When Awkward Met Awkward

A long, long time ago (July 12, 2015), at a writers conference far, far away (Long Island, where I live), one girl (me) would defy the odds and not totally screw up a first date.

The first time I saw my boyfriend, I thought he was hitting on the girl next to me. I found myself mildly jealous, and reacted normally by going back to my room and googling him.

The second time I saw my boyfriend, I was helping myself to approximately four tacos and was heading over to the dessert table. I picked up a cookie and turned around to see his face, giving me a small smile. I reacted normally by holding my cookie up, aggressively proclaiming, “You gotta have a cookie!” And ran away as fast as I could.

The third time I saw my boyfriend, I was reading outside and saw him talking to someone inside a nearby building. I reacted normally and decided I would take the (very) long way back to my room, in the hopes that maybe I would get a bit of his attention, despite the lack of cookie in my hands. I went inside the building and (as casually as I could manage) walked by him. It was pretty anti-climactic. I exited convinced that he hadn’t seen me and headed toward my room, thinking the evening ahead of me would be filled with sales reports and a few episodes of Bob’s Burgers.

Imagine my surprise when, about ¾ of the way through my journey, I heard a panting noise and turned around to see him, out of breath, clutching his knees, and in the most gentle, sincere way, he said, “I followed you.”

So the first thing I learned about him was that he has the lightest footsteps in the entire universe and the first thing he learned about me is that I’m a really fast walker. I still constantly look around when we are walking together to make sure he’s still there.

We talked for an hour after that, just standing outside on the sidewalk. It was the most effortless conversation I’ve ever had. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t trying to be aloof or flirtatious or appealing. I wasn’t anything. I was just having a blast. We had inside jokes within minutes. We went to the beach and talked until nearly 2am. We made out in his car as Gypsy punk music played in the background. It was magical.

And even though a lot of crap has happened over the past couple of years (theses and job searches and career changes and health scares), I can say it has been magical ever since.

They say opposites attract. Maybe that’s true for some. I kind of think it’s a cliché used to get people to go see Rom Coms. All I can really say is that, after a string of romances one might refer to as a comedy of errors, it’s been wholly serene to be with someone who understands me. I don’t have to worry about the weird things I do or say; I don’t have to be self-conscious (of course, I will be, but that’s beside the point). We can say things to each other like, “Do you ever worry that gravity is just going to stop working?” And the other will confirm that is a perfectly reasonable thing to worry about.

I’m not perfect. Neither is he. We get stressed out and have bad days. But we have a contract that we will always be nice to each other, no matter what. After the experiences I’ve had, his strict adherence to this agreement still shocks me, and I often find myself saying, “You’re so nice to me.” And he always responds, “Of course.”

Even though I just poo-pooed the “opposites attract” cliché, I will say this to you, awkward-teers, if you’re struggling with this portion of the vast, deep, rich life you’re leading: love is out there, you deserve it (every bit of it), and it will probably happen when you least expect it. I also poo-pooed these clichés for a long time, but came around to realizing you can’t deny the facts. If an awkward, self-loathing curmudgeon like me can reel in a keeper with lines like, “You gotta have a cookie,” anything is possible.

And to you, Marc, happy anniversary. You’re the best ram gagger this side of Nevada and there is no one in this universe I’d rather be weird or worried about gravity with.

As Alain de Botton says in The Course of Love, “We don’t need to be constantly reasonable in order to have good relationships; all we need to have mastered is the occasional capacity to acknowledge with good grace that we may, in one or two areas, be somewhat insane.”

DSC06476 copy

My Top 3 Most Awkward First Date Moments

I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

Dating was important to me from a fairly young age, because I thought that being in love would fix all of my problems, from my glaring emotional insecurities to why pants never fit me right. So when the time came around for me to date, I wanted to do it correctly.

The problem was that I was growing up during the dawn of the internet and a golden age of romantic comedies, and while young me hoped this would provide answers, it only created a crowded and ambiguous thought bubble full of questions. Questions that I still have to this very day.

And so, here we are.

1.


From my pre-teen years onward, I always thought it was kind of weird that men were expected to pay for everything on dates, based on what I had observed and read. I understood where the idea came from, but now that we were living in a time in which women earned their own money and forged their own independent paths, it didn’t make sense to me. I also feel horribly uncomfortable whenever anyone does anything for me. If I ever broke my leg, I would still limp my way to the kitchen for a glass of water to avoid inconveniencing anyone.

