Wednesday, December 1, 2010

looking forward to the next one

wow, last night was fun!  I feel very lucky to have a group of friends who will throw propriety out the window to  stay up late on a Tuesday night to eat, drink, laugh, and pose in women's lingerie.  Watching the Victoria's Secret Supervixens strut around in not much more than 6-inch heels was a mere footnote to a fantastic evening.

I'm thinking that themed parties might be the new thing at 3434.  If anyone has any good ideas for some parties to spice up the dead of winter (January/February) please feel free to comment.  I'm pretty sure we've got December covered.

more pics here.  enjoy.


Theo uses my apples (!) to enhance his decolletage

Friday, November 26, 2010

online dating part seventy-nine or why I have male friends

caught in the net

If all goes as planned, there comes a time when you actually meet someone who you find interesting on a dating site. It’s a rare occurrence, but it has to happen sometime or no one would pay for the privilege. Of course there are free dating sites now, but my attitude on free shit is that if you don't pay upfront, you pay at some point.  And when it comes to dating, you need a modicum of exclusivity to weed out some of the riff raff, you know, to set the bar slightly higher than come one come all free. Maybe that's just the main line snob in me.  It works with porn too BTW. You can get it for free somewhere online, but it's not really free when you are riddling your computer with spyware, adware and trojans. In that case, you get what you (don't) pay for. 

So you know the deal, you've read his profile, and he’s pretended he’s read yours…yes ladies, really, you know those well-crafted clich├ęs you wrote about "having a great family, friends and a full life...but there's something missing...?" Don’t kid yourself, he just looked at your pictures.

But give him credit, he stuck his neck out there, you responded, and the whole game ensued. Suddenly you find yourself emailing back and forth, and after a couple of weeks, without even waiting at least 2 days between each correspondence.

the evolution begins

At this point, one of you gets the bright idea to reveal your full names so the evolution from (insert your dating site here) FS to FB to IM to Voice can begin. You decide he is not a stalker, acquiesce, and he sends the friend request. You accept, and suddenly the pandora's box has swung wide open because now each of you has access to information about each other ad nauseum.

So you go back and forth in those little FB dialogue boxes adorned with little icons of your profile pics, and finally even that starts to feel know, closing FB so you can get some actual WORK done at work so you can leave early to do a night mountain bike ride...and immediately getting a message in your inbox that he's replied that requires you to click on a link and open up FB again.  Mark Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank so you decide to cut him out of the whole negotiation and just go straight to personal email ...then instant messaging....and then....

....he requests to talk on the phone. I rarely give my phone number to anyone, anyone, so if I give you my phone number I must think you are pretty special. It's not simply that I am selective, but I actually hate talking on the phone. However, I realize it is a necessary step along the process because of the time I got to the phone stage with one promising prospect a few years ago to discover he had a really high voice with an obnoxious accent, some kind of mix of South Philly and Brooklyn, so I had saved myself the misery of having to suffer through a whole date listening to something even more annoying than an 8-year old practicing the violin just by offering up my digits.

the first date

Yes the first date is a milestone, but if you have done your research, the first date is nothing more than an interview to see if there will be a second one. I mean I can have fun with just about any stranger...once. You  meet, you verify that he looks somewhat like his pictures, and you see how the conversation develops.  Hopefully by this point you know enough about his profession, hobbies, interests, lifestyle, geographic proximity, and potential compatibility or else you would not have gotten to this point, right?  I mean you would not waste your time actually meeting up with someone until those boxes were checked.  Well I wouldn't, I'm happy to spend a Friday night hanging out with Madison and Chloe (kind of like tonight) So the first face to face is really all about....chemistry.  Oh yeah, and whether he is a cat 1 or 2, I forgot about that.  Do you click together, are you laughing and engaged in the conversation or are you surreptitiously checking your watch when he looks across the bar?

the second third and fourth date

Adriana Lima
So all goes well, and there are more dates.  You have found a potential boyfriend, or PBF, who is attractive, intelligent (well..maybe I'll settle for not stupid), financially stable, healthy, and funny--damn, ladies, am I making you salivate? There are a few of them out there, but well...they're all pretty narcissistic by the time they get to be my age, hence the reason they are still on the prowl. And hence the reason that they find me, because I apparently release some sort of pheromone that narcissists cannot resist.  You know a woman can possess all of the aforementioned attributes and still not know she is PHAT, if you know what I mean, but a guy? He could be 2 of those 5 things and he thinks he deserves to date Adriana Lima. 

date five six and beyond

At some point on this continuum, the physical contact has developed.  You sleep with him, finally.

