A Lot Can Happen in Ten Years: February 17th, 2011

February 17th, 2011 was a Thursday… three days after Valentine’s Day and four days after the one year anniversary of the death of a baby I loved. I was 23 years old and living in a mostly empty apartment, after drunkenly throwing out, quite literally, everything I owned, save for my clothes, my bed, an 80s dining chair, and my TV and television armoire, on Christmas Eve. I had no real furniture, no dishes, and no kitchen appliances that didn’t come with my apartment, because he’d touched those things. Life was bleak, as I drove to the county seat, where I sat alone in a judge’s office, tearing up because my life wasn’t supposed to be this way.

At 23, in the South, I was bombarded with social media posts of engagement rings and wedding portraits and announcements of new jobs and new homes. I was even beginning to see a regular flow of ultrasound pictures and self-righteous mommy wars posts… and here I was, listening to a surprisingly compassionate judge explain my state’s laws for remarriage after divorce and thinking about all of the plans I’d had for my life, five years earlier, and how this so very much was not one of them. I was utterly humiliated and completely defeated.

I’d filed the paperwork for my divorce almost three months earlier, but had waited to finalize them until my taxes and FASFA were submitted. I was hyperaware that I’d screwed my life up plenty and, as a graduate student who has always excelled at delayed gratification, wasn’t about to put my educational financing in jeopardy, even if it meant remaining legally married to a psychopath for a little while longer. I hadn’t seen my ex since the day I both bribed him with a cellphone and threatened to call in his warrants, just to get him to sign my car over to me and sign the divorce papers. I was aware that he’d been breaking into my apartment, during the 60 hours I worked each week on top of school, to steal anything of value… but didn’t have the energy to care much or do anything about it, other than drive around with my valuables in the trunk. I’d spent close to my last dime having a paralegal draft the paperwork, to make sure it was done correctly, and was focusing every ounce of energy on keeping my head above water and scraping together the funds to finish the process. That was easier said than done, as I handed over what little cash I had in exchange for as many certified copies of the divorce papers as I could afford.

I left the courthouse and went straight to the Social Security Office, where I officially reclaimed my maiden name on my card and followed it up with a trip to the tag agency, where I did the same with my driver’s license, before stopping by the bank. With no time or money to eat, I barely made it to Walgreen’s to get a new passport photo and requested a name change on that, too. If I recall, it took the last of my budgeted divorce money and cost me $110. Every other 23-year-old I knew had Spring Break travel savings and here I was draining my divorce fund. I went home, defeated and heartbroken, and changed into pajama bottoms and an old high school team t-shirt… yes, I remember what I was wearing that day… and instead of having a good cry, I went to work. I’d already taken off from substitute teaching to run those weekday only errands. I couldn’t afford to lose a day’s worth of minimum wage earnings from my job cleaning rec equipment at the Community Center with my hard-earned bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science education. I couldn’t have chosen a more ironic specialization if I’d tried.

That was exactly ten years ago and it simultaneously feels like someone else’s life and also not that long ago. I remember parts of it so vividly and others are a haze. Within a few months, I moved into my single girl apartment, where I felt safe for the first time in far too long. I didn’t recover overnight, though. I slept with a .357 revolver in a pink gun sock, for several years, in fact. I’m actually not sure if I put it away until I met Jake, the first man to share my bed, and realized how very, very dark that looked. I had nightmares. I developed the occasional stutter, which all research tells me is trauma induced.

In the beginning, I felt like I was taking three steps forward and two steps back, emotionally and financially, but that still equated to progress. I got my first half-time circulation job with the library system, but found myself inexplicably entangled in a lie of omission to my coworkers, deliberately letting them believe I was a spoiled white girl who’d never known a day of hardship in her life. I lost a bunch of weight and started dressing cute and dating, but had no idea how to go about it and never did quite learn how to spot when someone was flirting with me or return the exchange. I slowly built up my credit score, while also taking out the maximum in student loans just to get by and consolidate the debt left over from my divorce.

Ultimately, I graduated from the MLIS program at 25 and was promoted to half time librarian. I had a thriving social life and plenty of hobbies, though I was still working two jobs and rarely got any sleep. I spent the school year saving every dime I could to survive the summers without substitute jobs, the first time I’d find myself with any real free time. I think those summers might have been the best thing for me, as I read by the pool in my $20 drugstore lounge chair, took the dog on long walks, and had dinners of snack foods while yarn bombing the living room during a Vampire Diaries binge.

In time, I made my peace with God and went back to Church. I continued to date, while I tried to figure out if I really wanted marriage and family or if I’d just been told so all my life. I still remember the day I realized, with 100% certainty, that I wanted to get married again and have children. I was subbing an elementary music class during the last week of school. I never subbed young children, unless I really needed the money, but I was looking at three months without jobs, so I took what I could get. That day, there was an assembly, seemingly just for entertainment, where Ronald McDonald did slapstick comedy as the kids roared with laughter while their parents watched from the sidelines. I realized that, although the comedy was childish and stupid, the parents were enjoying their kids’ delight so much, that they were laughing, too. I looked around the gym I’d spent my own elementary school years loathing (never the athletic type) and wondered if I was going to miss this, having children and watching them enjoy moronic assemblies, my husband by my side. I decided to get serious about dating and met Jake approximately one year later. Six months after that, I got my first full time position in the library system and a year later, I had an engagement ring.

Jake and I have been married for almost four years now, together nearly six. We own our own home, in a different town unique to us both, have little debt, and promising careers where we plan to stay, exactly ten minutes from our front door. We have great friends and close family relationships. I still have the occasional nightmare about that time in my life, when I didn’t know what the future held or even what I wanted it to hold. Getting divorced at 23 was easily one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I was not emotionally or financially equipped for it… but I did it anyway. I shudder to think where I’d be if I hadn’t had the nerve and now, ten years later, I know that I would have been 33 regardless. This way, I’m 33 and have an amazing life. So, for anyone reading this, trying to drudge up the courage to change your life, be it by filing for divorce or going back to school or starting a new career or relocating, just know that time is going to pass either way. It’s up to you where it takes you and a lot can happen in ten years.

