Joao

Two years ago I went on a four month trip to Europe and South Africa. It was one of the best experiences of my life and given the current state of things, I’ve been doing some serious reminiscing back to happier times. In particular I’ve been thinking about Italy, as it’s been in the news so much recently and is one of my favorite places in the world. Lucky for you guys, I had a romance (well, not so much a romance as an interaction worthy of the blog), so for this week’s post, we’re going to Italy! 

I met Joao on my first night in Florence. It was one of those encounters where at first, you’re all about it and by the end you can’t get out of it fast enough. You know those ones? Yeah. Joao is a Brazilian DJ living in Florence who knows my friend Danielle, who just so happened to be visiting Florence while I was living in Croatia. This was geographically convenient so I told her that I was going to meet her there whether she liked it or not.

Danielle lived in Florence for a couple of years so she knows the city, she knows locals, and I was excited to experience Florence more like a local and less like a tourist! Her dad was joining her for the trip too, but would be staying with his friend Bernardo, and I met them both along with Danielle at the train station. Danielle and I got our own cute little Airbnb close to the Duomo and city center, and we were so excited for our girls’ weekend in Firenze!

We arrived in the afternoon and went straight to our apartment to freshen up, drop our bags, and then headed out to meet up with her friends. We found them at an Irish pub, which made me laugh for some reason (When in Rome, ya know?) and immediately we had drinks in our hands and were headed downstairs to grab a table. Danielle caught up with her friends, and after a while there were a few more dudes who had showed up and were hovering near our table. One of these dudes was Joao. 

Joao had dark eyes, long eyelashes, tan skin, a cute smile, a flat brim hat, and a sexy accent. We didn’t talk much at first, but after a few drinks everyone started getting out on the dance floor. The music that was playing wasn’t great, so Joao hopped on the sound system and started to DJ, and pretty soon he had everybody dancing. Every once in a while he would pop out from behind the DJ booth – well, folding table – to come dance with me and Danielle. 

The visits got more frequent and the dancing got more, um, friendly, if you know what I mean. Joao was a very good dancer. I’m pretty sure that’s a requirement if you’re Brazilian, so I shouldn’t be that surprised, but I was really enjoying myself. It may have had something to do with the seven or so whiskey sodas that I consumed, but I didn’t mind when Joao would run over behind me and grind on me like we were teenagers in a club. I would flirt with him and then turn around and dance facing him for a bit, all smiles and batting of the eyelashes. 

He was so much fun and so into me. He was really putting on the moves, coming in closer and closer, and I think he even snuck in a couple kisses. I say I think because, again, seven whiskey sodas. Normally I don’t like kissing dudes I’ve just met in a room full of people, but I think it’s safe to say that my inhibitions were lowered and I was onboard with this Italian romance thing. Or Brazilian, same idea.

I was slightly missing the mark on this “When in Rome” thing but I guess that’s how it goes when you’re in Florence. 

As the night wound down and we were getting ready to leave, Joao was glued to my side. He insisted on walking us home, and since he lives in Florence and would theoretically know his way around, we let him. BIG mistake. As I mentioned before, Danielle used to live in Florence and was fairly certain she knew how to get us home, but Joao didn’t seem to believe her. He usurped the navigation responsibilities from her once we had left together and led us a different way home. AKA, he walked us in circles. Thirty minutes later, Danielle was pissed off, Joao was confused, and I was officially over it. I did not want some Brazilian dude in my bed any longer, I just wanted to go pass out. Joao kept insisting we go this way or that way, and finally Danielle put her foot down. 

“Our apartment is that way!  I’m going that way. Kelly is coming with me. You do whatever you want.” We went her way and miraculously, were home in five minutes. Joao followed us, and at this point it was so late (4am, maybe?) and had taken us so long to get home that I didn’t have the heart to just send him on his way. So he came up with us. 

Our Airbnb had one bedroom and a pullout couch in the living room. Danielle took the bedroom and Joao and I were on the pullout. I tried just going to sleep but he wasn’t having that. Not in an asshole way, he just really wanted to make out with me. I tried to convince myself, this is how you have stories to tell about adventures in foreign countries! And I made out with him. 

Clothes started coming off, including his hat, and that was when I realized how little hair he had. And how drunk he was. Whoa buddy. His eyes weren’t focusing and he was trying to go down on me and I just had to keep stopping him because it was AWFUL. 

I suggested maybe we skip all of the “foreplay” since he couldn’t get it up anyway. (I didn’t say that last part out loud.) I was not disappointed, in fact I was relieved, and very much ready to go to sleep. He was not. He kept pawing at me way too aggressively and I wondered how an attractive, 35-year-old man had made it this long without learning how to touch a woman. 

I told him to stop. He was drunk and didn’t get it. I told him to stop again and then I did the thing that girls sometimes do when they’re with a dude who won’t take no for an answer. 

*Disclaimer: This is not a date rape story. I do not in any way mean to imply that. I am referring to the amount of enthusiasm that some men have when they take a woman home and they don’t want to admit that maybe they’re just not sober enough to be a good lover. They don’t want to give up, so we have to force their hand. I did this by faking sick, because I’m a grown up.  

I pushed him away from me and suddenly grabbed my forehead and my stomach. 

 “What’s the matter?” He was concerned.

“I don’t feel well.” I took a dramatic pause for effect. “I think I’m going to be sick.” I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. I brushed my teeth and washed my face and honestly, probably threw up too but I don’t really remember. I had a lot of whiskey on a semi-empty stomach. 

I really took my time in there before I came back to bed, hoping he would be passed out. He wasn’t. I climbed into bed and rolled over onto my side with my back to him. He slid right over and spooned me. I told him to stop. He backed off. Then he cupped my ass.

I told him sternly, “Do not touch me. I don’t feel well and I’m going to sleep.” He backed off. I passed out pretty much immediately, slightly dreading the awkwardness that would be my morning. Fortunately, Joao was up at 7:00 and had to leave for work! He got up and dressed and then woke me to kiss me goodbye. It was sweet, he was gone, and I fell back asleep until 11. 

Eventually I got up and wandered into the bedroom to find Danielle. We were both just wrecked. Heavy drinking takes a heavy toll when you’re in your early thirties. She asked me about Joao, I told her, she cringed. We showered and headed out. Luckily, we were in Florence, city of cappuccinos and amazing food, two of my favorite things when I’m hungover. 

As the day went on, Danielle kept getting messages from Joao asking what we were doing and if I was with her. I checked my Instagram and saw that he had added me and sent me a message. He wanted to meet up again. I could think of nothing worse. We blew him off and told him we had plans of our own. Which was true. 

We walked around the city, saw a string quartet doing covers of current pop hits, ate amazing truffle pasta with white wine, shopped the outdoor markets, and met up with a friend of hers for a drink. Later we went for dinner with Danielle’s dad and his friend with whom he was staying, Bernardo. Bernardo was a very kind Italian man with two sons, a fifteen-year-old and a twenty-one-year-old.

The restaurant was as if I had designed it from own imagination of wonderful Italian stereotypes; cozy and warm, dark wood and light walls, all the guests seemed to know each other and the waiters, their charming Italian accents drifting through the air, house wine flowing, and the most delicious plates of food I had ever seen drifting endlessly out of the kitchen.  

