Dating, humor

The Worst Kind of Date

I twisted the last strand of hair around my curling iron, staring into the bathroom mirror. Every time I did my hair, I felt like a teenage boy trying to unclasp a bra.

Okay. Not bad.

“Bing!” my phone sounded. I walked the short distance through my bedroom into the living room to check it.

“Hey! I’m so sorry. My roommate is in the hospital.”

Dennis, my 20-something Hinge (first) date for that evening, had just thrown me a curveball.

“Oh no! Are they okay?”

“Yeah, everything is fine. But I’m afraid I won’t make it tonight. I hope you’ll let me make it up to you.”

I chewed the inside of my lip. On the one hand, I wanted to sound supportive. On the other hand… I snapped a selfie and sent it.

“I’m so glad they’re okay! But you’re buying the beers next time because I did my hair and everything.”

“Aw man, you look so pretty. And absolutely.”

A few days later, we made plans to meet at a local food truck lot for happy hour. Once again, I stood in the bathroom curling my hair – one of my least favorite activities, but one that turned my fine, straight hair into something a bit more alluring.

Or so I continue to tell myself.

As I got ready to leave, my phone chirped. I looked at the screen and saw a text from Dennis.

“Hey, just got home. Don’t think I’m gonna make it tonight.”

My mouth sagged and tears pricked my eyes.

“Why?” I wrote back after a moment’s hesitation.

“Just not feeling it.”

My stomach fell along with a tear. My mind raced with a thousand things I wanted to say and continued to do so for the next 24 hours. Instead, I decided to say nothing.

“I’m really sorry about last night,” Dennis texted the following morning. I never wrote back.

“Of all my worst dating stories,” I recently told Henry, central Oregon’s last remaining gentleman, “the absolute worst was this guy, about a year ago, who basically stood me up – TWICE. The second time because he ‘just wasn’t feeling it.'”

“You’re kidding,” Henry replied in shock.

“I think it was social anxiety, but still. It REALLY hurt my feelings.”

This week, I received a new Hinge like. It was Dennis. A year after he’d stood me up. I finally seized the opportunity to say what I hadn’t said before.

Maybe I was wrong to lecture him, but I wanted to shake him out of his own self-centeredness. How many times had I rallied to meet a friend or first date so I wouldn’t hurt their feelings? Seeing Dennis on Hinge reminded me of a similar dating story earlier this year with “Craig Who Cancels,” one of the strangest dates I’ve ever had (and you know that’s saying something)…

“I’m actually a stand-up comedian,” Craig explained as we messaged back and forth via Bumble.

“No way!” I replied, gearing up to geek out on our favorite stand-up comics. After a few more messages, I invited him to meet me for Friday happy hour. “I’m going with some girlfriends, but it sounds like you can hold you own.”

“I love working a crowd,” Craig fired back, agreeing to meet me at the brewery at 4pm on Friday.

Around 2pm on Friday, I received a bizarre message:

My girlfriends and I attempted to decipher the confounding note.

“Maybe he has Covid and doesn’t want to say.”

“Maybe he panicked.”

“Maybe he started seeing someone else.”

Disappointed, I wrote Craig off and turned my focus to other activities and matches. A week later, and despite having my phone number, I received a new message from Craig on Bumble saying he had two extra tickets to a comedy show. It wasn’t clear whether he was offering both tickets to me or fishing for a date.

While waiting to see if my friend was available to join us, I switched our conversation back over to text messaging. Which is when things got even more interesting:

When I got to the comedy club, Craig greeted me with a hug. He was more nervous than any date I’d ever met, his voice trembling.

“Whew, I’m really blowing it,” he said, stumbling over the bartender’s name while trying to place our drink order.

Turns out the nerves were date-specific and he was a regular performer at the comedy club. He began introducing me to everyone in the small venue and I sunk inside my cold shoulder sweater.

Because I knew three of them.

Because I’d gone on first dates with them.

Apparently I have a type.

“Congratulations on a [recent promotion I saw on a Facebook group we have in common],” I said to Marty, an older guy I’d gone on a walking date with several months earlier (who then ghosted me after I turned down his second-date-booty-call proposition).

“Oh thanks,” he grinned, his overconfidence nearly balancing out Craig’s nervousness. “We went on a date in…December, right?”

My eyes darted over to Craig, whose expression I couldn’t read. “That sounds about right.”

Marty looked at Craig and raised his eyebrows.

“As I recall, I didn’t make it to a second date.”

I raised my eyebrows in return.

“That is correct.”

Unfazed, Marty chatted with Craig for another moment before flitting off to someone else; he was the MC for the night and clearly enjoying his role. For a small local comedy club, the show was surprisingly tolerable. Funny, even.

“I’ll call you,” Craig promised after walking me to my car at the end of the night.

I never heard from him again.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor

It Finally Happened

“Has anyone ever brought me a gift or flowers on a first date?” I wondered, driving slowly through quaint downtown Bend, Oregon, careful to dodge the pedestrians who often crossed the street willy-nilly. “Do people even do that anymore?”

Making a mental note to survey my girlfriends, my mind drifted to the previous night’s date…

***

“Hi Paul!” I greeted with a wide grin.

