The One Where I Attempt To Drink 32 Cocktails in 2.5 Hours

I know some of you probably read the title to this post and thought, “Simone, didn’t you just write a post about how you stopped drinking? So, does that mean that’s no longer on the books?!” Well, yes and no.

A few months ago when I wrote how I had drastically reduced my alcohol intake and started buying art instead, what I should have emphasized was that I didn’t just cut back on booze, I cut back on going out period. While I still spend time with friends regularly, for the most part, my party dresses and stilettos have been gathering dust for the past year.

I’d love to be able to say that this decision was 100% motivated by a desire to be healthy, but that would be a lie. The truth is that I wasn’t just avoiding alcohol, I was avoiding the people I associated with alcohol – namely, Party Guy (remember him?) When I started dating SA, Party Guy and I had an ugly falling out, which lead to another falling out with a mutual friend. While I’m on the path to reconciling with said friend, my falling out with Party Guy was so unsettling that I have zero desire to the him (unless he’s in a burning house fire. Kidding. Kind of. Not really.) So, I’ve been avoiding local social events and bars where he’ll likely be, which is pretty much all of them.

I regularly receive emails from young women who’ve reached out to let me know that this blog has inspired them to be more confident and bad-ass in their own love lives. These emails make my week/month/year. They give me the fuel to keep writing, creating and being a voice that other women can relate to. So, while my health has definitely benefited from not drinking as much, it feels lame to admit that the impetus for this all comes down to avoiding a dude. Not very bad-ass right?

At the time though, it just felt easier to avoid certain social situations than risk running into someone that I no longer felt safe around. Whenever I’d receive an invite for a high-profile social event I’d immediately press delete without a second thought. I was fine with this, until I wasn’t.

Avoiding alcohol in the summer is easy for me. I don’t really like day drinking and I’d rather be up early reading on my patio/at the beach/lounging by the pool than hungover in bed. However, now that Fall is in full swing, I’ve been feeling much more social. When a friend suggested I come with her to Art of the Cocktail, I said yes.

In it’s 8th year running, Art of the Cocktail is a giant cocktail party where you can sample about 35-40 different (mini) cocktails and appetizers from local Victoria chefs, regional distilleries & international brands. I love me a good craft cocktail, so I threw caution to the wind, purchased a ticket, got dolled up in my favourite Tibi skirt & slinky heels; knowing full well that I would probably run into everyone I (wish I didn’t) know that night.

Surprise: I did!

The official theme of the event was “Havana, 1955” but it really should have been “A retrospective of Simone’s questionable dating decisions circa 2011-2014.”

Within the first five minutes of walking into the venue with my lady friends, I saw Fitness Guy (I don’t think he recognized me. Again. Go figure), bumped into Young Dude (we hugged it out because we’re cool like that) before rounding the corner to use the bathroom and coming face to face with Party Guy. After agonizing over this moment for over a year, when it happened it wasn’t that bad. Armed with my favourite red lipstick and some sick finger waves, I was feeling myself that night. I gave him my best resting bitch face – the one that says “I see you but if you want to make contact with me you need to call 1-900-I’mOutOfFucksToGive” (perfected for generations by Eastern European women before me) and kept on walking.

And, it. wasn’t. a big. deal.

It was like the Universe was saying, “we’re going to get all of the awkward stuff out of the way within the first 5 minutes so you can enjoy the rest of your night” because aside from that brief, intense trip down memory lane, the evening went off without a hitch. I had a great time!

I drank and ate all of the delicious things.

I made some new lady friends.

I posed for photos.

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art of the cocktail event in victoria, bc

art of the cocktail event in victoria, bc

art of the cocktail event in victoria, bc

I chatted & hung out with SA who was there as well (because apparently, I’ve dated everyone at this party.)

And I got followed around all night by a creepy 60-year man who looked like a cross between Drew Carey and the Glad garbage bag man, minus the charm (because I’m a weirdo magnet ….but seriously, WHY DUDE WHY?)

