Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Men and Women (page 1 of 11)

Top Twelve Things I Did in Atlanta This Weekend

I hear that writing one of these lists is an easy way to write a post.  So, here it goes — Top Twelve Things I Did in Atlanta This Weekend!

1)  Going with Jana to meet Miranda, her co-producer/co-director of Atlanta’s Listen to Your Mother show.

2)  Going with Jana to meet her friend, Karen, in a local TraderJoe’s,  which was a surprisingly good idea because we were able to taste the gnocchi from the guy in the chef’s hat who was giving away free samples.

3)  Going with Jana to eat BBQ ribs with Dadcation and his family, and getting sauce all over my beard.

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4)  Going with Jana to a party at a bowling alley where I participated in my first game of laser-tag.   Considering I am a man of non-violence and pro-gun control,  I was pretty good at the game.  My biggest man-to-man combat was with this eleven year old boy.  He was quick with his trigger, but he lacked my intelligence.  Using cognitive therapy techniques that I picked up over the years, I was able to trick him into trusting me as an ally, when I promptly shot him in the back.

5) Sleeping with Loretta, Jana’s dog.   I loved this dog.   For some reason, Jana became petty and jealous when I asked her to sleep in the living room couch so I could snuggle with Loretta in her bed.   What’s the big deal?  I’ll never “get” women.

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6) Going to Ikea with Jana and her son, Henry.  By the way, just in case you were wondering, Atlanta’s IKEA looks EXACTLY like your IKEA.

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7) Forcing Jana to watch 4 hours of Gone with the Wind.  Can you believe she grew up in Georgia and NEVER saw the movie?!  This has to be rectified.  After the marathon screening, she said she wasn’t impressed.  “Scarlet is a selfish bitch,” she said.  Confused by her reaction, I brought in the big guns to explain to her why she was wrong. (thank you,  certified GWTW expert Danny on Facebook).

8) Driving on a country road somewhere in Northern Georgia and yelling, “Stop here for a photo!” every five minutes.

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9) Touring the quaint town of Madison, which we learned from the tourism office was spared the flames of Sherman’s March because:

a) Sherman had a West Point buddy who lived in town.
b) or Sherman had a mistress in town.
c) or a combination of both.

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10) Going on a tour of a pre-Civil War mansion.  Jana and I were the only guests, and our tour guide was a junior in high school. After the tour, Jana tried to fix him up with her niece in Florida. I took a lot of photos of the lighting fixtures and creepy dolls in the children’s room.

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11) Walking over a covered bridge, another first for me!

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12)  Just hanging out with Jana.

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What Do You Have to Lose?

A few years ago, when I went to New Zealand to meet Juli, it caused a stir amongst my online friends. It was as romantic and exotic a scenario as any romance novel. The green beauty of the Kiwi location added a Hollywood sheen to my adventure. I posted photos of Juli and I against the backdrops of lush woods, rocky beaches, and Maori villages built on volcanic ash. It was a wonderful trip. Strangers would send me private messages, a few of them like this:

“When I was a junior in college, I spent a year in Sweden. While there, I met Sven. He was the most beautiful man I ever met, and the best lover. For a year, I was in heaven; it was the greatest romance of my life. But after the year, I became practical and returned to my studies at Carnegie-Mellon, where I met my husband. I’m married now, with three children. And I’m very happy living in Pittsburgh. Let me emphasize that. I love my husband dearly and my children are the greatest gift. But sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Sweden. I will never know, but you have the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Stay in New Zealand with Juli. Don’t come back to the States! Live! Live like I could never live with Sven!”

There was much disappointment when my relationship with Juli fizzled out, a casualty of the great distance between us. It was a Hollywood movie with a shitty ending. It was also my first taste of the fickleness of an audience. All the new readers and followers who were once begging me for a new chapter to my great romantic saga had abandoned my story to the remainders table of the internet.

One person remained true, carrying as much about my aftermath as my travels. It was Jana, a blogging friend from Atlanta. She was one of my first online friends who pushed me to go to New Zealand when I was reluctant to take a risk.

“What do you have to lose?” she asked.

She was still there after hearts were broken.

Now she asked a new question, “How are you doing?”

We bonded after that, becoming confidantes.

Last January, I decided it was time to start dating again. Always up for a trend, I signed up for Tinder. It was terrifying for me, but Jana was there again with good advice.

