Holiday Social Contracts: Landmines for the Socially Awkward

Jake: “What do you wanna watch?”
Me: “We could watch Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.”
Jake: “I thought we were done with Christmas movies.”
Me: “That’s not a Christmas movie. It’s a New Years movie… and in seven months, we can watch Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.”

christmas

Y’all, I love the holidays. I don’t mean that the way normal people do, either. I mean aggressively so. I love the decorations, the music, the holiday movies and episodes of my favorite TV shows. I watch and sing along to The Worst Witch and Hocus Pocus on repeat, starting in late August. I love the garishly themed jewelry and t-shirts and hats that are suddenly acceptable on October first, but I pull them out in mid-September, regardless.

tumblr_mtwt1xezzp1rh92sko1_400

One of the major concessions of my marriage involved selling my six foot tall hot pink Christmas tree and decor that looked like it was stolen from the set of Babes in Toyland. No one will ever convince me that red and green M&M’s and Reese’s Bells don’t taste better. I love the holidays so much, that I’ve been a little depressed for the last two weeks, because the season was almost over.

tenor

I will, however, admit that there is one aspect of the holiday season I loathe entirely… 

3r9mxl1

… and that is the minefield of social contracts.

In my field, anyone who doesn’t consider themselves to be entirely crippled by their own introversion, is labeled an extrovert. This somewhat skewed view means that many of my coworkers consider me to be quite the social butterfly, due to my comfort level socializing with all eleven of them. They’re not entirely wrong, either. I quite enjoy my job. I spend each day with the same handful of people, whose personal stories and worldviews and interests I’ve come to know and respect. I have numerous casual interactions with customers that rarely go deeper than a reader’s advisory discussion on the abusive relationship dynamics present in Nicholas Sparks’ novels. I see the same teenagers at each program, where we discuss who would win in a battle, Doctor Who or The Hulk. Overall, as someone who always scores on the cusp of extroversion and/or introversion, I get exactly the right amount of stimulation in my position… now.

When I first started at the Cherokee Library, I was completely overwhelmed, socially. I didn’t know my coworkers’ backgrounds, religious views, entertainment interests, political affiliations, or tastes in music. If I mentioned my desire to buy a house near the local Catholic school, so I could send my kids there, would I appear judgemental to the nonbeliever? If I told my coworkers I couldn’t handle the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, because of their political hostility, would they shun me for my less liberal viewpoint? If I casually suggested that Taylor Swift lacked depth, would I devastate her biggest fan by inadvertently calling him shallow? Every night, I went home and turned over literally every interaction in my mind, wondering if I’d said the right thing, left the correct impression, presented myself accurately. It wasn’t just that I wanted to be well liked, but properly understood. It was fine with me if someone didn’t like me, as long as they didn’t like me for reasons that were valid. While taking on the new title of Teen Librarian was daunting, the social implications of starting at a new library again, left me emotionally spent. It’s been five months now and I’m only beginning to relax, to feel like I belong. In short… extrovert my ass.

tenor1

So, while I love, love, love the holidays, I think I’ve finally realized that what I truly enjoy is the build up. I love sitting at home, reciting every word to Hocus Pocus, with the cat. I love watching Thanksgiving episodes of How I Met Your Mother, on my tablet, while Jake plays video games. I love listening to Christmas carols on the Google Home, while making peanut brittle in my kitchen. I love showing pictures of my Christmas stockings to my coworkers, and oohing and ahhing over photos of their pets in reindeer antlers. I love driving through Christmas lights with my husband. What I really love is sprinkling the everyday, homebody familiar, with bright colors and lights and glitter and festivity. The grand finale, though? That stresses me the fuck out, primarily due to the aforementioned endless mandatory social contracts, such as…

Bringing a Dish

On December 22, I burst into tears when my three-ingredient peanut butter cookies tasted exactly like three-ingredient peanut butter cookies, and angrily tossed them in the trash.

Jake: “They’re fine. Why don’t you just make another batch and cook them less?”
Me: “Because they aren’t good and all the women in your family will be judging me on what I bring. If I take those after taking Oreo balls to Thanksgiving, they’ll all think I can’t cook.”
Jake: “What was wrong with the Oreo balls?”
Me: “They were a no-bake dessert. They’ll think I’m a just a Pinterest cook and they’ll all hate me, because I can’t make cookies!”

gif-crying-ice-cream

Of course, in the end, there were plenty of desserts, too many in fact, which I knew would be the case, but social norms required I bring something.

Being in Someone Else’s Home

Why do I have to offer to help my mother-in-law in the kitchen, when we both know there’s nothing for me to do and little space in which for me to do it? Why does she have to stop what she’s doing to pretend I’m useful and let me spoon butter she’s already melted onto biscuits she’s already made? 

Why is there only bar soap in the bathroom? How many people have used this hand towel? How obvious is it that I dried my hands on the bottoms of my jeans? Will I look rude if I get out my antibacterializer?

If I don’t eat these “appetizers”, am I going to hurt someone’s feelings? Can you call a bar full of cheese an appetizer? Literally, I see queso, next to a plate full of cream cheese with cranberry sauce, two cheese balls, and a plate of sliced cheese. If I eat this, I’ll die.

Where do I sit? I like the chair that doesn’t require me to sit next to anyone else, but is there some unspoken familial claim to this chair? Am I in Uncle Buck’s Chair? Okay, I’ll sit on the couch by the arm and Jake can sit next to me. Why doesn’t he ever sit down? He’s been pacing for the last 30 minutes. Wait. Is anyone else sitting down? Should I be standing? But… I don’t want to lose my couch corner.

Gift Giving

Zetus lapetus, y’all, I do not get gift giving. I’m 30 years old. I make $50,000 a year, in one of the cheapest states in the country. If I want something, I can buy it. If I can’t, no one else can, either. So what is the damn point of gift giving? Why do I have to spend $20 to buy a gift for someone that they might like, just so they can spend $20 to buy a gift for me that I, quite frankly, probably won’t like, and pretend that we’ve done some sort of charitable service, when both of us had $20 to spare in the first place? A couple of greedy, materialistic, little bitches trading twenties is, in no way, symbolic of the gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus. If anything, we should just all donate that $20 to give Christmas to a family down on their luck or buy toys for children with incarcerated parents or purchase a goat for a family in a third world country or literally any better cause. I can sort of understand close family trading gifts, knowing the recipients will enjoy them, but why, oh why do the women in my family draw names for each other’s children, when they could just all spend money on their own children, whose interests and wants they already know?!?!

confused-gif

Don’t even get me started on Dirty Santa, where I’m supposed to spend $40 on a gift for no one, so I can stress myself out by over-analyzing the social etiquette of stealing home decor from my mother-in-law or leave in frustration when I contribute a gift I kind of like and open a bowl of decorative wicker balls and a diabetic cookbook. If I refuse to play, I’m anti-social and if I bring a gift I’d truly enjoy, I’m the weird one who brought the Spock Bluetooth speaker. If we must all leave with gifts, why can’t we each spend $40 on something for ourselves and open them in a big circle with genuine delight? I don’t understand.

