Based on recent experiences, I’ve been forced to conclude that the guys I’ve been dating must have only dated women like this…
Does this ring true for you, too?
Based on recent experiences, I’ve been forced to conclude that the guys I’ve been dating must have only dated women like this…
Does this ring true for you, too?
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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
“You’re buying [next time] since you made me put on pants and do my hair, right?” I texted, attaching a selfie.
“Absolutely! You’re so gorgeous,” Jake replied.
I put my phone down and sighed. I’d just spent 90 minutes on my First Date Fabulosity Routine, only to have my date, Jake, bail at the last minute.
“I had to run my roommate to urgent care. Kidney pain apparently. Doing okay, on meds now but still stuck here. I feel so bad!” he had explained.
I took his word for it, and we rescheduled for the following Tuesday. In the meantime, he texted daily. When Tuesday morning rolled around, Jake wrote,
“Another belt snapped on my car last night.”
“So it sounds like we should postpone,” I replied, not wanting a repeat of last week, where I sat alone on my couch with perfect hair.
I debated throwing in the towel, clicking over to Jake’s Hinge profile. Dammit, he’s really cute.
“So now that your car is back in action, should we try this again?? Third time is the charm?” I texted the next day.
“Yeah! Tomorrow night? I have an orientation tomorrow morning and don’t want to be groggy.”
“Tomorrow works for me!”
In the early afternoon [on the next day], I texted,
“Hi! How did orientation go? Just confirming plan for this evening. …5? At [a food truck lot]?”
“We just finished, 5 might be a bit too early. I’d like to take a shower and all that when I get home.”
“No problem – just let me know what time works for you!”
Since I had the green light, I hopped in the shower around 4pm and began the plucking/curling/poofing/pulling [on tight pants] routine.
“I’m pretty nervous to be honest,” Jake wrote at 4:30pm.
He wasn’t the first guy to admit this and I responded with my usual reassurance.
“Aw really? I’m really chatty and bubbly and have lots of great (terrible) dating stories and I ask lots of (easy) questions if that helps. As long as you don’t show me YouTube clips of you surgically removing your big toenails or say that you have an alien blood type that doesn’t get COVID*, you’ll be golden. *based on true stories.”
“The f*ckkk,” he wrote back.
“See? Nothing to worry about.”
“I’m still nervous.”
“Well then let’s get you a beer, stat.”
“I’ve still gotta shower… Had a little [outdoor ski] fun [after the orientation]. Just got home.”
I looked at the clock. It was 5pm, so I figured I had an hour to kill and poured a small glass of wine. My phone binged again.
“I hate to even ask this but I’d do the same time tomorrow at [the same food truck lot].”
I stared at my phone in disbelief, a series of possible responses flying through my head. What came out was,
When he didn’t reply right away, I added, “What happened?”
“Just not feeling it right now,” Jake said.
I felt heat rise from my neck to my face. Is. He. F@&%#. Kidding. Me?!?! I immediately started texting my friends. A few minutes later, my phone sounded again.
“Nothing personal, just not feeling like drinks and people,” Jake added. It was now 5:19pm.
I thought of a hundred different responses – all of the things I wanted him to know about how inconsiderate, selfish, and hurtful this was. I wanted to tell him how many times I sucked it up and SHOWED UP -for dates, concerts, work events, birthday parties, bridal showers- when I wasn’t “feeling it.” How many times I was dying on the inside, but smiled, asked questions, and tried to make the other person feel valued. This guy couldn’t put on pants, drive seven minutes away, and spend 90 minutes letting a cute blonde carry the conversation? After already bailing twice? To make matters worse, he’d even had a glimpse into my beautification process after the first time he’d bailed.
As my mind raced with potential replies, I realized the best thing I could do was simply unmatch him on Hinge and archive our text message thread. Any of my emotional responses would just make me look like as much of an asshat as he did.
There’s a reason I love having a blog.
And thus, I give to you:
Thanks to the wonderful women [of all ages and marital statuses] who shared their utterly badass advice. We hope you’ll pay it forward and pass this along (and share your own advice in the comments section)!
Men, please do the following: 1) Be on time. 2) Do what you say you’re going to do. 3) Be kind. 4) Know yourself (as in, don’t string me along if you know we aren’t a match).” -Lora L.