“What do you have to lose?” she asked.

Jana became my dating coach during my twelve online dates that I had in the winter and spring of 2015. Before the date, I would send her a photo of what I was going to wear. After the date, I would give her the play by play. There was one woman  I liked a lot, but there was a problem — her name was exactly the same as my ex-wife, first and last name. It was the weirdest coincidence in dating history.

“Should I tell her about my ex-wife’s name NOW or LATER?”

“You better tell her now because she’s going to be freaked out.”

And yes, she was freaked out, and I never heard from this woman again.

During this time, I also became a confidant to Jana’s issues, one of them being her separation with her husband. This made me nervous because I was worried that our conversations had triggered her marital problems. She assured me that they hadn’t; they had been growing apart.

One weekend, Jana came to New York City with her niece who was checking out colleges to attend in the fall. She was interested in Columbia, where I had attended school. I accompanied them on a tour and then we went out for pizza at a local college hangout. That night, Jana and I went to their hotel bar, where she introduced me to a drink called the Sidecar. We both became a little tipsy and kissed. It was awkward, because while Jana and her husband were now separated, they were not yet divorced. We let some time pass until the divorce came through. I visited Jana in Atlanta and she visited me in New York. Something was going on with us, but we weren’t sure how to define it. We weren’t even sure it we should change our Facebook relationship status as of yet. No one ever teaches you about dating after divorce. The whole concept of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” sounds so high school.

After a wonderful weekend in New York, I freaked out and called off our budding relationship. Jana didn’t understand. I explained that I had already been involved in a long distance relationship before. Juli and I were also friends before we became romantic, and once you go too far, it is impossible to go back. After the distance proved insurmountable, our friendship never recovered. We rarely speak to each other anymore, even on social media. I didn’t want the same to happen to us. It was more important to me that we remain friends than start a relationship that was bound to have obstacles.

“What do you have to lose?” she asked.

“You,” I said.

That night, I thought about it some more. I had grown very close to Jana. We have fun together and I like her, like the kids say. So, my resolution for 2016 is to stop worrying so much and see where things lead. So, I am writing this as I take a flight to Atlanta to see Jana. Nothing to lose, only to gain. As for changing our Facebook relationship statuses, we’re taking it slow.

 

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Tinderitis

I was watching Murder She Wrote with my mother. Jessica Fletcher was helping an old friend, a golf professional, who was falsely accused of murder. The local police thought it an open and closed case, but Jessica Fletcher steadily poked holes into the evidence. After all, the victim was shot by a bullet that entered the right side of the body, which means the shooter would have to have been left-handed, and the main suspect, her dear friend, the golf pro, was right-handed, and unable to be the killer. The only other suspect capable of the crime was the owner of the pro-shop, who WAS left-handed, and had a motive – she was once jilted by the deceased on her wedding day, and she had vowed revenge. The owner of the pro-shop was cornered; she confessed.

Case closed.

“Eureka,” I cried out loud to my mother. “I don’t masturbate too often!”

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Every male has one female friend who is the ONE WHERE IT NEVER HAPPENED. She could be a friend from college, from work, or a neighbor. She is the woman with whom the opportunity once arose to move to the physical, but for some reason, guilt, fear, shyness, or just common sense, the step is never taken. The moment of temptation usually happens on a night when there is drinking, and the light is just right, falling on her like a Rembrandt painting, and maybe an extra button is open on her blouse, and you look too long at the curve of her breasts, and the way her body breathes when she laughs drunk, and then she sets her gaze on you in a moment of lust and indecision thinking about whether she is making your cock hard, until the click-clack of a waiter clearing a martini glass breaks the connection, and all returns to normal, never to be mentioned again. But it never does go back to complete normal; the night is always there, just hidden, like a tattoo on the shoulder that was poorly removed. You remain friends, but an aggressiveness builds, mostly visible only in language, as words are the best way that humans suppress forever that unfortunate minute in time when you desired to fuck a platonic friend.

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I didn’t fall. I didn’t bump into any blunt or sharp objects. The only medical explanation for the pain in my arm was my three months using Tinder. At night, despite to end my loneliness, I would lie in bed, holding my tablet up in the air with my left hand, and swipe right and left on the dating site with my thumb, the direction of the movement depending on whether the woman in the photograph passed my criteria. She must smile. She must have a bio. No bikini shots. No mountain-climbers. After three months, I began to notice a pain in my shoulder. I went to an orthopedist. I even came up with a medical term for my condition — Tinderitis.   I thought I was uber-clever and shared my diagnosis with Facebook, hoping to get some LIKES.

