Separate Checks Please: An Online Dating Revue

I am so pleased to present this guest post! Please enjoy this delightful excerpt from the forthcoming memoir, Separate Checks Please by the incomparable Davina Faust.


Remember when online dating was something to be embarrassed about?  Like, if anyone found out you had a profile, they’d give you that reassuring nod that screams, “I’m sorry you’re not capable of a real life connection.”  Now, it seems that every time I whine about singledom, a friend offers the same generic, “Have you tried *this dating app*?  This girl I know met her fiancé on it!!!”

Why, yes.  Yes, I have tried that app.  I’ve also tried the 14 others that you’re thinking of, too.

Here’s a little backstory before we get juicy.  I was raised in a small town where I grew up with all of my eligible bachelors.  Being the chubby girl in class, those guys either bullied me or friend zoned me early on.  I then went to an equally small college to study theatre. This means that 96% of the men in my everyday life were indeed homosexuals.  So, in 2013, I moved to Manhattan with dreams of changing my life.  Aside from my work endeavors, I was pretty stoked to be a young, single, new-fit-bodied woman with millions of men to pursue.  ONE of them had to be my other half, right?!  I’d meet him in a coffee shop, we’d talk for hours, we’d move in together within a year.

Or maybe I’d crawl out of my cave and just try online dating already.

After almost four years of being a Gotham girl, I have yet to step off of the bachelorette merry-go-round.  But, the good news is, I have spent some energy on virtually every dating app that you’ve considered.  So, if you find yourself spending another lonely (and probably tipsy) evening debating your Seamless-for-Dating options, I’m here for you, sister.

Here are the top dating apps and my personal experiences with them.

Bumble

*duration used: on and off for one year*

Bumble: a place for men of higher caliber who have zero true desire to pursue you.  Seriously, everyone on this app works as a lawyer, banker, or doctor.  Regardless of their 401K, they will all treat you equally: they won’t respond.  At least on Tinder, we’re all pretty aware that most men are only looking for sex.  On Bumble, they’re all claiming to be seeking someone special… but really only have the available time for a hookup.  On the other hand, this app taught me the importance of being a standout icebreaker, which is really just a stroke to my writing ego.  Everyone claims to despise “Hey, what’s up?” messages.  In my own profile, I boldly promised, “Swipe right and you’ll get a haiku!”  I’ve had many swipe rights and I (a woman of my word) have offered many custom-written Japanese poems.  The only one I remember vividly was one about a hot athletic nerd guitarist because I knew it had to be THE BEST ONE I HAVE EVER WRITTEN.  But, even in flexing my creative peacock feathers, the match expired after 24 hours.  In fact, only two men in all of the NYC Metro area have appreciated their personalized haikus.  The rest were either confused, robots, or dead.  If you can’t appreciate my 5-7-5, then you don’t deserve my forever vows.

Coffee Meets Bagel

*duration used: less than 3 months*  

The “Candy Crush” of dating apps.  Seriously, why do I have to collect coffee beans in order to talk to someone?  I only went on one date from this app, in which he asked me, “So, how is this going?” about 30 minutes in.  If you have to ask how it’s going, it’s probably not going well.  I also can’t even think about this app without craving a f*cking bagel.  So for the sake of my carb intake & the time it takes to find someone worth spending “beans” on, I’ll pass.

eHarmony

*duration used: 3-6 months*

You know the old guy who is in every commercial, the creator of this site?  Well, what you don’t know is that he’s also the website developer.  He sat down at his Windows 95 desktop, created the platform once, and said, “This is great and shall never be altered!” as grandpas stubbornly do.  But seriously.  The website does not appear to have been updated since the “You’ve Got Mail!” era.  It’s hideous to my millennial palette and also very crappy in function.  Every time I’d log in to having “New messages!” it was just the same message that I’d had for a week that wouldn’t mark itself as “read.”  Every time a match came up & I was disinterested, that profile would somehow still pop up on my “suggested matches” for DAYS.  When I canceled my account, the representative pleaded, “Most people find their true love in 6 months!!” I bluntly responded, “Well, sir, that’s because it takes 6 months to actually receive new matches.”  Also a fair warning to my fellow urbanites:  if you live in Manhattan, your “true love” will live approximately 3 hours away in That Little Town off of Amtrak, NJ.  Not that there’s anything wrong with TLTooA, but I certainly don’t have time to haul ass there every week.