Be honest, be yourself, don’t play it too cool (i.e., three day waiting period on follow up communication). If looking for a relationship, give reasonable time to get to know a person before rushing to judgment, but be upfront about not being into the other person so you don’t waste their time. Oh, and come with your own condoms. (I would tell the woman to always have her own, too.) Get your junk checked between partners. And expect to be asked.” -Anonymous
Advice for men dating women in their forties: Forty-something women generally have their shit together and have low tolerance for men who are not self aware. Bring your best self and we are good to go. :)” Signed, Jen O.
1. Don’t show up in sweatpant shorts on the first date 2. Don’t cry about your ex on the first date 3. Be funny 4. Ask your date questions 5. Clip your fingernails 6. Dont say offensive things like “trump is a gift from heaven” or “COVID isn’t real” unless you are certain the other person feels the same way 7. Don’t talk about how much you miss living with your mother 8. Learn to play the guitar 9. Be open to new experiences 10. Show kindness to animals and waitstaff 11. No whining or complaining on the first date 12. Don’t flake when you make plans unless there is a bonafide reason 13. Don’t say you’ll call/text when you have no intent to do so 14. View dating as an adventure and have fun with it! 15. Meet in a public place in case she’s a psycho 16. Don’t be clueless, learn to read social cues 18. Do not, under any circumstance, send a Dick pic unless clearly requested.” –Pam @ I Choose This
As some f&@&* questions. Don’t make her carry the conversation. Be more interested than attempting to be interesting.” -Taryn D.
Don’t misrepresent yourself. Don’t paint yourself in the light that you think the woman wants to see, so that you seem perfectly compatible. Be honest about who you are. She’ll find out anyway.” –Donna Rubin Design
1) Don’t put photos of your children on your dating profile. They have rights to privacy. 2) Asking questions about your date’s interests, hobbies, skills, family, life, thoughts, etc. is a nice, human thing to do and shows you’re interested. 3) I feel like a bad feminist for saying it, but pay. Pay for the first round. It shows respect. 4) We don’t care how many animals you have killed. We don’t want to see the dead fish pic. 5) Is it time to get sexy? Make sure she comes first. Period. If I just want you to pound out my sadness, I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I prefer real, reciprocal sex.” -Anne K.
1) If you know what you’re looking for, be upfront about it. The worst we can say is no. But, isn’t it better to be on the same page? It’s definitely a dick move to pretend to be looking for something more serious when you really just want to hit it and quit it. There are people out there of all genders looking for anything from one night stands to long term monogamy…find the one that wants what you want! 2) It’s okay not to know what you want. But be honest about it and/or try to practice some impulse control and take things slow until you figure it out. 3) Consent is sexy…informed consent is sexier. Have the conversations about birth control, protection, and STI testing. And (obviously!) be respectful about boundaries there. 4) Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. I don’t remember the last time a man I dated initiated any conversation on the above topics. It’s exhausting to always have to be the one to bring these conversations up! I would hope that -even if we’re just banging one out and going our separate ways- that you would care that I don’t get hurt emotionally or physically. It’s just basic human to human decency and dignity. 5) If someone (doesn’t matter if it’s your wife or one night stands) sends you the gift of a nude, UNLESS SHE EXPLICITLY TELLS YOU TO SHOW THE WORLD, you keep it to yourself! I want you to see my tits – not your weird best friend!” -Allie D.
Don’t lie about your height.” -Anonymous
Be clear about your intentions and feelings. If you intend on just having sex and not getting emotionally involved, say so. A dick such honesty does not make. The dick move is in making us think you’re interested in an emotional connection and over time hurting us by not giving it. Also, be willing to pay. Unless your date is clearly in a better paying job than you (which statistically is unlikely), the person who makes more should be willing to pay more. Since that is likely you, respect our plight with glass ceilings throughout time and plan to pay. Lastly, respond to messages within 24 hours and include a reciprocating question or follow-up item. Stop assuming women will lead every bit of a conversation. It’s exhausting.” -Shawna W.
The first word that came to mind was respect. I don’t know if I’d say ‘treat your date with the same respect as you would your mom,’ but something like that.
Respect covers a whole lot of things like honesty, being on time, knowing how to listen, and not talking about weird stuff or your ex (at least not at the beginning, unless it’s really funny, then maybe). Hygiene does come in a very close second, though. Maybe even that comes under respect; respect yourself enough to take care of your body and think about how that will impact your date.” -Babs S.
