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!

My Top 5 Good Things for Getting Through These Dark Times

Welp, Donald Trump is President of the United States.

I’m not going to get terribly political here but I’ll just say this wasn’t my first choice.

And with how quickly news spreads these days, especially considering the media’s got this guy under a microscope, it’s been pretty easy to feel bummed out, to say the least.

While I do feel called to fight much of this, fiercely and ferociously, sometimes you just need a quick fix of good things and good thoughts (provided you can temporarily turn off the thought of all the people who don’t have the good things).

Tasty Videos: Nothing better to put your mind at ease than watching delicious things being mixed together to make delicious food. Watching these videos is so relaxing! Seeing different things working together, complementing one another, into a giant melting pot filled with sense, reason, kindness, and acceptance. Imagine that!

Pictures and videos of dogs being dogs: Need I explain? We should all be more like dogs.

We’re due a messiah any day now! Whether you believe he already stopped by once or not, there is a chance we’ll get a savior very soon! And if you see a big, hairy guy with a pink umbrella or a very pale, winged person dressed in white, it could be you!

This is a terrific time for comedy. With badness comes satire and with satire comes laughter. I’ve been watching more Saturday Night Live than I have in my entire life. I feel like anyone could just go onstage at an open mic and say, “Donald Trump is our president,” and that would be enough material for a whole set. Guys, this guy is our president. Previous credits include host of The Apprentice and Orange is the New Orange.

Good exists. Fundamentally, I believe most people are good, and that if you encounter hatred, combat it with kindness. Be a citizen. Be a door holder. Be present, listen intently, research fiercely, and, most importantly, consider the lobster. Each one of us only gets one life and I think we should be doing our best to make it as easy for each other as possible.

High Anxiety

For further confirmation of the fact that I am, indeed, an anxious person, please refer to any previous entry on this here blog. Thank you.

I’ve been seeing posts and articles all over the internet about anxiety, and I’m loving that anxiety is becoming a part of the conversational canon. Fellow anxious people are probably feeling less alone, and since anxious people are often anxious about whether or not they are alone in their anxiety, this is one thing to cross off the list.

Anxiety is a very natural thing. Anxiety is the reason your bloodlines are still running. The cavemen who didn’t worry about getting eaten were probably the ones who got eaten first. But now that we have evolved and we no longer have to worry about getting eaten (most of the time), our trusty human brains have found a myriad of other things to worry about, some of them reasonable, some of them not so much.

If I write about my own more reasonable anxieties, it will sadden and frighten me, so here are some of my not-so-much-es:

Most of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the Stop! Don’t Touch Me There videos that were shown to kids across the country every year, until we were old enough for the puberty video and then I guess they figured we had enough to worry about. The Stop! Don’t Touch Me There series was educational storytelling in its prime, alerting children of stranger danger and of the proper course of action if an adult touches you inappropriately.

I’ve always been a rule follower. My parents told me to stay away from fire, and so I did. A cop told my 5th grade class not to do drugs, and so I didn’t. I got no rise out of questioning authority and wasn’t overly interested in anything other than reading books and being left alone. So when I was told not to talk to strangers, well, I really took it seriously.

The problem was that the Stop! Don’t Touch Me There videos were not merely about stranger safety. They also highlighted how anyone in your life could hurt you. And thus I entered that incredibly awkward stage of youth where one assumes every adult one meets is a pedophile.

I wish I was kidding.

Suddenly, being left anywhere without one of my parents would put me in the full-on throes of a panic attack. One time, when I was 10, my friend’s mom left us in her minivan with the door cracked open (had I truly known about hot car deaths yet, this situation could have been way more complicated). I was extremely uncomfortable being left so accessible, so vulnerable to all the malicious, potential pedophiles that were nearby, but I was trying not to show it because, even at 10-years-old, a part of me knew I was crazy.

But then this man was coming toward us. He looked quite ordinary, but the videos taught me that didn’t mean shit. I screamed bloody murder as I slammed the door of the minivan shut. Of course, the man simply got into the car next to the one I was in and drove off on his merry way, but there is no way to prove that he didn’t have other malicious intentions and that my screams hadn’t saved us. My friend, of course, had never thought about these possibilities before. I wonder how she’s doing.

Incase you were wondering, yes, I am aware that this is the root of all of my trust issues and why I approach every relationship in my life with a grain of skepticism. Yes, I’m aware of that.

Later in life, I went to gym class one day. We had a substitute teacher who had a very specific style: aka scare the pleasant thoughts away forever. His lectures featured a broad range of topics, from carbon monoxide poisoning to your imminent death.

