Friday, March 2, 2012

Sex and the Single Firefighter cont.

I write best in solitude, most of the time in complete silence, maybe some music I don’t know so I don’t get distracted by singing along. Now I was trying to write in the equivalent of a packed elevator stuck between floors.

The ladies profile was pleasant enough, but if I can catch your misspellings and typos you really are a poor writer. Not that I’m a writing snob (other than this free-wheeling form I rely heavily on my sister EdiTerry to cover my ass when writing for profit) but I have to admit poor writing skills gave the impression of low intelligence.

After all if the purpose of being on a dating site is to find at minimum a friend and best a spouse, wouldn’t you want to show your best side? At least compose in word for spell checking purposes and then cut and paste to the website. Just saying.

I began to write not in word, but straight into the little text box on the site, maybe an indicator of my intelligence or my desperation to just get her done. Trip informed me that based on his considerable research the best thing to do was to select pertinent information from her profile and highlight it in my response.

Being in Colorado she was an outdoor enthusiast, me not so much. She liked hiking, skiing, camping, blah blah blah.
“Say you like hiking and stuff like that.” Said Trip.
“But I don’t do that stuff guys, you know that.”
“So what?” asked Hatchet?
“So what? I’d be lying if I said I did, and what if she wants to go on a hike on our first date?”
“First off TimO, it’s not a date it’s called a meet and greet.” Said Trip
“Yeah a scratch and sniff, and you set the place and time.” Added Dave.
“Definitely don’t meet her for a drink.” Hatchet threw in, they all laughed and high-fived on that one. No mercy in any quarter of the firehouse.
“Once again you are losing your focus here TimO. We are after sex nothing more, nothing less. You want to meet her for coffee, and see if you have any chemistry. If you do you move on to the goal, if not you move for the exit. Are you clear?” Hatchet had a plan; I on the other hand did not.

I felt like a high school baseball player drafted by a major league team and this was my first batting practice. Just hit the ball kid. My heart sank, I didn’t want to be that guy, my nature with women isn’t to be a predator. Sex is great but that wasn’t my goal, my one-and-only goal.

My intimate life in my just ended marriage was at best described as pedestrian and I had become accustomed to a low level of excitement, or maybe I had low testosterone, I don’t know. But viewing this adventure through the prism of a caveman just wasn’t going to work for me.

“So say something TimO, let’s get this party started.” They were all tensed up.
“Okay guys, look, do I ever write around you, I mean in the same room with you?” they all agreed that that would be out of the norm.
“So how about this, I will write something, alone, and when I’m done I’ll let you see it and you offer your suggestions then. But I can’t do this with you guys hovering over my shoulder.”
Their faces dropped and their shoulders sagged. “Really?” asked Dave. “I feel like I’m cooking the first thing we’ve killed in a week and you are all starving. It’s a bit unnerving to say the least.”
Hatchet looked them over, “TimO’s right we gotta give him some space.” He indicated the office door with his hand. “Everyone out.” They all filed out like five year olds going to a timeout, feet shuffled, soft moans were heard as they departed.
I rubbed my eyes and leaned back. What had I gotten into?

I write funny, I write sad bordering on the poignant, but the romantic in me had had acid poured over him. The only soft and sweet words in me were reserved for my children. How do you take that chance again? How do you take that tiny little piece of your heart that still beats for intimacy and risk it again?

With honesty is what I decided. I’d just be honest. Here is what I changed my profile to verbatim:
“What I'm looking for in a relationship and that is what I'm looking for a relationship, is comfort I guess. Comfort in the sense of feeling at ease with another person, the kind of relationship were a day with the other person feels like a pair of favorite old sweats and a hot cup of coffee in the morning, if that makes any sense. No pretense, no acting, no games, just honesty. I say what I mean, and do what I say. I believe in chemistry and if I see or feel that spark I follow it. I'm a complete smart ass and irreverent, and if I'm not laughing why do it?

These are things I do and I hope you can as well, be able to have a conversation about something with more depth than sports or other trivial matters. I work in a firehouses and have had my fill of superficial conversation. Please have read something with more substance than People magazine. Please don't live with a smart phone glued to your hand, texting as a primary form of conversation is over rated. If you are holding the phone then use it as a speaking device not a writing medium if you have the option.

I didn’t let the boys see that either. After all they would never get the part about sweats and coffee. I got some responses and agreed to meet a very nice looking woman in two days. Without the boys, all by myself with my big boy pants on.
Here we are at 1000 words.

PS: As I am still in the dating pool and this is in fact what I say online, any suggestions for improvement from the ladies will be welcomed. J

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sex and the Single Firefighter.

