Tuesday, September 18, 2018

One Date, Two Dates. Our date? Their date?

When I was in high school I always lied to my mom about the time my after school activities ended. Not because I was behind the gym listening to pre-Michelle Destiny’s Child and kissing guys who wore blindingly white Air Force Ones, I wasn’t that cool. I lied because then I’d only have to wait for her 10 minutes instead of 30. My mom was always late picking me up.

And dropping me off

I remember getting the itinerary for our senior class trip to Disney World and the meeting time was 7 in the morning. I told her we had to be there at 6:30 and I still missed the senior class picture in front of the charter buses.

In my adult life, where I only need others to drive me around because I’m too drunk to do it myself, I’m still barely on time. I guess tardiness is a hereditary trait my mother passed on to me, like our mutual love of chicken egg foo young.  

Although I’m perpetually late, one of the few instances in my life when I was on time led to me going on one of the best dates I’ve ever had.

I was working at a convention for a popular software manufacturer and on the last day of the convention, everything seamlessly fell into place.

I woke up before my alarm clock went off and had time to eat breakfast. There was no traffic on Lakeshore Drive and I found free street parking that was a close walk to McCormick Place. This may all sound like a normal day to you, but for me, getting places in a timely fashion is rarely an easy fete. I swear whenever I have an appointment an El train would derail, a car would burst into flames on the highway or I would get to the bus stop only to realize I didn’t have my wallet.

Or my phone.

Because it was in my other purse.

With my house keys.

And now I'm locked out.

But today, I was on time. I arrive at our booth 40 minutes early and start helping my coworkers, Monica and Stephanie set up game consoles when a guy approaches us.

Sorry sir. We’re not open yet.”

Sir?” he scrunches up his face deepening the faint crows feet around his eyes. “I’m a keynote speaker, not an attendee. Just curious about what you’re showing.”

I notice he has an accent, but couldn’t quite place it.

While connecting an audio jack into the back of a TV Monica answers him. “We have some of the unreleased Xbox titles and we let people play them. ”

I love games. I don’t often play Xbox, but I love both computer and board games.”

I love board games too I thought to myself. My interested was piqued.

What’s your nationality?”

I’m Australian. From Melbourne.”

He pronounced it “Mel-Bin”

Australian? What an interesting name.”

Chuckling the Australian says, “My name is Steve.”

He said it exactly like Steve Irwin the late Crocodile Hunter would have.

Monica, Stephanie, Steve and I sat on the couches at our booth and chatted about random things for the next few minutes. Steve was positively charismatic. Eventually I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. It was a text message from Stephanie.

It read: Stop flirting and come to work!!! ;) Our shift is about to start!

I looked up from my phone. I hadn’t even noticed that Stephanie and Monica were no longer sitting next to us. Steve and I exchanged Twitter handles and said our goodbyes.

On my lunch break, I direct tweeted him and we agreed to meet up at a booth that had 16 bit games. We played the original Donkey Kong and walked around the convention collecting emoji pins from different booths and attaching them to the lanyards that held our official Microsoft badges.

My emoji pins
Back at my booth, we played FIFA for a bit and then Steve asked, “Are you going to the Microsoft after party tonight?

As soon as Stephanie noticed Steve she peeked out from behind a flat screen TV and mouthed,“Your babies will be so cute!”

Stephanie popping out
Trying not to laugh at Stephanie I answered “I’m not sure. No one gave us a formal invite.”

Well I'm sure they won’t turn you away. How could they?”

So I went home, changed into a cute black dress as quick as I could and drove back to McCormick Place in record time.

Actual footage of me rushing to get back to the party
Microsoft pulled out all the stops.

They transformed the East wing of McCormick Place to look like downtown Chicago. There were food trucks lined up inside the convention center and multiple interactive games for guests to play.  
As the sun sparkled over Lake Michigan and started to set behind the Chicago skyline, Steve and I went outside on the balcony to enjoy the view. We sat on a bench and played two truths and a lie.

Ok guess which one is the lie,” I said enthusiastically.
  1. I’ve never been married, but I’ve been on a honeymoon. 
  2. A man crossed a desert barefoot to prove his love to me. 
  3. I think the best part of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich is the way the pickle juice penetrates the bread, the chicken and your soul.
All the talk about food made me hungry, so Steve went to get us some food truck snacks. My phone started to vibrate in my dress with pockets. Monica was calling.