Paul was ten minutes late, a bootleg version of his Hinge profile photos, and unsmiling.

“Hey,” he replied, not making eye contact.

We sat at a picnic table in one of my favorite food truck lots and, sensing imminent disaster, I blurted, “Should we get a drink?”

“Okay,” he agreed, his face unreadable.

“Have you been here before?” I questioned while Paul stared at the beer menu.

“Yeah,” he deadpanned. “Like a year ago.”

“I’m gonna grab something from the cooler,” I said, walking away to procure a can a.k.a. half bottle of sparkling wine, which apparently I was going to need to shotgun in order to survive the next hour.

When we sat back down, I immediately took charge of the First Date Starter Kit questions: work, hobbies, family. With each query, I got a one line reply with zero return questioning.

Twenty minutes in, I decided to see what would happen if I stopped talking. Paul stared at the ceiling.

“So do you live with roommates, or…?” I casually began again. I’d learned that that was the most tactful way to ask about a first date’s living situation. Especially one in his 20s. (Hey. I’m open-minded.)

“I moved back in with my parents to save money,” he replied and I kept my expression neutral.

Oh, Paul. That’s wonderful.

“Smart,” I answered. “Houses are so expensive here.” I paused. “I saw on your profile you like Harry Potter. I LOVE Harry Potter. I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway last December and it was the best show I’ve ever seen!”

“I’ll have to check it out,” he replied in monotone.

‘Check it out’? In central Oregon? Does he not understand where Broadway is?

After ten more minutes, I surrendered and pulled out the Ace I’d tucked in my back pocket: A subject I had no interest in, but suspected would light him up.

“So tell me more about motocross! Is it moto-cross, without an ‘r’ in the middle?”

“Yeah, mo-to-cross,” he replied. I couldn’t tell if any enthusiasm was building.

“That trips up my brain! Tell me everything; I know nothing about it.”

“Well,” he began, shifting in his seat and staring over my left shoulder. “It’s on a closed course, and…well. Um. Yeah. I don’t know. I guess it’s hard to explain.”

“Allllll right everybody!” a booming voice announced from the back of the room. “Trivia is just about to begin so make sure you submit your team name!”

“Yikes,” I grimaced at the volume, but then immediately sensed a golden opportunity. “Gosh, I think it’s going to be too loud to talk now. I’m sorry I had no idea they had trivia here! You finished your beer so we should probably call it, huh?”

Paul moved his head in a way that was neither a nod nor a shake. I stood up, chugging my wine. I didn’t even care that I’d have to sacrifice more than half the can by leaving 25 minutes into the date.

As we walked outside, I quickly turned the opposite direction while calling out, “Thanks for coming out tonight!” I made a beeline for my car, relieved he didn’t suggest we go anywhere else. I instantly dialed a friend’s number.

“Holy forking shirtballs.”

***

I shuddered. I was now two minutes away from my current destination, on yet another Hinge date. After recently dipping a toe back into central Oregon’s shallow dating pool following a six month hiatus, I was somehow still feeling optimistic about the night.

Tonight’s date, Henry, seemed to tick all of The Jules Boxes and then some: My age, liberal, vaccinated, didn’t want kids, active, smart, social, good job, lived alone, dog owner – and “98%” vegan. On the voice recording accompanying his profile (Hinge lets you add audio and video), he sounded gently masculine, thoughtful, and eloquent. In the few messages we’d exchanged, his responses had been fun and sincere. When I’d mentioned seeing local live music that week, he’d looked up the musician and then sent YouTube clips of other songs he’d thought I’d like based on my taste.

When I walked inside the wine bar, I was sure he’d already be there. Instead, he wound up being a few minutes late and a knot in my stomach began to form. Maybe I was wrong… Three minutes past our meeting time, I looked to my left and saw a well-dressed man walking towards me.

Carrying a bouquet of long-stemmed roses.

*mic drop*

“Hi Henry! Are you a hugger?” I said, walking towards him and going in for one.

“Hi Jules! I am!” he said, wrapping his arms around me. He was solid, and at 5’11”, a few inches taller than me. He didn’t even lie about his height!

“Thank you SO much!” I exclaimed, taking the roses and admiring them. I felt several sets of eyes on us as we walked back to our table. “They’re gorgeous!” I put them to my nose. “And they smell amazing!”

“There’s 11, because you said 11 was your favorite number,” Henry explained, taking his coat off and draping it over the back of his chair. I instantly noticed his shirt.

‘No one dresses like a grown-up here,’ I had lamented to friends a week earlier. ‘Like what ever happened to a nice button down shirt?’

Henry’s button down shirt was impeccably tailored, pressed, and tucked in; white, with tiny blue stripes. You could tell he worked out by the way it hugged his torso. My stomach started to flutter. Was I prepared for an actual date? With a fully adulting human male?

This was a first.

“So how’s your day going?” Henry asked.

The conversation flowed from there, though I occasionally tripped over my words.

“Oh no no, you go,” he said every time we spoke at the same time.

Henry never interrupted, asked questions, listened, responded appropriately, and there was never a lull in conversation. He didn’t even bring up his time in a mental institution, his alien blood type, or his shotgun collection. I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone.