Everyone at dinner spoke Italian except for me, so I sat quietly at my end of the table and just listened, drank wine, and ate a ton of food. No joke, someone actually commented about how much food I was eating and I laughed. It’s not every day I’m eating actual Italian food in Italy, so I ate as much as I could. (I ended up gaining what felt like 10 pounds in the week I was in Italy, and it was totally worth it.) 

I was seated at the end of the table next to Bernardo’s sons, and they spoke a tiny bit of English but were both pretty shy. Andrea was the older one. He was blonde with blue eyes, scruffy, very tan from working construction all day. He seemed very sweet and was checking on me to see if I needed more wine. Of course I did, but I was too afraid to ask the waiter. 

The waiter was a friend of Bernardo’s, and he was also the owner and chef of the restaurant. The head honcho. A large, jovial, sarcastic Italian man who made fun of everyone at the table and was the star of his restaurant. He also didn’t speak English so I was terrified to flag him down and ask for another white wine. I was also embarrassed to be drinking white wine in Italy but red wine was giving me killer heartburn and it was a sacrifice I just had to make. Andrea must have seen the internal struggle I was having because he asked the waiter for me, and so I got my second and third glasses of wine. 

We ate multiple courses of food, presented family style and spread all over the table. There was a charcuterie plate the size of a small coffee table, piled with meats and cheeses. There was bruschetta and paté, grilled vegetables, bread, and olive oil, and then there were the main courses. The owner asked us if we wanted pasta or meat and naturally we said both please. He brought us a Florentine steak (when in Florence! I did it!) seared to perfection, medium rare, dripping with juices and delicious flavor. Then he brought us three pastas. There was a pistachio pasta that I had thought was pesto at first, light green in color and creamy in texture, a meat ragu over pappardelle, and a short rib pasta that melted in your mouth. I was in heaven. 

I thoroughly enjoyed that meal, and since we were there with Bernardo, the bill was taken straight to and handled by him. I thanked him graciously and emphasized how much I had enjoyed everything, and he chuckled, saying he “could tell I enjoyed the food.”


The next night while we were out, I got a text message from a number I didn’t know. It was Andrea, the older son from the night before who had ordered me more wine when I was too afraid. I didn’t know how he would have gotten my number, but then I remembered Bernardo got it when I had met him at the train station the first day. Andrea had asked his dad for my number and wanted to go out with me. 

I was flattered but surprised since we had hardly spoken to each other, but maybe I came off as mysterious since I couldn’t say very much? Noted. He wanted me to have a drink with him. I told him I had plans with Danielle that night to go see her friend’s band play and that he was welcome to join us. He did, and Bernardo and Danielle’s dad also came. We watched the show and had a few drinks, then the dads went home and we all hung out and had more drinks. A LOT more drinks. 

Joao had been messaging me on Instagram all day, wanting to meet up and “do what we didn’t get to do the other night.” Yikes. Needless to say I was not into it, but I felt bad so I invited him to the show. He showed up so late, after the band was finished, and we were all standing outside drinking and smoking, comfortable and drunk and having a good time. Joao just stalked up silently and stood next to me, as if claiming me. He didn’t greet me or anyone else, he just looked pissed that I was there with other guys. It was instantly uncomfortable.

I said hi to him and asked if he wanted a drink. He said no rather aggressively. (Anti-whiskey-dick maneuvering, perhaps?) So we stood there and I continued chatting with the group while he awkwardly sulked nearby, sober and angry. After a while we went inside and Andrea wouldn’t let me or Danielle pay for a single drink, yet somehow I had more shots? I hadn’t seen Joao in at least thirty minutes and assumed he had left, until I went back into the other room and saw him just sitting silently by himself, looking very pissed off. 

Danielle and I decided it was time to go home, and Andrea and Joao took that as their cue to follow us out. Oooh, this is awkward… It was clear they were both thinking they were going to spend the night with me, when in reality, there was no way either one of them was going to. However, Andrea was way too drunk to drive home, so we told him he could sleep on our couch. Joao seemed to take this as an invite to stay over too, and he literally followed us all the way home. I thought he was being chivalrous and walking us home and thanked him for doing so, stating it with some finality to let him know that he was not invited in. Not to mention we had barely spoken all night, so I didn’t feel that I had given him any reason to believe he was going to end up in my bed that night. When we arrived at the front door of our Airbnb, Danielle had had it, and she laid down the law. 

 “Kelly and I are going to bed. Together. Andrea, you are sleeping on our couch because you are way too drunk to drive and I’m not going to let you sleep in your car, if you even know where that is. Joao, it’s time for you to go home.” 

I stood next to her in the doorway nodding to confirm her words. Joao looked at me, hoping for another answer, and I shook my head.

“I’m going to sleep. With Danielle.” I said as sternly, yet gently, as possible. He was pissed. He huffed and puffed and glared at Andrea, who was completely oblivious to the situation, then stormed off. Ciao Joao! Danielle and I put Andrea to bed on the pullout couch. He reeked of cigarettes and whiskey and had no idea how he got there the next morning. 

Our last day in Florence was spent tasting over 30 flavors of gelato at the Gelato Festival in Piazzale Michelangelo. I have to say, ending my trip eating spoonfuls of gelato on a beautiful day in a picturesque square with a statue of the David and a view overlooking the entire city of Florence was the perfect way to end my trip, and I could almost forget about my attempt to “Do as the Romans do”, or rather, just do a Roman. Besides, I would have a chance to remedy that when I headed out for Rome the very next day. 

Daniel

This is the story of a symbiotic relationship. You know, a mutually beneficial agreement between two living things, who agree to exist together and perform services for the other one that they cannot perform for themselves. (Well, in this case they can, but it’s really not the same.) It started out as mutualism, where both individuals benefit, but then took a turn towards commensalism, which is where one individual benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped. It’s all very scientific, isn’t it? Okay it’s not really I’m just talking about friends with benefits.

We met in an acting class, like probably half the FWB/failed love stories in Los Angeles. He was the new guy. I was the stage manager. Our teacher told me I should assign him to a scene to get him involved in the class. Naturally, I assigned him to mine. Partly because I was a good stage manager but mostly because he was very cute. He was about 5’11” with an athletic build, blue eyes, dirty blonde hair, and just the right amount of stubble framing his perfectly dimpled chin. I know butt chins/dimpled chins aren’t for everyone, but I’m a fan. My first “love” (or so I was convinced when I was 14) also had a very pronounced butt chin, so apparently I have a thing for them. 

My friend Fred and I were doing a scene for class from Will and Grace where Grace has taken a lover, named Daniel, and he is leaving in the morning. Naturally Will catches Grace trying to sneak Daniel out and they all exchange sarcastic pleasantries as the two men meet and Will teases Grace about her life choices. I was playing Grace, Fred was playing Will, and we just needed someone to play Daniel. It was a small part, perfect for a cute new guy. So I cast him in the role. Side note: His real name is not Daniel but I’m just going to keep calling him that for both clarity and to protect the innocent. 

We met at my place for rehearsal and I liked Daniel immediately. He was funny and easygoing, eager to learn the scene for class. In the script, Daniel kisses Grace on the cheek when he leaves, so naturally we ran that part a few times. There was chemistry, even with a cheek kiss. Ooooh that’s fun.

