‘How I Met Your Mother’ Posts

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how i met your mother: house 1.0

Friday, 6 May 2011

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dear sparklet,

this is the nineth in a series of letters from daddy about how i met and married your mother.

it has been quite some time since your mother and i started living together — and for some reason daddy wasn’t smart (or brave) enough to blog about it at the time.

so, now that we’re all getting ready to move into house 3.0, it seems like a good time to flashback to the house (or two) that started it all.

when mommy and daddy met back in 2004, daddy was living unceremoniously in his boss’ basement in a place called “Glover Park.” it was in a neighborhood that was a lot like Mount Pleasant — only filled exclusively with 25 year old female interns from the midwest whose daddies were determined that their daughters would be geographically removed from anything that might possibly resemble a city.

(oh, and the 45 minute walk to the nearest metro stop, and the $30 a plate restaurants, and the whole foods, and the small children running around wearing designer toddler clothing that they would out grow in the next two weeks — other than that it was exactly like Mount Pleasant.)

mommy, on the other hand, lived about 30 feet from the (literal) wrong side of the tracks in “old town” Alexandria, Virginia.

on the rare occasion where it made sense for daddy to spend the night in Alexandria (read: we were flying out of national airport the following morning) it was a lovely experience (sweating, with no air conditioning) through the parts of the night (those without gun shots) through which we would sleep like lambs (in between freight trains).

considering that mommy had (obviously) even worse taste in living arrangements than daddy, i tried desperately to convince her to move into D.C. with me — not into my boss’ basement, somewhere else — but she’d have none of it. her love of strip malls and horrible drivers was just too strong.

the one legitimately nice thing about our living arrangement was the drive — daddy lived a couple minutes off the rock creek parkway, and mommy lived a couple minutes off the george washington parkway, a pair of beautifully scenic roads connected by the (equally stunning) memorial bridge.

so, when i came time to develop some kind of master plan for our residential future, we picked a neighborhood in Arlington (called “Rosslyn”) pretty much entirely based on the fact that it was located just off our beloved parkways, halfway between our two houses.

now, i actually remember precious little about the moves (plural, there were two houses after all) themselves. i remember that it was July, hotter than blazes, and mommy had managed to find a new job the week before and “just couldn’t take time off work to help out.”

the apartment (and the complex) was a pretty unremarkable place — probably best illustrated by the fact that we never bothered to take any pictures of it.

fortunately, the apartment complex’s website hasn’t been updated since the hoover administration and just happens to have pictures of our exact model:

so, there you go … the “house” that started it all, and the one that set us up for the first home you ever knew.

and with that, good night. ’cause daddy has to go pack. ’cause daddy is moving y’all into a new house in just 19 days.

love,
daddy

move in:

0y, 0m, 19d

in mt. pleasant, dc:

3y, 9m, 17d

how i met your mother: the battle for evermore

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

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photo of the week // week twenty-two
dear sparklet,

this is the eighth in a series of letters from daddy about how i met and married your mother.

recently, the most important battle in your life-so-far has broken out … the battle for your taste in music.

for the record, daddy is feeding you a steady diet from indie pop types (the kind who wear witty, ironic t-shirts) or girl rockers … such as Band of Horses, A Fine Frenzy, your partial-namesakes Kate Earl and Kate Nash, Regina Spektor, and The Killers.

mommy, however, keeps slipping you music from country and christian artists — George Strait and Jars of Clay, to name a few — when she thinks daddy’s not paying attention. even the nanny has gotten involved, though her choices seem to be much more age appropriate (which unfortunately removes her from the pettiness of this conversation).

but this battle for the scrobbler betrays two sad little facts … your daddy has horrid taste in music, and mommy isn’t much better.

for my part, I don’t exactly know what happened … the first album I ever owned was Sychronicity by The Police. my second, however, was the early-80s equivalent of Now That’s What I Call Music.