Of course as an uptight, angry teen, I thought the idea of a woman paying was highly progressive and that my cause would contribute to the betterment of humanity. To the point that I was pretty militant about it. Any guy who offered to pay got a hard no (it, of course, never occurred to me that the money I spent usually came from my father’s wallet since I had no pennies to speak of at the time).

When I was about 19, I was talking to an ex-boyfriend and he casually mentioned that while he supported my viewpoint, if someone wants to treat you, sometimes it’s polite to just let them treat you. So when another guy pulled up to my house for our first date, saying he was going to treat me to miniature golf, I decided I was going to try and be treated. What could be so bad about a treat?

When we arrived at the mini golf course, I started to panic. The idea of letting him pay made me feel so…dependent, powerless, weak. I was coming around to understanding that’s not always how the treat-er sees it, but the helplessness that started to take over my body was uncomfortable and making me feel sick. So when he was about to walk over to pay for our mini golf outing, I knew it was going to happen.

But that didn’t mean I had to see it happen.

“I…uh….” I stammered.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, all good, I just uh…” Think, Jillian, think! What is a good excuse? His beautiful face is staring, waiting.

“I’m just…gonna stand over here.” Yes, that makes sense.

“What?”

“I’m just gonna stand over here for a minute.”

“Do you need me to…stay with you?”

“No! No…that’s alright. You go over there. I’m just gonna stay here.”

He raised one eyebrow at me, but he did listen. And he did date me for a little while after this. Bless him.

I then proceeded to hide behind the bathroom building and let the transaction happen at a distance.

It occurs to me all these years later that I could have just said I had to go to the bathroom. That’s probably a more normal thing to do, right? Oh, well.

2.


Because I, like many, was a walking bucket of contradictions (still am, just different contradictions), even though I felt I was pursuing a great feminist plight financially, I also still really wanted boys to like me. This combined with a total lack of social and self-awareness at the time really made some weird science happen.

I used to be a lot more preoccupied with physical appearance than I am now. I think being healthy and feeling your best is important, but back in my teenage years, my warped brain was downright obsessed with keeping my weight low and making sure nobody knew that I ate.

Which proved tough. Because I can eat, friends. Like, really eat. I have no sense of fullness. Only a sense of sickness and self-loathing.

But I thought that showing off this talent would be unattractive to the opposite sex. This started to be a sort of problem when I entered the “getting asked to dinner” phase.

Once for a first date, a guy took me to a nice pub with a small menu, mostly consisting of burgers, wings, and other messy foods that I could chew loudly and get all over myself as I licked the plate clean. Also, he had already said he insisted on paying, and if I was going to allow that, you could bet your arse I was going to get something real cheap. I perused the menu for something that would make me seem dainty and low-maintenance (even though I am neither). I settled on a stuffed mushroom appetizer, knowing how impressed he’d be by my teensy appetite.

“Are you sure that’s what you want for your meal?” The waiter asked. “It’s kind of small.”

“Oh, yes, that sounds perfect,” I responded as my stomach growled at me.

“You girls always eat like birds,” my date said through a small smile (see! It wasn’t just me! We all had them fooled).

Turns out “kind of small” meant one mushroom, stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese, in the middle of a white plate.

Now I didn’t want to eat too quickly and appear gluttonous or make him feel like he had to eat his actual, normal meal quickly, so I decided to cut the mushroom into crumb-size pieces, fit for the delicate birdie-ness I was emanating, and ate them at a very slow, calculated pace. I think I actually finished after he did.

Then I went home and made myself nachos and he never called me again.

3.


This story, while awkward, is also about effective techniques one can adopt in the face of douchery. It is about survival.

I went on a first date and it was going well. Pretty low-pressure stuff: fruit smoothies, a walk around town. He seemed nice.

Of course it turned out, for this man, a date that’s going well means he’s totes gonna get laid after.

So, as we pulled into my driveway, I leaned in to give him a tame kiss on the lips, and he took my face in his hands and forced my mouth open with his tongue. I pulled myself away because, ew, gross.

“What are you doing?”

“You, hopefully,” he responded with a smugness so potent, I wanted to throw acid on it.