Talking to Children

I’m a woman and a librarian, so it’s just assumed that I like children. I don’t. I don’t like babies. They’re fragile and they’re always leaking and it’s inevitable that they’ll start screaming like a newborn banshee and I won’t be able to find the mother. I don’t like little kids. I don’t have the patience or the sense of humor for them. Why are you still telling me this story that I think is about Spongebob? Why did you choose me to tell? Am I sending off pro-child vibes, because I work very hard to maintain subtle anti-child vibes. Why are you making that face? Was I not supposed to ask that? Fuck, don’t cry and get me in trouble.

Give me tweens and teens any day, but the holidays inevitably mean someone will leave me alone with a small child and I will make them cry or tell them something I shouldn’t have. I’ll refuse to hold someone’s baby and call it “it”. Someone will ask when I’m having children and I’ll either sputter through an awkward, but appropriate, answer or make a wildly inappropriate joke about how I can’t get pregnant the way we do it. The build up to the holidays does not necessarily mean associating with children, but the holidays themselves are crawling with them.

Talking to Adults

tumblr_opqf06dgkq1w2tlv5o1_500

I love my family. I do… but we do not get each other. I don’t mean that in some sort of coming of age drama way, either. We’re just very different people; or rather, they’re all the same people and I’m very different. My aunts, uncles, and cousins love body humor, the occasional racist joke, maybe something about killing a cat and I just don’t get it.

Jake: ::talking about our Christmas tree:: “When we get home, I’ll take it in the back.”
Me: ::giggling uncontrollably::

Jake jokes that I’m randomly an 8th grade boy sometimes, likely because I spend so much time with 8th grade boys, but the humor is all relatively innocent and is very rarely gross or cruel. I don’t understand why poop is funny and I understand even less why comparing our former president to a monkey is funny. I was genuinely horrified to hear my dad’s cousin giggle over the news story of the teenage boys who were just arrested for sexually assaulting their teammate with a pool cue, because apparently rape by instrumentation is funny if it’s done to a boy. Fortunately, my public school administrator uncle was just as appalled and I wasn’t the only one seemingly lacking a sense of humor. My humor is very dry and my family rarely even gets that I’m joking. When it’s not, it’s usually comprised of dorky and innocent puns.

Conversationally, I’m extremely intellectually curious. I like to theorize about the average age of parents who shake their babies, the effect of commonplace Photoshop on the children we’re “fixing” when they become adults, how technology is contributing to pornography addiction in teens and apparently, none of this is Christmas talk. I have one or two cousins who seemingly enjoy these discussions, but we’re not the norm. Even my fashion sense is completely off base. They’re Miranda Lambert to my Zooey Deschanel. They wear National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation t-shirts, while I bite my tongue about how much I hate that movie, in my giant hand-crocheted Christmas tree hat and my Meowy Christmas cat shirt. None of us is wrong. We just don’t really fit.

Jake’s family has been nothing but kind to me, but if I thought I don’t fit with my family, goodness I have no idea how to talk to those people. On the 23rd, at his big family Christmas, he must have pulled me aside three different times to ask if I was okay, because I’d hardly said anything, but it was just so much people and we have nothing in common. I don’t have kids. I don’t understand the appeal of rodeo. I’ve never castrated a bull. I don’t want to look at the dead mountain lion in my brother-in-law’s truck. I don’t fry stuff. What the fuck am I supposed to say?!?! Trust me, baby, you want me to keep my mouth shut, because if pressed, I will randomly start talking about the presence of second wave feminism in the Harry Potter books or why marijuana is not a gateway drug and the benefits of legalization. Just let me be a mystery, dude. Jake, of course, being the most extroverted person on the planet, fits in everywhere.

Me: “I wish I fit in with your family as well as you fit in with my family… actually I wish I fit in with my family and much as you fit in with my family.”

idiva_woman_crying

Elf on the Shelf and Santa Claus

I have always hated Elf on the Shelf. At best, it was a brilliant marketing ploy, by its creator, who has sold over 11 million copies.* For most people, however, it’s a slightly creepy self-imposed chore of a tradition, which many parents regret ever starting. I knew, when it became popular, that I wouldn’t be purchasing an Elf for my own children. I’m even more certain of that fact 12 years later, as I watch my family and friends scramble around to perform for their children nightly, for the duration of a season that’s supposed to already be plenty magical by nature. Speaking of which…

I used to be one of the masses, the people who thought parents who didn’t play Santa were ridiculous and depriving their children of the magic of Christmas, but as time has gone by, I don’t really understand why we do this; though I do know that I’ve already lost this battle and Jake will insist. If you’re a religious person, though, as I am, then why do you need to add magic to the season with a cartoon character? Yes, yes, Saint Nicholas was a real guy, but the modern depiction of Santa Claus no more resembles Saint Nicholas than Disney’s Pocahontas does the historical woman. We’re not honoring a Saint, anymore. We’re revering a caricature, who often overshadows the true Christian value of the season, ironically through the very un-Christ-like means of greed and materialism. If you’re specifically nonreligious, shouldn’t you be opposed to such fairy tales? Isn’t that one of the primary principles of Atheism, that one shouldn’t have faith in what cannot be seen or proven? Doesn’t the modern Santa Claus directly defy both of these belief systems? Isn’t this entirely appropriate conversation for Christmas dinner?!?! Can I please just go home and only talk to my husband now?!?!

tumblr_n37gehpxsv1s5zj1ko1_2501

Sources
https://www.today.com/series/holidays-made-easy/elf-shelf-turns-10-secret-history-santa-s-little-scout-t62531

Advertisements

I will never be dainty.

Today, as I was doing my makeup at a stoplight, I realized that I was about to put concealer on what was not a skin imperfection, but barbeque sauce.

kenyon-ribs

As I prayed to get one more red light, so I could finish doing my makeup, I started to think about the role models I grew up with, in media. A child of the 90s, these included Kelly Kapowski, Topanga Lawrence, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy Summers, and even Lizzie McGuire. As the style of the day dictated, each of them had well-coordinated, brightly colored outfits, perfect bubble gum pink lipstick, and intricate hairstyles requiring those tiny rubber bands they use to attach bows to a poodle’s ears.

tumblr_mgfzmmdxcn1qh5bybo1_250

These trends may be the stuff of Buzzfeed posts now, but unless it was a defining feature of the episode, such as that time Buffy had grass in her hair, these girls were nothing but coordinated and adorable, regardless of style. Lizzie may have struggled to fit in with the cool crowd, but she did it with perfectly crimped hair.

tumblr_mic24zhsy21s50l6qo2_250

As I entered my late teens and early twenties, I longed to be more like Rory Gilmore and Blair Waldorf, with their preppy, tailored jackets, headbands, plaid, and perfectly timed topical references. I wanted to wear subtle makeup, designer prints, and kitten heels while discussing college life.

7mnnq

I, of course, never mastered any of the above.

I once burned toothpaste into my hair with a straightener.