I will say I did appreciate how comprehensive the introductory questions were.  It made me feel like, “Whoa.  eHarmony really DOES try to understand who you are so you can find the perfect fit for you!”  But, not much later, the investment seemed like a total waste.  I could probably find an equally accurate personality quiz on Buzzfeed FO FREE.  Take my advice:  do not trust your money to a random old billionaire matchmaker.  Just have your Nana set you up with her friend Belinda’s grandson.  Maybe Bingo will be awkward for them if you guys don’t work out, but at least you’ll save $60 a month.

Gym People Meet

*duration used: less than 3 months*

As a member of the #fitfam, this app was the first one I have been excited over in a LONG time.  You mean, I can find someone who doesn’t think exercising on the first date is bizarre?!?  Sign me up!!!  I eagerly composed my profile, using photos of me clearly being active as I described my 50-lb weight loss and my current regimen.  I searched for matches within 20 miles. “There are no matches.”  Odd… I’ll try again later.  I kept attempting about once a day for a week.  My first match finally surfaced… and he was from Pittsburgh.  COME ON, BRO. Whether it be poor advertising efforts or lack of bachelors truly wanting to meet me at the gym, this app tanks.  Only about 4 men use this app, and most of them were scattered around the US.  Sigh.  Guess I’ll keep eating my cheat meals alone…..

Hinge

*duration used: less than 3 months*

This app also had a lot of promise as it was kind of like network marketing for online dating.  It skims your Facebook friends’ mutual friends to see if anyone wants to be more than friends.  Great idea!  My parents met at a wedding, after all, so who’s to say my college RA doesn’t have a hot distant cousin living in my city?  Well, much like Bumble, I have yet to encounter anyone who responds.

You’re better off selling makeup and leggings to sixth degree friends than you are to get a date.

Match

*duration used: 3 months*

Another attempt at a paid service as a means to “uplevel.”  I figured, maybe all of the guys I’m meeting suck because I’m not recognizing my own worth?  If a man is willing to drop a few dollars on a quality woman, then maybe I should advertise myself as a quality woman.

In the Match vs eHarmony wrestlemania, Match wins all of the rounds.  Great filters, easy-to-read profiles, and pretty accurate in only presenting you with people that you’d be interested in.  I will say, though, that a lot of guys are lazy in completing their profiles and Match is just really good at being their hypeman.  So if you’re a nonsmoker who doesn’t want to date a smoker, that may be the only thing you have in common with this NEW FANTASTIC SOON-TO-BE-YOUR HUSBAND MATCH!!

Also, this site is BOMBARDED with men who have done a 30 day free trial to no longer log in again.  At one point, I had between 6 and 10 unread sent messages collecting dust in my outbox.  Not because the dudes were uninterested, but because I’ll never know.  They hadn’t logged in for over 3 weeks.  There were maybe one or two nice guys, but I was discouraged by my otherwise shitty response rate.  Maybe my free apps are dumpster diving, but at least I’d actually meet people on them.

My other problem with Match is that, even though I’ve said sayonara, I still get emails from them even after unsubscribing.  And if you open the emails, Match claims to NOW have men who are 100% compatible to you.  How do you know that if I’m not even logged in, Match…….?

Plenty of Fish

*duration used: about 3-6 months*

This was my first attempt at online dating.  I saw an ad for it on MySpace.  LOL.

Notice how POF has now kind of died?  I mean, it’s still out there and existing, but compared to the competition, POF went into retirement along with the rapper Ja Rule.  I’m sure as I’m typing this, my algorithms are stalking me and I’ll see a POF ad every 5 minutes.  Anyway…. this site was pretty bottom-of-the-barrel for me.  I went on a date with a guy who didn’t really speak at all.  Not exaggerating.  But, I must give credit to this endangered dating site.  One of my best friends has met her soulmate on this site, and he’s a great guy.  Some people hit jackpots, while others (ME) bid $1 thinking it’s the smart move.

Tinder

*duration used: collectively, one year*

I’ll keep it simple, with (surprise) a haiku:

Reputation’s true.
Men want booty calls only.
No husbands on here.

