And the Awkscar Goes To…

It’s award season, everyone!

When I was a kid, I really wanted to be a movie star. As a result, I always loved all the behind the scenes stuff. I would watch all the special features over and over again on my favorite DVDs, I loved Inside the Actor’s Studio, E! True Hollywood Stories, and I freaking lived for award season. I would practice my future interviews and acceptance speeches, dreaming of the fabulous dresses I would wear and dates I would bring (Rupert Grint at the time).

Now that I’m a bit older and a bit more self-aware, I am very content with my choice to hide behind the keyboard. When you’re fantasizing about being on Conan, you tend to forget the “fucking nerve-wracking” factor.

I still love award shows as I really respect great writing and great acting. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the movies much this year, so I’m not terribly familiar with the nominees, but I am happy for them. Since this dwindles my award show fix, I thought why not create my own? Why not create an award series for all of my favorite awkward characters of all time, and thus show my admiration for the actors and writers who create them?

Presenting…the Awkscars.

 

  1. Most Awkward TV Character

J.D.—Scrubs, portrayed by Zach Braff

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J.D. is the master of awkward. He talks to himself, trails off into odd fantasies in the middle of conversations, and has no idea when it’s okay to hug people. J.D. is my spirit animal.

Runner-up

Cliff Clavin—Cheers, portrayed by John Ratzenberger

Cliff really just wanted to be loved, which is why he wanted to go where everybody knew his name. But he was terrible with social cues, which is why we love him here on J. Awkward Prufrock.

 

  1. Most Awkward Movie Character

 Amelie—Amelie, portrayed by Audrey Tatou

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Amelie has a hard time connecting with others due to her isolated childhood. She is shy and socially anxious but still possesses a deep desire to help people…as long a she can keep them at arm’s length. We get it, Amelie. We understand.

Runner-up

Todd—Dead Poet’s Society, portrayed by Ethan Hawke

Todd was so terrified of writing poetry and then reading it in front of his class, his teacher had to close his eyes and spin him around. And it turns out Todd was deep as fuck. We love you, Todd.

 

  1. Most Awkward Book Character

Ignatius C. Reilly—A Confederacy of Dunces

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Ignatius C. Reilly is a slothful, agoraphobic man who hates everything about society. He frequently bores his few friends by telling them the same story over and over again, and he is of the firm position that he does not belong in this world. Me, too, Ignatius. Me, too.

Runner-Up

Neville Longbottom—Harry Potter series

Neville was a strong contender but he was such a stud by the end of the series, how could I really justify it? His adorable timidity and discomfort will forever hold a place in our hearts.

 

  1. Most Awkward TV Couple

Nick and Jess—New Girl, portrayed by Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel

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He’s a witty but insecure underachiever known to raise his voice for no reason at all, she is a socially naïve nerd. Can they get back together, please?

Runner-up

George Constanza and everyone—Seinfeld, portrayed by Jason Alexander and pretty ladies

George loves George enough for George. He didn’t need any of them, anyway.

 

  1. Most Awkward Movie Couple

Harold and Maude—Harold and Maude, portrayed by Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon

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He’s a rich introvert obsessed with death and she’s a crazy old broad who apparently loves Cat Stevens. The 50+-year age difference didn’t stop them from being adorable.

Runner-Up

Lars and the Real Girl—Lars and the Real Girl, portrayed by Ryan Gosling and his sex doll

Can’t blame a guy for falling for a fictional character. We’ve all been there.

2nd Runner-up

Napoleon Dynamite and Deb—Napoleon Dynamite, portrayed by John Heder and Tina Majorino

“Your mom goes to college.”

 

  1. Most Awkward Book Couple

Ron and Hermoine—The Harry Potter series

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It only took them A BAZILLION YEARS to kiss.

Runner-up

 Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy—Bridget Jones’s Diary

He stammers his way through blunt sentences, she has no idea how to behave at parties. Love is beautiful.

 

  1. Most Awkward TV Ensemble

The Office

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I guess paper is a really good awkward profession. Special shout-out to Dwight, who provided me with my favorite thought to think as I walk through the crowded streets of NYC: “We need a new plague!”