Fred later told me he thought that Daniel and I were going to hook up after he left rehearsal. We didn’t, but that made me chuckle. Just the idea that I could have electric chemistry with someone that was so obvious to another person made me feel like a celebrity, or some version of myself that people noticed and wanted to know more about. 

When we did the scene in class, it was well received. Laughs all around. But our teacher wanted Daniel to kiss me on the lips. 

“What is this kiss on the cheek? I want to see passion!” he implored. 

Uhh, twist my arm! I. Was. THRILLED. Also nervous though because I had to do the scene again, right there in front of the class, and actually kiss someone that I was very attracted to for the first time with an actual audience. But we did it, and it was a good kiss. I knew I wanted more kisses after that. And we got accolades for our performance, although if I’m being honest, it wasn’t ALL a performance. 

My birthday came soon after and a bunch of us went out drinking and dancing. My sister was in town and was supposed to share my bed with me, but she got kicked out by a drunk me and Daniel crashing through my bedroom door. We froze; stared at each other. I gave her that look that little sisters give their big sisters when they want them to do something for them; silently pleading with my eyes, both for her to leave the room and also not be mad at me. She of course did because she’s an amazing big sister, and as soon as she headed out to the couch and closed the door behind us, we just stared each other down, hungrily. 

I waited for him to kiss me, but he just looked at me. I laughed semi-impatiently. 

“Are you gonna kiss me or what?!”

As the uncertainty left him, he grabbed me, pulled me into him close, and kissed me hard. It was the most passionate kiss I had ever had. My only movie kiss, where we couldn’t wait to rip each other’s clothes off and devour one another. And we did. Four times. Four great times. In the morning, in the hungover sex haze, I happily rolled over to wake up to him. So we did it again, and lay there kissing until he said it; the sentence to shatter my fantasy: 

“We should probably just keep this casual, since we’re in class together and everything.” 

My heart sunk. All the butterflies flew away. I wanted to protest, to tell him that I really liked him, tell him that I hadn’t had chemistry like that with someone in a really long time, maybe ever; tell him that I’d like to give things a shot between us. But of course I didn’t. My reply was that of the passive, people pleasing 26-year-old that I was; “Oh, yeah, for sure. That’s totally fine.” 

And so it went. We became friends with benefits. Yay! Every girl’s dream!

Me secretly pining away, wanting more, but at the same time genuinely enjoying our friendship. I never resented him, never felt like he was using me, never slept with him if I didn’t want to.  We were actually very close. Neither of us really dated other people, just casual flings. We tended to come back to each other. Then he got an actual girlfriend for a while and was so uncomfortable around me he apparently forgot how to even be nice to me. We spent less time together. They broke up; we came back to each other. We were writing together, filming sketches and other projects, having fun, being productive. 

Then we stopped seeing each other (naked anyway). The last time we slept together I felt like he just half assed everything. It felt like the kind of sex that old married people who are sick of each other are supposed to have, not the kind you can justify shoving your feelings aside for the sake of a passionate rendezvous for; not the kind we had started out with. There was no effort, certainly no checking to make sure that I had been taken care of. He just took care of himself and rolled over and went to sleep, and that was the first (and last) time I would sleep with him and regret it. 

I didn’t sleep with him again after that for years. We stayed friends and fortunately it didn’t ruin anything, but I just didn’t want to sleep with him anymore. My romantic feelings had long faded and I was happy with our comfortable friendship. Then he met someone and dated her for a while. A serious girlfriend. I was happy for him but also a little sad. Maybe we never would get our shot, but did I even want us to have a shot? Wouldn’t we have tried it already if we were going to try it?

Then they broke up. I never knew her name or anything about her, just that she lived in Chicago and he went back and forth a lot to see her. After the breakup he returned to LA permanently and reached out to me, wanting to get together. I didn’t actually know what his relationship status was and assumed we were just meeting as friends. But he made sure to clear that up. 

When I saw him, he seemed different, at least in how he approached me and our time together. He treated me like his girlfriend; paying for me, inviting me to an intimate birthday dinner with his close friends, holding my hand, and having passionate, albeit drunken, amazing sex with me. Oh, we still got it…

I thought, maybe this is it? Are we giving this a real shot? I was excited but trying not to be. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of us dating in a very long time, but all of a sudden it seemed like a reality. They always say you’ll find love when you’re least expecting it…

He called me and texted me more in the next few days, both witty banter and making plans to come see my standup show at the end of the week. Then all of a sudden, radio silence. I texted him to see if he had gotten his tickets for my show yet, not wanting to sound clingy but genuinely needing to know the headcount for my show. 

His response made me cry laugh. Mostly cry, but also laugh; both at myself for letting me get my hopes up; for allowing him to make me want something that I had long since dismissed and hadn’t even wanted anymore, and at the utter finality of the situation. I just couldn’t believe my luck.

What did it say, you’re wondering?

“Hey Kel, I just found out that my ex-girlfriend is pregnant and I have to move back to Chicago.” 

Ooooof.

Gut punch. Game over. 

My mind was spinning. What do I even say to that? Was he serious? 

Sooo, does this mean you’re not coming to my show? 

LOLZ

Sorry…?

No wait, congrats?

Wait SERIOUSLY?!

Whew, I really dodged a bullet! 

Enjoy the Windy City?

Womp, womp, womp, another one bites the dust.

And that was the end of our symbiosis. He was never supposed to be mine. 

Ian

Ever been through a really long dry spell and made a bad judgment call as a result? Yeah me neither. Except for this one time… In consideration of the fact that my definition of a “dry spell” and your definition of a “dry spell” may be quite different in terms of actual amount of time passed without having sexual intercourse, “hooking up,” or “getting some,” I think we can all agree that dry spells are no fun, and they sometimes fuck with your head a little bit (aside from other, obvious body parts.) Well, that was me on this particular Friday. Enough time had passed that my standards had been lowered. I was going out to a bar with my girlfriend, I didn’t have anything I had to do in the morning, and I was determined to find a guy at the bar. And I did. 

His name was Ian. He was not conventionally hot, but there was something about him that I liked. He was on the thin side, with long salt and pepper hair (PS: apparently I’m going through a long-haired guy phase), a weird hat that I guess could be described as somewhere between a fedora and a boater hat; it had a brim all the way around but was flat on top. What do you call that? Anyway, he was also wearing a weird hoodie that looked like a poncho with sleeves. Yeah, it was a look. But he had this cute smile and he kept catching my eye from across the bar.

My girlfriend Steph was not a fan. I told her I thought he was cute and she chuckled, “We do have different types, don’t we?” We ended up moving around the bar and were standing closer to Ian, when an old guy approached trying to squeeze into the bar to order a drink. We helped him order and started making conversation and he said he had a single son we should meet. He just couldn’t believe we were both single (!), and looked around the bar to ask us who we wanted to talk to. Quite the wingman, if I’m being honest. Coincidentally, Ian and a friend were standing right behind our new old friend, and he tapped them and introduced us all. And bam, we were off to the races. 

Ian and I talked for a bit and I discovered that he’s a skier. So THAT’S what it is! Maybe I could tell he was a kindred spirit? Or maybe his outfit just suddenly made sense to me; he was dressed like a ski bum in LA. Idunno. But naturally, we talked about skiing for a while. He got a little competitive and arrogant though, which was annoying. He automatically assumed he was a better skier than me, even though I was practically raised on the slopes of Squaw Valley and my sister was literally a pro-skier and he was a weekend skier from SoCal. But I digress… This isn’t about skiing egos. This is about me not walking away from a guy who is clearly annoying me. 

