Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Positive Exes Meme

I haven’t had much luck with Valentine’s Day. The first time I had a real Valentine’s Day, with a girlfriend and everything, was when I was 22, and that was amazing. We watched an old movie, she made lasagna, and we actually spent the night together. (We didn’t do anything because I was still a conservative Christian. But it was nice.) But since I broke up with her, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been dating anybody on the actual date of Valentine’s Day. (My last few relationships ran less than a year and started in the spring.)

However, I find I still think a lot, and with gratitude, about all the women I’ve dated, and I’ve hereby concocted a Valentine’s Day meme that I hope to spread. The idea is to identify somewhere between three and ten exes (depending on how busy you’ve been) an d to explain what you learned from them and how they’ve changed your life. I’m doing this by giving each of them an award, listing the things I still do that remind me of them, and noting any policy changes I’ve made as I attempt to refine my partner-seeking technique. Note that the point of this is to be positive! So when in doubt, I’ve assumed the errors were my own.

To preserve anonymity, I’ve listed each of my exes only by a single initial, and it could be either their first or last name. Also, I’m not following strict chronology.---though I hope there’s a narrative arc to the thing anyway. Okay. Let’s go:

#1: H.
Award: Smartest

What she taught me: movie history, TV history…basically, almost everything I ever missed in pop culture by growing up without a television. I think about her every time I see The X-Files, and to this day when I see a dog, I point and cry, “Doggy!” like she always did. It’s fun.

Policy changes: Apparently sexual compatibility is something you need to work out at the beginning of the relationship. All the friendship in the world can’t overcome a mismatch.

#2: T.
Awards: Sexiest; Most Encouraging

What she taught me: I have found flat-chested women mind-blowingly sexy ever since---the first time my actual proclivities have shifted like that. I also learned a lot about pedagogy and Korea. I still occasionally consult with her because she has a voluminous medical reference.

Policy changes: I try to make sure my partner and I have the same emotional and social cycle. My cheerfulness can grate on people sometimes, and I’m a bad match for a stay-at-home introvert.

#3: G.
Awards: Funniest; Best Person to Emulate

What she taught me: The value of friendship; how to live well; the value of pursuing new passions even if they’re a little off the path. (We first sort of met and clicked at a puppetry presentation.)

Policy changes: I try not to date people long distance. If they’re a good match, it’s just too damned frustrating.

#4: M.
Award: Nicest

What she taught me: why some women like James Bond films; the joys of staying in and playing games.

Policy changes: It seems to be a bad idea to date someone who isn’t usually your type, even if you think you need a change. Apparently, we have types for a reason.

#5: J.
Award: Most Sexually Aggressive

What she taught me: She was a birdwatcher, and I’ve never looked at birds the same way since.

Policy changes: I try to make sure we’re on the same page from the get-go. It was my first attempt at a fling, and it was entirely successful precisely because we both knew the time limit.

#6: R.
Awards: Most Like My Physical Ideal; Most Practical; Girliest

What she taught me: The joys of watching parades, taking walks in the park, and solving the crossword together over a Sunday breakfast. I still buy Brummel & Brown margarine and fry my own pita bread for sandwiches.

Policy Changes: Apparently I shouldn’t date really girly women; I tend to irritate such people just by being my usual self.



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