“You’re gonna need a photo you know.” Said Trip. We called him Trip because his first, middle, and last name all began with an “S” and rather than call him “Ssssssssssssssssss” like a snake, we called him Trip.

“Chicks are gonna want to see you.” The work day was over and we were eating dinner. “I read the how to write a profile tips on the website.” Trip was that kind of guy, he actually thought about outcomes, an admirable quality in the infertile wasteland of the firehouse.

“A photo?” I asked.
“Yeah it said women don’t respond to a picture less profile. They wanna know what your smile is like and stuff like that. It adds to the trust factor.”
“They gotta trust you TimO or you’ll never get laid.” Said Hatchet between gulps of green chili.
“I’m not just trying to get laid Hatchet.”
“No? Oh I see, you want to find another double D to sleep with your friends and take half your pension. Well then that changes the game.” Brutal honesty can be found every day in the firehouse.

I was speechless, as they all waited for a clever retort. He had me flatfooted. “So I guess we need a photo.” I said.

“We can pose it right here in the station with the trucks.” Dave was coming out of his shell on this project.
“Yeah, or we could do one like the calendars, bare chested and all oiled up holding my ax.” Added Hatchet.
“Now slow down boys.” Interrupted the lieutenant. “The department has a strict policy on representing the FD logo in published materials. So you can take a picture here but no recognizable images of the department, okay?”
“Yeah no worries boss, very tasteful stuff, that’s what we’ll do.” Trip was on it.
“I see anything before you upload it boys.” Big round of agreement on that point, there was no slowing down or looking back, the boys were on a mission.

“Anyone got a camera?” asked Hatchet. Blank eyes blinked all around the table like Christmas tree lights.
“I got my new phone, it does pretty good.” Chimed in the new kid. Now even the new recruit was getting in on the action, probably a good thing as he was way more tech savvy than the rest of us.
“Phone it is then. Come on TimO, we gotta get this done so we can do more picking. Anyone checked our account to see if we got any hits?” Hatchet was at the sink rinsing his bowl out.
“Yeah I’m looking now.” Came a voice from the office.

The staging of the photo was as good as any Vogue layout I’m sure. We might have been all men, but we were after women and that caused us to elevate the bar.

The new kid was working his phone like Anne Geddes at this point, dropping down to a knee, climbing up on trucks, getting all the angles.

We retreated to the office with our bounty of images and set about making me the most irresistible and desirable firefighter in the world, or at least Colorado.

Because this was a group project I felt real detachment from it. It wasn’t about me it was an undertaking an adventure. To be truthful it was a very welcome distraction and had a distinct positive feeling associated with it for me. I felt good for the first time in quite some time. Not at the prospect of getting laid, but at the notion of being valued by these men, the sense of the brotherhood was profound.

“Okay kid, how do we get it on the site?” Hatchet was now firmly in control.
“Well we can’t upload through the departments system, so I can email it and we can upload it from there.”
“Make it so kid.” Said Hatchet.
After much discussion three appropriate images were selected and the primary image was pretty much just a head shot, no full smile more of wry grin.
“We got some hits.” Announced Dave. I was pushed to the back of the scrum as the others swarmed the computer. From my vantage the woman’s photo was about postage stamp sized.
“It’s the bedroom chick.”
“Nice. You’re gonna get some play TimO.”
It was Christmas morning all of the sudden, I felt like a shipwreck survivor and our group had just got a glimpse of the rescue boat.
“What should we say to her?” asked Trip, “She wants details.”
“Something witty, with a lot of sarcasm, chicks dig a smartass.” Hatchet always had the answer. “Who’s gonna write it?” asked Dave.
They all looked at each other drawing a blank, then.
“Duh, TimO, get your ass in the chair.” Hatchet grabbed me by the shoulder and hauled me through the mob and up to the computer.
“You’re the writer what were we thinking?”
“He’s a writer?” asked the new kid.
“Thanks for your help kid, go do the dishes now.” Hatchet shoved the kid out of the office.
“I don’t have time to explain stuff to that guy.”
“He was good with the photos.” Jibed Trip. “You gotta give him that.”
“I ain’t giving no new kid credit for anything. Okay TimO, do your magic.” Hatchet helped position my chair in front of the keyboard.

I could feel them panting down my neck and at the same time holding their collective breath. Writing was a mystery to these men, they knew I did it and was good at it and when I was writing at work they left me undisturbed. But none the less it was alchemy to them.

