My Top Five Most Awkward Male Encounters: The Elementary Edition

I mentioned briefly in Reflections on Monogamy: The Childhood Years that as a child, I was particularly preoccupied with the idea of falling in love. This can easily be traced back to having seen entirely too many Disney movies and the notion that I’ve always been the kind of person who just does what they’re supposed to do. And clearly, based on the Disney principle, what I was supposed to do was marry the first boy I see (because I’ve been living under lock and key for all of my life, but still manage to understand how to love prudently and demurely…seriously, how were those Disney princesses not hopping on those pretty boys right off the bat?).

I was very methodical in choosing who would be the lucky man, often having to change course once realizing that many 8-year-old boys were not interested in marriage, despite how alluring I tried to make the tax breaks and other various monetary benefits. Usually it was a) whichever boy was talking to me (because I was really strange and awkward and anxious, so getting talked to was kind of a feat in and of itself) or b) whosever name I liked the most (because phonetics are important in a relationship).

I have undoubtedly learned well since then (or have I?), but it took a lot of trial and error and growing up to realize that there is more to love than a name, and that relationships can be a pain and it may be best to wait around for the second or third boy you see before doing anything rash.

Meanwhile, I bring you the top 5 most awkward encounters I had with these potential suitors.May they bring you joy, wisdom, and confidence…because 3rd grade you probably had much better game.

5) Cute boy with nice name is seated across from me on the first day of school. He says nothing to acknowledge me, but I decide if I stare at him enough, perhaps he will notice me. Isn’t that how you let a person know you like them? By staring at their face? Is that how you tell them they have a nice face?

Him: Uh…could you stop looking at me?

Clearly, I had been mistaken. I sometimes wonder if this is why I now live in fear of eye contact.

4) I strut over to boy’s desk, sporting new haircut. I coolly tilt my face toward his, flashing a gap-toothed grin.

Him: What the hell happened to your hair?

Granted, he was absolutely right. It was a horrible haircut. I thought maybe if I cut it short, I would look like Amy Jo Johnson, aka the Pink Ranger, aka the most badass bitch on cable. The problem is I have incredibly thick hair, and cutting it any shorter than my collarbone results in my resembling a church bell.

3) In classic fashion, I send my best friend to stand behind my crush on the lunch line to casually dig for information about his feelings toward me. I sit with my hood up, incognito, at a nearby table.

Friend: Hey, so do you like Jillian?

Him: No.

I still have no idea if this was more or less embarrassing than my more ambiguous attempts. On the one hand, I didn’t have to spend any more time wondering. On the other hand, if he possessed normal intelligence (which I really wasn’t sure of. Like I said, it was all about names!), he was now fully aware of the fact that I liked him. Ah well. At least my hood was up to hide my tears!

2) Me: Hey, I bet I could make you laugh.

Him: Bet you can’t.

Me: Uh……

I run away.

In the fifth grade, while at the pinnacle of my pubescent awkward phase, I discovered that I was sort of funny, and I thought I could use this redeeming quality to my advantage when it came to my quest for male affection. However, I also discovered that forcing yourself to be funny on the spot is a recipe for panic. My hope is that he thought my running away was the punch line and that he actually laughed hysterically. I am unsure since I never looked back.

And the heart-breaker…

1)It’s the first day of school and I see the boy I had a monster crush on the entire year before while heading out to the buses. I give him an enthusiastic wave to outwardly reflect the fluttering of my heart.

Him: I don’t know you.

In a way, it made me more attracted to him since he was clearly hyper-aware of stranger danger, and if he really didn’t recognize me, he did the right thing. Still, it stung a little.

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The Liebster Award

The lovely and talented Allierae21 has nominated me for a Liebster Award, and I am so very grateful! Please check out her awesome blog, How to Get Things Done in 10 Ways.

The Liebster Award is a fantastic way to help new bloggers network and gain exposure and also a great way to discover blogs worth reading.