A little while later Steph decided to call it a night. This was after she’d had two vodka martinis plus a vodka soda and I’d had two Manhattans plus a whiskey soda. She asked me if I was good to stay and I said yes. I wasn’t that into this guy, but I wasn’t necessarily out either. 

I stayed and talked with Ian for a while and then I asked him if he was staying or going. I was ready to leave. I was drunk, I had found a target, the target was seemingly interested, and I was ready to move to the next step. Why stay at the bar until 2am when you already found your contender at 10pm? He was a little weird, a bit awkward, and I had to be real straight forward with him. So I asked him point blank, “Do you want me to come home with you?” And he said “Yes.” Then he added, “I’m just going to go home and listen to old music. Do you like old music?” And I said, “Yes I do.” I didn’t realize that he meant that that was literally ALL he wanted to do. 

When we got to his place, I was a little surprised. Ian had mentioned to me at least three times each that his parents were wealthy when he was growing up and that they both had died very close together. So, I was expecting a pretty nice place. No, that’s not why I went home with him. I wasn’t planning on knowing this guy long enough to reap the benefits of his so-called wealthy deceased parents, but the expectation had been set. So when we arrived at his apartment and it was small and dark and had a bit of a weird smell, I was surprised. 

I can’t even express to you guys just how much this guy talked about his dead parents. Look, I have a dead parent, so I get it. It sucks. But he just kept bringing it up. He would mention again that they had only died a few months apart, that they both had cancer, that they were the best parents a boy could ask for, that they paid for his college and when he dropped out they weren’t even mad about him wasting their money, then they paid for him to go to music production school or something like that, and now he works as a ski boot fitter so I don’t know how he ended up there but that would have been a more interesting addition to the story than him telling me for the umpteenth time that his parents are both dead. He literally had tattoos on both of his forearms with the day, hour, minute, and second that each of his parents had died.  I’m all for honoring their memory and whatnot, but that’s a bold move, Cotton. 

When we arrived at his place Ian walked over to his wall of records and asked me what I wanted to hear. I was in no mood for trying to impress some hipster with a record collection, of which I would never have sufficient knowledge to impress him, so I just threw out some of my old favorites that my Dad used to listen to; Paul Simon,  Neil Diamond, Fleetwood Mac, Mamas and the Papas, etc. I really didn’t care. I wasn’t there for the music anyway. But boy, was Ian laboring over this music selection and slighting me in the process. He said my preferences were just like every other woman’s; based on what my dad liked, blah blah blah. I jokingly told him to stop judging me and then he got all defensive about me judging him for being judgmental. I dropped it for the time being. He put on Paul Simon and finally joined me on the couch for more backhanded comments and awkward conversation about his dead parents. 

I went to the bathroom and had a moment of reckoning; IS THIS WORTH IT?! I stared at myself in the mirror, a little disheveled and drunk but not bad. I wanted to go home. But I also really wanted to end this dry spell. I had come this far right? I looked at myself in the mirror and said (yes, outloud) “You’re staying.” Then I walked back out into the living room to join him on the couch and immediately regretted it. 

He said something else judgmental, reminding me that he was superior to me in all ways, and I told him I was just going to leave. Then he got all sad and tried to get me to stay, and I told him I’d almost left four times. “FOUR?!” he just kept repeating, shocked that his cynicism and arrogance weren’t sweeping me off my feet. He walked over to me and kissed me, and then I was really confused because he just stopped after a second and walked back around the coffee table to sit on the couch and never touch me again. I was growing impatient. Not that I had to have it right then and there because I couldn’t resist his charms, but because if we were going to do this, I wanted to get to it and either get it over with or be pleasantly surprised and actually have an orgasm that I didn’t give myself. 

It was not to be. He just stayed on the couch next to me and didn’t kiss me again. I ready to go home. Done hearing him talk about his dead parents. I had even mentioned that my dad also passed away from cancer while he was talking about it at some point, trying to connect with him, and moments later he asked me if I still had my father. “Um, no. He died of cancer. I just said that… Well, I think I’m going to go.” I pulled out my phone to call a Lyft and he smacked it out of my hands like a flirtatious 11 year old. But still, no moves were made. I was done. I picked my phone back up and called my Lyft, and Ian wanted to make a game out of trying to guess the license plate. (In case you doubted my complaints regarding the caliber of conversation we were having.) I played along, gave him hints as to each letter and number, and when I arrived at the letter ‘K’ I thought, this should be easy. 

“Okay, this is the first letter of my name.” He didn’t say anything. He sat paralyzed on the couch next to me, facing forward, not looking at me. I turned towards him and raised my eyebrows. “The first letter of my name.” Still nothing. And then, a very uncertain “L?” I didn’t say anything at first. I legitimately couldn’t tell if he was just slighting me again a la “The Game,” or if he really didn’t know my fucking name. Turns out he really didn’t know my fucking name. Not even the letter it started with. Not even like a “I know it starts with a Ka-sound, like Katie?” Nothing. 

“Do you really not know my name?” I looked at him. He was so uncomfortable I almost laughed but I was too annoyed to laugh. “Seriously?” He was racking his brain. “I did know it at one point in the night but I forgot it.” Wow. “Okay well I’m going now.” Good thing I called that Lyft already. 

“I’m so sorry, I don’t want you to be upset. I like you too much for you to be upset.” Clearly, I can tell how much you like me by the fact that you’ve been insulting me all night and you don’t know MY FUCKING NAME. He stood up and insisted on walking me out. I told him there was no need. He followed me anyway. The Lyft driver went to the wrong street, of course, dragging out this awful farewell. Ian was feigning concern over the driver’s ineptitude and saying he liked me too much to let me get in the car with someone so incapable. Once the driver arrived, I just walked away from Ian. No hug, definitely no kiss, no nothing. I saw him open his mouth and thought for a split second that he was going to ask for my number, but then again, what would he even save it under?

Valentine

Valentine’s Day can be hard on a lot of single people, and even though it’s not hard on me anymore, it has been. You can’t help but wish that you had a special someone who was making secret arrangements to sweep you off your feet for the most (commercially) romantic day of the year. But just because you’re in a couple doesn’t mean you’re going to have a great Valentine’s Day. (And just because you’re not in a couple doesn’t mean you’re going to have a bad one.) I’ve been much more disappointed on Valentine’s Day when I was in a relationship than when I was not. Not all of them, but the bad ones when you’re in a relationship? Those sting the most. 

I dated my college boyfriend for almost six years. The difference between our first and last Valentine’s Day is stark. Bleak. Disheartening. Similar to the beginning and end of our relationship, our V-Days went from romantic to obligatory. 

My first Valentine’s Day with Chad was my first Valentine’s Day as someone’s girlfriend, and he made it very special. It was my sophomore year of college at UC Santa Barbara and I was 19 years old. Chad went all out; he told me what time to be ready and to dress up, but wouldn’t tell me anything else. I was giddy as I got ready at my sorority house, my friends swirling around me, handing me makeup and fixing my hair. It was like a scene from Legally Blonde, but less bougie. They knew I had never been romanced on this particular day and they also knew that whatever Chad had in store for me was going to be good.