Being Single is Hard

I’m not single and I haven’t been for quite some time. I met Jake last June and I wouldn’t have called myself single past August or so. As Jake and I move closer and closer to marriage, shopping for rings and spending more and more nights together, though, I’m starting to realize how much harder it was when it was always just me.


I’ve shared, previously, the number of blogs, articles, and comments I’ve come across on the difficulty of marriage, which are usually followed by new parents telling me I ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I have a lot of friends who have been sharing this article on the difficulty of parenting on Facebook and I applaud the author for choosing not to discuss how easy everyone else has it… because that’s all I ever hear about being young and on your own. I don’t know if everyone is simply looking at their past through rose colored glasses or if young, single people feel pressured to insist that their lives are fulfilling in every way, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard or read a discussion on how truly difficult it can be to be alone.

Now, I’m certainly not pitying those enjoying the single life and the freedom that comes with it. I had a great time going to movies alone and enjoyed many all night Vampire Diaries marathons over the sound of a whirring sewing machine, when I was single. When Jake visits his parents or goes to Wellston for a few days, I even try to remind myself to enjoy the last chances I’m going to get to be, well… a little bit single. It’s a great time… but it’s also a tough one and no one ever gives anyone credit for the strength it can take…

… to be the sole earner.

As a single woman with an advanced degree, my entire adult life has been something of a financial struggle. In college, I was married to a man who refused to work, so perhaps I had a skewed view, but everyone remembers those years as the Age of Ramen. After I received my bachelor’s degree, however, that stage had already ended for most of my classmates and not because they got jobs, but because they got married.

As I entered graduate school, more and more of my high school acquaintances were choosing to stay home with their babies. These women posted funny YouTube videos about how their friends without children knew nothing of responsibility as I worked 13 hour days and came home to finish a research paper while eating off brand spaghetti rings, because who am I, the Queen? I still don’t buy the name brand. I paid for everything on my own, from my rent, electric bill, and groceries, to the rare nights out with Gail. Student loan payments, car trouble, chiropractor visits, that time my phone was stolen, my $70 asthma inhaler, trips to the vet… they all fell to me, while my peers showed off their new houses and $300 highchairs and longed for my stress free life.

As a successful young woman, I can’t discuss money when sharing my desire for marriage and family, without giving people the impression that I just want a man to take care of me. The women I’ve mentioned above had their own financial hardships. I understand that, I do, but they weren’t solely their burden or responsibility either. When you’re on your own, you’re the only one available to talk yourself out of that designer purse or that second drink, because you’re the only one funding the inevitable emergency. At the end of the month, it’s just you and whatever remains in your bank account. While this is a really great learning opportunity, it’s also really scary. It’s almost as scary…

… to be the sole everything else.

American culture has grown strangely proud of poor time management skills, with everyone from stay-at-home-moms to childless professionals competing to see who can claim the least amount of free time. Never was this more apparent than when I rushed home from a substitute teaching job to take my dog outside, before heading to the library, where I worked circulation until 9:00. When I’d get home at 9:30, it was often to an apartment that looked like an F1 tornado had hit it.

When you’re living with another person, it’s easy to take for granted the things that get done with little to no effort on your part. When Jake and I are married, whoever gets home first will start dinner. If one of us has more free time in the week, we’ll help the other out by doing the laundry, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn. If the Internet goes wonky, there will be two people who could potentially take the morning off to wait for the service call, and two people to compensate for any lack of income that might cause.

When it was just me, every day, working two jobs, I was lucky if I had the energy to microwave dinner, let alone clean up the kitchen or do the laundry. Thank God I didn’t have a lawn. Two years ago, a day off of work to wait for a service call could ultimately have been the difference between being able to afford that Internet or not. Even something as simple as company has become a given, now that I’m in a relationship. It’s easy to forget all those times I ran to the drug store sick or went home after a bad day to an empty and lonely house, now that someone’s available to pick up the prescriptions and cuddle up to during bad Netflix movies. It’s almost as easy to forget how hard it is…

… to have to face the unknown solo, with a smile on your face.
Zetus lapetus, dating sucks. If there is one aspect of being a single twenty-something that none of us feel compelled to talk up, it’s dating and that’s because no one looks back on it fondly… unless they just didn’t do it for very long. I remember getting ready for what was unsurprisingly another dead end date, with Gail’s help, a few years ago. She told me how, although she loves Terry, she sometimes misses that feeling of anticipation and excitement. In hindsight, I’ll admit, there were times when it really was exciting. Toward the end, however, it was just… emotionally exhausting.

The entire time I dated, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to admit that the one thing I wanted more than anything was a loving husband and children. I didn’t want them immediately or solely, but it was a goal of mine to be well on my way by the time I was 30. For some reason, I was supposed to leave something so important up to “fate” or “timing,” while being told my career goals were only subject to effort… even though the former was dependent on how one random person felt about me and the latter hung on how several very specific people felt about me. As a result, not only was I terrified that I may never attain what mattered so much to me, but I felt like I wasn’t even allowed to discuss it, for the sake of all womankind.

Not every woman shares my priorities. Some focus more on career or travel or general life experiences, but most people want to eventually find someone to love and care for and with whom to make all the big life decisions. There was a time when making all of those decisions by myself was freeing. Eventually, however, what I yearned for was a little less uncertainty in the world, some assurance that I would eventually put down the roots I wanted with someone I wanted. In your twenties, there are a thousand unknowns in your existence and when finding someone is no longer one of them, you feel a little more grounded, because you’re not facing the other 999 alone.