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Here is how it works:

  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions given to you by the nominator.
  • Nominate up to 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
  • Create 11 questions for the nominees.
  • Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

Here are the 11 questions Allierae21 asked me:

  1. Why did you start blogging?

I enjoy my day job (usually), but I need a creative outlet. I’ve always had a passion for storytelling, and I’d have to say my main life goal is to make as many people laugh as I possibly can. There’s a bit of J. Awkward Prufrock in all of us, and I want everyone to be able to laugh with me about how crazy love can be!

2. What is your biggest pet peeve?

Small talk.

3. If you played hooky from work, what would you spend the day doing?

Find a nice, sunny reading spot in a park somewhere and half-read, half-people watch.

4. What would you consider to be your biggest/best talent?

I’m weirdly good at tongue twisters.

5. What are you afraid of?

Snakes. I can’t watch Snakes on the Plane without entering the throes of a full-on panic attack.

6. What is your favorite T.V. show?

Parks and Recreation.

7. What is your go-to meal to prepare for dinner?

Which take-out menu is nearest to me?

8. What is your favorite post on your blog?

I think Reflections on Monogamy: The Childhood Years. Just because it’s fun to look back on our childhood selves, and in my case, realize that not much has changed.

9. Mac or Windows?

Gotta go with Mac. I’ve had my trusty MacBook for 7 years and it still works pretty damn near perfectly.

10. What is your favorite form of social media?

Pinterest (perhaps because it may be the least social of the social medias).

11. If you could be any animal, what animal would it be?

An owl: badass bird of prey, nocturnal, can turn their heads almost all the way around, associated with wisdom, and it’s the best chance I have to get to Hogwarts.

Thanks again, Allierae21!

Without further ado, here are my 11 nominations for the Liebster Award (note: I may have messed up and you may have more than 200 followers. I like your blog anyway.):

Allegory of a Studio Apartment

The Lonely Tribalist

The Adventures of a Lazy Boy

Essays from a Foggy Mind

The Totally Serious, Absolutely Professional Blog

The Perils of Pauline

The Whale Sings

Life’s a Wonderland

My Shattered Life as a Jewish Housewife

Aspiring Journalist Jane

Darling Chay

Here are my questions for you, should you choose to accept them:

  1. Who is your favorite fictional character of all time?
  2. What was your favorite movie when you were a kid?
  3. If the zombie apocalypse were happening as you were reading this, which three objects in the room would you take with you as weaponry?
  4. Do you have any weird hobbies?
  5. What is your favorite vegetable?
  6. Is there a writer whom you particularly aspire to be like?
  7. Describe your writing in three words.
  8. If you could be anything, career-wise, without having to give the slightest thought to finances, stability, or practicality, what would you be?
  9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
  10. What’s your favorite scent?
  11. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Godspeed, Liebsters.

Why I Don’t Date

Let’s define our terms right off the bat here. When I say I don’t date, I don’t mean that I’m a hairy hermit woman who sits alone in a log cabin, hurling rocks at every gentleman caller who dare enter my domain. I suppose when I say I don’t date, I mean I don’t date strangers. I’ve never been able to just meet a guy out of the blue, talk to him for a few minutes, and end the exchange with an agreement to spend further time together. That sounds exhausting. No, no. I need to get to know a person first on a friend level, preferably in a group setting. Ease my way into the whole talking thing. And usually the end result is several dates, possibly a relationship. None of this let’s-get-coffee-so-I-can-tell-you-my-favorite-color-and-you-can-pretend-that’s-fascinating-and-we-both-pretend-our-breath-doesn’t-stink-from-the-coffee mumbo jumbo.

But there was one time…ONE TIME…when I decided to take a chance and challenge this viewpoint of mine. One time when I decided that I was going to be the kind of girl who dates. And then I would turn into one of those women who gets flowers sent to her by one guy while she is on the phone with another and she is sharp and perfect and good at keeping her stories straight and laughs in the face of women who struggle with men.

And this one time…absolutely confirmed that I had been right all along. Dating is awful and I won’t do it. You can’t make me.

