Engineer 104: The Date I’ve Already Forgotten

I’m just numbering the engineers by tens now.

Gail: “Judging by the men you skip over, that’s probably pretty accurate.”

For some time, I’ve been operating under the rule that if a man meets no deal breakers, I’ll give him a shot. I know I haven’t written about a date since the night I was stood up downtown, ultimately ending up crying over a bag of jelly beans, but that’s not because I’ve vowed to recruit my gal pals in some sort of eventual Golden Girls arrangement. There’s just nobody left. Every man I meet in person and online is perpetually 12 years old. I’m dating in The Children of the Fucking Corn and there is not a grown up to be found. Thanks a heap, Generation X, for raising a society of men who can’t put down the XBOX controller long enough to fill out a job application.

I jest, of course… sort of… at least about the choices and laziness of grown men still being the responsibility of their parents. Everyone in the dating world, though, has that one stat that they look at before all others. For some, it’s physical attractiveness. For others, it’s whether or not they have children. For me, it’s career. I’ll respond to a man with an otherwise blank profile if he has a legitimate and promising career. It’s not about money. I make my own money, proudly. It’s about security and knowing that I won’t be the sole bread winner, pretty much ever. What can I say? Young divorce broke me.

 

In 2014, when the Peter Pan Generation reigns supreme, it seems the number one profession for men under 35 is “student.” In the South, second to that is “oil.” Finally, at least in my experience, it’s “engineer.” I won’t, under any circumstances, even respond to the first. The second, rarely, because no further specification usually means blue collar rig worker who likely won’t have a job in 10 years, because the oil field just sort of works that way. So, I date engineers. Apparently exclusively.

Engineer number 104 had messaged me multiple times over several different dating sites. He wasn’t especially pushy, doing so with a significant amount of time between each, but he was persistent in his interest. I… wasn’t.

Gail: “What’s going on in your dating world, by the way?”
Me: “Meh. There’s this one guy who keeps messaging me, but there’s really not much there. He’s also too old for me, built like Uncle Fester, and has scary teeth.”

uncle festerNot one time, have I claimed to be sweet.

Ultimately, I decided I was being shallow, because I totally was, and I should give this guy a shot. He didn’t meet any of my deal breakers and I did say I would actually start trying, so as to lessen my chances of getting a Daddy in a Jar at 32 and raising a child alone. I finally responded to his offer to text, with some lie about why it took so long, and tried to get a conversation going. There still wasn’t anything there, but whatevs, in for a penny…

Engineer 104 told me to choose a place to meet, which obviously lost him some points right away, but I was pretty adamant that I was going to give the guy a chance and not go in with any assumptions that the night would be a disaster. I chose a local sports bar and ate beforehand, because however dedicated I was, I knew I’d felt little connection in our digital communications and didn’t want him to buy me dinner if there was no spark in person.

I got to the bar first and, after my tearful night of jelly beans, I most definitely thought I might be stood up again. Engineer 104 was about 15 minutes late, with no text message, but had told me he was on his way earlier. I mentally calculated the money in my bank account and planned to leave and buy a cat at 30 minutes after. No joke, because that is definitely an impulse buy to make after a bad date. When he finally arrived, I realized that Engineer’s pictures didn’t really do him justice, as is often the case with men. They suck at selfies and he’d only posted a single very unflattering one. He wasn’t a Winchester, but he also wasn’t an Addams, so woot. We chose a high top table in the middle of the bar and he started talking… about himself… and didn’t stop.

In all fairness, 104 wasn’t awful, but he also wasn’t interested in engaging me in the conversation in the least. I make an effort to ask questions on a first date, so as to avoid a a nervous Buffy the Vampire Slayer fangirl rant, and did so this time as well, but it really wasn’t necessary. Engineer was happy to tell me all about his father/sons camping trip, his problems with deceased family estate drama, the dog his ex-girlfriend kept in the breakup. He even did a few racist impressions of the past clients he name dropped. Let me tell you, you don’t know romance until you hear a Southern white man’s imitation of the Sultan of Dubai.

Now, I like to exaggerate, y’all. It’s kind of my thing.

Gail: :: shivering in the cold grocery store ::
Me: “No one has ever been this cold. I feel like I’m in the hedge maze at the end of The Shining.”

I must clarify, however, that I do not exaggerate when I say that this man checked his phone at least 10 times in the hour we spent together. He explained that his dad was sending him score updates for the high school game his brother was coaching, but dude, you are on a date. Either this is important enough that you need to leave, or you can put away the fucking phone for one hour. I thought my generation was supposed to be the iGeneration. Which brings me to his age. Engineer was only 34, but to listen to him, you’d think he was nearing 40. I’m 27 years old. I do not feel old and I’m not going to for some time, so the last thing I want is to be with a man who is constantly talking about burial plots. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but he did keep saying things like “now that I’m older” and talking about how hard it was to get around these days. I’d rather be with a 35-year-old, who realizes he has all the time in the world, than a 28-year-old who talks nonstop about the dreaded 30. The golden ticket with 104, however, was when he got out of his seat to stand next to the table for a moment.

104: “I’ve gotta stand for a minute. My butt’s asleep.”

Engineer 104 just may not have been that interested in me and felt no need to impress or engage. I can’t imagine this was his best behavior. Maybe I was too young and spry. Possibly, I just didn’t do a great Arabian impersonation. I don’t know, but after just an hour, I told him I had to get up early the next morning and he didn’t seem particularly disappointed. I feel no need to leave a date with false hopes and simply told him to have a good night. He moved in for a hug and told me we should do it again sometime. I likely just looked confused, because I didn’t think the date went all that well. He either agreed or I’m not great at hiding my emotions (I am so not great at hiding my emotions), because I never heard from him again and I was not sad.

Engineer 104 was… forgettable. You know what, though? That was kind of nice. It wasn’t a good date, but I also didn’t leave in tears, which is, sadly, an accomplishment after these last few months. He did not insult my religion. He did not drink five beers in one hour. He actually showed up. He was just some guy and I assume I was just some girl. Sometimes, it’s kind of nice to have a forgettable date, as it reassures me that I’m not just overly critical and eager to buy myself some sperm for my 32nd birthday. Had he asked, I might have gone on a second date with 104, just to give him another chance. In hindsight, I realize it would’ve been a disaster, but I’m proud of myself for not letting his incorrect usage of the word “literally” write him off as a person. No, it was definitely the racism.

So, here’s hoping that things might go more smoothly with the new guy I’m texting. He’s an engineer, y’all!

Pretend Poise: The Time I Got Stood Up

Me: “Ugh! I’m so tired of being alone, but all the men are losers!”
Gail: 

That pretty much sums up my dating attitude over the last few months: lots of hyperbole from me and put-upon sighs from Gail. I haven’t actually been trying since the disaster that was Assistant Manager giggling over my breakfast pastry Savior, though. I’ve mostly been enjoying the single life, that is drinking entire pots of coffee by myself, staying up all night to create dance routines with the dog, and having Once Upon a Time marathons for days on end.

Single life.

Once the shock that was another solo birthday had passed, I felt a lot less pressure to fall in love right now, right now, right now. Again, I vowed that, if I reached a point in my life where I felt like my chance for family was slipping away, I’d just have children on my own. After all, why would I pass up one of life’s great joys just because some stupid boy couldn’t follow a schedule? So, I was enjoying my time alone. I was absolutely not in Panic Dating Mode when Corrections Officer came along.

Gramma: “A corrections officer? Oh, that means he’s mean.”

