"Update" NYC

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Respect is a lot like trust. It is something that must be earned rather than handed to someone on a silver platter and those that are simply given the respect without ever earning it will never truly appreciate it. So it wasn’t any coincidence that this past week I witnessed, reflected, researched and experienced all things that surrounded…you guessed it…Respect.

Of course, in doing the research about the topic Respect, the first thing I looked up was the famous song by Aretha Franklin. I was surprised by two things. 1. It wasn’t her that originally sang it but rather Otis Redding in 1965. 2. Otis was singing about how he will do anything for his woman even though she had done him all sorts of wrong. Even how vastly different the two versions of this song are, while the delivery was opposite, the two singers were asking for the same thing, Respect.

As last week started off, I was already not in the best of moods. I went pretty much an entire weekend without hearing a peep out of Mr. B. after last seeing him at his party the previous Friday. I was expecting a little bit more. I guess that comes with expectations and that is the possibility of being disappointed. And I was. And I am still. There is a rule I live by and that is: If someone wants to reach you, they will. It is rather simple and instead of wasting time constantly checking your phone, email and any other device that will alert you that someone has contacted you. Simply accept the fact. If you have made effort to reach out and have received nothing in return. You have your answer. I do find the situation with Mr. B. and I a complete lack of Respect given everything that has happened so far but will I reach out again? No. There is some pride left in this old soul of mine.

After the gym on Monday, I decided to meet up with a friend of mine for a glass of wine at this cute wine bar called, Medi, near my apartment. After talking about our jobs the next topic of course would be relationships. It turns out she is going through a similar situation with her boyfriend. The minimal communication, just giving enough interest to give false hope and all the while we sat there making up all sorts of excuses as to why he has not contacted her. I finally had to pause and realize that as we sit there drinking our wine and making up scenarios as to why he isn’t giving her the attention she deserves it occurred to me that what we have here is a classic case of: LOR = Lack of Respect. Is it a real relationship if there is no Respect for the other person? I don’t need any self-help book to tell me the answer to that one. After we said goodbye and I reflected on all the advice that I had just given my friend, it was time that I listened to my own words when it came to Mr. B.

I woke up the next day feeling great about the decision I made with regards to the communication level I have with Mr. B., and I started to gain a little bit of my self-Respect back. We all know that when we like someone, we tend to do things that from the outside looking in, you’d rather just not do or even experience but that is life and as we get older we are all hopeful that it will all start to get easier. My plans that night was to have dinner at an ex’s apartment, we had only gone a few dates earlier this year and while it wasn’t going to work for me, we still remained in touch with a friendly text message here and there.

This dinner gathering I had assumed was going to be just the two of us. So when I arrived to his apartment all the way up in Spanish Harlem I was surprised when I walked in his apartment and saw a young guy sitting on the couch reading a text book and working on a laptop. I wasn’t introduced so I took it upon myself to handle the introductions. Turns out that the young man sitting there was his boyfriend, I wasn’t prepared for that but I didn’t care really because I rather enjoy getting to know new people. We all gathered around the dinner table, wine was poured and it was time to get acquainted and reacquainted with the dinner party. I asked the usual questions to the couple, “How long have you been together?” “How did you guys meet” and they answered the questions in complete unison. I was having a rather good time at dinner and then the young one asked me what my opinions were on a couple having an “Open relationship.” My opinion has never changed ever since people have become so freely to relay to me that they are either in an open relationship or wouldn’t mind being in one. My thoughts are this, if the two people in the relationship have an honest discussion about the rules they set-up for this open relationship and they RESPECT the rules than I see no harm in having one. Of course my question back to the young one was, “Why do you ask my thoughts? Are you two in an open relationship?” The next part of this you might want to really pay close attention to.

As we sat there eating the delicious meal that consisted of pork chops, homemade stuffing and green beans, the topic of open relationships went to the next level. Suddenly I was being asked what my opinion was on having sex with someone that had prosthetic legs. I had to think about that one. My answer was, “If I was married or had a boyfriend and he had his legs and was in an accident that then required him to get prosthetic legs. Than I would stand by him no matter what but if I was single and a guy I just met had prosthetic legs wanted to have sex…I would have to decline the offer.” It didn’t take long for the happy couple to admit to me that they are in an open relationship. They have their rules and they are only allowed to play together not separately. I should have kept my mouth full of the pork chops but something inside me wanted to know why they asked me about sex with someone that had prosthetic legs. I mean, how often is one asked this question at the dinner table? And so…I asked.

