Fortnightly Single: Todd and Elissa!
Your intrepid reporters joined Todd and his date of choice, Elissa, at Lemongrass Restaurant on a recent Friday. We separated them briefly to do that prying piece of quote-unquote journalism that we call The Preview.
Todd’s 30th birthday was the day before, and he observed that his life always gets “crazy and stressful” around his birthday.
“But I’m fully functional,” he assured us. “I can carry a thought, for the most part.”
So why did he pick Elissa?
“She seemed up front and honest and drama-free and sincere and fun, and I consider all that good virtues.”
Todd is from San Diego, and hadn’t dated much there. He’s fairly new to Olympia, and isn’t at all jaded about “the scene here” yet.
“I’ve had a few dates of sorts up here. That’s a nice thing about moving to a new community. Compared to San Diego, people are easygoing and friendly and sincere. It’s been easier to make connections.”
“The person who recommended [that I do the FNS thing] works in a downtown bar. She’s been excited for me, and telling all her friends. The reactions range from a good-humored laugh to a cheer to a ‘wow!’. Everybody’s been excited and supportive.”
So has anyone asked him on a date since he had his picture in the paper?
“That did actually happen. It wouldn’t happen in San Diego. Dating is completely different there. They’re more traditional. I don’t see why everything [about dating] has to be by the book.”
He prefers the nontraditional dating atmosphere here.
Elissa is a junior at Evergreen studying political economy and social justice. She’s from Texas originally, and just got back from doing outreach in Venezuela.
“The US media is [$%##?!*^!] about portraying revolutionary movements.”
She identifies as outgoing, and says she wrote in to date Todd because “I’ve never done it. I shaved my head last year. This year I’m going to go on a blind date.”
She’s one of those lucky individuals who’s not stuck in a social rut:
“I always seem to meet people when they first move here. I’m not a cougar, I’m a new-gar!” she laughs
So, why Todd?
“He obviously has a sense of humor, and that’s really important to me. I don’t like pretentiousness. When I saw the picture of him in drag… well, he seems like someone who’s interested in having fun.”
People in the northwest seem “moody, intellectual and passive,” she observes. “Just look at the people who sit outside Caffe Vita. And I say that as someone who sits outside Caffe Vita”
Todd is “not into what’s considered normative. He’s got a consciousness around that.”
She hasn’t dated much recently.
“I’m usually so busy with various activist things, I just have a bunch of friends. Since I started college, a two-month fling is the most dating I’ve had.”
She’s looking for “someone to have fun with, someone who can communicate. I’m open to friendship, or something else.”
“For some reason, around birthdays everything seems more chaotic. Having a May birthday, it comes with all the lushness. My head is bulging at the seams.”
He has allergies.
“Have you eaten here?” he asks Elissa.
“No. It’s one of those things that, as a college student, you always say you’re gonna go.”
He’s an intense gazer, leans in at her while she’s talking.
“So did you have a good birthday?” she asks. There’s a brief pause. “Do you even remember?”
He laughs. “I had a follow up job interview.”
He went to Evergreen today to browse the library. “I found a great book in the psychology section… or maybe it was philosophy.”
He’s planning to go to Denny’s tonight for the free meal.
“They’re still doing the timeless classic, the free Grand Slam. It’s on Marvin or Martin – I get those confused.”
“I don’t really venture anywhere the 41 doesn’t go,” Elissa confesses. “Do you live on the Westside?”
“No, Eastside. Sleater-Kinney.”
“Olympia needs … you should print this … Olympia needs more 24-hour restaurants.”
“That’s a great idea!” Todd concurs.
“Do you know about Sizizis?”
Todd gives her a fascinated look, and attempts, “sizz… izzz…. Izzzz… ?”
She explains that it’s a 24-hour coffee and tea place. “When I’m inside, I feel like I’m in the hull of a boat.”
They look over the drink menu. She describes a couple of micro-brews with obvious expertise.
“I’ll drink it all,” says Todd. “But I’ve gotta say, the Butte.”
“The Butte? Really? Dark.”
“It’s the best I’ve had.”
“Oh, I’ll show you better. There are lots of great stouts and porters up here. How long have you been in Olympia?”
“Two months. It’s still fresh. I’m lost, as usual.”
They pick up the menus.
“Do you have a favorite Thai food?” she asks.
“I like super-spicy.” The spiciness at Lemongrass is measured in pepper icons, from zero to four.