“When my Gran tells me to run, I run.” – Sookie Stackhouse

Sigh. The one time Sookie Stackhouse had something useful to say.

Corrections Officer was an OKCupid user with a blank profile. He’d messaged me once before and I’d ignored him, because he was military and that’s all his profile really said. Then, he messaged again, about a month later, clarifying that he wasn’t in the service any longer and that he worked for the government. Men are usually terrible at choosing photos and his weren’t half bad, so I messaged back and asked him to tell me a little about himself. For the next couple of weeks, he’d text me briefly each day, letting me know he was interested, but not sitting outside my apartment with his hands down his pants. It was a nice balance, because clinginess freaks me out like Chandler Bing.

“Three text messages in two days?!??! Dude, crawl out of my ass! I have a life!” 

While no longer a true military man, Corrections Officer was still in the Reserves, so the first weekend we chatted, he had to go out of town, or we would have met then. Instead, we talked for an additional week, with the intention to meet last Saturday. I texted a day before to tell him that I thought we should probably make some more specific plans, so we decided on 7:00 and he asked what I liked to eat. Not wanting to be pushy, I again waited until about 1:00 on Saturday to ask exactly what he wanted to do. After a touch of “What do you want to do?/I really don’t care” – Dude, just let your testicles drop and make a fucking plan – he said to meet him downtown at the outdoor store and that we’d walk to a popular restaurant from there. The last time I heard from him was around 4:30, when I was still at the library.

stood up

I was excited, y’all… like legitimately reminding myself that we might not hit it off, excited. I even told all of my coworkers that I had a date. Despite the fact that Saturdays at the library are rough, I rushed home, redid my makeup, put on one of my many, many, Zooey Deschanel costumes (pretty much all I own), straightened my hair, and headed out. I arrived at the outdoor store five minutes ahead of time, stowed my purse in the trunk, and found a visible bench to sit on out front and waited…

… and waited…

At 7:10, I sent a text asking if I was in the right place…

… and waited…

At 7:20, I sent…

So, I’m not sure what happened, but without a response, I think I’m gonna head home.

Just to be certain, I tried calling Corrections Officer and got voicemail, doing a quick walk through inside, just to make sure he wasn’t browsing boats with his phone on silent. After trying to call a couple more times, I headed to my car, just ready to go home and plot my blog post over this horrendous event. Then my phone rang.

Y’all, I have a predate prayer. It goes a little something like this:

Jesus, please let this go well. Let this be someone worth my time and maybe even someone I could fall in love with… I mean, ‘with whom I could fall in love.’ I’m sorry ’bout that. If that’s not possible, could you please just let it not be awful? I’m so tired of terrible date stories. Finally, if it is awful, could you please give me the strength to conduct myself with grace and poise, no matter how horrifying things are? Thank you.

The above prayer is exactly why I’m proud of the way I responded when I heard Correction Officer’s cartoon redneck voice for the first time. I’m not even being petty. My daddy has spoken the words “That bobcat come flyin’ out from underneath” and I thought this guy’s accent was over the top.

Me: “Hello?”
CO: “Hey. What are you doing?”
Me: “Excuse me?” I was genuinely confused, not being sassy.
CO: “What are you up to?”
Me: “Ummm. I’m waiting outside the store for you.”
CO: “Oh. Yeah… I just got off work.”
Me: ::silence::
CO: “I got called in. It was like, a mandatory thing. There was a riot at the prison.”
Me: “Um. You could’ve told me.”
CO: “Yeah… I uh… didn’t have a phone.”
Me: “Okay. Well, I’m gonna go home now.”
CO: “Um. Okay.”
Me: “Have a good night.”

I get that things happen, folks. I do. But this guy could not have been less apologetic about the fact that I’d been waiting downtown (which is about 20 miles away), all dressed up, for over 30 minutes. I’m not even accusing him of lying. However, he’d texted me at 4:30. I know he isn’t allowed a phone inside the prison, but he absolutely had access to one before he entered. I deserved, at the very least, an “I just got called into work. I don’t know when I’ll be out and I won’t have a phone. Let’s postpone until 8:00.” Instead, he left me to feel more and more dejected by the minute, waiting for some kind of call. When he did call, I didn’t even get an apology… except as an afterthought.

stood up 2

I am really not a dramatic person, folks. I make wildly exaggerative declarations, as a joke, all the time; but short of insisting that eating the candy on the break room table was the worst thing that’s every happened to me, I’m pretty low-maintenance… until I crack. I’m not gonna lie, either. The poise totally ended with that text.

Me: “I’m gonna die alone!”
Gramma: “What happened?!”
Me: “I just got stood up! Now I’m gonna go home and eat cotton candy jelly beans for dinner and suck my thumb and start the process of dying alone!”
Gramma: “Well, who was it?”
Me: “The corrections officer that you said was mean, because he was a corrections officer, and you were right! It’s never gonna happen! I’m never gonna meet anyone and I can’t even be a cat lady, because the apartments won’t even let me have a cat! I’m never going to be able to have babies!”

Gramma: “Well, if he’s not more considerate than that, Belle, it’s for the best that you didn’t waste your time on him.”
Me: “I’m not crying over one stupid boy I’ve never even met, Gramma! I’m crying because they’re all stupid boys and I’m not gonna be able to have children!”
Gramma: “Oh, stop it. You are, too. When you least expect it…”
Me: “Oh, Gramma, I can promise you that sitting alone in front of an outdoor supply store, slowly realizing that you’ve been stood up, is exactly when you least expect it.”

The conversation didn’t exactly improve from there. It was pretty much just a lot of me exclaiming that there was no one left and my ovaries were rotting, with my Gramma offering to call Corrections Officer up and “give him a piece of [her] mind!” Eventually, I let her go, took off my makeup and set the dress aside for church in the morning. I curled up on the couch and ate my Jelly Belly dinner…

I took out a cheesy romance novel…

… and I cuddled the dog and told him all about how he was the only boy I’d ever need.

Me: “I’m so tired of awful dates.”
Gail: “Yeah… this one was exceptionally bad.”

Five Things to Immediately Remove from Your Dating Profile

Recently, I downloaded Tinder.


That about sums it up.

There have been some promising results… or like two. Regardless, I wasn’t even expecting that much, based on blogs I read, and just figured it would be amusing. Don’t worry. Indeed, it has been.

tinder 1

 Tinder 5

Tinder 4

 OH, THE MAN CHILDREN!!!!!!!

Besides leaving me brokenly muttering the words “I can’t… I just can’t,” Tinder has helped me to refine a list I’ve been forming for quite some time: Five Things to Immediately Remove from Your Dating Profile. I am, of course, referring to men, but ladies, it probably wouldn’t hurt to heed this advice, as well.

Age Inappropriate Photos

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about Tinder is the snide comments that caption each new match, such as “I’m sure they’re better looking in person” and “You’re not getting any younger.” A day into using the app, I was matched with the poster boy for Man Children, at least according to his pictures. While I won’t post a picture of a stranger, this man wore a flat-billed cap, tight black coat with a fur-trimmed hood, wife beater, and bling. He was also white as the driven snow, and lived 12 miles from me (read: suburbia). The photo was captioned “Rockin’ this party 8 days a week!” He was 31 years old. I sent Gail a screenshot with the following:

Yeah… I may not be getting any younger, but he sure is. 

