Posts Tagged Chicago
Good Things Do Come in Small Packages!
Valentine’s Day will be upon us before we know it. I myself have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. I haven’t much had the chance to be honest. I’ve only ever been in a one relationship that spanned over the “greeting card holiday,” but when that day came, I was traveling domestically for work.
As we close in on V-Day, I thought it would be nice to shine a light on some of NYC’s finest establishments. This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Sweets in the City, an event hosted by Single Edition. Originally planned as a bus tour of some of Big Apple’s most romantic locations, the recent blizzard forced plans to be altered. Instead, Single Edition scrambled to gather all these great NYC treasures in one place.
Certainly when I say cupcakes and New York City in the same breath, most think Magnolia’s. I’m here to change that. The first confectionary I’d like to share with you is Sprinkles Cupcakes. Located near Bloomingdale’s between 60th & 61st streets, this purveyor of pure, delicious, uncomplicated, scratch-based cupcakes has blown me away.
The days of sharing a late-night romantic slice of pie at a diner have gone by the wayside. And, since the cupcake craze hit the scene, I personally (and unsuccessfully) have been trying to supplant it with a pie craze. After my first bite into a Sprinkles cupcake, my struggle ended and I was officially onboard.
Sprinkles has struck the perfect balance of cake and icing ratio. Most cupcake peddlers botch this entirely, forcing me to scrape half-a-pound of icing off my dessert before biting into it. Sprinkles has mastered this art, and made me reevaluate my love-hate relationship with cake’s red-headed stepchild. But enough about my cupcake hang-ups!
I got to sample Sprinkles’ decadent red velvet. Much to my delight, I didn’t have to sink my teeth in to find out what flavor awaited me. They’ve devised a brilliant color-coded system of dots adorning the cupcakes, revealing the flavors hidden within. Although not all flavors are available every day, they’ve developed a calendar telling you when your favorite flavors will be available.
When I got home from the event, I plopped down on the couch for a romantic evening and split the cupcake in half. The portion size was perfect for sharing, although truth be told, it was so sinfully good that my better half nearly missed out on his half. The cake was incredibly moist and scrumptious, the icing was perfection, and my teeth didn’t ache from sugar overload.
On top of their first-class cupcakes, Sprinkles offers great service as well. No matter the occasion, they can accommodate — weddings, parties, gifts for all occasions, last-minute orders, deliveries and more. They’ll even print your logo, monogram or any graphic on a sugar decoration. The pleasant surprises didn’t end there. When discarding evidence of my indulgence, I was also pleased to see my treat was packaged in a tiny, recyclable and aesthetically simple brown box. Who doesn’t love an eco-friendly, green company these days.
Disappointed you can’t experience this decadence because you don’t live in New York City? — Not to worry. They are baking cupcakes specially for you in Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, La Jolla, Newport Beach, Palo Alto, Scottsdale and their flagship store in Beverly Hills. You too can find true love in the bottom of a small brown box.
So this Valentine’s Day, show that special someone just how much they mean to you with one of NYC’s true treasures — Sprinkles cupcakes.
I nailed down plans to meet Connecticut Cutie after work that Tuesday night. He told me he’d be in my neighborhood, so it would work out well.
My favorite date spot in the city lately has been The Breslin, so I suggested we go there. It’s a short walk from my office, and we had great flirtatious conversation on the walk there. He joked about going to a psychologist for mother issues, and I made more than a few Oedipal comments in jest. I told him I don’t go to a therapist nor need one because I have free therapy sessions all the time. I use my friends for that service. I’m sure they all just love to hear all about my problems and issues, but hell. What are friends for?
We also talked about our days at work. I had a very easy day involving a lot of personal work with just a little professional work.
When we got to The Breslin, it was very crowded. I couldn’t believe how many people were there on a Tuesday night. We had a hard time finding a seat, so he ordered drinks at the bar while I tried to hold some ground in the corner. I was standing next to some of the most obnoxious men I’d ever met. You could tell they were a real “boys’ club” type, making lewd comments. I knew it was only a matter of time before I heard the f@ggot term thrown out. I decided to move away from the group before they p*ssed me off more.