Are you here? Isn’t this set up is amazing?”

Yea I’m with Steve on the Balcony.”

I’ll leave you two alone then. Have fun! Tell me about it later!”

Microsoft had built large sculptures that mimicked the landmarks around Chicago. Steve hadn’t had a chance to explore because he was working, so I acted as his personal tour guide. I explained the significance of the landmarks and we took pictures at each one like tourists.

My Friends and I at the Microsoft after party

Fall Out Boy performed that night too. I don’t have any of their albums, but I knew a some of their songs from playing Rock Band with my brother and younger cousins. When the lights went down and the smoke began to creep across the stage, Steve placed his hand on the small of my back and led me to the dance floor. I’m almost certain that the moment he touched me, I felt my left ovary release an egg into my fallopian tube.

Hey TK!”

Making his way through the crowd was one of the guests I had played Gran Tourismo with at my booth earlier.

Oh hi. Henrik right?”

I was once told there is a correct way to introduce people. You’re supposed to say this is so and so, and then mention an interesting fact about them. This way, the people meeting each other will have something to start a conversation about. 

Henrik, this is Steve. He’s a Keynote speaker from Microsoft and he used to play Aussie rules football.” I turn to Steve. “This is Henrik, he’s here from Sweden and was just leaving.”

I smiled and said it nicely guys, I swear!

But Henrik would not leave my side. I was sandwiched between the two like a reverse Oreo.

While listening to Fall Out Boy scream sing, This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race, I telepathically tried to get Henrik to scram. My grandma always told me I was a magical creature but apparently my telepathic super powers had not come in yet.

Now I don’t remember much from high school, as it was a long time ago but I remember a few things. Like the time my friends and I played laser tag and I pistol whipped our friend Jaime. She was supposed to get stitches, but we didn't take her to the hospital. I remember we learned that World War I was started because Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and I was pretty certain that Australia and Sweden were neutral countries. And yet here I was, at the helm of the Microsoft Convention Cock Block of the century.

Nothing happened between Steve and I that night. I offered to give him a ride to his hotel and during the ride we sang Chop Suey, another Rock Band favorite of mine, at the top of our lungs. He hugged me from the passenger seat and then I dropped him off at his boutique hotel on Michigan Avenue.

When I got home I direct tweeted Steve.

Had fun. Thanks for tonight.”

He tweeted back, “We didn’t take a picture together, probably should have.”

No worries, I won’t forget tonight.”

Steve and I kept in touch through email for weeks after that. Stephanie thought it would be a cute story to tell our grandkids one day. That we fell in the love the day we met, spent the entire day together and kept in touch through letters, like Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy.

Ever thine, 
Ever mine, 
Ever ours. 

Signed, Microsoft guy

Honestly I’m not sure if we went on a date because Steve didn’t ask me to the party, He asked me if I was going. He also didn’t kiss me at the end of the night, although he seemed like he wanted to. He did bring me food truck ice cream and touched my back though… So clearly he wanted to marry me, no? Isn’t that what the lower back graze means? I was so confused.

The emails became less frequent and eventually stopped. I didn’t forget about Steve, but life goes on. Soon after, I had an epic cross country work trip with hot coworker (craaaaazzzzyyyyy story y’all) and I was focused on that for a bit. But about a year later, I happened to be in Seattle, home of Microsoft, and I reached out to Steve. He was excited to hear from me and wanted to meet up.

How about we go to a Lego contest? We can see what others have built and maybe even build our own Lego structure. Then we can go get dinner and drinks and afterward we can meet my friends for game night.”

I was still confused about our Microsoft outing, but I wasn’t at all perplexed about this meet up. Look, I don’t have a PhD (Player Haters Degree) but this sounded like a date to me.

When I arrived at our meet up spot, I saw Steve crossing the street. He was just as cute as I remembered from a year ago. As soon as he saw me he gave me one of those genuinely happy smiles that shows all your teeth and engulfed me in a warm hug. 

Sorry I’m late. I'm not sure how much of the Lego contest we’ll get to see after my friend gets here.”

