Posts Tagged ‘dating’

Romantic Gazpacho

Today, as my husband, Alex, fell asleep on the couch watching Michigan football, I made a batch of Gazpacho. It’s a cold Spanish soup with pureed tomatoes as a base then peppers, onion, celery and cucumbers.

Twenty five years ago, when Alex and I were first dating, he was trying to renovate his five acre redneck ranch. (We still live in the same house) Alex is a chef, not a contractor, so it was slow going. I called him, “Hey, since you bought dinner last night I’m bringing you a surprise lunch.”

He sounded excited that I was coming out to check out his house and bring lunch. He gave me explicit directions and the address.

I stopped at a little café in Hot Springs and bought some Gazpacho and fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. I felt very sophisticated and confident that Alex, the handsome, swarthy chef would be impressed.

Finding the entrance of our driveway has always been nearly impossible. It’s like finding the entrance to Narnia. With my gazpacho and sandwiches on the front seat I drove past the driveway over and over, finally I drove four miles back to a little gas station and asked to use the phone

Frustrated and embarrassed I called Alex in tears. He laughed at me gently and said he would stand at the bottom of the driveway, so I couldn’t miss the turn.

We sat down in the living room and I tried not to show my concern when I looked around the house. It was a wreck. There were so many half finished projects and power tools everywhere.

But I proudly presented my lunch. I poured the Gazpacho into bowls, carefully placed the crotons on top and handed Alex a plastic spoon. then I unwrapped our delicate little grilled cheese sandwiches.

Alex smiled at me, “Wow, thank you. This is great.” He took a bite of soup. “It’s really good. You want a beer?”

We shared a cold can of Bush and ate lunch while he told me all the things he planned for the house. He ate the Gazpacho so fast I barely got any and that made me so happy.

Alex and I have been married for 23 years now. We’ve raised four kids, buried dogs and watched a lot of football. What I didn’t know all those years ago was that Alex absolutely hates tomatoes. He picks them out of everything. When he saw me making Gazpacho today, he gave me a hug and whispered “gross.”

Love, it’ll make you do all kinds of crazy stuff.

Love At Rocky’s Corner

Dating is a funny thing.  You want to help each other…but how much and when?  All those boundaries have to be worked out.

Twenty five or twenty six years ago when Alex and I first started dating, I was trying to get my little magazine, The Spring, up and running and I worked as a waitress at Rocky’s Corner, a legendary Hot Springs Pizzeria.

I’d left my first husband in Key West and was struggling to make things work. Jack and Mary were three and four and we all lived on pizza toast and spaghetti noodles. I met Alex and the first thing he did, was start making “real dinners” for us. The kids were so excited to have three things on their plate, at the same time!!

Alex and I had been dating about a month when he realized how bad the brakes were on my car.   He was so concerned he asked several times if I would let him get me some new brakes, and then I could pay him back.  But I refused.  I didn’t need his help and I wasn’t going to take him money. We’d only been dating a month.

So, Alex came up with a solution on his own. One afternoon, while I was working lunch, unbeknownst to me, Alex snuck into the office at Rocky’s to talk to the owner Joey Diorio. Joey was the PERFECT Chicago style pizza place owner.  He had the look, the accent and the attitude. He was a Chicago style pizza pie come to life, thick and cheesy, loud, abrasive, loving and funny. Alex explained the situation to Joey who immediately understood.  He summoned an older waitress from Romania or  Czechoslovakia, with a heavy accent, to his office. A few minutes latter she stole my car keys out of my purse while I was taking a drink order and delivered them to Alex and Joey.

Alex then snuck out, stole my car and got my breaks fixed.  Two hours latter he returned, put the car in the same spot, then took my keys back to Joey, who found the old Romanian or Czechoslovakian waitress, who returned my keys to my purse. She’d been winking at me all day, but I didn’t suspect anything.

Two hours later I got off, sat at the bar counting my tips and drinking a draft beer. I said goodbye to everyone and Joey was acting super odd. Smiling too much and telling me to have a safe ride home.

Going home, everything was great. I had the windows down and the radio turned up loud.  I was probably listening to Color Me Bad singing “I Wanna Sex You Up.” It was all just great till I came to the first stop sign…..and almost went through the windshield.

I’ve been married to that car thief for a long time now. But sometimes that’s what loves does. Puts you right through the windshield.


Our First Date….A Hot Springs History Lesson

alex and me (2)Alex and I met in 1991 or 92.  I’d just started The Springs Magazine and he was a hot shot young chef in Hot Springs. I turned him down a couple of times cause he was a player then finally relented.