It all started off with graduating college and me not knowing what the heck to do with myself. You see, I had moved back home and my theatre degree was really all I had. Suffice it to say, I began looking for waitressing jobs immediately. So in this sense, it felt a lot like any old summer vacation. Except for the fact that all of my friends from back home had found jobs in new and exciting places and I was just sort of shuffling about, perpetually on the brink of an existential crisis.

I found myself wandering into a hotel/catering hall to fill out a job application. There was a boy behind the front desk who I admit was cute-ish (I’m a sucker for a nice thick pair of glasses). He asked me to wait a few minutes so he could print out more applications. I said no problem and took a seat. He brought me the application, I filled it out, handed it to him, and he told me to have a nice day and that he’d put in the good word for me, to which I curtly responded, “Thanks,” because people scare me and we are often rude to the things that scare us.

Fifteen minutes later, I got a phone call.

I answered pretty quickly because I assumed it would be one of the zillion places I’d applied at that day and that they were immediately enthralled and entranced by my illegible handwriting and irrelevant experience. “A theatre degree, you say? When can you start?”

“Hi uh…Jillian?”

“Yes.”

“This is Seth.”

“Who?”

“Seth. We met this afternoon at the hotel. Look, I know it’s really weird and unprofessional of me to get your phone number off your job application, but I was wondering if you’d like to go get lunch with me on Tuesday.”

Insert my baffled silence.

“I mean…you seem like a nice person?” Yes, he did phrase it as though it were a question. Note he wasn’t only questioning my niceness, but my seeming niceness, as though the 3-4 words I had said to him earlier may have given him cause not to trust me.

We are going to play a game here on J. Awkward Prufrock. We’ll call it “Cute or Creepy?” Every so often, I will post the story of a questionable situation I have encountered with the opposite sex, and I want to hear from you: is it cute or is it creepy? So, what say you, Awkward-teers? Was Seth’s move cute or creepy? At the time, I thought it was more on the cute side. Ballsy, even. But I want to know, what would you have done if you were me?

There I was on the phone, completely tongue-tied and taken aback by what was happening. This had never happened to me before, and I had no idea what to do. Then I remembered that I was a college graduate! An educated woman, damn! This was a time to be experiencing wild and wonderful things, exploring new horizons, finding out who I truly am! And maybe I’m a dater. Also, I was incredibly lonely and he knew I was unemployed so maybe that meant I’d get free lunch.

“Uh…sure,” was my cleverly crafted response, because at this point in mine and Seth’s relationship, I had learned that keeping my sentences to two words or less made me seem nice maybe.

He named a time (1pm) and place (local trendy hipster restaurant) and I wrote it down on a Post It and we parted ways until Tuesday.

Fun side-note, I remember during the period between this phone call and Tuesday, HeyTelling my college roommate that I had a date (ya know, during the two weeks that HeyTell was popular), and her response was, “You have a fucking date?!” I was very amused at the time by her excitement and confusion. The girl had lived with me for three years and had never once seen me go out on a date. She knew what a rare thing this was for me, and consequently, she was more entertained by the end result than anyone else.

So Tuesday morning arrived and there I am, minding my business in my PJs, bitterly regretting agreeing to go out on this date because there was a Gilmore Girls marathon on TV that day, but also in a dream state about the prospects of the lunch. Maybe things with Seth would work out. Maybe he also liked Gilmore Girls and not getting dressed. Maybe he liked Harry Potter more than I do (no, that’s impossible, Jillian. Get your head outta your ass!). Maybe he knew some famous casting director and I’d be well on my way to becoming a star in no time!

At 11:15, I got a text.

“Hello Jillian. This is Seth. From the hotel. I was just wondering if we were still on for today.”

I found it a little odd that he felt a need to remind me that he was Seth From the Hotel, as though there were many Seths I had agreed to meet that day, but none of the others could have been from a hotel. But hey, maybe that meant he thought I was a girl who dates!

“Hi Seth. Yes, still on.”

“I thought we had agreed to meet at 11am. As in 15 minutes ago. It is now 11:15am.”

