Fantasy Friday: date night in Venice

If you’re a fan of dating game shows or spend time on dating websites, you’re probably familiar with this common query: describe your perfect date. 

It’s a good question, and one that presumably offers a good deal of insight about the respondent. For instance, if you like long walks on the beach, you’re probably not afraid of water. You also don’t mind walking on uneven surfaces or getting sand in your shoe. You’re someone who can tolerate moderate doses of discomfort. That’s important to know up front.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about dates in my own life. My husband and I have been married for three years and together for nine. We go out together quite often, but I don’t think of these outings as dates. I associate dating with getting to know someone new and trying to figure out whether a relationship is worth pursuing. Dates are a trial, marriage is the verdict. Yep, we’re going to do this hanging out forever thing.

Nonetheless, as a romance writer, I feel like I should be able to describe an awesome date, and if I were to enact the vision in my own life, I would want my husband to be my dating partner.

I’d go back to a place we visited a few years ago: Venice, Italy. IMG_1405

We’d begin the evening at sunset with a water taxi ride along the Grand Canal. The boat would drop us of in the Piazza San Marco where we’d drink Spritzes at an outdoor cafe. We’d find a place for dinner off the square. We’d drink lots of red wine and eat squid ink pasta and burrata, this insanely good Italian cheese that’s like mozzarella but all melty inside. Dairy magic. We’d follow dinner with gelato, of course, because a day in Italy is not complete without gelato. And then, wine drunk and sugar happy, we’d play a game we invented along with my sister during our first trip to Venice: find the smallest street. The principal is simple, you look for the narrowest street and follow that street until you find an even narrower one. You try not to get lost because Venice’s disconnected land masses, bridges, and alleyways form a life size maze. Eventually, we’d find our way back to our hotel…

Where would you go on your perfect date? What would you do?

Fantasy Friday: mind vacation

We sit on a concrete bench and wait for the MARTA train that will take us to the Atlanta airport. David pulls out his iPad and begins reading a math paper. I keep my eyes focused on the tracks, trying to suppress the onslaught of questions that arises every time I travel. Did we lock the door? Is the oven off? Was the fridge closed? What about the dryer? Were all the lights off? Was the toilet running? Maybe I left the sink on. What if I left the sink on? What if we miss our flight? Where’s the train?

I worry. David reads. And is often the case when my mind becomes mired in anxious thoughts, I turn to him and say, “Why can’t I be you?”

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I wouldn’t want to be David forever. I like being me for the most part. But I do believe that spending a little bit of time in David’s brain could provide me with some much needed respite. My brain could take a break from churning cognitive distortions, and I could search out the secret to David’s equanimity so I could reproduce it in my own mind when I returned to my body.

Beyond the potential for a mental health break, I’d like to vacation inside David’s mind so I could figure out what it’s like to be a man. Think of how that could improve my writing! And, for a short period of time, I would know a ton of stuff about math and be able to appreciate it in the same way that he does. That would be cool.

I realize a vacation in David’s mind isn’t without risks. I tend to idolize him and being exposed to his baser thoughts might temper my admiration in a way that could harm our marriage. I’d like to think I’d be cool with his fantasies about other women, but I probably wouldn’t be. Most importantly, though, I probably don’t want to know what he really thinks when I ask him to unlock the front door just one more time so I can check to make sure I haven’t left the sink on.

I probably don’t want to know that, but I might take my chances if mind vacations were an option. It’d be so nice to have a break.

Whose mind would you vacation in?

Fantasy Friday: the ultimate steak sandwich

My steak sandwich cravings started in high school. I’d hang out at the mall on weekends with my friends, trying on clothes at American Eagle Outfitters and huffing men’s cologne at Abercrombie & Fitch. Eventually, we’d make our way to the food court, and I’d order a cheesesteak at The Great Steak and Potato Company. I opted for no peppers or mushrooms, just thinly sliced steak, grilled onions, Provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a generous helping of mayonnaise. So simple, so delicious, especially with a side of fries and their signature lemonade. At that age, steak sandwiches were one of the few indulgences I could afford, representing the promise of adulthood and the eventual control I would have over my diet.