Runner-up

Seinfeld

Do you ever think those four people didn’t go outside for the first 25 years of their lives?

 

  1. Most Awkward Movie Ensemble

Mary and Max

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If you have never seen this movie, please make it a top priority. It is beautiful. A lonely little girl in Australia becomes pen pals with a middle-aged New Yorker with Asperger’s. And it’s based on a true story!

Runner-up

Superbad

I would have totally gone for Evan in high school. We mclove you guys.

 

  1. Most Awkward Book Ensemble

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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He makes a point to not stand out. His mother makes him befriend a girl simply because she has cancer. And Earl is the hilarious vehicle for common sense and friendly black advice. Sounds like a flawless recipe for awkward.

Runner-up

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Embrace your mistfitdom is one of many messages in the book that defined millennial teenage years.

There were so many others I wanted to mention but that’s the great thing about award season. It’s a season. It comes and goes each year like snowflakes and thus every awkward-teer will have their day.

 

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Thoughts on Love (Netflix’s Love, That Is)

No, this is not a post about my undying love for Netflix. Frankly I won’t be entirely happy with Nettie until he puts a ring on it.

When I first heard about Love, a series that just came to Netflix last week produced by notorious funny men Judd Apatow and Paul Rust, I sort of rolled my eyes a bit. Yet another series about unhappy 30-somethings navigating their way through the crazy world of modern relationships. However, I am a huge Apatow fan. I love his “slice of life” approach to his movies: how he takes emotionally trying situations and finds crazy amounts of humor in them. Superbad, The Five-Year Engagement, and This is 40 are absolutely brilliant and you can’t convince me otherwise. So while the premise of Love is overdone, my expectations of Apatow are high.

These feelings and the fact that the characters are pitched as “socially awkward” are what made me give the series a shot. I am fascinated by how awkward people are portrayed in movies and on TV. There are very few writers out there who have nailed the awkward experience.

The writers of Love did not.

The show succeeds in characterization but not in the way it meant to.

The male lead, Gus, is the only person who could be called socially awkward. But it’s an unrealistic awkward. He is barely functional in a conversation (and this is coming from me, guys), constantly stammering his way through nonsensical sentences, saying really inappropriate and often rude things. What’s more, the people around him don’t react to his awkwardness. They act like he’s perfectly normal. Even charismatic. But he’s so uptight, if I met him, I’d be a little afraid he’d hurt me if I disagreed with him or said the wrong thing.

Mickey, the female lead, is not awkward in any way. She’s the quintessential “cool girl.” She smokes, drinks, swears, and seems like she doesn’t give a fuck. You can imagine why I immediately groaned when I realized these were the two people who were going to end up together (I talk about this more in my post about romantic comedies in general). However, Mickey is a brilliantly formed character. She has an impulsive and an addictive personality that was portrayed flawlessly through the writing and the acting; she is a complicated mess of insecurities blanketed in false self-confidence, desperate to not only be loved but to feel worthy of it; she is an interesting and fresh take on the manic pixie dream girl. I found myself relating to her in so many ways despite her lack of awkwardness.

And here’s a special shout-out to Bertie, Mickey’s Australian roommate: a generally happy, optimistic person who just wants to make some friends in a new country, and she is perhaps the only person on the show whoever looks at Gus and Mickey and wonders what the hell they’re doing.

The writers did so well with characters. And kudos to them because that shit is tough, man. But everything else about the show was so disappointing to me. With the exception of how well they depicted addiction without making it the main plot point. I found myself hate watching it. Like I wanted to get through it all just so I could continue mentally listing all of the things I hated about it. I had such a negative emotional reaction to the show that I felt a need to write about it on here.

I can get used to the nerdy guy getting the hot girl. I do sometimes wish we could see the reverse, and not in such a way that the girl gets a makeover and the guy suddenly realizes she was actually a hot girl with glasses all along, but Hollywood is Hollywood. What was utterly unbelievable about the show was that Gus got hot girl after hot girl. They were always going after him, checking him out from across the room, approaching him with flirtatious conversation, not at all put off by his inability to form complete sentences. I suppose it can be justified by the fact that women in their 30s often realize they’re done with the games and just want a “nice guy.” Gus being a “nice guy” was beaten to death. But Gus is not a nice guy. Gus is an asshole.

