humor

I Was Working in the (Dating) Lab, Late One Night…

I have a confession.

I LOVE TikTok!

Assuming you filter for funny, likeminded people, this app can restore your faith in humanity. So many positive, hilarious, creative folks are putting their silliest feet forward and, unlike Facebook and Instagram, I walk away feeling more optimistic about myself and life after scrolling. One of my recent favorite TikTok videos involved a woman conducting a dating app experiment. She asked her matches, “What’s your most controversial opinion?”

The results were… troubling. And fascinating. Naturally, I decided I needed to conduct this highly scientific experiment myself. Which meant once again downloading dating apps on my phone, a practice that in the past had been entirely scarring and short-lived.

I’m not sure if it’s because I live in a relatively small town, or people in central Oregon have learned from their mistakes, but no one, absolutely no one, was willing to give a less than P.C. response. My favorite? “Pumpkin pie is actually not good.”

Another excellent submission.

Before I knew it, my experiment was turning into actual dates. Three four five six in a row. Hang on. This was just for giggles! I texted one of my girlfriends, Sara.

“This is Mr. Thursday. Do you know him?”

I had learned the hard way to vet any first dates with my single girlfriends. I had also learned the hard way not to get too excited before the first meeting – and to arrange said meet up as quickly as possible. Text messages do not an accurate impression make.

Take, for example, Kyle.

Kyle was Mr. Saturday Night. Kyle had a great smile. Kyle said allllll the right things.

Even if he didn’t spell them correctly.

I was sure -absofreakinglutely sure- this date would wind up in Smooch City. I wore my date-iest shirt and assembled my date-iest hair. When Kyle got out of his car (15 minutes late…), I was still sure. Kyle looked like a young Bon Jovi.

If you remembered that I’m a Jersey girl, that should explain everything.

“Do we need to wear masks?” Kyle asked as we approached the bar.

“Oh, yes, everywhere inside,” I replied, trying to cover my surprise. Geesh, he really doesn’t get out much. “But you can take it off as soon as you get your drink.”

We ordered our drinks and quickly went outside and stood near a picnic table, not far from the raging fire pit. It was a chilly, drizzly October night in central Oregon’s high desert. I stuck my free hand in my coat pocket, wondering why we weren’t sitting down. Radiating nervous energy, Kyle immediately blurted,

“My sister has COVID.”

“Oh no!” I replied. “Is she okay?”

“Yeah, no symptoms. After a week, she was going stir crazy, so today she came into town and went shopping.”

My jaw dropped ever so slightly.

“I’m not vaccinated. I have a rare blood type that doesn’t get COVID,” he went on. “Are you vaccinated?”

Soooo I’m thinking making out is off the table.

“Um,” I paused. “Yes…fully vaccinated…” Holy f@%* how did I miss this on his profile?

Just as I tried to recover from this news, Kyle dropped another bomb.

“I have a 10-year-old daughter,” he said, pulling out his phone to show me a photo. “I didn’t know she was mine until she was five. I dated this woman 10 years ago who was engaged to a guy who couldn’t have kids, so she was using me for my sperm, but I didn’t even know she was engaged.”

“10, wow, well, that’s a great age…” I said, peering at his phone and gulping my wine.

Instead of sitting down, Kyle kept inching closer and closer. I shifted back ever so minutely as the conversation continued.

“I don’t believe in abortion,” he said without missing a beat. “I’m pro choice, but I don’t believe in abortion for me. And women wouldn’t need abortions if they didn’t sleep around. How about you?”

“Well,” I replied, unwilling to part with my wine in order to toss it in his face. “As a woman, I believe women can do whatever they choose with their bodies, including sleeping around.”

Unfazed, he released his third bomb of the night.

“Have you ever seen those TV dramas where the kids don’t realize they were raised by their grandparents?”

“Uhhh…maybe…?”

“Yeah, that was me. I thought my grandmother was my mom. My mom had me when she was 16, so we have more of a friend relationship.”

Before I could comment, he unleashed Bomb #4.

“I was at my brother’s funeral this summer with a friend. She’s 6’4″. All of my guy friends were asking about her because I guess they thought she was hot. I just don’t think women that tall can ever be hot. Yeah, my brother died in June. We think it was a drug overdose.”

“I’m so sorry. Wow…you’re giving me a lot to process here,” I stuttered. “I was thinking we’d start with our favorite pasta shape.”

“Well I don’t really care what you think,” he said.

“That’s kind of a rude thing to say,” I said, my eyebrows threatening to reach my perfectly coiffed hairline.