Zoosk

*duration used: less than 3 days*

This was another one that was heavily advertised in the early internet days.  I tried it and immediately thought, “Wait, why am I trying this?”  I don’t really remember anything about it.  My takeaways were that I never exchanged messages with anyone, and that the font/colors of the platform reminded me of the 90s board game “Mall Madness.”

And, finally. The mother of them all (for me, at least)….

OkCupid

*duration used: on-and-off for 3 years*

I think this site, by far, is the most frustrating to me.  I’ve met several people who have found their forevers on this site.  I’ve even held substantial relationships with two or three guys myself (shocking, right?).  As the other apps are 87% terrible, OkCupid just knows how to offer that, “What if this time works?” appeal.

I will also compliment OKC for improving over time.  The filters have become more accurate so you can search for men of a certain age, distance, height, and “what you’re looking for” preference.  There are probably 8 million personality questions you can answer to find someone with a pretty accurate match.  There’s also a beautiful feature known as the “filtered inbox.”  Basically, anyone who you determine to be a waste of time gets thrown into the chum bucket.  Personally, I filtered out men 40+, from anywhere more than 2 hours away, who had a “match percentage” of less than 50%.

Because all of these weirdos were all in one place, sometimes I only left my dating profile active BECAUSE of the filtered inbox.  It’s beyond entertaining.
[Here’s a shameless plug for my Instagram account @separatechecksplease, where I screenshot my most ridiculous online dating message requests.]

I’ve mentioned the 2-3 guys that had enough longevity to be significant in my life, but not enough to turn FB official.  What I haven’t mentioned are the CRAZIES.  Guys who don’t wear deodorant, guys with sweaty ponytails, and guys who sell themselves as “lazy.”  I’ve been pursued by a guy who strongly believes that humans were created by aliens, another guy who sleeps on an earthing mat (Google it), and even a guy who yelled at me on the phone 10 minutes before our date was going to be happening.  And let’s not forget the reason why I’ve taken an indefinite leave of absence from dating altogether: the stalker.  Even though I’ve told him to “move the f*ck on” multiple times, there’s still a guy in Jersey City who likes to find me on different social media platforms and probably kisses my OKC user photo every night.  Luckily, I’m social media stealthy, so I have obtained enough information should a lawyer be my next step.  Given the amount of years I’ve wasted in searching online for “the one,” I guess it was time to have my personal well-being threatened.

And there you have it.  I’m just here in NYC, trying to make my love life as fabulous as Carrie Bradshaw’s like every other twentysomething woman I know.  But, for me, it’s without the uncomfortable heels, bitchy friends, and expensive wardrobe.  And since I actually have to hustle to survive here, I don’t have time to meet fabulous people just by knowing other fabulous people.

As I conclude this, once again getting bored with my life, I’m contemplating activating this OkCupid nonsense for the 384th time.

What if this time works?

Davina Faust is New York City based and, professionally speaking, “does what she wants.” While maintaining a job as a receptionist, she is currently building multiple streams of income as a creative entrepreneur. She pursues work in the voiceover industry, operating under the name Davina Speaks, and is currently finalizing the audiobook for the novel “Pure Fyre” by KristaLyn Vetovich. After maintaining a 50 lb weightloss for years, Davina recognized her potential to pay it forward as a health coach. She is passionate in empowering women who struggle with emotional eating and other stress-related disorders; guiding them to use healthy habits as a tool to live in their happiest skin. She is an AFAA-certified PiYo Live instructor, currently pursuing a certification with Precision Nutrition, and an active celebrant of dancing like a dork on “Feel Good Friday.” And, finally, she is diving into the memoir-writing world as the author of the upcoming “Separate Checks Please,” because her love life is too chaotic NOT to share.

Davina is incredibly active on social media for all of her pursuits.
Davina Speaks – IG: @davinaspeaks, www.davinaspeaks.com, FB.com/davinaspeaks
Flab to Fierce – IG: @flabtofierce, www.flabtofierce.com, FB.com/flabtofierce
Separate Checks Please – IG: @separatechecksplease, www.separatechecksplease.com in progress!
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My Top 5 Paris Gellar-isms

I had an entry prepared for last week that discussed how I was trying to mine for hope after the presidential election results came out, but ultimately decided against posting it because a) I was trying to promote an understanding that I was having a hard time experiencing and b) I was trying to make sense of something that didn’t make sense to me, and so the resulting entry was essentially nonsense.