So suddenly you are "seeing each other".  This process unfolds over several months, and you are too busy to think much about dating other people or if he is. But there comes a time when you realize that you need to have this conversation. Perhaps you have finally decided that you need to make a concerted effort not to be an old maid, or perhaps it is a great excuse to get rid of an ex that keeps bothering you, or perhaps you are tired of never having anyone to take to Thanksgiving.  Whatever the reason, you decided that it’s time to approach the subject of whether or not you two are "in a relationship,"  albeit casual or whatever. The only thing you know for sure is that you are sleeping together. And you think you have earned a little more definition than that.

So what do you do? Do you take the risk of telling this still somewhat stranger that you like him enough to want to truncate your other entanglements? Because in having that conversation, you are revealing your own true feelings about this person, risking the possibility that he does not feel the same; that he is unable to commit; that he wants to keep on playing the field. Does he appreciate all that you bring to the table enough to give it a go? Is he still ringing up his ex for late night booty-calls? Enough said, the conversation has to be had.  So, do you have this conversation while sitting across from him at dinner? After sex?

Hell no, NOT without doing a little research first.

Here is my checklist, and this is not gender-specific.  This is your homework so you can be armed with information before you approach the subject with him. 

1. go back to the site you met him on and see if his profile is still up. This should be a no-brainer.  No big deal if you have only been dating a month or so, but if 6 months down the line you are "liking" Vera Wang on FB and he is still cruising fitness-singles it might be a sign that you two have different expectations. He might still be thinking friends with bennies when you are thinking that there might be some destination to the ride. And don’t believe him when he says he has just not gotten around to taking it off. I understand if after 6 months you have not gotten around to taking that Spanish class or painting your bathroom, but it takes five freaking seconds to hide your profile, ten if you forgot your password.

2. check out his friends on FB. Especially his *new* friends of the opposite sex (or same sex if we are not talking straight, like I said, this is a universal list) Luckily most FBers who are not teachers allow most of us to view at least some of their photos, so check out the new chicks from your city that call your potential BF their friend.  Most likely harmless, but if he is dating/has dated someone else, most likely they will be among those 300 or so people who call him their friend.  Is one of his newer attractive female friends especially frequent about commenting on anything going on with your PBF?  Yes it could be just an annoying admirer, but like I said this is just research.

ring dammit!

3. is his communication frequency commensurate with yours?  that is to say, how many texts, emails, or calls do you send him a week?  How many are returned?  Does he ever just text or call you for no reason?  While I find that most guys prefer voice to text or email, if you are the one always initiating contact, that speaks volumes about his commitment to the idea what you are a potential partner.  And let's face it, at this point that is all we are talking about here: potential, because you are still both relative strangers.

4. and lastly, don't rely solely on opinions from your girlfriends. They love you, they support you, but sometimes they tell you what you want to hear, we are ladies after all, and tend to be more diplomatic. Well, I guess I'm more of a guy in this respect because no one could accuse me of sugar-coating anything at this point. So rustle up a few guys that you trust to tell you the real scoop about their species.  Trust me, you will thank me.

Let me give you a little example.

You are wondering why this PBF seems to send mixed singles. Often he does not return your texts for half a day, and he doesn't call you very often. After a night together though he is singing your praises, and utters sentences that are sweet and endearing.  You think "wow, he has finally seen the light."

So you are with a group of your girls. They are grilling you about your new man. You tell them you really like him, but you are getting mixed signals. You talk about a conversation you had with him lying in bed. PBF held you close and whispered that it had been a "long time since he had been with someone."

"Why would he say that if it weren't true?" you ask them, "I mean why even say anything?"   Your girls reply that of course he says that because he is really into you, and he's so sweet and damn fine. 

But you are suspicious.  So you get real and decide to ask a man to decipher the warrior code. Your male friend,  unencumbered by estrogen's softening of the jagged edges of reality, responds quite differently when posed with this same question you asked of your girls.

"I mean why would he say that if it weren't true?" you implore him, "why would he say anything?"

"A lot of guys say that." He looks at you with pity.

"They do? why?"

"Because it explains why they did not last longer."  Boy do you want to wipe that smirk off his face.  How dumb are you? 