“I can’t give her any answers without reading her profile guys. I gotta know what she said before I can dazzle her.”
“Dude you are so slowing this thing down man.” Trip was rolling his eyes at my request.
“Can’t you just be vague and funny?”
“Yes I can be vague and funny Trip, and I’ll end up with a vague and unfunny bruiser. Is that what you guys want for me?”
“Hell yeah! Let’s look at the facts TimO. You suck at picking women, kay? You need us on this one buddy or you’ll go right back to your old habits and end up with another dead mackerel like the last one. No offense.”
“None taken.”
Sorry, 1000 words, see you tomorrow I hope.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Internet dating and the single firefighter.

Following my divorce I found myself back in the dating pool for the first time in more than a dozen years. Hurting from rejection and infidelity my ego needed a boost. But how to go about it? I was sober so bar hopping was out, what to do?

“The internet TimO”, suggested a fellow firefighter.
“That’s where the women are Bro, internet dating. You don’t even have to leave your house, it’s like pizza delivery. You read the menu and pick what you want.”

This advice from a twice divorced and now remarried man, oh and he found the new one on line. My advisor didn’t catch me alone and offer his wise counsel in private; no he just blurted it out over the noon time meal in the presence of seven other married, whipped, horny, disillusioned, and repressed firefighters.

I had seen the phenomena before. The living vicariously through the antics of the newly single guy syndrome. All the other suffering men had a chance to glimpse single life through the bars of marriage and they grabbed those bars like lifers on death row.

“Yeah TimO you gotta do it.” Said one terrible emasculated and beaten co-worker.
“You can do it right here in the station, just go on line and we can help you pick.”

Their generosity was truly heartwarming to see. My fellow heroes were willingly volunteering their time to assist me in recovering from a seemingly hopeless condition, being single. What the hell I thought, I could use the help, lord knew my ability to pick quality women was seriously in question.

I had a history of selecting women much like Sleeping Beauty picked apples. I went for the shinny, red, perfect on the outside kinda gals, that were filled with deadly poison on the inside and having taken a bite I fell hopelessly a sleep under their spell.

Could 8 experienced, intelligent, good looking men do any worse together than I had done alone? Well yes. Being pretty much in financial ruins it was decided that I/we would join a free site and go fishing on the deep waters of the internet.

First things first, my/our profile needed to be created for maximum impact on the unsuspecting females, I say unsuspecting because these women didn’t know I was working in conjunction with a team of highly trained professional risk takers.

So we attacked my on line persona much the same way we attack a fire; with total abandon and very little planning. The basic gist of my/our profile was this. I/we were a handsome, tall, athletic firefighter, and that was about it, oh and that I was interested in a long term deeply meaningful one night stand.

The pace at which my team selected potential mates was staggering. The average woman’s profile was considered for approximately in rough estimation around a second.
“Oh she’s hot! Let’s pick her.”
“Yeah she’s good.” Said desperate Dave.
“She’s blond, anyone notice TimO’s wives have all been blond? I’m just saying maybe we should go in a new direction this time around.” Said my lieutenant, he always showed good leadership skills that guy.
“The Lou makes a good point TimO, maybe we should consider other types or even different ethnicities. This is a fresh start for you buddy.” This from Hatchet, he was called Hatchet because of his inclination to just whack stuff with his fire ax.
“Hey wait a minute guys, we aren’t looking to get married here, just have some fun. TimO needs to recover his dignity, we don’t care about the long term we are in this for fast results.”
“Yeah we just want some action, not two point two kids and a house. TimO’s already done that and someone else has both of those now, right TimO?”
“Shouldn’t we read what they have to say about themselves?” I asked as I pushed my chair back to get a full breath in my lungs.
“Read their stuff? Look at this one, she has taken a picture in her bedroom on her bed. Do we need to read what’s on her mind? No my friend we do not, this is an ad for sex. Plain and simple, I think I talk for the group here, we aren’t interested in getting to know anyone at this point, we are after some action.” There was a round of unanimous agreement on this point.

Well the team had spoken who was I to judge their collective wisdom, after all I was trying to get my dignity back right? My team had made a selection and it was on to the next step. I had a fleeting sensation of angst, but it quickly passed.
“How?” I asked as I was once again pushed forward in my office chair by the crush of seven excited men.
“Just click the flirt button, it sends her a message that you are interested.” Hatchet was always on point.

“Let’s get another one.” Said Dave.
“Another one?” I asked.
“Yeah dude, we need to get like a… what guys? A dozen or so? Said Hatchet.
“Maybe two or three.” Said my lieutenant.
“Let’s just ease into this and see what happens, right?” he suggested, and being the Lou and our leader it was law.
“Can we keep looking Lou?” asked Hatchet.
“Yeah but I don’t want you guys in here all day cursing chicks on the computer. We still got work to do okay?” They all agreed to his terms.