“I don’t understand why people would put up a misleading photo,” he said at one point, when the inevitable ‘online dating’ topic arose. “You look exactly like your photos.” He smiled, clearly giving his approval.

I definitely didn’t stress all day wondering what to wear and then put on the outfit I always do, Henry.

“I also don’t understand when people roll into a first date like they can barely bother to be there,” I replied. “I feel like you have to treat every first date like it’s special.”

“Because you never know!” we both said at the same time.

When the date ended a few hours later, Henry walked me to my car and gave a solid hug goodbye.

“I’d love to do this again sometime.”

“Me too!” I answered.

“Send me your number through the app, if that’s okay?”

“I will!”

Shortly after I’d gotten home, Henry’s first text arrived.

“Such a wonderful evening! I wish it would have gone longer!”

After a few more exchanges, he said, “I have to say this was an awesome first date. So, I’m pretty much free anytime to see you again so whatever date works for you, I’m totally available.”

Single men of the world? I hope you’re taking notes.

~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor

Fruitless Effort: My Dating Saga Continues

“We’re sorting zee last fruits of zee year today, and these, they go together at zee same time.”

“Uh-huh.”

The 6-foot-3 French Hemsworth swaggered towards us carrying two bunches of grapes, one white and one red, leisurely popping the small orbs into his mouth.

“It’s our last day of sorting today,” he repeated, casually spitting seeds off to the side.

“Uh-huh.”

The three of us stared at him, mouths agape, borderline catatonic. A flash of bright white blinded us when he smiled.

Erin, Babs (mom) and I had been finishing a winery tour in the Willamette Valley when we’d spotted two bald eagles flying overhead.

“Look!” Erin had exclaimed, catching the attention of a tall, brunette Adonis sorting grapes. He’d sauntered over.

“What do you think zey are looking for?” he had asked, his elegant neck craned skyward.

Upon hearing his French accent, Erin hadn’t wasted time in replying, “I think they spotted a tasty treat.”

“Do you agree?”

He had torn his gaze from the sky and laid a set of smoldering eyes on her.

Paint me like one of your French girls.

Babs and I had watched the scene unfold in a state of disbelief. Was this a real human? Did men like this exist outside of Hallmark holiday movies? Was he about to tell us he was inheriting the winery from his late uncle and the only thing missing was an awkward blonde to share it with?

“Here, try,” he said, offering us the two bunches of grapes cupped gently in his masculine palm.

So much wine and no one to share with it.

I attempted to gracefully pluck a red grape from the bunch closest to me and it fell apart in my fingers. Not unlike every time I tried to pluck a man from the shallow depths of central Oregon’s dating pool

After a six month dating hiatus following Cameron Who Cancels and Wasn’t Even Worth Blogging About, I evidently hit my head and decided to fire up Hinge. Again. Living in central Oregon -an island of sorts, surrounded on all sides by forest and desert-y nothingness- I knew I was bound to see some familiar faces. When a cute, new, outdoorsy guy sent a like, I cautiously accepted.

“Hey Jules, how’s your week going?” asked Walter.

Not exactly a panty-dropping opener, but I decided to reply. After a few brief and normal-seeming exchanges, we agreed to meet up the following week after he was done hosting his parents. He was about my age, liberal, had a good job, a dog, and a solid grasp on “you’re” versus “your.” He even picked our meet-up spot instead of punting the decision back to me. What more could a tired, 40-year-old divorcee ask for?

When our 7pm Thursday Date Night arrived, I put on a new cream-colored turtleneck sweater and light wash jeans, arriving a few minutes early.

Jules Schnedeker (b. 1982). Fruitless Effort, 2022. Google Pixel photo on blog. A self-portrait captured before the artist fell into another writer’s block.

Shortly after 7 o’clock, I caught a man waving at me from outside the restaurant. Walter came inside looking frazzled.

“Jules? Hi. I think I left my oven on.”

His eyes held a wild, frantic look.

“Oh no! Okay. Well, you should definitely go check.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course! You don’t want to be worrying about that the whole night! I can go meet you nearby…wherever you live,” I offered, realizing I was about to reveal that I’d already stalked him online and knew his last name and a few other key details.

“Oh, but this place looks so nice,” he lamented, gazing around the restaurant.

“Why don’t I get us a table outside by the fire and you just come back after you check,” I suggested.

Walter looked relieved. “Okay, I live about 10 minutes away. Thank you so much.”

“No problem!”

I sat down outside, eager to get a glass of wine. As the minutes ticked by, I started to wonder if I’d just been ditched. Nah. He wouldn’t have bothered to come inside if he was gonna bail. A half an hour later, Walter finally returned. The moment his rear end hit the chair, he popped back up.

“Need anything?” he asked, gesturing towards my half full glass of crappy Prosecco.

“I’m good, thanks,” I said, my brows furrowed. We had a waiter…

He returned a minute later with a glass full of amber liquid. I’d later find out it was a double shot of whiskey, presumably to make it easier to interrogate me calm his nerves.

“So why did you get divorced?” he asked without missing a beat.

“Well,” I began, my Spidey sense tingling. I knew I was talking to a jilted man. “As sad as it is to say, we fell out of love.”

A horrified look crossed his face. “What do you mean?”