FInally a table opened up, so we jumped on it. Space was limited, so we sat with our legs intertwined. This was good body language once again and made it easy for a little leg touching. Our conversation was going very well. We were both telling stories and laughing a lot. I told him about how much I get into Halloween and started showing him pictures from Facebook. He was shocked because he never got into the holiday. It was always something haphazard and last-minute for him.
Throughout the course of the night, there was a lot of leg touching. It was nice because we could flirt in this way without making a spectacle of ourselves. The only people who had a view of this were the bartenders, and I didn’t care if they noticed. It was mutual. As much as I was rubbing his legs, he was rubbing mine.
When he needed to use the facilities, I told him how to get there. I joked about the long journey he’d have to make through the basement of the hotel. He looked at me like I was insane. I equated it to backlot Disney. When he returned, he detailed his journey through the underground labyrinth he encountered. He detailed the myriad of characters he passed on his journey and joked about how strenuous it was. I liked his sense of humor. It was all something I would say. We were meshing well.
However, I was still having a hard time getting past the flamboyance. I had a feeling he was holding back some as well. I liked the guy quite a bit, but I also wanted a real man, not a man who acted in a feminine manner. The distance thing was still in the back of my mind. The vetting process was far from over. I’d have to continue to see where things went and evaluate if it was worth the extra effort.
I hadn’t eaten any dinner, so I ordered some fries from the bar. We joked about working out and my being fat as of late. I know I’m far from fat, but there is a certain level that is fat for me. I don’t like it, and it makes me want to eat better and work out more.
After three dark and stormies, when I brought it to his attention, he realized he needed to make his way to the train. If he missed it, he’d have to wait another hour for the next. I told him I’d walk him half way — Basically back to my office. He needed to stop at the bank along the way, but we also really needed to hustle. When we got to my office, I told him I’d walk him one more avenue before heading home. When we got to Fifth Avenue, we embraced on the corner. We started kissing, and this quickly turned into a bit of a makeout session. He was a great kisser, so I didn’t mind one bit. I was starting to worry he’d miss his train. We’d already joked about how his parents extended his curfew for the evening. I knew they’d be royally p*ssed if he made them pick him up at midnight.
It was comical as we both acknowledged the other’s hardon as we pulled back. We were both really enjoying each other’s company. I said goodbye, and he sped off to Grand Central Station.
I made my way home, and made it a point to text him and tell him how much I enjoyed myself that evening. I learned he did in fact make the train and would get home at a decent hour. He responded, and I could tell he was really into me. I needed to make a decision fast, or I would risk really hurting him. But, I still wasn’t sure. I had a lot to think about. I would be traveling to Chicago for work, so this would allow me time apart and time to think about what I really want.
We talked about possibly getting together over the weekend, possibly in Hoboken. I knew once that happened, things were going to escalate fast. I already knew he had a great body from his revealing pictures on a4a. I knew he had a healthy sex drive, so that wouldn’t be an issue. I just needed to decide if the flamboyance thing was something I could get over — Something I could either look past or fully embrace. It wasn’t my style, but after all, I was constantly expanding my horizons…Follow @onegayatatime
A few days after my date with Connecticut Cutie, we made plans to grab lunch.
Apparently, he had a very laxed work schedule, and he was able to come down to my neighborhood to meet me for a bite. It was nice to have a lunch date. Most days, I eat my lunch at my desk so I can go to the gym in the afternoon. It’d been some time since my last lunch date was well.
I rearranged my day so I could make this happen. I did not want to cancel on him last minute. Of course right when I was getting ready to walk out the door, people started coming to me with work. I told them I had a meeting to run to, and I snuck out of the office.
He had chosen to meet me at Cafe Rustico. It’s a small pizza place around the corner. Since I was a little late, he went to scope the place out.