I finished off the evening with a nightcap of shrimp tacos with my lady friends (new & old.)

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(Me: terrible at bathroom selfies)

Originally I was going to wrap this post up with something cliche about facing your fears or how everything is better with girlfriends by your side, but the truth is far more simple. Sometimes the stuff that used to seem like a big deal 1.5 years ago, doesn’t really matter anymore. Also, cocktails are delicious.

Things I’d Tell My 20-Something Self – Part 3

I don’t know about you guys, but birthdays always trigger a lot of self-reflection for me. I turned 36 a few weeks ago. If someone were to ask me what I like best about being in my mid-thirties I’d say the clarity. It’s nice to look back and be able to identify everything you’ve grown out of. So, in honour of birthdays and hindsight, I thought it was time to share some more things I’d tell my 20-year old self (you can check out the full series here.)

It’s never too soon to learn about good alcohol

Fifteen years from now you’ll be sharing some Pinot Grigio with a ridiculously handsome man. You’ll hold up the bottle of Masi (a wine which was introduced to you by another man that you once found charming circa 2001and tell him, “this is the only good decision that came out of my years of drinking as a 20-something.” You’ll be 180% right. I know the urge to try things just for the sake of trying things is strong this decade, so I’ll just cut to the chase:

The pink bottle of $4.99 “strawberry wine” you keep passing at the liquor store on the way to the cooler aisle tastes exactly as terrible as it’s neon packaging suggests. That non-FDA approved liquor your friend brought back from Israel will make you black out. And throw-up. Then black out again. It will also make your friends simultaneously black out and throw up. Any drink with Red Bull as an ingredient is sure to make you jump up on furniture (which sounds kind of fun now, but it’s something you’ll grow out of. Trust me.) Drinking on the subway is hilarious, but it’s not classy. Southern Comfort is awful. Stop treating your Friday nights like you’re Janis Joplin on an epic bender. Instead, drink the Masi. Always drink the Masi.

The “one that got away” is a myth.

They didn’t “get away” – they left you. It sucks and it hurts and you’re going to cry over these people, but it’s for the best. I promise. Have the feelings you need to have and then move the fuck on. Don’t waste time obsessing over or longing for people who simply didn’t choose you. They. Didn’t. Choose. You. (Keep this in mind when these people resurface requesting a second chance.) Spend your time loving the people who have chosen to be in your life. Start with yourself.

Expect more from the people you date.

As a 20-something you joke that your dating motto is, “have low expectations and you’ll always be pleasantly surprised.” You adopt this line of thinking after a series of breakups and disappointing sexual encounters – both wanted and unwanted – leave you heartbroken and confused. You start asking for less, when really you should ask for more. Don’t do this. You should expect things from the people you date – like, respect, honesty and integrity. Be picky. Ask for what you want out of relationships. It might mean that you spend more time alone, but it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Learn to be still.

I know it’s hard. You live in a city of 5 million people and around every corner there’s something or someone new & shiny to distract you, but please try. Stop focusing on things and people that don’t serve you, just so that you won’t have to be alone with your own thoughts. The only way you’re ever going to feel at peace with yourself is if you face your problems head-on and deal with your personal shit. Don’t wait until the end of the decade. Begin early.

What would you tell your 20-something self?

Here’s 10 Guys That I’d Like To Meet

Hi, it’s me. Still single. Still 35 (at least for another 12 days.) A few weeks ago, authors Blythe Roberson and Jason Adam Katzenstein posted in the New Yorker an illustrated article titled Types of Guys I Would Like To Date, If Someone Could Please Introduce Me to Them. I couldn’t help but giggle. I mean, what 30-something woman hasn’t yearned to date a guy that owns a rug? (“a huge achievement, as rugs cost millions of dollars and require vacuuming“). The piece also made me ponder the kinds of guys I would like to be introduced to. (Because, let’s face it — the singles in Victoria leave quite a bit to be desired.)