But you know, your male friends need you too. To help them navigate their way through the tempest of their fears, insecurities and innate reticence to face the prospect of having to moor their boat onto only one dock for the foreseeable future.  They embark on the journey, but really have a hard time staying the course.  That's when you, their dear female friend, become their compass. 

For example, a friend and I were having dinner recently, and he gone through the process of whittling down his other entanglements to the one lady he was especially interested in. He had always been a bit afraid of commitment in the first place, but he finally realized that he would always be stuck in the same place if he did not try and concentrate on one relationship instead of spreading his seed all over the damn place. So in the middle of the meal, his phone rang. It was his new chick. Having your phone at the table is verboten at 3434, but I nodded that it was OK, so he answered it, and spoke for a minute and then told her he was having dinner with me and he would call her later. He finished the call and looked at me, silent for a moment.

"What is it?" I asked, wondering at his pensive stare.

"Well, I guess we are at that point now" he remarked.

I was not following. "What point is that?"

"Well, I guess we are talking every day now." He looked a little stressed.

"Well yeah, that's the natural order of things," I said, rolling my eyes a bit. "We're women, when we've been sleeping with you we don't want you sleeping with anyone else. And you said yourself you were going to date only her.."

"Yeah yeah it's fine," he looked at me, irritated, as if I were pointing out the obvious.  "I'm just remarking on it, that's all." And we resumed our meal.
It's so damn hard for the boys sometimes. They do come in handy when we need the straight story, but you know they ain't always giving it to their GFs.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Yeah, sorry, a little late.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Henri David Ball, October 31, 2010

members of the clergy pausing for group shot
So I left the story of Halloween unfinished.  So as you recall I was mountain biking all weekend....
I did manage to get home from State College, although I did fall asleep for 45 minutes in my car half an hour after I left Raystown Lake. I fed the dogs, unpacked, threw my dirty stuff in the wash and headed downtown. PBF was disappointed that I had missed the party that his street throws every year for the trick-or-treaters and their parents. By the time I arrived it was 8 pm and the kiddies were headed off to bed. His neighbors were relaxing in beach chairs on the cobblestone street and PBF introduced me, and that is when I noticed that he was very happy...and feeling no pain. He sure had a head start on me and I'm not much of a drinker, not since high school anyway. So we walked into his place, I threw down my duffel bag, greeted his two 8-lb excuses for dogs and and he poured me a glass of champagne. This was perhaps a good thing, because afterward I headed upstairs to change into my costume. I put it on, pulled up the fishnets and looked in the mirror, and ...had a full-on panic attack. Oh my God, you have got to be kidding me.  I picked this thing out??

I was freaking out because if I were home I could easily doctor up any costume with all the accessories and accoutrements I have there, but here I was marooned in the house of a man who had been a bachelor most of his life. I mean the kind of guy whose refrigerator has only condiments, beer, and a half-eaten Trader Joe's burrito in it. I realized there was a very slim chance he would have anything at his place that would render this very skimpy costume, which looked OK in the Masquerade dressing room, acceptable to me. Well acceptable to anyone that is, except maybe my "less is more" date.

I scrambled upstairs in my fishnets and bare feet, to where PBF was in his bedroom getting himself together.

"PBF!  PLEASE tell me you have a little pair of, um... Calvin Klein underwearCalvin Klein Mens X Cotton Trunk, Black/Gold, Medium or something like that I can wear under this skirt....I mean I'm a   - - - ty year old woman, I can't walk around like this!"

PBF saw that I was not playing and headed for the drawer where he keeps his drawers, and I thought to is a chance that he will have a pair.  I might be safe.

He asked me to turn around. As if!

"I can't walk around like this. My ass is totally hanging out!" I exclaimed to his bemused smile. The skirt was really really short. Somehow these things never look that short on the skinny-legged models but when you put them on a pair of "athletic" thighs they look, well, inappropriate, as mom would say.

"Andrea”, he said, looking at my butt and then back at me again and taking my hands. “Listen to me, I'm going to be mad at you if you cover that up, you look great, it would not look right with shorts, and besides, everyone there will be wearing the same kind of thing."

"What if there are people you know there?  Do you really want to be seen with me looking like this? I mean this is Philadelphia, not Miami!”

"I won't know anyone there, " he said, "and besides, it's a costume party, you look fine."