“Oh, I’m such a wimp about spice!” Elissa laments.
They comment on the proliferation of Thai restaurants in Oly.
“There’s one that way, and two more that way,” she says, gesturing. “It’s crazy.”
The reporters settle on pad Thai and egg rolls, and because they’re boring, only two “peppers”, and just water (for once).
Elissa considers the apple curry at two “peppers,” and Todd is leaning toward the Chicken Purple Passion.
“Or… Pork Purple Passion: the Triple-P!” he laughs.
“Do it for the alliteration!”
“Is it alliteration or assonance?”
“Alliteration is a repetition of consonants. But don’t quote me on that if I’m wrong, because I’m a writing tutor.”
“I met my boss because she was blowing bubbles on campus,” she adds. She works at the TESC Writing Center now.
The waiter approaches, and Todd orders for them. “Alaskan Amber for the lady, and I’ll have a porter.”
The waiter cards them, joking, “Feels good, don’t it?”
“We’re mature for our age,” Todd quips.
Elissa tells a story about a time when someone thought she was 36 when she was really 18.
Todd muses, “Maybe you’ve got one of those old souls”
“ – and you radiate wisdom”
“Yeah!” Todd echoes, raising his water glass, “Cheers with water!”
Elissa talks about working at the Writing Center as an undergrad.
“It’s always interesting when a grad student comes in. I think they just think I’m a grad student too.”
“… because of your old soul.”
When the reporters start taking photos, Todd gets self-conscious.
“I’m bad with the smile. I smile too hard. It’s either not at all or way too hard. My mom doesn’t like it. She’s always telling me to tone it down.”
“Just say, ‘Mom, I’m too excited about having embarrassing pictures taken’,” Elissa suggests.
Todd has wanted to live in Washington State ever since he visited his grandparents in Port Townsend, over a decade ago.
“The desire just got stronger, and eventually I just had to take the chance.”
He has a friend in Oly who had a room available and invited him to live there. So far he really likes the northwest culture
“The people are more easygoing. For the most part, they’re pretty friendly and outgoing. San Diego has a lot of people, a lot of traffic and competition. It’s very passive-aggressive and very conservative. There’s a Ken-and-Barbie culture. And lots of Kawasaki ninja motorcycles going 120 between lanes.”
“I grew up in Houston and it’s kind of similar. But it seems like every big city has an area that’s funky and queer-friendly.”
“San Diego has Hillcrest. There’s a lot of free spirits, the color, the nightlife, arts, music. That’s nearby downtown San Diego.”
“That sounds awesome! People who are from Olympia and Seattle don’t understand how different other parts of the country are,” Elissa exclaims. “Here it’s normal to be ‘alternative’, but in a place like Texas, you’re the weirdo! It was great to come to Evergreen and not be the weirdest-dressed person.”
Todd’s best friend’s wife suggested cross-dressing, and he said, “Why not? I’ve done everything else.”
So Todd helped organize a cross-dressing party in San Diego.
“But some people didn’t even dress up.”
“You should have taken their drinks away,” she says.
“I like the way you think. Reward and punishment. Cost-benefit analysis. Who was it – Skinner? It wasn’t Pavlov.”
“I don’t know anything about psychology.”
Todd opens the subject of gender, confidently.
“Women have kind of had their cultural revolution. The mid-century push for equality – not that it’s equal now, but now women can wear pants and short hair and whatever. Men haven’t had that revolution yet. I mean, what if I wanted to wear a summer dress to my job?”
“People should say, ‘Nice dress.’, “ Elissa insists.
“And I would say, ‘Thanks!’”
“To really have any kind of effective gender revolution, it has to be universal.”
We begin taking photos again, and Todd and Elissa get self-conscious again.
“You don’t have to pose,” we contend.
“We like to!” they both say in unison.
At this point, everyone’s wondering how Todd is holding up with his Six-pepper Pork Purple Passion.
“It’s definitely hot,” he admits. “The sting lingers. I don’t feel any organs burning, though, so that’s a good thing. Ooh! I think I just ate a pepper. Better chase it with some alcohol.”
“Oh, you’re not supposed to use the spoon?” Todd has a utensil-related revelation. “No wonder it was so hard. I couldn’t even fit it in my mouth.”
“That’s a pretty big spoon.”
“It’s more like a small shovel!” he protests. “So have you had any cross dressing experiences?”
[the rest of the story, along with cool photos and out-of-context quotes, will be up soon!]