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Nail Polish Remover

Day 12 – June 10, 2011

Workout: Tabata kettlebell swings 35#
Breakfast: salmon filet with spinach
2nd Breakfast: 3-egg omelette with peppers, onions
Lunch: Cobb salad at Panera
Dinner: 3 “egg cupcakes” with salsa filling and guacamole “frosting”, 2 glasses wine.

Day 13 – June 11, 2011

Breakfast: 6 eggs, spinach, kimchi
Workout: power clean 5-rep max (135×4, 115, 120, 125, 125), shoulder press 115×5
Lunch: 2 sweet potatoes, 1 pint coconut milk ice cream, 4 turkey sausages
Snacks: dark chocolate bar, 2 eggs, goat cheese, caviar with cream cheese on crackers
The Dinner Party: chili lime macadamias, wine, purple sweet potatoes, wine, green beans, wine, pan-seared mahi, Southern Comfort-infused dark chocolate truffles, assorted cheeses, One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor

A Short Story: I liked her, she didn’t like me, I got wasted.

An Opening Tableau to a GREAT Short Story That Needs to be Written:

She walked toward him with her fingers splayed out, frowning at them. She had put band-aids on her ankles, but she still walked awkwardly in her red suede pumps. “Can you help me?” she pouted. He tugged at his bowtie. It felt off-center. He measured each side of the knot with his finger and nodded.

“Come here,” he whispered. She stood upright, adjusted the top on her cocktail dress, and nudged him with her hip. He dabbed acetone onto a paper towel and took her fingers in his hand, squinting to focus. It was a mess. He wiped at the red smears on her fingertips, gently at first, but nothing would come off. He looked up at her piercing blue eyes and smirked. “Don’t judge me,” she laughed, butting her head into his neck. “I haven’t done this in forever.”

“I can tell.” She punched his shoulder.

“Does it look okay?” she asked.

He scrubbed her fingertips and her knuckles. “Yeah, I think we’re set.” He held one of her hands and turned it palm-up and palm-down, then the other. He wiped off one more smear of nail polish. He tossed the paper towel in the trash and took a sip from his wine glass. “Thanks,” she said, picking a piece of thread off of his forehead and brushing his jacket clean with the heel of her hand. He checked his watch. She grabbed a caviar-topped cracker from the silver serving tray and smiled. “This is going to be a great party.”

———

The Rest of the Story, Starting With Friday:

The Bass Player showed up at my usual coffeeshop hangout to grab a latte. I saw her and her tight grey dress and her slender pale legs and I was instantly defeated. She walked up to where I was sitting and said hi, putting her hand on my shoulder. How DARE she, after the verbal kick-to-the-balls she delivered on Saturday night? She told me she liked my shoes, and I instantly felt like a boxer who had been knocked out in the first round by Mike Tyson, only to get picked up and congratulated for a tough fight. I asked her about work, and what she was up to this weekend (going to see a couple other concerts). She grabbed her coffee and shook my hand in the most professional of ways, wishing me farewell and a good weekend, leaving behind the faint trace of the perfume I would never again smell on her neck, the fading image of the squint-eyed smile I would never see again when I told her a good joke, and the lithe runner’s body that I would never wrap my arms around on a lazy Sunday morning in my queen-size bed which looks ever larger with each passing day.

So it was with this groundswell of momentum, this rocket-boost to my self-esteem, that I set to work on reconciling my sticky situation with The Hipster (awesome girl, but is divorced with a kid, and try as I might, I learned that I cannot date a mom, no matter how intelligent and entertaining she may be) and her best friend The Jetsetter (single, smart, sexy, here for the summer, looking for something fun and could do a LOT worse than me, and she probably will.) This is a delicate juggling act that requires the perfect balance of diplomatic tact, quiet confidence, and animal assertiveness to work. Thank you, fate.

The Hipster, The Jetsetter, and I meet for lunch, and then grab groceries for our Cheat Day Dinner Party the next day. We continue our effortless chemistry. During a brief minute that The Hipster and I have alone, I broach the subject. “So obviously, I’m attracted to her. But I don’t want to tick you off if I flirt with her or date her or anything. What do you think? I know we sort of had our thing, and maybe I didn’t really give it a chance. But I do want to get your blessing, and your advice, on dating her. If it’s going to piss you off, just say so. I’ll drop it.”

“Doesn’t bother me,” she replies. “I don’t know how she feels, but you know, I don’t care. You’re a good guy. She could do worse.” I get my blessing. We finish our shopping and make plans to spend all Saturday prepping for the party. The Jetsetter will show up early to help me make truffles, in one of those movie-cliche messy-hands slam dunk romantic moments that I am notorious for fucking up. The Hipster will show up later. We are going to rock this out. The Hipster is giddy with excitement.