“I only really care what you think of my brother dying. I don’t want you to think I’m not ready to date yet because of that.”

“That’s definitely not what I was thinking,” I answered honestly.

DEFINITELY not what I was thinking, Kyle.

“I’ve had other girls message me on Bumble, but you’re the only one I’m interested in. If this doesn’t work out, I’m deleting the app.”

“So what if I said I just wanted to make out?” I questioned, strictly for research (*cough* blogging) purposes.

“If we made out, you’d definitely want to go out with me. I’m an amazing kisser. I’m very confident. I know what I like.”

“You are not like your texts,” I confessed, my brain continuing to slowly turn itself inside out. “You seemed so shy.”

We had now migrated halfway around the picnic table in my efforts to stand as far away from him as possible. He hadn’t noticed and continued to invade my personal space.

“What do you do for a living?” I asked.

“I work in cryptocurrency,” Kyle replied, and then began to describe something that, in fact, sounded like a pyramid scheme.

“So you work from home?” I asked and he nodded. “Do you live alone?” In a town like Bend, Oregon, this question often yielded unexpected results.

“I rent out two rooms.”

“Oh, so you own and rent out two rooms?”

“I don’t want to talk about my living situation.”

I almost choked on my drink. That’s the topic that’s off-limits? He gave me a dramatic once over, leaning to look at my backside.

“I like what I see. I love thick girls.”

“Um, so, I’m going to go,” I said, the two of us now standing a full five feet from where we’d started our conversation a half an hour earlier. “I don’t think either of us is going to get what we want from this.”

The last thing I saw was his taken aback expression as I bolted through the bar, placing my half full glass of wine in the plastic wash bin near the door. I debated shouting, “Six feet from that man, people! Or maybe sixty thousand!!!!”

On the upside, he unmatched me before I even got home.

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humor

The World’s Worst Buffet: Another Dating Fail

DISCLAIMER: Names changed because we already know people I go out with once like to read this blog and leave comments six years later.

“Oh wow, someone else just recommended that book to me,” Carl smiled. “You know when you hear something twice in one week, you’ve got to pay attention!”

I grinned and nodded, sipping my can of sparkling wine. The gas fire pit cast a faint glow across our faces.

“It’s the book that got me into hiking!” I went on.

The conversation meandered from food to family to the outdoors, just as it had done the night before, on our first date.

“You guys, I’m so, so sorry to do this,” a head popped out of the tent behind us. It was my friend, Sara. “I can hear everything you’re saying; I’m so sorry. But it’s 1am and I can’t sleep.”

Photographic evidence that I actually went camping again after this experience.

“Oh my god,” I whispered back, mouth agape. “I had no idea! I’m so sorry! We’ll wrap things up right now.”

I glanced at Carl, mortified.

“I seriously thought it was like 11,” I grimaced. “Do you know how to turn this thing off?” I gestured towards the gas fire pit, which was fastened to a large propane tank.

“I think so,” he said, leaning his long, lanky frame forward to unscrew the tank.

I got up and turned off the twinkle lights that another friend had set up in the surrounding trees. Oh man, I have to pee. What is this goodbye gonna look like? I wanted Carl to kiss me, but not here, in the middle of the woods, with five friends’ tents within earshot, my bladder bursting.

“Thanks so much for inviting me to come by,” Carl said sweetly as we walked over to his car, our phone flashlights illuminating the path. “Let’s hang out again this week.”

We hugged, much less awkwardly than when he’d first arrived that night. On our first date, the evening before, we’d realized we were camping in the same location the following night. It felt like Fate, so we seized the opportunity to meet up again for dinner at my campsite. He was clearly nervous, walking into a group of five strangers – and a blonde chick he’d just met.

When I’d handed him a plate full of homemade food, I had noticed his hands were shaking.

I get it. Vegan food sounds scary – except when my friends and I are behind it. (Pictured here: one of my famous sandwiches complete with homemade muhammara. You can find the recipe in the cookbook I wrote. #crossovermarketing)

I hadn’t been on a date in over a year, and found his timidity endearing and comforting. In fact, my last blog post was about how I prefer the long game, and Carl certainly seemed like a long game kind of guy, letting me take the lead and not making any swift moves. The only downside was that we’d met on a dating app.

Somehow, in between these two blog posts, I found myself on Bumble. Okay. I strategically placed myself on said app in the hopes that I would virtually ‘bump into’ my current crush and present him with an easy way to ask me out.

“Because that’s the kind of s%@& that can happen in a small town.” -Boca Betty

Instead, I matched with Carl. His profile and photos were positive and sweet and stood out amongst the men holding dead fish, looking for a ‘swing’ partner, and/or living in a van.

