Tag : social

Two Years And Counting! (Part I)

I found quite by chance. Now for those who do not know, is a Web 2.0 social website in which like Facebook for example, members can find like-minded individuals, but unlike Facebook, then meet in the real world and, well, do whatever those interests are on an ongoing basis. You see, I was looking for a language group as I was forgetting my Spanish faster you could say ‘Dos cervesas y tacos por favor.’ So what better way to practice then to speak the language with other native speakers? Maybe even make some friends to boot.

Anyway, so I decided to bite the bullet and joined the Toronto Spanish Speaking Group. Overall it was good, however Richard the organizer left a lot to be desired. Like not showing up to any of his own meetups for example. In fact he never showed up to any outings and after a few attended events I relented to the possibility he was likely imaginary or the work of someone’s fiction. Specially, as I would later find out, if an organizer does not select a time or location, will automatically pick both for you. That’s what I call full service. But you would have to be abnormally dense not to get bored going to the same Starbucks again and again month in and month out. So I became a bit disillusioned.

Eventually curiosity got the best of me as the thought of organizing a group myself kept on marinating in my head. So without much dramatic ado I jumped right into organizing the TO23-35 Social Group.

Just like all group we started small. However we pretty soon exploded… 100 members, 200 members… then *boom* past 300! As of this writing membership is 667 and counting. Not bad, not bad. Then within the year a second group followed, the TO25-40 Social Group. Yes, the names are pretty almost carbon copies, but the demographic is on average older. How many members on that one? 461! And counting… As you can imagine lots of outings and funny adventures occurred within the group, a highlight would be the couple who not only met but ended up married after meeting in one of my groups. Now that has to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

How do I choose events? Well, a few tequila shots help… no wait…that’s not it. Basically I pick locations through experience. Having been a party kid in Toronto in my younger years helps. I keep track of the never-ending stream of event s going on in the city at any given moment. We have gone patios, lounges, nature walks, indoor rock climbing, roller-blading, museums, movies, wine tastings, dinners, brunches, you name it. Pretty much anything that sounds like a great time to be had by all. That’s the easy part. The hard part is the colourful mating dance I must enlist myself to do with managers of establishments I want to do business with. As locales will not reserve busy nights unless you pay a ridiculous premium in advance or with your first born or a pint of blood from your mother. Selling off a next of kin may also do the trick. They are that anal. Sadly, I can see their point since they do not want to do have empty spaces on a busy night, but that is not the best way to woo future repeat customers. Although so far we have done pretty well. Over 105 events so far!

But all in all, it has been quite the adventure, and an excellent opportunity to meet and see the people and the city of Toronto. I would highly recommend it.

A Series of Unimportant Events (I)

Friends always tell me I tend to meet strange people everywhere I go. My defence usually goes along the lines of “Hey, I am friendly; people tend to end opening up, that’s not my fault! Sometimes they tell me stories they would not tell anyone else and… well, we all have quirks. So when I tell you about them, it sounds like an above average number of people who are like that. However, I am sure we all have them, both friends and stories although we just don’t tend to share the latter.” Or something like that. Really.

Take a few nights ago for example. I was at a bar and a girl was trying to unbutton my shirt. Sure, it doesn’t happen often, and yes, it is a great boost to one’s ego but all this was happening right at the bar and for the amusement of all onlookers. I felt the need to say something. Like asking for her name but as a gentleman, I felt I would be intruding onto her dedication and defer fervent concentration from her craft, and trust me, it was taking her quite bit of concentration. ‘Vodka shots unwieldy fingers make,’ that is what I constantly warn my readers.

Anyway, so after she tried to kiss me a few times –by the way, the locale in question is a rip off, a glass of table wine for $12??– Anyway, I asked to go for a cigarette to relax. Once outside, this woman turned into the perfect example why I would never date someone I meet at a club. Not only she almost got into fight with a random girl whose boyfriend was right there. Which meant that me, as the defacto guy in tow, almost got sucked into a fight I had no part of. But wait there is more! After I managed to talk everyone out of a lot of scratching, hair pulling and punching, she then decided to curl up into a corner and become an emotional wreck. We are not talking fender bender either, more like two monorails going 215 km\h and crashing into each other kinda of catastrophe. With wheels and metal shreds exploding and decapitating flying birds and small herbivores everywhere.