I suppose some of it is your uncle Popcollin’s fault — he went through a Debbie Gibson/Euro-pop phase during my most impressionable, formative music years — and I obviously never recovered from his influence.

i have, though, learned how to cover up my horrid taste somewhat. for example, the title of this post, for instance, the is *not* the Led Zepplin allusion a music aficionado would expect … i would have never known “The Battle for Evermore” if it weren’t for the HeartLovemongers’ cover on the (shudder) Singles motion picture soundtrack.

anyway, all this got me thinking about music from when your mother and i were younger:

  • my earliest memories of mommy is her belting out songs during road trips, without any sort of notion that she was horrifically off-key.
  • road trips only got better when mommy realized that kelly clarkson’s one-octave “range” was just as limited as her own, and was much more suitable for mommy’s irrepressible sing-a-longs.
  • right before we got engaged, mommy announced that her favorite song was “Foundations” by Kate Nash … a song about a woman holding on to an dysfunctional relationship.
  • right before we got *married*, mommy announced that her *new* favorite song was “Still Sweet” by Benjy Davis Project … a song about the joy that follows the end of an empty relationship.
  • and, of course, one of the very first things we did with you (before you were born) was take you to a U2 concert.

so, even if i’m ultimately proven wrong about what you should be listening to as a toddler (and i am sure i will be) … i’m going to keep feeding you a steady diet of Ida Marie, if only so that i can film you running around when you are three, singing the chorus to “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked.”

you won’t have an older sibling to corrupt your taste in music … so mommy and daddy will have to do the best we can.

love,
daddy

sparklet:

0y 5m 3d

how i met your mother: delivery day

Thursday, 22 October 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the seventh in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

up til now, these posts have been about how mommy and i met, wooed, and married … but i’m running out of good stories from the early years, and i’ve decided that the run-up to your birth is worth it’s own edition in the series.

it all started on Sunday.

your mommy and i had just spent the last couple of weekends getting things squared away for your arrival, and that night we sat down, kicked our feet up and said:

“You know? I think we are in a really good place. And, tomorrow Sparklet will be 37 weeks into her pregnancy, which means that she can’t be born premature.”

needless-to-say, that’s when all heck broke loose.

i had the next day off (it was Columbus Day) and spent the day hiking, but mommy had to pull a full day at work. that night i had a condo meeting where the board joked about how to schedule the next meeting around your delivery … and soon afterwards mommy and i ate a late dinner together and went to bed.

i was lying in bed writing a blog entry about the day’s hike (i’m *so* far behind in my entries) and mommy was doing her patented “flip-around eight times and squirm for ten minutes” to get settled for bed … when all of a sudden, she shot out of bed, said she “had to pee,” and ran to the bathroom.

about three minutes later, she came back to bed … and two minutes later, she ran back to the potty.

by the third time this happened, i was up and at the computer, googling. first came “how do i tell if my water broke” which yeilded all sorts of interesting stories about people who mistook their water breaking for peeing. hmmmmm.

by mommy’s fourth trip to the bathroom, i started googling “what do i need to pack for the hospital,” because it turns out we weren’t quite as prepared as we thought.

see, you weren’t supposed to be here for another three weeks, and mommy (especially) didn’t think you were coming for even a few weeks after that. we hadn’t yet packed a thing.

but by about 12:15 am (on the morning of the day you were born), and after an hour of running around like a chicken-sans-head, we were in our little Volkswagen Jetta, car seat in the back, and puttering off to Sibley Memorial Hospital.

soon after we arrived, we had a labor and delivery nurse looking at mommy, asking lots of questions. it turns out that only about 15% of moms’ water breaks before contractions begin. and, it turns out that you were one of those lucky 15%.

the contractions did started over night (they woke mommy up at 3:45am) but by sunrise the doctor decided she needed to help them along a little bit.

we’ll skip over the uncomfortable stuff, but suffice it to say that the drug used to induce contractions (petosin) fundamentally changes the birthing equation, and makes the notion of an optional epidural to be much less optional.

mommy was a little bummed about the change in plan — she was born in your grandparent’s kitchen, which is about as “au natural” as it comes — but less than two hours later she was pushing, and thirty minutes past that you were gurgling in mommy’s arms.

the best part? i got to see the whole thing.

and, as if one milestone wasn’t enough, that night we “formally” celebrated out 2nd wedding anniversary, with you in our lap.