I regularly wear oversized t-shirts over my work clothes, because I can’t trust myself to drink a cup of coffee without spilling it.

I frequently use the word “shankraped.”

I don’t own white clothes. As much as I’d love to be the girl in a white sundress and strappy sandals, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it is never going to happen.

I’ve gotten through an entire day, wearing a dress that zipped up the back, before I noticed the zipper under my chin.

I make “that’s what she said” jokes to my Gramma… and then try to explain them.

I’ve notified my loved ones that if they ever find me in a bathtub full of blood, it wasn’t a suicide attempt. I just never mastered shaving my legs.

I’ve done the Sign of the Cross in thanksgiving after realizing my dress was tucked into my panties before the interview.

I walked like a newborn deer for all four of the months I tried to wear heels.

My makeup comes from the drug store.

I don’t trust myself to use a styling wand without taking out an eye.

My punctuality is based on how many green lights I can catch.

I’ve noticed I’m wearing two different shoes, at work… something I’ve been told is unique to extremely pregnant women.

I look at least four sizes larger in plaid or argyle.

I’m far too cheap to buy the pricey, sexy undies.

I will always ruin sweet moments with an inappropriate joke.

Some days, I apply my eyeliner and just go with it, even though I look like a panda bear.

Gail says she can always tell which dressing room I’m in, by following the sounds of crashing.

I’m afraid to go shopping alone, because more than once, I’ve gotten stuck in a top and been unable to get out.

Today, my style most resembles Jess from The New Girl, but at least she’s supposed to be uncoordinated. I mean, sure, she’s never endured the awkwardness of dry humping someone while wearing a skort, but it’s at least a little closer. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I come from a long line of opinionated, boisterous, and often wildly inappropriate women. I buy size 10 shoes, can’t wear button up anything because I’m so broad-chested, and I cuss like a sailor. All of that runs in the family, too. I’ll never be the girl with the perfect hair and makeup, because I like my sleep. I’ll never wear the latest fashions, because I like my money. I’ll always be a little too loud, which is fortunate, because my best friend is getting married and has already refused to give me the microphone at her wedding. I’ll never be the debutante who spends two hours getting ready. Simply put, I will never be dainty… and that’s okay.

new-girl-gif-blog-5

 

 

THIS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE WHEN MARILYN MONROE DID IT!

When I was in the 9th grade, during confirmation class, our youth minister told us to anonymously write down the last time we expressed our sexuality. He didn’t give examples. So it was, that, after he had begun to read them aloud, I realized I had completely misunderstood the assignment.

“Brushed my hair.”
“Put on cologne.”
“Did my make-up.”
“Discussed it and all it contains, with my best friend.”

Ugh. It has been twelve years and I’m presently thinking “Zetus lapetus, Belle. You may as well have told them you discussed pubic hair length with Gail… and name five 15-year-olds who talk like that!

In truth, it may not have been that bad, but I’m remembering it through the eyes of my mortified 15-year-old self, who knew just how obvious it was who gave the weirdly suggestive answer, as quiet descended and everyone glanced her way.

Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to just accept frequent embarrassment as a part of my existence on this planet. I mean really, you’ve got to develop a thicker skin when you regularly have moments like the time I blurted the following words to a group of new coworkers…

“I adore Woody Harrelson. I can just never decide if I’d want him to be my lover or my dad.”

Unsay it! Unsay it!

I have accidentally referred to the book Fifty Shades Darker as Fifty Shades Deeper multiple times, while speaking to customers. In fact, making that topic as awkward as possible has become a unique skill of mine.

Me: “Have you read Bared to You? If you’re looking for something in the same genre as Fifty Shades, that’s what I would recommend. It still has a lot of the same themes and focus, but it has more… dep-… I don’t want to say depth… it just has more meat to- NO!”

Yes. Bared to You has more meat to it. I bring the poise.

It’s not so bad, though, being me. Sure, there was that time I got tangled up in my own purse and seat belt, accidentally hit the panic button on my car before dropping my keys underneath it, and everyone stared as I tried to disentangle myself…

… and that’s why I don’t sport, folks. I’ll add that Gail just stared at me with a raised brow and called me Jessica Day, from The New Girl, offering nothing in the way of actual assistance.

The main perk to such desensitization to humiliation, though, is that it really just makes everything funnier… which was a godsend when I found myself having a Dreaded Girl Moment on Wednesday.

Oh, yeah… I went there… in a public restroom… while substituting at the high school.

There I was, pulling my dress over my head in a bathroom stall, hoping for no visible signs of the gunshot wound between my legs and, because this crap is routine for me, my only thought was that I just did not have time for this. You see, while I have enjoyed the single life, its main source of stress is that, literally, everything is my responsibility. That means I work two jobs to pay the bills and feed myself, the latter of which only happens if I can find a time to go grocery shopping. Wednesday was one of those exhausting days in which I substitute teach from 8:30 to 3:35, only to have 45 minutes remaining before I head to the library. Fortunately, I’d been granted with a combination lunch break and planning period, meaning I had an entire hour and a half off, in the middle of the day. I could’ve gone home, put my pj’s back on and watched Big Bang Theory on the DVR, as I regularly do, but I desperately needed food, y’all. There just was not enough time in the day for a damned Judy Blume moment.

So, I said a quiet prayer thanking Jesus for the fact that my dress remained presentable, because he totally concerns himself with these things, and weighed the options. I considered texting Gail, because I can’t make decisions by myself…

… and finally admitted that there was just no alternative. I had to go commando… in a dress that was not designed for such style choices… in freezing weather. Fortunately, I did not have to continue teaching while risking some kind of bizarre entry on the sex offenders website, because my hour and a half had begun. One dilemma remained, though: did I go home to get underwear, only to realize I didn’t have time to run my errands… or did I prance around town hoping for a windless day?

Hmmm….

Oh, come now. We all know that I chose productivity over sensibility and I’ve got to tell you, commando grocery shopping is pretty low on my list of recommended activities. Outside of a first date, I am not an exceptionally self-conscious gal. I’d like to lose a few pounds, but overall, I’m comfortable with myself… until I’m wearing a clingy dress and no panties in an Aldi. This is, in part, because I tend to wear pretty unflattering briefs.

Me: “Ugh. If I get into a serious relationship, I’m going to have to buy so much underwear.”
Gail: “Why?”
Me: “Because I don’t wear cute stuff, since no one sees it. I mean, can you imagine? We’re making out, he starts to slide his hand up my dress, pulls away and asks ‘Are you wearing a… one-piece bathing suit?

At least I thought they were unflattering, until I realized what I looked like without them.

I look like a sack of oranges. Are all women this lumpy? Oh, em jingles, I’m going to have to be naked in front of a man one day. Actually, I’m pretty sure I look more attractive naked. I am so not buying candy.

There is no way people can’t tell I’m not wearing underwear. I mean, where’s the pantiline? Wait. People try to hide the pantiline, don’t they? 

Why is that man staring at me? How clearly can he see the outline of my individual ass cheeks? 