I look fondly on the time I spent single, because I made a genuine effort to enjoy it while I could. I had a great time thinking only about me and bettering myself and my career. My Gramma once commented on how exciting it must be to have my whole life ahead of me with all that freedom and all those decisions yet to be made. She was right. It was and still is very exciting. It’s also a lot to take on alone, because no matter how many amazing friends and family members you have, it’s not the same as being in a committed relationship. I don’t doubt that being newly married, having young children, or raising teenagers is stressful. I imagine every stage has its battles and tears. I just get really tired of hearing about how the post college, pre-marriage stage isn’t one of them… because going it alone is, quite often, really very hard. I hope I never forget that.

Could we maybe go out when I’m ovulating?

Stephen King does this thing where he talks about a feeling or thought process as if it were commonplace and his readers totally get where he’s coming from, when in reality, we’re all left a touch scarred just from reading it.

It’s possible that absolutely no one will relate to this post but, like King, I wouldn’t write it if I didn’t think anyone would understand.

This past week, Fluid Engineer and I have been trading messages, trying to find a time to get together again. He asked on Monday, but didn’t say anything more about meeting Wednesday until literally less than 12 hours from when we would’ve had to get together. He’s not from the ‘burbs, so I’m fine with a touch of the back and forth discussion of what to do, but not at the last minute. Had he texted with an actual suggestion, I’d have been game, but we didn’t have time for the “I don’t care, what do you want to do?” bit, so I politely declined until next week. I was a little disappointed, though, because this is the time of the month that I am most likely to… well, like him. 

One reason I knew Fluid Engineer was worth my time was that I still wanted to see him after our first date, despite the fact that I was just about to… how to put this delicately… curl into the fetal position for a day and bleed like a stuck pig.

Okay, okay, I promised I’d try not to be too detailed in this post, so I’ll just say that I am physically ill for a couple of days out of the month. I’ve missed work before and I cannot eat. The second I get me some of that elusive health insurance, I’m going to see a doctor who doesn’t call me a liar or shame me for not sleeping with every man I meet, because it wasn’t like this before my miscarriage. I may be dying.

Fortunately, I met Fluid Engineer literally hours before I got sick, but I was at a point where I kind of only want to speak to people if I’m required. Even the most well adjusted woman can’t possibly want to have an online date at this point in her cycle. I’ve had to plan enough dates around such a busy schedule that I’ve realized the odds of my wanting to see a man again are substantially lower if I feel like my body is metabolizing itself. It’s not that I’m an intensely difficult person to deal with for a week out of the month. In fact, I think this is a terrible excuse to treat anyone with disrespect and uttering it pretty much disgraces all women everywhere. No, this isn’t some kind of bait and switch where a guy meets me and I’m smiling and pleasant and then sees me two weeks later and I go all velociraptor on him.

As a person, even on my worst day, I’m just more likely to burst into tears because a dog died in a book and that’s sort of the only time I cry anyway. For realz, I had to concentrate to not tear up on my second date with Fluid Engineer, because we saw Jurassic World and those poor dinosaurs died because the uber dinosaur was killing them for sport and they looked so sad…

… yeah. I didn’t shed a tear when Dumbledore died, but they stopped drawing the dinosaur and it broke my heart.

I control myself because I’m an adult and I acknowledge that other people have feelings, especially the ones I love. That doesn’t mean I want to try with a stranger, when I don’t feel well. The reverse is true, also, though. I’ll give a guy a second date, despite his having 40 pounds on his profile picture, just because my ovaries are doing gumball machine cosplay. I’m not even kidding, y’all. The men I’ll give a chance when I’m ovulating… it’s worse than doing shots. Fortunately, most of these encounters occur online and by the time we start discussing meeting, I’ve come down from my cursed natural high and realized that I can’t date a man without a job, the ability to wear a ball cap without a flat bill, or who happens to be closer to my dad’s age than mine.

On an average date, however, I have to fight my natural instincts to be a judgmental cunt. His voice is too high, or his fingers are too short, or his eyes are too close together, or he squints too much or I’M GOING TO DIE ALONE. So, I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to fit a date in during the time of the month that I’m guaranteed not to convince myself never to speak to Fluid Engineer again because I think his walk is too jaunty. I just want to fall in love, but it’s so hard to do when I’m such a hopelessly self-sabotaging bitch!

I need to get married, y’all.

That’s right. No more of this Women’s Lib shit. I need to get married, yesterday.

Why?” you might ask?

Did Catherine inform me that I’m her only single friend? Did I get into another car accident, because I’m the worst driver in the world? Did I try to fix the garbage disposal with a hammer? Did another girl from high school post pictures of her second child? Did I drop the fully decorated Christmas tree on myself, again?

Define “accident.”
Not again.
Several of them.
No. It’s June. Pay attention. 

I can handle all of those things, though. I can pick glass out of my appendages all by myself. I can pay someone to change my oil. I can call maintenance when I accidentally flush a roll of toilet paper whole. I can carry the groceries up the stairs, no matter how many bags there are. I can see a movie and have dinner alone. I am Tinkerbell, though, only capable of one emotional extreme. So what’s the source of my obvious sudden panic?

Gramma: “What?”
Gramma: “Belle, I cannot understand you when you’re screaming.”
Me: “I saw the mouse! I knew there was a mouse and I told you there was a mouse!”

Naturally, when I saw the mouse in the bathroom, I locked the dog in with it and waited for the sounds of mayhem. Fierce predator, you know?

Hunting dog, my ass. When I opened the door, Jude happily pranced out, ready to play, closely followed by a mouse. Completely fucking useless. Someone’s going on Craigslist. That was when I called my Gramma.