He started leaning in again. His face was mere centimeters from mine.

“I’M OVULATING!”

“What?”

Then I jumped out of the car and ran.

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!

The Top 5 Most Awkward First Texts I’ve Received from Gentlemen Callers

Guys, I understand all too well that there’s a certain amount of pressure when it comes to starting a conversation, especially with someone you’re trying to impress.

But…come on.

-“have fun last night”

It honestly took me several hours to realize this was a question. As I went about my daily tasks, I kept wondering what it could have meant. Was it some sort of H.D.-inspired commentary on how superfluous words can be? Are you telling me you left your fun somewhere last night and you think I have it? It seriously took everything I had to realize it wasn’t just four random words. Does that make me thick? Probably. But because I didn’t understand, I did not respond. What are the three rules of texting? Punctuation, punctuation, punctuation.

Hey I got your number from your coworker. It’s your favorite customer from tonight ;).

Ah, but that’s my secret, random dude: I hated all my customers.

This was from my bartending days. I never did forgive that coworker. Also, just my two cents, be very careful with your winky faces. A relationship must get to a certain level before incorporating the winky face. A premature winky face could easily be read as, “I’m outside your window with binoculars and a gag.”

Hey QT got any nudes?

I can only assume he was looking for Quentin Tarantino and had the wrong number. Granted, I am not promoting harassing Quentin Tarantino for nude photos of himself or anyone. It’s just the only way I can justify anyone sending me something so gross.

So, you be Goose and I’ll be Maverick? 😉

…this is just extremely confusing on multiple levels. Oy with the winky faces already!

Quick, who is your favorite Pokémon?

Had he picked literally any other fandom, this might have led to at least a greater conversation…but, call me a cynic, I had a weird feeling about where “Pokémon” would go.

Your Perfect Woman

Hello, I am your perfect woman.

I am completely hairless, outside of the hair on top of my head

(blonde or brunette, your choice),

Long lashes, thin eyebrows.

The rest of me maintains the smoothness of a fresh wax

Without having to go to the salon,

Like a Thanksgiving turkey before it goes in the oven.

I somehow have a tiny waist,

Large, perky tits and a plump, firm ass,

That physically could not be held up by my long, thin legs,

But what can I say? I’m perfect.

I don’t wear makeup because I don’t have to,

Because I look like I’m wearing it even when I’m not;

I wake up in the morning with a smile, looking bright,

With breath that smells like a spring daisy.

I don’t fart.

Or burp.

Or chafe.

Or sweat.

My sneezes and coughs tiptoe around your important conversations.

What was that sport you like again?

I know everything about it.

I drink whiskey, but it doesn’t make me mean or sloppy.

No, when I drink, I just become more lively, more dazzling,

And more horny (but I’m not a slut).

I eat racks of ribs without getting sauce on my face

And I chew as quietly as I sneeze.

You love me because I call people out on their b.s.

But I never call you out on anything

Because I agree with you on everything.

I’m smart, but I’m not smarter than you.

I’m funny, but I’m not funnier than you.

I’m financially independent, but I don’t make more money than you.

I’m never too tired to do things for you;

I keep clean and don’t say an un-clever word.

I’m sweet and kind and innocent.

I’m tough and strong and worldly.

I need you when you want to be needed

And no more or less than that.

I call you when you miss me

And no more or less than that.

I want to have sex whenever you want to

(but I’m not a slut).

In fact, I’ve never had sex before you,

But I’m really good at it.

And I love sexy underwear.

Really, I love it.

I love how the thong nestles itself in my butt,

Like food stuck in your teeth,

And how the lace makes me itch

Like bugs crawling over me.

But I wouldn’t think of revealing my skin to others.

My body is yours, darling.

I never embarrass you because I’m always “on.”

I’m never emotionally vulnerable;

That would make me crazy.

In fact, maybe I’m too guarded

Because of my insecurities,

Because even though I’m perfect,

I just don’t realize it.

You need something to fix, after all.

I’m your perfect woman

And you will settle for no less.

An Open Letter to the Boy I Thought Had Ruined My Life

Recently, I found a letter I had written to a boy I dated about five years ago. He had just broken up with me, and I had never been more devastated. I walked around my college campus in zombie-like state, with puffy, red, wet eyes for days. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I thought I had lost the love of my life and there was no coming back from the pain. I think the letter may have served as a cathartic means to get all of the bad feelings out, but man, is it a doozie.