Whilst I can intellectualize the panic Seth must have been feeling at this point, thinking I was a no-show, I couldn’t really understand why he thought I couldn’t tell time or why he often felt the need to throw in superfluous information. But hey, I was learning things about him, and I suppose that’s the point of this whole dating thing.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I wrote down one o’clock for some reason.” Because that’s the time you told me, Seth, even though apparently you’re really great at telling time.

I didn’t get a response for a bit after that, so I threw in a second message: “I can get down there at noon if you’d rather.” Theoretically, I could get there by noon, if he didn’t mind the very natural look (as in wet hair and morning breath).

“I’ll see you at one.” Well, that was easy.

I arrived promptly at 12:55pm and waited outside the restaurant for his arrival. At this point, I am going to switch to mostly dialogue to illustrate the goings-on of this meal we shared. I have a feeling you’ll get the gist of exactly what I was thinking as all of this was unfolding.

Seth: Hi, Jillian?

Jillian: Yes, hi.

Seth: Seth.

Jillian: …Yeah, I know. Sorry about the time mix-up.

Seth: That’s okay. I only live up the road.

Jillian: Oh, good.

Seth: If I lived further away, I would have been mad.

Jillian: Oh.

Seth: Wanna go sit?

Jillian: Sure.

We are seated. Awkward silence ensues.

Jillian: The food is really good here. I love that they do all-day breakfast.

Seth: Hm.

Jillian: I think I’m going to get a waffle.

Seth: You should get a sandwich. It’s too late for waffles.

(I’m going to interject briefly here and just point out that if there are five words that could ruin any date, my vote is those five words are, “It’s too late for waffles.”)

Jillian: I don’t think there is a time limit on waffles. Every o’clock is waffle o’clock.

Seth: It’s one o’clock. If it were 11am, maybe.

Jillian: I’m going to get a waffle.

Seth: Okay. I’m going to get a sandwich.

Jillian: Okay.

More silence.

Jillian: So…do you have a favorite color?

Seth: No.

Jillian: Oh.

Seth: Do you?

Jillian: Green.

Seth: I would have guessed pink. Your shirt is pink. And your bag is pink.

Jillian: Well, I do like pink.

Seth: Pink is an obnoxious color.

Silence again.

Seth: How old are you?

Jillian: 21. How old are you?

Seth: I’m not old.

Jillian: Okay.

Seth: I mean, I don’t want you to think I’m some old guy.

Jillian: I never thought that.

Seth: I’m 20.

Jillian: Okay.

Seth: So I can’t drink yet.

Jillian: It would appear.

Seth: But I drink at school sometimes.

Jillian: Where do you go to school?

Seth: Harvard.

Jillian: Oh, fancy.

Seth: Yes. People are usually impressed by that.

Jillian: So you’re going to be a senior?

Seth: Well, I’m taking some time off right now.

Jillian: Okay, well, sometimes people do that.

Seth: I took some time off beforehand, too. To pursue a career in ice dancing.

(Because I am not a good person, I thought he was joking, and proceeded to laugh…hard).

Seth: What’s so funny?

Jillian: Oh, oh…nothing. Nothing. I love watching ice dancing at the Olympics. I’ve always kind of wanted to try it.

Seth: You couldn’t do it. Your ankles are too fat.

Jillian: Well, there goes that.

I wish I could say I was exaggerating any of this, but I remember it quite distinctly (though time has a way of playing tricks on the mind) because it was this experience that prompted the decision to never ever agree to a date like this again ever. That lunch lasted exactly an hour, but it felt like 15. It was not worth the free waffle (when it finally arrived, by the way, he said it “looked fattening” as he ate his side salad. He could have gotten sweet potato fries with that sandwich and he chose a side salad! After this observation, I decided he was an alien sent to Earth with no preconceived notions or knowledge of what is good and worthy).

He texted me a few times after that. Frankly, I was quite surprised he wanted to spend any more time with me since it was now a life goal of mine to avoid him and dating in general at all costs.

I didn’t get that job at the catering hall.

