V. August 2, 2001

Various parties have asked that I flesh this story out, so I will tell the official King James version (more or less).

I was having a bad day, but was in the Barnes & Noble on Union Square, New York, NY. Across a long aisle looking for an Oscar Wilde collection of fairy stories I spied a frankly gorgeous woman flipping through the pages of a children’s picture book. As is generally the case with men in these situations, I stared.

Now usually in one of these situations, the target of our gazing desires in question will go hide behind the nearest book shelf, shuffle off avoiding eye contact, or, depending on how unkempt you are, move to summon the local constabulary.

Instead this one looked me straight in the eye and said, “Hi, my name is Katherine.”

I was like “huh”?

“Hi, I said,” she said. “Katherine. My name is Katherine.”

She — this Katherine apparently — stuck out her hand, as a fella might.

Was she talking to me?

I looked over one shoulder, then the other.

Did I mention “huh”?

“Look,” she continued / concluded / commanded, “You wanna get a Starbucks?”

I finally realized she was attempting conversation with YT and responded, “Starbucks is like my favorite place.”

“How lucky,” she responded. “You get to see your favorite place on every street corner.”

We ended up going to Starbucks, having a famous time over iced teas, and then attempting to dine at Sushi Samba. I was pretty shocked we didn’t get in, despite the fact that Sushi Samba was an it-destination popularized by Sex in the City at that point, because I had gotten in the previous Thursday with a WAY less good looking date. Like WAY. Katherine and I ended up going to a little Chinese / sushi place by West Fourth Street. At the end of a few plates of sashimi, we agreed to cancel our other dates.

She was like, “What about tomorrow?”

I was like “I have plans.” (I had plans to hang out with altran… We lived together but at this point hadn’t been very good at cultivating our once roaring bromance).

She was like, “Okay. How about Saturday?”

I didn’t tell her that I had a PTQ, but that was the reason I turned her down.

I was like “How about Sunday?”

Starting that Sunday, we have spent time apart from each other only due to work-related travel (which, in my case, can probably includes Magic: The Gathering tournaments and appearances).

How to Grow Taller:
Stand up for yourself. I had a date at 11am with Katherine that following Sunday, but called my Mommy before I left Brooklyn.

“So… I pretty much met the girl I am going to marry.”

My mother asked me if I had gotten her pregnant.

“You are a doctor, Mom! I met her three days ago, so even if I had gotten her pregnant, I wouldn’t know. Also I wouldn’t have told you.”

Talk to your father!

My Dad was pretty cool with it.

How to Grow Darker:
Go ahead and look.

Look. Stare even.

Is this terrible advice?

BDM recently told me I am maximally inappropriate during essentially all dealings with women. I was like “Yeah, name who,” and he was like “Lauren Lee.”

Lauren Lee?

“She doesn’t care,” ran BDM; “but you’re still inappropriate.”

What is a LOL to YT is that I was way worse when I was younger. Like unreal worse. At 18 I was coming off of four years at all-boys school, so I had essentially no frame of reference in dealing with any girls I didn’t already know. The only way I knew how to make them notice me was being mean to them in public and pouring salt all over their food.

The odd thing is that most of the women I have IRL interactions with basically love me. I am hilarious. Chats with me – enthusiastic chats, at least – are high value, especially when I am teaching something or I am talking about something I am interested in or at least have an opinion on (which is like everything).

I would suggest becoming hilarious, knowledgeable, or otherwise high value. Did you notice the first interplay between K and YT? She asked me for a Starbucks, and we engaged in a super duper post-modern moment of banter.

  • Her: You wanna get some Starbucks?
  • Me: Starbucks is like my favorite place.
  • Her again: How lucky. You get to see your favorite place on every street corner.

What can girls learn?

In a decidedly un-darker / rather counter-darker sense, I would suggest showing value of a different sort. Katherine’s quick wit immediately earned my respect, which colored the next ten years of dealings between the two of us. For instance:

Early in our dating I was doing something annoying (I don’t remember what, and it doesn’t matter) and she threatened to pour her drink on my head if I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop. 

And though I was sitting on her couch, watching her HBO, she calmly got up, poured her drink on my head, and walked to the kitchen for a refill.

She poured her drink on my head.

Katherine was ruthlessly awesome ten years ago and is even more so today.

How to Get More Handsome:
I gotta say: There is nothing more attractive, apparently, than already having someone.

As you know, I was out with altran that next night, and K wasn’t even my official girlfriend yet (but I knew in my heart she was). I was in the West Village, and inexplicably, I caught countless superhot hotties checking me out. I had spent quite a bit of my twenties trying to get superhot hotties to notice me at all, but my success was… Not that successful for the most part. But that night, over and over, had me wondering if I had been missing something all this time.

Via trickery, salesmanship, wordplay, sustained charisma, and a willingness to invest, I had by that point proven capable of making girls like me back… But that usually took work.

This, on balance, was unprecedented. I was pretty sure I could have cold opened on most of them and gotten a number or even instant date. Unfortunately (rather, fortunately) I was already in love, so I spent the evening arm-in-arm, in the West Village, skipping down the street (you read that right, “skipping”) with another dude (‘cause mise). 

… So of course I ran into one of my kid sister’s inner circle, from back home in Cleveland while skipping around a brownstone corner locked arms with fella. In the West Village. When I say “ran into” I mean “literally collided with,” like on a sitcom.

Charlie Brown… Will you never win?

Homework – I have never tried this, and to be fair, it has never occurred to me despite having seen the movies Can’t Buy Me Love and Easy A, but why don’t you try intersecting August 1994 and August 2001 superpowers and just declare yourself as having an HB10 girlfriend? If science is any indicator, your con-fusion of frame, reality control, and willpower will trick every girl in every direction into finding you “taken” and therefore increasingly attractive when they wouldn’t normally ever talk to you. Try it and report back!

Magical Aftermath:
Being with Katherine radically pruned my tournament attendance.

I used to game, like constantly.

Now if I get one PTQ a season that is probably above average. However, my overall contentedness in life, and how successful I am at being a human being has skyrocketed to such a degree that there has been more than enough of a tradeoff.

That said, I scored my best PT finish – 17th place – within one month of meeting her; and numerous PTQ wins and money finishes throughout 2001 and 2002. 

By 2004 I was about to have my first child.

Something, the first of many somethings, changed in me right before Bella appeared. I got serious about my writing, began my run on what would become DailyMTG, and forged what can only be considered almost any Magic writer’s finest run on a Website, over on StarCityGames.com with “Sullivan, Nimble Mongoose, and Sullivan”.

Not too long ago Teddy Card Game wrote me a series of scathing Tweets and emails – not to be mean, and they are none of your business – but they got me thinking. Ted has on a couple of occasions compared the now-me unfavorably to the 2004 or so version of me (when he was my editor). If anything I was much more motivated by money back then. I actually needed the money to pay for my apartment and take care of my family.

Now I care about the money only insofar as we are keeping score. We are all gamers and of course I am intent on winning. I approach writing like a job because the sites that pay me to write for them rely on me; I am what you call “a professional” … I do it for the money from that sense, but I do this for the love, bro; especially as detailed in section VII.


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#1 MTGBattlefield on 12.01.11 at 9:33 pm

V. August 2, 2001…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

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