Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 3 - Kim & Nathan

Furlong? Trifecta?? Hasha??? What do these 3 ridiculous sounding words have in common? You’ll see…

This is Kim, reporting in after one, eventful date, full of wonderment and firsts! My tale begins with a little history…

Nathan and I have known each other for quite some time now. We met at church and have been known to hang with the same crowds. I’ve been a fan of this funny and charming Texas native from the beginning. So, when the opportunity presented itself to include him in the project, I asked. This was a big deal for me…my first time asking a guy out on a one on one date! (I had a lot of encouragement from him and a group of friends at a taco stand the other night…a lot of "encouragement!") So Nathan became my first official date of 2012 and this project.

I knew that whatever I decided to do, we would have fun together, but I wanted it to be something unique, something that I’d never done. Have you figured out what it might be? The clues are in those 3 words above. That’s right! A night at the races! I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to go to the horse track. No one I know has ever been. We don’t gamble, so I had never considered going, but turns out you can just go and watch the races. Who knew? Horses, cute little jockeys, and Nathan…I knew this was a recipe for success! 

Of course, Houston decided to rain on my parade…literally, and I was worried that the races wouldn’t happen. I was unsure if the track was even covered. Nathan assured me, however, that whatever we did, the rain didn’t scare him. Gotta love an adventurous spirit! So the race was on and Nathan being the gentleman came to pick me up from my house.

I heard the doorbell ring and when I opened the door…there he was…with 11 pink roses (there had been one casualty). A literal gasp escaped my lips and my little heart jumped for joy! Another first…flowers from my date! This guy’s good! My favorite part was the strange leaf shedding disease these flowers seemed to have. We couldn’t get them in the vase fast enough. There was quite the pile of leaves that accumulated, which made me love them more…they were beautiful and entertaining. After they were settled in the vase, we jumped in the car and set off on our adventure! We chit-chatted easily as I navigated him to our destination. I was proud of myself for keeping our outing a secret, but he was quick to tell me that he could have got it out of me, if he had wanted…which I’m sure wouldn’t have taken much…I was super excited. When we got closer and we could see the incredibly bright lights, he knew where we were headed and turns out it was a first for him too!

I knew that Nathan would be hungry after a long day at work, two hours of which were spent in the rain (Nathan is in landscape design). So when I saw a deal at the race park for a buffet + general admission, I was intrigued. The buffet was pricey, but sounded real good. I decided I could justify the pricey-ness by using a gift card I’d won at a recent Chili Cook-off. Now, I didn’t know at the time that this was a magical gift card. Had it been full, it would have been the exact amount of two tickets, however I had used it earlier in the day, depleting it almost halfway. Nathan was ready to pay the difference, but when they swiped the card at the gate…da, da, da, da...they handed us two tickets! I stared in confusion and told them that there shouldn’t have been enough on the card to cover both, but he just smiled and said that it took it all and we were good. Aaaaaaaaah! The heavens had smiled down on us…this amazing date was totally free!!

As we walked into the park, we took time to stop and smell…the trees. They were a favorite kind of Nathan’s and smelled incredible. When we got inside, I was amazed at the variety of people that were at the races, how nice the facility was, and how fancy our seating area in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant looked. (And yes, it was covered!) As they ushered us to a table, we passed the table for two that would have worked and they sat us at a table for 6. Guess they thought we needed some extra space. The tables were set up stadium style and each one had a small TV at the end. From our seats, we had a clear view of the finish line. Awesome! We put our stuff down and went to make our first trip to the buffet. Now this wasn’t your everyday buffet. It was fancy. They had a mashed potato bar, various kinds of meat, including steak, a grilled vegetables section, a salad bar, and a dessert bar. The food was real good and we helped ourselves throughout the night.

We had missed the first race of the night, but we got to see the rest…all 9 of them. I loved watching the horses explode from the gates and the jockeys bouncing up and down as they came in. While we ate, we chose the horses we thought would win. This was no easy task…horse races have their own language and we didn’t become semi-fluent until race 7. I had had some luck and had chosen a couple winners in the beginning, which made me feel real good about myself, but we didn’t catch onto the system until we were both struck by the same bolt of inspiration in the same instance.

Race 7 finally brought clarity and we had to high five each other for our achievement. Between the two of us, we picked 5 winners and many horses that placed in the top 4. It was so fun and I found myself really getting into it. We spent down time making fun of the horse names. My least favorite horse name of the night was Plant City…really? How would you ever get
affectionate with that horse? “How are you doing today, Plant City?” That is ridiculous. So we came up with our own…some of which are equally ridiculous. Here they are…

Nathan’s Horses: ChuckNorrisIsFromSpace, Hampster Wheel (for the light brown and kind of fuzzy horse), Walk the Walk, Drunk Astronaut, and Bingo Mojo.