Somehow this calmed me.

the Man of the Evening himself in Costume #1
So we made it there. I checked my long coat, wincing a little as I took it off, and we were standing there in the lobby, gazing up at Henri David himself in the first of his 3 costumes.  Suddenly I look up and Governor Rendell, who I had known cordially when he was Mayor Rendell, walked over to us and said hello. Oh for Christ sake, I was standing there half-naked in front of the Governor of Pennsylvania. Now mind you this was a few days before the mid-term elections and the Democrats were scrambling to make as many appearances as they could. Who knew they would be at the Henri David ball? I smiled at Ed and said, "Good evening Governor, I have not spoken to you since we were on Stairmasters next to each other years ago at the Bellevue." The Sporting Club at the Bellevue that is, where I worked out for the year I worked in a law firm downtown when I moved back home from Boston.  Ages ago.

He looked me up and down with that quintessential Ed Rendell half smile on his face and said, "It's working for you..... I would like you to meet Dan Onorato," and he gestured to the man in a suit to his right. I said hello, but Dan would not look me in the eye for fear someone would snap a picture of him in front of a scantily clad nun impersonator. I mentioned that I would be voting for him on Tuesday and he said, "Thanks I appreciate that," his head still pointed down at the floor. Good thing no one important would be here like PBF had said!  Whew!  Where were the news cameras when you needed them?

PBF and I walked over to the bar to a drink, and of course there were 2 more people he knew there, and he introduced them to me. All of them, mind you, were wearing costumes that they could appropriately wear around children. 

What was so fun about this party was that the modus operandi of the evening seemed to be to walk up to total strangers, admire their costumes, and ask to take their picture. I think all night maybe 25 people asked if they could take my picture, and about 25 more wanted to pose with me. Add those to the pictures I took of others and I ended up taking 100 photos that night. Not all of which, mind you, can be displayed but I will provide you with the link to most of them if you keep reading. Some shall remain on my computer never to be seen again.

My favorite moment of the evening was when I came upon this incredible costume. This guy built this mock arcade game that actually worked, so I stood there and controlled the joystick under his directions (yes that's his head in the middle of the toys!) until the claw came down and nabbed me not one, but two stuffed things. He said no one had ever won 2 toys before. I knew I could win something this year.

Which brings me to the end of the evening, which is to say the evening ended abruptly. Since I had to schlep around these two stuffed animals, my camera and bag (the camera was in constant use) and my rum and coke, I finally decided that carrying around a drink was too cumbersome, and since I was dead sober and I thought I needed to be a little less reality-based to enjoy the festivities, I decided to find PBF so he could buy me a shot of tequila. Yes, we got separated when I needed to use the little girls room and he was talking to his friend. I figured we would find each other, but 20 minutes later as I was posing for picture after picture, I realized that I would probably never find him. And at that very moment, even though we were in a ballroom with about 1000 other costumed people, he walked past me as I was kneeling on the floor gathering up my stuffed animals.

Henri presiding over the judging at midnight
I called to him, and we were reunited with much joyousness, and headed to the bar where the bartender poured us each about a half pint of Sauza each, I kid you not. So I drank it in a few installments, so did PBF, but later we figured out this is what put him over the edge. About 15 minutes later we were seated watching the judging and PBF informed me we needed to head home. Once there he barely made it to the bathroom to, as we used to say when I was in college, Kiss the Porcelain God.  I found it all a bit humorous, especially since he was flying out on Wednesday to do an Ironman in Florida. Ouch.

So we vowed to go again next year and actually get to dance this time. PBF swore to me that he has not gotten sick from drinking in years. I realized that I have not gotten sick from drinking since Senior Week in high school, but it was so awful I vowed never to go through that again.  And I have no doubt I ever will, because I like to think that for all my faults, I do learn from my (really bad) mistakes.  Not, it seems, when it comes to dating though.

The following are some more of my favs, and more here.

Treats and her Tricks were of course condoms

no, neither of us knew that guy, nor each other actually

Friday, November 12, 2010

party number four coming right up.....

you are cordially invited
to kick off the holidays by
watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
over dinner and cocktails
Tuesday November 30th at 7pm

For a preview of the fun, click here.

