Day Five And My Bar Is Teasing Me

6 Jan

No-Alcohol January – Day Five

6 Jan

Before I decided to give up alcohol for a month, I anticipated that weekends would present more of a challenge.  Fridays and Saturdays are sponsored by Bacardi, after all.

After being shackled to our desks for the best part of the working week, we all eagerly await for 5pm to strike on a Thursday so that we can finally drop the corporate bullshit for 48 hours; and what better way to celebrate our new-found freedom than with a glass of red. Yesterday, I celebrated mine with a glass of water, when all I wanted was a Long Island Ice Tea (hold the Diet Coke). A delicious, refreshing, instant-rush-inducing Long Island Ice Tea.

And today, my brain hasn’t stopped making associations between inanimate objects and alcohol. I see a lime, I think of Caipirinhas. I see a can of Diet Coke, I think of Cuba Libras. I see a bottle opener, I think of ice-cold Leffe beer. I’m slowly being driven to madness by my alcohol-deprived body.

On the plus side, however, waking up with no hangover allowed me to have a very productive day. Following brunch (the normal kind, not the Dubai alcohol-binge kind) with a dear friend, I went food shopping, made to-do lists for the week, read my book, cooked an awesome meal and called my family. After a night out on the town, the only thing I usually manage to do is gorge myself on fast food and move from my bed to the sofa.

At 6pm, another friend decided to try and entice me out to the pub. I have to admit, I was tempted. I could clearly visualise the shiny surface of the bar, the golden beer taps, and most importantly, I could taste the satisfying first sip of  a double rum and Diet Coke.

However, I am pleased to say that for now I am still very much on the wagon and hopefully will remain here until February the 1st. All I have to think of is just how satisfying that first sip will be after a whole month’s abstinence.

Bad Sign?

3 Jan

A friend just pointed out to me that my recent activity on Facebook doesn’t bode particularly well for the quitting alcohol for a month challenge:

 

New Year, New Challenge

3 Jan

First of all, I need to apologise; it’s been a while since I last posted. The truth is, following my blind date blog entry a month or so back, I was so overwhelmed by the phenomenal response I received that I felt whatever I wrote from that point forward just wouldn’t top it. You’re only as good as your last blog entry, after all, so I thought I’d enjoy my new-found blogger fame while it lasted.

A month on, however, and I’m just the loser who started a challenge and gave up. So, I decided it was time to make my return to the blogosphere and get cracking.

It’s January. Yes, that God-awful month when we all feel a few pounds heavier and a lot of dirhams lighter. It doesn’t really help that my ‘diet’ while on holiday in Cyprus read something a little like this:

Breakfast

Koummandaria (Cypriot port)

Lunch

Brandy Sours (Cyprus’ signature cocktail) and mulled wine

Dinner

Cuba Libras, Champagne and Baileys

Food also figured in there somewhere, I suppose

I have come back to Dubai with more than just excess baggage; the waistline has also expanded significantly. I feel it’s therefore an excellent time to start my ‘give up alcohol for a month’ challenge in a bid to find my waist again.

The relationship I share with alcohol is, to say the least, turbulent. See, the problem is, I can be one of two drunks. Drunk Andrea Type A is the kind of drunk everyone wants to be around. She’s funny, charming, daring and a damn good dancer. She’s also the type of drunk that can randomly end up on a plane heading to another country following one too many sherbets, should the opportunity arise. There’s no dare too big for Type A.

Then there’s Drunk Andrea Type B, aka the monster. Now, this is a person I would not even recognise should she ever come and say hello to sober me. She’s weepy, loud, obnoxious, ultra-hormonal and a complete nightmare to try and reason with. She’s the type of drunk whom one minute you see yelling at the bouncer, while the next she’s in a heap in the ladies’ toilets, pouring her heart out to random strangers and sitting in a puddle of spilt Long Island Ice Tea.

So, it’s also about time I give the world a rest from the possibility of encountering Drunk Andrea Type B. It’s the least I can do for humankind.

I have to say that despite what picture my Facebook account paints, I do not drink as much as I used to (yes, I’m sure you’re now all worried at just how much I USED to drink, if this is the case). However, when one of my dear friends suggested I try this challenge, I decided it would be a good exercise in self-discipline, as sadly, I lack in this quality.

I will be blogging about my trials and tribulations as I attempt to go for a whole month without a drink. I have to say that at the age of almost 29, I think the longest I’ve ever managed has been two weeks, and even that was always a struggle.