At first, Gus’s crush on Mickey is cute, typical rom-com behavior. He is Woody Allen, she is Diane Keaton. The meet-cute occurs. She pretends she’s uninterested but gets jealous of the other women who are, inexplicably, always going after him. He professes his feelings and they have an adorable first kiss.

And then Gus starts treating her like crap. And the worse he treats her, the more obsessed she gets, the more obsessed she gets, the worse he treats her. Gus may look like a nice guy but he had few redeeming qualities. Mickey isn’t perfect either, but everything she said and did and how people reacted to her was in line with her established character. The two of them have chemistry, but only the type of chemistry that any two people so diametrically opposed would.

The show is categorized as a rom-com, but it is perhaps the saddest show I’ve ever seen. I won’t give the ending of season 1 away but I will say it’s infuriating. The running time was also outside of the form, each episode being between 30 and 40 minutes. Not that I don’t think that’s okay, but I do think it provided the writers with too much opportunity to drag out the drama instead of tightening moments that could have been comedic. As it was, they barely had enough of a story to cover 10 episodes. I can think of two (the pilot being one of them) that they could’ve done without.

It’s called Love but I can’t imagine that being the way it turns out for these two. There is nothing there but a toxic relationship bound to hurt everyone involved. The show seems to be more about the idea of love and the lengths to which people go to pretend they’ve found it. This is not a bad idea and falls in line with typical Apatow. The problem is that, outside of the occasional potty joke, the humor is missing. Maybe my major issue is that I felt cheated by the way it was marketed. That I was hoping for something most likely imperfect but still light-hearted and entertaining.

If anyone else out there has thoughts on the show, I would love (pun only mildly intended) to hear from you and discuss it. It would be nice to get a different point of view. I promise this will not become a review blog. Odd as it is, I just needed to get a lot of this off of my chest. I think the fact that I am having such a strong emotional reaction to the characters is only a further testament to how well they succeeded there. I am genuinely concerned Mickey’s well-being and hope she pushes Gus off a bridge in season 2.

I also find it completely fascinating that, despite love being such a universal experience, it is so difficult for writers to capture it. It’s kind of cool but also kind of scary.

If you want to see a hilarious show about modern relationships, I highly recommend Man Seeking Woman on FXX. It’s freaking spot on.

My verdict: Love ain’t so Apatow-sing (pun very intended).

What Not to Do When You Work Next Door to David Tennant

No, I do not work next door to David Tennant. Dreams do come true, but not those dreams.

I do, however, work next door to a man who looks…exactly…like…David freaking Tennant. And he is British and awesome. And naturally, I want him to think I’m cool.

…And naturally, when I want people to think I’m cool, my tactics for said coolness usually result in some sort of natural disaster. Here comes Hurricane Awkward! Whoosh!

So…I’ve never actually really said a word to the guy other than, “Hello,” because I know what I would do if I let it get any further.

He is still incredibly nice to me: always smiling, saying, “Good morning,” etc. Probably because he hears my coworkers and me talking about his David Tennant-ness constantly.

Here are some things I’ve thought about doing that you definitely should not do when you find yourself face-to-face with an FDA-approved David Tennant doppelganger.

-Stare at him without responding to his greeting because your thought process is always as such: 1) Is that David Tennant? 2) Did David Tennant just say hi to me?

-When he comments on the lobby art, say, “Better than angel statues, am I right?”

-When he pretend-chides you for being late, use the term, “Wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff.”

-When he excuses himself from conversation: “Have fun in your tardis…I mean…office.”

-Refer to his grumpy-old-man office mate as his “companion.”

-Do your best impression of Detective Alec Hardy by saying, “Miller” over and over in a heavy Scottish accent.

-Ask him anything about Sandbrook.

-Call him Kilgrave whenever he goes with the purple tie. Follow-up with a sinister, “Jess-i-ca.”

-Pretend he can control your mind.

-Yell, “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” As you walk away from him.

-Ask if Professor Moody is in his filing cabinet.

See guys, I’m learning!

P.S. Special shout-out to my friend, Tom, who wrote a wonderfully entertaining awkward-inspired Valentine’s Day entry. Tom’s an awesome writer, and you should read his blog here.