But there was one that had a particularly scarring effect on me. After all, I could always have electric appliances and keep the windows cracked. This lecture started with, “People are going back to their hotel rooms…and DYING!” And as he proceeded to terrify us with information about Deep Vein Thrombosis, the silent killer, I knew I had another Stop! Don’t Touch Me There crisis on my hands.

Enter the phase of my life when I was afraid to sit still.

I sat in the backs of movie theatres so I could pace, I would purposely shake my legs and feet to ensure blood was flowing. It got to the point where a boyfriend would have to turn to me after sitting for along while and say, “You don’t have a blood clot.” And I knew I didn’t…right? I knew that. I didn’t check myself into the hospital once because I was convinced I had one. No, that wasn’t me.

I can now confidently say I have sat on a 7-hour flight and only got up once. This was mostly due to the fact that I had a window seat and my fear of inconveniencing anyone for the sake of my anxiety trumps my actual anxieties these days…but still, what a triumph!

Can I confidently say that I can walk down the street, unafraid of getting touched or kidnapped by some dude? Well, unfortunately, I am a woman.

I think that a lot of this behavior is behind me, actually. While I still have anxiety about tons of things, I can combat it with rationality. Of course, last week, my boyfriend said we should go to Harry Potter World. And instead of my immediate thought being, “Yes! Yes! Whee! Squee!” My first thought was, “We can’t go to Orlando. We will be mauled by alligators.” And then I stayed up all night thinking about being mauled by alligators.

But the important thing is I will still go to Orlando, because it’s freaking Harry Potter World! I will just panic a little bit every time I see an alligator, or think about an alligator, or walk anywhere because snakes, or swim anywhere because eels, or fly anywhere because terrorists. I will still go, friends, and that is 50 points for Gryffindor!

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.

 

My Top 5 Biggest Job Interview Fails

I was going to write an entry about how I’m adapting to a new-old routine, which would playfully explain why I’ve been absent from blogging and also why I am currently in the throes of an existential crisis. But frankly, I’m tired of all that! Let’s have some fun.

I will, however, add that I think one of the reasons for my recent depression was a very poor diet. I decided to commemorate my leaving Astoria with a takeout extravaganza. This turned out to be less of a celebration and more what my stomach has been training for for the past 25 years. Since moving back to my parents’ house, I’ve been drinking water and eating salad like some human or something and it’s made all the difference in the world. Cheers to you, FDA. Make no mistake, folks, they ain’t lying.

Anyway, onto today’s topic. A lot of those closest to me are on the job hunt and, suffice it to say, they are finding it to be a grind. We all know the old paradox: you need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience (plus, in today’s economy, some witchcraft and a rosary might help, just so you have all your bases covered…or do they cancel each other out? I should learn math). It took me two years after college to find a “real” job (the quotes are based on the somewhat misguided colloquialism that blue collar work isn’t real work and the fact that I don’t think my current job is that real). I had some admin experience by the time I got to this point through internships and the like, so it wasn’t hard for me to land the interview.

However, if you couldn’t guess where this was going so far, and if you’ve never met me or read anything on this blog, you might be surprised to learn that I do not interview well.

I’ve gotten better. You live and you learn. I read advice articles and whatnot. The funniest thing was that the number 1 piece of advice on most of these articles was “be yourself.” Over the course of my job search, I learned the best course of action was to most certainly not be myself. I am the person who will get the job done, but when most of these extroverted HR whackos interview you, they also want someone they can have fun in Vegas with. Hey, I could go to Vegas! Someone needs to hold everyone’s stuff.

Anywho, here are 5 times out of many when I walked out with a more than fair degree of certainty in my failure as an interviewee.

Where am I, again?

Interviewer: So, do you know what we do?
Me: No.

I had no idea.

This was part of a freak two-week period where I just had a marathon of interviews. I was tired from the 2-3 hour commute and from the essence of complete hopelessness that filled the air. So here I was at another agency possibly vaguely related to my career goals for a low-paying assistant position (or maybe it was a receptionist position?), not ready for anything other than another rejection.

She explained what they did. It turned out to be incredibly boring. But that doesn’t mean you should miss the lesson here, kids. Do your research.

I like to think, though, that since the interview was cut very short once it became obvious that this wasn’t my passion, the interviewer was able to use the extra time to accomplish amazing things.

Look Good, Feel Okay

I had landed an interview at a fashion firm (I hope you weren’t drinking anything as you read that, and if you were, I apologize for the spit take). I’m not a fashion person. I hate shopping. But this was one of the first positions I interviewed for that had any creative aspect to it whatsoever. So, I had dressed for what I thought might be success.