we were sick of even the notion of hospital food, so daddy ran out and got mommy’s favorite pizza (goat cheese and bacon) from our favorite pizza place (listriani’s — there was one next door to our first place in Arlington) while mommy visited with Uncle Cole and Aunt Skye.

to this day, i can’t think of a better way we could have celebrated.

love,
daddy (& mommy)

sparklet:

0y 0m 9d

how i met your mother: date shirt (special 2nd anniversary edition)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the sixth in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

today is mommy and daddy’s second wedding anniversary, but (as you you’ve probably noticed by the time you are old enough to read) we’re not very good at celebrating these things.

on our very first anniversary, we were supposed to go camping in Delaware, but bailed at the last minute and instead had dinner at a roadside mexican restaurant somewhere out route 50.

this year, we were going to go to our favorite restaurant (Acadiana) but it turns out the whole place was rented out for some kind of event. so instead, tonight i put on my “date shirt,” took mommy out for BBQ at the site of one of our earliest dates, and we’ll save Acadiana for next week.

(which is kinda funny, because that’s exactly what happened to mommy and daddy last year, too.)

which reminds me …

a long, long time ago, your mommy and daddy were just two nervous people who were trying to figure out how to talk to each other. which, i’m sure, must seem *really* strange to you by now.

before we were dating, your mommy asked me to come over to a dinner party she was having at the house she shared with Auntie Melissa.

it turns out that one of her previously invited friends couldn’t make it (thank you, Gannon!) and since mommy was looking for an excuse to ask daddy out, it seemed like a good idea at the time to invite me in his place.

unfortunately, i looked like a mess. i hadn’t cut my hair in about two years (so i guess i didn’t look all that different then i do now) and hadn’t bought any “impress a girl” clothes in in that time either.

naturally, i did what any boy in my situation would do — i turned to a female friend to bail me out.

Emmy and i setup a time to get my hair cut (by about 9 inches) and she even tagged along for moral support. in fact, your mommy ended up coming, too … i think mainly because mommy wanted to make sure that daddy and Emmy didn’t develop a “thing” before she could have her dinner party.

the following weekend, right before the party, Emmy and I took an emergency trip to Friendship Heights (the Gap) and she helped me find something that looked nice, but not *too* nice.

the shirt we bought? it’s daddy’s “date shirt” (which you can see in the photo above).

dinner was great. Uncle Cole and Aunt Skye were there, and the four of us talked for hours, and then I stayed behind to help mommy with the dishes.

By the time we were done eating, talking, cleaning and talking, it was 6 am the next morning. Not wanting to end the the “evening” quite yet, we walked down to the Alexandria waterfront, and then had breakfast at Table Talk (which is still one of our favorite’s).

At that point, I knew your mommy was something special … and had a feeling that your mommy and i had a nice future ahead of us. i didn’t know quite how long it would take, but I knew she would be worth the wait.

love,
daddy (& mommy)

UPDATE: no Acadiana for us quite yet…! the restaurant called to confirm our reservation as we were sitting in the labor and delivery room, waiting for you to be born.

so, instead, we “formally” celebrated our anniversary with you in our laps, eating mommy’s favorite pizza (goat cheese and bacon) from our long-time favorite pizza place (Listrani’s).

and while it certainly wasn’t what we were expecting, it was a perfect way to celebrate none-the-less.

married for:

2y, 0m, 0d

how I met your mother: engagement, part 2

Friday, 5 June 2009

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(continued from part 1)

this is the fifth in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

immediately after the lady sparkler’s crazy Texas friends started haranguing her into haranguing me into marrying her, I thought to myself “you know, I do love her, and want to spend the rest of my life with her…”

and so i decided to get a ring. that was December. I had the ring two weeks later.

we were already talking about going to new York for my birthday (April) and it seemed like (at the time) my beloved’s marital haranguing might actually die down by then, at least long enough for me to propose uninterrupted.

not so much.

by February, i was sufficiently badgered to explain to her (in no uncertain terms) that from now on, each time she brought up engagement, i would move the “hypothetical” proposal back another month.

by April, she had managed to add *fourteen* months to the engagement time line. so, while i hadn’t succeeded in her stifling the running of her mouth, i at least knew that a proposal was the farthest thing from her mind when we pulled into NYC’s Penn Station the second week of April.