It all just boils down to: be nice and don’t be a jackass.” -Anonymous
1. We don’t need you, so calm down. 2. Manners go a LONG way. 3. We don’t want a mental dump of your life, let’s start with your favorite food. 4. If something turns you off on the first date, we feel it too, so be honest. RED FLAGS: 1. Mentioning a bad relationship w your family, it is fine if it exists, but let’s not jump to what Christmas w the in laws could turn into on our 1st date. 2. Disrespectful behavior while out on said date (rude to waitstaff, impatience, etc.). 3. Odors…. In general…. A shower and scrub is always needed pre-date. 4. DO NOT BATHE in your cologne. Things that are well received: 1. Genuine smiles. 2. Sharing of stories, letting the convo go where it goes. 3. Showing a picture of your fur baby (if you have one). 4. Talking about something you have passion for (hiking, outdoors, photography, your work, etc.). -Dorothy Z.
As for my advice, well… here’s what I would have said to Jake [if I’d thought he’d have been receptive to feedback]:
As someone in her late 30s who’s been married and dated a fair bit, perhaps I can impart some wisdom from down the road so you don’t miss another opportunity with another amazing woman: If you’re absolutely forced to cancel on a woman (whether it’s at the last minute or not), do everything in your power to make it up to her. She has likely arranged her entire day around meeting you and put extra effort into looking nice. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to try again, show up with bells on. In the initial dating stages, don’t ever, EVER tell her you’re ‘just not feeling it’ when you have plans to hang out. She’ll have put her cutest outfit on, done her hair, and been ready to carry the conversation; the least you can do is show up. Canceling last minute, no matter the reason, conveys selfishness and inconsideration – hardly the hallmarks of a stand-up guy. If she has any self-respect whatsoever, you’ll send her running for the hills. Best of luck, [Jake]. I’m sure you’re a great guy and smart enough not to make the same mistake tw- ah, four times.”
Really, though? I think it all boils down to this:
What’s your advice?
Last week I told you about Mr. Saturday, Kyle: our shining star in the latest round of, “How Much Worse Can It Get? Dating Edition.”
What you couldn’t have known, even if you’d read every word of that post with your jaw quickly migrating south, was that I’d been on the heels of another eyebrow-raising first date, Mr. Friday, Nick.
Nick was also a cute guy in his 30s with whom I’d texted back and forth for a few days before meeting up. He mentioned that he didn’t drink, so we made plans to meet at a local park.
It was fairly chilly in central Oregon, especially by 6pm, and I wondered how to look cute and warm at the same time. I settled on black sneakers, black winter leggings, a black crop top turtleneck, and a puffy jacket that hugged my waist so I (hopefully) didn’t look like a shapeless blob.
I stuck gloves in my pockets and pulled my hair into a low ponytail, anticipating a breeze with bite.
“I’m leaving now,” Nick texted once I was already sitting in the parking lot waiting. (In case you’re curious: out of the past nine first dates, only one has shown up before me.)
When he finally arrived, about 15 minutes late, he gave me a hug hello. He looked like his photos…mostly. A little rougher around the edges, with pockmarked skin, but tall, good hair, and he’d clearly just showered. (Sadly, that last bit is noteworthy.)
“Are we going to box or something?” he said as I pulled on my gloves.
“I think you’d win,” I replied in a chipper voice, my stomach dropping. What the hell kind of joke is that for your opening line? These gloves aren’t even big! “You know, I’ve never punched anyone.”
“Why are you wearing gloves?” he pressed, his voice laced with sarcasm.
“It’s like 40 degrees!” I laughed, still trying to make light of it. Are we going to keep talking about this?
We walked over a scenic wooden bridge and Nick paused to take photo. He didn’t make eye contact and seemed on edge. My stomach continued to plummet.
“I hate this town. Everyone’s so clique-y,” he snarled as we walked down the sidewalk, heading downtown.
“I’ve heard a couple of people say that,” I replied, making an effort to catch his eye and smile to see if he’d soften. “I got really lucky because I had some friends when I moved here.”
“My friend is a bouncer over at [a bar],” he said as we got closer to town. “Do you know where that is?”