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“I wouldn’t tell everyone on Facebook that you injured your shoulder through Tinder,” she said, later that day.

She was the ONE WHERE IT NEVER HAPPENED.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s ridiculous. No one believes that you injured yourself by swiping.”

“It makes sense. The pain happened three months after I started using Tinder.”

“Let me tell you what most people are REALLY thinking.”

“What are most people REALLY thinking?”

“That you injured your shoulder by masturbating too much.”

“What? No one is thinking that.”

“That’s what I thought when you first told me you hurt your shoulder.”

“What?!  How much masturbating do you think I do?”

“Well, I don’t know. You’re looking at all those women on Tinder and maybe you get off on it?”

“Do you REALLY think I am masturbating to the women I see on Tinder? Most of them look crazy to me. They scare me!”

“That never stopped men before from masturbating.”

“I don’t think you really understand men.”

“Oh, I do.”

“If you understood men so much, why aren’t you dating anyone?

“I don’t date because I know men too well.”

“Eh, bullshit. You hate being alone.”

“I LOVE being alone. Why does everyone think a woman needs a MAN for her to be happy?”

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The killer on Murder She Wrote was the left-handed owner of the pro-shop.

Jessica Fletcher had saved the day.

“Eureka,” I cried out loud to my mother. “I don’t masturbate too often!”

I called my friend to tell her the news. That I was right and she was wrong.   My injury happened to my LEFT shoulder. I swipe on Tinder with my LEFT hand. But I only masturbate with my RIGHT.

Case closed.

Fictional Characters of New York #42

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“What makes a woman happy?” thought Victor, as he waited for his wife in the shoe section of Macy’s, where they were having a sale.

They were attending a matinee of “On the Town” that afternoon, but Cindy wanted to drive in early from New Jersey and park near Herald Square to go shopping.  Macy’s was decorated with a “spring bloom” theme, even though it was snowing outside in late March.

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In August, Victor will be married to Cindy for ten years, but did he really know her?  Did he know her likes and loves?  He worked long hours on Wall Street to pay for the bills and to do the best for his family, especially Eric, his son, but his wife remained a mystery, besides her affection for Kate Spade bags.

Victor and Cindy rarely talked about anything other than Eric’s schoolwork.  She was worried that he was not advancing as quickly as some of the children of her friends.

“You want him to get into Harvard, don’t you?” she would ask.

“He’s nine years old.  It’s a little early to worry about Harvard.”

Is that what Cindy wanted now out of life — to spend the next ten years making sure Eric got into Harvard?   Is that what everything leading up to the present moment has been about?

The last time Victor had sex — real sex — was on his birthday, as if she was giving him a present.

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We’re going to be late for the show,” said Victor.

“I just want to take a selfie with David and sent it to my sister!” she replied.   “it will be so funny!”

There was a fake statue of David in the lobby of Macy’s surrounded by flowers, and the tourists were eating it up.

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Victor and Cindy went to Florence for their honeymoon.   It seemed like such a long time ago.

The “Like Generation” in Dating

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I sometimes forget that I met my ex-wife Sophia online, not on a dating site, but on a long-vanished forum on LA Freenet, an experiment in free internet service in Los Angeles.

Our first conversation was about children’s books. I said my favorite was Curious George Goes to the Zoo.  She liked The Little Prince. Neither of us had read the other’s fave, so we agreed to go to the library to check out the competition.

A few days we emailed each other with the results.  She found Curious George “childish.” I found the Little Prince “pretentious and boring.” It was love at first sight.

Don’t laugh.  This is how it works in the movies.  Imagine Sarah Bullock, playing a conservationist with Greenpeace, pushing past the secretary to confront the CEO of the oil company which plans to drill off of Venice Beach, played by George Clooney.   She takes one look at him, and what do you know — this is the same guy she had sex with last night after meeting him at the bar in the Mexican café in Westwood!

Opposites attract in movies.   But what about in real life?

Personally, if I met some woman who was into rodeos, it might be fun to learn more about her passions.   I know we are all taught to be confident in our own beliefs and likes, but what ever happened to learning about new things?