When who gets where now?”

Here silly. I was at a church thing and my friend heard what we were doing and wanted to come along.”

I think this was the Universe’s way of paying me back for going on Mary’s date in Mexico City. Karma is real y’all.

Hey Steve!” A tall Asian guy jogs toward us with a smile on his face. He was dressed nicely, like he was going on a date.

This is my friend Johnson.”

He didn’t even introduce us the right way. If I was able to read minds I could have at least been able to tell if Steve was trying to tell Johnson to scram. My magical powers had failed me again. This time I was sandwiched between the two like a Mexican Polvoron shortbread cookie.

Brown, Yellow & Pink
We miss the Lego contest, so instead we walk around downtown Seattle before heading to dinner. The guys sit down and I excuse myself to the bathroom and call my guy friend Rafael.

"Rafi, I am so annoyed. I wore heels tonight! Ok not heels, I wore wedges, but close enough!"

"What's going on?"

This guy brought an entire dude on our date!"

For the record, I think it’s kinda funny when people use a measurement to describe something that you can only have a whole portion of. It’s not like Steve could have brought 3 quarters of a dude on our date.

Sorry to hear that babe. Just have a good time and eat well. Order something expensive. Tell me how it goes.”

When I got back to the table, there was a really pretty woman sitting next to Johnson.

What is going on? Is this a date after all? Or is this their date? Are we on a double date?

The conversation flowed easily that evening and to be honest, we had a really good time. Johnson and Anne were friendly and funny. The four of us played a board game, ate amazing food and Steve paid for everything. It would have been a great time even if he hadn’t paid for everything, but you know, cherries on top of the double date sundae.

At the end of the night, Johnson drove us to the parking deck where my rental car was parked. Steve asked Johnson to stay behind so that he could walk me to my car. We got to my car and awkwardly stood in front of each other. The parking deck was empty and you could hear cars whizzing by on the street.

Would you like to come with me to church tomorrow?”


My friend Tasha is flying in from Chicago tomorrow morning and I have to pick her up from the airport.”

Well we’re having brunch after Church. You’re both invited to that too. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a cute guy there.

And that was that.

Actually no, that wasn't the end of my relationship with Steve. We continued to text each other for a few more months. In my defense, I was over my feelings for him, but I can't lie, he was a good conversationalist. Aquarians usually are.

After many late night phone conversations, I realized Steve wasn't the one for me. But he beat me to the punch.

Steve told me he didn’t think God had called him to be my husband. He literally said that. In this instance, He is interchangeable with God and Steve.

I've heard of people saying, "It's not you. It's me, but I have never heard someone say, "It's not you, its GOD. The Lord doesn't want us to be together."

What in the nondenominational hell? Who says that to someone? I mean honesty is the best policy, but damn. Does Christian Mingle advise people to say this?

So after that, it really was the end. Maybe my magical power isn't telepathy. Maybe its dodging relationship bullets.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

If You're Happy And You Know It

I remember exactly where I was standing when I realized I didn’t want to live anymore. It was January of 2017 and I was working an event for Facebook, at an upscale hotel in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. Festival attendees came to the event to preview short films on Oculus headsets and it was my job to walk them through the experience. I was in the middle of giving a demonstration to Tristan Wilds (Also known as Mack Wilds). He smelled like things I can't afford to buy and had teeth as white as pieces of Orbitz gum. 

Tristan "Mack" Wilds
To be more accurate, I didn’t exactly want to die; I just didn’t want to feel pain any longer. I lost track of time while Tristan was watching his short film, thinking about what it would be like to no longer be apart of this world. I was tired of feeling heartbroken, worthless, and like a burden to people close to me because of my immense sadness.

You okay?” he asked in a surprisingly deep voice.

The film had ended and Tristan had taken off his headset without me realizing it.

“Oh yea I’m fine. Sorry, just spaced out for a second.”

You must have done a lot of these today.” He looked genuinely concerned. “Get a drink after work, go to one of the parties. Have some fun!”

Thanks,” I smiled as best I could.