This outfit was the male equivalent to a bedazzled, frayed jean skirt, that was so short as to reveal butt cheeks. In other words, it really wouldn’t even be appropriate on a 19-year-old, but at least it would make more sense. While this was an extreme case, I see instances of this sort of thing all the time. For example, making a duckface (ladies), wearing a flat-billed trucker hat (gentleman), throwing up pretty much any faux gang sign, flipping off the camera, lolling your tongue right out of your head like an overexcited dog…

I have a picture of myself from about a year and a half ago, wearing oversized sunglasses, with my winter coat’s faux fur-trimmed hood pulled forward, making a kissy face, with too much lipgloss. While know that I took it ironically, that guy looking at my profile may very well assume I was going for Diva, over Dork. So if that slutty Halloween costume was a fluke or in jest, it’s a terrible representation of who you are as a person. These people don’t know you and your photo is likely the very first thing they’ll notice and use to form opinions. That means, if you’re a homebody bookworm, don’t use that photo of you pretending to down a bottle of Jack, because a woman you might have been quite interested in cannot be expected to conclude that you were poking fun at your naturally reserved nature. You were going for fun loving, but it’s one picture, so it comes off as juvenile. Don’t misrepresent yourself, either way. While you’re at it, nix…

The Phrase “between jobs”, or Anything Similar

I think everyone goes through times when they’re just plain tired of being single. They want someone to curl up with at the end of a long day, to hold their hand at a family funeral, to help them carry the groceries from the car. I’ve been there. You’ve been there. Sometimes, however, this longing occurs when we just have to admit that it’s a bad time to get into a serious relationship. Maybe you really want to be ready to date after your divorce, but you just aren’t. Maybe you’d love to have time for a relationship, but with school and the second job, it just isn’t possible. Maybe, just maybe, you’re unemployed.

If you know my history, you’re aware that my ex-husband did not work… like at all… for four fucking years. I realize that this makes me particularly sensitive to any level of unemployment, but in all honesty, for a 28 year old man to tell me he’s “between jobs,” as an opener… I can’t… I just can’t.

I know we make up the boomerang generation, where it’s totally common (I refuse to call it normal), for adults to move back in with their parents, but that doesn’t make doing so any more stable. Everybody has setbacks. Gail, herself, spent two years living with her parents after her daughter died. I mean, really, if you have a better excuse, I’d love to hear it. Sometimes, we have to crawl even after we walk. That’s life. Is it the foundation for a healthy and long lasting relationship, though?

No. Take a break, sort your life out, and then decide if you want to pursue even more responsibility and stress, because you’ll be reading profiles with obvious specifications like…

“No Cheaters”

This actually applies to any given that only succeeds in broadcasting your baggage before the first date. Recently, I’ve also seen a demand for “no liars”, the declaration that they “don’t want to be used”, and brief snippets about their past relationships that “didn’t work out” because “mistakes were made on both sides.” Far and away, the most popular, however, is an insistence for “no games.” Here are the flaws with these statements:

  • Few, if any, men or women would self identify as “liars.” No one wants to date a liar. It’s understood.
  • Few, if any, men or women would consider themselves “users”, even if they do take more than they give. No one wants to date a user. It’s understood.
  • If you’re dating now, your past relationship didn’t work out. It’s understood. “Mistakes were made on both sides” totally sounds like “revenge cheated.”
  • Finally, no one thinks they’re “playing games.” We’re all just making an effort to figure out what we want, without getting trampled and sometimes, it leads to trampling. No one labels themselves this way and no one wants someone to “play games” with them. It’s understood.

Dude, I’m so sorry that your previous wife slept with your best friend and lied about spending all of your money on designer handbags. It’s awful that you felt the need to sleep with her high school nemesis to make her pay and now all women look the same to you. One question, though:

WHY THE FUCK IS THIS ON YOUR PROFILE?!?!

We all have baggage. That’s a safe and reasonable assumption. In fact, lately, I’ve been sleeping less and less, because I keep having nightmares about my marriage. It’s been three and a half years and I’ve slept with the light on twice in the last month. I’m considering getting therapy if and when I get health insurance. You know what, though? That’s a terrible pick up line.

Sure, there are some facts that cannot and should not be withheld. If he’s been married, has a daughter, or cares for his ailing grandmother, I want to know, so that I can make a decision as to whether or not this is something I can handle long-term. The facts are necessary (marital and parent/caregiver status). Almost without fail, the emotions attached to them are better left for another date, because these people are still strangers. Speaking of which, you should also leave out…

Anything Sexual

While sexuality is all over our televisions, magazines, and somehow even radio, I find it is still generally expected that we, as individuals, will not share intimate details of our private lives with strangers. Of course, there are certain facts worth sharing in a dating setting, in regards to sexual health. These could include being HIV positive, saving yourself for marriage, physical incapability of sexual performance, or possibly even a broad description of personal appetite. All of these things could be potential deal breakers for a romantic partner, so full disclosure is probably the best idea. You’re in luck, too, because there’s a private messaging option for that, if you STILL don’t want the whole world to know. Beyond these somewhat reasonable topics, though, OKCupid has asked questions on all of the following…

History of anal sex
Enjoyment of performing oral sex
Willingness to be collared
Opinion of pain during sex
Pornography preference
Masturbation habits
Willingness to kiss after receiving oral sex
Interest in group sex

Regardless of anyone’s answers to these questions, why do these things need to be shared? Even if you’re looking for a hookup, do you really want that guy from high school to be able to read about your history of anal sex? This shit is public, yo. Furthermore, while I haven’t actually had stranger sex, isn’t half the fun in discovery? I mean, aren’t you sort of ruining the mystery of shamelessly sexting about these things? Even if you’re looking for something serious and are just particularly open and honest about these things, the person you’re trying to entice may not be. It is unbelievably awkward to sit at dinner with a nice man and have the following running through your head:

He prefers softcore porn. What exactly is softcore porn? Does he realize the possibility that he’s watching live sex slavery acts for his entertainment? Ew. His entertainment. Do not think about him masturbating. Do not think about him masturbating. 

This is totally one of those Just Me moments, isn’t it? You know what? These things still beat…

Your Tired Anchorman Quote

The most private thing I’m will to admit…

“I wear a special cologne. It’s called Sex Panther, by Odeon. It’s illegal in nine countries. Yup. It’s made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good. 60% of the time, it works every time.”

The Time I Didn’t Have Coffee with Plant Manager

Me: Remember the guy from eHarmony that I said I might meet? I haven’t heard from him since Friday and now he’s asking if meeting tomorrow still works. Thoughts?
Gail: That’d be fine with me. That’s pretty much just the weekend. People get busy. *Shrug* At the very least, it’s a meal.
Me: It’s a coffee. Today’s Tuesday and I last heard from him Friday at noon. That’s a little more than the weekend.
Gail: It’s a coffee. I’d do that with a guy I didn’t remember meeting at a bar a month ago.
Me: You’d do a lot of things with a guy you didn’t remember meeting at a bar a month ago.

I am going to be completely honest about my motivation to join eHarmony. I follow an über conservative blogger, who has some really great points and sometimes, some really crazy ones. He’s a truly unique guy and just a touch fanatical, but he met his wife on eHarmony and, based on what I read on his blog, they seem genuinely well-suited and happy. Sooooo, if eHarmony could find a match for this just-a-touch-nuts guy, surely my chances would be improved. That’s right. I read a story about a guy who claims to have a good marriage, so I spent $135 on a year of eHarmony.