The Top 5 Most Awkward Kissing Techniques

Kissing is one of the few dating-related categories I like to think I understand. Whilst a good ol’ fashioned lip-wrestling match can be intimidating, there are certain go-tos one can always abide by: 1) Kissing is defined as the touch of the lips as a sign of love, sexual desire, reverence, or greeting. Take note of the word “lips.” Your lips are the samurai, the tongue is merely your sword. 2) If you get bored, tilt your head. You may appreciate things from another angle. 3) When in doubt, follow the leader. Remember, everyone has spent time and energy refining their kissing manners. Whatever they do to you may very well be what they expect from you, so it is perfectly acceptable, when you’re at a loss, to just do what they do.

Unless they do one of these things.

5) The Swash Buckler: Argh, yer matey’s vessel has apparently hit rocky waters. Consequently, they feel they can only open their mouth partially so as not to take on too much water, and their tongue is going to swiftly move back and forth to counter the rhythm of the waves. This technique will leave you with few places to go. The quick, yet predictable movement of the tongue makes it hard to add variety, and the semi-closed mouth means you’re just going to taste whatever’s leftover from their dinner.

4) The Face-Eater: A face-eater understands the importance of the lips within the kissing context, and I commend them for it. Face-eaters are potentially solid kissers who don’t understand the scope of their mouth size. So their whole mouth ends up encapsulating your whole mouth and they’re essentially making out with your nostrils and chin, leaving you to feel like you’re being swallowed by a slobber whale and likely unable to breathe.

3) The Chomper: Lips are friends, not food. If your tongue is your samurai sword, then your teeth are your firearms, only to be taken out when you know you’re at war. A little light, playful biting never hurt anyone, but for goodness’s sake, buy some Trident if you’re looking to chew on something.

2) The Fire Stoker: When your partner doesn’t feel your mouth is open wide enough, sometimes they may feel compelled to stick their tongue tonsil-deep in your mouth repeatedly until they achieve the circumference they desire. Not only is this a choking hazard, it may cause spit to spread rapidly. Do not try at home. Do not try ever.

And, tongue-roll, please…

1) The Combination: Every so often, you may be blessed with the opportunity to make out with someone who can simultaneously achieve all four of the above. I have on two occasions. Remember, this is a privilege, not a right. Embrace it. Learn from it. (Also, when referring to this technique in casual conversation, remember to sound as French as possible. Otherwise, let us not go to number 1. ‘Tis a silly place.)

None of these are a deal-breaker for me, of course. Any beast can be tamed. But the most important thing is that you find someone whose awkward kiss matches your awkward kiss so you can fall in awkward love and spread the Book of Awkward.

Did I miss anything? Got a kissing horror story? Leave a comment.

My Top 5 Most Awkward Flirting Attempts

Welcome back to Top 5 Friday on J. Awkward Prufrock!

Unfortunately, I had to miss last Friday due to my lovely cousin’s wedding. I’ll make up for it eventually.

Today, I bring you my top 5 most awkward flirting attempts. The word “attempts” is used fairly concretely here. As a lone town drunk once pointed out to me in a bar on a Monday night, as I sat there in sweatpants and a sumo-style bun, waiting for my brother to be done with work so I could drive him home: I don’t know how to flirt. Well, more kindly, he indicated that I choose not to flirt, but we all know the truth here. Flirting is chemistry, kinesiology, psychology, and art all at once. If I spent some time thinking about it, I may be able to understand one of those things on a fundamental level. However, since flirting often leaves one with mere seconds to strategize, I am generally at a loss.

Here are some very clear illustrations of such losses. Can I explain my thought process during the majority of these? No, not really. But I can say this, ladies: sometimes the nod and nervous smile just might be the best way to go.

5) Him: So, did you like the movie? Kind of sad, right?
Me: Yes. I also found it very…colloquial.
He furrows his brow, which I take as a cue for finger guns and a mouth-click.
Him: Well…see ya.

That’s what you get for using finger guns without a permit. Ah, well. Target practice makes perfect!