Chad and I were “That Couple” when we were in college. We had met in the dorms and spent all of freshman year as close friends, so when we started dating at the beginning of sophomore year, there was a closeness and intimacy to our relationship that some couples don’t achieve for a long time, if ever. I didn’t have to hide my flaws from him or play down my inexperience because he had gotten to know everything about me as a friend, organically, over the course of a school year. 

He was (still is) smart and generous and well loved by all of our friends. He was in a fraternity; I was in a sorority. He was a business economics major; I was a communications major. He rode a motorcycle and would take me on cruises up in the hills of Montecito and up over route 154 into wine country. I was silly and funny and could make him laugh and loosen up. We were a fun couple that you could hang out with and not feel like a third wheel. 

When it was time to go outside and meet Chad, I had a posse of sorority sisters follow me out to the parking lot, eager to see the surprise. And Chad did not disappoint. He had rented a LIMO and was waiting in the parking lot of my sorority house, dressed in a suit, holding flowers, and smiling at me like a real-life Prince Charming. It was quite the scene. I could not believe my luck, that he was there for me! I grinned, I gasped, I giggled with my girls, and then I ran to Chad and jumped into his arms, toddler style; wrapping my legs around his waist like I was on an episode of The Bachelor and he had selected me for the one-on-one. We didn’t even have to go anywhere, honestly. He had me at the limo. 

But we did go somewhere. We went to a cute little Italian restaurant downtown on State Street. If you know me you know how much I love pasta, so this was a great choice. At dinner, he presented me with my gifts. One was a beautiful necklace. Just a perfect, modest diamond set in a platinum pendant, that suited a 19-year-old girl perfectly. He also had purchased tickets for a show for that night, and we were to go straight from dinner. 

But it wasn’t your typical show, it was perfectly tailored to me. Chad had gotten us tickets to see Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles from Whose Line Is It Anyway? on their live tour at the Arlington Theater! As a lover of comedy, I was thrilled to see the show, and I felt like Chad really saw me and knew what I would like. The show was fantastic and hilarious and that Valentine’s Day was everything I had hoped it would be and more. 

(Yes, I got him a present too! He had his own business and made good money so I never quite knew what to get him, so I would tell him to pick a concert or show he wanted to see and it would be my treat. This became our tradition for years to come. That’s how you buy a gift for someone who already has everything they need!)

Fast forward five years. We had graduated college and were no longer living in the same city. Chad had moved home to Ventura County and I had moved to LA. He had a successful online business he ran from home, and I was waiting tables and “pursuing acting,” but really just driving to Ventura to spend all of my spare time with him. But things had fizzled. We still cared deeply for each other, we didn’t fight, but I also felt like I was giving a lot more of my time and effort to the relationship than he was, and I didn’t really know how to address that. 

The few times that Chad did come visit me in LA were usually because the LA car show was happening, or there was a concert he wanted to see and he would stay with me afterwards. I felt like more of a crash pad when he had an activity in LA, not the actual destination. My roommate, who was also a friend of ours from college and so had seen us in the glory days of our relationship compared to now, was the one who brought to my attention the stark contrast between my efforts and his. Granted, his family was experiencing some serious issues at the time (all worked out now but no reason for me to share business that’s not mine), and so I had found ways to justify his lack of prioritizing me. 

But as it continued, I felt neglected, and any time I would ask him to do something small for me to make me feel good, he would get exasperated and treat me like I was asking for the world. One squabble we had frequently was over his stubble, which would stab me in the face and itch whenever we kissed. He wasn’t growing a beard, he just wouldn’t shave for a few days, and after sitting in an hour and a half of traffic driving to come see him, it felt like a pretty small ask for him to have shaved his face. Sometimes when I would arrive at his house he would be in the bonus room playing video games with his friends, and he would just toss out a cursory “Hey” without turning his head to even look at me, let alone pause the game, stand up, and greet me with a kiss or a hug. 

Whenever I would comment on these things he would groan and tell me I was being unreasonable, so I stopped. He would do that with just about anything that I brought up that he didn’t like, which honestly was not much. I never wanted to be “that girl” who whines and nags at her boyfriend all the time, and I think he knew that and took advantage of it to a certain degree; like on our last Valentine’s Day. 

Chad and I loved wine. We took a wine tasting class in college together and would do wine tasting tours up in the Santa Ynez Valley (where they filmed Sideways, which happened to be our favorite movie to watch together) to celebrate our anniversaries and birthdays. Suffice it to say we drank a fair amount of wine, so I had started collecting all of our wine corks over the years. I had a full gallon sized Ziploc bag of them and made him a custom bulletin board from all of the corks. I put his business logo on the bottom corner of the board, very pleased with my handiwork. It was not an expensive gift, but it was very thoughtful and took up a fair amount of time and I was excited to give it to him. 

Valentine’s Day arrived, and Chad actually came to LA to see me. I don’t remember what our plans were, but I remember that the exchanging of gifts happened at my apartment. I gave him the bulletin board, eager to see how he would react and hoping to have him tell me he couldn’t wait to hang it in his office. He liked it fine. Then it was my turn to open my gift. It was a giant gift bag and I was trying to figure out what could possibly be in there, when he started qualifying his gift. Looking back, I think it was more like pre-gaslighting me so that I wouldn’t call him out on his shitty gift, but that’s just my slightly-biased opinion. 

“This is kind of a mature gift, not a super exciting one. But it’s important, and we’re grownups, so that’s where I’m coming from” he warned. “So don’t get upset, this is a functional gift. You need this.” I half expected to pull out a tool set. It’s never a good sign when someone is telling you not to get upset BEFORE you even open your gift. 

I reached into the bag and pulled out a pillow. Like, a regular pillow, you know, for your head. I looked at him, confused. 

“That’s for you, since we’re always fighting over your good pillow when I stay here. Now I have a good pillow here too.” 

“Oh, so it’s a pillow for you…?” I confirmed. He nodded, then motioned for me to continue. Next thing I pulled out of the bag was a towel. A bath towel, to be more specific. I looked at him again, perplexed. 

“And that’s for you since your bath towels are too small for me. You know how I’m always telling you that your towels don’t fit all the way around me? But you never get new ones? So I got you a new one that will fit around me.” He looked pleased with himself. 

“Sooo, it’s a bath towel, for you…” I confirmed again. He nodded again as I looked into the bag, hoping for something more, something that was actually for me. There was nothing else in the bag. No card. That was my gift: A pillow for his head and a bath towel for his bigger-than-mine body. He knew I would be unhappy with it; he knew it wasn’t really a gift for me. That’s why he prefaced me opening it with his logical, mature relationship bullshit. 

Looking back now, I wish I had flipped out and actually called him out. But that wasn’t (still isn’t) my style. I was so determined not to be “that girl” and get upset over a gift that wasn’t good enough, to not nag him or be ungrateful, so I just said thank you and moved on. He looked at me for a moment, the way you might look at a bomb that you just attempted to diffuse, waiting to see if it will actually explode after all. But I didn’t explode. I imploded. I saved all of that disappointment for myself because I didn’t want to be unreasonable. 

I know now that it was not unreasonable of me to be disappointed with such a “functional” gift; one that wasn’t even for me. He bought himself a spare pillow and bath towel and then wrapped it up and gave it to me for Valentine’s Day. That’s not my subjective opinion, that’s literally what he did. 