But onward and awkward. Let’s talk about the Gilmore Girls revival. Because while women will have to continue to wait for societal equality, we will no longer have to wait for more quick, witty banter, obscure pop culture references, and Emily Gilmore zingers.

I love Gilmore Girls. It was one of my favorite shows growing up and I perhaps love it even more now. I associate it with these feelings of complete comfort and acceptance. The Stars Hollow universe was a place where people could just kind of be who they were, and when I was young, I really wanted a place like that, even if I really had no idea who I was.

In my not-always-popular opinion, the two best characters on Gilmore Girls are Emily Gilmore and Paris Gellar. It is rare to find fully-fleshed, completely grounded, complex female characters on television, and the Palladinos absolutely nailed it with these two. Plus, truthfully, I’m a bit biased because Emily reminds me of my own mother and grandmother in many ways and because Paris Gellar reminds me of me, especially me in high school and the first ½ of college—a young girl so terrified of loneliness and inadequacy that she refuses to emotionally connect with anyone, out of fear that they will make her feel lonely and inadequate, and in turn directly causes her own loneliness and perpetuates her own feelings of inadequacy (well, social inadequacy, at any rate. To compensate, she throws all of herself into feeling intellectually adequate, which I can also really relate to). A couple months ago when that “Post Your 3 Fictional Characters” thing was all over the internet, I never ended up posting mine because I firmly concluded Liz Lemon and Paris Gellar, and then I couldn’t decide between Hermione Granger and Daria. Probably will go with Hermione because it makes me less worried about myself.

Anywho, in honor of the revival, here are my top 5 most Paris Gellar-isms.

  1. I have this notion ingrained in my head that there is a right way to “do” parties, that socializing is a completely objective thing that I can crack scientifically through hypotheses, trial, and error. Therefore, I get excited when I go out somewhere, in the hopes that I will figure it out this time. Instead, I end up woefully disappointed and profusely regret not staying home.
  2. Yesterday, at work, I got into a heated argument about apostrophes. One of my biggest grammatical pet peeves is that many think adding an apostrophe and an “s” on a word that is not normally pluralized is the proper way to pluralize it. That is not true. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s true. I waited until everyone was gone and corrected the offending bulletin board that caused the problem in the first place.
  3. After I see a movie, I immediately start commenting on all the flaws in the script. It takes me days to decide whether or not I enjoyed it.
  4. I have a vivid memory of when I was six-years-old and some boys were making fun of me. Of course it was getting to me but instead of outwardly crying, I just looked straight at them and said, “You are primitive knuckle-draggers who don’t understand anything about anything and choose to translate your confusion into obnoxious behavior. I will not be a victim to such stupidity. Good day gentlemen.” (My grandmother watched me a lot when I was a kid and she was a big vocabulary advocate.) They just looked at me, silently, like I was nuts. Then another girl told them to eat poop. This girl ended up being my best friend for a really long time.
  5. You should see my boyfriend and me dance. Classic Paris and Doyle.

Further to the point, Paris and I also share the same bitchy resting face. I would love to see her reaction to someone telling her to smile. Also, when I argue, I argue loudly, firmly, and I talk as fast as I can. I like to think I picked that up from her.

November 25th can’t get here fast enough!!!!

No, I Don’t Want to Make Out with You (and Other Social Faux-Pas)

Whenever I’m at some sort of gathering of my peers, I usually have my Awkward Sensors on. It’s not always intentional, but I’m generally able to sniff out those who are just as uncomfortable as I am. And then we sit next to each other in eye-contactless silence and a new friendship blossoms.

But sometimes there is that person who clearly wants to be included, but other people are avoiding them because they’re hard to talk to or maybe a bit unpleasant. And I inevitably end up talking to that person because my empathy kicks in (I’m fairly certain I’ve been that person before) and because sometimes I prefer a little genuine unpleasantness to forced conversations about nothing.

But sometimes that comes back to take a big ol’ bite out of my behind. Because sometimes that person reads your talking to them as you wanting to hop on for a ride.

Perhaps I’m a bit naïve but I’ve never understood why talking to someone of the opposite sex when there is alcohol involved means you are randy and ready for their sweet, sweet love. That sounds like a case where I would avoid talking to that person at all costs.