Because I don’t have the artistic skills of a New Yorker cartoonist, Joe the Intern and his friends have stepped in to help with this post.

So, gather around my friends while I cue up Michael Buble’s “I Still Haven’t Met You Yet” and press the repeat button. Here’s some men I’m interested in getting to know.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

40-something Musical Yogis with 20-something rockstar dreams, need not apply. Whether it’s a full time job or a side-hustle, this guy likes making things and he wants to make things with you (websites! music! photos! smoked meat! pickles! A new fence! Stop animation with Joe the Intern!) I know you’re out there. If your idea of a great Saturday is brunch, followed by creating something together, I want to be your Ride and #DIY. (photo credit)

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Sure, he mainlines kale juice and eats sandwiches that are made with thinly cut organic tempeh steaks instead of bread, but he doesn’t need to talk about it. He’ll never shame you for not drinking as many vegetables as he does, because he totally gets the concept of balance. I.e. there’s a time for kale chips and a time for diving face first into a stack of chicken and waffles.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

When I was in university, it wasn’t uncommon to meet guys who’d say stuff like, “oh, you like 2Pac? I only listen to conscious hip-hop or stuff from the 80’s.” These guys are still around. They read Pitchfork and the only Kendrick Lamar song they think is relevant is the one you’ve never heard of because “it’s so obscure.”  The Guy Who Isn’t Afraid to Shamelessly Rock out to Lil’ Wayne is the opposite of that guy. He’s politically aware and understands why something might be offensive but isn’t opposed to dancing around the living room with you as Weezy chants “a milli a milli a milli.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

The stack of Prince LPs and his turntable are the only church he needs. He thinks “Call My Name” is one of the sexiest, most romantic, panty-dropping songs of all time and to your delight, insists that you go as The Kid and Apollonia for Halloween. When you fidget in your costume, he says, “I don’t care that you’re not an ingenue of indeterminate ethnic origin, you look amazing in that leather bustier.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

No, I’m not talking about one of those greaseballs on Millionaire Matchmaker that owns a yacht. I’m thinking of something more organic, like you meet at a record store in Silverlake and you catch each other’s eye because you’re both wearing the same Prince pin on the lapel of your matching leather jackets. Flash forward to the future where you’re sitting out by your backyard pool perched high in the Elysian Hills, eating tacos and writing dialogue for Joe the Intern.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Feminist Ryan Gosling, but he’s Idris Elba. He would never use the hashtag #NotAllMen seriously and often says stuff like, “Hey, girl, you’ve worked really hard today. Let me do the dishes while you kick back and photograph your collection of weird Ken Dolls.”  

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Colin Miller meets Jesse Williams. He’s tough, but kind & empathetic, and he’s unafraid to stand up for what he believes in. He’s not the guy who “doesn’t give a fuck,” he’s the guy who gives all the fucks. You catch each other’s eyes across a crowded movie theatre after a documentary about a depressing social issue has just let out. When you walk towards him, you realize he’s wearing a t-shirt that says #FreeEdwardAtes. (photo credit)

“I thought you only existed on the internet” you say to him.

He smiles and replies, “I thought you only existed on the internet.”

You spend lots of time listening to wrongful conviction podcasts together and admiring how he looks good in hats that aren’t fedoras.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Recently I texted my friend, “So, if a man is in his late 30’s and he’s still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, that’s a deal breaker, right?” She responded, “please tell me that’s a rhetorical question.” A few years ago I went on a couple of dates with a smart, very successful 30-something man who kept all of this non-perishable food in a small heap next to his bed (which was also just a mattress on the floor) so he’d never have to get up while watching Netflix to grab snacks. I know there are lots of men out there who have mastered the art of #adulting, but clearly there aren’t enough to go around. If you own a dresser that isn’t covered in stickers and you don’t use a upside down laundry basket as a nightstand, let’s talk.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Here’s a gentleman who is no stranger to having his hand all up inside some green felt. On Sunday mornings you like to create elaborate puppet shows that include lots of original songs and are heavy on  character development (“I mean, Barry the Sloth is basically a decent guy. He only drinks and bites people because he’s misunderstood – and that thing that happened when he was in the circus.”) 