I didn’t say anything that day but it really hurt my feelings and made our relationship feel completely unbalanced. I finally saw it. He had made me feel small and unimportant and confirmed to me that my apartment was only a crash pad to him, one that was now properly outfitted to suit his needs. 

That was a very disappointing Valentine’s Day for me. Another one comes to mind, when I was in another relationship, and the similarity is that I knew on that day that they didn’t care for me the way that I cared for them. And that, my friends, is the absolute worst way to feel on Valentine’s Day. 

Being single on Valentine’s Day is not sad, it’s liberating! There are no expectations and so no disappointment. Round up your other single friends (this is LA so I know you have some) and just go do something fun. Go to dinner, or dancing, or a comedy show, or watch the sunset at the beach, or just have them over and drink wine and watch movies, or play boardgames, or poker, or catch up and tell each other terrible jokes. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something with people who make you feel loved; people you love.

Let’s reframe Valentine’s Day as a general day of love, not just romantic love. Those of you in relationships absolutely should celebrate your romantic love! And those of us who are still single should celebrate all of the other kinds of love that we have in our lives, including love for ourselves. Because we all do have love in our lives, and that should be celebrated. ❤ 

*Steps down from soapbox*

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Bob

Let me tell you guys a story about my very first online date. Ever. Of all time. Where it all began. And the rest, as they say, is history – or an endlessly frustrating path of hope, excitement, disappointment, confusion, ghosting, and just a sprinkle of creepiness. 

I cannot remember this guy’s name so I am going to call him Bob. I choose Bob because I don’t want to overlap on the names of my blog posts and it seems unlikely that I will go out with a man in his 60s who wears Hawaiian shirts and loves Jimmy Buffet. (Is that not what you guys picture when you hear the name Bob? Just me?) At least not until I’m also in my 60s, wearing a lei and drinking a margarita at a Jimmy Buffett concert alongside him. 

Anyway, Bob and I met on OKCupid. That was the first online dating website I ever signed up for and it was at my roommate’s behest. I had broken up with my college sweetheart of five years and it was time to get back out there. So I did. Reluctantly so, but I did. 

At the time I was waiting tables and worked almost every single night, so I had to set up a weekend day time date with Bob. We agreed to meet at a for breakfast on the Venice boardwalk. I was nervous for my first online date ever. I was also nervous to just get back out there in general after being in a relationship for so long, but I had to leave the nest sometime. 

And… I was late for our date. Not horrendously late, but in my twenties I was pretty much 10-15 minutes late to any social engagement, and about 5 minutes late to work. Without fail. But I was charming and an otherwise excellent employee so I always got away with it. 

I was just about to text him and let him know my adjusted ETA when he texted me, and let me know that he had arrived. 20 minutes early. 

Shit. 15 minutes late isn’t THAT bad, unless you’ve already been waiting for me for twenty minutes, then it’s like I’m 35 minutes late and that makes me feel like a stinking hot pile of garbage. 

Not the best way to start a date, with my tail between my legs, rushing around Venice trying to find parking, and hustling my ass over to the café and breaking a sweat in the process. Hi, I’m your late, sweaty date. Nice to meet you, Bob.

I think he could tell that I felt pretty badly about being late because he was kind and didn’t make any snarky remarks. But still, the dynamic felt like he had the power and I had to prove myself to him. 

I ordered as quickly as I could and we got to the small talk. Yay!

Bob worked as a tugboat captain, which I found very amusing. That’s one of those job titles I’ve only ever really heard of in cartoons, and I had some questions to ask him about it. He filled me in on his days of running the ship (literally) and towing boats in and out of Long Beach Harbor, and it turned out to be not as wild of a job as I had imagined. He just tugged boats all day. Pretty self-explanatory. We moved on to other subjects.  

Bob was a big, buff guy, so it was clear that he kept active. But he did have a bit of that top-heaviness going on. You know, when they have the legs of a gazelle holding up the pecs and arms of the Hulk? Yeah, it was like that. 

I studied personal training in college and have always been fascinated by the human body, so we got onto the subject of kinesiology and working out. He mentioned he had torn his ACL a few years back and I asked him how he did it. He did not want to tell me.  Like, really didn’t want to tell me.

I immediately thought of all the scandalous ways he could have injured his knee that he wouldn’t want to tell me on a first date. 

“Come on, tell me the story!”

“It’s not a good story” he just kept saying. 

“The more you say that the better the story gets in my mind. You should probably just tell me. “ 

He eventually acquiesced, sighed, and told me.

“I hurt it getting out of a chair.” 

“Like, you fell out of the chair while you were having sex with someone?”

“No, I was just getting up.”

“Was it a spinny office chair and somehow you lost your balance?”

“Nope. Just a regular chair. I didn’t fall down. I just stood up and tore my ACL.”

“So, you didn’t step on a marble or anything?”

He stared at me.

I blinked. He was right; that was not a good story. 

But it did explain the disproportionate top and bottom situation he had going on. 

“I told you it wasn’t a good story.”

I laughed. 

“You weren’t kidding. That’s a really boring story. You’ve got to come up with something better than that.”

He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Just make something up! Who cares? You could switch it up every time, have some fun with it! You tore it skiing in the Swiss Alps… You tore it having a silent disco outside on the beach… You tore it falling off a yacht… umm, Pirates…???”

My voice trailed off. I was not getting any implication from his body language that he was even mildly entertaining the idea of making up tall tales about injuring his knee. Swashbuckling or not. 

It’s possible he thought I was crazy starting in that moment. 

Since he wasn’t amused by my wild imagination, we moved on. Turns out he wasn’t amused by much of anything. The conversation was a bit dry, just like his knee story. 

He did seem to enjoy mansplaining to me why it was better to sit next to each other at a bar than across from each other at a table when on a first date. You see, ladies, he explained to me that we would have easier access to touch each other and invite physical chemistry if we were sitting next to each other. But since there was a table between us, our physical touch was restricted.

Uh, ya think that was an accident? You don’t have to tell me how to strategically position myself so as not to get groped by a stranger I met on the internet. Women have been utilizing the table as a pseudo-bodyguard/buffer for centuries thank you very much.

But I digress. The date went on a little longer, but it did not improve. When it was time to leave, we split the check and he walked me to my car. I was parked at a meter and we stood on the sidewalk for a moment as we bid each other farewell, forever. 

All was well and done, and then we had our awkward goodbye hug. I think it was obvious that I didn’t want a kiss from him because he didn’t try anything. I was in the clear! Until we pulled away from each other after the hug. Bob’s face suddenly contorted and he looked at me like I had punched him in the gut. 

“What was that?” he asked me.

“What was what?” I had no idea what he meant. 

“That face you made.”

“I didn’t make a face at you.” I genuinely did not make a face at him.

“You just looked at me like, ugh, eww.”

“I sure didn’t.”

He looked at me sideways; distrusting. 

“I guess that’s just my face.” I shrugged.

He stared at me for a second like he wanted to either say something more or just punch me in the face, but couldn’t because I was a woman. I took that as my cue to turn around and walk to my car. Date over. And that was my introduction to online dating.

If only he’d seen the face I made when I got into my car by myself. 