So, I was at this party and wasn’t really having that great of a time, but I had promised myself I would stay for at least an hour, because this was one of several parties I had been to thus far that summer and had never lasted very long at any of them. Frankly, many people there had no idea who I was. I was hired two weeks into this summer theatre festival to do admin work and not only was everyone else on a different schedule, but I also have this habit of never introducing myself to anyone ever, in the hopes that makes them less likely to remember what it’s like to watch me eat.

Anyway, there was this guy there who I had spoken to a few times. He was a bit of a narcissist who made people feel uneasy, but he wasn’t the worst person I’d ever met in my life. We all have our flaws, and he was clearly looking for someone to hang out with, so I thought I’d go over and chat. We talked about things I like to talk about (books, mostly), and repeatedly, people would walk behind them so they could shake their head at me and make a “What are you doing?” face, and I would roll my eyes. I was getting texts from someone else I knew at the party saying, “Are you INTO him?” And no, I wasn’t. I was honestly just trying to be nice, so that when I meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, our encounter would be less awkward.

It was getting late and I wanted to leave. He asked if I would like to take a walk. We were all living on a college campus and I was planning on walking back to the dorm I was living in, so I said sure. Little did I know this was some sort of secret code for a booty call request. Now if a guy asks me if I want to take a walk, I just slap him in the face and run.

We got about a few feet from the party before he pulled me into him and said, “I’d like to kiss you, may I?”

“Uhhhh, no, thank you,” I responded.

He frowned and furrowed his brow, but he let go of me and we kept walking.

He fell in step behind me and I thought maybe, since everything was super duper uncomfortable now, he was just letting me go ahead and ending it there. For that, I would have been grateful. However…

Suddenly, there was a pair of hands on my shoulders. His thumbs were digging hard into my spine and I thought…this is it. He must know some pressure point in the spine that will knock me unconscious and then he will smooch me to death and bury my body. This is how I die.

Then he moved his thumbs outward toward my arms in a light, stroking motion.

He was massaging me. While we were walking. A mobile massage.

Well, this was a first.

“What are you—?”

“Shhhhhh,” he said, running his fingers up my neck and to my ear lobes, “don’t ruin it.”

I opened my mouth to say something anyway, but then there were two fingers in my ears. In my ears. Moving in a circular motion, rubbing my hearing holes. All I could think was, walk faster, Jillian, but it’s very hard to walk faster when someone else’s fingers are in your ears.

We were only a few feet away from the dorm at this point. My keys were in my hand and I was ready to get the fuck out of there. As we reached the door to my room and his fingers came out of my ears, I felt a beautiful Hallelujah envelop me in a warm hug.

“Well, goodnight.”

“Mind if I come in?” He asked, keeping about two whole inches of space between us.

“I’m really tired.”

“Just for a minute.” He pushed himself into the room. I made a point to leave the door wide open. Now, I’ll admit, I was a bit scared.

He pulled me into him and tried to place his mouth on my mouth. I tucked my lips so far into my mouth that they hopefully wouldn’t be back until it was time to announce it’s spring. He was biting at them, trying to get at them, chewing on my chin like a corn cob.

I pushed him away. “I’m cold,” I said abruptly, moving to the heater on the opposite side of the room.

“You know what keeps people warm? Blankets.” He started making his way over to the bed. I took him by the shoulders and pushed him toward the door. But he looked a little turned on by this. So I did the only thing I could think to do.

“You know what else keeps people warm? Calisthenics.” And I broke out into a set of jumping jacks.

It is the first and only time I have heard of anyone using jumping jacks to get out of awkward making out. Patent pending.

He frowned and furrowed again. “I get it. You’re not in the mood.”

Gee, ya think?

He finally left after that. I shut the door, locked it, and sat on my bed for awhile, pondering every moment of my life that had led to a somewhat-acquaintance giving me an ear massage.

The next morning, more texts came in. “Did you guys hook up?” “He said you hooked up.” Ugh.

As ridiculous as this night was and as good an anecdote as this has become, I consider myself extremely lucky and learned a lot from the experience: don’t leave a party with a dude you barely know, don’t assume people are into the conversations they are having or the people they are having them with, if you’re walking with someone carrying obvious tension in their shoulders, maybe you should try backing off instead of on, and cardio, man. Cardio saves mouths.

 

How Can You Tell if a Guy Wants to Hang Out?

No, really, I’m asking.

This has always baffled me.