Friday night, I go to a fundraiser with a “dress all in black” theme that I follow religiously, despite looking like a waiter at an Olive Garden. I am overwhelmed wth anxiety. Hundreds of beautiful women, all around me, none of whom return my eye contact or my smiles. Eventually, after some more red wine, I chat with a friend of mine from the hospital, tell a couple of girls they look great (this, of course, does not lead to any sort of conversation), wander around in a haze, and go home. Not the best of nights. I *did* talk to some women, but not nearly as many as I wanted to. The nerves and the pressure are going away little by little, but the core belief, my inescapable identity as “the guy that no woman in her right mind will ever be attracted to”, is set in stone.

Saturday Morning Workout: I approach my cheat day much like the last one. No gluten, tons of calories. I start off clean, with eggs and kimchi. I hit the gym & rock the power cleans for the first time in a couple weeks. I’m still doing the 5×5 program (5 sets of 5 reps of two major lifts) twice a week to try and maintain my muscle while I lean out. I had an interesting conversation about this with a friend of mine from the old gym, and when I plan on switching to muscle-gain mode. I should set a goal. 10% body fat or 155 pounds sounds about right.

So yes, I lift, it’s beautiful. I get over-ambitious with my first set of cleans and drop the weight on my 5th rep of 135 lb. Naughty, naughty. And then I go for broke on the food. I shovel down sweet potatoes and chase it with coconut milk ice cream (very worth it: A-) and dark chocolate (surprisingly not worth it: C-). I’m on the hunt for other gluten-free cheats. Thankfully, now I have truffles and cheese to drown my sorrows in.

The Preparation: The Jetsetter comes over. We are wearing matching outfits, which somebody who did not know anything about me would call “a great sign” or “unavoidable romantic fate”. We talk about anything and everything. Dating, writing, our presents and our futures, our loves and our hates. We connect. We peel potatoes. We flirt. She seems comfortable around me. She laughs at my jokes, pays attention to my stories, asks me questions upon questions. We drink some Sweet Tea Vodka and get to work on the truffles. It is earthy and sensual, the chocolate ganache melting in our fingers as we ball them up. She watches me toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil and spices, and briefly rubs my shoulder. I’m filled with a strange new feeling. Not quite happiness, but the prospect of happiness. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t last long.) I kiss her on the cheek. She heads back home to change. I walk her out and avoid fainting.

The Party: I embody neo-Southern swank. Tan linen suit, black bowtie. Southern Comfort truffles and sweet tea vodka martinis. The Jetsetter shows up early, in a tight black cocktail dress and bright red lipstick. She is a vision from a 50′s big band club, the kind of gal Dean Martin would hit on at the bar after downing his third martini. We drink and set up the silverware. The nail polish scene happens. People show up. The Jetsetter and I sashay around the apartment, a well-oiled machine, setting up appetizers, pouring drinks, cooking dinner, posing suavely for photos as if we were a real couple. The party is a smashing success. The perfect highbrow summer dinner-and-cocktails-and-jazzy-music soiree.

But what is the Rule of Sri? The Rule of Sri is “The Other Shoe Always Drops. ALWAYS.”

The Jetsetter sidles over to me as I make us a couple coffees. “I invited The Jagoff [she didn’t actually call him “The Jagoff”]. He’s downstairs, I’m going to go grab him.” I feel a rusty knife digging into my balls. I cannot talk. My throat is closing up. I chug my wine, pour another glass, down that one. I pour a healthy measure of Crown Royal into my coffee and sink into my easy chair. I shut down. I mechanically put leftover food into tupperware containers and put used plates in the garbage. I stand in the middle of my cozy kitchen, which now seems as wide and inescapable as the open ocean. The Jagoff and The Jetsetter sneak over to a dimly-lit hallway, holding hands and maybe just talking, maybe making out, I don’t look.

The rest of the night is a blur. The remainders from the party all head down to a bar. The Jagoff and The Jetsetter split off from us at some point. I drink tequila until I can’t feel feelings anymore. I come back home and run the dishwasher. I gently put away my suit and wonder if there is a lesson to be learned from the evening. No, I conclude. If there is a lesson, it is not one I want to face. The entire party was another referendum on my unattractiveness. It was the showcase of Sri the Fashion Maven, Sri the Suave Party Host, Sri the Adventurous Mixologist, and most of all, Sri the Unflappable Gourmet Chef. But the lesson is this: none of those skills matter to, register with, or attract single women. And none of it made an impression on The Jetsetter. To her, I was Sri the Nail Polish Remover.

Next time: week 2 weigh-in. High alcohol plus low sleep plus acute depressive attack equals no fat loss, I fear.

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