I brought candy to work. I ate some, and I offered to share. My offer was declined. So I ate it all myself.

I got off work early, so I went to my favorite bar. This would be the only place I feel comfortable going to alone, so by default it is my favorite. On this night I only saw strangers. But the strangers soon became my talk-to pals. I will give this town credit–people are very happy to chat it up with someone new.

I discovered, from these strangers, however, that my “look” is all wrong.

“Gotta get rid of the ponytail RG,” one gentleman said. This would be on the day I pulled my crazy curly beach hair back in a clip for the first time in about 15 years. Of course, this would be the day my hair style was second guessed and critiqued by someone I didn’t know.

“Your name is what?” another gentleman asked. “That can’t be your given name. What’s your ‘real’ name?”

Interesting, that question. I haven’t had my nickname, which is the only name I have ever been addressed as, second guessed in about 25 years, when the big-time editor of the big-time magazine for which I was interning suggested I rethink using my nickname as my byline. My given name, he said, sounded professional. My nickname, he said, sounded like a writer “from some woman’s magazine.”

I see. At the time, however, I would have killed to have had my byline–my nickname or any other name–appear in a “lowly” women’s magazine, say “Redbook” or “Good Housekeeping.” Yes, back in the day, male editors felt free to tell me how stupid the name I’d been called all my life sounded to them.

“You need to go by your given name,” this other regular said. “It’ll be your new identity. It fits you better.”

Oh, great. Because you know me so well?

When both gentleman left for a moment, I asked the bartender and the cute girl sitting next to me who is dating the Hollywood star I didn’t recognize, even when we were introduced, “Am I really that frumpy that I need a new look, a new name?”

“Oh no!” said the bartender.

“Forget them,” said the cute girl dating the Hollywood star.

“Yeah, but, I don’t know from these folks, from this place,” I admitted.

“You’re just fine,” said the bartender.

“You look fantastic,” said the cute girl.

And we laughed and the cute girl and I enjoyed another glass of wine.

“So who does your hair?” the bartender asked the cute girl ten minutes later.

Salon names were dropped and stylists called out.

“And what gym do you go to at the beach? she asked.

“Oh, you would love my gym,” the cute girl said, turning to me.

Okay, I can take a hint.

What’s next–the name of the best plastic surgeon in town? Actually, I just need a dentist and a dry cleaner.

The gentlemen returned from a quick smoke outside. “It would take so little. You’re already so incredible,” said the one. “Just get your hair cut.

“And please use another name,” piped up the other.

I simply nodded, and then I told myself it was probably time to find another “favorite” place to hang out–like the library or Target.

I find it interesting and mildly disturbing that some people feel free to offer this very personal advice, when they have only known me for an hour. I find it interesting and mildly annoying that my hair and my name can cause such consternation among perfect strangers.

I find it more interesting, however, that I brought candy to work today, and no one wanted any.






17 responses to “Candyland”

  1. Bleachdrinker Avatar

    You should never take, or even listen to, advice from people you have just met in a bar.

    The only advice worth listening to is the advice you get from people you have met over the internet.

    Sorry, I just couldn’t pass this one up. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Candi Avatar

    Actually, and I’m not trying to be an a-hole here at all, but sometimes the feedback from complete strangers can be some of the most honest feedback you’ll ever receive. Why? Because it’s completely objective (even if it’s unwanted). I don’t think you should be offended by their remarks (Ok, so changing your name was definitely crossing the line)… But, maybe giving yourself a mini-makeover could really do you some good! I know that whenever I hit a rough patch in my life, one of the first things I do is make a beeline for the salon… I cut my hair, get a new style, or even just take a half-inch off… A fresh haircut always makes me feel like I’m starting over as a new me. I don’t do anything drastic or anything, but it’s a great feeling when I walk out of that salon to feel updated and fresh. It’s liberating. Maybe, in a round about way, they were actually paying you a compliment… Maybe they were thinking “What an extraordinary woman… She’s absolutely beautiful. But, I wonder why she does her hair like that? She could really accent her features if she updated her cut…” (I mean, I know that I look like a bug if I wear my hair up in a ponytail! I look completely different when I wear it down!) I hope that none of this came out the wrong way… sorry if it did! You should try to keep in mind that you’re in an entirely new place with people who are going to look completely different (and probably all alike too!)… since you come from somewhere different, your style will be different and they won’t be used to that. People will naturally think you’re from the country or something since you don’t look and dress like them. (Whenever I visit South Florida, I swear people think I’m a bumpkin. I guess it’s because I don’t wear a string bikini and my boobs and eyelashes are real! For the record, I’m a Philly Girl!)