It had been a while, but I was still sad over my break up with JC. I had also just found out that the guy I had been talking to for the past few months was married. Earlier that week a frenemy of mine told me some news about my ex that I had dated for 8 years. I didn’t think hearing about him would have effected me the way it did, but alas…

I excused myself from the event for a few minutes and retreated to the bathroom. I closed the stall door before sliding down the tiled wall, onto the floor in tears. I sat there crying for about 5 minutes. Then I washed my face, took a selfie and posted it to Instagram before going back out to finish my shift.I tried to act normal, but honestly I never thought I would feel okay again. I didn’t even remember what it felt like to be okay.

My post crying bathroom selfie

Something I’ve learned in the last few years, is that healing is not linear. You’ll be doing great one day, and another day you’ll see something that reminds you of your pain and it will knock the wind out of you. Almost like getting hit by a huge wave and being thrown off your surfboard. I’ve never been surfing because things that can eat me live in the ocean, but I assume that’s what happens when a big wave takes you out.

There were times when my grief literally made me crumple to the floor in pain or caused me to silently shake in tears on the couch. I actually remember not being able to get off the couch, I hadn’t taken a shower in days and I didn’t dare leave the house. My parents were really worried. My Stepdad cautiously asked me if my ex had ever hit me. My Mom offered to take me shopping and cook my favorite foods. They didn’t know what to do, and it hurt me even more to watch them, see me hurting.

But like a subsiding storm in the middle of the ocean, the waves of those painful times will become fewer and farther in between. The things that hurt me months ago, cause me to pause for mere seconds now. Eventually, the waves will become small ripples and I won’t think of them at all.

For me 2015 was like the eye of the storm. I didn’t realize how bad everything was in my life because I was in the middle of the chaos. 2016 is when all hell broke loose, and then I spent most of 2017 trying to reevaluate and rebuild my life. 2018 has been a great experience thus far.

An entire year had passed since I sat crying on the bathroom floor of a luxury hotel while celebrities drank expensive cocktails and watched films two floors above me. I went skiing for the first time and realized that I had fallen in love. Not with skiing, that was horrifically terrifying, but with life again (and maybe a guy too, but that’s a story for another day).

In February I got to work at the Eagle’s Superbowl after party. My job was not glamorous. I wasn’t a journalist, photographer, or fluffer, but instead I bussed tables. The party was self serve on fancy paper plates and all the drinks at the bar were free, so honestly I didn’t have to do much. A lot of the players and other guests didn’t feel like trekking over to the bar, so they’d ask me to do it for them, and give me huge tips.

Older gentleman with an Eagle's Jersey on: "Could you bring us 4 beers?”

Me: “Of course.” Runs to get 4 beers and brings them back. Guy hands me a $100 bill.

Me: You know these drinks are free right?”

Because I don't care about sports like that I didn't know the identity of the older gentleman. Later on my coworker told me he was a co-owner of the team.

Older man in Eagle's Jersey: “Yeah, they're free, but it’s a celebration, Enjoy the money!”

*Stuffs money in bra and walks away*

The party was set up like a football field. The endzones had tables and plush white couches. One side line had food, desserts and a candy station while the other side line was an open bar. In the middle, where the 50 yard line would be, was a dance floor and a stage. I got to watch Diplo DJ a set and Cardi B perform merely 3 feet in front of me.

I felt like I was back in college, but with men who had money, muscles and fashion sense. I watched an insanely giddy Zach Ertz passionately make out with his wife. They looked so happy together that you couldn't help but be happy for them. I danced with Malcolm Jenkins who had the dopest jewelry of anyone in the room. He wore an impeccably tailored maroon colored suit, with black patent leather loafers and I'm fairly certain that his cuff links alone probably cost more than my car. I participated in a soul train line with Bryan Braman and his friends. Everyone was in a good mood. 

Malcolm Jenkins 
It was crowded so I accidentally kept bumping into this really tall guy with big ole sexy arms. At one point he playfully grabbed me by the shoulders and said,

Hey this is the 3rd time you’ve bumped into me.”

Sorry, its crowded in here. And you have a big butt,” I added as an after thought.

He laughed and then turned around and poked his butt out. "Yea I guess it’s my fault then. I do a lot of squats."

This is the type of man I deserve to procreate with I thought to myself.  An athletic, juicy booty, Superbowl champion.