Maybe it has to do with the rise of texting technology. Don’t get me wrong. I love texting. Never call me again, please. With texting, I can ponder and plan out dialogue thoroughly and possibly come across as witty and charming (note very literal use of the word “possibly”). Texting is like scripting my life.

But everything has its downsides. Like many people, I sometimes have a hard time understanding if someone, particularly someone I don’t know well, is kidding through text. Add that to the fact that I already don’t pick up on subtle social cues and things get messy.

So, as these scenarios go, let’s say I am part of a budding romance (because metaphors about asexual reproduction are probably best here). We’ve hung out a few times, we’re talking a lot, it’s going well. So we’re texting, we’re smiling, texting, and lol’ing. My repartee is at an all-star level.

And then suddenly, I get something along these lines.

“You should totally come over right now.”

“You know what would be funny? If you came over.”

“I kinda miss you.”

“Why aren’t you here?”

“I wanna kiss you.”

So I put down my phone and study my surroundings. Obviously, I am doing nothing of importance. Unless you count semi-watching an episode of a TV show you’ve seen 18 times while you eat pretzels in your underwear. The only thing noteworthy thing I’m doing is talking to you…and I could easily be doing that still if we were to hone in on your suggestion and maximize it to our greatest benefit. But are you being serious? Or are you humoring me while you’ve actually got your arm around your wife? Ah, there’s the rub.

I never know how to respond to this. I have gotten it wrong on multiple occasions.

Case 1: He is actually joking.

I say, “I’m actually free right now.”

And he responds with, “Ooohhh. Yeahhhhh. I was sort of kidding.”

And then it’s awkward. What the heck do you say to that?
“Haha yeah, me too. JK. I’m really busy right now. That’s why I am responding to you so quickly. Because I’m really busy.”

Dr. Jillian will still do everything she can but unfortunately, the conversation is…terminal.

Case 2: He is not joking.

I say something along the lines of, “That would be nice.”

And, instead of him actually telling me to come over because God forbid I attract a rational human being, he just basks in the coming-over fantasy. Like, “You could help me finish this pizza.” And I say, “Mmmmm, is it meatball?” This is how I sext.

This conversation has the opposite problem. This conversation has achieved immortality.

And so we continue to discuss all the different things we could do if I went over. They are all nice and totally feasible. Then, one of two things will happen. Either we will get into 2am territory and suddenly he’ll send a terse, “Are you coming over or what?” Whoooaaa, where did that come from? No, I will not be. Nothing good can come of 2am.

Or we will continue our pleasant conversation about everything that could have absolutely happened if he had just extended an invitation and then I’ll wake up to a, “Why didn’t you come over last night?” With a sad emoji face.

Come…on…

I ask you, readers, how, HOW, are we supposed to know the difference between the two? Are there signs? Is this just one of the many dating things I’ll never understand?

I’m really happy with my boyfriend for many reasons. And one of them is that I don’t have to deal with this shit. We can happily text each other knowing, “These plans are your plans, these plans are my plans, from family parties to making baked clams, and if I ask you to come on over, these plans were made for you and me.”

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…

J. Awkward Prufrock Goes to the Gym

I’ve never really been one for New Year’s resolutions. At least, not intentionally. If anything, I have more so utilized them for end-of-year procrastination purposes (I am GOING to DO THIS…next year).

But I’ve decided that 2016 is going to be different. In 2016, I am going to do things.

Many of my friends have made incredibly admirable New Year’s resolutions for themselves. They have a five-year plan, and they have outlined the necessary steps it will take for them to get there. As I mentioned in my last post, I like systems, and I think they have laid out their plans very intelligently.

My resolution is not this kind of resolution.

I do not have a five-year plan. I do not have a five-minute plan. When I say I am going to do things, I don’t mean that I am going to climb a mountain or visit Spain or break the world record for most M&Ms eaten in one sitting (though that last one’s tempting).  I mean I am going to actually leave my room and do the things that are easy for normal people to do, like join a gym.

It is not the gym part that scares me. I actually like to exercise. It’s great for managing anxiety and stress. And I like the gym. It’s an amazing place to go unnoticed. People are busy looking at themselves and being body-conscious, so if I trip getting on the elliptical or decide to kill two birds with one stone and practice my air-guitar, chances are nobody is going to see me.

It was the joining part that was holding me back. It was the idea that I had to go to a place and talk to a person.