“I think we got a good start.” Said Dave.

The rest of the day was filled with nothing but conversation about my/our chances at internet dating.

Tomorrow the adventures continues.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Firefighters love women.

From the bedroom at station one a firefighter had a great view of the downtown streets below. One firefighter in particular loved this vantage point and you could find him parked there at regular intervals.

He was there three times a day, around 7:00 am, 12:00 noon, and 5:00 pm. You may notice these times correspond with work cycles of nine-to-fivers and that was no coincidence. Nippy (his nickname although ironic to this story originated in his use of alcoholic beverages) would set up his observation post in the window of the bedroom at these times.

The purpose of this lookout I have to say was not noble, it was in fact a chance to observe the comings and goings of the female work force from all the nearby office buildings. I must say I didn’t find it creepy and I have a low threshold for creepy and this was decidedly not creepy.

Nippy just admired the female form and liked to pass his time watching the changing seasonal fashions. He, like all men had a curiosity about the gravitational effects of forward movement of women while rushing about below.

He had his favorites and knew their habits and cycles, he was on many levels our Jane Goodall, a trained nearly scientific observer of women in the urban jungle of life. His favorites had been given nicknames in the same way Jane Goodall had named all of her chimps.

There was “Bobbit”, “Betty Boop”, “Veronica” (he just liked the name) and many others. Now being a self taught scientific observer, Nippy hadn’t taken on the advanced techniques implemented by Ms. Goodall, for instance he didn’t keep meticulous notes, he didn’t keep any notes, all his research data was in his head.

And that was okay because he never intended to publish anyway. So all summer and spring there sat Nippy, cup of coffee in hand and on alert. His habits became the subject of discussion in the building next door and the building next door was the fire departments administrative headquarters.

The ladies that worked for the fire department in support roles were all sequestered in that facility. Now Nippy being the outgoing friendly guy he was would call out greetings to these women from his window.

In time they became habituated to his presence in the opening much like Ms. Goodall’s chimps became tolerant to her presence and observations. They returned his salutations with a wave and a friendly smile.

I don’t know exactly when the change happened but it did. The observed became the observers and the realization that Nippy’s viewing habits weren’t as casual as first thought became the subject of conversations Nippy wasn’t privileged to.

This event happened prior to the advent of having someone of higher authority do all your problem solving for you. The ladies didn’t run to the fire chief and demand an investigation; they didn’t retain an attorney or host a news conference to announce the extent of their collective pain and suffering.

No these ladies being very acquainted with the sub species of male known as Firefighter Stupidius developed their very own plan of action to educate Nippy.

Having had a great deal of experience with this particular sub species of Homo Erectus, they knew what his primary attractor was, and they being women were all personally in possession of that very enticement.

Now I wasn’t privy to the planning phase of the upcoming event, but I was informed that an event was in the works. I had a very large informal communication network in place and so not much slipped my attention.

I learned that on our next shift at station one that a lesson was going to be taught. I’m sure the leak in the ladies news organization was intentional so as to provide an audience for the training session.

I was given only enough details so as to provide the desired audience. With strict secrecy implemented I disseminated the news to my crew, but Nippy was left fully exposed, unprotected by his brothers for this one experience.

The time was set for the afternoon lunch rush on the streets below. Following a humble meal in the station Nippy proceeded to his observation point in the bedroom. The rest of us took up positions on the two windows of the lounge room. The windows were large enough to accommodate 3 or 4 smashed firefighter faces per opening.

We tried to stay as hidden as possible so as not to draw attention to ourselves from the nearby outpost that was Nippy’s. Not to worry as his diligent observation were all consuming.
Then we saw her. Nippy nearly lurched out of his window as this previously undocumented specimen came into view. She was dressed in brilliant colors and her most defining characteristic was decidedly feminine, exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness.

That of course is why we all noticed it with just as much intensity as Nippy. We were after all of the same genetic sub species. The hypnotizing movement of her attributes had all our play buttons on pause, and a profound silence fell over the room. The laughing, and joking had been replaced with stunned awe.

The trap designed to snare a single member of the herd had in fact caused all of the Lemmings to fall helplessly and willingly over the cliff. As she drew closer her pace slowed and she bent over to make some sort of adjustment to her skirt.

The bending over caused her ample femininity to become even further disgorged from her smock. Our collective balance swayed in sympathy to her movements and not one of us was on guard when she righted herself. A folded piece of paper in her hands.