“We were 21 when we started dating,” I explained. “People change…?” It felt uncomfortable dissecting a relationship that had ended nearly a decade earlier with a perfect stranger.

No one invited you inside my past, Walter.

“Whose decision was it?” he pressed. Every time I thought the topic was spent, he found another probing question. “Did you go to therapy? How did you know he was unhappy?”

Before long, my insides screamed, I don’t want to be here! Walter later revealed that he’d had an engagement called off earlier this year, confirming my suspicions.

“I feel like I’m off my game,” I admitted about an hour into the date as I continued to falter from his inquisition.

Rather than offer reassurance, he replied, “Why?”

“The conversation got a little…intense.”

“I like to go deep,” he said and I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “You’re doing better than the one other date I’ve had here. She cried for most of it.”

Why am I not surprised?

“Yeah,” he went on. “I asked about her dating history, and she said she keeps getting used by men who wind up being married and just use her for sex because she’s ‘so good in bed.’ The only other woman I met since I moved here [earlier this year] was from Salem [three hours west]. She came to visit for the weekend and I had to work for part of it. Instead of exploring, she just sat in my living room the entire time. I was attracted to her, but that was such a turn-off.”

I nodded, my inner voice growing louder. I don’t want to be here!

I want to be here!

“A sense of humor is the most important thing,” he repeated several times throughout the night while not actually saying anything funny. “And how you reacted to the oven situation was a good test; you were really nice about it.”

Notoriously bad at exiting, the date lasted two and a half hours – which probably meant I passed another test. When we asked for the bill, the waiter automatically brought two separate checks. At least someone read the room tonight. I slowly took mine while Walter made zero attempt to intercept.

“Well,” I said, standing up. “Thanks for having your shit together.” It was the nicest thing I could conjure.

“Thanks for not crying,” he replied, inspiring my first chuckle of the night.

The next day Walter messaged me through Hinge, saying he’d had a good time. “It was nice meeting you,” I replied noncommittally. He then asked “what I was up to” that weekend without making it clear whether or not he was asking me out. I never responded.

When friends asked how it went, I told them the truth.

“The only thing turned on that night was his oven.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging, Dating, PSAs

It Was Me All Along

DISCLAIMER: Names changed or omitted.

“The Starfish poem brought you to me. And I think there’s something really important to that. This week, I want you to remember: If nothing matters, it’s just as likely that everything matters.”

The blinds were drawn over the huge corner windows, but even in winter, the high desert sun made the room feel bright and warm. Several starfish paintings dotted the light blue walls.

I nodded, tears pooling in my eyes. I looked at the ceiling to try to keep them from spilling over. The inside of my mask was already wet with an hour’s worth of feelings.

My therapist, Denise, got up from her chair and walked over to her computer, which sat atop a large wooden desk in the far right corner. Our meeting that day had been unlike previous ones. Instead of regaling her with my ridiculous dating stories, as I’d done during the previous two sessions, I had finally caved.

“Sometimes I just don’t see the point of any of it,” I had confessed. “Sometimes I just don’t want to be here anymore.”

Denise promised she would push me harder in future sessions so I wouldn’t avoid the most painful feelings and confessions. I carried her parting words with me as I faced another long week of uncertainty and self-doubt.

Over the past few months, I’d thrown myself back into the dating ring with a fervor usually reserved for boy bands and baked goods. The experiences ranged from barely noteworthy to fascinating to gut wrenching, and my self-esteem wavered at every turn.

Will I ever find my person? I wondered day in and day out. I couldn’t possibly put forth more effort. Between scouting out potential matches on dating apps to getting gussied up every other night to actually going on dates, it was as though I’d taken on another full-time job. Surely it was bound to pay off.

I’ll pray. I’ll light candles. Sweet baby Jesus take the wheel.

As the weeks passed and nothing quite took off, I found myself returning to a well worn narrative: I’m not good enough. I’m too old. Too fat. Too broken. No one wants me. This is impossible. After my divorce and two soul destroying break-ups in 2014, this belief had taken a new, more powerful hold on my heart, and even years later, I struggled to break free of it.

Following my latest therapy session, I suddenly stopped in my tracks. I considered Denise’s parting words, which I’d begun to apply to everything abstract: If you think [x extreme belief] is true, then you have to give equal weight to the possibility that [y exact opposite belief] is true.

If no one wants me, then it’s equally possible that everyone wants me.

I chuckled, and from this new objective standpoint, I reviewed the past three months. There was the adorable Canadian. The 20-something “Darren Criss.” The rock climber. 6-foot-4-four “Brody Jenner.” The engineer. The guitarist. The professor. One of them even gave me a [much-needed] vacuum.

That date didn’t suck. Ba dum tss!

In my mind, they had all been out of my league. And they liked me! They wanted me! By and large, I had turned them down because we just weren’t a good match. As much as I hated the need for external validation, I couldn’t help but marvel at this new, shiny evidence.

For the first time, I saw just how much credence I’d given to untruths. For so many years, I’d taken myself out of the Love Game because I was absolutely and utterly convinced that anyone worth dating would never want to date me.

“How does, ‘I am worthy of love’ sound?” Denise had asked back in October, during one of our initial therapy sessions. She had been helping me uncover my core issue, which appeared to be rooted in worthiness.