I never realized how breezy dresses are. This is going to be the worst frostbite ever. 

WIND! NOOOO! THIS LOOKS NOTHING LIKE WHEN MARILYN MONROE DID IT!

I think I’m pretty unique in my ability to get myself into these situations, y’all. I mean, at that moment, how many people were accidentally grocery shopping with a breeze on their lady bits? I feel like the answer was just the one. It’s like every now and then I have some sort of Freaky Friday moment with a quirky sitcom character, only that woman’s life is controlled by censors and there is no genuine danger of flashing her babymaker to a group of elderly women picking up their prescriptions. Ideally, I’d just make the one quick trip, grab what I needed and run home to my cheap cotton sanctuary, but Walmart was right next door. If I was going to go through the discomfort of grocery shopping with trembling lips (you’re welcome for that), I was damned well going to finish.

Finally, though, after my naked dash through Narnia, I made it home just in time to put away the groceries and veil the goods. I will say, however, that after running around town with a Donald Duck style naked bottom half, I have a new appreciation for the warmth of Hanes. It was a transformation, the likes of fucking Cinderella, y’all. I, of course, told Gail my story and got little in the way of a response at the time. No worries. She was apparently just busy and waiting for the perfect moment.

1-22-15 1

She thinks she’s the sweet one.

What I Bring to the Table

For the most part, all I ever write about is bad dates… because that’s all I ever have. I also just don’t feel comfortable writing much about a guy I’m still getting to know. My blog is 99% humor and I don’t feel like it’s particularly respectful to tell the blogosphere about any of the embarrassing or funny things he might have done or said on a good date… so I’ll tell you all about the ones managed. Enjoy.

Belle on a date:

Do the fleece-lined leggings make me look like Gail when she wears support hose to bars? 

He’s three minutes late. I’m so getting stood up again. 

“Hi there. I’m glad you made it.”
Shit. It just sounded like I was giving him hell for being late. I’d better explain.
“Oh, I wasn’t like giving you a hard time for being late. I meant I was glad you were able to find it. I didn’t get us a table yet.”
Umm… yeah… cuz I’m not at a table. So glad I clarified that. 

Am I saying dude too much? I feel like I’m saying dude too much. Stop saying dude.

I don’t want to swear, in case he finds it offensive, but I feel like it’s just too soon for “oh, em jingles.” 

“I just love Seth Rogen’s dry sense of humor. That’s very much my humor. I was at Thanksgiving, talking to my cousin, who’s really artsy…”
No. No, no, no. You are not telling this story. STOP telling this story. 
“I asked him if he had any tattoos, yet.”
Find a way out of this story!
“When he told me no, that he wasn’t really into tattoos, I told him, very straight-faced, that I just had the two on my feet…”
Oh, there’s no way out. Just don’t grab your breasts for emphasis as you say it. 
“… and of course the bear claws under my breasts.”

How dorky is the “Awesome Librarian” t-shirt? Is it less dorky if I wear a football sweatshirt over it? 

Why did I suggest bowling?!?! I have to wear pants! I never wear pants, especially not on a date! I look like a fucking hobo! 

Oh, em jingles. Owning my own bowling shoes does not make me look cool. 

Wow. I am really bad at bowling for someone who owns their own bowling shoes. Is it cheating to use the eight pound ball if I still suck this much? 

“One time, I don’t even remember why we did this…”
Noooooo. Not another story!
“Gail didn’t have any plans and I had this date at the pub downtown. She was in a bar mood, so….
Say something else. Say, literally, anything else.
“… she basically secretly tagged along to spy on my date.”
NO MORE TALKING ON DATES!

Who gave Belle the talking stick?!?!

An older coworker heard me discussing my dad’s job with another coworker. 
Me: “He’s too old to be on poles. He’s 54.”
Coworker in Her 60’s: clearly offended, having not heard the whole conversation “He’s too old for what now?!?”
Me: “Climbing poles. No! He’s a lineman! He’s not like… too old for the planet.”

Discussing baby name acronyms at work…
“Well, I knew a guy in high school whose dad was in the police academy when he was conceived… there were less awkward ways to word that, weren’t there? Well, he was in the police academy when his mom got pregnant. Um… anyway. His initials spell LAW.”

“September 14, 1985? That’s so funny. That’s…” Riiiight here was when I realized how very creepy the statement was going to sound… “… um… that’s my best friend’s first boyfriend’s birthday. I mean, that was like seven years ago, but I doubt his birthday has changed. It’s a little weird to say that, isn’t it?”

::Text message with Malik after he told me about his efforts to combat the meth problem::
Malik: I can’t afford anything at the moment.
Me: I hope that’s because of the car and not all them drugs. #totallyjoking #sortof #iloveyou
Me: Basically, how’s the sober life going? Still fun? You should draw more. I like seeing your work.

“If you liked Fifty Shades, though, you’ll love this one. I really preferred it. It had a bigger plot, just a lot more… I don’t want to say ‘meat’… depth. Wait! I don’t want to say that either!”

Them: “Has Gail lost weight?”
Me: “I don’t know. I don’t often… weigh Gail.”

Talking about an old kitten with a coworker, who happens to be overweight…
Me: “Mimzy was the sweetest cat. She was a little furball… like a blowfish.”
Karol: “That’s what my kids call me.”
Me: :: in horror :: “They call you blowfish?
No. No, in fact, they call her Mimzy.

The day I met Niki…
Me: “Ugh. I hate that bitch. She’s an awful person.”
Niki: “She’s actually a really good friend of mine.”
Me: “Huh. Well… there’s no saving that, is there? I’m sorry your friend is such a bitch?”

Coworker Janet: “Before you eat one of those cookies, there’s cheesecake in the fridge.”
Me: “Yeah, I tried it. I didn’t like it. It had a weird citrus taste to it. I mean… unless you made it. Did you make it?”
Janet: :: laughing :: “No. I don’t know who made it.”

Me: “Ugh. I hate those boots with no heels. They look like elfin slippers.”
Gail: :: makes a stretching noise and extends her leg out in front of her, showing her ‘elfin slippers’ ::
Me: “Well… huh. I hadn’t noticed those. There’s not much I can say, is there?”

:: talking on the phone with Gail ::
Me: “Okay, I’m gonna let you go, so I can eat dinner, since it’s been proven that eating while distracted causes weight gain.”
Gail: :: mouth full :: “MMMkay. I’ll talk to you later.”

:: my cousin’s 8-year-old son is begging her to let him stay with his grandma, after already having been refused ::
Me: “Ugh. You see, Delia, this is where you tell him he’s adopted, so he’ll be so upset that he’ll be too distracted to keep asking.”
Too late, I realize that her son’s father is not is actual father, so he is technically adopted and does not know.
8yo: “What?!”
Me: “I’m kidding, sweetie. You’re not really adopted.”
Thank goodness my cousin approved of the bold-faced lie. I totally threw him off the scent. You’re welcome, Delia!

