island Caretaker will be

Advice of a more personal nature got me quoted in an MSN.com article about online dating. I shared my take on how to avoid getting stuck in email exchanges that go nowhere.

Though I’m still learning how to date smarter -- and how to be a great publicist -- it’s fun to share a little of what I’ve discovered about both along the way.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Girls Night Out: SoHo

Last night, my cousin Alexandra and I enjoyed an evening of pampering and good food down in SoHo.

Great Jones Spa: The perfect place to unwind

We met up at Great Jones Spa, an oasis of relaxation that makes you forget you’re in NYC. After getting massages, we enjoyed the steam room and Jacuzzi in the spa’s Water Lounge. Heavenly.

For dinner, we headed up the block to an inviting bistro on Lafayette Street with rustic charm and lots of candles.

Over a delicious meal (grilled shrimp, shaved fennel and orange salad, brick oven margherita pizza for me, chilled tomato soup and rigatoni in cream sauce for Alexa), we talked about the allure of old flames and the restorative powers of travel.

As I was reminded during my recent business trip to the USVI, there’s nothing like a change of scenery -- especially one that involves sun, sand and sea -- to make you feel recharged and ready to take on whatever awaits back home.

Though my upcoming getaways (Kansas City and, hopefully, London) will be of the urban variety, I’m eagerly anticipating them as well.

Up next…a review of "Blithe Spirit" and a little online exposure for my professional and personal pursuits.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Four

Like the song says, breaking up is hard to do -- and it’s even harder when you’re still in love with your significant other. My feelings for CA-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky) remained as I prepared to tell him it was over between us.

Tired of trying to forge a relationship from 3,000 miles apart -- and of the near-constant arguing precipitated by it -- I knew the time had come to call it quits. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1995...

June 8th, 1995
San Diego, CA

Dear Diary,

Thankfully, the growth that was removed from Mark’s stomach turned out to be benign. He was still in discomfort, though, so he nixed the whirlwind excursion we’d planned and suggested we go to San Diego instead.

I was silent for the duration of the approximately 2-hour ride. All I kept thinking was -- how am I going to tell him?


A road trip to San Diego illuminated how far apart Mark and I had grown

Of course, leave it to Mark to get romantic as I’m thinking that our days together were numbered. As Bryan Adams’ "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" came on the radio, Mark turned down the volume and said --

"You know, it seems like every time we get comfortable with each other, you leave. There’s always this void when you go."

"Really?" I snapped. "I find that very hard to believe."

Unfortunately, when I’m mean, I’m the worst.

When we got to our hotel, Mark kept asking me what was wrong. I needed a little more time to figure out what to say, so I laid down next to him and told him as much.

He started to kiss me and eventually, I ended up on top of him. His arms were encircling my waist as he kissed the nape of my neck. Looking up at the ceiling, I fought in vain to hold back tears.
I love you so much, Sparky, I thought to myself, but it’s no good anymore.

* * *

Later, Sparky pressed me again to tell him what was on my mind. I knew I couldn’t hold back the truth any longer.

Though I had rehearsed this scene time and time again, I floundered for words. I struggled to explain how I’d arrived at my painful decision.

"So, you’re saying you’re ready to move on," he finally interjected, saying what I couldn’t bring myself to.

"I don’t know," I said, my voice trailing off. But we both knew that yes was what I really meant.

Mark stood up and said he was going for a walk. I was more than a little anxious that he seemed so calm. As it turned out, I had reason to be worried -- a torrent of animosity was about to be unleashed.

* * *

Though I’d found the courage to tell Mark we were through, my timing couldn’t have been worse -- I wasn’t due to leave California for another four days.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Extremes Of Online Dating


During a recent email exchange with some of my friends, we found ourselves comparing notes on the vagaries of online dating.

While online dating memberships are up (according to the New York Times anyway), it seems to be a case of quantity over quality these days.

"It's like all the men are picked over," says galpal LK. "And I don't want to pick from this nudnick patch."

Like, for example, the JDate guy who told her he’s decided to never eat out again because it’s bad for your health – but would she like to go for a walk?

It’s also been slim pickings for my friend AC since signing up with the site about a month ago.

"Not a single non-mutant guy has contacted me," she says. "And it turns out the one almost normal guy I ‘clicked’ with dated my best friend."

I, meanwhile, reiterated my biggest pet peeve -- men who are more interested in endless emailing, texting and phone tag than meeting in person.

At the other end of the spectrum, a JDate.com guy recently bordered on stalking after I responded to his email.

The next day, he left me a voicemail in which he called me "sweetie" and "honey" several times, and then proceeded to send half a dozen text messages (signed XO), one of which said—

"Your blue eyes melt me."

A bit much considering we’ve never met.

AC is canceling her subscription to Jdate -- and exiting Match.com too. I’ll be doing likewise soon. Because when it comes to tilting the dating odds in your favor, nothing beats connecting with the opposite sex face to face.