location: 3434 of course, 
if you don't know where that is you are NOT invited
attire: casual, it's Tuesday after all, but you must be wearing at least one article of lingerie (yes, men too)
come eat and have a mojito, roast marshmallows, and watch the show at 10pm

leather/fetish lingerie is acceptable and encouraged

lingerie is a term, derived from the French language, for women's undergarments. These garments are heavily eroticised in Western culture, and the marketers at Victoria's Secret have figured out a way to use them to not only sell bras and panties, but bikinis, clothes, makeup, and accessories.  However, the Fashion Show is more like Cirque du Soleil for non-athletic types than it is about stuff you can actually purchase on the site or in stores, so it's really just an excuse for another Tuesday night party.  This party is NOT sponsored by VS and the Angels will not be joining us (because they are in NYC at the show silly)

Come get naughty with us and call out sick on Wednesday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

back in the 1920s when you had to smoke to be cool

this is just too classic....

click on picture for full-size version

FYI Cecil Yates was an actual champion track cyclist "6-day Racer" of the early 20th century, for more info on him click hereFor more information on America's fascination with 6-Day Bicycle Races, in which contestants would race around the track at Madison Square Garden (and then all over the country) from Monday morning until Saturday night to see who could cover the most distance, check out this book.  Enjoy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"spooky Trans-sylvania Epic preview camp" in state college

cutie Lona and her stick
So this weekend as I said I headed up to State College for Mike’s camp previewing the TSE course. There were 10 of us, including Mike, 9 guys and me. Of course Thursday I worked, and Thursday night instead of packing I was writing because folks were giving me grief for not posting anything for two weeks, so I was supposed to leave at 11 on Friday am, instead it was almost 1 before I left Philadelphia. We were supposed to get there at 2 for a 3pm ride. Needless to say I missed the ride, because I ran into 40 minutes of traffic on the turnpike.  I’m talking miles and miles of cones funneling our confused vehicles into one lane so that 10 PennDot workers could fix a 10x10 area of asphalt, no joke. I was pissed. When I pulled up to the Eagle Lodge, base camp for the TSE, Zach Adams was about to go for a ride with his adorable pupply Lona, so I asked him to wait and I went out with him. We only did about 5 miles with the dog, it was getting late and we did run into the whole group and turned around and headed back with them. So I missed most of the new Prologue although I did ride the 2010 one last June, I know Mike changed it up though.

click on this picture for a better look
Friday night we went into town and ate dinner at Cosi Thai. It was pretty good, but the best part of the evening was standing outside in the cold for an hour afterwards trying to figure out what we felt like doing, while standing in front of Cosi Thai watching all of the college students walking by in their creative, funny or sexy costumes. My personal favorite was this one:
However since I was with 9 guys, their favorites tended to be more of the "sexy" variety.

This proved to be entertaining, and since most of the co-eds were already feeling no pain, I had no trouble walking up to them and asking if I could take their pictures. At one point Mike exclaimed that it was pathetic that we were standing on the corner looking at 18 year-old girls, after all, there was only 1 person in our group who could appropriately leer at 18 year-old girls, and that is Zach, because he's 20. For his part, Zach had asked one of the girls where "the party" was and she told him it was at "224". So we had to basically drag him back to the camp or else he would be knocking on that door.  At least he would not get carded there.  Poor fool.  Sucks to be young.

Anyway, back to the riding. Saturday started with a big breakfast of pumpkin-ginger-ricotta pancakes, multigrain toast, and scrambled eggs with portabella mushrooms, spinach and jack cheese made by yours truly. We knew we were going to be out all day previewing day 6, so we packed a ton of food and drink. I packed 2 Nutella sandwiches, about 6 coconut macaroons, 3 Pro Bars (delicious, palatable, and 500 calories each), gel blocks, a bottle of double strength sustained energy with added agave nectar, and a gel flask filled with hammergel. I ate everything except the hammergel and one pro bar, and that’s only because I forgot it was there. I'm really working on the nutrition angle, although it is much easier to get it down when you are stopping for 5-10 minutes every so often to refuel.