Observations on Valentine’s Day

As someone who writes about awkward romantic encounters and the other general nonsense of the social world, I felt it was necessary for me to bring up Valentine’s Day, quite possibly the most awkward day of the year (besides Columbus Day).

I used to be one of those people who combated that spirit of Valentine’s Day with bitterness and disdain. Down with men! Let’s burn our bras and eat cookie dough with our hands! I no longer feel this way, perhaps because I’ve learned there is no enemy greater than apathy, or perhaps because I really just don’t give a hoot. As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get the day off from work, there’s little to celebrate.

Thinking about what to write in this post caused me to reflect on this very strange day, its traditions, and the way it makes people behave. I am going to list these reflections for you chronologically for your convenience and mine.

Elementary School Valentine’s Day

Everyone MUST send a personal valentine to every single member of your class. Then we get to all get up at the same time and walk around the room, making a mess of everyone’s desks with 28 new slips of paper that will be stuck in our backpacks and forgotten until our mothers discover them and throw them all away. In the meantime, when you get back to your desk, you get to read cards that have messages like, “I think you’re swell,” with pictures of Scooby Doo on them, from people who any other day of the year (and possibly at lunch time today) would be throwing pieces of bread at you.

It’s alright. It’s very silly, but I get the system. They don’t want any hurt feelings. They’re democratizing love. It’s wasteful but rooted in kind-heartedness.

But then….

Middle School/High School Valentine’s Day

Hold onto your hats, kids! It’s a carnation sensation!

When you’ve finally gotten used to the elementary school system, they hurl you over to the other side of the fence: the side where suddenly how many Valentine’s gifts you receive illustrates your social stature and thus how worthy you are of love. Why oh why would any school allow those ridiculous carnation sales? If you want to milk Valentine’s Day for all of its capitalistic potential, at least sell something like brownies that everyone can enjoy. Do you realize by doing so you could double your sales demographic? Oh wait, I forgot that middle school and high school are about ostracizing the socially uncomfortable kids while their hormones rage and their bodies and faces get weirder by the minute.

If you couldn’t tell, I was one of those kids who rarely got a flower. I laugh about it now, but at the time, I remember feeling incredibly hurt by it. And it all could have been avoided if one astute administrator just looked around and said, “Hold on…this is really stupid.”

College Valentine’s Day

College is where Valentine’s Day becomes more “sophisticated” for its participants. I mean, you’re adults now, and your level of adultness is directly correlated with the girth of your Valentine’s Day activities. I had my first Valentine’s Day date my freshman year of college. We ate pasta and saw Taken and it was awesome. Neither one of us had a car and we had to be driven around by a friend, who brought another friend, which made it more fun, I think.

College Valentine’s Day is when people start to get really up in arms about the holiday. The pressure is real. I guess because relationships tend to be more serious. I can’t really say. But I do know that my sophomore year, I was in a play, and the director wanted to schedule a rehearsal on Valentine’s Day, and I had never seen such an uprising. Profanities were shouted, tears were shed, lives were ruined. The director ended up not scheduling the rehearsal and there was much rejoicing. I was secretly very bummed out because I liked the idea of having something to do.

As I watched the evolution of Valentine’s Day that comes with age, I also found myself extremely amused at how much pressure is put on the boyfriend to make the plans. The guy has to buy the flowers and the chocolates and make the reservation and provide the entertainment. And if he messes one thing up, all hell can break loose.

Which brings me to…

Working in a Restaurant on Valentine’s Day

…Why do people still go out to eat on Valentine’s Day?

I’ve worked in a restaurant for the past three Valentine’s Days and I honestly don’t understand how it can be a pleasant evening for diners.

Firstly, unless you booked your reservation a month in advance, you are going to get a terrible table and bad time. I have heard boyfriends get badly scolded over the phone when they find out all we have left is 10 o’clock and later. Many desperate men have tried to bribe me with jewels and finery to get them in the coveted 7 o’clock slot. But alas, my hands are tied to the integrity of the seating chart.