Just the thought of this is making me crave a Long Island.

Wish me luck.

My Blind Date Experience

7 Nov

Following my blind date last Wednesday, I found myself describing the experience to others in terms of stocks and shares;  I realised that throughout the course of the evening, my blind date’s ‘value’ fluctuated according to what was happening or being said at the time. So I felt that the most accurate, and dare I say it, scientific way for me to describe this fateful evening to you all would be through the use of the following very thorough line graph:

It doesn’t take a genius or a mathematician to decipher from this graph that, unfortunately, I won’t be seeing my date again. But before I write my conclusions, I will take you through the evening, using the above as my reference point.

As you all know, I was pretty nervous about Wednesday evening, and I spent a great amount of time wondering why I was about to put myself through it.  For someone like me, who dreads and avoids rejection more than the average person, this was the ultimate ‘facing my fear’ moment.

In preparation, I had a facial and a mani/pedi, but I have to emphasise to my friends back home in the UK that these ‘treats’ are weekly rituals in Dubai, and therefore I didn’t really feel I was going to too much unnecessary effort for someone I had never met before. I also stopped myself from buying a whole new outfit and settled for a LBD that makes me feel both confident and classy. Looking back on it, perhaps something flirty and ridiculously low-cut would have been more appropriate. All men are perverts, after all.

My friend Ashley, who set the date up, arranged for us to meet at Teatro in Towers Rotana at 8pm. I suggested this place as it’s one of my favourite restaurants in Dubai, and they serve some of the strongest Caipirinhas in the city. That way I knew that even if the date was awful, I would be able to numb the experience with alcohol.

While I was getting ready, I was very nervous. So nervous that I almost fell in the bath, which is ironic considering that one of my ‘genuine-sounding, harmless excuses as to why I cannot make it on Wednesday‘, was that I had slipped in the bath and was therefore bedridden. Note to self: karma can be a bitch.

Once I did my hair, finished my makeup and got dressed, I decided, to the disagreement of many, to have a couple of quiet drinks in the comfort of my home to take the edge off.  I know many of you had visions of me drinking copious shots of vodka and turning up absolutely wasted, shouting ‘wah hey hey’ at everyone, including my date. But thankfully, I controlled myself, and I have to say the two glasses of sherry did what was necessary of them, and I went off to my blind date feeling cool, calm and collected, which is shocking considering what a nervous wreck I’d been earlier in the day.

So, there I was, at Teatro, on Wednesday November the 2nd , at 8pm.  Here’s what followed:

Point One – He’s Twenty Minutes Late (His Value: – 10)

I arrived at 8pm on the dot, and was very pleased to see that my date had not made it yet. This allowed me enough time to get myself to the bar, order a drink, sit up straight, and pretend I was a confident, sassy young woman who had no qualms meeting complete strangers for blind dates, and who certainly doesn’t tell the world through her blog what a dating coward she really is. This was my Sex and the City moment, and I loved every minute of it.

However, it soon transpired that my date was in fact running very late; my back was starting to hurt from sitting up so straight, and my jaw was aching from having a fixed fake smile plastered on my face. At 8.10pm, a cute guy sidled up to the bar while looking at me. My heart started to race; was it him, I wondered. He sat down two seats away from me, and just as I began to consider whether I should try and talk to him to see if he was the stranger I was supposed to be having dinner with, Ashley started calling me. She confirmed that my date was running late, but was now on his way.

At the time I must admit that I wasn’t too bothered about it. To most of my friends, however, this is one of the cardinal sins of dating. You never keep a lady waiting. Looking back on it, I now agree with common opinion; you should never be late for a blind date. You make the effort to be on time, and if you don’t, it’s obvious that you’re just clearly not too interested in the whole thing.

So I carried on drinking through my fixed fake smile, and my date’s value started to plummet before he had even arrived.

Point Two – My Second Caipirinha Arrives (His Value: 20)

Don’t judge me, but I got through the first Caipirinha in fifteen minutes, flat. By 8.20pm, I was onto my second one, and my date’s value began to rise. Simply because I was getting tipsy.

Point Three – My Date Arrives; Hello Cute Smile! (His Value: 65)

As I was busy updating one of my friends on BBM of my late-coming date, I suddenly heard a voice say: “Andrea”? and for a split second I wondered who the hell knew my name. I then realised that, oh, wait, my blind date had arrived, quickly sat up straight, and slapped my fake smile back on.