Unfortunately, adulthood has not brought an endless bounty of steak sandwiches. Nonetheless, I still often seek out my teenage pleasure food. I was eating a steak sandwich recently when it struck me that the sandwich itself would be a good topic for Fantasy Friday. What would I put on my ultimate steak sandwich?

Thinly sliced steak, grilled onions, and a top notch hoagie roll are a must for me, as is mayonnaise–a lot of mayonnaise. I’d also want cheese, but instead of provolone, I’d opt for a queso that would be all melty and goopy. And, finally, I’d kick the flavor up a notch with roasted garlic and jalapeño peppers. Oh man, now I’m hungry!

What would you put on your ultimate steak sandwich?

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Fantasy Friday: courtside at the college basketball national championship

My dad and uncle are visiting me in Atlanta this weekend for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, a PGA tournament that pits the top thirty players in golf against each other. This is the third year in a row we’ve gone to the tournament, and I must say, as someone who doesn’t follow golf, I really enjoy watching it live.

Unlike other professional sporting events I’ve attended where I’m relegated to the nosebleed section, I can get right up in the action at a golf tournament. I’ve watched Tiger Woods tee off from twenty feet away. Why so close? Because golf courses are huge, and it’s only possible to view a tiny sliver of the action unfolding at any given time. So we might begin the day by watching people tee off on the third hole and then follow one golfer around for a while. As a casual spectator who doesn’t have much invested in any one player, it makes for a relaxing time.

In honor of my golf outing this weekend, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Fantasy Friday to sports. In particular, if I could get front row seats to any sporting event in the world, which one would I choose? There are other golf tournaments I would like to see, the Masters Tournament in Augusta for one, but if I had to choose one event, I would default to my first love in sports, college basketball.

When I was in grade school, I was a huge fan of the University of Cincinnati basketball team, the Bearcats. I memorized the Bearcat records for scoring, passing, rebounding, etc., and I knew the history of their triumphs in the NCAA tournament (Champions in 1961 and 1962!). My dad and uncle had season tickets and every now and then one of them would take me to a game. If the Bearcats scored above a certain number of points (seventy-five I believe), we could use our ticket stub to get a free sandwich from Subway. As the points ticked toward this number, the crowd would chant, “Subway! Subway! Subway!” We’d stop to get our free sandwich on the way home from the game, and I’d take it to school for lunch the next day. For me, victory tasted like cold cuts and black olives.

In my sports fantasy, the Bearcats would make it to the final round of the NCAA tournament, and I’d cheer them to victory from a courtside seat, my dad and uncle by my side. I’d be twelve years old and look something like this:

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What sporting event would you attend?

Fantasy Friday: drinks with Dorothy Parker

I had a great time attending the Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend, especially getting the chance to see Joyce Carol Oates speak on Friday. Before her address, I got into a discussion with a friend about authors we’ve met or would like to meet. My friend, a literary type, rattled off an impressive list of living authors. Then, the conversation turned to deceased authors. He said he’d like to meet David Foster Wallace. My mind drifted immediately to Jane Austen because Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorite books. But I hesitated to pick her because I think it would be a weird encounter given the time period discrepancy. And call me a lush, but I want to meet a literary icon I can buy a drink at a bar.

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Enter Dorothy Parker. I’m not sure when I first came upon her work, but my fondness for her poem “The Flaw in Paganism” inspired me to buy a collection of her poetry at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco about a year ago. Now, the book occupies a distinguished space on my bathroom shelf. One thing I love about her poetry is how she plays to the stereotypes of romantic love and then undermines them (e.g. “Love Song“). I also like her darker poems that deal with suicide and the general absurdity of life (e.g. “Resumé” and “Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom“). Like many legends who find fame young, she faced many challenges, including being blacklisted by Hollywood movie bosses during the McCarthy era. Another tidbit I found really interesting in the Wikipedia article about her was that she left her estate to Martin Luther King, Jr.

In my fantasy, we’d meet at a pre-Prohibition era bar in New York City. We’d drink cocktails, like the Aviation shown above, and talk about love affairs. I’d ask her how to be bold and stand up for what I believe.

What deceased literary icon would you like to meet? What would you ask them?