We met up with National Ultra Endurance Series Champion Jeff Schalk and his wife Anna Kelso and their friend Tracey Brauksieck for the first part of the ride. I reminded Jeff how I had enthralled he and Nick Waite with graphic depictions of my gyno's attempt to turn my perineal nodular induration into a pincushion after the 101.  At that point as we were all in the middle of a 3-mile climb Mike told me to tell Jeff and Anna about all the crazy health problems I had survived in 2008-2009.  I resisted but it was a long climb after all.  After hearing about the collarbone break, the heart arrythymia, the heart surgeries, shoulder surgery, getting hit by a truck, and 2 more surgeries, the perineal nodular induration, yada yada yada.....Jeff said it made him uncomfortable to be riding next to me.  Jeff, Anna and Tracey cut out early, but we rode for 6 and a half hours, 50 miles, and in the first 26 miles we climbed 3600 feet. Total elevation gain for the day was 5718 feet. Ouch. Of course the trails were sublime, there were a ton of leaves on the rocks which made it much more challenging to choose a line, so most of the time you just hoped for the best. I was sporting a new saddle from John Cobb and wanted so badly for it to work out. The saddle was too far forward, and threw me off on the bike until we adjusted it after the Wildcat trail, which is an incredibly rocky 700 foot steep descent that has been used as a DH course in the past.  In order to descend this bitch of a trail without endoing I had to have my entire body over my back wheel with my stomach or even chest on the saddle. The problem was with the bike setup as it was I could not get back onto the saddle from this position, so I ended up walking a good portion of the trail which really pissed me off all day.  We made the saddle adjustment on the trail, now I am dying to get back there to do it again, maybe when the leaves have blown off it. One of the scariest trails I’ve ever ridden.

Saturday night we watched the Penn State Michigan game and I was bored to tears, but we did meet up with Jeff, Anna and friends again. Since they carded a few of us (I was NOT one of the lucky ones for some reason) Zach, beerless, sat there falling asleep against the brick wall until Jonesy took pity on him and took him back to the cabin.  Apparently Oct 31st was the last night of Jeff's off-season so he was living it up while he could.  I'm pretty sure that't the last day of my off-season too, but I'm not really sure, I have to ask Colin.

what nat'l champions and their peeps do in the offseason

Sunday I got up early so I could make breakfast and we could get packed up and head out to Raystown Lake for a shorter ride before I had to head back to civilization and the Henri David ball. I’ve written about Raystown before, it's insane pump track riding, but it really kicks you in the ass. We only rode 2 hours there, and my legs were smoked. I did ok for the first 45 minutes, but afterwards I was so cooked I could not wait to get out of the woods. The short bursts of high cadence spinning you have to do to attack the little hills really tires you out, and of course we all were hurting from Saturday anyway.

So I said goodby to my compatriots and pushed the "home" button on my GPS, but now I was another hour NW of state college, so it should have taken me 4 hours to get home. Yikes, it was 12:30! I started driving, and after 20 minutes I could not stay awake. I was pinching my cheeks and slapping my face, singing, yelling, but finally I pulled over for a 5 minute nap and passed out for 45 minutes. After that I was fine though, and made it the 200 miles back in 3 hours. Just in time to throw my dirty laundry in the washer, walk the dogs, pack my bag and f^$k me pumps with costume and head down to Society Hill to meet PBF for some more fun. Whew!
more pics here from my lame camera.  For incredible pics from photographer extraordinaire Abe Landes  who was riding with us this weekend on a freakin' singlespeed (I am such a whiner!), click here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

halloween costumes: the search for the "sexy"

Ah..Halloween, where men get to dress in drag and women like to dress like, well, whores, without anyone even questioning their lack of judgment, propriety or breeding.  Even though I am going to be away Halloween weekend riding my mountain bike in state college, October 31st falls on a Sunday this year so I will be back in time to unload the car, walk the dogs, take a nap, and head downtown for the Henri David Halloween Ball.  For those of you who do not know what this night of debauchery entails, I encourage you to google it and look at some of the photos from years past.  Henri David is well-known in the Philadelphia gay scene, as has been hosting this party every October 31st, since 1968.  The costumes can be pretty elaborate and the judging is at midnight.  So since I had a formal dinner party for my family two weekends ago, and a cocktail party/bonfire this past weekend at 3434, and this All Hallows weekend as I said will be hightailing it out of town, I realized that I needed to come up with a costume ASAP.  The search had started at the beginning of the month, but now that my social schedule has displaced my racing schedule I have not had a minute to write any of it down.  But you're in for a treat  if you prefer pictures to words, let me tell ya.

I love the macabre, so Halloween has always held a fascination for me.   Anyone who has visited 3434 will find walls covered in art reproductions, mostly scenes from literature and greek mythology, as well as the mythology from the Judeo-Christian religion, such as this depiction of death on a pale horse by the French Illustrator Gustave Dore.  There is also a plethora of artistic renderings of the female form.  This prompted my friend Jason Gabriel to announce at the first party he attended here, "thanks for having us,  and I have to say I love how you've decorated the place.  I mean I'm totally down with the naked woman motif."