My Horses: Midnight Oil (for my black and shiny horse), Caged Thunder, and Can’t Touch This

We laughed pretty hard out our own funniness. :) My other favorite part of the night happened when we watched two college age boys in sports coats lead two girls in fancy shirts (ok, they were dresses, but basically long shirts) to the buffet. They made me laugh out loud. They were trying so hard to look suave. When we went back to the buffet line a few minutes later, we started noticing more of them…a lot more. Then we stood back in amazement. Were we in some kind of frat boys go to the races movie? Before us was a sea of frat boys and their young under-clothed dates. We counted about 14 or 15 couples and they were all in uniform…Are you ready for this?

Option 1- Sports coat, khaki pants, a brightly colored, striped, plaid or checked, collared shirt, and cowboy boots.
Option 2- Sports coat, khaki pants, a brightly colored, striped, plaid or checked, collared shirt, a bow tie, and loafers.

Only one option- Long fancy shirt and black high heeled shoes.

It was incredible…everywhere we turned. It was like an episode from that old show Beauty and the Geek. How did these girls end up with these guys?? Some questions are better left unanswered. Needless to say it was unexpected entertainment!

So we finished out the 10th and final race at 11pm. What a night! Who knew the horse races had so much to offer for the non-gambler? As we arrived at home, Nathan had a surprise of his own. Had it been raining more he would have forced me to stay out in the rain…he had brought towels and all, but alas standing in the drizzle wouldn’t have had quite the same effect. So he pulled out his last surprise. Two bottles of Martinelli’s, which we shook up and popped open on my porch. He said it was to kick off our dating project…a Christening so to speak. He also said he had to set the bar high for the rest of the dates to follow…and he succeeded at that. I don’t have a ton of first dates under my belt to compare it too, but I can easily say that was the best first date ever! Thanks Nathan!

Gold star to you who made it through the whole date with me…brevity is not my strong point when it comes to writing.

Come back for round two on Monday!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 2 - Becca & Gavin

Oh Holy Night!!! Can I just tell you that the whole idea of telling the world about my dating life FREAKS me out quite a bit?! It's a fact! I've never blogged before, but I can imagine it must be like keeping a journal. . . a very public journal. I guess this will be my journal's gossipy cousin, Blog, who just can't keep a secret.

Well sit back, relax, and prepare to read of my adventures in dating. :)

Dear Blog, (that's how I still start my journal. . . I know I'm 27. . .it works for me.)

Today has been a full day. It started at 5:30am as I got ready for work and my date. I worked from 7am to 4pm and then met up with Gavin for an outing at the museum. Despite being super tired, I had an instant boost of energy as I saw Gavin pull into the parking lot. All my nerves went out the window as I got into his car and we headed off to our destination.

I've never had a problem finding something to talk about, (anyone who knows me can attest to that) but with Gavin conversation flowed naturally. He is such a laid back kinda guy that I felt like I could be 100% myself with him right off the bat. I met Gavin at church but had never really spent time with him. All I knew was: 1. he was very sweet and genuine with everyone he came in contact with, 2. he's an attorney, and 3. he's way too cute to be single.

The 30 minute drive flew by, and before I knew it we were at our destination. The Menil Collection is a museum that is open to the public Wed.-Sat. and is FREE! Bonus! It's a private collection of a French family and has everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts, to impressionist Picasso, and Modern Art. As we walked around the exhibits we playfully decoded what the artist was "really trying to say". I'm sure the guides/security shook their heads as we tried to think of practical uses for the 3000 year old cobra sculpture ( a lamp, maybe?) or the beautiful gold jewelry box lid ( I would totally convert it into a belt buckle). I think my favorite reaction from the guide happened as Gavin was pointing out the "movement" of a certain piece, and apparently got a little too close. . . The awkward, "Sir! You must stay 2 feet away from the picture!!... Sir?!" was laughable. That woman was ready to tackle him if he got any closer. Sooo funny!

After walking through the 'Impressionist' collection and deciding that it was a little too "out there" for our tastes, we agreed that we were both hungry and set off to see what down town Houston had to offer. We stumbled upon a cute little place called Little Big's and ordered some sliders. The conversation continued to flow as we shared stories and got to know each other a little more. Turns out, Gavin is pretty funny, and has quite a knack for putting together an amazing bagel sandwich. :)
I think what stood out most to me was how much of a gentleman he was to the core. He always walked on the street side of the sidewalk, and as much as I protested, he wouldn't let me pay for dinner. It was easy to feel safe with him.