Picking up my debit card, after forgetting it at the restaurant where Gail and I had dinner. She had accidentally tipped him $10, instead of $5.
Me: “Well, can you run the card so I can leave you a tip?”
Waiter: “No, that’s okay. Your friend actually left me a pretty big tip.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. She actually did that by accident.”
Waiter: “Oh, well now I feel bad.”
Me: “No, no. She tips everyone hugely…”
Ugh. That sounds terrible. JUST STOP TALKING.
Me: “In fact, you should probably be pissed she didn’t tip you more.”
Translation: Oh, don’t get the wrong idea. It was no reflection on your service.

The Last Match Event… Ever

The romance novels told me that it would happen like this:

I’m walking through the woods one day, when suddenly, I’m surrounded by a pack of feral wolves, growling and foaming at the mouth. Out of nowhere, the large, proud alpha appears and his pack stands down. I stumble and fall as I take a step back, and look up to see, not a wolf, but a beautiful naked man in his place.

You really don’t want me to continue. I’d be a horrible erotic romance writer.

Me: “Why do you still have his number? He was a such a dick.”
Gail: “I don’t know. I just never deleted it.”
Me: “We should text him something wildly inappropriate, like… ‘Hey there… copper. Why don’t you haul that big… penis on over here and… put it in my mouth… big boy?’ Wait. I used the word ‘big’ twice. That’s kind of redundant.”


Gail

Alas, Disney lied. More accurately, all media ever lied, along with every single person who’s ever said ‘It’ll happen when you least expect it” or “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” That works so well with every other aspect of our lives, like our education, careers, and friendships, right? Success takes effort and dating is no different. So, I went to another Match event.

I cannot stress the balls it takes to go to these stupid things. Y’all, I am a pretend extrovert, because my job requires it. Despite my energy and humor in any social setting, unless I’m with a small group of friends or family, I can pretty much promise you that I would much rather be at home reading… in a blanket fort.

SONY DSC

The original plan was to go to the Match event with a friend from high school, who’s kept in touch via Facebook and has also been navigating the harrowing waters of online dating. When that didn’t happen, I decided I’d still go, since I’d gone to another Match event alone and the world didn’t crumble around me. The problem is, I had been looking forward to having a gal pal with me and was having trouble readjusting the plans in my mind for a solo event. I was dreading it. I couldn’t decide whether or not I even wanted to go and wavered all day long. When it was time to leave, all of my clothing turned to ash and I had nothing to wear. When I finally chose an outfit, it ripped as I put it on. Though I was tempted to give up and get out the chairs and linens, I made the repairs and forced myself out the door.

The event was held at a Spanish grill downtown, which I had trouble finding at first. I decided to go to the nearby outdoor supply superstore to use the restroom and fix my makeup before giving the search a second go. I spent a good twenty minutes in the bathroom, trying to come up with an excuse to just browse the guns and go home. Finally I promised myself that, if I was that unhappy after 10 minutes, I’d just leave.

On the way, I tried to figure out why I was so miserable over the idea of going to a bar, when I feel nothing close when meeting someone. I realized that, when you go on a date with someone you’ve met online, you’re only making yourself vulnerable to one person. At a Match event, you’re vulnerable to about 50 people. Not to mention, on a date, you know exactly with whom you’re supposed to be socializing. There is no guess work. Quite the opposite, at this Match event, I sat alone and worked up the nerve to talk to the girls behind me, reminding myself (with the help of Jane by text) that this was not the first day of sixth grade at lunch time. When I introduced myself and was invited to sit with them, I figured if the worst case scenario was engaging in some meaningless girl talk, I’d be okay.

One woman was 24, energetic and friendly, but something she said did rub me the wrong way.

24: “My man’s gotta love Jesus. I mean love Jesus. I don’t like hypocrites, either. You’ve gotta practice what you preach.”

… then…

24: “We met on Christian Cafe.”
Me: “Is that free?”
24: “It is for a little while and then you have to pay. I just kept using new e-mail addresses, though.”

Wait. He’s gotta be a Christian who practices what he preaches, but you’re stealing online Christian dating? I wouldn’t normally nitpick the misuse of a free trial. To each their own. These statements were back to back, though. I told Gail this story at breakfast, wondering if I was being unfair.


She didn’t think so.

Her friend was 26 and we agreed that, although we’re not really in a hurry right now, we probably will be in four years. Still…

Me: “So, how long have you been on Match?”
26: “Two years.”
Me: “Any luck?”
26: “None. But I have really high standards.”

What exactly does “high standards” mean? Do you mean you’re looking for someone who works in education, so he’ll understand your career concerns? Do you really need to be with a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and that’s hard to find in this part of the country? Are you looking for someone with ambition and drive, who has accomplished some of his goals? All of those are completely reasonable, but you have to specify that. Grand generalized statements like “I have really high standards” come off as “No one’s good enough for me”, regardless of gender. I had just finished researching the poor online dating habits of women, so maybe my head was in the wrong space for this, but I can’t stand to see a statement like that on a man’s profile either. It’s a huge turnoff to read that or similar comments like “I know what I want.” Why bother trying if they’re that particular?

Despite the above irksome comments, I had fun getting to know other women who dated online and I really did appreciate them letting me sit at their table. They had some good stories and interesting experiences and we had a nice conversation. Eventually a couple of men came over and struck up some conversation and we started comparing who was worse at deception, men or women. One guy was drunk, but funny and nice. Had he messaged me after the event, I’d likely have responded. He even took my correction of his usage of who/whom in stride. Eventually, though, the older of the two shared a humiliating story about a woman having a breakdown when he refused to come inside after a first date, stating that he was actually still friends with her.

Confused, I asked how they were still close and he said that she’d just been going through a really hard time. I didn’t comment further, but dude, if she’s a friend, it is beyond hateful to tell a humiliating story about her to get a few laughs, especially from a time in her life when she was feeling low. If you come off as a shit friend, I really don’t want to date you.

As the event neared it’s end, I noticed a man I’d been messaging and decided to introduce myself.

Me: “Hi. I’m Belle. We chatted for awhile, not too long ago.”
Producer: “Oh… I don’t remember. If I’ve slept since then, I’ve forgotten.”
Me: “I’m a libarian. My screen name has that in it.”
Producer: “No, I don’t remember.”
Me: “Oh, well then, this is a terrible introduction.” 

We talked for awhile online. I think he did remember me, but felt slighted when I stopped responding, because he never asked to meet. Still, we chatted for a few minutes, until the older man who cruelly mocks his friends came over, stood way too close to me, and obviously interrupted a conversation to ask where my friends went. Curtly answering his question, I told him I hadn’t known them, pointedly only told Producer it was nice meeting him, and left. Still, I got a message from him less than an hour later, saying how nice it was to meet me. I didn’t respond.

So, that was my second Match event. At this point, I’m thinking it’s going to be my last. The perk of online dating is knowing the fundamentals of who a person is before getting to know them. At the last event, I devoted two hours to a man, at a loss for why I’d never messaged him. Finally, I realized it was our different religious beliefs that had turned me off and it was still a valid reason. A Match event is pretty much just going to a bar and trying your luck, hoping someone will even want to talk to you and that you’ll have anything in common if they do. It is literally the face-to-face version of Match. You have to deal with the creepy people and the rude people and the pushy people just the same, only you have to do it in person. No thank you.