I prefer the gory, most frightening depictions in art that I can find, like the Schongauer engraving above that  that used to frighten me as a child when I saw it at my grandmothers's house.  Now it hangs in my middle bedroom and makes me feel happy, as I guess it did for the young Michelangelo.  So yeah, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday.

However since I live my life in a rhythm etched by the ebb and flow of the seasons; whether those seasons are defined by the waning of the colors in my garden or the waning of the intensity of the racing season,  it seems that Halloween always comes around too quickly. I'm never ready for it. The days have gotten shorter and darker yes, but daylight savings is still in effect so I am still hanging onto that tenuous sinewy thread of summer that seems about to snap until we get the unexpected gift of a  few lingering days in the 70s such as we are having this week.  My flowers are still blooming, the hoses have not been turned off yet, my AC units are still in the windows and I'm in massive denial about the impending winter.

So even though every year I promise myself I will host a costume party, or find one to go to, or decorate my steps with hand-carved squashes, or even remember to get candy for the kiddies before that first little brat shows up at my door looking for a handout; what usually happens is I end up skipping over Halloween altogether and moving right into Thanksgiivng and then Christmas.  Over the years if I did go to a costume party, I would be haphazardly clothed in some poorly-thought out garb like those featured in this picture of my sister Sabrina and I from Halloween 1996.  Can you guess what celebrity she is mocking here?  As weak as my snakes twisted out of aluminum foil were, I think my costume was stellar when seen next to yours Sab, sorry.
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yes, sadly, me on the left impersonating Medusa
And there is one more little development.  I have started dating someone (gasp!) and it was his idea to go to Henri David.  I would probably not have suggested that we do something so extravagent on Sunday, as after all I would be driving back from State College, my eyes heavy with exhaustion after 10 hours of hard mountainbiking in 3 days.  I would be pinching my cheeks to avoid falling asleep at the wheel on the way home, and would pretty much be useless for much of anything past 10pm. If I could get home in time to take a nap though, I figured I could stay up until maybe 3am.  Maybe.

So anyway, I made the mistake of inviting this relative stranger to help me pick out my costume.  I surmised that this party was his idea, he had gone many times over the years, he might know people there while I probably would not, and since don't really know him that well yet, he could help me navigate my way through the costume blitz, so I don't end up choosing something out of desperation that would embarrass him in front of his friends.

First I dedided to do a little research on my own, thinking I would order my digs online. I did a google search for "halloween costume women," and found a mere 18,600,000 results.  Almost all were "sexy" Halloween costumes, like those on I was astounded at the number of "sexy" choices on that site.  And when I say sexy, I mean that every single occupation and icon you could imagine was reborn as the "Sexy [insert character here] Costume."

For example, there are the garden-variety slutty numbers such as "Sexy catwoman" (as if there were any other kind), the Sexy french maid, and of course, the Sexy Cleopatra.  It's not too tough to find the ubiquitous icons of Batgirl, Supergirl, and for us mature types, there is of course, Superwoman. Put Sexy in front of all of them and you're there. And they sure found a way to make even very unladylike costumes quite appealing. I mean, why be a garden-variety insect when you can be a Sexy Bumble Bee? Insects need to enjoy procreation too, and this one even is wearing fishnets. And you have to give them credit, they even managed to make Sponge Bob sexy, and even I never thought they would go there.
Now I did notice that the male version of even the same costume was not as well, sexy or revealing as ours, which is really no fun for the boys. To illustrate this, here are the male and female versions of the "Ghostbuster Costume".  I have a feeling however, at Henri David both sexes would probably be wearing  HER costume. 

Anyway, there are hundreds of costumes just on this one site and well, some of them make it harder and harder to push the envelope but it's not like me not to try. So here it goes.

 I knew that I was not going to weasel out of the sexy costume fashion show.  I had sent my date an email with links to 3 costumes I found on  So the following is verbatim how the back and forth via email went.  We shall call him PBF, for "potential boyfriend," for protection of privacy.

andrea to PBF:
this site has great stuff.  let me know if you like anything.
PBF to andrea:
surprise me.  I like surprises. you're naughty.
andrea to PBF: yeah but I don't know you that well yet.  I mean are we talking this....

or this....

or this?  Give me a hint.  You have to be seen with me.

PBF to andrea:
1 or 3.  keep running them by me.
andrea to PBF:

ok, I see the trend here.....
When I prodded him further in my next email to characterize that he was looking for, his only response was,  "less is more."  I was wondering if I should keep online try-outs for the PBF position open a bit longer.