I walked into the conference room to meet my interviewer. He gave me the once over.

Him: Well, the font on your resume was pretty.

It was the shortest interview I’ve ever had.

Cutie Patootie

 The interviewer introduced himself to me. He was really, really good-looking. You can see where this is going.

Him: Hi, I’m Adam.
Me: *long pause* I’m Jill.
Him: Is that tape?

He pointed to the hem of my pants, where the duct tape I had used to shorten them in a pinch was falling out.

Me: Yes. Yes, it is.

Some things never change.

Cry Me a River

For this one, I didn’t even make it to the actual interview. I was having a hard time finding the office, so I called, only to be told the position had been filled and no one had bothered to tell me in advance.

And I was so frustrated. I’d been looking for a job for over a year. I was exhausted, I was lost, I was emotional. I tried to hold back the tears. I cried at him into the phone while saying, “Thanks…for *Sniffle* letting *snort* me….knoooooowwwwwww.”

Not really an interview fail, but super duper awkward.

Dreams Can Probably Come True if You Don’t Make it Weird

 One of the first interviews I had was with a publishing house. It was an internship that paid minimum wage, wouldn’t even cover my train fare, but it was something I really wanted. A step. I was so excited for it. And extremely nervous.

I was also fresh from homecoming weekend at my alma mater and was probably still a bit hung over.

Him: So, what sort of aspects of publishing are you interested in?
Me: Editorial.

I ended it there. I felt no need to expand. Why would I? I had answered the question. We were off to a great start.

Him: *Drumming his fingers on the table, thinking about the nap he could have had instead of interviewing me* Did you do anything fun this summer?
Me: No.

I’d actually had a really fun summer that year. I had worked at a Shakespeare Festival. I’d gone zip-lining for the first time. All of these things escaped me and shockingly, he did not find me to be the most interesting person in the world. Stay where you are, Dos Equis man.

For the interview with my current company, I knew where I was going, what I was interviewing for, and the interesting things I had done that summer. I wore the same outfit I had worn for that fashion interview. The best thing about publishing is we’re too occupied with hiding behind our words to notice what we’re wearing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Top 5 Most Awkward Public Bathroom Situations

I haven’t done a Top 5 post in awhile, and this is a topic I’ve put a lot of thought into recently, now that I am in an office building with stall bathrooms (my last office building only had two co-ed, individual bathrooms, where men and women from all over the floor would go to have a nooner, which may merit a post in and of itself).

Public bathrooms are tremendously efficient, but they are by their own nature very flawed. By creating the public bathroom, society took processes that we have been taught are the most private things and have made them…well, public. We have become forced to share the most intimate aspects of ourselves with strangers, in an enclosed space. No behavior is safe in a public bathroom.

Because of this, they breed self-consciousness. Because of this, they are awkward incubators.

The Acoustics: What sort of sadistic bastard designed these things? Fun fact: bathrooms are number 4 on the most reverberant rooms, after cathedrals, concert halls, and speaking venues. Seriously, dude?! Sure, let’s just take the noisiest materials and make people pee on them. That’ll be fun. Then everybody waiting on the ever-present, inexplicably long line will have something to listen to. They can get an extra bit of excitement if I have to open a pad. Oh, who me? Nope, I don’t have my period. I’m just enjoying a nice bag of Doritos on the can. Don’t mind me. La di da.

The best are the people who think they stand a fighting chance of covering up their bodily sounds by rolling the toilet paper, flushing repeatedly, or turning on the faucet. Cry woe, everyone. Cry woe for the naïve. There is no escape. Pee streams are one of God’s most powerful creations.

No Toilet Paper: Has anyone ever been in a more terrifying situation than when you’ve rushed into the first empty stall you’ve found to finally relieve yourself, only to discover there is no more toilet paper? Has there ever been a time in which your critical thinking, emotional strength, and grace under pressure has been more greatly tested?

You do have options in such a situation. You can find auxiliary toilet paper in your bag. Surely the Duane Reade receipt won’t sting as much as you think it might. You can just shake it dry like a wet puppy and hope for minimal discomfort, but then there is that feeling in your heart (and in your pants) that everyone who sees you that day will know what you’ve done and will hate you for it.

You can bend to see if there is someone in the stall next to yours. If there is nobody, you can enter Cirque du Soleil mode and carefully contort your body to reach underneath for some toilet paper, and nobody is any the wiser. If there is somebody in the stall, you can ask them for toilet paper, but then they hand you a ball of toilet paper crumpled up in their palm, and I mean, you know what they’re doing in there and you know they haven’t washed their hands either. Plus, you open up the possibility for stall talk. More on that later.