A Letter to My Downstairs Neighbor

Dear… fuck…do I seriously not even know your name?!?!

I’m sorry about the late-night vacuuming. I cleaned all day, because pest control was coming, and because I saw a bug that I’m pretty sure had a kitten in its mouth.

 gigantic bug
It was like Kafka fanfic.

That somehow led to rearranging all of my furniture, so I didn’t have time to vacuum before work. I could’ve done it in the morning, but I have this thing where I stay up all night for no reason mixing my Sons of Anarchy marathon with a 7th Heaven marathon and theorizing that all of those girls Matt brought home, whom we never saw again, were thrown into a pit and set on fire.

fire or knife
I’m kidding. I’m sure he gave them a choice: fire or knife?

I tried to be quick about the vacuuming, particularly in the bedrooms, as they are directly above yours. Incidentally, remember when I asked if you could hear my dog bark? You responded with “Around midnight, sometimes… that or you’ll be cleaning or something.” What did you mean by “or something?” Did you mean you could hear me masturbating? Please say no… even if you’re lying. You didn’t really stutter over the words, but it’s gotten me a little paranoid and besides, I promise the thumping, at least, was from jumping around with the dog. I wasn’t really allowed to clarify. I’m rather surprised I didn’t, actually, since my brain tends to disconnect from my mouth on occasion. Speaking of which, I would like to sincerely apologize for referring to my previous neighbor’s child’s father as her “baby daddy” the first time I met you. I was not aware you were single with kids. I don’t like judge you for having children. She was just obnoxious and I was being catty and… well, yeah, there’s no fixing that. Oops. Also, that huge crash around midnight, right above your bedroom, was not like some kind of Olympic masturbation move.

I56 Astra FNS1
I must have just kicked it coming down.
(Fun fact: contortion sex is a thing. SAFE SEARCH)

The TV seriously fell off the dresser by magic or something. I don’t even know how it happened. As a matter of fact, I’m still marveling that I was not seriously injured, in which case you would’ve heard screaming… but not in ecstasy.

Overall, I’d like to think I’m about as good a neighbor as I am a tenant. Sure, maybe I won’t be getting my security deposit back, due to the Diet Coke stain on the stairway wall, purple paint in the storage closet, the gold paint on the kitchen counters, the blue paint on the tile, and the wax on the hallway carpet, but I never pay my rent late. I pick up after the dog. I don’t know your name, because I mind my own business. It works, right?

P.S.
If you can hear me, know that I don’t have some kind of sexual disorder or addiction.
It’s just that I haven’t had sex in a really long time.

Sincerely,
Belle

… and then God reminded me that online dating was at least funny.

I caved. If you don’t recall, here was the hierarchical list, in the sense that I must accomplish one task before moving onto the next:

Graduate Portfolio
Master’s Degree
Librarian Job
Boys

I passed the portfolio and I got my degree. Then I had a panicked fit that went something like this…

“I’m never going to be a Librarian! Because I’m not dating, I’m going to die alone and not even Gail will be there, because she’ll be on a fucking couples’ cruise with fucking Terry! She signs onto CRAIGSLIST to giggle over serial killers looking for love and fucks a trucker in a Buick and it turns out perfectly (even though it’s the obvious set-up for a horror movie) and I’m going to be the lady from Mona Lisa Smile crying about how life wasn’t supposed to be this way! Gail won’t even be there to console me like Julia Roberts did! She’ll be too busy playing Pictionary with The McIntyres, even though they have the personalities of plates and wear too much pastel, because they have kids the same age as hers, and she’ll have outgrown me and my rotting ovaries! Motherfucking Terry!”

panic 2

1. I graduated two weeks ago.
2. I’m 25.
3. I don’t know anyone with the last name McIntyre and neither do Gail or Terry.
4. I really like Terry.
5. I’m an eensy bit high-strung.

Soooo, I talked myself down from the bell tower and decided to change the list up, taking my mind off the job search with a little online dating… which I have not legitimately engaged in since November, when I failed my graduate portfolio presentation the first time. I got an OkCupid account and then I got a PlentyOfFIsh account… and then God reminded me that online dating was at least funny. Don’t get me wrong. There have been some promising guys and I’m continuing this effort, despite the guy who told me he was looking for someone “naughty” after three hours of standard Q&A texting… or the guy who explained that he got a divorce because there was nothing good on T.V. that day, my only ever reason I cannot dignify such a decision, outside of the obvious cheating with heroine stuff.* The promising ones, however, are not funny material for blogs. So, the following are copy and paste openers from profiles and personal messages.

*He actually said that there was no chemistry or passion in his marriage, because marriage is a tingly feeling and not a lifelong committment. Okay. He didn’t say that last part.

The Profiles

-I LIVE WITH MY PARENTS!!!!!-
Okay. There are extraordinarily rare scenarios where I’m cool with this and I think it’s best to be open about the fact that your mother can’t get around by herself after her stroke, before getting involved with someone. That’s fair and quite responsible e-dating, in fact., and I can get on board with such selflessness as this.You, however, offered no explanation for this living arrangement at twenty-fucking-eight. You did state that you worked full time at a clothing store. Dude, you have a full time job. We live in the South, where you can buy a decent house for $60,000 and rent a meh apartment for about $600 a month. Stop taking advantage of your clearly too loving parents. Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

-To those that have already seen my profile I want to apologize my crazy psycho ex somehow managed to get my password and talk crap about me?!-
Oh, please, please, please tell me you have issues with your ex-girlfriend!!! You do?!?!? There is a flash flood in my pants right now.

flash flood

For realz, yo, I do not know your name. If your ex did this, start creating more unique passwords and get on with life. Anyone who actually saw what she wrote, probably won’t be back. Opening with a rant about your “crazy psycho ex” tells me that you thrive on that sort of drama. In other words…. NEXT!

-I’m a genuine gentleman at heart but I can also be a NAUGHTY BAD BOY ;]-
Telling me that you’re a gentleman “at heart” sort of implies that I can’t really see it upon the first meeting, which is not particularly gentlemanly; neither is calling yourself a “naughty bad boy” in an introduction. I sure as shit do not want to shake your hand without some kind of glove.

-I went through a divorce all of 2012. finally got my divorce papers a few weeks ago. I use to have a motorcycle, but i lost it in the divorce.-
“Von. Two. Three! Three uses of the word divorce in your first two sentences! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!”

count von count

Wait. You’re divorced, aren’t you? Is there a clearer way to tell me that you are sooooo not over your divorce? My general rule for online dating, regarding exes: if they’re mentioned in a profile, they’re not ex, because they are still very much a current variable in your life.