4) Him: You sound a little congested.
Me: Yeah, I have a cold.
He very smoothly puts up his hands in a shield-like fashion and takes a step back.
Me: That’s right. BACK AWAY!

Not only did I outright order the very cute man to back away from me, I said it with the tone and force of a chain-smoking vice principal on cocaine.

3) Guy whom I have been playfully talking to for awhile happens to be on the phone in the stairwell I happen to walk into. Accordingly, I start fantasizing about how amazingly audacious it would be if I just grabbed him and kissed him full on the mouth. It would be long and soft and sensual, and I would pull back and give him “the eyes,” and he would say, “I’m gonna have to call you back,” into his phone and hang up. Rom Com level making out ensues.
Whilst fantasizing, I am also apparently staring with my mouth partially open and an absent-minded smile on my face. He puts the phone down against his shoulder.
Him: Uh, you okay?

The unfortunate high price of awkwardness: a very active imagination and no social skills to make it happen.

2) We make eye contact through a glass door. He gives the slightest hint of a sexy smirk.
Let the nervous tap-dancing begin.

When in doubt, put on a show! Make ‘em laugh, as Donald O’Connor would say.

And, the doozie:

1) I wave goodbye to him and he blows me a kiss.
I pretend to make a small dive for the kiss and put it in my pocket. He chuckles.
(Me, internally: Oh, a chuckle! That’s right, you’re entertained! I am funny, damn. Alright, I can work with this. We have a rock-solid foundation. Now, what next? Oh, I know. I will pretend to drop the kiss. He will be so tickled and I will show off my top-notch improvisational skills! Here we go.)
I proceed to drop the kiss and run after it, ending with a slide on the floor because I am a committed actress, gosh-darn-it-anyway. I clap both my hands around the kiss and let out an exaggerated sigh of relief at finally having caught it.
I look up and see him talking to another girl.

And I couldn’t help but notice she was very much not on the floor with her hands in front of her face, but rather standing with an unfailing confidence and a hair-flip I could only dream about in my Rom Com fantasies.

Got a flirting disaster along these lines? Don’t forget to leave a comment and share!

My Brief, Yet Tumultuous Waltz with Tinder

I recently went through a bad break-up, and the few months leading up to it were so emotionally trying, that once it finally happened, I began to make weird, rash decisions. I cut and dyed my hair, I had an inter-office fling, and…I downloaded Tinder.

For those of you unfamiliar with this revolutionary app, Tinder is a way for you to make deep, profound connections with other singles in your area who are also looking for a long-term, meaningful commitment. The wild and wonderful thing about Tinder’s algorithms is that it makes this possible purely through photographs. By making a snap-judgment about someone’s looks (swiping right if you like them, swiping left if you don’t), you are able to narrow down your potential soul mates into a small, sparkling pool of possibilities. Talk about putting your faith in love at first sight! All you have to do from that point onward is sit and dream that one of the little fishies in your pool will also swipe right when your picture appears, and the two of you can swim off fin-in-fin, and you’ll have a romantic, beautiful love story to tell your grandchildren.

Or maybe it’s more of a venue for girls to be reassured that their looks are worthy of male affection and for guys to send dick pics as a token of said affection. But I’m more of a glass-half-full person myself.

So I sat on my bed with my phone in my shaking hands, waiting for the app to download. This may sound a bit exaggerated, but you have to understand that this was a big step for me. I was willingly subjecting myself to socializing with strangers. Strangers! My most great and terrible fear! The little icon finally transformed from a washed-out gray into an intimidating orange flame, and with a sigh, I clicked.

While other dating sites such as Match and eHarmony, from what I understand anyway, ask for many personal details in order to best match you up with someone, Tinder only requires your name, age, and location. Well, I knew all of those things! Didn’t even have to think twice about them. Thus far, this experiment was proving to be nice and easy.

And then, I had to pick out a photo.