Plant Manager was my first eHarmony date. He was 30 and transitioning out of the teaching profession. I always prefer for a guy to have a pretty set career, but both options were Big Boy Jobs, so whatever. He also had a roommate, which is always a turnoff for me. In the South, you can get an apartment for less than $700 per month, so it always comes off as a bit juvenile to me when someone doesn’t live alone. Regardless, I understand that different people have different preferences, so whatever. He was particularly religious, which seemed potentially problematic, since he was protestant, but I figured I’d give it a shot, because whatever. Finally, I wasn’t really feeling much common ground or interest, via text message. He hadn’t made much effort to contact me or get to know me at all, prior to meeting; but different people do this online dating thing differently…. so whatever.


I feel like this gif pretty much sums up my dating life.

As you can tell, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about this date. It wasn’t so much my dating attitude, as of late, as it was Plant Manager, himself. I suppose I was hoping that there might be this great face to face connection and we’d have an amazing conversation. Then again, I did send my dad the following text, in regards to visiting my uncle and family at the hospital.

Me: Well, after this date goes badly, I’ll head that way.

The date was sort of just on the way.

When I got to Starbucks, Plant Manager opened the door for me and greeted me. While I tried to put the trivial stuff aside, I immediately noticed that this man could not look like more of a hipster if he had a fedora and knitting needles. Also… 5’8″ DOES NOT FUCKING EXIST! Seriously, if one more man tells me he’s 5’8″, I’m just going to pretend I have a date with Tyrion Lannister.

Are these people just used to the metric system and having difficulties with the conversion? Are they rounding up by two inches? Am I not realizing that they’re barefoot? I am 5’5. My cowboy boots are not three inch heels. We should not be the same height, when he is wearing shoes… even if they were burlap loafers (I shit you not).

Ahem…

After greeting me, Plant Manager just kind of… stood there. He didn’t direct me to a seat, though he’d already been waiting. He didn’t ask me if I’d like anything to drink. In fact, it went something like this:

Plant Manager: “Were you gonna order a drink or anything?”
Me: “Um… I guess not. Did you not want anything?”
Plant Manager: “Well, I thought I might get something if you were gonna get something. If not, I guess not.”
Me: “Um.. okay.”
:: silence… still standing in the doorway ::
Me: “You wanna sit?”

Y’all, I am pretty big on letting the boy be the boy. Not only does that include offering to buy me a coffee after inviting me to Starbucks, but it also includes asking me to sit with him, like a gentleman. I’ve no interest in leading this dance, so I will stand there in the doorway until he gets the point… or someone opens the door (as was the case).

Plant Manager: “I teach at a vocational school.”
Me: “Have you never taught at an actual school?”
Plant Manager: “An actual school?”
Me: “NO! I mean a public high school. I wasn’t insulting career tech.”
Plant Manager: “Okay. Sorry. I’m a little sensitive about that.”
Me: “I actually got my bachelor’s in Family and Consumer Science education, so I understand career tech more than most.”
Plant Manager: “Family and Consumer Science?”
Me: “Home-ec?”
Plant Manager: “Huh. I didn’t know that took a whole degree. Really? Just for home ec?”

Duuuuuude. You just got offended when I accidentally made it sound like I didn’t take your job seriously! Also, remember this.

Me: “So, what was your major in college?”
Plant Manager: “Bible.”

Okay, I don’t know if this is a Catholic versus Protestant communication breakdown or if he’s just wording that incorrectly, but it did bring up religion.

Me: “Ministry is certainly a Calling. I’m Catholic, of course, so that was obviously off the table for me.”
Plant Manager: ::clearly surprised:: “Oh? You’re born and raised Catholic?”

Okay, I am almost certain it’s not just the librarian in me saying this, but an online dating profile is not that long. Read the whole damned thing, so we can both avoid moments like this! Somehow, we got on the subject of homosexuality being considered a sin in most Christian churches, as his was also very traditional.

Plant Manager: “It’s only mentioned in the bible like, four times. I don’t know what it is, but something about that whole issue really doesn’t sit well with me.”
Me: “Well, some theologians have pointed out that Jesus was a devout Jew, so he would’ve been against homosexuality.”
Plant Manager: “I guess that’s the difference between Catholics and Christians. We go off of scripture.”

Um, nice jab at my Church, douche. Also, judging from your burlap shoes, the denim shirt that’s so tight I can see your nipples, and your mannerisms, I think know what it is that doesn’t sit well.

Honestly, y’all, I don’t want to cry homosexual toward every man I date. Air Force was straight as an arrow. I didn’t get any gay vibes at all from the much less manly Engineer No. 94, but I thought this the second I walked through the door and and noted Plant Manager’s khaki colored skinny jeans. In addition to his inability to discuss religious ideas, without being an ass, I’d already realized things would never work, because while I adore my gay friends, I don’t want to date them. I genuinely felt like the man had some things to figure out about himself, so I moved the conversation to some more neutral territory.

Me: “I love my job, though.”
Plant Manager: “Yeah. That’s good. I can’t imagine it being too stressful.” :: chuckles and scoffs ::

Excuse me?!?! I’m sorry, but if there was any doubt of this man’s homosexuality, it was laid to rest upon discovering his ability to be that much of a bitch. What the fucking hell? I did not get my damned master’s degree in shushing people and pushing my glasses up the bridge of my nose. My job is heavily rooted in customer service, research, and information technology. Any given day, I could have a woman on the phone asking me to read her full articles about anal fissures, while I have two people in front of me listening to this conversation, waiting for assistance with reader’s advisory and downloading e-media, and two other people sighing and waving their hands at me to help them reformat that resume and figure out how to print that conversation from Facebook. Furthermore, Plant Manager had already declared that the field couldn’t be that competitive, via text message, when I told him I was half time. I’d already given him the benefit of the doubt. Dude, if you’re basing your knowledge of a profession on a scene from a movie, go suck a dick!!!!

Me: “Well, I think I’m going to go see my uncle in the hospital. It was nice meeting you. Have a good night.”

That’s right. The best part of my date night was a hospital visit.

Peter Pan and the Reason I Moved to 1954

I have dated a lot of men. Just dated, not “dated.” No air quotes are necessary, unlike with some people I know… ::cough:: Gail ::cough::

I’ve dated short chubby men, tall skinny men, unusually surly men, men who were probably gay, Atheists, men who look like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, men with furry hands… okay, those last two probably shouldn’t have been plural. Even I have not managed to date two men who look like they’re wearing September mittens. My point is, however, that I’ve had an… eclectic dating history. When I first started dating, newly divorced at 24, I was “overly specific” (air quotes totally necessary) with my dating goals.

“I just want an educated, gainfully employed, Catholic man, who’s 6’4″, well hung, can protect me if society breaks down, but still likes to debate Superman vs. Batman! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?!?!” Over time, though, I’ve become both more serious in my dating ventures, and more reasonable. Today, he only has to enjoy intellectual conversations (no degree required), love Jesus, and clear 5’7″. I’ve added a couple of things to the list, naturally, as I’ve discovered them to be issues. For example, military is out, because I’m not leaving my Gramma, Gaily, daddy, or career. He must be older than me, because zetus lapetus, I will be telling my great granddaughters of the horror that was my date with Civil Engineer

::wincing:: “Wooooooooow. You’re like a whole year older than me. How do you feel about that?”

… but I’m not being superficial anymore. If there’s even a chance I could develop a physical attraction to the man, over time, s’all good. The one thing I have not relaxed on, and will not relax on, though, is that “gainfully employed” bit.