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

It’s easy to find men who love dogs, but I’d like to meet someone who is crazy about felines just to see what he’d be like. I know he’s out there somewhere, happily whistling away as he meticulously cleans his couch cushions with a dust buster. Call me. 

When Your Life Becomes an Alanis Morissette Song

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(photo credit)

A few months ago, I was wandering around Value Village, late on a Tuesday night looking for records (as one does when you’re single and childless at 35.) I was digging through the crates of dusty LPs in hope that maybe, just, maybe I might find a copy of Prince’s Purple Rain. I had a copy with my childhood record collection but it’s since gone MIA – which has been distressing me to no end.

He saw me first.

He was digging through a crate a few feet away.

“I’ve looked through everything, so if there’s something you’re looking for I can probably tell you if it’s there” he said.

I told him about my Purple Rain record conundrum and we bonded over the fact that our town is basically sold out of all things Prince – except for commemorative magazines (one glance at my local newsstand and it’s clear that those are multiplying like gremlins.) This fed into a conversation about how it’s hard to find good soul music in Victoria. Our thrift shop adventures. Hip hop. Record shopping in LA. The best places to eat in Harlem. Music, music and more music.

I told him I’d gone to see the Miles Davis movie while was playing at the local repertory theatre.

“What was the crowd like?” he asked.

“What you’d expect. A theatre full of white haired senior citizens, one elderly black man and a hippie guy eating lentil stew out of a tupperware container.”

He then told me that he’d found an unopened copy of Guns and Roses’ Appetite for Destruction on vinyl for a $2 at a thrift store recently.

“I have so many questions for the previous owner of this record, starting with WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?” I replied.

That’s around the time that I noticed that he was kind of cute. White guy. Horn-rimmed glasses. Small nose stud. Denim vest. Black baseball cap. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate a 1980’s Beastie Boys vibe and I wasn’t hating it.

I was in awe. It’s so rare that I meet anyone in this town, let alone someone with common interests that I can immediately jump into a conversation with without it feeling weird. This guy seemed cool – or at the very least, extremely musically literate.

I’m sure my face looked like the emoji with the heart eyes.

He confessed, “it’s kind of embarrassing, but I like to collect new age CD’s. There’s so many of them here and some of them are really cool if you actually listen to them. Weird, but good.”

“Hey, no judgement” I replied. “If it makes you feel any better, I collect  ken dolls of 90’s celebrities. I have an MC Hammer doll that sits on my desk.”

“No way. I have that exact doll – STILL IN IT’S ORIGINAL PACKAGING!”

Clearly, this man was my soulmate. 

That’s when my phone buzzed and I saw that my Mom was looking for me in the store. (She’s my #1 thrift shopping sidekick.)

I floated over to the other side of the store, found my mom, and floated back towards the cash register where he was getting ready to pay for a stack of new age CDs.

“Enjoy your CDs!” I said.

“Thanks! Hey, you won’t believe what I found!”

I looked down to see a copy of a Little Sambo book (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read up on the history here.) On the cover was an illustration of a small white child, leading a small black child on what appeared to be a leash.

“OH DEAR LORD” I gasped.

At first I assumed he was going to turn the book in to the staff so they could take it off the shelves. That’s what I would have done. But, then he spoke.

“Isn’t it awesome?! I collect all of this shit. I have a whole room of black face stuff at home. I love it!” he said.

My face turned from heart eyes to whatever emoticon signifies “OH HELL NO.”

“Nice meeting you!” he said as he strolled out the door and into the night.

People always ask me what it’s like to be 35 and single.

I think Alanis Morissette said it best when she sang, “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, then meeting his collection of super racist artifacts.”