We kinda flirted throughout the night. He was super sweet and gentlemanly too but he never asked for my number. Before he left for the night with his friend Bryan, he made sure he had my attention and then smiled and waved goodbye to me.

Bryan Braman
If Cinderella had taken place in 2018, a time when more women are learning to shoot their shot, then this is what would have happened next:

I looked for that man everywhere on the internets y'all. I looked through the entire Eagles Roster of players but the photos weren't that great. I eventually found him on Instagram, BECAUSE OF THE SHOES HE HAD ON in one of his Instagram posts.They were the same ones he wore at the party. I’m not trying to put his business out in these streets, but if you’re interested in who he is, he ended up proposing to his long-term girlfriend the day after the Super Bowl. So that would explain why he didn’t ask for my number. Don’t cry for me guys. Its okay, because now I realize that guys are a dime a dozen. Even though they're not all NFL players, It’s literally raining men’s out here in these streets

At the end of the party, the servers were gifted with a ton of free Eagles Superbowl memorabilia. I got coozies, keychains, Eagles t-shirts, a 10lb bag of Eagles colored M&M’s with the Philadelphia Eagles logo on them, shot glasses and more.

It was a fun night that I’ll always remember, especially because one of the most attractive men I had ever talked to flirted with me, but I had no use for this stuff. I decided to keep a few things for myself and send the rest to my ex because the Eagles is his favorite team. I thought about not sending it at first, because it had been 2 years since I broke up with him and I didn’t want him to think I wanted to rekindle anything between us. My best friend said I should include a short note so he didn’t get the wrong idea. We settled on...

Hey I worked at the Superbowl and they gave me this free stuff. I knew you’d like it. Take Care

Meanwhile, I’m living my best life: Going on girl trips to Montreal, discovering my soul mate and being rescued by ski patrol off the side of mountain ranges. One night I’m at a bar in Brooklyn with an old friend/co-worker. We're sipping gluten free beverages and he and his wife tell me about a yoga retreat to Belize. I’m in the middle of telling them about my epic trip to New Zealand where I hitch-hiked with a perfect stranger, whose native tongue was not English. I excuse myself to the bathroom, hard cider runs right through me, and notice a text from a number I’ve never seen before.

It was the ex’s current girlfriend

I use the word text lightly, as what she sent me was more like the rough draft of her Memoir, entitled A Road map of my Insecurities and Other Short Stories.

First I’d like to say that I realize that there are ladies that would be annoyed if their boyfriend’s ex, sent them something in the mail and perhaps I should have asked if it were okay to send him the limited edition Superbowl Memorabilia of a team that probably won't win again for 50 years. I could understand if this ex was constantly being disrespectful to your relationship or wanted to get back with your boyfriend. If this is not the case, I think you should discuss this issue with your boyfriend. If it bothers you that someone (who doesn't want him/he doesn't want eithersent him something, you should also really ask yourself why.

Because I’m not going to be messy and include screen shots, her message basically said "don’t text, call, email, initiate contact through social media, send gifts or presents to my boyfriend because we love each other and are going to be together forever". I'm sure it said a lot of other things but I only got through the prologue. If she is out there reading this, I’m coming to her as a woman, and I want her to sincerely know that I didn’t read the entire message. I did however, cycle through a few reactions.

Okay she is crazy...

As I sat on the toilet I thought to myself, “Well this is the least thankful, 'Thank You' note I’ve ever received.”

Lemme tell ya’ll the difference 10 years can make. 2008 TK would have been petty and defensive as fuck let this girl have it.

Ten year's ago I was in my early 20's so I was still a bit wild. My friends at the time literally called themselves Gangsta Ass Bitches and homegirl would have caught a backhand like Serena Williams (ironically my Gangsta Ass Bitch friends and I played tennis at least twice a week and were very good, but I'm referring to physical violence).  I also would have given her reason’s why I didn’t want that man and pointed out that I had put him back on the shelf with the other emotionally immature & multiple personality having Gemini (read: evil) men for her to choose from.