Now, y’all probably know I had a particularly disturbing marriage. I’ve hinted and outlined and, even though the divorce was finalized three years ago, I cuddled my gun and slept with the light on just two nights ago. That kind of behavior is extremely and increasingly rare, but it does still happen… because my marriage was fucked up. One of the many ways in which it was, was my ex-husband’s refusal to work. By refusal, I mean that this man went to bizarre measures to actually fake employment. This is why I refer to men by their job titles. I’m much likelier to remember that he was a teacher, than I am to remember that he was called Matt. Also, I like the reminder that he does have a job, because of one freakish phenomenon I have noticed among the men of my generation: rampant Peter Pan Syndrome.

Why are there so many men out there who don’t work?!?! I’m not just talking about online dating. I’m talking about people I talk to at the library, men I’ve met at bars, and friends of friends. I ask a man, in his late 20s/early 30s, what he does for a living and he says:

“I’m going to school for graphic design.”

Really? Going to school for graphic design pays your bills, now?!?! Silly me, for getting my MLIS. I could have avoided an awful lot of student loans, if I’d just majored in graphic design.

I haven’t actually been on a date since Air Force, in part, because I’ve been working so much, but also because there haven’t been any men of promise. Recently, I thought I found one. He messaged me on OKCupid and told me he thought we might have something in common, since we’d also been matched on Christian Mingle. His profile said he was in finance. When I asked about it, he told me it was “way too complicated” to explain in a message. *Spoiler alert: no… it wasn’t. When we’d traded phone numbers and had the chance to text, I asked again. My phone instantly rang, though he hadn’t asked to call me.

Me: “Hello?”
Peter Pan: “Hey. Is this Belle?”
Me: “Yes.”
Peter Pan: “Hey. Sorry. I just figured I’d call, because what I do is waaaay too complicated to explain in a text message. You see, you know what the stock market is, right?”
Me: “Um. Yeah. I mean, I don’t invest, but I understand that it exists.”
Peter Pan: “Yeah, well, I grow assets for a living.”
Me: 
Peter Pan: “I invest in different enterprises and even spent a few years flipping houses.”
Me: “Okay, but you have an actual title and this is a steady paycheck, right?”
Peter Pan: “Oh, no. It’s not steady at all. I could lose everything tomorrow. I never have, though. I know people who have… but they always make it back. I mean I’ve got degrees, but it’s not like that means anything, today. Nobody cares about college degrees anymore. I’m actually planning on going back for my MBA and maybe my master’s in experimental psych.”

Me: 
Me: “Um… why? What are you planning on doing with them?”
Peter Pan: ::laughing:: “Nothing, really.”
Me: “So, um… what do you do all day, then?”
Peter Pan: ::laughing:: “Pretty much nothing.”
Me: 
Peter Pan: “I mean, I spend my days, pretty much, like… brainstorming ideas, hanging out with my nephews, taking care of my mom.”
Me: 

This man was 32 years old and lived with his mom. He was able-bodied and educated and chooses not to work. At best, he’s a professional gambler. At worst, he already has a wife he’s never met on World of Warcraft.

What the fucking fuck?!?! Why is this a thing?!?! Why are there people who don’t work?!?! Why are there parents who let their adult children live with them and do nothing?!?! 

No really. I cease my screaming at the heavens and express my sincere bafflement that there are so many adults who just choose not to join society. You haven’t read about The Guys in ages, save for Ward, because I don’t understand them. They’ll always be the boys who helped me leave my ex-husband, but it also seems they’ll always be the men who live at home. They’re my age and older. They have full time jobs. They even have degrees. Yet, my old guy friends all live with their parents for no reason and they’re not even all that exceptional in this. 

Sixty years ago, a man joined the adult world at 18, if he was lucky to last that long. Only the elite went to college and most of them were male. One thing was certain, though. Society did not pander to men who didn’t feel like growing up, just because they hadn’t decided what they wanted to do with their lives, or because it was cheaper not to do so. Men were forced to be men and women were forced to be women. I am so disgusted that this is no longer the way of things, that my next date is going to be in 1954 with a mad scientist and a DeLorean. I work two jobs to pay my way. In grad school, I still worked two jobs and once passed out from selling my blood to make ends meet on my own. I don’t need to date a cardiologist, but I am absolutely willing to demand that he makes a steady and livable wage! IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?!?!

Weiner Buddies

I awoke early this morning, because I had to be at the library by 8:00. I checked my phone and found an interesting Facebook notification. It was a friend request from The Musician. I immediately sent Gail a screencap, had a beat of thought and confirmed his request. Had I broken down that beat, it would’ve gone something like this:

That’s really weird. I should probably deny him. I bet I could make this worse, though. It’s likely that that would be a lot funnier.

:Confirmed:

This thought process is a major aspect of my personality and humor.

towelie
The Musician

The Musician was Gail’s recurring one-night stand for about a year. “Friends with benefits” implies that they’d ever have hung out for any other reason and they did not. He did a lot of recreational drugs and played Jazz. The only thing they had in common was that they interlocked. He was her one and only fuck buddy. I never cared for The Musician, because he wanted an exclusive Gail while he stored multiple brands of tampons under his sink and had a mirrored headboard. He’s seven years older than us and every time they got in an argument, he’d patrionizingly defend his actions with “You’re just used to dealing with boys. I’m not a boy. I’m a man.” We mock this to this day… like all the fucking time. Once, he and Gail were fooling around, while she was on her period (we tell each other way too damned much), and he pulled back to mumble sexily

“So how we gonna do this, Megan?”
“What?”
:beat of  silence: “How we gonna do this, Baby?”

I shit you not. Gail just went with it, because it’s not like she was there for the conversation any more than Megan was. Regardless, I root for her, because I will always root for her and it’s her vagina, so what-the-fuck-ever. They continued on and off until Gail met her current fella and still ocassionally text, but that’s all.

Okay. That’s Gail’s background with The Musician. Mine is shorter. I met him twice. I had one actual conversation with him a year and a half ago. He’d gotten Gail near to tears the previous weekend by implying she was a big ol’ ho for talking to other guys, while he called her Baby to keep his facts straight. There is no quicker way to get me or Gail to go Mama Bear than to make the other cry. I was drunk and told him he didn’t have a real job and that he probably wouldn’t tell Gail how many women he’d slept with, because he didn’t remember. Beyond this, he knew only what Gail told him of me.

So after deciding I could probably make this Funny Bad and accepting The Musician’s friend request, I went to work and forgot about it… until he messaged me. I called my Gramma after work to laugh about how he’d contacted me.

Gramma: “You need to stay away from him.”
Me: “Please, Gramma. My panties are like Fort Knox. Like I’m going to let a musician into them.”
I tend to be a total snob about men, rarely giving a second date, and have a lot of sexual hangups, so my magic number is still just the one.

I called Gail and refused to tell her anything until we met in person, only excitedly exclaiming:
“WE’RE GONNA BE WEINER BUDDIES!”

I also clarified:
“Hey. He messaged me. If you thought that I was above fucking with him for it, then you have greatly overestimated me as a person.”

*Sidenote: Gramma doesn’t like the phrase ‘Weiner Buddies.”

The following conversation is as much copy and paste as was possible for proper blogging. I shared it with Gail this evening in a Taco Bell. Just to be clear, my profile picture is of Gail and myself. The Musician knows I’m Gail’s sisterfriend, though he doesn’t bring that up.

The Musician:
You look to have had a makeover since I’ve seen you last! Nicely done. Hope yer doing fancy

Me:
Well, thank you very much for saying so. I’ve been well. You? How’s music?