I nodded and she handed me a contraption that I jokingly referred to as The Ovaries. One of Denise’s methods was EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), something I’d never heard of or tried before until coming to see her. Supposedly by holding these small, vibrating disks while thinking of a triggering memory and repeating my new mantra, “I am worthy of love,” I could begin to rewire my brain.

For just $457, you too can feel worthy of love! Source

“I’m open to trying anything,” I had assured Denise when we’d first met. Aside from traditional talk therapy, over the years I’d experimented with everything from hypnosis to reiki healing to past life regressions.

As I felt the plastic disks gently vibrate in my palms, tears rolled down my cheeks. I thought of chubby, smart, stubborn grade school Jules, bullied by the girls who used to be her best friends. I am worthy of love. The family and friends who shunned me after my divorce. I am worthy of love. The grown women who bullied me as an adult. I am worthy of love.

“Okay,” Denise said after a few minutes. “Take a deep breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth.”

I obeyed, feeling like I’d just run an emotional marathon. We repeated the exercise a few more times.

“Now how would you rate the emotional charge when you think of [your most recent triggering experience], on a scale of 1 to 7. We started at a 6,” Denise reminded me.

“Um,” I thought for a long moment. “A 2?”

“That’s a big change,” she replied softly, nodding.

“I’m just looking for that feeling again,” I wept later in our session. I had been describing a person I’d met several months earlier who’d completely taken me by surprise. While it ultimately didn’t get off the ground, it had shaken me to the core and opened my eyes to romantic possibility in a way I hadn’t seen since my divorce. “It was effortless and I didn’t question any of it.”

“You know that had everything to do with you and nothing to do with him,” Denise said, a notebook resting on her left knee.

I furrowed my brows and started to protest before going silent. That can’t be right. It was him. He was amazing. He made me feel that way.

The longer I sat with this new, opposite, y-type idea, the more it made sense. As the weeks passed, I thought about the poem that had brought me into that office in the first place. A poem I’d memorized in first grade and that I’d lived by ever since. Two months earlier, I’d spotted that same poem on Denise’s website home page and knew I’d found the right therapist.

I found a tiny starfish

In a tide pool by the sea

I hope whoever finds him next

Will leave him there, like me!

And the gift I’ve saved for you?

The best that I can give:

I found a tiny starfish,

And for you, I let him live.”

Dayle Ann Dodds (excerpt)

Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are always about us. We choose to love or hate, regret or move forward, consider others or turn a blind eye. We can save every starfish or none at all. Each of us has such power and such inherent worthiness.

Why not choose to believe it?

Foster Reservoir, Foster, Oregon. Dec 2021.

~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor

“You Picked THAT Photo?” The Time My Face Was Used to Catfish

You have (1) unread message.

“Ugh,” I groaned. Another spam message. This particular alert had been popping up in my inbox for days and I decided to finally open a new tab to log into LinkedIn and deal with it.

It’s, like, SO EXHAUSTING to open a WHOLE NEW TAB.

What I didn’t expect to see was this:

Hi Jules, someone is using your photos on an OkCupid profile [profile link]. Was recently messaging this person claiming to be Hannah in LDN and googled the photos and they’re actually yours, and you don’t live remotely near. Just warning you so you can report it.”

“What kind of holy high hell specific spammy sh*t is this?!” I wondered. Afraid to click on the link, I instead clicked on the sender, David’s, profile. His intro, connections, and credentials seemed far too specific and normal to be fake. I bit the bullet and clicked on the OkCupid profile link he had provided.

“Log in to view singles in your area!” the website shouted when I tried to view Hannah’s profile.

Farts. I have to create an OkCupid account just to see this?! Hmm. Maybe it’s a sign I should try OkCupid! After all, my recent dating experiences using other online apps had been largely abysmal.

Seriously. Abysmal.

I quickly created a profile, adding the bare minimum requirements, and retried the link from David.

And there she was.

“She picked that photo?!” I marveled.

I mean I guess it made sense. You’d want to use ‘real’ looking images if you were gonna go full catfish. I scrolled through the profile. I’d just watched Love Hard on Netflix and felt catapulted into its plot, wherein a 30-something guy, Josh (who, oddly, looked a lot like David from LinkedIn) creates a fake dating profile to lure in a cute, unsuspecting journalist, Natalie, whose job was to write about her love life fails.

I’ve got you beat, Natalie.

In the movie, Josh tells Natalie that everything else besides the photos was really him: the voice she talked to on the phone every night, the favorite foods and movies, the sense of humor. Hannah’s profile was a full throttle Josh. The details depicted a real, living, breathing person – who was absolutely nothing like me. I was half tempted to let her* keep using my photos.

*I’ve chosen to use she/her pronouns since that’s what “Hannah” used.

You really committed to the OkCupid questionnaire, Hannah.

I get it, girl. I wanted to write. It’s a sh*t show out there.

On the other hand, I empathized with David and anyone else getting duped. I’d personally seen everything from wildly inaccurate photos to fake phone numbers.

“Oh, wow, this is a first!” I replied to David. “Thanks so much for the heads up – am reporting now!”

After reporting the account, it was swiftly removed by the OkCupid overlords. I wondered how the whole process worked.