Can I also say that I am a Democrat and Sophia was a Republican?   I wonder if we met in today’s angrier America whether we could even get past the first swipe.    Yes, our views were important, but love has not boundaries, right?

One of the most interesting developments in online dating today is the need to judge each other by the most superficial of things — our cultural interests. Perhaps it is the result of “swipe and meet” apps where there are no questionnaires like on E-Harmony, and the bios are the length of Twitter updates. When using an app like Tinder or Bagel Meets Coffee, we know nothing about the person’s moral or artistic character, even after a first date.  The best way to judge worthiness (other than looks and chemistry) is to grab information about their “likes,” much as we do on Facebook.   But these likes are not the old-fashioned “walks in the rain” and “pina coladas,” which are activities done as part of romantic rituals, but media-created products that are consumed, such as music and tv shows.  But what do these “likes” really say anything about us other than the fact we pushed a button?

One of my dates went completely downhill when I revealed that I never listened to NPR, as if my lack of radio-listening was a sign that I was a Tea Party member.  I asked another woman if she wanted to see a Broadway musical, and her response was “that she does NOT see musicals.” It was a confusing moment, because I wasn’t sure if she was rejecting me or had some terrible fear of actors belting out songs.

Maybe it is a New York thing, but there has been so much name-dropping on my dates, from alternative bands to Bjork exhibits, that I almost fear being banned from a dating site if I mention my love of ABBA or Curious George Goes to the Zoo.   Before dating, my biggest fear was that I would forget to shave.   Now, I feel like I need to read the right books.

“No, I’m sorry. I haven’t listened to “Serial” yet.   No, I haven’t read Dave Eggers yet.  But I do have a blog.”

“Like Mashable or TechCrunch?”

“No.  A personal blog.”

“What do you write about?”

“You know.   Usual stuff.   Like telling all my friends and the general public all about my dates.”

“Do you make any money doing this?”

“No.”

“Hmm.  I saw you went to film school.   I love movies.   I love Wes Anderson.  You see any good movies lately?”

“Well, last night I watched this movie on cable called “Quartet” about a bunch of elderly opera singers in a British nursing home. It was pretty good.”

“I don’t think we are a good match.”

Do you think common interests in music, TV shows, or movies is the best barometer of a good match? If I watch Duck Dynasty does that brand me as a Republican and Jon Stewart as a liberal, and does it matter what we CONSUME in the media?   Is this “like” mentality, even in dating, the fault of social media?

Admit One

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Well, I got through my first three months of online dating using two apps, Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel.  I had eleven first dates, three second dates, and one third date.  It was fun and I met a lot of great women.  But it was exhausting.  On one week, I arranged three dates on three consecutive nights.   I hated this overbooked schedule but everyone in New York City seems so busy with their lives,  that you come away feeling that if you don’t meet immediately, you will lose your chance to meet anyone, especially with a hundred other potential matches close to their swiping fingertips.

Today, I feel sad, not in an extreme way, but just enough for it to be a “go to bed and eat ice cream from the carton while country music plays on the radio” day.  There’s no reason to be sad.  I’m impressed with myself and how successful I was, considering I haven’t gone on a real online date, well… forever.   Best of all, I have a better idea of what I want.

I started out this enterprise with me selling myself to others,  handing out”admit one” tickets to hundreds of  women, trying to draw them into the carnival show.  But that’s not how dating works.   First comes the chaos of the carnival, and then, only when the dust settles and you find that special woman, do you hand out the one ticket that speaks directly from your heart,  the ticket that reads “admit one.”

Time to go back into the fray – I just made a new first date for Thursday night.

Wild and Crazy Dating Stories

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Conversation with my friend Craig, who I met in the street.

“Hey, Neil. How’s the online dating life?”

“It’s good. I’ve met some interesting women.”

“It must be wild. I’ve been reading the articles in the New York Times about all the crazy hookups on Tinder and sex with strangers?”

“That’s the media blowing things up to write salacious articles. They love to appeal to our fears about the internet.”

“I think it’s real. Did you see that video of the 89 year grandfather who fooled all these young women on Tinder? Their reactions will shock you!”

“That’s fake shit. A perfect example of the media using “hot topics” to get hits. I should know, I just wrote something titled “4 Lessons from My Month on Tinder,” which received more feedback than any post that I’ve written on my own personal blog this year. But the truth is, most people on these dating sites are just normal people looking for love.”