Back then Alex was a stud, lean (he’d been a swimmer at Michigan State) long curly black hair and lots of black chest hair. He was swarthy and smooth.

I relented and said yes to date.  I remember I was wearing a short black gauzy dress, it was mid-summer and so hot.  We went to Brewskies on Ouachita Avenue first. Mike Stanley was playing with Danny Smith and I realized Hot Springs had amazing blues.

Then we drove in separate cars to the restaurant cause I was being cautious.We met at The Majestic, an old restaurant, not really cool, but he was a chef and seemed to know what he was doing. We sat in the first booth, closest to the door, under the thick floral curtains.

majesticI thought it was incredibly cool when Alex left me and walked right into the kitchen to talk to his friend Butch, who was running things that night.

He ordered some kind of smoked trout dip as an appetizer. I don’t remember the rest of the meal. but our waitress knew Alex and was obviously flirting. He was really handsome.

After dinner we walked out and he stood in front of me looking so hot. I thought he was going to kiss me. Instead he reached into his jacket pocket and handed me something wrapped in a napkin.

It was a quartz crystal, three points and incredibly clear.

He said, “I collect them. I found that one in Mt. Ida.”


Then I waited, smiling, thinking he would lean in and kiss me.

But he didn’t. Instead he walked around and opened the door of my Toyota. I climbed in, waited, then drove away thinking. ‘Either he doesn’t dig me or he’s a total weirdo.”

Twenty something years latter we’re sitting here watching The Big Bang Theory waiting to pick up child number four from Taekwondo. We’re good.

So next time you drive past the burned out remains of the Majestic Hotel remember some great romances were born there with reasonable women and handsome weirdos.


How To Pick A Husband

diana and alexI feel the need to tell this story. I get mad at my husband Alex, all the time, because he’s not very romantic. He’s a man. But there was a time…back in the day.

In 1991 I was running around Hot Springs trying to bring my new magazine The Spring, to life. I was writing stories and selling ads and delivering…all the time.  There was a good looking cook at Acapulco’s  (Now the Colorado Grill) who flirted with me and asked me out all the time. But I ignored him and  thought he was just a player cause all the girls in town liked him.  Alex was lean, dark and sexy.

I went on a date one night with a landscape architect from Duke University. We had dinner at Acapulco’s where Alex ran the kitchen. The second my date left the table to go to the bath room, I swear to you, Alex Hampo walked right up to me and said, “Why are you out with him? I saw you first.”

It was the cutest most immature thing I’d ever heard. He thought he’d called “Dibs” on me and was completely indignant.

When the landscape architect returned Alex shifted gears and started schmoozing the guy. Alex was charming and when my date asked where we should go for dessert and after dinner drinks Alex said we had to go to a place called Edelweiss (in the basement of Spencer’s Corner).

Of course when we arrived at Edelweiss, Alex was already there. Waiting for us. I hate to admit this because it was horrible and immature but as soon as my date was out of the room….I left with Alex. We went dancing.

I’m not proud of this story but it’s one of my favorites.  Dude from Duke University, I’m sorry.

But apparently my instincts were right that night.

Kill The Romantic!…Men Are Doomed

A couple of months ago I saved a friend from making a deadly romantic mistake. The fool really liked a nurse he’d been dating and wanted to send her flowers…at work! NOOOO! You can’t do that! She’ll run away.

The poor man is over 45 so he didn’t understand the new rules. Romance is now the kiss of death.  The wonderful sweeping  gestures men used to make are taboo.  If you send her flowers you’ll seem desperate rather than romantic. If you call her and leave a sweet message or a note you are pathetic or worse  a stalker.

Men with any sense of theater or romance are doomed in this culture. A few weeks ago my daughter, Lexie wrote a blog about the cop who couldn’t stop thinking about a woman he ticketed. He left her a harmless and sweet note…so she’s suiing him.What’s the matter with you?

Good Lord woman, you are probably the same B*%ch who complaines about men and their lack or romance, at  Outback  on Martini Mondays. If a man is interested in anything more than texting a bootie call at 3am you think he’s a stalker.

Romance takes guts and imagination. Still, we slam the guy who has the nerve to send us flowers.

Twenty years ago my husband, Alex, asked me out a couple of times.  I said no, even though I liked him.  He was a handsome young chef with pretty eyes.  One night I was on a date with a landscape architect and we ended up eating at Alex’s restaurant.  When my date went to the bathroom, Alex came to the table and said, “Why are you out with him, I saw you first.”  He was so immature, sincere and romantic. He had me.