They both looked at each other with grins on their faces as if they had just taken a peek at their Christmas presents before unwrapping them. The story goes a little something like this. A few Saturday’s ago, on a particular quiet evening, they both log onto this app on their iPhone’s called, Grindr. I am not going to explain what that app is, I am sure all that are reading this are fully aware of this app. Turns out that while on this app they started up a conversation with a nice looking guy. They invite this guy over to their apartment for a threesome. The guy agrees on meeting them and before the address was exchanged the third party guy writes, “I have prosthetic legs. Are you still ok with me coming over?” I guess to some people out there, having prosthetic legs is NOT a deal breaker. Half hour later, the man shows up to their door. He looks great from the top of his head down to…well…they weren’t sure yet what to expect. Things quickly move to the bedroom and before you know it, the legs are removed (at this point in their sharing, I was secretly hoping that I had just kept my mouth shut and asked for the recipe for the stuffing instead). After moving the legs off the bed, the happy threesome continued along with their business. I asked them if at this point in their evening if either one of them discovered that maybe they couldn’t complete the act. There was hesitation and eventually everyone had a good time. After all was said and done, legs were put back on and the man left the happy couples home.

By the time this story had finished. I no longer wanted my meal and quickly finished the wine that was in my glass and moved over to the couch to watch the TV that was on. I needed something to erase any images I was having. Finally it was time for me to leave but before I left, I did confess to them that while open relationships are not my thing nor is having sex with some stranger that has prosthetic legs. I did want to let them know that I Respected them for not only being very honest with each other but that they seemed happy. We all hugged it out and back home I went. Not the Tuesday evening I was planning but that’s the thing about New York, you never know where your evenings will take you.

October 11, 1996. It is a date that I will never forget. The day that I started the life I had always dreamed I would live ever since I was a little kid. It is the day that I moved to New York City. I landed at 11 p.m. in JFK. No job, no friends or family, no place to live. Just a dream, some money wrapped in a rubber band and five pieces of luggage. Every year on this day, I take myself out and raise a glass to myself and the city. The city that I RESPECT, the city that gave me the biggest welcome that I could ever receive. I am grateful that I have never been homeless, hungry and somehow, someway managed to pay my rent (ok, so there have been a few times I was late on paying but it got paid alright.) This city is known for chewing people and spitting them out without showing the slightest of remorse. The trick to making it in this city aside from ambition is RESPECT. If you Respect this city, it will Respect you back.  Basic law of the jungle, Respect the land and the animals and you have a lesser chance of being eaten alive.

So, this past Thursday marked my 16th year of living in this fabulous city. I was all set to just hit the gym and afterwards go to a wine bar all by myself and toast my anniversary. Instead, I got out of the gym and saw several messages from a few of my closest friends telling me to come to my friend’s apartment for a home cooked meal and giggles. In other words, to celebrate my New York City Anniversary with the ones I loved. I got there and the drinks were already being poured, the pots and pans were out in the kitchen and I could tell that this evening was going to be relaxing and just what I needed. We all sat around the dinner table, did what we do best…gossiped and drank. After dinner, we all sat around the TV and watched the political debates and did our best to give drunken opinions on what we thought was wrong with the world. Thank God no one was listening to us because we didn’t make much sense but what did make sense was the delicious chocolate cake that was brought out and devoured by all of us. As my friends and I hit the street and said goodbye I looked up and saw the Empire State Building. I am lucky, fortunate and every other positive adjective that you can think of that I live here. I get to look at a significant building that some people only get to see in books or in the movies and I have great friends to share it with. I smiled and told the city, “Happy Anniversary Baby.” I hailed a cab and like a real New Yorker, told the cab driver which avenue to take and which ones to avoid in order to get me home safely and quickly.

When I woke up on Friday morning all I could think of was 6pm that day. I just wanted a relaxing work day and to have an even more relaxing evening. I didn’t want to do anything but finish up some writing that was required of me and to be able to visit with some friends of mine. And that is exactly what I did. After work, I hit the gym and rushed over to my friend’s apartment in Chelsea so that they could give me the play by play of the Barbra Streisand concert they had attended the night before. It is actually adorable with just a hint of psychotic how these two people are over her. I wasn’t able to stay long due to a deadline for work. So, I hugged them goodbye, thanked them for dinner and back home I went and finished up my next article for Yahoo!

Saturday I woke up to a text message from a coworker alerting me that our paychecks had been directed deposited and it was time to shop. I decided to hold onto the money and just ran some errands before meeting some friends of mine for brunch at Serafina’s over on Broadway. I was the second person to arrive and the first person there was a friend of ours whom recently had a baby boy. As much as I wanted to pay attention to my friend, it was the baby that stole my undivided attention. If I had ovaries, they would have been bouncing all over the place, that is how much I love this baby and babies in general. The brunch was great and as usual the topics fell into relationships and after we all said goodbye, off to interview someone for my latest article. Afterwards, I was running behind and quickly showered, changed outfits and went to the Lower East Side to pre-game with a girlfriend of mine before heading off to the bar, Mona’s, over on Avenue B. The reason for the gathering was to welcome back a friend of ours who had been in Los Angeles for work. It was there that I met the man she has been currently seeing, along with congratulating another friend on her recent engagement. I could only stay for two beers and a shot of Jameson before my phone was buzzing with text messages from friends asking me if I was on my way to the next party. I quickly said goodbye to everyone and hopped in a cab to make my way to the west side.