Gramma: “That little mouse is not gonna hurt you, Belle.”
Me: “They’re diseased!”
Gramma: “I don’t know what you’re yellin’ about. I don’t remember ever being that afraid of a mouse.”
Me: “That’s because you’re 109, grew up in the country, and used to sleep on a BED OF MICE!”

Have you ever heard an eye roll through the phone? I have.

Gramma: “You should have been more concerned about the roaches than one little field mouse.”
Me: “Do you remember me the summer I had roaches?”

Gramma: “What?”
Me: “I changed my mind! I’m getting married!”
Gramma: “What are you talking about?”

So, that’s it. That’s my limit. Fuck this shit. It’s not about having children or someone to care for me in my old age. I need a husband for my pest control concerns, because I’m not sleeping until that trap reads “caught.”


Are we seriously having this conversation in 2015?

Y’all know I’m a librarian. It’s in the URL. It’s in the tagline. I practically introduce myself with it to everyone I ever meet, in person and online, because I am the old guy declaring “What you do, is who you are.”  Maybe it’s because I’m so passionate about my job. Maybe it’s because everyone in my family has that mentality. Whatevs. Just as some people are doctors and proud, nurses and proud, lawyers and proud, I’m a librarian and proud. It took seven years of college and an embarrassingly high amount of student loan debt for me to earn this title, so it feels pretty redundant when I have to ask that people not fucking mock it. 

I get that to other people, who don’t work in the field, it doesn’t sound like the coolest job. Fine. They’re wrong, but fine. Regardless, I’m horrified by the number of men who contact me on online dating sites and openly insult my career.

“So you’re a librarian, huh. I bet that’s tough with the internet now.”
Why, because you Googled free access to Ancestry.com, the entire archive of National Geographic, free e-media downloads, books a 14-year-old boy will actually enjoy and receive credit for in class, a complete resume that will get you an interview, and that news article about your grandmother from 1956? Google is a keyword search. If anything, the ubiquity of Internet access has given me more to do, because most people’s research and fact checking skills suck, because of GOOGLE. Obviously, if I’ve just gone into this field, it’s not dying. Perhaps you should Google that.

“I don’t think I could work in a quiet library all day. I’d get so bored.”
Thanks for calling my job boring, even though I clearly love it enough to include the title in my screen name. By the way, at first glance, “oil” has me on the edge of my seat.

“I didn’t even know there were still librarians.”
“Obsolete.” I think that’s my favorite pet name.

“It takes a master’s degree to do that? Why?”
Please. Inject a little more dismay into that question. Obviously, if it’s required, it’s necessary, and there are respectful ways to ask about my specific duties.

“My dad tells people I have a master’s degree, even though I’m not finished with school yet.”
“I’ll bet he doesn’t tell them what it’s in.”
Dude, did you just tell your date that her dad is secretly ashamed of her? It’s been two years since that date and I’m still at a loss for words beyond “bag of dicks.”

There is a flash flood in my pants, right now.

The responses toward my bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences are just as appalling.

“What’s the technical name for a home-ec teacher? Domicile Engineer? LOL.”

As frustrating as these misunderstandings are, I’m relatively used to them. I’m happy to explain why I needed a master’s degree to be a librarian or sing the praises of family and consumer sciences, when asked politely. I love talking about my work. I’m horrified, however, that anyone thinks it’s okay to talk down to me about my field, especially when I’ve already explained what it entails. Just last week, I was trading messages with a man on Plenty of Fish. I’d told him all about my field, how I had to get my MLIS to work in the position I love, and that I was trying to work my up to full time, because it’s extremely competitive.

“So, are you planning to make a career out of it?”

Um… what? Is this an attention span issue? I just explained that. Also, dude, you just told me you’d be working again “when oil picks up,” so I really think there are more pertinent questions regarding your career than mine. No one would ask a nurse if she was planning to make a career out of it. No one would ask a teacher that.

Karol: “Yes, they would. ‘Are you just doing this until you get married and have kids?'”
Me: “Fine. No one would ask a biologist that. No one would ask an accountant that.”
Karol: “What you mean is that no one would ask a man that.”
Me: “Ew. If that’s the case, then just ew. It’s 2015!”

You know, it’s really something that never crossed my mind. I thought people mocked my career because of a stereotype. Then again, there’s a pretty persistent stereotype among accountants, too, and they require less education than librarians. Sure, they’re assumed to be boring, but even with e-filing options, no one insists they’re redundant. Everyone concludes there must be more to the field than tax time, so why don’t librarians get the same respect? Why, before insulting me, don’t these men think ‘Wow. I’ve clearly got the wrong idea about this’? Well, according to Karol, the reason I’m not taken more seriously is…

Google this: “vagina gif”

It’s a frustrating idea and I sincerely hope Karol is wrong. Could it really be that the reason so many men mock my passion is because I’m female? Are these comments actually an effort to diminish my accomplishments, because I brought my ovaries with me? Is the “sexy librarian” line not only tacky, but actually a 1950s slap on the ass? Are we seriously having this conversation in 2015?

Ultimately, I’m just pleased to have met men who are impressed by my level of education, admire my passion for my career, and are open to learning more about a topic they don’t understand. It has happened, as many times as (if not more than) the above incidences. I can just let the probable sexists continue ranting about how they can only meet gold diggers and be thankful that they’re so transparent.

Still… ew.


“We need to get you a man!”: How to Get Throat Punched by a Single Woman

The other night, as I was leaving the library with my coworkers/good friends, Janet heard me badgering Dana about how she needed to get a smartphone so we could properly fangirl over Outlander. What Janet didn’t realize was that Dana and I regularly text message about this series and there’s a major delay, so we’d previously discussed her plans to get a new phone. Because of this, we’d even been looking at them online earlier that evening as I joked about what a disservice she was doing me with her 1999 technology. Really, though, I was just encouraging Dana to take a plunge she’s been planning for months, when Janet jokingly snapped:

“Oh my gosh, Belle, get a boyfriend!”