I was starting to feel pretty crappy in my own body. I love to run, but it was getting too cold out, which induces my asthma. And I have a lot of nervous energy, which was starting to build up in my butt. To put it politely, one might say I am in the shape of perhaps a pear. To put it impolitely, when I gain weight, one might say I begin to look like a toothpick stuck in an apple or an upside-down lollipop. So, based on my new thing-doing philosophy, it was time to join a gym.

The first thing I came to learn is that New Yorkers take the gym very seriously. I used to belong to Planet Fitness back at home, and I love their basic, no-frills business model. There is technically a Planet Fitness in my neighborhood, but it is roughly 1.5 miles from my apartment, and I know myself well enough to know I would never go there after working 9 hours. There are three gyms within ½ mile of my place, so I looked into all of them.

These are the facts about New York gyms:

  • They are expensive. But this is actually good for me because I’m a frugal Franny and I milk my money’s worth out of everything. If I’m paying $46,000 a month for a gym membership, you can bet I’m going at least four days/week.
  • They want your soul. Sign up for life or face the dire consequences!
  • They want to know about your fitness goals…so they can get you to sign up for more things for life and take more of your money.

I picked the cheapest gym, because I’m a 25-year-old and a Seamless prime customer, and I see no reason to change everything about my lifestyle.

I walked boldly into my chosen place of exercisement, raised my chin with queenly authority, and told them I would like to join. I filled out some forms and a very unfriendly woman gave me a tour, which helped make the whole ordeal virtually painless. I love fundamentally unfriendly people because they could not care less if you stay inside of your awkward cocoon. I handed her my credit card, promised them my life, and my future spouse’s life, and my future children’s lives, and I was very proud of myself and all seemed well…

Until she told me that all members get a free personal training session and could I come back on Thursday at 8.

…What now?

I just sort of nodded in response as my insides started twisting with fear. I had done what I had come to do. I had done a thing. And now I had to do another thing? One-on-one, with a stranger, for an hour, in which I would be demonstrating precisely how uncoordinated I am. I highly doubted the personal trainer would allow me to ride the bike at low resistance the whole time and call it a day.

For 48 hours, I was dreading this. I had to keep telling myself, “It’s just an hour of your life,” over and over again. I was still telling myself this when I walked into the gym yesterday. The first thing that happened was that I was grossly early. Which is usually the case for me, especially when I’ve been preoccupied by the very event for two days. Naturally, I hid in the locker room.

At first, I felt weird about hiding in the locker room. I had nothing to do in there but sit on the bench and play with my hair and look at things. Then I realized that many women actually go to the gym and do just this. They sit in the locker room for 15 minutes re-doing their pony tails and checking themselves out in the mirror and lightly stretching and sending gym selfies. I actually didn’t feel out of place at all. Then, the time arrived for me to check in.

The trainer’s previous appointment was running over, and I wasn’t sure how it would come across if I asked if I could hide in the locker room some more, so I stood at the front desk/smoothie counter and attempted to talk to the smoothie guy about my previous experience as a smoothie engineer and various fruit : juice ratios. While most of it was in jest, he was clearly perplexed, and this is why I don’t make small talk.

The trainer arrived and took me into a small, dingy room with nothing but a scale in it and I can’t help but think this is where nightmares are made.

“So, Jillian, why are you here?”

“Uhhhhh…” Something told me, “I was tricked,” was not an acceptable answer.

“I guess I’m looking to, uh, tone.”

He furrowed his brow at me and frowned.

“Well, that could mean a lot of things. Tone is a very general term. Can you be more specific?”

“I’m looking to tone my…upper body.”

I don’t know if that’s more the answer he was looking for or if he just knew he wasn’t getting anywhere. He then made me get on the scale to “see what we were starting with.” I haven’t weighed myself in years, so this was interesting. I won’t tell you the resulting number, but I will tell you that I blame the shoes.

He then handed me a machine that kind of looked like a Gameboy and a part of me started hoping this was a virtual reality thing and all of my training would be done in this room in video game form. It turns out the machine was for calculating body fat vs. muscle. Again, I won’t tell you the results, but I will tell you that his reaction was, “That’s weird.” And I’m pretty sure I heard it laugh at me.