– “Wow. You’re not fat anymore. I’ll make contact and inquiries as to your well-being… even though I’ve never done so ever.” Charming. No wonder he’s rollin’ in the pussy. On an unrelated note, don’t use that phrase over Thanksgiving dinner. You’re welcome. –

The Musician:
🙂 another day in paradise…music is going well. Sometimes I think my life is akin to being the like man with the most cigarettes in jail hehe

You should swing by a show sometime. Visit the city much?

– He does not know how to get into Fort Knox. –

Me:
That’s good to hear. I make it to the city every now and then. Been working and finishing up school. Where do you play?

– This was the point where I could’ve blown him off and ended the conversation politely. I, however, gave it some thought and decided that not only would it be funnier to not disuade him, but to actualy encourage him. –

The Musician:
We’ve been performing at the doll house downtown for the last year. (and no its not a strip club haha) I think my tenure with them is about over though which means we are back to the grind.

The city has some new venues worth checking out. Ill be at Grandads this coming thursday off the top of my head.

If you find yourself this way don’t be a stranger. I will always remember you riding in my back seat, firing off your mind lasers and sharing comical observations about the universe.

Message me sometime if you think you’ll be out. [His phone number] or Facebook me though sometimes it gets frozen and won’t work on me

– This is the point in the conversation that turned Gail’s laughter to screeching bird noises and mine to wheezing gasps broken up by clicking sounds. Not only does “back to the grind” mean “unemployed”, but I’ve never even seen The Musician’s car. I’ve only spoken with him once, when Gail and I went to a bar downtown and I was pretty damned clear on the whole not-liking-him thing. How many women does he sleep with that he’s actually confused The Bitch Friend of more than one? “I will always remember…” Apparently not, because that never fucking happened. The man just hit on me by reminiscing over an anecdote of someone else’s. That’s the best pickup line in the HISTORY OF TIME. I’m tattooing it to my fucking labia, because it is haaaaaawt. “Mind lasers”? Was he on some sort of halucinogen at the time? Was he during this conversation? –

Me:
Well, I’ll be sure and do that sometime soon. I’ve been wanting to visit the Dollhouse, actually. I’ve heard good things.

I haven’t even had a night out in ages with school and two jobs.

– No. I will not be sure and do that sometime soon. Yes. Ineed, I was fishing for him to ask me out… because it would be funny. Keep up. –

The Musician:
Well we gotta fix that lol! What are you studying and where ya working?

Me:
I graduate in May with my Masters in Library and Information Studies. I’m working at Shetland Schools and the library on the southside.

– No fucking way was I telling him which library. –

The Musician:
Librarian aye? Somehow that makes sense. Librarians are some of the most interesting people to be around I’ve discovered. Very mischevious.

If you see me out don’t tell the library… I have some late fees :O

Me: “I swear, the man has got to have a punch card and the only thing left on it is ‘Librarian.’
Gail: “What does he get when it’s full?”
Me: “I don’t know. VD? Syphillis that makes him blind?”
Gail: “So all syphillis? He gets BAD syphillis?”

Me:
Yup. Dream job. Just gotta do my final presentation.

Haha. Don’t worry too much about the fines. They disappear after six months.

-Nobody flirts like this gal. It’s like a striptease with words. Bow chicka wow wow. –

The Musician:
Really?! I’m going to the library today then:D What are you getting into this evening Miss?

Me:
That’s fines, not books, BTW. Lol. Not a lot. Probably more homework. Kind of broke and that’s free. You having crazy musician times tonight?

– And if so, would you invite me so I can giggle over it with my sister in every way outside of a CSI episode, whose ass you’ve been inside? –

The Musician:
Haha not so certain of that tonight. There are a couple shows around town I thought about checking out.
Hmm what to do, what to do. If you find your chair growing those kind of fast moving legs that carry you from your living room
To the burgeoning streets of the city-i will buy your first round lol
Me:
Lol. I’ll have to keep that in mind.
date rape
Me: “I should so go. I want to see what else I can get him to reminisce about. I’ll use information you’ve given me and make it seem like I know him. ‘Remember that time you bought me chicken on a stick? How’s Lola? She got hurt a while back, right? Such a sweet cat.'”
Gail: choking on laughter “You’re a horrible person. You can’t do that. I’ll feel involved for telling you his cat’s name.”
Me: :nodding with a huge grin:
Gail: “Do not give me that look! I played hard to get, too. If you meet up with him, he’ll get into Fort Knox. Fortunately, I’m off tomorrow and I’ll leave my ringer on so I can hear it when you call me from the breakfast place down the street.”
Me: “Psh. I can’t even have sex alone without crying, Gail.”
Gail: “Yeah. That’s why I’m picking you up in this scenario. You’re crying too hard to drive.”
Me: “Gail, is he really just that charming? He opened with ‘Dayum, you’re not fat anymore.’ How’s he going to get me to sleep with him? You’re forgetting that I don’t find him attractive even a little.” :gesturing toward my lap: “It wouldn’t matter if this were Vegas. He still wouldn’t be gettin’ in… and like you’ve ever played hard to get with anyone.”
Gail: “You say that now, but…” :pauses to think of an appropriate metaphor and lays her hand on the Kindle I felt I had to bring into a Taco Bell: “You have this Kindle and it hasn’t been charged in a loooong time. That plug-in right there might be dirty, but if you want to read badly enough… you’ll use it. This is actually turning out to be a really good metaphor for you. In fact, based on the stuff you like to read, it’s a really good example.”
Me: “That may be true, but it’s not gonna happen, because as much as I like to say ‘Weiner Buddies’…”
wiener buddies text

Alas, I did not take him up on it. I went home, wrote this blog and read. Perhaps, Gail and I have forever lost the chance to be Weiner Buddies. It is a bond we will never share.

crying friends

An Honest Online Dating Profile

So we all pick and choose… we all gloss over things. But wouldn’t it be funnier if we didn’t? Here’s what my online dating profile would look like were I more forthcoming.

“I’m a 25-year-old divorcee. I may or may not want to get married again, because he broke me. I may or may not want kids, because babies die sometimes. If you want either of these, you might have to badger me until I agree. I’m not even sure I want a relationship, but I know I’m supposed to, so this seemed a good approach.  Clearly, I have enough baggage for two, so you’ll need to keep yours to a minimum.

I’m not a laid back person. At all. I want you to be laid back to balance that out… but not too laid back. You should be good with money and really into your career so that I know you’ll keep a job. I will totally accept someone who works 80 hours per week. You should probably be pretty clean, too, because if you can’t respect that my media is alphabetized by series then title then format, I’ll feel like you don’t respect me, even though I know it’s irrational. Okay. So maybe you shouldn’t be laid back. Maybe you should just be more laid back than I am. The good news, though, is that that’s not hard to accomplish!

You must be taller than me, because it makes me feel dainty.

You must be equal parts country and intellectual. If I’m a better shot than you are and you don’t drive a pick up, you’re not man enough for me. If I rant about how great a book series is, though, you must think it’s cute and in return, be able to rant about science or history at a later date… over sushi. No jokes about my career choice. Ever.

I won’t have sex with you in the near future. My phone may autocorrect ‘can’t’ to ‘cunt’, but having a filthy mouth doesn’t change the fact that I can count on one hand the number of people who’ve seen my vag. You’re not getting any for awhile. I have no more information on the time frame.