The good news is, I don’t throat punch my jesting pregnant friends. The bad news is, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this statement and after a while, it’s kind of begun to fill me with rage.

You see, there really is just no good reason to say this to a woman, not even…

… when we love our pets… 
About a year ago, I posted a picture of myself cuddling the dog on Facebook, with the following caption:
Top 5 things I say to my dog, that I can never say to my kids.
1. I will put you on Craigslist!
2. Get off me. I don’t love you that much.
3. No. You don’t need any, Fatty McFatfat.
4. I will skin you and wear you!
5. Shut up. No one cares what you think. You’re adopted! 

Most people just liked the photo or commented that they weren’t surprised, but my cousin decided to declare, on a public forum, “We need to get you a man! You are having way too many conversations with your dog!” I only commented that my dog was much better company than my last date, since Facebook is a public forum, but I did so while seething.

Don’t MAKE me come through this computer!

For starters, to everyone who has ever spoken the above sentence, “we” ain’t gotta do shit. You are not my gal pal. You are not my matchmaker. You can mark we right off of your to-do list, because I got this. 

Furthermore, if getting myself “a man” means I no longer talk to or cuddle my dog, then I’m sorry, but there’s just no room in my life for one. My dog is used to cuddles and ear tugs and Midnight Dance Hour. He wags his tail when he hears my voice, even when I’m threatening to put him on Craigslist. I’m not going to suddenly neglect my pets for dick. If that’s how things work in your world, then I feel sorry for your dog.

… when we love our best friend…
Every person in my life gets one lesbian comment about Gail and I before I commit a federal crime. Fortunately, Gail’s been living with Terry for a couple of years now, so the risk is pretty low these days, but comments like this were rampant in high school. I get it. I wore a lot of overalls back then and our high school was somewhere between Mean Girls and Varsity Blues, but believe it or not, I have heard suggestions since graduation and all I have to say is, them’s fightin’ words.

You know who listened to me fall apart when my ex-husband burned down our house and killed all of our pets… and slept in my car with me the Thanksgiving I drank eight Long Island Ice Teas and finally confessed that my marriage was over… and talked me out of joining the Air Force while I wept over a pizza cookie after failing my graduate portfolio… and has hugged me during every single mommy drama for the last 12 years? Well, I’ll tell you one thing. It sure as hell wasn’t some boy. 

I’m not fond of the “you’re just jealous” tagline, but in this instance it fits. There is no possible reason for someone to suggest that what I have in my friendship with Gail is anything beyond sisterly loyalty, other than a lack of understanding that it is possible to love someone that much when you don’t share a bloodline. In fact, if you’re suggesting that my being attached means no more PJ and Dog days at Gail’s house, then you just don’t understand friendship in general. Most importantly, though, it is not my duty to get a boyfriend to prove my sexuality to anyone.

… when we have cool hobbies…
One of the most common scenarios in which I hear someone declare that a woman “needs a boyfriend” seems to be when they’ve done a damned good job of proving they don’t. Perhaps your single friend taught herself to cross stitch, took up community theater, designed her own cosplay costumes, planned a trip across the world alone, or bought tickets to ComiconMaybe she just crocheted a sweater for the dog on a snow day, while binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and making herself sick on Easter candy… ahem. 

Whatever the interest, it seems an excuse to insist it be replaced with… what exactly? Sex? If I’m in a relationship, I won’t have time to crochet because of sex? What, am I dating Christian Grey? Do people in relationships not have individual passions and obsessions and hobbies? Can I not hateread alien erotica while he tinkers with his computer? Must we spend all that time cuddling, fondling, and saying ‘I don’t care, whatever you wanna do”? Y’all, I felt suffocated just typing that.

… when we actually want a boyfriend…
So I’ve shared another disastrous dating attempt. It was the one who tried to sell me weight loss pills… or maybe the one who didn’t technically have a job… or the one who told me he lived in a room and the “homeowner” was present. [Spoiler alert: It was his dad. The homeowner was his dad.] For some reason, I’ve opened up to you and shared some of my laughs and frustrations in the dating world and now you’ve finally come to a conclusion: I need a boyfriend.

Why thank you. Thank you so much for closed captioning my pain.

If you are involved enough in someone’s life to know that they’re tired of being single and actively dating, the “you need a boyfriend” comment is particularly obnoxious. You’re just reaffirming the idea that a woman’s life is incomplete without a man, that there’s not much to enjoy in the meantime, and that she’s in a game of musical chairs and the music is about to stop. Even if you believe these statements, your contribution is redundant at best. It is not helpful. Set her up with a friend. Offer to help her take pictures for her online dating profile. Encourage her hobbies. Don’t tell her how much it’s going to suck to die alone.

… when you have no idea whether or not we actually want a boyfriend…
Believe it or not, there are women who refuse to ruin a perfectly good song by fighting over a chair. My friend and coworker, Carla, is one of them. She’s in her mid-thirties and perfectly content to be single forever. She goes to plays, teaches herself obscure hobbies, and is easily the most well-read person I have ever met. That last one is a feat in my field. Telling her that she needs to find a man is, at best, confusing…

… and at worst, implies that her very complete and satisfying life is less, because she’s doing it solo. I am not Carla. Sometimes I wish I were content to dance alone, but I’m not. That doesn’t mean everyone needs or wants a partner.

