Turning Into My Girlfriend

Slowly but surely, I am turning into my girlfriend.

I suppose this is natural in any relationship. Spend enough time around your significant other, and you start to absorb some of their traits. It’s not like I’m suddenly wearing heels and carrying a purse – at least not in public – but there are little things I’ve picked up here and there. Habits and phrases and the like. And I believe she’s done the same. After all, she was a football fan when we met, and now she’s a Denver Broncos fan, which probably has something to do with my longstanding allegiance to the team. Either that, or she’s suddenly developed excellent sports tastes.

(As an aside, there was a brief time when I did carry a purse. Well, not really. But I did strap on a fanny pack a few times in the late 80s, until I actually got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized that doing so was wrong on about a hundred different levels. Oh, the shame. I worked in a luggage store and they were all the rage. Luckily, I never succumbed to the whole “man bag” craze despite an episode of Seinfeld (greatest sitcom ever!) in which Elaine convinces Jerry to carry a purse. But I digress).

Anyway. This became evident to me yesterday, when I was shopping for groceries and picked up a tube of squeezable minced garlic.

When I visited, Tara had a tube of squeezable minced garlic in her fridge, and I sort of made fun of that. In a lovable way, of course. Because there is nothing like freshly minced garlic, am I right or am I right? Especially when you’ve got a fancy garlic press (thanks, Ikea!) that makes it simple to mince garlic to your heart’s content. I couldn’t understand why somebody would pay $3 for a tube of garlic when you can buy a whole clove for 33-cents.

And then I tried it.

I was cooking her dinner that Tuesday after Christmas. Chicken cacciatore. The recipe calls for garlic, and because all she had was that squeezable tube, I grabbed it from the refrigerator and squirted a dash into the pan.

Wow, I thought. That was easy. And really convenient. There was no garlic to peel, no garlic press to disassemble and wash, no garlic residue on my fingers. And the dish did not suffer from a lack of fresh garlic. The dish, it turned out, had no idea I’d made a fourth-quarter substitution.

Which is why I forked over $3 for a tube of squeezable garlic yesterday.

But that’s a little thing. One bigger change I’ve noticed is a sudden interest in being sociable.

Not that I was ever a hermit or anything. Growing up an Air Force brat, all my childhood friends are scattered across the globe, so there is nobody I keep in touch with. I have been unable to locate my best friend from high school, despite repeated attempts utilizing the resources of the world wide web. And the friends I made from work are all married or partnered up. It’s tough being the proverbial third wheel. Because of these factors, more often than not I found myself alone when I didn’t have the kids. This didn’t bother me; I’m the guy who took a solo road trip across the country, remember? But there was definitely something missing from my life. I would look to my parents, who always have friends to invite over or hang out with, and wonder how they made it all seem so effortless. I think a big part of it was a mental block on my part.

Turns out I enjoy hosting dinner parties!

And then I met Tara. My first trip to Ely, she had her friend Ray join us for dinner one night. I was a little surprised to learn he was coming over, but we had a good time together. In October, when we visited her mom in Seattle, there was a night spent playing cards and drinking wine with her brother’s girlfriend, Anne. Again, a highlight of the trip. I was beginning to realize I enjoyed the company of others – the laughter, the camaraderie, the stories. So when she and I threw a dinner party the Friday before New Year’s, I was actually excited to play co-host, and had a great time.

So, when I had friends from Sacramento in town over the weekend, the logical thing to do was to invite them over for dinner. We’d already had plans to meet up in Portland on Saturday, but I figured, why not have everybody over to my house in the evening, as well? That way we could have a nice, relaxing dinner, drink some wine, play some cards, listen to music, let the conversation flow. I floated the idea out there, and it was met with enthusiasm. It was a spontaneous move on my part, and totally inspired by Tara, but I was excited to have people over and entertain ’em. Besides, once I’d sent the text to Chris, I couldn’t very well back down!

Earlier in the day we’d met up at Powell’s Books in the funky, eclectic Hawthorne District of southeast Portland. My friend Chris (from Portland Book Review) and her daughter Ruthie, and Heidi and her daughter Jordan, who had flown up from Sacramento. I first met Heidi in person last June, when I lost my car in the parking garage (another Seinfeldian moment in my life), though I’ve known her through blogging – and as a business associate – for years. We walked around Hawthorne, stopping in a bunch of cool shops and taking a break for lunch at a Mexican restaurant before parting ways. I had a dinner to prepare, after all, and even though spaghetti is fairly simple, it still required a few hours to cook.

Anybody wanna guess why I ended up on the kitchen counter?

They showed up at 5 PM and the five of us – plus my kids – spent the next several hours eating, drinking, talking, listening to records, and playing Phase 10, the card game that I have really gotten hooked on these past few months. It turned out to be a great evening, much more comfortable (and less expensive) than if we’d been out on the town. I enjoyed having everybody over, though it definitely would have been even better if Tara had been there. That’s one thing we’ve talked about – the dinners we’ll host and the parties we’ll have when she’s living here. I can’t wait for those!