Maybe Hannah was a scam artist trying to score money or a pathological liar. Or maybe she was a stone cold fox and just didn’t want her image out there. Her profile mentioned that she was into “persuasion, hypnosis, and mind control.” Maybe this was all part of some grand experiment that we’d someday see on Netflix’s latest special, Love Hard and Catfish Harder.

Wow, Hannah and I are an 81% match! PLOT TWIST.

And how could the OkCupid team be sure I was the woman behind the photos? Did Hannah put up a fight? While my ego was stroked by the incident (“Ooh! Someone chose MY photos!”), I also couldn’t help but be curious about how deep David had gotten with her before uncovering the truth. How must it feel to fall for someone and then discover the ‘real’ person behind the photos? It’s disappointing enough to meet someone [after any online exchange] and not click in person, let alone after weeks or months of messaging.

In the end, the whole thing left me a little sad. Whatever the specifics, surely at least one person got hurt. Because of this blog and my business, I have no choice but to be utterly upfront. Simply search “Jules” + any number of other basic terms and there I am in all of my dorky glory.

Oop! You found me!

After Hannah’s profile disappeared and within days of joining OkCupid, I discovered a potential match. Our message exchange was uncharacteristically delightful, and we wound up arranging to meet. After setting the time and location, my match sent one more note.

So, just a heads up, I was looking at your profile again and noticed that you are 5’8″. I’m 5’6″. For me personally, that is absolutely not a problem. For some people it is, some people it isn’t. Online dating can be a harsh world. But I didn’t want that to be a surprise in person tomorrow. If that changes anything, just let me know.”

I quickly responded that it wasn’t an issue for me if it wasn’t an issue for him, and jokes ensued. I couldn’t help but wonder, though… was that a Catfish Lite? He hadn’t listed his height, so technically hadn’t lied.

“When you go to the doctor’s or wherever and have to fill out forms,” I recently asked a few divorced female friends. “Do you check the box that says ‘single’ or ‘divorced’?”

“Oh, ‘single’!” they unanimously replied.

“I always check ‘divorced’!” I said, surprised I stood alone in this survey.

Did it matter? Weren’t they both accurate? I thought about how many first/second/third/fourth/fifth dates I’d been on where the guy suddenly revealed his ‘in progress’ divorce, kids, or the woman living in his spare bedroom (that one happened twice!).

Where’s the line between omission and deception?

*~*~*~*~*~*~

What do you think? When it comes to the early stages of dating, do these details even really matter? When is it okay to withhold information and when is it not?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor, PSAs

My (Un)Funny Little Valentine

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“Tee hee!”

I glanced down. A long, white finger pressed into the soft flesh around my stomach.

“You say it!”

After a confused moment, I heard myself utter in a high-pitched voice, “Tee hee…”

My new boyfriend -the first I’d ever had, apart from the man I married (and, ten years later, divorced)- chuckled under his breath.

Frank and I were on our way to Chicago to celebrate my 32nd birthday. Living on opposite sides of the country meant a very creative “second” date, requiring several plane trips between the two of us.

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And when I say plane…

“I’m trying to decide what dress to wear.”

My mind flashed back to a month earlier, when I’d confidently stepped out of the Whidbey Island, Washington hotel bathroom in underwear and pantyhose. I was the thinnest I’d ever been in my adult life, and the future seemed to span before me like the winking promise I’d always heard it could be.

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Whidbey Island or the Isle of Misguided Dreams? You be the judge.

Frank’s eyes swept over me, a frown accentuating his already elongated face. He held up one of the padded bras that had been in my suitcase.

“I think these should be illegal. It’s false advertising.” 

“I just…don’t like having ‘the headlights on,'” I swallowed thickly and retreated into the bathroom, taken aback by the venom in his voice. I stared at my stocking-clad figure. I looked…sexy…right? I suddenly felt ridiculous. Who even wears pantyhose anymore?

On the drive to dinner that night, having decided to don my single-digit-sized new green dress, Frank told me about a recent trip to L.A. with one of his Navy buddies.

“I could never live there. The women at the bars wouldn’t even talk to us. Such snots.”

I stared out of the window.

At dinner, Frank assured me I could “go ahead and order whatever I wanted,” adding, in case I’d missed the inference, “Don’t worry about the cost.” 

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I smiled tightly. I’d recently been laid off from my well-paying corporate job thanks to “merger redundancies.” This was good. A guy like this never would have dated me before. You know, when I was…the F word. I mean, just last week he saw an old picture of me and said exactly that!

“Ouch!” I cried, putting a hand to my face.

“You had a chin hair,” Frank said casually, leaning back into his window seat.

My cheeks burned, the unforgiving sunlight streaming through the airplane window. First I was the Pilsbury dough boy and now I’m Tom Hanks in Castaway? I blinked back tears.

“What’s the big deal?” Frank demanded, seeing my watery eyes.

A month later, he dumped me. Via email.

~*~*~*~*~

This Valentine’s Day, I was going to make light of all of my bad dating experiences in a post entitled, “If My Actual Dating Life Were Valentines.”

I took silly photos and even joked with friends about what a gold mine this was. On Monday night, I sat down to write my brilliant Valentine quips, staring at the crimson hearts on the screen. Before long, my own heart sank. It…wasn’t funny.