My first impression was, wow, this guy has an AMAZING smile. And from what I could see, he was tall, dark, with a hint of greying hair (I’m obsessed with George Clooney. Grey hair is always a massive turn on for grave snatchers like me).

The smile, I have to say, made his  value begin to rise substantially, and I started to wonder whether I’d been too quick to judge blind dates.

Point Four – We Start To Find A Lot Of Common Ground (His Value: 87)

To me, the best part of getting to know a potential partner is those small moments of magic that occur when you both realise you have something in common.

My date and I had a few of these moments. For one, I discovered that his favourite cocktail is also the Caipirinha. When he said this to me, I started to wonder if I would end up marrying him. He also shared the same weird obsession I had for New York in my youth.

These ‘common ground’ moments were great, but I have to say, from this early on into the date I was searching for that ‘spark’ people have when they both really like each other, and sadly, it was nowhere to be found.

Point Five – My Third Caipirinha Arrives; It Is Strong and Tasty (His Value: 90)

Yes, I judge experiences on the basis of the quality and quantity of alcohol that is available. I’m a lush; what more can I say?

Point Six – He Passes The Heels Test (His Value: 95)

At this point in the evening, my date asked me how tall I am, to which I answered 5 foot 8. He then, much to my satisfaction, informed me that he is a nice and tall 6 foot something. This, my friends, meant he passed the heels test.

Before I headed out, I had informed my friend Dona that I was wearing SUPER high heels, to which she exclaimed sarcastically, “As opposed to the flats you wear to work”?! These heels, my friends, aren’t for the fainthearted. Some lesser trained women (and drag queens) get vertigo wearing them. Here is a picture, which illustrates my point:


Subconsciously, this is my way of weeding out the guys who don’t match my height while wearing heels. I’ve never been someone who has a specific ‘type’ of guy that I always go for, but I have to say, height is one thing I cannot seem to compromise on. Wearing these heels ensures I know whether or not he makes the cut.

My date did, and his value continued to rise nicely. But then, it all started to go a bit wrong.

Point Seven – He Eyes Up Another Girl (His Value: 50)

So, we were still sat at the bar, conversation was flowing rather nicely, and then I see him look away, and eye up a very pretty girl who walked past us at the bar.

No, no, no, no, no! Gentlemen, is it too much to ask you keep your eyes on your date for the few hours you are with her? Looking at another girl is just not cool. At this point, my date’s stock started to fall again.

Point Eight – He Starts To Talk Too Much (His Value: 47)

I am all for listening to other people’s life stories, but at the same time, I want them to listen to mine. At some point, my date decided that his life was far more fascinating, and that he’d rather listen to himself speak the whole time than find out anything about me.

This to me was an indication that he wasn’t really interested, and it was at this point I stopped trying to look for the ‘spark.’ It clearly wasn’t there, and nothing he or I could do from this point forward would change that.

Point Nine – He Doesn’t Pay Attention When I Am Talking (His Value: 45)

At the points when he would actually ask me the odd question or two about my life, my date wouldn’t sustain eye contact with me, which, again, is an indication of someone who isn’t really listening. His value continued to plummet.

Point Ten – He Tries A Bit Of ‘Date’ Play (His Value: 67)

We decided to move from the bar to a table and get something to eat. At this point, my date tried some playful date banter, which mainly consisted of him attempting to ‘guess’ what I would pick off the menu, and what my choices tell people about the type of person I am. Well, I ordered the Thai Red Curry. I guess you can say I am a bit spicy.

This playful banter is always enjoyable. His stock began to rise again, slightly.

Point Eleven – We Discover More Common Ground (His Value : 70)

My date and I did share quite a few things in common. Our love of hip hop, for one, led to a very long conversation about Tupac and Biggie, and East Coast versus West (non-hip hop lovers, feel free to glaze over at this point). He also comes from a large, close-knit family, which is always an attractive quality. My family mean the world to me, and I don’t think I could ever be with a person who isn’t close to his.

On paper, we should have ‘worked’ as a potential couple. But the spark…it just wasn’t there.

Point Twelve – He Reveals He Has Housemates (His Value: 50)

Without sounding too superficial, I find it very unattractive when a guy who is over 30-years-old still has housemates. I guess to me it feels like the person isn’t very responsible, and is still content living a slightly student-esque life. When my date revealed this to me I couldn’t help but make some negative assumptions about his personality.