the same, however, couldn’t be said for me…

I was a wreck, and constantly obsessed about the ring — where it was, and whether it had fallen out of the triple-bagged cocoon in which it was placed. to make matters worse, on the day i was going to propose (april 14th) it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained.

i had already decided I couldn’t propose to the lady sparkler inside some silly, human-built structure because whatever we were inside could be torn down, or worse, turned into a starbucks.

so, i decided i would do the deed in Central Park, which (obviously) wasn’t particularly rain-friendly, which meant that april 14th became april 15th, and engagement day became tax day.

that afternoon, i marched my beloved around central park for over an hour, mostly because i couldn’t find a place to propose. i know it’s crazy, but there are a *lot* of people in new york — who knew? — and every single one of them seemed to be lounging around central park.

before we left DC, i had asked my best friend from college (and future bridesmaid) if she had any suggestions about the whole engagement process. it turns out that her husband was such a mess when he proposed, that she was convinced (right up until she saw the ring) that he was dumping her.

her solution? pull the ring out first.

and, when we finally found a secluded spot, i did just that. the lady sparkler was resting for a moment on a mostly horizontal tree, when i pulled out the ring, and sat down beside her.

she didn’t hear a single thing that i said. she was like the crow from the secret of n.i.m.h., when he sees mrs. frisbee’s medallion and says: “ooooooooooo, SPARKLY!”

interestingly enough, to this day, she has no idea what *she* said either. (for the record, it was: “oh. my. god. are you, like, serious?”)

i have what i said written down somewhere, but it was exactly what you would expect: “love, blah, blah, blah, so happy, blah, blah, life together, blah blah.” she replied, “yes, yes. oh my god, yes.” which — i would surmise — is just about as good of a response as you can get.

speaking of which, on our way out of central park we ran into the back of another boy proposing to another girl, and it looked like he had arranged for a photographer and her parents to join in the festivities.

unfortunately, she looked abjectly horrified. yeeeesh. at least *we* lived happily ever after.

PHOTO: tulips, new york, new york.

pregnant:

19w

how I met your mother: engagement, Texas-style

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the fourth in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

there are some stories that get better with age … and then there are stories that start out really $&#% funny, and stay really $&@#% funny.

I hope this is the latter.

a few years into the relationship, we made the honest mistake of going to Texas. sure, the lady sparkler’s parents were great, and her sisters were awesome … but her friends? lunatics.

apparently, something in the water down there causes people to think that 18 months of dating is the maximum allowable before some kind of engagement is necessary, beit of the voluntary or shotgun variety.

the sparklers, being a bit past that “threshold” had apparently tripped some kind of Texas state-wide alert system, where friends hold waves of rolling interventions to make sure “everything’s alright” and that the boy doesn’t have any “problems” that needed to be addressed (likely by overwhelming displays of machismo, or belt buckles, or both).

by the end of the year, after a couple of months of interventions, the lady sparkler was in a tizzy … and her occasional, badly disguised, open-ended questions about an engagement timeline started getting more and more pointed (and more and more badly disguised).

each time she would tizzy, we would talk … and each time we’d agree that *we* needed to have a timeline that worked for *us,* even if it was at odds with the posse was forming along the Rio Grande.

I should pause.

sure, Texans are ten-gallon-hat-sized-crazy for thinking 18 months of dating is suitable for long-term mate selection (which leads to all sorts of redneck/missing teeth/social Darwinist jokes which I will forgo due to likely readership demographics) …

… but it is possible that my people (from the opposite side of the “war of northern aggression”) just might fall off the other end of the commitment scale. I have friends that dated for 8 years before the topic of marriage even came up, or (worse yet) were engaged for 5+ years before deciding whether they should actually tie the knot.

so, from my worldview, i thought that I was being carefree to the point of reckless abandonment by thinking of proposing to a woman I had been dating for *only* two years. yet, all the while, the great state of Texas was negotiating with Chuck Norris to come shift my worldview for me.

