“Night at the Urban Farm” by Kelcey Vossen
(Warning: this story contains numerous bad cookie puns. Dieters must proceed with caution.)
I love cookies. You love cookies. Everyone and their mother, elusive French people included, love ‘les cookies’, a universal symbol of comfort and happiness. That said, when Raya recently matched me with the owner of a trending New York cookie chain, I couldn’t help but be very excited. Unlike the DJs, producers, photographers (shudder) and actors (double shudder) that Raya stocks in abundance, the profession of cookie entrepreneur suggested an appreciation for other things warm and cuddly like curvy bodies and quirky personalities. The cookies, granted, were vegan and organic but, hey, tomayto tomahto, right?
Cookie guy, whom I will refer to simply as Cookie, also happened to be HOT. We are talking dark hair, chiseled jaw, perfect bone structure, the kind of face Latin telenovelas are made of. On top of this, he was also very nice, maybe a bit too nice for my liking, lacking a certain sarcasm and edge that I find to be a requisite for compatibility. A certified stalker, I quickly did a Google investigation and stumbled across a couple of cookie-related YouTube interviews, which reaffirmed my suspicion of a slight stoner-hippie vibe. He also seemed really into saunas and kept inviting me to accompany him to one, despite my clear indication that a more traditional first date was in order.
A month into this empty chitchat, we finally coordinated our schedules and arranged to meet in Chinatown to check out the Chinese New Years festivities. (What can I say, the guy was clearly into activities.) That evening, I walked into Apotheke on Doyers street to discover the most adorable man-child I had ever set eyes on, all rosy cheeks and skater gear and Haerfest backpack slung over his slim shoulders. He explained that he had just come all the way from Greenpoint after a two-hour hot yoga class and was starving. Not only had I had barely moved from the couch that day, but I had also spent the majority of it eating my feelings, the latter being ‘sad’ and ‘pathetic’. In fact, the contrast between our energy levels immediately brought back the unbalanced dynamics of Parisian dating – except, this time, I was the slacker.
We headed to Dudleys on Orchard street, a cute spot where Cookie, a mini hipster God, knew the entire staff, and I enjoyed being treated like a mini hipster Goddess by association. Cozying up at the corner table, we peered at our menu, which posed somewhat of a challenge: shocker of shockers, Cookie was a vegan. Now, I know vegan men have recently become as much of a common phenomenon as Paleo bread, yet I am still struggling to accept them. While my altruistic side is all for such a beautiful display of animal compassion, the Russki testosterone fiend in me rates carnivore up there with sarcasm and cynicism.
Speaking of cynicism, it seemed like I had already made quite an impression on that end. Thanks to the transparency of Raya, which links each user to their respected Instagram accounts, Cookie had done his own research and already knew about my “Douchebag blog”, which he was slightly unnerved about.
“It just seems so negative, but you are such a positive person. I hope it doesn’t reflect on your aura.”
Reassuring him that the blog’s bad vibes were a non-issue, I sipped my wine and consumed about 80% of the assorted vegetable dishes on the table, listening to Cookie tell me fascinating stories about starting his own business from (cookie) scratch, about securing investors and sourcing sustainable ingredients and all that other Fast Company stuff that makes me feel like shit about myself as the last standing millennial to not have yet raised Silicon Valley capital. (On the plus side, I do have a blog full of negativity!) And so, I decided to throw myself a pity party by launching into a full-blown monologue about my perennial existential crisis.
In the middle of it, I interrupted myself to evaluate. “Actually, you might make it on the blog. Except that this time I’m going to write a story about how I went on a date and totally lost it.” He laughed bemusedly, and I assumed he was simply too nice to sneak out through the bathroom window and run for the Williamsburg bridge, back to the vegan Greenpoint Goddesses with their positive energy and perfect skin. He asked if I wanted him to recommend me some self-help books. What I really wanted at that moment was for the earth to swallow me whole, but I just smiled gratefully and jotted down the titles (Ask and It’s Given, The Diamond Cutter). He even volunteered to walk me home (presumably in fear of leaving me to my own devices), which I decided was my chance to redeem myself and show my inner tough bitch by leading him through the Lower East Side housing projects while recounting stories of my Post-Soviet childhood. I think I may have pushed it a bit too far, because, by the time we reached my Seaport area, Cookie’s hot yoga glow had been replaced by mild terror. Giving me a quick hug, he jetted to the train, leaving me convinced that my cookie cart had departed.