“I think so,” I answered. It was becoming clear that Nick, a California transplant, didn’t know our town very well, underscored by the strong scent of cologne trailing behind him. No one -no one- in central Oregon wore cologne. “I always get the two main streets mixed up, but I think it’s this way.”
Does he want to go to a bar? He said he didn’t drink.
“Nah, he’s not working tonight. Let’s go this way,” he steered us to the left. “Did you hear about the guy who just got shot downtown?”
“What? No!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, my friend saw the whole thing. Some black guy was beating the sh*t out of this white guy and finally the white guy shot him and now everyone is saying it’s like a black lives matter thing, but the dude had it coming.”
Nick’s voice had gone from sarcastic to chilling and I swallowed, wracking my brain for a reply that wouldn’t trigger him.
“That’s awful,” I breathed. And so are you.
Only 25 minutes into our date, I started trying to figure out how to make a break for it. We were now standing in a brick-lined courtyard near the river, several vendors and a band setting up beneath white tents. Nick started walking towards a coffee shop.
“I didn’t bring a mask,” I said.
“Me either,” he replied, and proceeded to poke his head inside the coffee shop.
“Excuse me, sir,” a sweet-faced security guard cautioned. “You can’t go in without a mask.”
“I’ve got my skin mask on,” Nick growled, but came back outside.
I stared at the security guard with wide eyes.
“Help me,” I mouthed.
His eyes twinkled as he laughed and mouthed back, “Blind date?” I nodded.
Soon, people filled the courtyard and the band started playing.
“I can’t wait to get out of this town,” Nick moaned. “I sold my house and I’m moving next month.”
“Oh wow,” I replied. “Congratulations. Great time to sell.” Good riddance.
“Yeah, this town is ridiculous,” he went on. “One time I was watching TV at like 4am and I heard this noise. It was a couple of tweakers in my garage, robbing me. So I called the cops and they were like, ‘Well you’re a vet[eran], right? Can’t you take care of it?’ So I’m like, what the f*ck, and all of my guns were upstairs. Eventually they left and the cops came, but they thought I was making it up! Like some PTSD bullshit. So they wanted me to get a psych evaluation and I was like, fine, and then I was stuck in the hospital for four days. And when it all finally went to court, the cops never showed up, so the whole thing got dropped.”
“That is an unbelievable story,” I replied, my mind spinning in circles.
“Do you have any crazy stories?”
“Uhhh, not that crazy,” I said, no longer even trying to make eye contact. “I went out with this guy once who showed me a video of himself surgically removing his toenails. While we were eating dinner.”
Nick’s face was blank in response. I started to panic. How do I get out of here?!
“This band sucks,” Nick snarled. “A bunch of white guys playing reggae. God.”
“I’m gonna take off,” I blurted before I said something I might regret. Not realizing what was to come the following night, I had just ended my quickest date of all time: 40 minutes.
“Okay,” Nick replied, looking surprised. To his credit, he didn’t ask questions. But he did follow me a solid half mile to our cars – because he couldn’t remember where we’d parked them.
I pulled away quickly and beelined for the supermarket to buy
a bottle two bottles of wine. With my gloves on, thankyouverymuch.
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.”
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.
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.
“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?”
“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?”
“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.
“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.
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.”
“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 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.
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.
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.
“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 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.”
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.
Do you think dating apps are the devil’s work? Discuss.
“You just need to open yourself up more.”
“You’re too guarded.”
“You’ve gotta put yourself out there.”
Over the past few years, it’s fair to say I’ve heard it all when it comes to dating advice. The well-meaning words of friends and family members rattles around as I walk my dog, drive to the grocery store, and shave my legs.
After coming out of a 10+ year long marriage in 2014, I experimented with everything from “All the dates!” to “Imma go hide under a blanket, thank you very much!” I had married my first boyfriend, so the dating world was a shock to the system.
I started a cycle not unlike yo-yo dieting: Put self on dating app. Engage in series of ultimately disappointing experiences. Swear off dating. Repeat.
As an introvert with stage fright, dating -especially online dating- was torture. It felt like an endless series of performances that always left me anxious and drained, often making unhealthy decisions to cope with the stress. “There has GOT to be a better way,” I’d say to myself after each exhausting date, peeling off my too-tight jeans and scrubbing away my waterproof mascara.