I digress …

by February, my beloved had become as subtle as a three year old in the aisle of a toy store … and I was started to dig in, solely as a matter on principle. by the 27th time the issue was raised in those three months, I sat my beloved down, and we talked. it went something like this:

me: “you know i love you. and i want you to know that you can propose to me anytime you like …”

the lady sparkler: “ummmm.”

me: “no, seriously. I know how much you want to get engaged… so you are welcome to go ring shopping, pick out something nice for me, and then get down on one knee and propose. I promise I’ll wear the ring everyday.”

her: “uhhhhhh.”

me: “what’s wrong, sweetie?”

her: “I think I’d prefer if you proposed to me.”

me: “interesting. okay, here’s the deal. let’s say we have a date for the hypothetical engagement, let’s call it X.”

her: “is X soon?”

me: “well, interesting that you mentioned that … each time you ask when it is, or suggest that X should be coming sooner, the hypothtical engagement date becomes X + 1 month.”

her: “so, when is X then?”

me: “i’m not sure, but it’s now TWO months later than it was three minutes ago.”

of course, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had bought an engagement ring two months earlier and was just waiting for her to shut her yap about it, so it could be a surprise.

continued …

PHOTO: Statue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

pregnant:

19w

how i met your mother: the first dates

Monday, 25 May 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the third in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

it’s pretty difficult to pick out one event that would qualify as a first date.

the first thing we did together outside of work was go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. however, it was for lunch, and bridesmaid Mel was nice enough to chaperon that little event.  i am pretty sure those two things disqualify Ben’s from the “first date” competition.

(that was also my first hot dog is several years, and i can still remember how my stomach ached after that was all over…)

several weeks later, the lady sparkler and i went for a hike in Shenandoah national park … and barely survived. we made the mistake of hiking down (to some waterfalls on hazel mountain) instead of up.

hiking downhill seemed like a good idea for the first six miles, and proved to be easy enough that we kept going farther than we had planned. we were having a great time talking, laughing, and poking t.l.s. with a stick (well, that last part was mostly me…)

unfortunately, the six miles back uphill to the car sucked most of the will to live out of our poor, frail, out-of-shape, trying-to-impress-each-other-with-our-outdoorsyness bodies.

we stayed on the trail two hours longer than we had planned, which meant what had been planned as a day event now required dinner, which was a first for us.

and so, our first dinner date (however accidental) was at a ruby tuesday’s in warrenton on the way back to DC. to this very day, the sonora chicken pasta i had that night is just about my favorite comfort food on the planet.

now, i was mostly a vegetarian when i met the lady sparkler … i did eat some meat (almost all of it was chicken), i never cooked any dead animals at home, and never ate meat more than once or twice a month (i guess you could say that i was a social carnivore.)

so it was much to my surprise that after our hike, i found us talking about barbecue — which is not something I talk about much, so i’m guessing the lady sparkler must have brought up.

to keep up with the conversation, i found myself telling her that she should come up to Glover Park to try the ribs at Rockland’s, regardless of the fact that i had no earthly idea what they tasted like and would probably faint watching someone eat them.

she thought it sounded great.

so, while i had successfully arranged our first “alone” date back in DC, i had also managed to create a rather awkward situation. whatever meat i was eating at the time, i can assure you that it wasn’t anything that looked like it was once alive, much less slaughtered, cooked over an open flame, and hacked into little strips.

that next weekend, we met at Rocklands, and ordered at the counter.  me: a cute little array of sides (coleslaw, mac and cheese, potato salad).  my future wife: a huge slab of meat.

and so, i watched my wife-to-be pack away half a rack of ribs.

when finished, she proceeded to suck the marrow from the bones, and then lick her fingers clean. i kissed goodbye whatever vegetarian tendencies i had, right then and there.

and the rest, as they say, is history.

pregnant:

17w

how I met your mother: the first kiss

Friday, 15 May 2009

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[Evan and Tasha]
dear sparklet,

this is the second in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

if be lying if I said that I wasn’t interested in the woman who would become the lady sparkler soon after we met, after two years of being telephone-only business chums…

but, I was coming out of a bit of a rough patch as far as the fairer sex was concerned. point of fact, I had sworn off women all together after the excruciating demise of two (and a half) relationships in an 18 month perod.