Romance freaks me out. Valentine’s Day is lame. Change my oil and we’ll call it even.

I’m conservative in my beliefs and you should be, too. You’re the boy. You pay. You open doors. You call me after the first date if you’re interested in another. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you’re uninterested or that you would’ve expected me to pee standing up. In return, I won’t do gross boy things that you’d rather pretend girls don’t do. I’ll wear lots of pink. I won’t bait my own hook and I’ll scream like a banshee when I see a bug. You must kill said bug. In general, I’ll do your boy activities and enjoy them if you tell me of them in advance. If I’m in a pretty dress and you get us stuck in the mud, go fuck yourself. I’m not helping. If I knew the day might lead there and wore jeans and ratty tennis shoes, I’ll giggle in the red dirt with you.

I have a degree in Home-Ec, but I don’t cook. I burn Easy Mac 1 in 5 times. I cook like Cher from Mermaids. If you want me to make you dinner, gear up for the most meh sweet potato fries, fruit loops, and peanut buttered bread ever.

You must accept and be accepted by: my best friend, my Gramma, my daddy, my guy friends, and my dog. I will continue to hang out with my boys all alone. I will not ask permission, but I will not have sex with them. You’ll just have to believe me on that one.

So if you message me and I message you back, let’s get together and have coffee sometime. I’ll order the smallest thing they have, because we might not like each other, in which case, I don’t want to owe you anything. You’ll possibly never hear from me again, because of some bullshit reason like the fact that you wore flip-flops and I could see your toe hair or your head was too big. If that is the case, do not expect a response later, when you text to try to sell me something, which has totally fucking happened.

On the off chance that this works out, we met where we met… i.e. we met at Starbuck’s or that one bar, not http://www.”

Why are we reading this crap? (What Twenty-Somethings [I] See in Christian Grey)

Working in a library, it is impossible not to recognize the title Fifty Shades of Grey or the name Christian Grey. Frankly, living on planet Earth in 2012, it is impossible not to recognize either. Never in history, has any book been more overdone. Don’t get me wrong. I want to be a librarian. I do not care if you read smut. In fact, personally, I encourage it as a healthy expression of your own sexuality, in which no actual person is degraded in any way, unlike in pornographic films and magazines. In short:

Me: “I don’t care if Christian Grey wants to string Anastasia Steele up from the ceiling and gut her because it’s sexy. It’s still pretend.”
Gail: choking on soda “I DO!”

They’re make-believe. No real daddy issues are present. More power to you. End disclaimer.

The sex in 50 Shades of Grey is redundant and dry (pun fully intended), the writing atrocious, and the entire premise of a well-hung over-protective billionaire is just, for lack of a more fitting word, silly. Reading reviews for this title is a far more entertaining venture than actually reading said book. There are also much better ones out there than I could bother giving that much thought to, so I’ll avoid competing and address another issue all together.

What exactly is Christian Grey’s true appeal for women in their twenties?

I know that the primary audience for 50 Shades is women in their forties, but I also know a number of women my age who are reading it and swooning. So what’s the draw?

Women who’ve never been abused seem to consider Christian’s psychotic obsession with Ana appealing. He wants to protect her… by controlling every move she makes. He puts tracking devices on her phone pretty much from the moment he learns her name. Guards follow her everywhere once they begin dating. That’s insane, but whatever. Women who’ve never had someone manipulate and control them probably just don’t see this as manipulating and controlling, so they can continue reading with one hand under the covers. Protective is clearly not the only motivator here, however, or pretty much any romance novel would do. I, myself, read plenty of paranormal romance, in which the lead male character is usually some powerful alpha male, so this is hardly specific to Christian Grey.

50 Shades of Grey is erotica on a good day, plain Lady Porn on a bad one. I don’t care if there’s a picture of a tie on the cover; erotica is the nicest and most accurate description for this book. So, clearly, the sex would be a consideration of what makes Mr. Grey so perfect. However, not only is the sex redundant, unrealistic, and awkward, but the actual mechanics of it seem to be so… specific… that it’s unclear why this would appeal to such a wide demographic. I, myself, do not want someone to stick his thumb in my bloody vagina and then into my mouth. Nor do I want to be strung up like a deer and denied orgasm as punishment for disobedience. Soooo, for women in their twenties, who were probably subjected to better sex scenes than this as tweens secretly watching Sex and the City, Christian Grey’s stamina and technique probably just seems unrealistic, weird, and even inconvenient.

Even outside of the bedroom, Christian Grey is talented at everything. He’s a concert pianist, he flies gliders (didn’t know those were a thing until this book) and actual planes, has a taste for art, is multilingual, knows every martial art ever, is extraordinarily well-read and well-dressed, dances, and I think even sings. If there were a way to make it sexy, I’m pretty sure we’d have seen Christian Grey knit himself a sweater from the fur of the angora rabbits he raised from birth. However, I’m not so sure this level of skill is attractive to women in their likely competitive twenties so much as it would be daunting. If he’s better than me at everything, then what do I bring to the table? Why am I even here? That’s not sexy. That’s threatening and makes me feel insecure.

He’s protective, he’s well-hung, has the stamina of a Mack Truck, is a connoisseur of everything, but most of all, Christian Grey is unrealistically wealthy. I’m pretty sure he sells Black Market unicorn blood, because at 26-years-old, he owns Seattle and apparently most of the geographically scrambled Northwest. He has a plane, 43 cars, eleventeen houses, all the clothes ever, several salons, and oh yeah… a publishing company. Now we’re getting somewhere.

I cannot speak for every twenty-something out there, but I can speak for myself. The only thing I see in Christian Grey lies in his ability to give Anastasia everything… particularly her dream job. Anastasia graduates college with a generic degree and no basic knowledge any 21-year-old should possess. She wants to do Something With English, but she doesn’t have her own computer or E-mail address. She’s spent the last few years working in a completely unrelated position at a hardware store and has a few hundred dollars in the bank. She has no future, when along comes Christian Grey with the gift of a new car that is apparently pretty needed and tons of fancy gadgets. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t really care that much about the car and the technology. I’m an easy gal to please when it comes to physical possessions. Christian, however, doesn’t just buy her every new toy she wants (and some creepy ones she doesn’t), he buys the entire publishing company that hired her… then promotes her… and gives it to her. That is FUCKING AWESOME. I’d let a man string me up and stick anything in my ass he wanted if it meant he’d give me a library to run. I totally get it now. She graduated college with a pretend degree and no concrete plans and now she gets an entire publishing company? Keep your damned car and that British Library on iPad. I just want the dream job.

Security. That’s what I see in Christian Grey. It’s not the protectiveness, the sex, the talents, or even the luxury for me. It’s a girl with the murky future that always accompanies the end of college (particularly with no skills or specific goals) and a man who is going to give her total control in the career she most desires, with no experience at all. Later she gets a husband and kids and that’s all fine and well, but my greatest envy is a permanent position in her field. Considering my entire generation grew up swooning when an abusive Beast gives Belle a library, I am seriously doubting I’m alone here.

I had this jacket specially tailored to cover the handcuff bruises.

The 10 Best Things About Not Being in a Bad Relationship

Married: 19
Hypothesized that he had no soul: 20
Divorced: 23

Yup. I’m just that stubborn.

The hot pink Christmas tree outranks everything else.