… when the clock is ticking…
A woman’s life is incomplete without a man. There’s not much to enjoy in the meantime. She’s in a game of musical chairs and the music is about to stop…

Oh go suck a bag of dicks. My uterus is not riddled with IEDs. There is not an expiration date on living a happy and full life, even if my definition of that changes over time. Perhaps, instead of being presumptive and judgmental, we should all be a little more open to the many different lifestyles people choose. Perhaps, we should be a little less concerned with the wear and tear on someone else’s genitals, because as I said this is not a we situation.

“Whatever happened to the last engineer?”

… not to be confused with The Last Engineer. I’m sure I’ll date more, seeing as how that’s all that exists among men, but this is the dating story I never really told, despite once regular hints that things were going well.

If you’ll recall, I first met Engineer 114 (we’re numbering by tens now) around Christmas break… in person, that is. We’d been texting for well over a month, because he’d been working a job in Texas. While I don’t normally chat with men for so long before a first meeting, E114 was super apologetic about how long he’d been gone, insisting that he almost never works out of state. Since Christmas was nearing and I was buried under piles of burlap and nursing hot glue burns, I figured I didn’t have anyone else pursuing me, nor the time to pursue anyone else, so why the hell not?

By the night of our first date, however, Christmas was only days away and I had run myself ragged with substitute teaching, working at the library, crocheting four Olaf hats, two Elsa hats, a football beanie, and crafting four personalized burlap wreaths. I knew I’d agreed to dinner, but I just… didn’t wanna.

On my thirty minute commute from work, I gave myself the usual pep talk, which is almost always in the voice of Gaily.

Be nice. Give him a chance or cancel now and don’t waste his time. The worst that can possibly happen is you pay for your own meal and you go home. You will meet someone new. You will be pleasant. You will not die alone. 

Despite said pep talk, though, I was exhausted and postponed the date by about 30 minutes. E114 was perfectly fine with that and it gave me some time to decompress from what is a surprisingly stressful job and get a little cuter. Even more convenient, the restaurant E114 had suggested was directly behind my apartment, so the commute was minimal. Not surprisingly I arrived first… and was absolutely convinced I’d been stood up again. Finally, my date walked through the door and he looked just like his picture and didn’t seem disappointed in me. We all know that’s the first test.

E114 was friendly and just opinionated enough to manage a conversation with me, without it turning into an argument. He didn’t seem to mind my awkwardness and laughed at my jokes. That’s a rare find, folks. I’m funny, but I’m not exactly P.C. I told him about being a librarian and he told me about the commercial pumpkin farm he ran with his dad. What can I say? It’s the South, y’all. In general, it really was a great date. It was a dinner that lasted three hours and he seemed eager to meet again, when he walked me to my car. While I, of course, told Gail everything, I wasn’t up to blogging about it. I was pleasantly surprised and I’ll admit, I had my hopes up.

Our next date didn’t happen right away, but E114 kept messaging and asking about my Christmas. We shared pictures of family get togethers and planned to meet again before he went out of the country after the new year. He assured me, once again, that this wasn’t the norm and I figured I couldn’t very well complain that a man hadn’t turned up an opportunity to make bank just so he could get to know the girl from Plenty of Fish. I even assured him that my divorce was primarily caused by a refusal to work, so I truly didn’t mind his schedule. Finally, we set a plan. We would do something the Sunday after Christmas. It was vague, but he was willing to commute, so I wasn’t too upset that he wasn’t willing to be the one who made the plans in an unfamiliar city. So, Sunday morning we messaged back and forth with a touch of “what do you want to do?” and seemed to have settled on a movie at the mall, followed by dinner. I went to Mass and the gym and then received a message explaining that E114 had to help his dad with taxes involving the pumpkin farm and he needed to postpone “if you don’t mind.”

“If you don’t mind”, at this point in a relationship, is a total throwaway comment. If I mind, I’m clingy and crazy and I don’t understand familial obligations. As annoyed as I was with being ditched at the literal last minute, I texted Gaily and Catherine about it, and was perfectly polite to E114, figuring a one time occurrence was forgivable. My coworker even made the point that he might have been uncomfortable explaining to family that he was seeing someone he’d met online so soon. Fair enough.  A couple of days later, however, he still hadn’t suggested new plans, so I had to inform him that if he wanted to do something before his trip, we needed to set something up, so I could plan my week. We settled on dinner in Springfield, just north of Shetland and bowling in the city. I wore jeans. I was appalled at the idea of wearing jeans in general, let alone on a date.

Dinner and bowling went great. During dinner, I caught myself searching for flaws (read: being a judgmental bitch). While even in hindsight, I still think blowing your nose at the dinner table is unforgivably disgusting, The Voice of Gail intervened and asked if I was really going to let something so minor keep me from getting to know this guy.

I loosened up a bit over bowling. We laughed and talked and really had a great time. It was a fantastic activity to share with someone you’re considering in a romantic capacity. I can be extremely competitive, but with sports, it’s always in jest… because I suck at them. I don’t want someone coaching me on bowling, because I don’t care that I suck. I don’t care if I lose. I enjoy ridiculously over-the-top smack talk if I win. It’s just fun. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while E114 was a former athlete and had a strong work ethic, he didn’t seem put off by my “meh” sports mentality. It was a good night and I hoped we’d get together again when he got back from Aruba.

Over the next few weeks, E114 messaged daily. Early on, I asked point blank if he wanted to do something when he got back. I wasn’t interested in being entertainment while he was bored in another country. He said definitely and when he received a wayward text to Gail, accidentally demanding his presence at a local bar and grill in 15 minutes, he said he’d love to when he got back. Finally, the week of his return, nearly a month after our second date, E114 eagerly made plans. He’d get back on Thursday, spend time with his family on Friday and Saturday and we’d go to a museum on Sunday. What a fun date… that that would have been.