 

I Would Die 4 U: 10 Dating Lessons From Prince’s Purple Rain

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A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles, alone with no plans on a Tuesday night. When I checked the movie app on my phone and saw that a screening of Purple Rain was playing at LA Live, I bought a ticket without thinking twice. A few hours later I was sitting in the dark with my fellow Prince fans, watching the late, great, Purple One come alive on screen. We sang along, laughed in unison at the awkward moments and some of us even danced in the aisles. My Mom and I are big Prince fans, so his passing ten days earlier hit us hard. But, that night I felt pure joy and gratitude – like all of us were in this together.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Purple Rain follows “The Kid” (Prince) a young, talented musician, tormented by an abusive situation at home. When The Kid meets Apollonia, a beautiful, aspiring singer, he has to contend with a burgeoning romance, a rival singer and his own personal demons. The movie itself is a bit goofy (it was made in 1984 so there’s a lot of eye-liner and stilted dialogue) but the musical performances are utterly flawless. As a cultural artifact, it’s a beautiful thing.

Originally I planned on writing about how Prince’s music has affected my life – how songs like Little Red Corvette provided the soundtrack to my sexual awakening and how seeing him live for the first time in 2011 made me believe in the healing and transcendent power of music – but, I’ve already covered that ground. So, I’ll say this –

Ladies and gents, we need to talk about Purple Rain.

Watching Purple Rain again as a sex and relationship writer, I couldn’t help but remark on some of the important things the film can teach us about modern love and dating. So, in an effort to keep things light, here’s a few of my favourites.

1. No one likes a lurker.

Well, unless that lurker is Prince. Generally, I would say that lurking awkwardly behind a woman, wearing sunglasses in a darkened night club is not a good move. Neither is disappearing into thin air as soon as she turns around and says, “I really liked your song too.” But, Prince makes it work.

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In fact, there are a lot of dating moves in Purple Rain that are a bad idea, like stealing a woman’s jewelry or having sex in a room filled with clown dolls (Don’t worry – I’ll  get to that in a minute.) But, what you need to understand is that different rules apply to Prince.

 Because, Prince is magic. 

 

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2. Eye Contact is everything.

Before there was Facebook, Tinder and sites like flirtfair.ca, singles relied on smoky bars like First Avenue, awesome guitar solos and eye-contact to impress the opposite sex. Lots and lots of eye-contact. Prince is king of the sex stare. The way he looks at Apollonia is so direct it’s almost unsettling, but it lures her (and us) in anyways.

FYI, I attribute Prince’s sex stare to why I spent most of my twenties serially dating really intense dudes with big brown eyes.

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3. Beware of men who play with puppets. 

Although Prince’s vampire mini-me is kind of adorable, there’s something a bit creepy about guys who use puppets to express their feelings (pro-tip: I wouldn’t recommend adding “ventriloquism” to your Tinder profile.) But, because it’s Prince we also let this one slide. Just remember – you’ve been warned.

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4. If a guy asks you to “pass an initiation” and “purify yourself in Lake Minnetonka”- keep your clothes on.

Take it from Apollonia – it’s never the right lake. Also, when your boyfriend drives off on his purple motorcycle and you’re left naked, without a towel, it’s a real bitch getting back into your leather pants.

5. Stay away from Morris Day (&/or guys like him.)

Sure, Morris Day is really good at dancing “The Bird” and manages to keep his light coloured suits really clean despite spending most of his working hours in a bar, but his character in Purple Rain is bad news. First of all, he has some of the best/worst/creepiest pick up lines ever.

For example, “Your lips would make a lollipop too happy” (shudder) and everyone’s favourite, “I have a brass waterbed.” Morris, that doesn’t even make any sense, but if I had to visualize your bedroom it would look something like this. (photo credit)

BrassBed

In addition to mentioning his bedroom furniture, Morris also tells Apollonia, “I’m going to make you love me” which, he attempts to do by opening his white coat and repeatedly thrusting his pelvis while making bird noises in a darkened alleyway.