When I met him on the corner by my office, he told me he wasn’t thrilled with it and asked if I knew of any good places in the neighborhood we could go. I picked a spot, Lena, and ran it by him. He was fine with it, so we decided on that. We ordered our food, and I picked up the tab. We found a small table to eat and chat. He told me more about his getting locked in the bathroom on the train going home after leaving me from our last date. He was quite a goofball. I loved it.
This time, we spent a lot of time talking about my roommates and his. Mine being my current lot, and his being his parents. Both had their positives, but they also had some big negatives as well. We also talked about our coworkers and bosses and our different situations at work. It was nice learning about his job. Last we spoke, it was left a little vague. However, overall, I think I monopolized most of the conversation.
I was enjoying spending time with him. I wasn’t completely sold on him yet. Only time would tell. But, he was certainly a nice guy and was winning me over slowly. My main hesitation was that maybe he was a little “too gay” for me. I wondered if he’d get along with my friends. My other hesitation was that he was living in Connecticut. How often were we going to be able to see each other?
We talked about what each of us had planned for the weekend. I had nothing special going on, and he was helping his dad remodel their bathroom at home. He joked about his “manly DIY project.”
We stood outside the restaurant to say our goodbyes. We exchanged a very nice hug, and then he went in for the big kiss. We pulled back, and he went in again for another, like he just couldn’t get enough. He was a good kisser. I liked it. It was a good sign for him.
I was slightly uncomfortable knowing any one of my coworkers could walk by at any second, but another part of me just didn’t care. Let them see. I’m not hiding anymore. I’m not going to walk around the office broadcasting my sexuality, but I also am not going to hide it.
I walked in the other direction with a smile from ear to ear. It’d been a while since a man kissed me like that. Lately, I’d been the one to initiate. Smiles was never particularly affectionate either.
I was heading to Chicago again for work, and I wanted to see him again before I left. When I got back to my desk, I texted him to thank him for meeting me and told him we’d get together again soon…Follow @onegayatatime
On my walk home from work, I called my new Grindr friend to see if we were still on for drinks that evening. Sadly, however, he told me he wasn’t sure he would be able to make it. He still had to walk his two dogs and had a few things he needed to take care of. I was very anxious to meet him that night because it was the last opportunity I would have before heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a week. I know when momentum breaks, enthusiasm also wanes. I told him, “Well, go take care of what you need to do, and if you still think you can do it later, let me know.” He was worried I was missing out on other plans waiting around for him, but I assured him I had nothing planned for the evening. He wasn’t keeping me from anything. Such a gentleman.
As time passed, I had the idea to just invite him to my apartment to share a bottle of wine. It was a very nice night, and I have a comfortable balcony we could sit and chat on. I texted him the idea, and he happily agreed. An hour passed, and I heard nothing from him. I cut up different cheeses and laid them out on a nice platter with grapes, crackers, and chocolate covered espresso beans. Just as I was about to call him, I heard a buzz at my door. I buzzed him in and told him to come to the second floor. I opened the door to find exactly what I expected to see. He threw his arms open and gave me a big hug, exclaiming, “I made it!” I’m a big fan of hugs and feel people don’t hug enough theses days. After a sweet embrace, he sat and I poured him a glass of wine. He commented on how nice my apartment was and told me how easy it was to get there.
I asked if he wanted to sit on the balcony and he graciously obliged. We grabbed the cheese platter and wine and made our way outside.
He began by asking my family background. I told him my father’s side is German and my mother’s side is Polish, Irish and Welsh. I am a European mutt. He told me his grandfather was a Nazi who escaped Germany once he realized what was going on and that he was in over his head. He came to the US and started a famous steakhouse. His grandmother was a Native American bootlegger from who made moonshine. I’ll let you figure out how the two met. They then divorced when she ran away with a man in a terrorizing biker gang
The previous night, he told me he was a cowboy at one point in high school in another county. He explained how similar this was to Brokeback Mountain (minus the sex), as men were paired up. Like all the other pairs, he developed an extremely close bond with the man he was paired up with much akin to a brotherhood. When the time came for “Indiana Jones” to move back to the states to go to college, he had to say goodbye to this close friend. They stayed up all night reminiscing and crying about how much they would miss each other. I was so very touched by this story. I asked where his friend is now, and I was shocked and disappointed to find they haven’t been in touch since he left. I scolded him and told him to rebuild that connection.