E114’s flight was delayed until Friday, about which he was texting me up until he landed at our local airport. At no point did he mention changing Sunday’s plans, so I didn’t think to ask. It was his idea. On Saturday, though, I sent a text to confirm. When I didn’t get a response, two hours later, I sent another.

stood up again

So, that was the end of E114. There was no apology, not even the throwaway “if you don’t mind” and I never heard from him again. It turns out “women just can’t handle my schedule” really meant that they can’t handle being such a low priority that they get stood up without reason or apology. I love a hard worker, don’t get me wrong. I made an effort to keep in contact for nearly a month in order to get to know this guy, not once complaining about the fact that his return date kept getting pushed back. We’re not kids anymore, though. This isn’t just another day with no responsibilities or plans. I cleared my schedule for him, on my only day off, at his request. Not only did I not get a response when I asked, but his only reason was that he made better plans. Seriously, dude? Go suck a bag of dicks. I’m not a show on your fucking DVR, there to entertain you when you’re ready. We had plans.

Gail is… well, she’s just the perfect best friend. She was rightfully outraged and has declared E114 to be her least favorite of the menbecause he led me on for a month. Looking back, I realize now that while E114 mentioned children numerous times, he never seemed interested in the wife part of that equation. Maybe he claimed he’d be willing to move from his hometown, but considering the fact that I was ditched twice for non-urgent family plans, I don’t see that happening. He doesn’t want a wife. He wants an incubator.

I wish now, that I’d been more forthright in my response to that last text message. The next woman will just get a story about how women can’t handle E114’s commitment to his family. I wish I’d been clear and told him how disrespectful that was to my time and feelings, how I’m no longer interested in getting to know him because he’s inconsiderate and has poor time management skills. I don’t want to date the guy who’s gonna bail on me two hours before my Gramma’s birthday party, because he has to help his brother move a sofa. He’d even mentioned the fact that planting season was nearing anyway, so I can’t imagine how he thought he’d fit in dating a few months later. I’m not even gonna lie. I totally fantasized about getting Catherine to find E114 on Plenty of Fish, make plans, and cancel at the last minute for a ridiculous reason. “I’m so sorry. I have to drive my roommate’s sister to get her dog groomed.” The only reason I didn’t ask is that she probably would have done it.

That is why I never told my beloved readers about E114. He wasn’t very nice and it hurt. I felt embarrassed and very much like I’d been used to ease his boredom while he was in Aruba. I cried and I’m not really a crier. Fortunately, God gives us what we need when we need it and just an hour or two later, Andy messaged me. That relationship has become as platonic as it can possibly be, with me giggling like mad over the misunderstanding that led Andy to have sex with a woman who’d slept with his brother and Andy explaining that that he “levels up” with every woman he dates. He calls it “Pokemoning.” So E114 ditched me hours before our museum  date. Whatevs. I got to zoo with Andy.

What Deal Breakers Do I Possess?: Reasons Not to Date Me

10912929_10204491640828512_775329358_nI totally forgot to cut my employee ID badge out of this photo the first time.

One of my Super Librarian duties is to create displays. Naturally, as 2015 takes root, I’ve put up a resolutions display. In doing so, I found the above title and I was just too curious to let it go. While the title is intentionally scandalous, a good deal of the advice within is pretty sound. Directed toward older single women, in the 35-dead bracket, the author’s perspective is pretty damned defeatist. I mean, for realz yo, were I single at 34 and reading this, I’d take up cutting again. Basically, the author is telling women to get off their high horses and acknowledge that the men they’re dating are human, while there are still men to date. It’s advice from a woman 15 years older, who wishes she’d known this stuff 15 years ago. Fascinating point of view. So, thinking back over my dating history, I tried to decide if there were any good men, who I may have passed up prematurely.

Geologist. This was perhaps the meanest post I’ve written about a man, chiefly because I admitted that the guy looked just like Gollum. It wasn’t just that he was unattractive, though. I mostly didn’t feel like I could relate to him on a personal level, at all. If I’d been less judgmental, could something have formed? Would it have been fair to continue seeing him, regardless of my lack of interest after three dates? I really don’t know.

Engineer No. 94. This guy was nerdy, not particularly attractive, loved anime and I was totally cool with that. We had a great conversation and I really put myself out there, by making it crystal clear that I wanted to see him again, but didn’t hear from him all weekend. In the online dating world, that really felt like the brush off to me. Just a text telling me he had a good time would’ve kept me from feeling rejected and I definitely would’ve been more encouraging when he mentioned meeting me again, rather than doing a fade away. Should I have addressed the issue instead? Was there possibly an explanation that he didn’t offer for some reason? I don’t know, but if I had it to do again, I probably would’ve gone on date number two.

That’s pretty much my list beyond Soldier, who was my first date after my divorce and helped me to realize that I was so not ready to date. In hindsight, I’m really not plagued by what might have been with anyone else I’ve met. There was always a clear deal breaker that I still find relevant, more often than not being that he was an asshole. I am a good practicing Catholic girl, though and very much believe that God brought this book into my life at this time, for a reason. I’m also pretty damned sure that that reason is Electrical Engineer. I’ve vaguely hinted that I’ve kinda, sorta, maybe got something going with a new guy and while I’m sure I’ll share the details at some point, that’s a different blog post. This one is about keeping a healthy, non judgy perspective while I get to know him.

I’ve already realized, in the past year or so, that I need to give guys more of a chance. So, as I’ve gotten to know Electrical Engineer, I’ve reminded myself to look beyond stupid little things that I might’ve dwelled on in the past. After reading this book, however, I realized something: I’m not the only one looking past inconsequential issues in an effort to get to know someone. That’s gotten me thinking. What, exactly, is Electrical Engineer looking past? What will he (or anyone else I get serious with) have to deal with in a relationship with me? What deal breakers might bring to the table? Well, in the interest of self-awareness, here’s what I’ve got.