On my list, I would have included:

1Like DJ Khaled, he won’t go down on you.
2. He will also expect you to do the emotional labor of fixing all his problems while showing little to no appreciation or acknowledgement for your hard work, examples include but are not limited to:
        a. Cooking him dinner after you’ve worked a 70hr week and he had the day off
        b. Canceling plans with friends, or entire work trips to do things with/for him instead
        c. Locating a carton of blueberries in the refrigerator after you’ve told him they were on the top shelf behind the almond milk and next to the block of cheddar cheese upwards of 3 times and then having to go retrieve said blueberries your cot damn self

The old TK would have followed up by chastising her for sending me the most ungrateful Thank You note I had ever received and reminding her of the reasons she should definitely be thanking me.

3. The only reason you are together is because I broke up with him and decided to let that 

4. Bish, I sent a 10lb bag of M&M’s, why you complaining? You mad because I'm killing you with kindness?

I also would have warned her to be careful...

5. In 4 or 5 years, when he takes off his dating invisibility cloak and starts to unveil the dementor that he really is, your relationship may have you feeling like a prisoner of Azkaban

Without even meeting her in person, I saw my past insecure and hurting self in her annoyingly wordy text message. There were times when I felt like I had to overcompensate or basically scream that I LOVED HIM from the rooftops to prove my worth and loyalty to him. Like that time his Mom told us she wasn't coming to our apartment and he blamed me for it. This long ass text message filled with all the reasons they are going to make it as a couple, felt very familiar to me. It's easy for me to respect their wishes never contact him again because I'm happy with how much I've grown since then and I refuse to do kind things for people who don't deserve them. I felt how Harriet Tubman must have felt when she encountered slaves she had to kill, “If only this woman realized she was a slave, I could have saved her too.”

2018 TK understands that people are complicated. Hurt people hurt people and insecurities cause you to act out. When you’ve worked on yourself (*cough* therapy and introspection) and you realize the psychology behind why people do the things they do, you can’t even be mad at them.

So instead of the actions listed above, 2018 TK told her to have a good life and not to text me again. To which she replied,

Oh I’m having a good life, stop bothering us.”

As I emerged from the bathroom to finish having a good night with my friends, I thought to myself, "Sounds like you're having a good life sis. Now if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands."

Just kidding. I'm not waiting because I don't care. He is not my man, and not my problem anymore. Emotionally intelligent people do things for others without expecting anything in return, but a small part of the 2008 TK that still resides in my psyche wanted to send her my paypal link for wasting my time on a Friday night. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Two Dates and a Churro

The last time I was in Seoul I was supposed to go on a date with a cute Korean guy named Sam. Sam was Korean born but studied Engineering at UC Berkley and spoke perfect English. He was tall and handsome and reminded me of Daniel Henney from Criminal Minds.

Daniel Henney

 I had been at a shrine meditating, making delicate paper cranes as a lesson in patience & participating in a tea ceremony all day. On the way home to change my clothes, I fell asleep on the train and missed my stop. When I woke up I was in an entirely different town, over an hour away. We tried to reschedule, but the timing was never right and I ended up leaving South Korea before we got a chance to hang out. Even though we never went on our date, we stayed friends on Facebook.

I recently found out that Sam got engaged to a woman who looks like she could be my sister. She is the Great Value version of me; Not as tall, and booty not as big. But good for them, discounts are great. Enjoy your Apple Dapples til death do you part.

I may have missed my date with Sam, but everything happens for a reason. If the universe wanted us to go on that date, it would have made it happen. 

I guess I believe in being in the right place at the right time and it seemed as though the universe was aligning things in my favor on my Mexico trip.

On my third morning there, I packed my bags and checked out of my room. Aaron and I took an Uber to pick up James at his hostel and then the three of us went to the airport to rent a car and start our day trip to Puebla.

A photo I took in Puebla

Puebla is a small town, a little over an hour outside of Mexico City and it's also the birth place of molĂ© sauce. We had an amazing lunch and then browsed the local shops. James helped me pick out a handmade Huipil, a simple white cotton dress, embroidered with red, yellow and pink thread around the neck and sleeves and then we walked through the town square together. While Aaron was deciding on which hand painted sugar skulls to purchase, James pulled me to the side. 
Huipil dress
You know that dinner I’m going to tonight?”

I played dumb but I knew exactly what dinner he was talking about. He was referring to his date with the mystery woman that he, Aaron and Huey had met a few nights before.