“Oh, he’s cute, you need to give him a chance,” some friends would urge after I’d describe another lackluster date.
Have you met me? I’d always want to respond. Since when does a guy without a box spring or a hairbrush who waits two weeks to get in touch sound like someone I’d want to pursue? I’d then inevitably spiral. I’m a snob. Uptight. Prudish. Close-minded. And worst of all: Maybe I don’t deserve better.
I’d watch my pretty, extroverted, single friends meet guy after guy, rebounding quickly from any letdowns. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I need to change. What would it be like to have a one-night stand? As each thought would pop up, my stomach would tighten.
By 2019, I’d quit my corporate job and moved 3,000 miles away to a new town, sight unseen. At 37, I had finally plucked up the courage to live a life that was uniquely my own. It was terrifying. Uncertain. Magnificent.
I tried dating in this new setting, only to meet similar results. By then, it had already occurred to me that the better part of my life had been spent following footsteps down a path I didn’t want to be on in the first place. I was making the same choices as everyone around me, overlooking one critical detail: I didn’t want anyone else’s life.
That’s why, when I hear even the kindest and most well-intentioned, “You need to open up [to dating/men] more,” my extremely sensitive self hears (and sometimes cries in public from hearing):
“You need to change.”
“You’re missing out on the best life has to offer because of the way you inherently are.”
“All of your life experience, self-reflection, and years of therapy isn’t enough for you to know what’s best for you.”
“You will never be whole without a romantic partner.”
Interestingly, the advice almost always comes from fellow singles. Married friends are far more likely to applaud my independent streak and passion/career focus. “There’s always time for relationships. Being part of a couple isn’t the be all, end all,” many of my married friends say.
Perhaps because I started young in the marriage department, I’m excited to fill my time with other things. After a vacation this month, I couldn’t wait to get back to work on my new business. Especially as an introvert, my energy is a very finite thing, and I’ve learned to carefully protect it.
When we protect ourselves in this way, others sometimes interpret it as a kind of shutting down. We retreat to a place known only to us, and our loved ones may not understand this sacred practice. I also think it scares people when we unapologetically go against the grain. Like quitting a stable job. Going vegan. Declaring that you genuinely enjoy being alone.
Still, I often wonder if all of my conviction about singlehood is rooted in defensiveness and stubbornness. A fear of getting hurt (again). All fair points I’ve extensively mined, always returning to this notion that I should only take steps that lead to the results I uniquely desire.
The path I’m carving is full of face-to-face connection, pursuing passions, friendships, and shared laughter, and what may look like guardedness towards men or strangers is often just energy preservation. When it comes to dating, I’ve intentionally chosen a quieter path. I’ve chosen the long game. This is very different from saying, “I’m closed off to love.”
I prefer to think of my decision to put dating on a back burner as a kind of decluttering. Just like I can’t relax or think straight when my tables are piled high with junk, I can’t ground myself emotionally when I let too many other opinions or too many competing priorities stack up inside of me. When I feel myself wobble from the extra noise, I’m grateful for this blog as a way to stabilize my thoughts, standing both open and firm as I share my voice.
May you always find your path through the clutter,
How do you “declutter”? What has been the hardest advice to process?
“We met on Tinder!”
“…And now we’re engaged!”
“It’s really not just a hook-up app anymore.”
In recent years, I’d heard testimonials trumpeting Tinder as, “No Longer the One Night Stand Dating App You Used to Love to Hate.” Nevertheless, given that I wasn’t a big fan of dating apps (or, let’s be honest, dating), I’d steered clear.
Two years ago, when I moved to Oregon from New Jersey, I’d been single for two years. Free from marriage, Corporate America, and east coast humidity, I decided it was time to fire up Bumble (a dating app similar to Tinder in its swiping, but where only women have the power to send the first message). Let’s see if the scene is any different now that I live 3,000 miles away from my hometown.
Arguably, it was far worse in my new, small town (as the story linked above will prove). In New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the U.S., you could go weeks without bumping into a familiar face. The likelihood of running into an ex or bad first date in Bend, Oregon, however: 113%. (Give or take.)
I quickly gave up and resumed my usual lifestyle: Friends, food, fur babies.
There was always the nagging thought that perhaps I’d “given up” versus consciously deciding to bow out of the dating scene.