Any couple that I’ve served on Valentine’s Day also looks thoroughly miserable. For one, there is barely space to breathe, as the restaurant is trying to pack people in like sardines by adding tables anywhere there is space. There is no time to enjoy your meal because the servers have been told to turn the table over as quickly as possible. And they are charging you $45 for pasta. It’s a trap, everyone! You’re being hosed! Get out while you still can!

But people will continue to eat out. It’s just their nature. I, too, find food very romantic.

This year will be the second time I’ve had a date for Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend and I are doing a concert, a comedy show, and then will probably eat our weight in takeout food as we watch TV and unbutton our top pants buttons (because when he asked if I wanted to go to a restaurant, I immediately said, “No way, Jose!”). It will be nice. Love is a beautiful thing and it deserves to be celebrated. I just have a really hard time fathoming the celebration tactics we have chosen as a society.

The Top 5 Times I Ruined Everything

Two posts in one week! I’m proud of me.

Granted, it’s been a bit slow at the job I still don’t know how to do. At least, I think it’s been. There are probably 96 things I’m supposed to be doing and just don’t realize it.

It is no secret that I’m a terrible flirt. I’ve never been sure of the social nuances that constitute flirting. I mean, I’m talking to you, aren’t I? I don’t know you and yet I’m here, telling you things. Can’t you see that I’m terrified? Isn’t that enough to convey that I’m interested in further pursuing this courtship? Please ignore the fact that I just said courtship…and pursuing.

I simply cannot master appearing nonchalant, yet interested; sexy, yet sweet; mysterious, yet vulnerable. And I frankly don’t understand why we can’t just get all of our weirdness out in the open to begin with as a strategy. We’d probably save ourselves a lot of heartbreak.

Regardless, here are the top 5 times that it was over before it had even begun, the top 5 don’t-do-these-if-you-want-a-second-date tactics.

  • The Standpoint of Convenience

I mean, you can’t have him knowing you like him. That’s middle school cafeteria suicide.

Him: Well, maybe one of these days, we’ll have to hang out outside of work.
Me: Ugh, that sounds like so much trouble.
Him, trying to salvage what’s already been lost: Oh, it could be trouble *wink*.
Me: No, I mean, like, I live really far away.

  • Leave Him Wanting More

We pull into my driveway after going out for coffee. I go in to give him a hug, but he pulls my face into his face and kisses me…on my mouth, guys.

Me, pulling away, slightly frazzled:…Okay.
Him: What does that mean?
Me: Okay.

And then I got out of the car. And he never talked to me again.

  • The Candid Approach

Seeing the attractive male specimen I’ve had my eye on recently, I contort myself into a pose of available apathy. It probably looks more like menstrual cramps.

Him: Hey, uh, what are you up to?

He narrows eyes in a way that indicates he genuinely doesn’t understand what I’m up to and is legitimately concerned about my health.

Me, realizing my failure: Trying to appear aloof.

He furrows his brow as though he is still concerned but doesn’t want much more to do with the matter and walks off to find a better life.

  • Show Him Your Dirty Talk

A cute man in the bar does not immediately see I am behind him and accidentally slams door in my face. Realizing his error, he opens the door again.

Him: Ack, I’m sorry.
Me, in an attempt at a joking tone: Yeah, well, fuck you.

He is clearly crestfallen and confused by my remark.

Me: I’m sorry, that was really unnecessary.

He is still staring and I am not sure what he wants from me.

Me, taking my best guess: I was just…you know…you…and your face…and aaaahhh.

I run past him through the door, flailing wildly into the bar fray, desperately in need of a whiskey sour and new manners.

  • Play Charades

We introduce ourselves, and I just giggle because I am not sure what to say next.

Him: Oh, I get it, you’re the awkward girl.
Me: Yeah, I guess so.
Him: Yeahhhhhhhhh…

We stand in silence for what feels like 87 years.

Him: I’m gonna go.

That last one was actually a bit of turning point for me. You know how you never realize some things about yourself until someone points them out to you? It’s not as though I didn’t know I was shy or didn’t know I wasn’t great at making friends. But I finally had a name for what I was like in social situations. I was Jillian, the awkward girl. I was the girl who took off her shoes but left on her coat. And this was my story.