Scott

I went out on a frozen yogurt date the other day. I like to live dangerously. This was actually my first Bumble date ever. My first Bee, if you will. His name was Scott and he was 37, white, cute, but also had this spiky circa 1999 hairstyle going. No frosted tips, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he showed up wearing a puka shell necklace. 

He was one of those guys who looks very attractive in a couple of his photos and then somewhat questionable in the others. He ended up looking somewhere in the middle, but his hairstyle pushed him closer to the questionable end of the spectrum. Oh, and so did the weird thing that happened right before our date started. 

I parked on the street about a block away from the frozen yogurt shop and walked down the sidewalk. As I was approaching the shop, I saw a man who looked a lot like Scott (at least from the photos) standing next to a black SUV talking to a woman. He had the same spiky hairstyle, which is what caught my eye and made me think it was him. But then I saw him canoodling with the woman and kissing her goodbye. I quickly whipped my head away, not wanting to look like a creep. Well, I guess that’s not him…

I continued on towards the shop, crossed the street, and didn’t see my date so I grabbed a seat at one of the plastic tables out front. I sat for a few minutes and didn’t see anyone looking around for me. I did see the guy from the black SUV standing out front of the yogurt shop, but obviously that guy wasn’t looking for me. I waited another minute, and the guy walked right past me. He didn’t even look my way, which made sense to me and further confirmed that he was not, in fact, my suitor. 

I texted Scott. 

“I’m here. Just waiting out front.”

After a moment, I got a weird text.

“I’m standing right behind you.”

I turned around and who do I see, but the guy from the black SUV with the spiky hair who I just saw kissing another woman. Or at least, that’s what I was 100% convinced I saw. 

My brain could not compute. I couldn’t even pretend to gloss over or ignore it. I was almost speechless in the sense that I literally could not process what was happening, and since my brain couldn’t figure it out, I had to say something. The first words out of my mouth to my date were, 

“Wait… (long, confused pause) Weren’t you just kissing someone over there?”

He looked at me, likely trying to discern if I was serious or not. 

“What?” 

 I did not relent.

“Yeah, sorry, I know this is weird but I’m pretty sure I just saw you standing over there by that black SUV, talking to a woman, and then kissing her goodbye as I walked past.” 

He laughed uncomfortably. 

“Well, I parked over there” he pointed in the opposite direction of the black SUV.

“But I saw you standing over there looking around, and then I saw you walk by me while I was sitting here”

“Yeah, I was standing over there waiting for you. I was looking for you.”

“If you were looking for me then why did you walk right past me and not even look at me, or, I don’t know, say hi?”

“Well once you texted me I thought it would be funny to pull a prank on you. So I walked by you and stood behind you and that’s when I sent you the text that I was right behind you.”

Are you guys confused? Yeah, me too. Strike one.

At this point I was ready to just call it. I was completely turned off by him and figured he either had lined up back to back fro-yo dates and was just making out with another woman right in front of me, OR he was really offended that I would even suggest such a thing. Either way, I figured he probably didn’t want to have a sit and chat with me anymore. 

But he did. He motioned towards the shop and opened the door for me as I sputtered in confusion, apparently incapable of discerning whether I even wanted to stay or go. But he wanted to stay, and I knew he had driven up from the west side to Sherman Oaks, so I felt bad, and I stayed. 

I’ve never picked out frozen yogurt flavors so quickly in my life. Usually I take three sample cups (sometimes more, don’t judge me) and taste all the flavors that pique my interest. Not this time. Scott had the audacity to just skip right over the sample cups and hand me a regular cup. Strike two. Normally I would have grabbed them myself, but samples are for lingering and enjoying yourself, and I really just wanted this whole interaction to be over. 

Either I’m right and this guy was on another date and kissing someone else right before me, which made me mad and a little disgusted, or I was wrong and had accused him of something he didn’t do, which made me feel embarrassed and stupid. Either way, I didn’t feel great. 

So I grabbed my frozen yogurt as quickly as I could, threw some mochis on top and walked to the register. Scott was waiting for me with his frozen yogurt on the scale. He had the smallest dollop of chocolate yogurt and, like, one strawberry. Good thing I didn’t get my normal serving size of frozen yogurt…

Suffice it to say I was not in a good head space. I pulled my wallet out. 

“I feel like I should buy your yogurt, you know, since you drove all this way and I accused you of kissing someone else…” awkward chuckle. I was trying to lighten the mood, see if he could laugh about it yet, because if he couldn’t, we were not going to make it through this date. I got a half chuckle. More of a smirk, really, but he didn’t seem amused. 

We sat down at one of the tables inside because it was hot outside. One of those white, plastic, sterile tables with the same chairs to match. I hate those tables. It feels like I’m dining in a hospital cafeteria.

I asked Scott about his work, which got him talking, and since he works with writers we had a pretty good flow to the conversation for a while. We talked about movies and TV shows and things seemed to be recovering. But then we had a subject change and took a U-turn right back into bumpy territory. 

Scott told me that he used to be a body builder. It did come up in the conversation naturally, but he turned out to be quite the humble bragger. He told me about how he just tried it as a hobby and ended up winning contests. And he told me about how his cheat days were on Sundays at Hometown Buffet. That’s fine, but I grew uncomfortable when he began his commentary of the other patrons at Hometown Buffet.

Now, I’ve never been to Hometown Buffet, but I used to be a pretty big fan of Sizzler in my youth, so I have an idea what goes on in there. Scott was commenting about how he would go in for his cheat meal and get gawked at. 

“You know, I would go in there all lean with like no bodyfat on me, and then, well, you know what kinds of people eat at Hometown Buffet…”

He looked at me to make sure I understood. Pretty sure I got the gist. We could have moved on from there. But he decided to go into greater detail, telling me a story about one woman who approached him and warned him not to eat there all the time unless he wanted to “end up like her.” 

He put his elbows out wide and put his fists on his imaginary “hips” that were a foot away from his body on either side. 

“She walked up to me like this – she had to be 300 pounds, these are her hips, they’re way out here because they’re so big you know – ”

And I’m just looking at him, nodding hurriedly and pursing my lips, looking at the grandmother and grandson sitting at the table next to us, hoping they couldn’t hear how callous this guy was being. 

“I told her, I don’t eat here everyday lady, just once a week” he continued, as he laughed smugly.  Strike three.

I’m just picturing this guy, sitting at a Hometown Buffet, alone, judging everyone around him, stuffing his face with cornbread and apple pie and telling himself how much better than these people he is. 

And then, he asked me if I wanted to see a picture of him in his body building days. Before I could answer he was swiping through his photos to find one. I sat quietly, waiting. He mentioned that he hadn’t put one of his body building pictures on his online dating profile and I quickly agreed that that was a good call. He looked surprised, so I clarified.

“Why would you? You said you did this 12 years ago. It’s not what you look like now anyway.” 

And then he showed me the picture. Holy shit. Not in a good way. This guy was HUGE. Like, biceps bigger than his head, quads the size of a tree, chest and lats so thick he couldn’t even put his arms down. 

I am aware that this is the desired physique when competing in body building, but I have always wondered what it’s like to be so buff that you literally cannot rest your arms by your side. I almost asked him, but I thought better of it. I did, however, tell him that if he had included that photo on his Bumble profile that I definitely would have swiped left. 