Then he had the audacity so suggest to my hapless date  he should take me for an after dinner drink at another establishment.  They shook hands like buddies. Of course, 45 minutes latter, when we arrived at the next bar, Alex was already there, waiting for us.  I was blown away by his audacity.  The clueless landscape architect didn’t stand a chance.

If a guy did this kind of stuff today, some women would not only label him a stalker but get a restraining order.

Women, stop beating up the romantic in your life. You should be thrilled anyone likes you enough to try and win your affections. Appreciate their efforts.  Every time a man does something romantic he’s so vulnerable.  Romantics put them selves out there, in the middle of the road, for us. Stop running over them.

*tell me your story, leave a comment or you can always email to hampoland@gmail.com. Thanks, DH

Parents, I Know You’re Not Stupid…But What The Hell Are You Thinking?

Parents should read this but they will not. Kids will read it but they shouldn’t. I should not write it cause I’m going to make people mad but right now I don’t care. I’m mad.

This week I’ve been surrounded by parents doing stupid and selfish stuff and they don’t seem to realize they are hurting their kids and setting a bad example. Sometimes I’m a wretched parent but I pray someone will hit me in the head with a gallon of milk if I do some of this stupid shit.

Case #1 Mom acts like a freakin’ teenagger and expects her daughter to be mature. Mom falls off the radar, doesn’t answer her phone, doesn’t let her family know where she is for 24 hours. If her teenager doesn’t answer her phone for an hour the world explodes and kid get grounded for weeks and weeks. Mom doesn’t get grounded though because she’s the “grown up”. (For those of you who don’t realize it those quote marks surrounding grown up are air quotes full of sarcasm and eye-rolling). Mom doesn’t like doing laundry and expects the kids to do it for her. Mom doesn’t buy fruit because it’s expensive.

Mom, your child loves you so much and really really wants you to act like a mom.  She’s counting on you to show her how to act like an adult and to say your are sorry when you screw up.

Case #2 After a twenty year marriage, there is a divorce and mom wants to date again after four months. The teenaged child has absolutely no interest in meeting or talking to any of the new boyfriends. They all piss him off cause he still loves his dad. He’ll always love his dad. In a year he’ll be ready to meet the new men in his mom’s life but not now. Still, the mom insists the son hang out with new men, they all go to the movies or to football games. But the boy just gets resentful and angry. Come on woman, use your freaking CPA brain. Yes, you should date, you are divorced, but don’t force your son to meet these guys. It’s way way too soon. He’s gonna act like a 15 year old jerk face punk because it looks like you are choosing these men over him. All you have to do is date when he’s not around, date but don’t shove his face in it and make him hang out with the guys. Give the kid a year to get used to the idea of divorced and dating mom.

Mom, listen to me, make your son your number one priority for a while.  You’ll have time to do all the stuff you want to do but right now, you are everything to that boy. The divorce wrecked his world, even if it was the right move. So don’t blow it. He loves you and needs you.

If you don’t know if you are doing the right thing, all you have to do is think about the case in reverse or put other people into your situation and see how you feel. Chances are you are a decent loving person who knows right from wrong. Just take a minute and think and then follow your heart.

A Wal-Mart Marriage

Should you marry her?  I don’t know, but here are some rules about marriage and dating that usually go unnoticed

1. Don’t marry a person if you don’t have fun in Wal-Mart together. Seriously, if he doesn’t think it’s funny when you juggle three kiwis, if you get bored when he’s looking at tools and camo crap, if you don’t find some people to secretly make fun of, don’t get married. Married life is made up of Wal-Mart moments, if it’s not fun, forget it.

2. Don’t marry that person if you are already sitting in restaurants together poking at your mashed potatoes in silence. You don’t want to be that couple. If you can’t find anything to talk about now, it’s going to be a long silent marriage.

3. Finally, don’t marry that person if you don’t have the same philosophy on child discipline.  Religion, politics, even television differences can be worked out. But it’s very hard to compromise when it comes to the kids.  If she believes in spanking and you think it’s stupid and ineffective don’t get married. If he thinks letting kids watch R rated slasher movies is cool and you’re a PG kind of person… don’t do it.

There are lots of other rules you should pay attention to but here’s the big one and it comes from my husband Alex. “If love hurts, you’re doing it wrong.” If love makes you cry, if it makes you miserable, if it doesn’t make you feel like a better and stronger person…don’t marry them.