Of course, no matter what, there is that the next person who rushes into the stall before you can shout your cautionary cry, and they are only able to make one of two assumptions: 1) You’re the dick who used the last of the toilet paper or 2) You’re the weirdo who doesn’t use toilet paper. You can’t win. As women, we are at the mercy of toilet paper.

Clogged Toilets: If you accidentally clog a toilet, and no one is around to see, does that mean it actually happened? You can tell a lot about a person’s moral compass when they’ve owned up to clogging a public toilet. It’s only happened to me once. And as I felt a surge of water splash over my butt, my eyes widened with panic. I had no loved ones I could call, no one I could trust. My compass was spinning in a whirlwind of right and wrong. Ultimately, I decided the best call was to put on a pair of sunglasses, wrap my scarf around my head, put my jacket on over my now wet pants, and pass a written tip to the first person I saw. My moral compass remains solidly pointed Northeast to this very day.

The Stall Talker: If there was a reality show called Public Bathroom Showdown, I’d be the one who didn’t go there to make friends. Perhaps I’m a poor multi-tasker, but I have a very hard time doing what I have to do while the person in the stall next to me is expecting me to engage in polite conversation. Someone once asked me if there was anything worse for me than small talk, and I wish at the time that I had been clever enough to say, “Yes, stall talk.”

It’s different if it’s your friends, of course. I’ve had fulfilling conversations with my ladies through the thin stall doors. And stall talkers have become a rarity in the age of smart phones. But then there is occasionally that one lady whose bathroom anxiety gets a little easier if she can describe her stall with excruciating detail and ask me questions about the phone numbers and evocative poetry written on my walls. The worst was when the girl in the stall next to mine was broken up with via text message and started crying and asking me for advice. I am, without a doubt, the worst person to talk to about such a thing. I have too many emotions and other peoples’ put me into overdrive. I believe I said something along the lines of, “Well, looks like this won’t be your only dump for the day,” because, ya know, humor. And this is why I’ll be alone forever.

Bottom line, keep that shit in the stall. Your literal and figurative shit. Or call someone from the stall. I don’t care if you talk to someone else. Just leave me be.

Which brings us to…

Anything Involving Poop: Since you’re on the internet, I’m guessing you also may have observed that people have figured out white men are treated better than other people. I can only assume that has been known for awhile but now, with Facebook and Twitter, we can be exposed to all kinds of new and exciting opinions. As a woman, I firmly respect feminism and all of its plights. However, I wouldn’t start the fight with wage inequality or our sexual freedoms. I would start the fight with a huge problem we face everyday: a problem we do not only face when dealing with men, but with each other.

That problem is poop shaming.

The fact that women poop makes the majority of people very uncomfortable, including women. And that is utterly ridiculous. Why do men get the comfort of being open about the fact that they poop regularly, and everyone is just okay with it, but as a woman, I do not only have to conceal the fact that I poop from my suitors, but from my own kind?

Having to pee has gotten to a very acceptable point. We can now pee without facing major consequences. Yay progress! But still, when we’ve just had our coffee, and things start kicking in down there, we have to engage in CIA-level protocol in order to complete our mission.

We breathe a sigh of relief when we find we are alone in the public bathroom. At least no one has seen us, no one would be able to identify us should we be found out.  Quickly, we choose what we hope is the most inconspicuous stall, pull up Pinterest on our smart phones, and begin.

Then someone walks in and we must abort. We know they know what we’re doing in here, but they can’t have any proof. Begin the clench! Then we hear the silence from the other stall, and now we know what they’re doing, and they know we know they know what we’re doing, and we have reached an impasse.

After a time, everyone agrees we must go forth. As long as one waits for the other to make their exit, no one will have been seen, and everyone can go home safely. But then, oh no! Someone walks in to do their makeup. And the silence ensues once more. Even though all parties have finished what they had come to do, we must wait again. Our butts are getting tired, but it’s the only way. Don’t forget to cover up your scent later on because the smell of fresh lemons and crap is enough to ward off any detective.

This must be stopped. Only when women stop ignoring this fact about ourselves, about each other, can we achieve progress. Only then can we achieve peace.

Truthfully, this list could have been a Top 10, 15, 25, 400 things. There are long lines, running out of soap, automatic sinks and towel dispensers that do not work no matter how wildly you flail, the social hierarchy of the stalls. So if you’ve got a great public bathroom story, share in the comments! And the next time you find yourself embarrassed in a public bathroom, think of me and women everywhere and know that we’re going through the exact same thing.