  3. restaurant Gal Avatar

    Bleachdrinker: Too funny. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Candi: Thanks for chiming in. But I just got my hair cut in DC before I left! No, these guys were just a tad over the line. A tad? Okay, crazy. Philly–eh? Cool.

  4. joeinvegas Avatar

    Sometimes strangers point out things friends don’t say to you, but sometimes they are just a$$holes and should be ignored. Hard part is telling the difference without melting.
    PS: find a new hangout

  5. Ex-Restaurant Manager Avatar

    My guess is that if he “theoretically” brings you down a couple of rungs, then you just might be within reach of his pathetic man-ipulation.

    And next time he mentions hair, ask him ever so daintily, “And who does your hair, Hagopian?”

  6. Miss Hil Avatar
    Miss Hil

    Welcome to South Florida! If my guess is correct it’s either Ft Lauderdale-ish or Miami. Yes?

  7. Katie Avatar

    It never ceases to amaze me at how everyone has opinions that they have no problem voicing. No matter how inappropriate.

  8. restaurant Gal Avatar

    joe in vegas: New place to hang out? Done. My new apartment, which I am finally moving into, and on-demand movies!

    Ex RM: Perfect.

    Miss Hil: Neither…Saturn, Jupiter, and/or Mars. Take your pick.

    Katie: Amazing, astounding, and, in the end, laughable.

  9. Julie Avatar

    RG, I’m glad you’ve found a new place to hang out and that it’s someplace as wonderful as your new apartment. Sounds like the cute girl and bartender were a little more subtle than the two guys, but it’s still annoying and inappropriate, especially since you didn’t ask for their opinions.

  10. Induced Homomorphism Avatar

    I would have had some candy.

  11. Lisa Avatar

    I think you shoulda pulled out a mirror and handed it to them while they were spouting all that BS. That way they’d be really be talking to the one who needs the changes – themselves.

  12. question girl Avatar

    ahhh, but you are still a few steps ahead of me… i have only found the local pizza delivery (and that is because the little old lady next door brought me their menu)… i have been to the resturant/bar down the road w/ my friend who helped me move but i still hvaen’t found the cahonas to go on my own – thus my first weekend alone was just that – alone…

    and since the comments had the ability to piss you off rather than bring you down – you are on the right track

    keep you head up my friend and keep doing your thing

  13. Zizi Avatar

    At least you were talking to them. I always found the absolute worst to be strangers that would just saunter on up to you and give you their opinion on how you look, what you’re eating, whatever else you happen to be doing. I used to be pretty dang fat, and it happened a few times where someone would say something about how many calories my Frappucino had (no shit? wow… I had no clue.) Another time, at the gym, an old woman walked up to me as she was leaving and I was heading in and said to me, “I lost 100 pounds… so can you!!” It was meant in an encouraging way, but seriously? I have lost most of the weight without telling most people I was in the process of it because I didn’t want to hear their stupid opinions, or be critqued when I chose to ate something bad. Best choice ever.
    You just can’t live your life trying to meet other people’s expectations or preferences. As the song goes, “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

  14. Blade Avatar

    Meh, don’t let a few bad seeds ruin your new place- they’ll be anywhere you go, just laugh ’em off!

    Although, based on what you’ve already said about people there in past posts, and the conversation the bartender and the girl had, they probably were just ahving the kind of conversation they’d always have, that was natural for them but sounded rude to you because you’re from a place with a different set of social rules and expectations.

    (Not that it wasn’t rude and uninvited, but it doesn’t sound like they *meant* to be at all.)

  15. cj Avatar

    Hmm. There are people everywhere, who will not recognize treasures when they see them. Not the fault of the treasure.


  16. Miss Hil Avatar
    Miss Hil

    Ah I see…you’re about 35 minutes north of me. If you’re ever down here (Boca) and need someone to hang out with let me know. I know moving to a new place sucks.

    BTW…I love your blog..I’ve been reading a while. Just haven’t left any comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. thiswaitress Avatar

    Target has been a long favorite of mine. I mean, if we’re talking hangouts. And places to get inexpensive toiletries.