All of the sudden she hated her job, her age, her life and just for kicks, me. To be honest, I was just standing there lighting a cigarette a few feet way. I knew we were just outside the lounge but I felt bad leaving her like that sobbing her problems away. Eventually her guy friend came out and asked me what as wrong with her.

‘Life.’ I said, ‘But Vodka helped.’
‘Ah.’ Then he asked me for a light.
‘Take it she gets like this…’
‘You are just friends?’
‘Oh yeah.’
‘Is she single?’
‘Oh, yeah.’

She then glimpsed at us, squinted and called us losers. Her friend then moved closer and asked her what has wrong? She replied by slapping his smoke off his hand. Then both stared at the lighted cigarette now on the ground. ‘That’s bad for you!’ she argued. He then came back to my side, rolled his eyes and said he was going back inside for another drink. The now obviously drunk girl (NoOdGi) left the safety of her corner and stumbled to a fountain about 75 feet away. I followed. After repeating her ‘I hate my job, age and life’ mantra she decided to throw her purse, along with all its neat contents into said fountain. Then sat on the floor and cried some more. Wow.

Out of human pity –as at this point it could not possibly be for any other reason– I looked into the fountain but the purse which was glittery white, blended with the incandescent yellow lights of he fountain just perfectly. Adding to this, the the fact it was night time, made the purse and the make up and cell phone invisible.

A few minutes later, her friend came out and after catching on to what had happened, took off his shirt and began looking for the damn purse in the fountain. Looking and searching, working his way more by touch than by sight. Pictures of Pirates of the Caribbean came to mind. He couldn’t find it and Noodgi was getting pissed off. I could not help smirking at the sheer spectacle. At that moment Noodgi caught me and began insulting me. But can anyone take the insults of a drunken woman who threw her own purse, along with her car keys into a fountain seriously?

Her friend couldn’t find the purse and he was getting pissed off. Why? Because he was going to get a ride from her –something I DID learn is that both of them lived in Mississauga– mostly thanks to his rantings of disbelief.

It dawned on me that maybe just maybe, she may have overshot the fountain even though from my point of view it seemed like it had gone in. I decided to take a look a few feet further away where some patio chairs were located. As I went behind one of the chairs, lo and behold, guess what I found. A small white albeit now very dirty purse. I took it back to Noodgi, hanging off my index finger.

‘Is this yours?’ I asked.

She then gave me a hug, said she loved me and began fidgeting with its contents. I asked the guy if they were okay to make it home, as there was no way she could drive. He said yes, he would probably wait it out until she sobered up. Noodgi then asked if I wanted another vodka shot. I said I would light another cigarette first.

As they went inside, I remembered my tab was paid and all of my actual friends had gone home. As I finished my cigarette, I checked the time, found my bearings, found Yonge and King and walked for my life.

Ode to Green Beer: St. Patrick’s Is Here

St. Patrick, the patron of drunks everywhere is coming to Toronto. Starting today, the festivities created to test the resilience of the human liver and kidneys began with a loud cheer followed by countless of gallons of green beer being poured throughout the city. You go liver! Break down that bitchin’ alcohol!
Our dear Saint Patrick is one of the Catholic Church’s most misunderstood Saints. Perhaps only second to Jesus and Saint Valentine. Don’t you think that if he had known that because of him millions of people would push the limits of their kidneys year in and year out that he might, I don’t know, promoted a healthy eating habit as well?

You know, to balance things out?

…Or whatever happened to Brigid of Kildare and Columba? The other TWO patrons or Ireland? Have you guys even heard of them? They are probably the ones that advocated healthy eating.
So, to celebrate I will be having a small get together as part of my social group at Hemingway’s in Yorkville. What a better place to toast a drinking holiday than in a bar named after one the 20th century’s most celebrated lushes? And a decent writer to boot.

Here is the link to the outing.

Conversation at Kalendar: We are not on a Schedule

While sitting at a small two-seat table at Kalendar –a charming café on the outer east limit of little Italy—a friend of mine asked me a very interesting question regarding relationships.

‘Mauricio,’ she said after placing her glass of cold Summer enhanced Chardonnay back on the table. ‘Has anyone ever told you are handsome?’ Without hesitation, I said, ‘Why, yes.’ No way I could have hid the glee in my response even if I had tried.

‘No, I meant, as a pick up line.’ I looked down for a moment, ‘Well, you weren’t being specific. In that case, no; at least not by anyone who wasn’t drunk.’ Suddenly I didn’t feel so hot anymore.
‘I see,’ she smiled.