Point Thirteen – He Starts Talking About How Attractive The Girls In Gossip Girl Are (His Value: 15)

Yes, I know that Blair and Serena from Gossip Girl are stunning. Of course they are: they starve themselves to death, have personal stylists, makeup artists and hairdressers at their beck and call. Do I really need my date to sit and drone on about how beautiful they are? He should be telling me how beautiful I am instead. Men.

Point Fourteen – He Accepts Money For The Bill (His Value: -100)

The date came to a natural conclusion as the restaurant was starting to wind down for the evening. We asked for the bill, and when it arrived, the waitress naturally handed it over the guy. He looked at it for a few seconds too many, and I, unfamiliar with dating etiquette, handed over my debit card. He took it, and we agreed to go dutch.

And his value nosedived.

Since that evening, I have asked many other ladies their opinion on this one, and the majority seem to agree that the unspoken rule is that the guy pays for the first date. Perhaps the fact he agreed for me to pay half of the bill is an indication that he also realised there wasn’t a spark between us, and he resented having to settle the whole thing himself. Which, again, isn’t very gentlemanly of him.

And on this slightly sour note, I thanked him for a lovely evening and made a quick dash for the cab queue. We didn’t exchange numbers, and I really wasn’t bothered about it.

Conclusion:

First, I want to emphasise that my date was a lovely guy and on the whole I did enjoy his company. I can see why my friend Ashley decided to set us up; on paper, we really should have hit it off more. We are both British, from ethnic minority, close-knit families, we both love to drink, cook,  listen to hip hop, and party. On top of all that, looks wise, he does tick a lot of my usual boxes: tall, dark, and a great smile.

However, despite the fact that my date and I should have ‘made sense’ as a couple, something was missing, and that’s the highly-elusive ‘spark’ we all look for in a potential partner. It’s that overwhelming, indescribable, amazing feeling that you get when you are with a person who completely gets you. Boy, do I miss that.

So, I will not be seeing my date again. But, I have to say, I am proud of myself for going through with it. The experience proved to me that dating isn’t so bad after all. Although I do maintain that there is something very unatural about the whole thing – had my date and I randomly met in a bar and got to know each other without the pressure of a ‘date’, the outcome may have been different.

 

What NOT To Do Before A Blind Date

31 Oct

Depending on how well you stalk me, you may or may not know that I have agreed to go on a blind date  on Wednesday. Mentally, there have been some ups and downs since I officially arranged for this to happen. I started out feeling neutral about it (there’s absolutely nothing to worry about, Andrea), then a few nagging doubts started to creep in (you will be fine, Andrea), and within a day or so I found myself completely freaking out (WHAT WERE YOU THINKING AGREEING TO THIS YOU STUPID, STUPID WOMAN?).

So, in order to maintain a relatively stable level of sanity, I decided to implement some ground rules on what NOT to do before a blind date. And it’s worked so far. Well, sort of.

Google your date

‘Blind’ is the operative word here; Googling your blind date not only makes the whole concept of it null and void, but it can also lead to some unpleasant findings, like discovering he has a tattoo of a racist insignia all over his face. Or potentially, it can fill your mind with a load of dangerously fuzzy thoughts, especially if you happen to stumble across a photo of your guy hugging some Romanian orphans.

I am proud to say that despite the fact I have two mutual friends with my date, I have yet to look him up on Facebook. Usually, when I meet a guy I like, I undertake a mission to find out as much as I possibly can without actually talking to him. And thanks to the wonders of Facebook and Twitter, I have the ability to compose an entire background check on pretty much any guy I lay my eyes on (don’t judge me, I’m a journalist; this is what we do).  But this will not be one of those occasions. I am actually looking forward to getting to know a guy completely from scratch, with no preconceptions of what type of person he is. It’s actually pretty damn exciting, if I dare say so. And very 1950s.

Let your mind wander

It all starts innocently enough: you think of your date and the first thought that comes to mind is to have no expectations. After all, you don’t know the guy, so he’s probably not even your type, or he might have bad nasal hair, or the IQ of a toilet brush, or, horrors of horrors, he may wear chinos.

But then, something happens. Your mind decides to have a laugh at your expense, and starts to tell you that maybe, just maybe, he will be a David Gandy lookalike who has a heart like Mother Theresa, style like George Clooney and more swagger than James Bond.

The reality is, however, how many people have actually made it work after a blind date?  Do yourself a favour and keep busy. Do not think too much about it. There’s plenty of time for that after you’ve met him.