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…Okay, it’s a little funny.

I imagined all of the other hearts out there, smiling shyly in their stockings, exposed and vulnerable. I thought of every person rationalizing shitty situations because feelings of “less than” ate away their confidence. Smart, funny, kind people who might also entertain the truly insane idea that some jackass in aviator sunglasses was tied to their wellbeing.

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What a quack of sh*t.

Despite what you might believe after reading this, I love Valentine’s Day. I don’t love the commercialization or the temptation to feel lonely, I just love love, and choose to embrace any excuse to celebrate it.

On this Valentine’s Day, in a brand new decade, wherever you are and in whatever circumstances you find yourself, I hope you’ll accept this embarrassingly sincere post as a tiny token of my love for you.

And if anyone so much as lays a g.d. FINGER on your chin hair, so help me baby Jesus Tom Hanks, you have my permission to bludgeon them with a jumbo-sized tube of Pilsbury crescent rolls.

Aunty Go Jules Go Valentine

~*~*~*~*~

Dating, PSAs

I’ve Hit the Shallow End

DISCLAIMER: Names have been changed because this is a very, very small town.

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What’s that? How’s my dating life going, you ask?

Well, after the guy who yelled at me and the guy who scarred my friend for life, things started looking up. A few days ago, I attended a community event and an attractive man looked very familiar. Had he been there last month? Was he someone I might have briefly met through an acquaintance?

“Hey Carrie,” I whispered to my friend. “Who is that guy? I swear I know him. Oh my god, wait, I think he just ‘liked’ me last week on my dating app!”

What were the chances? Maybe this small town thing could work for me after all! The fact that we were at the same event meant we already had a few key things in common. Score!

Carrie, in typical Carrie fashion, smiled demurely and said between her teeth, “I’ll tell you about him later.” Her eyes widened by a fraction of an inch and I nodded conspiratorially.

I kept my distance and Carrie texted me after the night ended, including a link to a social media frenzy.

Turns out my latest prospect was suspected of first degree murder.

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Oregon is a lot bigger than New Jersey, from where I just moved. The dating options, however, ah, well, may not reflect this.

“Make sure you text all of your friends before you go on any dates!” Carrie reminded me warmly.

Thankfully, I’ve been too tied up with visiting friends and family to fraternize with Oregon’s Most Wanted.

I thought back to the prior week, when I’d invited another dating app fellow, Adam, to join me for happy hour with a few friends. He had been visiting to see if he’d like to move here, and we had all regaled him with our own Relocating Success Stories. Adam had been smart, laughed at my jokes, had had an adorable rescue dog, and looked like Darren Criss.

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For those of you who are new here, I’ve been blogging about my Darren Criss obsession infatuation totally healthy crush since 2011.

Adam had texted a few times afterwards, but I’d suspected wasn’t going to move here. Would I ever meet someone swoon-worthy who actually lived in my town? Or did I just keep upping my sidewalk chalk game with the neighbors?

This picture really doesn’t do us justice.

Then there was the Australian gentleman who bought my groceries for me this weekend when my debit card acted up. Yes, that’s a thing that happens here, because I live in Shangri-La. Unfortunately, he was my father’s age.

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And I’ve had enough therapy for one lifetime.

So what’s my next move? Well, considering I signed a year lease, it won’t involve another physical move.

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And seriously. Who the f&@* would ever leave this place?

You know what? I think I’m just gonna hold out until Darren Criss gets a divorce.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Has your dating life ever been so rife with the criminal element? That, much like, “Are you, grooming facility, accepting new dog clients?” is a question I never thought I’d ask until I moved to central Oregon.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating

I Dodged a Bullet. Possibly Literally.

DISCLAIMER: Names and identifying features have been altered or hidden to protect… ME. TO PROTECT *ME*! ME, okay?!

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Dodged a Bullet Possibly Literally_31JUL2019

“It was the best first date I’ve ever been on. …Not that that’s saying much,” I shouted in my friend’s ear.

Sara turned away from the stage and grinned at me.

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I swear. There’s live music EVERY. NIGHT. in this town.

“Let me see his picture!”

I hesitated. “They don’t really do him justice… He’s REALLY cute. And tall! And has great teeth.”

I thought back to the previous evening. I had walked into a popular restaurant, the usual butterflies-or-is-that-just-dread filling my stomach, and a handsome guy had grinned at me expectantly.

Nope. Wrong color hair. Not him. …Shoot.

Further down, I had spotted a familiar face.

“Jules, hi!” the man had greeted.

I had been pleasantly surprised by his, well, everything.

“So you just moved here?” he had begun, and the conversation had flowed from there.

I had been in shock. A tall, attractive man, in his 30s like me, financially and hygienically sound, AND he had known how to ask questions? Well, I’ll be. A normal first date!

I had had to shake off the memory of my only other first date in my new hometown. Maybe the Oregon dating pool really would put New Jersey’s to shame! Please don’t do anything weird, please don’t do anything weird

The date had lasted a record-breaking four hours, and ended on the promising note of future hang-outs.

“But my gut is still saying no,” I had texted to a few friends. “It was like hugging my brother goodbye.”