“You’ve gotta put yourself out there!”
“It takes time to meet the right person.”
“Give him a chance!”
Despite honing my gut instinct over the past 38 years, the din of the masses still got to me. Maybe “they” all knew something I didn’t. Maybe everything I thought was right for me was just a way of protecting myself from getting hurt. Maybe I was going to DIE ALONE OH MY GOD I DON’T WANT TO DIE ALONE.
And that’s how I got sucked in -AGAIN- to downloading a dating app on my phone last week. This time, I bit the bullet and chose the infamous Tinder. I swiped right, I swiped left, and I periodically put down my phone to hide under a blanket.
As matches and messages trickled in, my heart raced. Not in the good way. More in the clammy, “it puts the lotion in the basket,” low-level dread kind of way. Okay, Jules. Maybe you’re just talking yourself out of a good thing. Maybe you need to just get a post-COVID date out of the way. Break the seal.
I fired back a couple of overly clever replies to two men. Ugh. No. I can’t do this! I don’t want to meet any of these people! Who knows who they really are?!
I’d been on enough online dates to know that, no matter how many photos and phone calls you exchange before the first meeting, you’re still going on a blind date. And does anyone really want to go on an endless series of blind dates?
Let me put it this way. The best online date pales in comparison to Netflix and pasta. And involves far more prep time.
Within 48 hours, and long before I could exchange more than two short messages with anyone, I deleted my Tinder account. I briefly entertained the fantasy that some of my matches fell to their knees, shaking their fists at the heavens, crying, “WHERE DID SHE GO? WHERE?!?!?!”
A few nights later, I shared drinks with a couple of girlfriends, and the conversation turned to our exes.
“I just got this random Facebook message from my ex’s new girlfriend. Look.”
She showed us her phone, which displayed a long string of messages: “I hope you don’t mind me reaching out. I know you dated [him] a while ago and I just have to know… did you experience anything like this? He’s gotten really emotionally and verbally abusive, accusing me of cheating and calling me all of these names and I just don’t know what to do.”
My friend was too afraid to say much in response for fear that this ex had created a fake account and was in fact the one messaging her. “Oh my god he’s been doing that to me!” the new girlfriend wrote. “Creating fake accounts…stalking me…”
“I still fear for my life from one of my exes,” I chimed in. “Everyone knows who to arrest if I go missing.”
“Yes!” my friend exclaimed. “Every woman I’ve talked to has a story like this!”
A familiar feeling rose in my chest. A mix of nausea, compassion, and curiosity. All of the “scary ex” stories always made me think, “What are we [as a society] doing wrong? This can’t be the result of testosterone overload. If our male counterparts could express hurt, sadness, and fear freely, would any of this happen?”
The very next morning, I woke up to a ‘New Blog Comment’ alert. Someone from Match.com, with whom I went on one date six years ago, had commented on a blog post from 2015. I had written a post about our first (and only) date and… apparently it didn’t land well with him.
I scratched my head. How did he even FIND this? I don’t think I ever mentioned that I had a blog, I always change or omit names, and I try REALLY hard not to say anything seemingly cruel… In fact, I had intentionally framed the post as, “This bizarre thing happened on a first date: what would you do to handle it?” to avoid coming across like I was maligning the man.
(In a nutshell: After our first date, this fella started sending me a cappella karaoke clips he’d recorded on his phone, and some other things I wasn’t quite sure how to react to, like a LinkedIn connection request and an article he’d written many years earlier [which he copied and pasted, in its entirety, into a single text message].)
Still, I cringed. I’m sure it can’t be fun to stumble on a blog post about you, even if it’s innocuous (…and six years old). More than that, though, I felt that same swirling concern. Why? Why do we exist in a world where hurt and pain (or simply bruised egos) become violence, cruelty, stalking, and aggression?
Here’s a situation where I spent a few hours with someone -a perfect stranger- six years ago, never saw him again, and now I feel unsafe. Perhaps the most disturbing part is that my inner monologue shouts, “Well. You blogged about him. YOU’RE ASKING FOR IT.”
Sigh. If anyone wants a pasta and Season 4 “Breaking Bad” binge, hit me up.
I almost don’t want to ask this, but: Any similar stories or concerns you’d like to share? Or, what do you think we can each do to create a safer, kinder world?
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.