Make a list of potential excuses for cancelling

I will have to confess, I have already thought of what I would like to call a few genuine-sounding, harmless excuses as to why I cannot make it on Wednesday. These include “I slipped in the bath and I am bedridden.” “my (nonexistent) dog died,” and “my washing machine has flooded my flat and I am at risk of drowning.”

Those of you who read my first blog entry relating to this challenge will know that I’ve never been on a proper date. I just  get drunk and woo men with my intoxicated charm (please note, this is ironic).   Hence, I know I am at flight risk this Wednesday. The only saving grace is, I love my friend Ashley (who arranged this blind date) to bits, and I would not like to let her down. So, the only advice I can offer for this point is make sure you get one of your closest friends to arrange your blind date, and that they guilt you into going!

Buy a new outfit (and get a facial, manicure, pedicure, new hairstyle, personality transplant)

Invariably, the question of what one should wear during a blind date comes up at some point. Wardrobes are dissected, outfits tried on and vetoed one by one, then you decide that you have nothing  to wear in a big, dramatic panic.

So you decide to buy a new outfit. But then, if you get a new outfit, you need new shoes, right? Oh, and your hair, it’s looking very dry, you definitely need a treatment, and your nails – have you been cleaning gutters for the last few months?! And bit by bit, you dissect every part of your appearance, decide you’re a horror and therefore not fit for a blind date. Instead, you’re going to sit happily on that shelf, pig out on brownies, and look at naked pictures of David Gandy.

I suggest, you take a deep breath, pick out the dress that makes you feel great and that you’re comfortable in, and save the pennies to donate to charity. Much more ethical option.

*Note: Speaking of ethics, I feel like I would be unethical if I were to lie at this point; I admit, I’ve already had a facial. And tomorrow I’m having a mani/pedi. And maybe I’ll shop for a new dress.

Yes, I am a failure of disastrous proportions, and it’s therefore probably better if you completely ignore whatever I say.

So, there’s only one thing for it now – wish me luck!

The Slimier the Better?

30 Oct

Whoever led people to believe that snails are a delicacy was either sadly mistaken or a damn good liar. Before I continue with my rant, I shall share my first point of reference with you :

Now, is it just me, or does this resemble some form of nuclear waste, rather than a form of food that can be consumed by human beings?  What you see here is something that even the Addams Family wouldn’t eat for dinner. Quite frankly, I think a Petri dish full of fungi looks more appetising.

This was my meal of choice last Monday night. Yes, ladies and gentleman,  I ventured to St. Tropez Bistro,  a small French restaurant in Century Village, Dubai, to eat snails for the first time. As you may have read in my previous blog entry, I have always been traumatised by the thought of eating these slimy creatures. So when my friend Dona mentioned that I should do it for my blog, my first reaction was ‘hell no,’ followed by ‘are you mad?’ However, in the spirit of trying new things (and giving you guys something to laugh at), I decided to step up and give it a go. Who knows, I thought to myself, I may even end up liking them.

I was also sadly mistaken.  Point of reference number two:

This either depicts revulsion in its purest form, or is proof that I deserve an Oscar.

When the dish first arrived at the table, I could only smell butter and garlic – two things I love and that generally work very well together. After all, garlic bread is one of the culinary world’s greatest inventions and features both heavily. So I started to think that perhaps I had been too quick to judge in the past and that I would actually end up enjoying them. And thankfully, I couldn’t really see that what I was about to eat were snails – firstly, it was dark, and secondly, the shells and tentacles were nowhere to be seen.

Then, I took the plunge and bit into one.

My mouth instantly turned into a battlefield of foul-tasting, microscopic soldiers that were setting up camp and drawing up war plans with one aim in mind: to destroy my taste buds. The only thing I can liken it to is eating rubber. Burning, rubber, at that. I chewed for what seemed like an eternity, swallowed, then gulped as much of my red wine as possible.

I still shudder at the thought.

Those of you who think I may have given up too easily can rest assured that I did try again one more time, however, I had been so scarred by the first experience that the second snail barely had the chance to brush against my traumatised taste buds before I swallowed the damn thing with a huge chug of wine.

So, while I am extremely happy that I have managed to cross another challenge off the list, I have to say that I will never try snails again. And if there’s one thing this experience has further confirmed to me, is something we Brits have believed for a very long time: the French, who gave us this delightful dish, are strange.

Sorry Nico, Dan et al.

Two down, 28 to go!