Middle-aged divorcees and Brio Tuscan Grille go together like paternity suits and pro athletes. So when Unreal was propositioned by the 50-year-old co-founder of an online support and social group for female victims of divorce (www.sassypinkpeppers.com), the Plaza Frontenac hot spot emerged as the only logical choice to chat over multiple seasonal cocktails.
Much to our chagrin, Unreal was not permitted to unravel in print the particulars as to why the marriages of our three lovely subjects imploded, although it's fair to say that their splits may or may not have owed to their partners' suffering from a gender-specific ailment known as wandering-dick syndrome (referred to in some medical circles as "sometimes you just want chicken instead of steak" disease). But when we broached instituting a minimum-age requirement for one to obtain a marriage license, the opinions started flowing as freely as the merlot.
"I think I was too young," says Kristen Powell, 40, who is sipping Scotch and wearing a smart pink cardigan. "I was 24. Maybe people just shouldn't get married."
"I was 30," Paige Miller, now 37, chimes in, "and shit still flowed downstream."
Miller, an effervescent blonde who lives in Weldon Springs and has a five-year-old daughter from her botched union, makes no bones about what she sees as her offspring's blueprint for marital bliss.
"As soon as my daughter graduates from Harvard and pays off her own BMW, then maybe I'll let her consider marriage," says Miller, who, like Powell, frequents the bar at Brio with some regularity. "When you get divorced, all your friends are married. All of a sudden, you're at age X and nobody's in your peer group.
"I don't want to be on the singles scene with 22-year-olds," she continues. "The agenda changes: You get a table with your girlfriends, and if opportunity happens, it's a bonus. You're looking for someone to complement your lifestyle."
Not that Miller and her fellow Pink Peppers -- whose group motto is "laugh, dance, move on" -- are ready to slam the door on finding that elusive soul mate.
"I could get married again, as long as I find the right person," says 43-year-old Columbia, Illinois, jewelry designer Cari Jo Nelson, who admits that come-hither lines like "I love Michael Bolton, don't you?" rise like cream at pickup playgrounds such as Brio.
Of course, Nelson has already been through two alleged Mr. Rights, which leads to the question: Can Mr. Right possibly go wrong?
"It has," she concedes. "I'm divorced."
Local Blog o' the Week
"My life is a TV show, no?"
Author: Vicki Monti
About the blogger: Vicki is a 24-year-old party girl who has recently banned herself from sending e-mails or instant messages when she's drunk. She describes her interests as "making fun of people, drinking, talking about myself" and "making out." She recently founded a Web site called "The Sassy Girl's Guide to Dating." (www.sassygirls.uni.cc).
Recent Highlight (December 24, 2004): Then Heather and I decided to go to Pepper Lounge because we heard that's where this hot guy she'd been talking to was going and then we drove all the way down there and it was dead and retarded so then we went to (ugh) Cheshire and just kept shouting "We don't normally come here! We know this is a meat market but we're not coming here for that!" Very convincing.
Then ran into Mike McIntyre from high school and he was so wanting Heather so I gave him her number and said he didn't really have much of a chance because she was into this other guy but that I'm sure she would let him buy her dinner sometime. Then he kept going up to Heather while she was talking to Luke and trying to hit on her and then my drunk ass kept shouting "Mike likes Heather, Mike likes Heather" like we're in grade school or something. Then I started talking to Mike's friend Geoff and as soon as I learned he spelled it all retarded like that every time I said his name I would spell it:
Me: Well G-E-O-F-F we should make out. It's one of my hobbies.
Geoff: Yeah, that would be cool. But if it's your hobby then you probably do it a lot and I don't want to be just some guy.
Me (with mock sincerity): G-E-O-F-F, you're more than just some guy to me, otherwise I wouldn't even be trying to make out.
Geoff: Really? I don't know.
Me: G-E-O-F-F, you're too much work.
Geoff: I have a girlfriend anyway.
What was I thinking? I didn't even want to make out with him ANYWAY, and he spells his name like the giraffe from Toys R Us, AND he has a fucking girlfriend. Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scaring 'Em Straight
The board of a St. Louis charter school on Wednesday placed a principal on leave after he had police handcuff a 5-year-old and drive him around the block in a squad car to curb his unruly behavior. Principal Sam Morgan is on leave from Thurgood Marshall Academy pending an investigation into last month's incident, board attorney Wayne Harvey said."
--Associated Press, December 16, 2004
The roots of the Thurgood Marshall Academy handcuffing scandal lie not in the disciplinary inclinations of a few school administrators but in a decision, approved last year by school principal Sam Morgan, to create a highly secret operation aimed at the interrogation and forcible re-education of all five-year-olds who have not yet mastered the alphabet.
Unreal has obtained a top-secret memo detailing Morgan's operation -- known inside the teachers' lounge by several code names, including Operation Doo Doo. The memo outlines a strict regimen of physical coercion and humiliation to promote proper penmanship and spelling. Written in brick-red crayon on a Big Chief writing tablet, the missive commands all hall monitors, teachers' aides and cafeteria workers to interrogate so-called "high fecal content targets" (HFCTs).
Among Morgan's interrogation techniques listed in the block-lettered memo:
Any child caught removing the crust from his or her bread will be made to stand in the corner, hooded, with arms extended.
All children who fail to master the cursive letter "Z" by the end of the first semester of second grade will be confined to a broom closet until they "remember" the difference between a cursive "Z" and a cursive "J."
Third-graders who fail to understand the rectitude of the sentence structures contained in See Spot Run shall be locked in the gymnasium with German shepherd police dogs.
There will be a zero-tolerance policy on children who wet or shit their pants. Any child caught doing this will be handcuffed to a tetherball pole.
A senior cafeteria worker, confirming the authenticity of the memo, said the operation stemmed from Morgan's deep-seated embarrassment over never being properly potty-trained. "Sam thought his dyslexia was bed-wetting based," says the chow-hall employee. "He said he wanted to 'scare them straight.'"
Hot Stove Hysterics
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Bryan Burwell
December 17, 2004
Nuclear winter is upon us, I tell you. That's how it feels now as we watch Walt Jocketty's best-laid offseason plans disintegrate in front of him.... Jocketty is usually the smartest man in the room when it comes to the art of the baseball deal. So how odd was it to see one of the shrewdest men in baseball with egg all over his face?
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Bryan Burwell
December 26, 2004
Jocketty's patient approach is like watching a gambler who never sweats, twitches or shows his hand until the final moment. Every year, he finds a way to be the Cardinals' true most valuable player.