We then headed out to “assess my cardiovascular strength” or something. I immediately felt completely vulnerable as I was surrounded by mirrors and muscly men who knew what they were doing. When he asked me to do a squat, it became very clear to me and everyone around me that I didn’t know what I was doing. Apparently, I’ve been squatting wrong for 25 years. He began to make adjustments that I guess were supposed to be helpful but just seemed like his objective was to make me as uncomfortable as possible. As I looked at my new position in the mirror, I half expected a baby to come out of me.

We moved on to lunges, which I’ve also been doing wrong for years. Evidently, the proper way to do them is excruciatingly painful. I will be going back to my old routine, thank you. Then, he made me step on and off a bench as fast as I could, which further proved my theory that I can’t do anything without falling. Then planks, which I actually don’t completely fail at. I will plank for days.

He asked me how hard everything was on a scale of 1-10. From a physical standpoint, the answer was 4. From an emotional standpoint, the answer was 12, but I don’t think he was interested in that. He made me repeat the circuit, this time adding weights, making it much more difficult. He made me do moving lunges all away across the mat, causing me to pass other gym-goers who I’m sure felt much better about their lunges after watching me struggle. Tight hips + crooked knees=one heck of a slapstick show. Jerry Lewis would be proud of me. He also made me lift 30 pounds of weight several times before planking.

And again, “How hard was that on a scale of 1-10?”

And in my frenzy of sweating profusely and my heart beating wildly, I once again said, “4,” because I am a masochist.

He laughed maniacally, as the devil would laugh, and accepted the challenge, giving me more weight, forcing me to increase my speed, screaming at me to be better, and I felt like I finally had met my conscience in the flesh. I fell nearly every time I did anything and collapsed onto the mat after my final plank. He leaned over me, blocking my eyes from staring directly into the unflattering fluorescent light. “We at 10 yet?”

I squinted at him, unable to speak, and held up a 4 with what was left of my finger strength. J. Awkward Prufrock can handle anything, bitch.

Anything that doesn’t involve a conversation, anyway.

He peeled me off the mat and took me back into the personal training room, roughly 35 minutes into my supposed hour of free training. He then proceeded to tell me that I clearly used to be very strong but now I’m an inactive hopeless case unless I find a way to increase mobility in my hips. I asked him if that means I should dance more. He stared at me blankly and then asked if I wanted to give him $4 zillion a month so I could do what we just did 3 days a week. Oh, you fool of a salesman. But I can’t say no to anyone, so I told him I would think about it, and have requested a copy of the schematics of the building so I can figure out how to avoid him at all costs.

He offered me a free “recovery” smoothie, for which I was grateful, as it is essentially a milkshake with chocolate health powder, and as I exited the gym, my quads throbbing, I patted myself on the back for not only making it through one thing, but two things. I think that makes me good for the rest of January.

The 12 Awkwards of Christmas

The first thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The second thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The third thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The fourth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The fifth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The sixth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The seventh thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

STOP SHAKING YOUR CUP AND TELLING ME YOUR KIDS ARE STARVING!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The eighth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Unfurls chart on how to avoid getting trampled in Rock plaza (chart is blank),

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The ninth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

The smells make me hungry,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

Maybe I’ll get them 7 backup gifts just incase.

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The tenth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

People being cheerful,

The smells make me hungry,

It looks like a rapist in my peripherals!

Pushy salespeople,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The eleventh thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Work holiday parties,

People being cheerful,

Seriously, how many things can smell like gingerbread?

Scary inflatable snowmen,

Pushy salespeople,

“…thank you.”

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

Enthusiastic carolers,

Manhattan getting crowded,

And not breaking things on the Christmas tree.

 

The twelfth thing with Christmas that’s so awkward for me,

Political correctness,

If I drink, they’ll judge me,

People being cheerful,

The smells make me hungry,

Scary inflatable snowmen,

I came to buy underwear and now I spent 12,000 dollars,

Receiving gifts and wishes,

PANHANDLERS WHO MAKE ME CRY!

What if they don’t like it?

FA-LA-LA OVER THERE, PLEASE!

Manhattan getting crowded,

Who am I kidding? I broke everything.

 

Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmases/happiest of Hanukkahs/ the kindest of Kwanzas/a magical Merlinpeen/Festivus for the rest of us! I will continue to stay home and shop online and pray it all arrives on time (because not having a gift to present is an awkward category in and of itself).