Finally the online search was too overwhelming and we decided to go to Masquerade, which is a costume shop and so much more around the corner from his house in Society Hill.  It is owned by the Halloween Superstore people, you know those stores that pop up in abandoned retail spaces in your 'hood the month before Halloween and offer cheap made-in-china costumes and a no return policy.  Only this one sustained it's open-year-round status I gathered by the proximity of the strip clubs on Delaware avenue as well as the sex toy shop upstairs. Perfect! I picked him up after work on a Monday night last week.  I was not quite prepared for what I saw when we walked in that place.  I mean it was massive.  I found a few reviews of the place on so I could not wait to check it out myself:
10/28/2009 This place is f*cked up. Its choc full o crazy ass families looking for easy to do Halloween costumes. This includes the Wal*Mart posse. Anyway, I give it 3 stars for having a pretty nice over all selection. I can't get over the fact that this store is actually pretty adult orientated. A 5' walk from the left side (were the children's costumes are) to the back and you're in stripper costume land. You know, the outfits they don before they take it off? Up the stairs and you're in a porn shop!!

Were else can you get the necessities to be IronMan for Halloween and a rubber fist?
Insanity ensues.
J P.

Philadelphia, PA

Any costume you could ever possibly want can be found at this place.

That being said, it's hell going there anywhere near Halloween. Don't go unless you are absolutely desperate for a costume. The line for the cashier pretty much wraps around the entire warehouse-sized building.

I also think the only reason this store can survive all year round is because about half of it is an adult section - they even card you to go in. But, you know what they say, sex sells. It's kind of hilarious actually. People pushing their way through the kiddies and their spiderman princess costumes to go check out whips and stripper heels. Man, I love Philly.

Juliana S.
Philadelphia, PA

the portal to the Sexy Costume Fashion Show

I really don't think I need to go into much detail because the reviews above pretty much got it spot-on. It was amusing to walk through the upstairs "boudoir" and stroll next to a wall of dildos and all manner of like tools with someone you don't really know, as if you were meeting at the supermarket to find the ingredients of the first dinner you are cooking together.  You know, you ask him to accompany you to Whole Foods just to make sure he is OK with brussels sprouts or tempeh.  Well kind of like that, anyway.  Actually I'm thinking the PR folks at WF would be pretty alarmed if they read that comparison.

So PBF and I were wandering around Masquerade for 20 minutes discussing this idea and that when I saw a "Gothic Nun" costume on an endcap.  I mumbled to PBF, "you know, that's just WRONG."

"What do you mean it's wrong, I think that would look great on you."

"This one?" I said meekly, pulling it off the rack and inspecting it critically, not that there was much there to inspect.

"Yeah yeah, you've got the body for that, all you would need would be some thigh-highs and the right shoes."

Ok, thats a lie, he did not say that.  "The right shoes" is something your mother would say as you are trying on wedding gowns.  PBF actually said "All you would need is some thighhighs and f**k me pumps." I'm pretty sure he meant that as an explicit adjective, not an invitation.

So I examined the picture closely again, and decided that it would make me look fat.  I mentioned this.  He was undaunted.  He took the package from my outstretched hand, I think this was merely for effect actually, and then said, "you know, what do you have to lose?  Just try it on, if you hate it you don't get it."

I agreed to this.    

Luckily there were two more nun costumes available to try on, because apparently a lot of women feel the need to impersonate an icon of the Catholic faith.  Oh, but this version was, you guessed it, the Sexy Nun of course.  It looked the *best* on me of the three.  Here it is for your veiwing pleasure:

hmmm...what earrings should I wear with this?

After I spent $40 to purchase this little number, I asked PBF what he was going to wear to the Ball.  After all if I had to strut around the Sheraton ballroom not fully clothed he had better be showing off those abdominal muscles he earned as a triathlete as well.

"Oh, that's easy, I will be a priest.  I think I can come up with something at home, I just need to find a Bishop hat and a cross."

I see the less is more concept does not translate across the gender barrier.

Count Bikeula said that for our Saturday ride this weekend at the Spooky Camp we should be wearing costumes.  He even offered some sort of prize for the best one.  This weekend it will be me and 9 other guys riding through the state forests of Pennsylvania and you can bet I will NOT be wearing my Henri David costume. 

Happy Halloween.