And better yet, my other single girlfriends hadn’t already been out with him. #smalltownwin

By day three on Bumble, my crush no where in sight, I was about to throw in the towel when Carl sent a follow up message. I realized I couldn’t find a single good reason not to meet up with him.

“I hope this doesn’t seem too forward,” I wrote. “But I don’t think I’ll last much longer on this app; do you want to meet up for a drink tomorrow or Thursday?” We settled on Thursday, and our first date then quickly became our second.

Feeling confident that “First Date Selfie” might lead to “Second Date Smoochie”

“Oh my god, I felt so bad,” Sara said first thing in the morning, as we all sleepily emerged from our tents.

“Me too!” another friend, Rachel, chimed in. “I was trying so hard not to eavesdrop, Jules, and then I remembered I had ear plugs!”

“Are you kidding?” I laughed. “This is a dream come true! Witnesses and firsthand feedback on a date!”

“[My partner] Dan kept gripping my arm,” Sara laughed. “It was like listening to a soap opera. He thought Carl was going to invite you back to his tent!”

“So how are you feeling about him now?” Rachel asked. “What else did you talk about?”

“Oh I can tell you!” Sara said with a smile. “There was a long part about kitchen appliances.”

“Yeah, it was another titilating conversation,” I chuckled. “But I think he’s really cute.”

And I’m not just saying that because I could talk about this blender all. night. long.

“And he said he wants to see you this week,” Rachel’s fiance, Tim, added. “The fact that he specified ‘this week’ is a good sign.”

“He’s definitely into you. I can’t believe he stayed until 1am!” everyone concluded.

When I got home, I kicked myself for metaphorically sitting by the phone, twirling the phone cord, waiting for a boy to call. I’d been down this road so many times; it was impossible not to count the hours between dates and texts.

On Monday, two days after our campfire marathon, Carl texted.

“How’d the rest of your weekend go?”

We entered into a painstakingly slow back-and-forth over the next couple of days, each waiting hours before replying to the other. When is he going to ask me out for this week?!

I texted a few softballs his way and he let them crash to the ground. I tried again. In response to his sadness over summer ending, I wrote:

“So what needs to happen on Carl’s list before he can part ways with summer in peace? ;)”

“Not really sure,” he replied. “I don’t plan things out more than a week at a time. Maybe another good hike or two and another weekend of camping. Then bike riding in the fall is always amazing.”

Really? We’re going with that response, Carl?

I slapped my forehead. Good god, Carl. Help me help you. Since I’d already dated a Carl, I knew what I needed to do. I waited until the next day and took a deep breath before texting:

“I feel like you’re forgetting something important on this list… Like, I dunno, ‘hanging out with a hot blonde’?”

I included a couple of smirking emojis at the end. Less than an hour later, he replied.

“Well I would like to spend more time with you. Definitely good company to be around!”

I stared at my phone, wearing the same expression as when watching people in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Is that a bathing suit bottom or actual shorts? Before I had more than a moment to consider my reply, he sent another text.

“Although I should be upfront and say I’m not sure I feel a romantic connection between us. If being friends works for you, then great… if not I understand.”

Tears pricked my eyes and I closed them, feeling that old familiar nausea pool around my stomach. The One-Two Sucker Punch. I knew it well. I laid down in bed and let it sink in. How in the ever loving chipmunks did I -and five of my good friends- read this guy SO wrong?

I decided to share the news sooner rather than later. After unmatching him on Bumble and archiving his message thread so I didn’t have to see it in my text feed, I sent a screenshot of Carl’s final messages to several girlfriends.

“Oh thank god,” Sara wrote back. “Now I can finally say it. THAT GUY WAS SO BORING, JULES. That’s why I kept saying, ‘Yeah….but do YOU like HIM?'”

“I just told Tim and he was like, ‘Wait, HE said that to JULES?'” Rachel added.

Two days later, I deleted Bumble, not caring that I left several people hanging. I immediately felt re-centered and relieved. I can’t help but think that the gamification of dating, the endless carousel of two-dimensional profiles that we can dismiss with the flick of an index finger, created this entire experience – along with so many similar ones for so many people.

Thanks to technology, we treat dating like a crappy buffet, wading through one disappointing dish after another. We don’t stop and savor. We don’t wonder what’s behind each ingredient. And why would we? Every second there’s another tray wandering by, and we don’t even care that it’s turning our tastebuds numb.

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Do you think dating apps are the devil’s work? Discuss.

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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?

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