I vaguely remember you and Aaron talking about it last night”.

James looked over his shoulder to make sure Aaron couldn’t hear us. “I think I can get another reservation, but I can only get one. I’d really like it if you’d come.”

It’s about a $150 per person,” he continued, "but it’s at one of the most prestigious restaurants in the world. It’s gonna be worth it.”

At first I was hesitant because of the price. But then I reasoned that I only had 2 more days left in Mexico and had not spent a lot of money thus far. Up to this point, my hostel had been around $9 a night, and I was spending less than $20 a day on meals and transportation combined.

I’d love to go.”

As we drove back to Mexico City the scenery switched from green farmland to hilly and tropical. Stacked high in the hills, you could see the colorful houses from the highway. The sky was the prettiest shade of light blue and the hot sun beamed into the car as it peaked out behind the clouds. I unwrapped my shawl from my shoulders and let the sun tan my skin through the windows.

Mexico City from the highway
The three of us took turns being Aux cord DJs. Aaron, out of respect for being a Toronto native, played Drake. I sang along to Sia, and James put on some Michael BublĂ©. Hearing him sing “I just haven’t met you yet” slightly off key, as we sped into the city limits, was almost the best part of my day.

On our way to drop off the rental car, we stopped at a traffic light where a young boy on the corner was selling bottled water. James motioned for the boy, who couldn’t have been over 10 years old, to come over. He reached into his pocket and gave him a handful of pesos. When the boy tried to give him change and the bottled water, James told him, “No, esto es para ti.” This is for you.

I quietly ovulated in the passenger seat

Seeing the gap toothed smile on the young boy’s dark brown face was definitely the best part of my day.

We parted ways with Aaron at the airport and ordered an Uber to head to dinner.

During the ride, James answered text messages on his phone. Without looking up he asked, “Have you seen Chef’s Table on Netflix?”

It’s on my list of things to see,” I replied as we moved through traffic. I watched vendors shutting down their elote carts for the evening, just as I had on my first night in town.

That’s how I heard of Pujol. It’s ranked the 17th best restaurant in the world.  We’re in for a treat!” James said excitedly.

By the time we arrived, the sun had gone down, but the temperature outside had not yet relented. We entered a dark building, first through a heavy glass door and then through an even heavier brass door. A man in a very nice suit then led us to our table as the room buzzed with soft chatter and smartly dressed people ate their dinner.

Quietly following the host to our table, I became acutely aware of my appearance.

I don’t know what it is about traveling in a car all day, but it makes me sweaty. Even if I’m just sitting in one spot, rapping to Drake songs, I end up sticky. Luckily I didn’t smell like I had worked in a field all day, but I definitely felt like it. My face was glistening, my hair was not as smooth as it had been when we left for Puebla that morning and my dress was wrinkled from sitting in the car.

Thank God the lights were low and candles were placed strategically throughout the restaurant. Maybe nobody would notice how disheveled I was.

But as luck would have it, waiting patiently at our table was one of the most attractive women in the restaurant. She was dressed in a dark sapphire blue dress with a plunging neckline that served as a beautiful contrast to her sun kissed complexion. Silver drop earrings daintily hung from her ears, peaking out from behind her thick shiny hair, occasionally sparkling in the candlelight. She looked like she used expensive conditioner, routinely got her ends trimmed and didn’t need to own a vibrator.

James hugged the beautiful woman and then sat down to my left, leaving me to sit directly across from her. 

Mary this is my friend TK.”

Thanks for letting me join you tonight.” I smiled.

Mary looked unimpressed.

I distinctly got the feeling she didn’t want me there but she quickly snapped out of it and put on a pleasant smile.

Thanks for coming. Should we order?”

With my hand, I tried to smooth down my edges and pull my shawl over my car-tanned shoulders. I must have looked like I grew up in a trailer park eating twinkies and drinking whole milk with strawberry syrup for breakfast.

Imagine going to dinner with Keegan Michael Key and Lucy Liu and feeling like Celie from The Color Purple. I use Lucy Liu as a reference, because unfortunately we don’t have enough Asian representation in the media, but Mary is actually Filipino and Lucy Liu is Han Chinese. 
They don’t even favor one another, but my point is that both women are stunning and I felt anything but glamorous in that moment.