As it turns out, I should have swiped left. I wanted our date to be over but I couldn’t seem to make my exit until he said he had to go pay his parking meter so we could stay longer. I think I still felt guilty/stupid from the whole “Did I just see you kissing someone else or not?” debacle that kicked off our date. Oh, did you guys forget about that?  Yeah, that was fun. 

He never actually said that it wasn’t him, by the way, just that he had parked somewhere else. Honestly, I’m still not sure if I was being crazy or he was being shady. But I have to believe that somewhere, he and that other lady are enjoying themselves on a date at Hometown Buffet right now. 

Levi

These days, we’ve all been ghosted. Well, most of us, I’m assuming. And if you haven’t, no need to share that with me. I’m super happy for you. If you’ve never been ghosted, you’ve probably ghosted someone else, so now you get to know what it feels like from the side that gets haunted. My first time was so long ago I had never heard of the term ghosting. I’m not even sure if it was in our lexicon yet, which is part of why it was so confusing to me. 

I met a guy on Ok Cupid. His name was Levi and he was a tall, cute redhead with blue eyes and a beard. A little beard, not a monster beard. More than scruff, less than a lumberjack. I was really excited to meet him and was actually looking forward to this date. 

We met up for dinner and he was even cuter in person than online. A reverse catfish! Sweet! That never happens! I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. He was kind and sweet and funny.  We hit it off instantly. We were talking so much we had to keep sending the waitress away because we hadn’t even looked at the menu yet. Yep, we were those people. 

After the third time, we decided we should focus on the menu and get the ordering out of the way. We started with cocktails. They had a craft cocktail menu; you know, the ones that have eight ingredients each and cost $14 or more. We both debated our drink options and when I mentioned a whiskey cocktail, his heart just about stopped. 

“You like whiskey?”

“It’s my favorite.”

“You should just marry me now.”

I giggled coyly. Rather, I laughed too hard and probably snorted, then gathered myself and attempted to giggle coyly. 

We finally selected our cocktails and when the waitress came back, we proudly welcomed her advances. Levi was a gentleman and ordered for me. Not in a weird, overbearing way, but in the polite, gentlemanly way. And he gave me a sexy little look when he ordered my whiskey cocktail for me, which made me blush. We already had an inside joke. *Swoon

Dinner was great. The cocktails were delicious, the conversation was flowing, we were laughing and having a great time. I do remember that I made a bad choice of entrée though. The restaurant had a salad with seafood that sounded good on paper, but was not so good in execution. When it came out, it was a big pile of shellfish in some sort of heavy, creamy dressing, sitting on top of a bed of lettuce. It was massive and the whole thing was white. Not the most appetizing dish. 

I was suddenly aware of the fact that I might not want to smell like shellfish if we were going to have a goodnight kiss, and I really wanted a goodnight kiss. I already knew that much! I didn’t want to be the girl who was “really great, except she tasted like frutti di mare when I kissed her.” That’s not an impression I want to leave behind. I picked at the salad, wishing I had ordered the pasta instead. Oh well! We were talking so much there wasn’t really time to eat anyway. 

We had another round of drinks and finished up dinner. I didn’t want the date to end yet, so when Levi asked if I wanted dessert, I said of course. Plus I was still hungry from not eating the Kraken salad. So we had dessert and coffee and just kept talking, staring into each other’s eyes, smiling. I was very excited about this human I had met. 

After dinner, for which he paid and I thanked him graciously, he walked me to my car. He held my hand as we walked to the car and I just about melted. I really liked this guy. I couldn’t wait to see him again. Levi kissed me good night and watched me get into my car and drive away. He waved at me from the curb and I just about melted again. OMG smitten.

I got home and told my roommate all about this amazing date. She was excited for me and I was thrilled when I got the “I had a great time tonight” text a little while later. All signs were pointing to MARRIAGE! Just kidding, I’m not that crazy. But I did worry quite prematurely about moving in with Levi and abandoning my roommate. Yes it’s ridiculous, and yes we’ve all done it. 

The next day, I waited to hear from Levi. I did not. Or the next day, or the next. 

I had remembered hearing movie and TV characters discuss a three-day rule when talking about when to call a date, and I figured that must be what Levi was doing. You know, because the movies are so much like real life. He was being patient, coy, and not smothering me. Although, I would have been okay with the smothering in this case. 

On the fourth day, I texted him. I was so nervous, my hands were sweating and shaking and I typed the message out forty different ways. I had my roommate read it and confirm that it was flirty enough but not too much. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for his response. Finally, it came. Levi told me he was going out of town for work for two weeks, but that he wanted to see me when he got back. Awww. Well, that’s good though, right?  

I know what you’re all thinking; Going out of town for two weeks? That’s a text that gives him time to not see you and allow for your feelings to hopefully blow over. Right? Isn’t that the move? Well I did not know that yet! When he told me that he was out of town but wanted to see me, I believed him. It was going to be a long two weeks, but at least there would be Levi at the end of it. 

I didn’t know if that meant I should wait for two weeks to text him, or if he would text me, or if we would stay in touch with phone calls, or any of that. Of course we hadn’t laid out a plan so I just waited a few days to see what he did. 

He did nothing. No calls. No texts. This was before Instagram so I couldn’t stalk him on there. I was beginning to lose faith. But I didn’t want to be one of those girls who complains about the man not being proactive but then is never proactive herself, so I texted him. Nothing crazy, just a casual “Hi Levi, hope your work week is going well” or something generically boring and insecure like that. 

No response.

Well, he did say he was working. And traveling. I’m sure he’ll get back to me when he’s not swamped. 

A day went by. Still no response. 

It’s amazing the things your brain will tell you when it’s trying to justify unexplained behaviors. When we are trying to alleviate the cognitive dissonance between: 

“I just had the best date of my life!” Vs.  “He never wants to see me again…”

Our brains will stir up some shit. 

Now, I’m an intelligent human being and I’m fully aware that not every person that I like is going to reciprocate my affections. But everything that had happened on our date had reinforced my feelings, and given me assurance that he did, in fact, feel the same way about me. Which is why this ghosting was so particularly baffling to me. 

I have been ghosted since, and I am fully aware of it when it happens now. Unfortunately it’s become a very regular, even accepted, part of our dating rules of engagement, so I recognize it now. But again, this was the first time it had happened to me. I was new to online dating, and Levi had held my hand and kissed me good night. My brain was not there yet. 

Some of my brain’s attempts to make sense of what was happening included:

Maybe he doesn’t have reception where he is.

Maybe his phone broke. 

Oh I’ll check OK Cupid and see if he messaged me there instead! He didn’t.

Maybe I have the wrong number? No, he did send me the one text… 

He’s probably sick and just can’t even deal with communication right now.

Maybe he’s in the hospital?

He definitely broke his thumbs.

Did he get into a car accident? Plane crash?

IS HE DEAD???

*Googles “Levi Los Angeles death” to check for obituaries without knowing his last name.

Sadly, the thought “He’s just not that into you” didn’t cross my mind for a full two weeks. It wasn’t until the date of his supposed return home that I finally let it hit me. He still hadn’t reached out, and he was definitely back in town (if he had ever really left town at all.) I sent one final text, welcoming him home with a casual hello, (I’m going fucking crazy over here being the casual subtext) and received – you guessed it – no response.

So that was it. I had to face the fact that Levi had, in fact, died a tragic and untimely death. And I was being haunted by his ghost. 

Why, what did you guys think I meant?