And I thank her for bringing me out of my shell and introducing me to a whole new world, one which I find quite appealing.

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Categories: Food, Love & Stuff, Portland

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Seinfeld def tops. Liked Taxi and Scrubbs too.

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  2. I’ll only be concerned if you start drinking Pepsi.

    And on the topic of garlic, certainly not to diss the squeezable garlic and all…but have you tried this:

    http://www.saveur.com/article/Video/video-How-to-Peel-a-Head-of-Garlic-in-Less-Than-10-Seconds

    It works it works it really REALLY works! In fact, I use a stainless steel martini shaker (fewer bulky dishes to wash). And it works!!!

    (Did I mention: It works?)

    😉

    Like

    • I have my doubts whether it actually works though, Mikalee…

      Looks too good to be true. But I’ll definitely try it next time I’ve got fresh garlic to peel! And don’t worry, you’ll never catch me with a Pepsi.

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  3. Yeah, my awesomeness is pretty hard to ignore. 😉

    Honestly, I’ve enjoyed showing you off and I’m glad we’ve had so much fun with our get-togethers. The leo/taurus pleasure palace is going to see a lot of action this year!

    And I don’t mean that in a dirty way! I swear!!

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    • I am going to have to officially rename “Mark’s Pad” the “Leo/Taurus Pleasure Palace” once you move in. Everybody will be clamoring to check in there!

      And I only half believe you when you say you aren’t being dirty…

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  4. We had such a fabulous time at your pad, Mark! Thanks so much for the memorable evening. I’m really enjoying getting to know you in a *real* way — which is just different than the “blogger Mark.” There’s just so many personality traits that don’t come through in the written form. I’m looking forward to many dinners with you and Tara — both at your place and ours.

    *cheers* to a brand-new *real* friendship!

    Heidi

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    • Personality traits like jumping up onto the kitchen counter, you mean? Little nuances like that one that aren’t necessarily captured in the humble words of one’s blog? Gotcha! 😉

      I agree…it’s always nice getting to know somebody in person, of course. It was great hanging out with you, and Jordan is pretty cool, too. Tara and I look forward to getting together with you and Ross in the future!

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  5. Sara and I laugh all the time about becoming more and more like the other. It’s inevitable. But who knew there was such a thing as squeezable garlic.
    Kathy

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  6. No wonder Tara has brought you out of your shell and introduced you to more socializing. Leo’s are VERY social people. They love to entertain and enjoy being surrounded by people. My ex was a Leo and he loved to have dinner parties.

    I too have used squeezable garlic and loved it. I’m so NOT the cook, so anything that makes cooking easier…I LOVE.

    “It’s not like I’m suddenly wearing heels and carrying a purse – at least not in public – ”

    HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA! Oh, please, Mark….DO share of photo of that because I would LOVE to see you in heels and carrying a purse. PLEASE!

    I too use to carry a purse, a fanny pack, yet decide it made me look like I had a tumor growing on my hip because I use to cram so much stuff in it.

    And why are you on the kitchen counter? Did you jump up after seeing a bug?

    Have a faaaaaaaaaaabulous week, buddy!

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    • I ain’t ‘fraid of no bugs!
      Actually, I detest ants. Had a few bad experiences with them whilst growing up. But no, I was on the counter because Rusty (pictured in the foreground there, hunched over his cards) was lodged between the counter and my seat, and on the other side, I’d have had to walk around a bunch of other people to get to my spot. Going over the counter seemed like the shortest route between Point A and Point B!

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  7. I’m going to take credit for the squeezable garlic since I had it in my fridge first. Bwahaha!! (Just kidding Tara!) As for the real garlic, have you seen those wheels where you put the garlic cloves in and you close this small door on it and then you roll it and the sharp blades inside mince it all up and you open the small door up and shake it out? Well, have you? You know seen it? Have no fear then my friend. I HAVE ONE and it truly does work. Just sayin’.

    I’m so happy to hear that you two totally compliment each other. Tara is a social diva btw, if you haven’t figured that out yet. She loves to people watch too!!

    Anyhow, I can’t wait till you both come up here. I’m still planning on making a few things for you and Tara. It’s going to be so much FUN!!

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    • Tara told me during our phone conversation this evening that it was, indeed, you who introduced her to the wonder that is squeezable garlic. So it appears that once again I owe you a debt of gratitude, Tracy. 🙂

      You’ll have to show me that garlic mincer when we come up next month. And I’m sure hoping those “few things” you’re planning on making still include creme brulee and eggs benedict. They’re long overdue and will be greatly appreciated after everything that happened in November!!

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  8. Sounds fun! I have played phase 10 so much that we had to make new phases!

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  9. A fanny pack? oh! That is just wrong on so many levels! You should only allowed to carry one around if it is bedazzled, your are retired, and you need it to carry your poker chips 🙂

    On the otherside, I like the man bag and I make my husband use it all of the time…

    Like

  10. Well, I’m unsure of your taste in sports teams, I mean I like the quarterback chosen for the Pro Bowl, but whatevs….

    As for you turning into your girlfriend, well done Tara!!!

    Like

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