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You know, all totally normal stuff men do to attract beautiful women. I think Apollonia’s expression says it all.

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Failure to stay away from dudes like Morris means that you may find yourself cornered by a pelvic thrusting lothario or literally, thrown in a dumpster. However, unlike in the movie, a guy in high heels won’t show up on his purple motorcycle to save you.

Instead, it’s all about the strategic nipple flash.

If only Morris Day knew. If you feel like you’re losing your girl, flash a nipple. It worked for Prince. However, it also doesn’t hurt if you sing a knee weakening rendition of Beautiful Ones while you flash said nipple. Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go take a cold shower.

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6. Closed mouth kissing is weird, dude.

My sister and I rarely see eye to eye, but when we watched Purple Rain for the first time together we were in agreement about one thing: “what is up with the kissing?” Prince is/was an incredibly sexy human being, but he kisses Apollonia like I used to make my Barbies kiss my lone Ken doll. I’d mash their permanently closed mouths together and move their heads around a bunch (probably because my only point of reference was Purple Rain.)

For the record, I’ve dated guys who wouldn’t open their mouths or relax their lips while kissing and it’s frustrating. I can’t help but watch this movie and think, “relax your lips” – especially since Prince’s lips are a work of art.

I want to believe the reason for this comes down to shyness. As a musician, maybe Prince was uncomfortable with the love scenes? But, then there’s the bed scene where Prince clearly gets a handful (and then some) of Apollonia (cue: cold shower #2) so, I don’t know.

In the words, of Prince, “Purple Rain, you make me so confused.”

7. Remove all clowns from your bedroom (Unless you’re into that. Then, carry on.)

We also need to talk about the clowns. Prince’s character in the movie lives in his parents’ basement. Inside his living space we see the following: music stuff, some pseudo Warhol-esque prints, canning supplies and clown dolls.

His movie bedroom kind of reminds me of the summer I spent dating our neighbourhood’s weed dealer – a guy who also had a finely honed sex stare, lived in a dingy basement suite and collected plush tigers (which, almost seems less creepy, but not really.) There was a period in the 80’s when these clown dolls weren’t considered totally terrifying. We are no longer living in that era. TLDR: if Bae’s apartment looks like a casting call for a miniature circus, run.

The clowns of Purple Rain

8. Parents give really grim dating advice.

When Prince’s movie Dad tells him, “never get married” my heart breaks a tiny bit – partly, because this is a really heart-wrenching moment in the film but also because I’ve heard similar advice from my own relatives. While they likely have good intentions, it can be incredibly disheartening to hear these kinds of things from our parents. It’s also important to keep in mind that none of us are destined to repeat their mistakes.

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9. But, sometimes we repeat our parents mistakes anyways.

Sometimes we really are like our father/mother (too bold/never satisfied) and we end up repeating the same relationship patterns we witnessed growing up. This becomes abundantly clear when “The Kid” slaps his girlfriend and then struggles with his feelings during a montage set to When Doves Cry.  But, here’s the thing – regardless of our past, we’re all capable of having healthy relationships. In order to get there though, we need to sort through our personal shit first. Whether that’s through an epic guitar solo or psychotherapy, we all have emotional baggage that we need to unpack.

10. Relationships are weird and wonderful.

If aliens were forced to watch Purple Rain, I’m pretty sure they’d think it was a weird movie – because it kind of is (remove all of Prince’s iconic musical performances, and you’re basically left with the plot line of a horror film where a socially inept dude lives in a basement, makes a lot of really intense eye contact and pops up places he’s not supposed to be.) But, for those of us who are familiar with Prince, watching Purple Rain is pure love. In fact, Purple Rain is a bit like any relationship. Moments of joy and beauty are interspersed with truly cringe worthy ones and shit you just can’t explain (like weird kissing, puffy shirts and clown doll collections) but that (for whatever reason) you adore anyways. We accept the imperfections, because taken as a whole, it’s magical.

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Rest in Peace, Prince.

 

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