The thing is I was essentially thanking him for breaking my heart. Not in a self-empowered, I’m-better-off way, but, like, thanking him for his time. Thanking him for stooping so low as to spend three months in a relationship with me. Thanking him for “loving me.” I talk about enclosed gifts that I don’t remember buying, but I’m pretty sure I also never sent them. In the past, I’ve had a habit of buying gifts for the guys who dump me. I’m not sure what I’ve meant by them. Maybe it was a reward, maybe it was a, “See, look how great I can be! You sure are missing out.” No matter what, the gift had a whispered undertone of, “I have low self-esteem.”

They were usually pretty nice gifts, though. Don’t tell my boyfriend.

It’s kind of funny because I remember the breakup itself and the post-breakup madness pretty well. I even vaguely remember writing the letter. But I don’t really remember anything about him.

I remember his name, what he looked like, a couple of the things we did together. I have one vivid memory of him drunkenly screaming at a picture of Kel Mitchell and then throwing up everywhere. And the dick pics. Oh, the dick pics. He had a real affinity for those. A calling. A passion. I was too young and inexperienced at the time to question it, though I remember not being particularly fond of them. To me, they all had the personality of a student athlete who is having trouble balancing his schoolwork, love life, and his sport. And when he really can’t handle the pressure, he has to yell, “Believe in yourself!” into the mirror over and over through his tears.

I do not remember what we talked about or what we had in common or why I liked him so much. As I squeegee all my brain folds, I cannot, for the life of me, recall an attractive quality about this individual, the great thing that separated him from all of the other ones who had dumped me. The letter does not mention anything like that either. It’s a thank-you note mixed with elegant pleading, embalmed in nonsense that I’m sure I thought sounded poetic at the time.

He broke up with me over the phone, while I was sitting in my car. He’d actually made the official breakup statement while I was on my way to the car, but I waited until I was comfortably seated inside to scream every profanity I knew. (The conversation actually ended with him saying, “You’re making me feel really bad. I’m going to have to hang up.”)

Here are the various reasons he gave to me as to why he wanted to end things: 1) He wanted to be able to fraternize with the fairer sex to his heart’s content while he was on vacation. Enjoy the herpes, buddy. 2) I was neither “spunky” nor “athletic” enough for his liking. I’m not sure what he meant by spunky but I have a feeling in his mind, it was a girl who enjoys unsolicited pictures of male genitalia. As for the athletic thing, well, we played tennis together once, so obviously this was extremely important. Oddly enough, this is not the first time a suitor has been surprised by my lack of athleticism. I don’t understand it, and if you saw what a struggle it is for me to walk three steps in a straight line without falling, you wouldn’t understand either. 3) I had gained weight.

And so on.

Essentially, I was given a laundry list of all the things about me that were unattractive. I guess it’s nice that he put so much thought into it. You can see why I missed him so much.

Then the words, “I just don’t think you’re good enough for me,” came out.

And I think that’s what did it, in the midst of all this ridiculousness. This one phrase. This phrase that ate away at my psyche. The phrase that put me in therapy. Because this pet rock of a human being thought I didn’t deserve love. And I believed it. That much was clear. The letter said that, the gifts said that. And that was the way I felt, for a very long time.

So, it is rather exhilarating to look back at this letter and laugh so hard, think, “Oh God, I said that? I thought that?” To shake my head at how stupid I was five years ago, as I attempt to reflect on why I thought this was a problem worthy of a second thought.

And it is perhaps even more exhilarating to write this letter…

Dear Boy Who I Thought Ruined My Life,

Who are you, again?

Best, Jillian

The Chaser

Apologies for the absence, awkward-teers. I had forgotten how hard it is to motivate yourself to do things when you don’t have much to be accountable for. Work begets work; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

That, and I do often spend the week of July 31st immersing myself in Harry Potter, and I had to spend a little extra time on that this year because I needed to realign myself into the fandom after reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. What a magical mess that was.

Anywho, I am trying to be better about things and to get myself back on track. I doubt I will fully get there until I have a set plan and a routine again. Until then, feel free to enjoy my instability as I cry my way through Pitch Perfect 2!