She unfurled the large piece of paper that had been concealed under her dress and swiftly held it above her head. It was a sign and it read “Got you Nippy”. We banged our heads together as we scrambled to retreat from the windows.

A huge noise erupted to our left, it was laughter. All of the women from the administrative office had poured into the street below. They held cameras and more signs announcing their awareness of Nippy’s observations.

Fortunately for the rest of us the intended victim of their revenge was the focus of their attention and the rest of us went unnoticed. Nippy never returned to his perch and neither did the rest of us. Lesson learned.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Secrets of the fire station bedroom.

Fire station number one the Big House; was right in the downtown of my community. It seems whenever I have traveled and visited other fire departments, station number one is almost always an iconic symbol of that department.

Fire stations are numbered for a very important reason. It is because, drum roll… we add them one at a time. Over a hundred years ago my department had just one station, when we added a second station it became Twos. See how that works.

Because Ones was the first house the fire chief was there and administrative functions sprung up around that location. As a department grew and added more companies management became more complex.

With my department an administrative building was added to Ones. Good news, “The” chief was no longer sitting at the breakfast table every morning, bad news he was still right next door. Chiefs, like any boss can be cool and fun to be around, or they can go to the other extreme and be tyrants, I have worked for both.

So a little separation is welcome. Because we live and work in a communal environment exposure to our leadership can be a chronic condition. It isn’t like normal jobs where the boss is down the hall all day in his office and if there is no direct reason to interact with them you can avoid them all day or for weeks.

No, our bosses are right there eating with us, sleeping with us (that phrase has taken on a double meaning today) watching TV, playing cards and observing, always observing. That can lead to confusion on the part of the administrator and the employee.

We become very intimate (that phrase has also taken on new meaning today) as co-workers. When you spend 24 hours a day together you learn a lot about your brother and sister firefighters. It truly is an odd work place in that sense, you learn, in some cases way more than you want to about your fellows.

At your place of work for instance you probably have no clue as to the sleeping habits of the janitorial staff. We do because we are the janitors, and the cooks and the mechanics, and every now and then we are firefighters.

Imagining the sleeping habits of another employee has probably never crossed your mind and if it has seek help. We don’t have to imagine it, we live it.

At Ones and most other fire houses the bedroom was dormitory style. A gigantic open room with a couple dozen single beds lining the walls. As in all things firefighting bedding assignments are dispensed on a seniority based system. The old dogs had their spots and that never ever changed.

The only way it changed was by retirement or reassignment, otherwise it was a static environment. A bed is a bed right? Wrong. There were better beds and there were better locations for those beds.

A senior member generally had both. Defining a good bed was simple, it was the newest bed, the most comfortable, or perhaps the only bed with a mattress designed for an actual adult male and not a child.

As in business the notion of location could be more important than function. You might accept a worse bed for a better spot in the room. So what constituted a better position? For some it was proximity to a window, other older members it might be the closest to the bathroom, a corner, under the heat or air conditioner.

Me I just wanted a bed; I was never plagued as some were with difficulty sleeping at work. The biggest complaint in every station I worked in was temperature management. See here is where some of that special knowledge about the sleeping habits of co-workers comes in to play.

I’ve always been a cold sleeper, I need blankets even in warm weather, which I never knew until I became a firefighter was not the norm. I don’t know if it’s a function of testosterone, body hair, diet, culture, health, or metabolism that causes the disparity in taste for environmental temperature, but there is a disparity sometimes a very profound disparity.

One Marlboro Man I worked with was absolutely my polar opposite in temperature needs. He was one of the old dogs, a bull rider, hairy and not shy. Joe was most able to sleep when the bedroom resembled a meat storage locker. His bed placement was far more important to him than comfort.

So Joe slept right next to an always open window, always open, year round. Joe only began wearing a shirt to bed when forced to by the assignment of a female to the Big House, prior to her arrival he was bare chested. I’m sure it was more to prevent her from attacking this alpha male in the middle of the night than for her modesty.

One winter morning we got tapped out before the 7:00 am bell. When the lights came on I sat up, the first thing I noticed was I could see my breath. Then I looked around the bedroom. Dammedist thing I ever saw. It looked like Ice Station Zero in there. A storm had rolled in during the night and Joe’s open window had allowed a snow drift to form inside.

The snow began at the window, poured out over his bed and on to the floor and there was Joe sleeping under a blanket of white. He sat up, flipped off his sheet and headed for the truck. As I crawled out from under my electric blanket the cold hit me and it took me a few minutes to warm up after that.

More tales from the bedroom tomorrow.