The Personal Messages

-Hi I’d like to tell you more about myself My father was a beekeeper before me, his father was a beekeeper. I want to follow in their footsteps. And their footsteps were like this. (Runs screaming) AAAAAAAH! I’m covered in beeeeees!-
Ummm…. okaaaay. I get it. I do. He’s opening with a joke… a bad one. The thing is, I’ve gotten this from him before. It was months and months ago on PlentyOfFish (this was OkCupid). It was weird then (enough so that I remember it) and it’s weird now. This is also clearly his default opener and he’s sticking with it. He thinks this is funny and encourages conversation… even though it says nothing about him and inquires nothing about me. All this tells me about the guy is that we do not share a sense of humor and that is a deal breaker

-You seem entirely like someone I could be interested in.-
I do not think this guy could’ve sound more pretentious if he tried. For one, this was worded… awkwardly at best, as if in an attempt to sound intelligent, though it ends in a preposition. Two, it sounded like he was inviting me to impress him, though he sent the first message. It was just short of “dance, puppet, dance!”
puppet

-You asked for a guy who is in a career…unfortunately I left a career to go back to school to do what I’m passionate about.-
He went on to tell me that he was studying vocal music performance and I think he thought I would admire this, despite clearly stating otherwise. Then again, he said “unfortunately”, so I don’t know. I honestly do not care what other people do with their lives. If he’s paying his bills and singing for his supper, what-the-fuck-ever. He’s not going to date me while doing it, though. My profile makes it clear that I want someone who has an obvious career and knows where their life is going and it does so because my ex-husband’s “career” was stealing from his wife. I have no idea what sort of future someone sees for themselves majoring in “vocal music performance”, because that’s not how I operate. In the movie Across the Universe, the old man tells the young man “what you do is who you are” and he’s clearly stuffy and unenlightened. Yeah. So am I. I’m into practical fields and that’s what attracts me, because I feel that means someone could potentially take care of more than just themselves. I also don’t see why someone needs a degree in music performance. If they’re good, why not just go sing? Mostly, I don’t get what this guy thinks he’ll have in common with someone so corporate as a librarian. I work for the man.This job is stationary and nine to five. His clearly will not be once it’s started, whatever it is. There is zero future there and my profile was just shy of saying so verbatim. He sent me another message a few minutes later  telling me he added to his profile and wanted me to check it out again. No. I stated I wanted a career guy and he is the antithesis of that. That’s cool and all, but no. 

-Is that the face your pup makes when he looks into the future?- (he was referring to a photo of my dog)
crazy man in straight jacket“Crazy man” was taken as a photo title in the folder where I save images for this blog. That should tell me something about my life. 

-Good evening miss. So I read your profile and I am very interested in getting to now you. Maybe we could be like to comets in the night sky burning brightly in the night sky showing off are passion for each other . That is if we hit it off. Which I bet we would.-
I legitimately screen capped this and texted Gail to ask if she thought he was kidding. Upon  reading his profile, I realized no, he was not. I recently read a great blog post by an online dater about a guy who awkwardly petted her head and asked for permission to kiss her. I’m pretty sure this is the Southern version of that guy and dating him would’ve made for a great blog post, though that would’ve been cruel. First, there are the spelling mistakes. Shudder. Second, there’s the somewhat creepy use of “miss” and the whopping romantic clichés. Third, there’s the use of the word “passion” in an introduction. Another, completely different, shudder.

In conclusion…

There are clearly many other reasons why I will be dying alone.

dying alone

Because even my own embarrassment is funny…

embarrassed lion

“The kid from The Grudge wasn’t Asian. He was Japanese.”
I was 17. I’d like to thank (blame) growing up in the Midwest (population: white) and public education.

“Why would anybody buy a bag of footballs?”
country song: “bag of pigskins”

“You look like Lucy Lui… but not just because you’re Asian or anything. I mean, you’d have to be Asian to look like her, but you just actually look like her.”
In my fear of sounding racist, I sounded super racist.

“Well, the first book in the series is called 50 Shades of Grey and it has a tie on the cover. The second book has a picture of handcuffs on the cover. It’s called 50 Shades Dee-Darker. I almost said Fifty Shades Deeper. That’s embarrassing.”
That’s right. I actually stopped myself from saying this awkward and embarrassing thing to a customer who didn’t understand that the material was adult. Then I explained that I’d almost just said something awkward and embarrassing. I should be a public speaker.

Crash. I didn’t really care for this movie.” I suddenly remember I’m not supposed to negatively comment on a customer’s selections… and get flustered and try to make it better. My best friend loved it. It just wasn’t really my thing. We just have really different tastes in women… I mean movies…” How the FUCK do I mean movies?!?!?We have really different tastes in movies. She made me watch THE WOMEN once and we just have really different tastes in movies.”

“It’s just really important to try not to touch yourself while you’re cooking.”
This was during a presentation over food safety and sanitation… in front of a class of about 30 people. I got an A, possibly because the professor couldn’t stop laughing.

“People race foxes?!?”
:in reference to the brand Fox Racing:

Me: “We’re not lesbians.”
Waitress: “What?”
Me: “Before. You took our names and you called her my partner. We’re not lesbians. I just wanted to clarify.”
Waitress: “Um… I’m sorry? I didn’t say that.”
Me: “Yeah, you did. Before, when you took down our names. It’s okay, though. You must’ve forgotten.”
Gail: “It’s not the same person.”
Me: “Yes it is.”
Gail: “No. It’s not.”
Me: “Yes it is. Wait. She wasn’t pregnant, was she?”
Gail: “No. Because it’s not the same person.”
Me: “Oh. Um…”
That’s right. Because it would’ve been more embarrassing to admit I’d made this appalling mistake than to try and convince the waitress that she did, in fact, call us lesbians.

Me: “I like your scarf.”
Customer: “Thank you! I got it at Ross.”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “I got it at Ross.”

Me: “OH! I thought you said ‘I’ve gotta get bras.'”
Why the FUCK do I clarify the embarrassing part when I have successfully avoided it?!?!

Me: “I thought Benjamin Franklin was a president until I was 19-years-old.”
Gail: hysterical laughter
Me: “What?!? He’s on money! That’s like if Louisa Mae Alcott was on the $27 bill or something.” 

Gail: “Why Louisa Mae Alcott?”
Me: “Um… because she wasn’t a president either. Duh.”
I probably could’ve just avoided telling anyone that story.

Me: “Why would I care what nationality my mechanic is?”
The sign read “Japanese Mechanic.”

Cowork C: “What’s the name of that one?”
Me: “I don’t even know.” I did fucking, too. It was Pleasures of a Dark Prince and I was not saying that.
Coworker C: gestures for me to turn it over. I do and there’s a receipt taped to the front so no one can see the cover art.

Me: “I just… uh… it’s part of of… um… it’s just some series… the uh… dark immortals… or immortals dark… or uh something… um Immortals After Dark. Yeah that’s it. It’s paranormal romance. Not something you’d be interested in.”
It was the verbal equivalent of tripping over a chair and I rocked it.