The drive home was even more relaxed. We laughed as we shared embarrassing stories and talked about our families. As we pulled up to my car he got out and gave me a hug. I had so much fun. If this is what the next 40 days has in store for me, BRING IT ON!!! :)

Good Night, Blog!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 1 – Mauren & Cordell

Mauren here.

Wow, I can hardly believe this project is officially underway! We have been so overwhelmed by the support we’ve received on doing this project. Within the first 24 hours of being “live” the blog had more than 600 page views from friends and family all over the world! I don’t know if we realized we even knew that many people. ;)

We even had 7 people from France check it out. France! We don’t even know people in France! Well, not that we know of anyway. So if you’re our reader(s) from France – welcome! And the same to all the rest of you, too; thanks for joining us on this journey.

So today was officially the first day of this incredible project we’re calling 40 Dates in 40 Days and I got nominated by scheduling default to be the first participant. No pressure, right?

My date was with a guy named Cordell (don't worry about the shiner, you should see the other guy!) that I’ve actually known for the last 2½ years from church but that I’d never been out with before.

My first memory of Cordell was shortly after he moved to the area and he gave a talk at church. I remember thinking he was quite impressive and may have even had a little crush. No lie, it’s true.

The second memory I had of Cordell was when a group of us went up to Sam Houston State University (SHSU) to watch one of our friends perform in a play. It was obvious to me then that I was not the only girl in the ward with a bit of a crush on him. And for good reason – Cordell’s a stud!

He’s got a great job, owns his own house, is always pleasant to be around, wears a constant smile and…has an undying love of watching movies. Seriously, he’s kind of a movie buff and we always know who to call when a movie night is in order.

I knew Cordell was going out of town tonight to go skiing with some friends so we decided to make our date a lunch date, which worked particularly well since he was in a meeting right up until lunch in The Woodlands (a nice area where I work on the far north side of Houston).

Being the gentleman that he is, Cordell picked me up at the office after his meeting, opening the car door and all, and we headed off to lunch.

When we’d talked earlier in the week we had decided to go to Hubbell & Hudson, a fancy schmancy organic food store located near my office. As you can no doubt guess, The Woodlands + organic food store = pricey. But that’s part of the fascination of the place, too.

Hubbell & Hudson is no ordinary store. Its unique architecture, tight aisles and colorful displays remind me of the kind of grocery stores I saw in New York. The rather tiny supermarket is host to a soup and salad bar, bakery, candy counter, fresh deli, sandwich shop, gourmet food counter, a culinary kitchen for cooking classes, a floral booth with the biggest roses I’ve ever seen and much more. How they fit it all in such a small space is beyond me, but I’m glad they did. It’s one of those stores you just have to visit to say you’ve been there. Really, you should try it sometime. They even have mushrooms that cost more than $22 per ounce. Yeah, that’s a dollar sign. Crazy. Not everything is that expensive of course, but it’s sometimes fun to see what you can find.

Knowing that Hubbell & Hudson is know for it’s sheek, organic and even a little snooty cuisine, I decided to have Cordell do a taste test on a few foods to determine which was better – organic or the everyday brands – and whether or not he could taste the difference.

I picked up 7 different organic items from Hubbell & Hudson the night before and then found their “regular” counterpart for the taste test. The items included string cheese, yogurt, cheese crackers, honey/graham crackers, peanut butter, chocolate and pop tart-like pastries.

After we finished our fancy sandwiches (beware, the chicken salad sandwich is REAL chicken – bones and all) I blindfolded Cordell. One by one I gave him an organic version and a regular version of each food, asking two questions: 1) Which is better (the first or second item)?; and 2) Which is the organic vs. the regular brand?

The looks we got from some of the passersby were entertaining, but the experiment itself was a lot of fun! Overall it’s safe to say that the organic items were his favorite, which caught him a bit by surprise, since sometimes organic foods come with the stigma of “weird”. 

After we finished up, we talked more about our pasts – hobbies, family, how our parents met and more. It was then that I realized just how lucky I am to know Cordell. We’ve spent a lot of time together since we share the same circle of friends, but I’d never really sat down and had a conversation with him. Today though I discovered that he’s the kind of person you could sit and talk to all day. He’s a good listener, who also knows how to communicate. He’s funny, tells great stories (if you know him, ask about his shark bite sometime) and is genuinely interested in the people with whom he’s interacting. Cordell has a lot to offer and will definitely make a great spouse and husband someday.

Overall he’s just the kind of guy you want to be around, and I admire that. What a great guy to kickoff our project!

Looking for more? Stay tuned for Becca’s report on her first date tomorrow night.