“Ha ha, yeah… you mean normal, single people wanting to bring their sexy back… with strangers! Come on, Neil, surely you must have encountered something wild so far?”

“Well, yesterday, I did get a Tinder offer to join a couple in a threesome.”

“Now, that’s more like it! What did you say?”

“I swiped no. I can barely handle one women. Who wants to also deal with her stupid husband?”

I thought when you said threesome, you meant two women.”

“No. It was a married couple. So far, no offers for threesomes with two women.”

“Anything else really wild and crazy?”

“Well, there was one woman who said that before we met for coffee she wanted to Skype.”

“Ooh, for sex talk?”

“No, quite the opposite. She gave me a third degree straight out of “Law and Order” – “Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you use drugs? Do you ever play cards for money?” I started laughing, thinking she was joking, cleverly being ironic, but she wasn’t.”

“I asked you for a story that was wild and sexy, not crazy and sad.”

“Well, how about this – I found this interesting.  As I am swiping on Tinder – yes, no, yes, no – I come across a transgender person.”

“How did you know?”

“She said in the text under the photo. I am transgender.”

“OK.”

“And I know transgender issues are big now, with that terrific TV show, Transparent. And you know how I am all for LGBT rights, but when I actually encountered a transgender person on a dating site, it made me stop in my tracks. I felt a little hypocritical, because there was no way I was going to swipe right and say yes, no matter what she looked like. I’m just not ready for it on a personal level. I believe in it for society, but I’m not sure I am ready to overcome my own internal bias over what is “male” and what is “female.” I’m not sure I am ready to date someone who is transgender. I thought about writing about this in a blog post.”

“No way. Don’t write that blog post.”

“Why not?”

“Because it sounds like you are anti-transgender.”

“I’m not anti-transgender. I’m just being honest about confronting my own bias. Maybe in ten years I will be able to date a transgender person, but not now.”

“Don’t write the post. You still sound like you hate transgender people.”

“I don’t hate transgender people!”

“So, are you saying that if Bruce Jenner publicly says, I am a woman, operation and all, you still wouldn’t date him?”

“I wouldn’t date Bruce Jenner.”

“The Olympic champion? Someone who has been on the front of Wheaties?”

“I’m not interested in Bruce Jenner.”

“It’s almost un-American.”

“You would date Bruce Jenner?”

“Bruce Jenner – sure. If he is fully a woman. I mean, when I was growing up, there were two posters hanging in my bedroom — Farrah Fawcett Majors and Bruce Jenner. Enough said.”

“Anyway, online dating is interesting because it make you confront your own stereotypes, stuff that we are always so progressive about online but never have to actually confront. Do I like blonds or brunettes? Is she too fat or too skinny? Will I date a woman with three children? A black woman? An Arab woman?”

“You sound very judgmental.”

“I’m probably more open than a lot other people. One woman said she doesn’t date men outside of Manhattan, as if Queens is in another country!”

“So are there any definite NOs for you — other than transgender people? What about dating someone gay?”

“Why would I date someone gay?”

“I always thought you were bisexual.”

“Why would you think that? I’m not bisexual. I’m straight.”

“You’re always talking about Broadway musicals with your friend Danny. I thought you guys had something going on.”

“Danny is straight. He is married with two children. Just because we talk about Broadway musicals doesn’t mean that we are gay. That stereotype is so old.”

“Ok, I get it. The secret is safe with me.”

“But that reminds me of one funny story about gays on Tinder.”

“Ooh! Finally. As a supposed “humor” writer, you rarely tell any funny stories.”

“I told you about that article I wrote for that online magazine titled “4 Lessons From My Month on Tinder.”

“Yes.”