When he came back to the states, he went to art school. He was always fascinated by art, anthropology and archeology. After he graduated, he traveled to India and fell in love with the culture. He told me about how ingrained in the local society he became. He wasn’t simply a tourist.
When he came back to the states, he was setting up his studio. He was cleaning things up and came across a windfall possibly worth millions. Instead of taking this money and living a high life, squandering it on a lavish lifestyle, he did the unthinkable. He took the money and built a hospital in the remote areas of India. When I learned of this, I was truly amazed. It was an ultimate act of selflessness. I was sitting next to one of the greatest men of my generation. After building the hospital, he decided to start a charity. I watched multiple videos on YouTube describing the work he is doing. He has built schools and hospitals and set up women’s centers. Someone even followed him around for five years and made a film about his life and his work.
The previous night, I was watching Labyrinth. The subject of David Bowie came up. Indiana Jones not only worked with him, but knew him on a more personal level. He worked with many celebrities beyond Bowie. Through his charity, he has worked with people from Bono to the Dalai Lama. Through his work and art, he has worked on many movie sets, such as Beloved and Chicago. He’s actually close enough friends with Renee Zellweger that she texted him when she started dating Bradley Cooper. When I asked him who his favorite person to work with was, he replied, “No one’s ever asked me that before. Hmmm. Mother Theresa. She has this sexiness about her. And, not in the typical sense obviously.” I retorted, “No. I completely understand. She’d have to have a certain charisma about her to produce such a following. She has to be persuasive. I see that same charisma in you. I can see why you are so successful.”
I’m not a celebrity whore. They are people just like you and me. I treat them as such. I definitely respect their work, but I’m not going to go crazy just because they scribbled on a piece of paper for me. This man is a worldwide celebrity, but I don’t think he knows it. I made it a point to tell him. He’s known by people all over the world from the most remote corners of India to the Himalayas to Africa to the U.S. People greet him with warmth and respect. He truly is doing good all over the world.
I, of course, asked about the Oprah thing. He was very humble about the experience and tried to downplay the whole thing. I am most impressed by the media impressions something like that generates. His story reached so many people. I can’t imagine what it did for his organization. He was also in O magazine. When he was telling me about the movie about his life and the need for distribution or a venue, I simply suggested he contact Oprah’s people and get it on her new OWN network. He thought it was a brilliant idea and said he would make a point to mention it to the director/producer.
I asked him about his charity and how much overhead he had. He explained that a majority of it is simply him. I asked, “Well, who answers the phone?” He detailed a small staff, but it really all boiled down to him and his board of directors. We talked about his need to find someone who could take over the reins when he was no longer able to do so. It would be a shame for all that hard work to just stop because the driving force behind it disappeared. He needed to find a protegé.
He took the time to tell me not only about all the good works his charity is involved with, but also about his personal life too. We talked about his partner and he showed me some pictures of him, his dogs, his house in Vermont he tries to escape to, etc. It was nice to get to know him on a personal level.
When we finished the bottle of wine and the entire cheese plate, it was time for him to head home. He had to pack for his upcoming trip to India. As he stood up, he said, “We spent so much time talking about me, next time I want to hear all about you!” I joked, “You’re life is slightly more interesting than mine!” I walked him to the door, and we exchanged another embrace.
As I walked to my room, I had a smile from ear to ear. Who would have thought I was capable of finding such an amazing friend on Grindr? But, I did. This would be the start of a beautiful friendship, and I looked forward to every minute of it!