Coworker B: yanks my Kindle from in front of me “Wow. I wish I could read print that small!” I don’t. I had an explicit sex scene on the screen at that very moment. We’re talking key terms like “errection” and “tight sheath.” I once tried to show the same coworker a picture on my phone, only to have forgotten about the picture of Black lesbian sex I’d sent one of the guys as a joke. Let’s hope she couldn’t see a thumbnail picture that small either.

Customer: “And this will let me view the Nook books?”
Me: “Yeah, we have a great e-media selection. Let me show you.”
I turn the screen toward her and pull up my personal account. The following book covers are prominently displayed:
bitten never cry wolf slave to sensationwhen you dare

Sarcastic Robot Friend

tears ecard

Grieving.

It makes me terribly uncomfortable. Actually, no. Let me revise.

Emotions.

They make me terribly uncomfortable.

Today, Gail got on a plane to head to North Carolina and see her dying great grandmother one last time. This evening I got the following text:

“She died before I got there.”

I immediately called Gail and asked the obvious question “Are you okay?” You see, Gail and I… we really don’t do emotion. I mean, I miscarried, her baby died, we both divorced, then there was the whole rape thing and there were only two or three good crying jags in there. Max. I grew up with mommy dearest, who used emotion as manipulation and my dad and grandmother who are both still incredibly uncomfortable showing any emotion. Gail grew up with passive agressive parents who put on their Beige Faces every time people were around and went on silent treatment bouts when they weren’t. Then from age 15 on, we raised each other. The result is two people who agree that greeting cards are a scam and that when life really sucks, you should just make wildly inappropriate jokes. Seriously. Just send me the money you spent on the card, because I really don’t care what Hallmark has to say about the birthday of potentially thousands of people.

The Sweetest Thing I Said During My Best Friend’s Grieving:

“This sucks for you, not her. She was surrounded by people who loved her and thought it was so sweet that you were on your way. I don’t know if that makes you feel better or not, but I figure you’re not too worried about how heartbroken you are and you’re just thinking about how much everyone else hurts and how you need to be able to fix it.”

The Other Things I Said:

“Don’t deal with the emotions, Gail. She lives in North Carolina. You hardly ever see her anyway. Just pretend she’s still alive and everything’s cool.”

Gail: “The bright side is that I’ll be there for the funeral.”
Me: “That’s a really shitty bright side.”

Gail: “Then my dad told me about how everyone prayed for her and the room was packed full and just minutes later, she died and they all prayed again and you could tell that everyone just felt so relieved, because she was in a better place.”
Me: “Wow. Aren’t you glad you missed that? That sounds awful and incredibly depressing.”
Gail: “What’s depressing is hearing that story and crying in an airport.”
Me: “Yeah, but it would’ve been so much worse if you’d been there. You would’ve been surrounded by people who were closer to her than you were and you would’ve wanted to cry, but you would’ve felt like crap if you did and they didn’t, because who are you to cry?”
Gail: “Ugh. You’re right! But I’m still crying in the airport and it’s embarrassing.”
Me: “Okay. Here’s what you do. Just start screaming irrationally at me about something completely insane” high-pitched hysterical voice “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU ATE ALL OF THE FISHSTICKS! THOSE WERE MY FISHSTICKS AND YOU ATE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!!!!’ Just make sure no one can even understand you toward the end.”
Gail: “I said I wanted eggs!”

Gail: “At least I’ll be there to see my grandpa, because now that she’s gone, he won’t be around much longer.
Me: “Ugh. That sucks. That won’t even be sad. That’ll be like a mercy kill, like when you shoot a deer. That’s the wrong thing to say, huh?”

Me: “They don’t have my seasonal coffee creamer any…”
Gail: “Hold on.” begins checking out at the airport store
Me: faux hysterics “Hey! Don’t tell me to hold on. I listened to you cry about your dead grandma and you tell me to hold on during my time of need!”

Luckily, Gail not only expects this from me, but she usually wants it and is upfront about it when she doesn’t. Mostly, she says it gets her mind off of how much things suck.

Me: “I’d make an awesome grief counselor.” choking sob “‘And they raped my five-year-old daughter over and over again and I just keep thinking that it might have been better if she’d just died!'”
Gail: “And then you’d be like ‘Yeah. That’s probably true.”

We talked for  a while and Gail told me about the couple in the airport who met on Craigslist with one of those “I’m just looking for a nice young lady to go on trips with me” ads. I recommended she join them to get more about this story and we joked about how this woman was so going to end up dead. As Gail was about to hang up, I encouraged her to explain to the person seated next to her on the plane that there’s a 1/10 chance they’d be on a plane with either a real or a fake bomb, but not to worry, she’s brought along a fake bomb to sway the odds in their favor. She agreed to, but I’m pretty confident that was an outright lie.

With Gail, I can pretty much express my condolences “I’m sorry. That sucks.” and she responds with “Thank you.” Then we dive right into tasteless jokes about rape and dead babies. With everyone else on the planet, I’m only capable of stating the obvious. When my coworker’s husband died, I mulled over what I should say to her for several days, eventually wondering if I should say anything at all because it had been so long. Then I finally blurted out “I’m sorry you’re sad” which was immediately followed by an internal cringe and a what the fuck?!?!

A few weeks ago, Jay texted me about his father, whom he and Chad both despise.

Jay: My dad has cancer.
Me: Oh, wow. I’m so sorry. What kind?
Jay: Carcanoid syndrome:
Me: Is it serious?
Jay: Had emergency surgery Thursday at midnight
Me: Is he okay? Is he going to be?
Jay: I think so
Me: I’m sorry Jay
I was doing really well until:
Me: My mom once told me she was having heart surgery and I felt horrible because I didn’t like her and she was sick.
Me: Maybe that was the wrong thing to say. I didn’t mean it badly. I know y’all don’t get along, but he’s your dad and you love him and want him to be okay. I’ll pray for y’all.
Jay: I didn’t take it in a bad way. No worries and thanks.

My friends just expect me to say something awful, apparently… and to be fair, my mother made up her heart surgery for attention.

It’s not just grief-based either. I have no idea how to receive affection unless it’s from the cuddly wuddliest wittle beagle ever. Most people who hug me leave me counting the seconds because I don’t want to pull away too quickly and offend, but I also don’t want to veer into weird territory and have them thinking I’m about to smell their hair and lick their earlobe. I just never learned this stuff. When I tell my grandma I love her more than anything, you can see how much she doesn’t know what to say. It actually makes her uncomfortable, because I’ve seen the lady cry four times ever. The best way to get something from my dad is with tears (though, we have an unspoken agreement that I will not abuse this), because handing me some cash is so preferable to handing me some Kleenex. I’m just the most awkward with grief. I can’t say the right thing under normal circumstances, let alone when someone sads all over me. I hope I meet a compassionate man who says the right things and can mend a five-year-old’s broken heart, because I’ve got dibs on Sarcastic Robot Parent.

rosie-robotAvailable Settings: Sarcastic, Bitchy, and Quiet*.

*Quiet setting is time sensitive. Robot will eventually default to Sarcastic.