Today we shall discuss The Chaser—and no, I’m not talking about whatever you grab after you take a shot of really cheap tequila (“Something else, anything else, turpentine! Does anyone have any turpentine?”). I’m talking about the guy who only wants to date you because he thinks he can’t, and then once he thinks he can, he’s done.

I really freaking hate this notion of “the chase” in dating. I just don’t understand why anyone would want to play games with people’s time and emotions. But I suppose when I see a cute fella, I’m too focused on making sure I don’t lean on the burning candle to think about whether or not I’m looking “too available.”

But back in the day, when I didn’t know any better, I gave a strange guy my phone number because he asked for it. This was the first time someone I had never seen before in my life just point-blank asked me for my phone number and I didn’t know what to do. He knew people who knew me, so I couldn’t give him the wrong phone number. And he was standing very close to me, so I panicked.

He texted me a few minutes later asking if I would meet him at a bar down the street. I said no. I was tired. And I had no interest in spending time with someone who asked for my phone number before I had even said a word to them. Of course this whole thing was all my fault because I gave him my phone number and I was answering him. Because I get no pleasure out of making things simple for myself.

He texted me again the next day, telling me he was going away for the weekend and I should hang out with him before that. I declined again. He texted me a few hours later saying, “Good news. My car is in the shop.” I said, “I’m so happy for you.” He said, “I like your sass.” That should have been red flag number one right there. He liked that I was being mean and withholding. He must have had some serious mom issues.

He asked me to hang out again. I said no.

This went on and on for over two months. Everyday, I would get another douchey text saying something along the lines of, “Are we ever gonna hang out or am I gonna have to return this engagement ring?” And other sexist things. I told him I had been a fat baby and he made fun of me for it ruthlessly.

He would ask me to hang out and I would say no.

One time he said, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” And I responded with the monologue from the s’mores scene in the Sandlot. He told me he was starting to think I was a crazy person. He called me Jill when I asked him to call me Jillian. He asked me to hang out again and I said no.

And then, one day, right around Christmas, he texted me again about hanging out. I had to work that night. He knew where I worked. And it was Christmas. And the thing is, I was lonely. I hadn’t been working at this place that long, so I didn’t really have friends there, and I was just out of college and all of those friends were scattered. These horrid text exchanges that made me roll my eyes were the only social exchanges I had; this had become my most consistent relationship.

So, I told him to come by the restaurant where I worked and we could have a drink after I was done.

He texted back that he would be there, albeit with some hesitance. I think he was already losing interest. I wasn’t sassy anymore. I was no longer a puzzle for him; granted, his method for solving the puzzle was shoving the same wrong pieces together over and over again until they were so worn down, they gave up.

So, after two months, he came and we sat down and we had that drink.

And my suspicions were confirmed. He was the worst. He called the dishwashers in the back “filthy Mexicans.” He told me he was kicked out of his frat in college for forcing two girls to drink so much, they got alcohol poisoning. He called me an idiot multiple times. And then, as he took his last swig of beer, I breathed a sigh of relief and prepared myself to tell him off, heavily considering kicking him in the shins in the process.

“Listen,” he said, before I could open my mouth, and I realized I had maybe said three collective sentences since this rendez-vous began, “You’re nice and all. That’s the problem. You’re nice. I thought you were a strong girl. But I guess now that you’ve fallen for me, you’ve gotten vulnerable.”

There were no words. Just the vapor from my boiling blood coming out my ears and skin pulling away from my bones one goosebump at a time.

“If you want to make a night of it, you can come back to my place.”

I let the rest of the vapor forcefully out of my nose like an angry bull.

“In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, never, ever, ever,” I said slowly.

“Awww, I hurt your feelings,” he rubbed my shoulder awkwardly and then he was out the door.

A part of me thinks he must have known what a horrible person he was. That’s why he wouldn’t give me the chance to really reject him. He badgers people until they will go out with him and calls it charm. He gets his rocks off from building someone up as strong and then accusing them of weakness.

There are all kinds of reasons some people are chasers. Some of them need the drama, the thrill; they live by the notion of getting the things they want. The thing is that once you have it, you will not be satisfied until you have the next thing you want, and you will get bored with the prior thing. And then there are the people who hate everything because they hate themselves the most and thus will try to make you hate yourself for reasons as stupid as being a fat baby.