Two Average American Singles Walk Into a Bar

I was going to post about something else today, but my brother’s girlfriend encouraged me to tell this story instead. I will post all of my best 80s rock band puns another time (just kidding…kind of).

The story is as such: I have a male friend who is having a hard time meeting a nice lady. He has tried nearly every online dating site, but has had no luck. He was ranting about this one day as we were walking back from the gym, so I started to suggest other places he could go to meet people. He’s a stand-up, so I said why not try an improv class? He said it’s too expensive. Okay, well, he likes to work out, how about the gym? He said girls don’t want to be hit on at the gym.

Which, of course, prompted me to say, “Where do you think girls want to get hit on?”

His response? “I don’t know…a bar?”

Dear men everywhere, if you ever find yourself with the ingenious idea that girls want to be hit on in bars, I would like for you to reach up and shatter that epiphanic light bulb before it gets too bright.

For many reasons, a bar might perhaps be the single worst place to try and meet anyone…because at an improv class, they’d just be having fun and would probably feel very open and full of good energy. At the gym, they might be on an endorphin high or flattered that someone took notice of their sweaty self. Women are not going into those places thinking, “Man, I really hope no one hits on me today.”

In fact, the only place they might walk into while thinking such a thought is a bar.

Whenever I go to a bar, it’s because I want to have some fun over a few drinks with friends and eat greasy food. Some people go to bars because they are looking for a one-night stand. If you don’t plan to go beyond the physical, it’s not necessarily a bad option. But a bar is not a place for meaningful connections to happen.

Here’s why:

  • The Setting—poor lighting and loud music. Combine that with the booze and you can think you went home with an author named Todd and then be woken up by the police in an apartment that isn’t his because it turns out he’s a robber named Tom. How do you know if you want to make it to a second date if you can’t even really see them or ask them how they feel about fish tacos? Fish taco feelings are easily the most imperative make-it-or-break-it topic when scouting suitors. You can find absolutely no common ground in a bar other than that you and your friends have nowhere else to go on a Saturday and you both kind of like beer.
  • Our Guards Are Up—If women go into the bar with the attitude that all of these douchebags are going to try to get them into bed, they are going to walk around with eagle eyes and iron shields. To the point where a guy could innocently bump into a girl and she’ll say, “Sorry, no. I’m just here with my friends.” One time, I went to a gay night at a bar with my friends and I ordered a glass of wine. A guy who was sitting near me asked what kind of wine I was drinking, and I automatically said, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.” Then his boyfriend came up behind him and kissed him on the head and both just looked at me and laughed awkwardly. Even though I knew the entire time that, in all likelihood, he was just a friendly, gay man making conversation, I had to instinctually dagger him with a response. It’s The Bar Effect (trademark coming soon).
  • Alcohol—Some may argue that alcohol makes them feel more confident. That’s great for you. Alcohol does not have this effect on me. Sure, it makes me a little louder, a little more talkative, puts a little boogie in me, but alcohol does not do anything to improve my self-consciousness. Alcohol keeps me at my normal level of self-consciousness but makes me less able to filter it. And alcohol also makes that little voice in the back of your head that says, “Oh, yeah, do that. That will be soooooo funny,” a lot more prominent. So I do the thing and then everyone looks at me and says, “That was weird. Why did you do that?” And I very honestly reply, “I thought it would be funnyyyyyyyy,” but I’ve forgotten how to form consonants. And they go, “What?!” And then I start smelling my hair.

To all of you who think alcohol makes a good ice breaker, sit down and have a good, long think about how many people you’ve met who are more attractive when they’re drunk. Also, think about your desire to have your life-mate’s first impression of you be drunk you. I know that thought terrifies me. But I’m also sloppy and don’t get hit on much anywhere because I have mastered a facial expression combination between frightened and dismissive. Perhaps everything I’ve said so far should be disregarded.

Anyhow, for all of you looking for a mate out there, find someone who treats you like a Queen and will KISS you and bring you Guns ‘N Roses and let you call him Loverboy. And when he says, “I love you,” you can say, “U2.” (Well, there goes next week’s post.) Maybe you will find him in a bar, but remember that may muddle the advantage of common ground you can find elsewhere.

Also, I have this friend…