“After I handed it in, the editor asked me to take a photo of someone swiping Tinder on a screen. I said sure, always up for a photographic challenge. So I took a photo of my own hand swiping the screen of my tablet. She said she liked the photo, but since her readership was mostly female, it would be better if the hand was a feminine one, and not one covered with strands of dark hair, inherited from my Eastern European grandparents. So, I went back to my photography studio (AKA the kitchen table), held my hand at a certain angle, and adjusted the lighting so my hand would appear more “lady-like.” I then went into the Tinder app and temporarily changed my preference from men looking for women to men looking for men. I wanted to create a photo of a woman swiping YES to a hunky man.  The photo came out perfectly, but in my zeal for the perfect shot, I accidentally swiped too far, so said YES to this man looking for love. I switched my preferences back to “looking for women,” but all day I was worried about this mysterious NYC gay man. What if he swipes yes back to me? What would I tell him? Would I have to apologize and say that I am not gay and swiped on him by accident? Would he believe me? Would he think I am trying to not hurt his feelings? Would he be disappointed if he found me very attractive and here I was – crushing his dreams? Luckily, and also rather sadly, I never heard from him, so apparently he didn’t feel the same way about me that I accidentally felt about him. Even though I am not gay, it stung to be rejected. I thought about writing about this in a blog post.”

“No. Don’t write about this either. Maybe you should just stay off your blog for awhile.”

Dating Advice

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Female friend on dating:

“Think about her. What can you offer her? If she is a single mother, her children will come first. Can you be a good father figure? A role model? Can she look up to you as a man? Can you be patient and understanding, and appreciate her for her true self, and forgive her for any of her bad moods? Can you look into her eyes, and without words, tell her that she has someone she can always count on? Do you cuddle?”

Male friend on dating:

“Take your age, divide it in half, and add two. That’s who you should date. Not anyone your own age. Look at Mick Jagger. No one with children. Women with children have lost their sense of humor and if one of her kids gets a bad report card, she won’t be in the mood for sex. No one crazy. No one with a brother or father in the police force. Black women, Jewish women, Latina women all OK. No Italian women. From personal experience. Never use the word ‘cuddle.'”

Three Months Later

I was not surprised when she blocked me on Facebook and Twitter.   She TOLD me that she was going to do it.   But I figured it would be for a few days, and then she would be back.   It wasn’t the first time we went through this charade.

Juli and I met online.  We became immediate friends.  We were both going through a divorce, but as bloggers, we chatted mostly about writing.    Gradually this platonic friendship grew into something more — a long distance romance.

And it was definitely a LONG distance romance.  I lived in New York.  She lived in New Zealand. When we spoke on the phone, we were more than a day apart.   After a year of struggling with our schedules, chatting at inconvenient hours, we decide there was only one solution — I had to travel to New Zealand to see her.

For a month and a half, I had the most amazing time of my life. I spent Christmas and New Years with Juli and her young son.   It was summer in New Zealand!  We traveled around the South Island, and everywhere I went,  the beauty of the landscape blew me away.  I even learned how to camp… in a tent!   I found myself falling in love with a special woman.

The problems only started when I returned to the States.  Where do we go from here?  She was unable to leave the country because of her son.   We discussed my moving to New Zealand, but where would I work? Where would I stay? What if things didn’t work out?

There were no fights. Just a lot of unanswered questions. I was indecisive. I wanted baby steps. She wanted grand gestures. If I could go back in time, I might play my hand differently. Or I might not.

A long-distance relationship can be powerful, but it comes with it’s own set of strains. There were times when Juli would tell me that she needed to hide me on Facebook or Twitter, not out of anger, but because it brought up feelings of yearning and jealousy. I would laugh and tell her that she was being silly, but I understood exactly how she felt. It was difficult being separated from someone you cared about, and the breezy connections you have on social media can feel like an insult to the deep and honest love of a true relationship.

Three months ago, Juli went one step further.   She said that she needed to stop talking with me — for the sake of both of us.   Our long-distance relationship was holding us back from real life.

I laughed and told her to take her break. “I’ll be waiting for you when you come back,” I texted.

But she didn’t text back. And she didn’t answer any of my emails.

We haven’t interacted in three months.  She was serious this time.  Circumstances had changed and time had passed.   She had gone back to school and was searching for work.   She didn’t need me bogging her down, especially if our relationship wasn’t going anywhere.

Now the roles were now reversed.   She didn’t see my updates online, but I still saw hers.   I knew she got a new job from seeing her Twitter updates.   But I couldn’t talk to her about it.   The sight of her name brought up emotions that I’m not sure I wanted to feel anymore. So, after I write this post, I need to go on Twitter and Facebook, and block her too.   It just hurts too much.

Which Levi’s Jeans Makes My Ass Look the Best?