I can maybe name three things I enjoy less than having my picture taken, so suffice it to say, this was a debilitating task for me. I saw myself as having three options:

  • A professional headshot. Definitely the best pictures of me in existence, but what on earth do they say about me as a human? Would I want to hang out with me if I saw a picture of me with my hair and makeup all neat, smiling robotically at the camera? Plus, let’s be honest, I don’t actually look like that. Those pictures are less about what I look like and more about the amazing things that some good lighting and some Photoshop can do.
  • A picture of me with my friends/doing something silly. This option certainly presented a bit more personality than number 1. I tend to take better pictures with my friends because I am more comfortable with them. The biggest problem here is that they won’t know which one is me and my friends are all better-looking. What if they actually swiped right for one of my friends and then I show up on the date and they are sorely disappointed and it turns out they brought some tar and feathers with them just incase? And then I get tarred and feathered and it would be the third worst first date I’ve ever had.
  • A picture of me by myself, whether it be posed or candid. This was pretty much never an option even though it technically was. When I am asked to pose for a picture by myself, my body enters a state of confusion that scientists have yet to figure out. My arms snap to my sides while my legs strangely remain hip-width apart, and my smile shows a tension one might also encounter when thoroughly brushing his or her teeth. Plus my eyes very clearly state, “I would rather be anywhere but here.” And all candid shots of me just illustrate that I do weird things with my face when I think no one is looking.

After much deliberation, I decided option 1 was the safest. This is Tinder after all.

Now for the fun part: the swiping. I admit I enjoyed it for a little while. I actually felt kind of cool while doing it, sitting nonchalantly on my bed with a glass of wine next to me, looking at pictures of cute guys. I felt like I could do this; like I could dive right back into the dating pool, no problem; like I could be the kind of person who meets up for some drinks and light flirting and be very casual about things.

And then a guy popped up who wasn’t my type at all, looks-wise. But he looked incredibly nice. He was sitting outside with his mom and a puppy in his arms, toothy grin shining through a tufty beard. And I sat and stared at my phone for an unreasonably long time trying to decide what to do about it. I mean, he was clearly family-oriented, liked animals, liked the outdoors: all great things. But I didn’t necessarily like the way he looked. At that moment, I wished everyone posted impersonal headshots with pretend smiles.

And, filled with crippling guilt, I swiped left.

I swear I could hear the sound of Taps playing softly in the background, mourning the loss of my integrity as swiping left became easier and easier. Soon, it was second nature. I found myself being able to adopt the casual attitude I so coveted, and it scared me. Gravely. I put my phone down and chugged the rest of my wine.

Then I heard that fateful ping.

A Tinder notification popped up on my home screen, “You have a message from Mike V.”

I remembered Mike. He had sandy blond hair and ripped abs. His picture was of him standing on the tip of a boat. He seemed dangerous and fun and that was exactly what I needed. I took a deep breath as I opened the app to reveal the message.

“Sup?”

At that, I was pummeled by nerves. He gave me absolutely nothing to work with. He didn’t even give me words. Was this a trap? What was I supposed to say? “Muffin”? Was it too early for food humor? How do I respond and seem coy, sexy, and interesting? “Oh, ya know, just a little tipsy, sitting on my bed in my PJs, hitting the Twin Peaks message boards, and crying a little bit.” Why should I even bother trying to be those things when the best he could do was, “Sup”?

I ultimately decided to ignore it for the time being. Better to make them wait after all, right? That’s how this works?

And then, a second message came from Kyle S.

“Hi Jillian!! How are you?!”

Whoa, hey now, buddy, that is too many exclamation points. While it was a big step-up from “Sup,” this guy already had way too much energy for me. Extraverts scare the shit out of me, with their smiles and their natural volume and their penchant for doing things. Kyle S. was giving me way too much while Mike V. gave me nothing at all. Will I ever find the delicate balance? Will I ever fall in love again? What if the guy with the puppy had sent me a nice message? What if he quoted Mel Brooks or Monty Python or Tolstoy or Chuck Norris and I swooned after him into happily ever after?

After roughly three hours of having the power of Tinder in my hands, I ultimately decided I wasn’t ready. I pressed the icon on my phone’s screen, and hit “Delete.”