Two days later, I received a text from Cookie, asking if I wanted to hang out again that weekend. YAZZZZZ! Unreasonably excited, I did a dance with my dog, planned the ingredients of a future Marina cookie (coconut matcha green tea, please!) and even popped by Barnes and Noble to skim through the self-help materials, all of which seemed to imply that believing in myself would take me a long way. Weak communication continued up until the weekend, which happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day, Fashion Week, and the coldest 48 hours of Winter 2016. Cookie Man was M.I.A., which I assumed meant that he was probably holed up in a Bikram studio or sauna somewhere. Sure enough, on Valentine’s Day I received a text that even made it on my negative Instagram (which y’all should follow here!)
I can’t make this stuff up. I tried reasoning with him, a conversation so bizarre that I would love to post it in its entity, but won’t, because Cookie is a nice guy and Karma’s a bitch. I soon realized that there was zero point in debating and promised to hang out another time, if only for the sake of my eponymous cookie and a potential make-out session.
Two weeks after our initial meeting, I was having dinner in Williamsburg and decided to booty-text Cookie, figuring the traditional dating scenario had been cut short somewhere after the fifth sauna invite. He invited me to a bar in Greenpoint where he was hanging out with his posse, consisting of a few guys and three girls who didn’t look much older than my 18-year-old niece. On that sub zero night, they had opted to forgo body coverage in favor of something that resembled sparkling kerchiefs, a true testament to the invincible powers of 20-year old’s weather resilience. They explained that they were in New York for the semester and had recently met the guys, who were “like, total babes.” Cookie, clearly the main babe, slid in the middle of the group and offered everybody to touch his taut abs, a result of lots of hot yoga and a recent no-sugar kick. (What about the cookies?!) Oh, he also informed us that he intended to help me find my path in life. “Marina is very cerebral, but she needs guidance. I feel like I’m her guru.”
Apparently, everybody in Brooklyn had something to school me on, because the next thing I knew, the lead sorority bee was pulling at the sleeves of my oversize COS crew-neck, urging me to remove it immediately. “Take off your shirt, girl!” I decided to inform her that I came from another generation, the one that had retired mid-winter nudity when Britney Spears had gone sober. “Oh I know.. But you’re, like, hot!” My spirits lifted – I was still hot to the under-25 set! In an euphoric #ISTILLGOTIT moment, I slid off my oversize sweater, revealing a slightly-less-oversize t-shirt underneath. The girl squad squealed in approval, Rihanna started blasting “Work work work” from the loudspeaker and, suddenly, I was 22 again, dancing at da club without a care in the world, Cookie’s yoga booty grinding against my pelvic area.“What a hottie. You should, like, totally go for it,” the Sorority Whisperer instructed in my ear. I had clearly developed some respect for her by then, because I took her advice and pulled Cookie into what I imagined was a very sexy smooch.
Barely reciprocating my grand gesture, he pulled away, his eyes darting around the bar. “I know too many people here.. Do you want to go to my place?” We walked to his house in Williamsburg, a small brownstone that looked like something out of Girls. I was amazed to discover that Cookie lived in what can only be described as a GREENHOUSE: every surface of his ground-floor abode was lined with pots and plants and what looked like miniature homegrown gardens, sprouting tomatoes and potatoes and superfoods and God knows what else! Amazed by what I was witnessing, I sat down on the couch and took him up on his offer for some ‘herbal refreshment’ (homegrown, I presume), after which we resurrected our curtailed make-out session. It was all going well and I was even starting to forget the urban farm aspect of the situation, when I realized that Cookie and I were not alone. A big black cat was staring at me from the other side of the room, temporarily making me question the components of whatever we had smoked. I jumped up, mortified, pulling on my sweater as if I had just been busted by my boyfriend’s parents. The yoga, the plants, the cat – it was all too much, and I suddenly felt like Carrie Bradshaw circa Russki romance overdose, except, in lieu of poetry and Oscar de la Renta, I was being ambushed by New Age nonsense. I wanted McDonald’s. I wanted out.
“You can’t stay? I’m really horny,” the modern-day Don Juan asked me, not lifting a single limb from the couch. I explained that I didn’t feel like continuing, but I was happy to hang out for a bit. And so, we lay on the couch for an hour, cuddling and talking about threesomes, Bernie Sanders, and the struggles of employee management. He had recently fired a guy, a decision that had left him in chagrin for day. I assured him that it was simply the name of the big kid game and his chakras would be intact. Who was the guru now?
Before I left, he gave me a long hug. “I love you, Marina.”
I told him I loved him too. Maybe it was the homegrown herbs, or the greenhouse, or my #istillgotit youngster high, but, in that moment, I really did love Cookie. I loved him for being simple and inoffensive and committed to making his presence on this planet a positive event, permeated with vegan cookies and happy employees and Greenpoint lovefests. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t cut out of the right cookie dough.