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For the last few months, there have been these YouTube advertisements plastered all over the subway platforms, in the subway cars, and even on the subways themselves. They showcase a group of girls who look no more than fifteen years old, and have six million followers each.  I’ve never heard of any of them. Bethany Mota? Michelle Phan? Clearly I’m not in the right demographic.  One aspect that I did notice is that they are “fashion and lifestyle” bloggers.

“I’m doing it wrong,” I tell myself each time I board it a train and see one of these ads. “Why didn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?”

One morning, not too long ago, as a mariachi band was playing in my subway car, I had a revelation.

“Why couldn’t I become a fashion and lifestyle blogger?” I asked the guitarist wearing the sombrero.  “There are so few middle-aged male fashion and lifestyle bloggers giving advice to other men! The field is completely wide open!”

And that’s how this this post came into existence.  Well, actually, there were two more steps before I get to the post.

First has to do with my dating life.  Or rather it’s lack of existence.  Last week, I was talking to a friend, a recently divorced woman who had already gone on a few dates and was pushing me to join an online service.

Seeking good advice, and trying to change the subject,   I said, “Tell me, and be honest, as a friend. What do women most look for in a man?  Is it his career achievements, his sense of humor, or his intelligence?”

She laughed, saying, “The number one attribute that women look for in a man is — how good his ass looks in a pair of jeans.”

This totally blew my mind.   And then I promptly forgot about the conversation.

This morning, around 10AM, my mother asked if I wanted to go shopping with her at the Macy’s on Queens Boulevard. She received a “Friends and Family 25% coupon” in the mail and she was always up for a bargain.  I hate shopping for clothes, but I agreed, mostly for selfish reasons. Near this Macy’s is a diner that makes a good Reuben sandwich, and there is also a Best Buy across the street, and I wanted to play with the new Samsung phone.

By noon, we were in the department store.

My mother said, “I want to check out some bras,” and I knew this was my cue to go check out the men’s department.

“You know what,” I said. “I could use a new pair of jeans. I’ll meet you back here in a half hour.”

So I went to the men’s department, which is always the crappiest section in every department store, located on the dark and dingy lower level next to the appliances.

I passed by the fancy designer jeans and went straight for the Levi’s against the far wall.   I’m a Levi’s guy.   I mean, other than two brief moments of weakness in my life where I bought other brands of jeans (one was Wrangler in fifth grade and the other was a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt men’s jeans that I would rather not discuss),  I have worn Levi’s all my life. More specifically, I have worn Levi’s 501 jeans since junior high school, never deviating, never changing.

But something changed when I accidentally bumped into this sign.

sign

I had a number of thoughts.

1) Therapy.   Why do I always wear the same style of 501 jeans?   Could my unwavering choice of jeans be symbolic of a lifelong rut,  the equivalent of only eating Cheerios your whole life, or never leaving your house?  Do I need to change up my style of Levi’s jeans in order to change up my life?

2) Dating.  If my ass in jeans was going to be the dealbreaker in any relationship with a woman, I needed as much help as possible.  I wasn’t born with the genes for jeans.   You see, that was clever.   Clever people never have good asses.

3) Commerce.   What if I tried every single style Levi’s jean, making note of which jeans made my ass look the best, and then wrote about it in my first “fashion and lifestyle” post for middle-aged men, inspiring a whole generation to look to me as their sartorial guru?Who knows — by next year, I could be in a YouTube advertisement on the E-train, next to the fifteen year old YouTube stars?

So, that’s how this post was born.  I went into the dressing room, sneaking in every different pair of numbered Levi’s jeans as I could find in the stacks of jeans, dressing and undressing and taking photos under the worst lighting ever known to man , and probably making the men in the others stalls wondering what the hell I was doing in there with all the shuffling and clicking of the camera.

OK, men — so here is what I learned about the various Levi’s Jeans.   Just be advised that your ass might be different than mine.

First up was my old favorite — a pair of 501 jeans.

501

It was important to first try on a new pair of 501 jeans as a “control” subject on which to compare and contrast the other styles.  Every since I entered my first science fair back in the day, I’ve always been very determined to follow the correct scientific approach.

The 501 has an “iconic straight fit,” but as you can see from the photo, it does very little for my ass, and the material by my thigh hangs like the drapes in a summer house.

501_2

I don’t want to badmouth the 501. It is a sturdy, honest choice. And it is the only style of Levi’s jeans with the “signature button fly.”  Sadly, what I once found very cool, hip, and special, I now just see as something that requires extra work when I need to pee.