Truth be told, I don’t think Mary felt so great in that moment either, but I had a feeling it wasn’t for the same reason.

Both Mary and James ordered a drink and we placed our orders from the menu. The waiter brings a beautiful yellow cocktail to the table and sits it down in front of James.

Wow, this is really great. Would you like to taste it?” James hands me the glass.

I sip the drink slowly before handing it back to him. It was lemony but not too sweet.

Mary looks from me to James. 

Umm, can I try it too?”

Of course.” James quickly hands her the drink.

Lord, this was getting awkward. I'm just sitting there like, 

Next up was our 6 course meal. You were allowed to choose one item from each Roman numeral. We decided to each pick something different so that we could all try as many things as possible.

Our Menu
For the first course I ordered chicharron because I had tried it in Peru and it was lovely. Mary ordered the chicken skin with escamole and James ordered the chicatana. When the plates arrived, we split the dishes between us.

I looked at the food presented before us and everything seemed small and foreign. Well everything except for the hollowed out gourd in the center of the table, that had white smoke rising from it.

The waiter explained what the dishes were. The gourd contained ants that were smoked right out of the ground and straight into the gourd where they were seasoned and further steamed to tenderness. 
Chicatana smoked ants in a gourd

The escamoles were edible ant larvae, harvested from the roots of the Agave plant. 


Ya'll that is not a typo. James AND Mary had both ordered ANTS. Talk about farm to table. First it was brain tacos and now this! In my mind I was like, “You can have him sis. You guys can cruise the world, and eat at Netflix restaurants in fancy dresses. I’m going to get $2 mystery meat street empanadas after this.”

 I was THISCLOSE to calling it quits after the waiter's explanation, but I had already paid my money for the evening. 

I can’t say that it got much better from there guys. At least not for me. Our waiter brought some forest green tortillas with the next course.

I tore off a little piece and started to chew. 

Then I just sat there for a moment trying to figure out what I was tasting.

This tastes like Neosporin.”

Mary tried so hard not to laugh out loud that she nearly snorted.  What did you say?”

I cleared my throat. “These tortillas have a… medicinal quality to them.”

She giggled, but after that comment, she seemed to open up to me a little more.

I felt bad because I was thousands of miles away from home, at the 17th best restaurant in the world, with two amazingly sexy dinner dates and all I wanted was a slice of pizza.

But I hung in there and tried those small portioned, weird ass fancy foods. I was proud of myself for trying something new.

The final course, our dessert, came to the table and it wasn’t awful. It was a long circular churro, some Mexican hot chocolate and mint ice cream that looked like sea foam.

A warm cinnamony churro

I watched Mary slide her spoon into the foamy concotion. When the waiter brought over a bottle of champagne with a card.

Foamy mint ice cream with chocolate flakes
Mary was surprised and quickly read the card to herself before paraphrasing  and disclosing it's contents to us. Apparently some guy she knew in town was smitten with her, but I got the idea that she wasn't into him. Must be nice, getting bottles in international area codes while you're on a date with a hot guy you just met and his dusty travel buddy.

I could tell that Mary and James dined like this a lot and even though I felt very out of place I was okay with how the evening was going. I realize this was an experience I'd never forget, and I was thankful for it.

The three of us ended up going to very nice hotel bar where James knew the bartender. We met up with Aaron, Jimmy and Huey who had just come from a luchadores (Mexican wrestling) match. 

I asked James to pick a drink for me, since he's the bartending expert, but it ended up tasting like mouthwash. I suppose that was a good way to get the last bit of Neosporin taste out of my mouth though.

Whisky & a side of crickets 
The 5 of us spent the night laughing & drinking until 3 in the morning. Mary had loosened up considerably and was actually a very sweet and funny person. I guess I can't really blame her for how she acted when we first arrived to Pujol. I'd be pissed if a guy brought someone on our date too. 

It was Mary and Jimmy's last night in town so we did a round of shots for them before everyone dispersed for the night.

From left to right, in order of importance (lol just kidding): Huy, James, Jimmy, Aaron, Mary, and I

I only had one more night left in Mexico and I was excited to see what it would bring.