Once I got to the ever classy bar, Ninth Avenue Saloon, it was packed. But it was packed in a good way because the reason for the gathering was to say goodbye to a dear friend of mine and ex-roommate. While it was hard to grab his attention, we did manage to squeeze in some quality time as well as a shot of Jameson. Afterwards, people were starting to get antsy and wanted to shake things up a bit and next thing I knew, I was walking myself over to Bartini for I thought was a night cap but ended up being four more beers later and some light dancing. While it was a rather early night for all of us, getting home at 1:30 on a Saturday night in New York City was something I hadn’t done in awhile and it felt nice. I still knew that despite me getting home at a descent hour that I would probably be waking up with some sort of hangover.

Sunday morning, getting up early when I didn’t have anything planned was highly annoying. I didn’t fight it though; instead I got my ass out of bed, down stairs to the deli and grabbed my coffee, paper and a banana. As the TV played reruns of The Nanny in the background, I eased into the day. Finally it was time to pull it together, so I showered and headed over to the West Village. I decided to walk from my apartment because the weather was amazing. It was so warm it almost felt like spring again. As I was walking to the West Village, I got a message from my date that he was running ten minutes behind, so I took that opportunity to pay a birthday wish to a friend of mine who was having a small gathering at, Pounds and Ounces. After paying my respects to the birthday boy off to my date I went.

This date was a second date. It was with the guy that showed up on our first date rather sweaty. I originally called him, McSweaty but I think for this purpose I am changing his name to, Mr. Jones.  We were to meet at a gay dive bar called, Julius’. This bar’s claim to fame is that it is New York City’s oldest gay bar and so was the clientele. I arrived first and sat down with a Blue Moon. Mr. Jones arrived and we sat down and it has actually been three weeks since I last seen him. So, it was almost like it was our first date all over again. We even found ourselves asking the same questions we did on our first date because we both sort of forgot what the others answers were the first time around. I found him to be funny and after our first beer we both started to loosen up. He even ordered some food from the bar to which he paid for, so I decided to get us another round of beers. As he ate a pickle behind a napkin (since I loathe pickles) we talked about everything that happens on these types of dates. We discussed everything from movies to music to families and the upcoming holidays and it was also during this date that I told my mind to shut off all things regarding Mr. B. and it worked. I was having a nice time.

After our beers at Julius’ he suggested we go to another dive bar. I told him that since we are pretty close to Christopher Street that is basically dive bar row. So, he had never been inside The Hangar. We walked in and walked out just as quickly. He could tell I wasn’t feeling it and I just couldn’t do it. So we went across the street to Ty’s. There we grabbed two seats at the bar and we continued our date. Mr. Jones got slightly distracted due to the football on the TV but still managed to laugh at my expense. You see, earlier while at Julius’ we shared a plate of French fries. He had to take a call from his roommate and while he stepped outside, this guy sitting next to me looked me in the face, didn’t say a word and grabbed a few French fries off our plate and then continued his conversation with his friends. I didn’t know what to say. In one regard I admired how ballsy he was and on the other hand, I thought how rude was he to do that. As we were laughing about that Ty’s, it was right about that time that a guy sitting on my left side tapped me on my shoulder and as he held this long pretzel he said, “Would you like a blunt?” He was an older man and slightly drunk but I laughed as he thought the pretzel was a blunt and after I turned my back to continue talking to Mr. Jones, the man taps me again on the shoulder with the pretzel in his hand and says “This pretzel is the size of my penis.” It was right about there that Mr. Jones said, “You seem to attract some interesting people.” Story of my life. It was right about there that we both were kind of tired and it was a Sunday, etc. So we agreed to call it a night. We walked to Seventh Avenue South and before he went down into the subway, he gave me a big hug and a nice kiss on the lips. He told me to contact him the next day. All in all not a bad second date. Will I see him again? Who knows; I certainly would be open to it.

As I got home, and put the finishing touches on this entry I thought of how much Respect goes into life. The amount of Respect we have within ourselves is usually directly proportioned to the amount of Respect that we will get back from the world. It is also the hardest Respect to earn because if you don’t have it for yourself how do you expect to receive it from others? As I thought about how this past week I celebrated my anniversary of living in New York, getting to spend time with so many different sets of friends and even getting a second date with someone, I couldn’t help but feel my own self Respect begin to rise. Sure, at times all it takes is for someone to not contact you, lose a job, or suffer a break-up to feel that sense of feeling like a failure but it is the self Respect that you have for yourself that will get you through those tougher times. Maybe this week take some time to find out how much self Respect you have for yourself and find out just how much it means to you.

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