No to 501. It’s time to move on. Sorry, old friend.

The 505 “Regular Fit” fit pretty good, and didn’t feel much different than the 501s.  Like twin brothers.   The boring twin brother who became the accountant.

505

Described as a “classic, stylish and comfortable straight leg for all occasions,” it felt as generic as the description.  No one ever gets laid wearing the 505s.

No to 505.

The 517 “Bootcut” was the only authentic boot cut that the Macy’s had in Queens, maybe because very few people in Queens ever ride their horses over the Queensborough Bridge to go to Manhattan for brunch.

517

Everything just felt wrong with these jeans. They were too long, and too high, and too much room in the seat. And do cowboys really need so much extra room in the groin area? Maybe now I understand why so many of my female friends have moved to Austin. Unless I was going to attend one of those “City Slickers” dude ranches over the summer, I would feel like a idiot walking around the city in these jeans.

No to 517.

Not unsurprisingly, this particular Macy’s on Queens Boulevard sold every available type of  Levi’s”relaxed fit” style, which I think was a not so subtle way of Macy’s executives telling us that, “You are the Borough of Fat People.”

First up was the 550 “Relaxed,” which is described as “a classic laid-back fit” — and by “laid-back” I think they mean, “jeans for those who used to go to Grateful Dead concerts.”

550

These jeans didn’t enhance my ass AT ALL. In fact, it made it my rear end look even less impressive than it does in real life. This is a jeans for sitting — for an outdoor music festival, for smoking pot with your baby boomer friends, for watching an entire season of Orange is the New Black.

These are not the jeans to enhance your ass.

No to 550.

The 559 “Relaxed Straight” was even worse.

559

These were the worst possible jeans for my build, and the extra room in the rear made it look like I was wearing a pair of adult diapers under my jeans. Not sexy at all.

No to 559.

The 560 “Comfort Fit” continued the slide into denim atrociousness and I imagined old Levi Strauss himself turning in his grave at the thought of his name on these pants.

560

The 560 is roomy in the seat and thigh, but the waist is so high that I could have lifted these pants over my head WHILE still wearing them.

No to 560.

The 569 “Loose Straight Cut” is what I affectionately called “the gangster jeans.” The fact that these pants were the biggest seller in this Macy’s says a lot about the citizens in my neighborhood, and why no one in Manhattan ever wants to come visit me in Queens.

569

I always see young guys on the bus from Flushing wearing these jeans, halfway down their ass, and I never understood how they kept the pants from just falling down around their ankles. Now I know the truth. They don’t keep it up. After taking this photo, the pants fell around my ankles.

No to 569. I don’t want to show that much of my ass.

The 510 “Skinny” jeans gets a lot of press because all the young hipsters wear these in Brooklyn.  I was pretty skeptical about them until I put them on, and you know what – I thought they looked pretty good.

510

Hey, I’m not bragging or anything that I still have “the right stuff.” And sure, I suppose I was a little narcissistic when I climbed on top of the seat, took off my shirt and imagined myself as Mick Jagger singing “Brown Sugar” to the mirror.

And then I sat down.  And the jeans smashed my balls into what could only be described as a vise hold, in what seemed to be a punishment for that #NotAllMen joke I made on Twitter a few weeks ago.

No to 510.

One by one, I compared the jeans.   I was in the dressing room for so long that I forgot about the time. An hour had passed, and my poor mother was wandering around Macy’s looking for me, and freaking out. And then came the announcement, said to the entire Macy’s over the loudspeaker system interrupting the music, “Will customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. Customer Neil Kramer please come to the register in the men’s department. You mother is looking for you.”

So, I never did try all the styles.  I felt bad for mother, and I was hungry for that Reuben.

So, now is the big reveal.   Did I find my Holy Grail of Levi’s Jeans?

And the answer is yes.   The winner was clearly the 513.

The 513 is the “Slim Straight.”  It gives you a bit of the snugness of the skinny jeans, but lets you keep your testicles for future reference.  It is comfortable like the 501, just not as baggy.

513

Look at my ass.  Have you ever seen it looking any better?

I know this post was probably long-winded, something that Bethany Mota or Michelle Phan or any of those fifteen year old superstars would never do in any of their YouTube fashion videos, but remember — this is only my first lifestyle post, so I’m still learning.

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