but, to be frank, swearing off women wasn’t quite what the lady sparkler had had in mind.

those days we spent a little bit of time out of the office together … but completely plutonic, in the “hands off like plutonium” sort of way. I didn’t want to have anything to do (romantically) with women, and she didn’t want anything to do (romantically) with anyone who had such a luminous recent history of spectacularly-demising relationships.

but all of a sudden, something changed. after, say, four months of plutonic nirvana, she came up to my place in Glover Park on a Friday night for an early dinner, before I was to drive to Williamsburg (and the family) later that night.

as I was packing, she sat on my bed — it was a studio apartment so there was no couch, you perverts — going ON and ON about how she was happy we were just friends, and that while she could see some thing happening romantically, it was waaaaaay off in the future, and that we should take things slowly, and that I needed time, and that she needed time, and how special male friends were, and how she had a lot of them, and how people often misconstrued that, but she was glad that I didn’t misconstrue that, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah-blah.

she was preaching to the choir (nay, the clergy) as far as i was concerned … so i said “you are exactly right” for twenty minutes, packed quickly, went with her for a quick bite of Indian, decided her Native American name translated to “she who insists on stating the obvious, over and *over* again,” and drove to Williamsburg.

She suggested that I stop by on my way back after my trip, which i did, and we ended up going for a walk, I’m guessing to give her roommate a break from the Evan-induced insanity.

not twenty minutes into the walk, she asked if she could hold my hand. not twenty-one minutes into the walk, she asked if she could kiss me.

we did, on the corner of Buchanan and Boyle streets, in Alexandria, Virginia.

to this day, I have no idea what happened between Friday at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm. but, whatever it was, I would like to officially take credit for it here and now.

all along, it was *obviously* my masterplan to drive her to do this switch-er-roo, and she was just powerless in the face of my onslaught of charm.

I promise to only use my powers for good from here on out.

pregnant:

16w

how I met your mother: the beginning

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

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dear sparklet,

this is the first in a series of letters to baby sparklet about how mommy and daddy met and woo-ed each other.

one of the lady sparkler’s favorite shows these days is “how I met your mother,” whose premise includes a dad explaining to his kids (through flashbacks to modern day) all the zany hijinks that led to him meeting (and marrying) their mother.

you’ve seen it if you have been on an airplane in the last five years, or have a thing for doogie howser/ buffy the vampire slayer alumni.

anyway, the premise got me thinking I have a certain moral obligation to document all the embarassing stories I have about the lady sparkler, to make sure you (dear sparklet) have a full understanding of your antecedants.

so, I’m not sure how many people know this, but I knew my future beloved for about two years before we ever met. she was the head of communications for a small progressive non-profit, and I handled a web consulting contract they had with CTSG way back when.

it’s reasonable to say that I had a “client crush” on her — hard to explain, but that’s a commonish term that consultants have for clients that they don’t try to avoid at all costs. it happens a more often than you’d think, especially when your “relationship” is limited to whitty banter on the phone.

the funny part is that I assumed — for two years, up until the day that she started working for at CTSG — that she was 45 years old, married, with two or three kids.

whoops.

one day I hear “new girl” is coming by for some social event because she was going to be starting with us in a few weeks, and two hours layer I realize it is (a) her, (b) that I have talked to her for years but never met, (c) she is decidedly not 45, and (d) had cornered me in the office kitchen in such a way that I was fairly certain I had best cooperate with her and whatever her vision of the world might be.

the part of the story that doesn’t get told all that often is that I inadvertently seduced her under completely false pretences … namely in a suit and tie.

the day she came to visit just happened to be the only day in four years of political consulting that I had a meeting with a member of congress (nick lampson, fwiw) so had dressed up for work in black tie, black suit and black overcoat.

(she said I looked dashing … I think I probably looked like John Cusack from Grosse Pointe Blank.)

regardless, it was one of maybe four times I got that dressed up in the last six years (poor thing).

looking back, she says it was love at first sight … I’m not sure I was so eloquent, but absolutely thought she was hot, had potential, and was going to kick my #%$& if I didn’t comply with her every demand.

mmmm, young love 🙂

pregnant:

15w