Kalendar is one of those charming jazzy places, a perfect first date location: non committal or threatening but with enough décor, a menu and a sense of cosiness which elevates it a few notches above run-of-the-mill places like Just Desserts or other non-descript cafes littering The Danforth. You just got to love that turn-of-the century Victorian feel that oozes a heft that it is neither uninviting or pretentious.

‘What brought this question forth?’ I wondered. As these are not inquiries I come to expect from platonic friends. ‘Well, this is what happened…’ She took a second long gulp and simply said that she was utterly tired of the dating scene.

She went through the whole ‘been there, done that.’ You see, Kamela my friend was annoyed not so much at the meat markets that have existed since one gender discovered that it could –without a second thought and with much gusto —sexually objectify the other. What bothered her what that after so many dates in her lifetime, the whole dating scene, particularly in its infant stages felt like a string of glorified job interviews: A don’t call us, well call you if you make the cut ideology where Tom, Steve or John were given a set of questions and depending on their (honest; preconceived; or outright Machiavellian) answers would secure at the very least a second date.
With the expectation of some sort of sexual gratification from both parties, of course. But it was now all too routine – even worse— it had the feeling of a job. ‘Isn’t this stuff supposed to be fun with the flirting, and the laughing and the twinkle in the eye?’

‘Called me a romantic,’ I said, ‘but shouldn’t this sort of thing happen more, uh, naturally? I do not think that two people should have to stop conversation flow and open the floor for some generally boring ‘what is your favourite food?’ exposition to occur. That stuff never works, otherwise it starts sounding like a bad Steven Segal movie and look where the guy is now? No one gives a shit.

‘I would suggest doing the proverbial library, art gallery thing thing. You know finding places where by the mere fact that you are both there automatically speaks –without the need of words if I may add— a lot about each other even when no words have been exchanged.’

‘Sure, this is where sometimes friend hook-ups come in, since they may end up doing the main legwork for you. But since I like to take my fate in my own hands I would rather say: Join a social group, a bowling league, an environmental group, anything to get you out other and finding someone which whom you already are bound to have a number of things in common. Like pets? then do some Humane Society volunteering.’

‘Take me for example, I found one of the loves of my life while taking an English course at U of T. Why? Because I am a geek and I love to read. Chances were that at the very least one cute, well-read and above all intelligent woman would have taken the same class as me. Sure it was a long shot, but no different than going to any martini lounge on a Friday night and I got to read a few good books along the way.’

Kamela took another sip from her glass and gave me a ‘You are so full of shit, you are making it sound too perfect to be true.’
‘To be quite honest,’ I said to balance things out, ‘I remember the pickings to be quite putrid but you know what? I did get lucky and I found someone and even though we went through the: What is your favourite food? And; Which is your favourite movie of all time status quo set of question. I can tell you that it all felt so natural that the job interview motif never entered my head, not even once. I was simply just too happy to know more about this person then feeling that I HAD to ask this questions in order to avoid dating a psychopath.’

‘I am not saying that finding a mate is simple, Kamela.’ I said as I finished my wine. I just think we put too much emphasis on loneliness (or maybe we just get too horny, who knows?) But ultimately, if you are happy without a partner, then who am I to tell you are wrong?

‘Suggestions?’ She demanded again. ‘You want the straight to the point variety?’
‘Hell, yeah.’
‘Do something you would do for free. Nothing stupid, just something that has picked your curiosity and join a group. There are tons of groups like that in Toronto. If you like going for dinner because you love tasting different foods abd drink, then there are tons of groups like that out there. Fencing? I am sure there is something out there. Sailing? I have tried that. Skydiving? Hey, you only live once, particularly if the chute doesn’t open.’

I once joined an Egyptology course at the Royal Ontario Museum because I like Egyptology and its history. Just don’t use the “I do not like going places by myself,” excuse since remember, loneliness is biased towards the shy and the ugly… and even the most unattractive people can overcome some of that with the right attitude. So if you are deathly shy, then you are in for a rough and lonely ride. Unless you don’t mind being alone.

It sounds cliche, but it is always our own selves who seem to keep deterring us from being truly happy. Kamela is a very attractive lady. I am sure she will find someone. I know it, I just who it. Maybe if she wasn’t so pragmatic. Good luck Hon.

If you would like to find more info on Kalendar AND their menu click here.