I had wanted to slap myself. What was wrong with me? Over the next 24 hours, I wrestled with whether or not to text him. He had left the ball in my court, and the decision to reach out felt like trying to decide between Oreos or Nutter Butters.

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Don’t make me choose my own Fate! DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE MY OWN FATE!

“Come on, show me his picture!” Sara insisted.

I reluctantly pulled out my phone and found his online dating profile, holding it out to her.

“JULES. OH MY GOD. NO. NO!” she shouted, staring at me with wide eyes.

“What. What?!” I replied, my heart stopping.

“THIS IS THE GUY I TOLD YOU ABOUT,” she said. “HE’S. CRAZY.”

Sara started recounting details – details fresh in my mind because she had indeed told me the tale several weeks earlier when we’d first met and exchanged dating war stories.

Yup. She too had been out with my tall, handsome, “normal” guy.

“He’s the rage-a-holic who told me to buy Magnum condoms and badmouthed his ex the ENTIRE TIME! MY WORSE DATE EVER! ”

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I found this while walking home from another local concert. Apparently I’m not going to need it.

I scooped my jaw off the floor. “Oh my god! I’m showing you every photo from now on! Jesus. This IS a small town.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“What? Are you kidding? HE HAS GUNS. You saved me!”

Her face crumpled a little more.

“I’m so sorry that was your best first date!”

I burst out laughing. “I told you it wasn’t saying much.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What do you think? Should I give him another shot (pun, um, actually NOT intended, but now that it’s out there…)?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor, PSAs

I Swore I Wouldn’t Do This.

Go Jules Go I Swore I Wouldn't Do This title graphic 17JUL2019

“I love you!”

My heart skipped a beat. It was another perfect, sunny summer day in Bend, Oregon. Around every corner of my new Pacific Northwest home, I seemed to find magic.

Instant friendships…

…Google Pixel 3 camera porn…

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Gourmet vegan food

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And now this? The L bomb? The only thing missing in my life?

When I arrived in Oregon four weeks ago, I was still on the fence about dating. And not just because I publicly denounced it earlier this year.

More because of this memory. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one…okay I’ll stop now.

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Aw, but we were having so much fun!

Nevertheless, after 2+ years on the No Dating bandwagon, the temptation to peek at what was out there, 3,000 miles from the men with whom I’d repeatedly failed (please refer to links 1 to 1,373 listed above), proved too much to resist.

“All riiiiiight,” I groaned on the phone to my friend, Shawna. “I’ll try Bumble. AGAIN.”

And thus, with a trembling index finger, I downloaded a dreaded dating app on my hitherto untainted phone.

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Did I mention I love this phone? (It took this photo of Mt. Bachelor from the now-nearby Green Lakes trail.)

This time, though, I decided I’d cut right to the chase. “If you want to meet for coffee or beer sometime, let me know!” my initial messages read. (In the Bumble world, the women always make the first move.)

If the Bend, Oregon Bumble selection were an ocean filled with fish… No. I can’t even finish that metaphor. Because we are not talking “ocean.” We are talking lake. No. Still not right. Pond. Teeny, tiny pond.

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What I’m trying to say is…there weren’t a lot of fish. Hmm. Maybe I should try Plenty of Fish.

I didn’t have a lot of time to dive in because almost as soon as I got to Oregon, I was off to Boot Camp. I returned to a message from “Dave” that made me laugh. (And if there’s one thing I promised myself, were I to ever dip a toe in the treacherous dating waters again, it was: He gots to bring it with the ha-ha’s.)

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I scrolled through his photos again. F my life. I read his message again. I laughed again. OKAY FINE.

Two days later, I pulled into a brewery parking lot right on time and saw a guy leaning on the fence. That might be him

I sent a text, “Just got here!”

The guy in question looked down at his phone, so I hopped out of my car and walked over with a wide smile and outstretched hand. Something immediately felt off, but I followed him inside.

“I’m excited to try this place!” I offered.

“Yeah yeah yeah, they have some good stuff! I always get the Sweet Ass.”

I snorted, spotting a sign that read, “Sweet As! Pacific Ale.”

He talked quickly and didn’t make eye contact, but offered to buy my beer. We were well within the happy hour timeframe, so I thanked him and we took our selections outside, where there was an impressively grassy outdoor area and live music revving up.

“Yeah so you just moved here, huh? Yeah?” he said as we sat down.

I eyed him closely. Coke. It’s gotta be coke. Or is he just that nervous?! The next two hours were filled with frenetic conversation, me asking question after question. He talked about his Aunt. A lot. And a former tenant of his garage apartment.

“Wow, so the guy just left after that?!” I asked.

“Let me finish the story!” he said in a tone so scathing I put a hand to my heart.

“I’m so sorry!” I gasped, completely thrown.

“No worries,” he gulped his beer and carried on.

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Annnnd more good hair: WASTED.

When the two hour Suffer Fest was over, I pulled into my driveway, debating whether or not I should try to still salvage the night. Just then, someone came running up from the house next door, bouncing around the side of my car until she could give me a hug.

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I love you, too, Audrey.

I decided to stay right where I was.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Any advice, or can I finally marry my dog?

~*~*~*~*~*~