Sometimes you find yourself alone and bleeding a lot, because you decided that you should hold the onion while slicing it to save the time you’d have spent getting the cutting board. Other times you have to call maintenance to change a danged light bulb because you can’t get the fixture down. Rarely, you bolt from a Starbuck’s explaining that you’re late for 5:00 Mass, ignoring the fact that it’s 4:06 and you’re a half mile from the church, because that date would’ve gone so much better had he just not spoken. Despite these cliché chick flick opening scenes, though, being single is really fucking awesome in a way that can only be understood when you’ve been really fucking miserably attached. I don’t mean in a free-to-get-VD way, as we’ve all seen from Carrie Bradshaw and company, but rather the little things no one ever mentions, such as…

1. Your money isn’t just your money, rather your everything is your everything.
If you want to blow your next paycheck on a crossbow or a Fossil purse, you can. There’s no missing $20 from your wallet or unexplained charges on your card. No one ate all of your corndogs or pawned your video camera. You’re not being recommended Star Trek XXXII on Netflix because someone’s been five-starring shit you hate. If you don’t have any clean dishes, it’s because you haven’t done them. You get to go to whomever’s house you want on Christmas Eve, because it’s your family. The bathroom is pink and brown because you fucking like it.

2. You entertain yourself however you like.
When I was 12 years old, I watched Roswell on repeat and I can do that all over again today. If I want to have a Vampire Diaries marathon, I can. I don’t even have to go to bed at a specific time or turn down the volume. If I want to listen to an audio book, I don’t need headphones because I’m the only one who likes it. I don’t have to listen to a video game when I’m trying to read. If I want complete silence while I crochet for seven hours… done.

3. Bad dates are sometimes really funny.
Dating is often the scariest part for the divorcees I’ve spoken to, particularly those who married young and never really tried it in the first place. Here in the Midwest, that’s a LOT of divorcees and I was no different. I’m not going to lie, here. Dating can be disastrous and that’s really the only assessment I have since my divorce was finalized. Frankly though, and with no exaggeration, short of date-rape (maybe even not) any bad date would be preferable to some of the harder days of my marriage. Attitude is really key here. At first, I found bad dates disheartening and called my best friend in a panic each time because “I’m going to die alone!” Now I just call giggling because the guy introduced himself as “Doc”, told me I was wrong about my job, and immediately stated his controversial political beliefs. Even the most awkward situation is a reminder that I am here, not two years ago and this is guaranteed to be a funny story later. If the bad dates are that good, the good ones are going to be even better.

4. You know it got done.
Sure, I have to have my best guy pal change my oil, but I know, without a doubt, that the oil got changed. I’m referring to the oil in the car that once had it’s engine replaced because my ex-husband insisted he’d changed it, even after the mechanic produced the original Suzuki filter that was on when the vehicle was purchased over nine months earlier. I have internetaccess to write this, because I paid my cable bill. If someone knocked on my door tomorrow morning, no part of me would fear eviction, because I paid the rent. There is a freezer full of food, because I went grocery shopping. Doing things yourself is another of the scariest parts of a divorce, especially the things you’ve never done, like filing your taxes. However, even if you do it wrong and burn the Hamburger Helper because you got yelled at whenever you cooked before, you’re taking care of yourself and your life all on your own. Never again will I feel like the only reason I’m with someone is because I’m afraid I can’t be without them. Never again will I wonder when the dog ate last, because I’ve been working two jobs all week. I will rely on me.

5. Compromise isn’t a thing.
I understand that even a healthy relationship may one day involve me sitting through a baseball game without complaint, though this is preferable only to counting sand. My point, though, is that being single rocks. If I want to watch Santa Clause Conquers the Martians, The Worst Witch, and Logan’s Run, while eating Tootie Frooties and sweet potato fries for dinner, no one gets veto rights. The movie on the big screen sucks and your significant other is sitting beside you. You’re not sure if he’s enjoying it or not, but you don’t complain just in case. You either a) finish the movie and find he loved it and now you have to listen to the recap or b) he hated it too and neither of you will ever get those two hours back. The movie sucks and your purse is the only thing sitting beside you? You leave, grab dinner and a drink on the way home, and then later do your nails in your underwear. If you hate comic book movies, you never watch them. If you want to stay out all night, you do. There’s no checking in or making two trips when getting take-out because he hates sushi. You take the job despite the distance, have your friends over at 2:00 a.m., and you paint the kitchen table red because you fucking feel like it. No one gets any say.

6. You don’t have to defend anyone.
Anyone who’s ever been in a dark relationship knows what it feels like to assure family that he’s really trying to get a job, he’ll pay them back soon, or he didn’t start that fire. Eventually the reassurances turn to lies and half-truths and then to avoidance altogether. You don’t want to share the truth, because then they’ll hate your partner, when there are still hopes of fixing the festering wound that is your relationship or you wouldn’t be there. But now that awkward one-on-one with the judge is over and you neverhave to speak another kind word toward the bastard again. You can refuse to discuss him or you can share all the details. Hell, you can exaggerate if you want. Who cares? They’re your family and have (hopefully) been on your side the whole time. There are no more excuses to be made. You can finally be completely honest with the people you love and no longer feel like you have to hide from them. If you’re in the city and realize you’re driving past Aunt Kay’s house, you can stop by without cringing at the dreaded job question, because you only have to answer for you.

7. Masturbation
Not once have I ever rolled over before finishing because I “have a headache” and gone to sleep. I’ve never turned myself down despite the fact that it’s my birthday. It’s not offensive that I’m the only one who ever does any of the work. Enough said.

8. You’re not faking it.
This isn’t a sex comment, but a life generalization. From the smile on my face at Wal-Mart, to my Facebook statuses, to Christmas dinner, I don’t have to pretend I’m happy. I don’t have to force myself to spend time with someone I hate, because doing otherwise would be admitting that it’s long over. I don’t have to lie to myself and say it’ll get better when I haven’t been able to picture that future in years. I don’t have to reassure myself that he’ll get a job and I must’ve just lost my grandma’s bracelet. I am exactlyas ecstatic about life as I appear in social media and I don’t have to pretend otherwise to anyone ever.

9. You learn what you like to do.
Now that you’re on your own and you’ve rid yourself of that pesky compromise crap, you get to spend your time trying new things. You may like them and you may hate them, but you get to do whateveryou want. Nothing rids a girl of that victim feeling quite like shooting a gun. It truly is the closest you will ever come to having a penis without surgery. Now there’s no one to say you can’t learn. If you want to see a show, they will sell you a single ticket. Not one person will look your way and think “Why is she alone?” They’re just as self-absorbed as all humans and when they do notice, they do not care. So now’s the time to take that free fencing lesson, try out for community theater, or sign up for a pottery class. There’s no one to disapprove or complain about the expense of time or money and you’re not busy sitting through a movie the person next to you may or may not also hate.

10. There’s a future… and it doesn’t suck.
There was a time in my life where I would turn to my best friend and defend my marriage with “You get different things from different people. I trust and love you and my grandma. I just need him to work.” That was the bright version of my future. He would work and keep the job and I wouldn’t trust, love, or rely on him ever. I would stay, because I made a commitment, but that was it. Now I see a blur of accomplishment, trust, love, and fun. I see a family if I’m not too broken to give it another try. I actually have hope for the future. More importantly, though, I know that if this is it, if this is the most happiness I’ll ever find, it is infinitely more spectacular than anything I ever felt in my four years of marriage, so I’m okay with that.

As I’ve said, these things seem negligible to anyone who hasn’t had them taken away. The joy of getting them back and the gratitude you have when you wake up and know you can take care of yourself, though… it almost makes all the pain and suffering worth it. Almost.