I’m 27 and have been divorced for four years.
I don’t intend to share this on a date, but zetus lapetus I have soooooo many psychological issues in regards to this.

I say the wrong thing… all the fucking time.
“Ugh. This pie is terrible… I mean, unless you made it, in which case, it’s just not my thing, cuz… I don’t like lime?”

Also, Gaily informs me that “shankraped” isn’t an appropriate word to use in an Olive Garden.

I’m loud and opinionated.
It’s not that I don’t respect your opinion. You’re just going to need a strong personality and voice for it to be heard… especially at family events with all of my aunts.

“It’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size 2.”
By American standards, I’m not fat, but I could stand to lose 20 pounds. There are certainly fitter women on the dating sites. 

I suck my thumb.
Not only is this super weird, but it’s also rooted in a history of abuse, which I’m sure seems less than stable.

I have mommy issues.
See above. Also, see the scars on my leg from all that cutting in high school. The plan is to hide these things until someone loves me and then he’s trapped.

I’m a know-it-all.
I base my thoughts and opinions on facts, but it can be exhausting to hear them on every single subject ever.

I’m more educated than most people.
This isn’t bragging. I have actually met men who clearly have issues with my education level.

I have a master’s degree and all the loans that go with it, but only work half time.
Between substitute teaching and my position as a librarian, I work my butt off to pay my own bills, but it’s an awful lot of school not to be full time. It’s unlikely a man will know right off how competitive my field is and that I’m moving along quite nicely. Regardless, I’ll never make the kind of money people often associate with a graduate degree.

I handle negative emotions poorly.
Seriously, there are some jokes normal people just don’t make. See above cutting joke.

I’m a terrible driver.
No, really. I will kill us all.

I’m nerdy and love nerdy things.
I have to remind myself that my Harry Potter/Superman obsession is to some, what another’s anime obsession is to me. If you’re not into those things at all, they can seem too nerdy, even juvenile. “Zetus lapetus” doesn’t help my case.

I own a lot of pink.
Me: “Can you hand me my wallet?”
Gail: “The pink thing?”
Me: “Well, that doesn’t really narrow down the contents of my purse, but sure.” 

While my favorite color doesn’t feature prominently in my decor or wardrobe, it does in my accessories. A man who’s interested in dating an educated woman could easily find this childish or annoying.

I’m extremely sexually insecure and inexperienced.
I’m like the least experienced non-virgin ever and I’m really not comfortable with that fact.

I won’t shut up.
I love to talk and, sometimes, have to make a conscious effort to listen, because I know that what I’m saying is interesting.

I’m too analytical.
Watching a movie or show with me is exhausting. I will point out historical inaccuracies and comment on how much everyone in In Time did not look 25. Not even close.

I don’t read bestsellers.
I’m a librarian. Pretty much everyone assumes this means I’ve read Gone Girl and The Kite Runner. I have not. I will not. I read articles and memoirs if I want heavy reading material. If it’s fiction, it’s going to end happily ever after with great sex. A man intrigued by my job title might be disappointed by my interest in highlander porn. 

I’m a perfectionist.
I will unravel the entire damned hat because I missed one loop. Crochet is another interest to jot down on the nerdy list. Also, who wants to take a quick trip to the mall 20 miles away and return this shirt, because one of the buttons is a little loose? Anyone?

I can be neurotic about weird things.
There is a place for the red plates. My media is organized by format and then alphabetically.

When I break, I break.
I can maintain emotional control better than most people. I really can. I can be mistakenly called “laid back.” However, when I reach my threshold, I am a complete drama queen. There are tears and wailed hyperbole. At the end of a really rough day, I require at least 30 minutes of silence and dark.

I’m redundant.
I repeat the same stories and jokes over and over again, because I forget who I’ve told.

I interrupt people.
Again, loud and opinionated from a family of same. We all talk over each other and no one thinks anything of it, but I have to put in genuine effort not to do this with everyone else and I often fail. I just get really excited about the subject. 

I listen to terrible music.
“Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes…”
I sing it… poorly… and I blare it.

I watch terrible movies.
The Worst Witch. YouTube it. The entire movie is available and I can sing along. 

I have money issues.
I hoard food, just in case. I will drive to four different grocery stores just to save a few dollars. I’ll want for something for months, before talking myself into buying it, even though I’ve had the money all along. I sleep with my wallet within reach, because I had the worst marriage ever. 

… and I’m sure there are many more. I think making this list has been really helpful. It’s certainly going to help me overlook minor issues I might have with men, because really, if they can give me a chance, I can give them one.

That Time I Died Alone: Screenshots That Were Worth Saving

With Christmas break coming up and a good chunk of my income coming from substitute teaching (all I want for Christmas is a full time librarian position, yo), I’ve had to work a lot lately. Fortunately for me, my jobs are pretty pathetically first world. Don’t get me wrong. It takes a lot of energy to not cry after giving a technology class to a dozen elderly people, when you expected maybe half that.

The effort required however, is all cerebral and emotional. I’m patiently (and awkwardly) waiting for this woman to stop yelling at her husband for touching her iPad, not hauling oats. You see that, there? Hauling oats. That’s the first example of physical labor that came to mind, because the majority of my jobs involve sitting. This is good news, of course. My daddy climbs poles for a living and like all southern men, my brother works on oil sites. They spend all day in the freezing cold. I went outside for three minutes the other day and I felt like I was being peeled. 

Everything hurts and I’m going to die.

While the library certainly requires a significant amount of mental exertion and emotional control, I can’t really say the same for substitute teaching. Sure, the administration tells us our job is important, but at the high school level, I am a glorified babysitter. Like with any babysitting job, boundaries have to be set and many, many people don’t make it that far, but I’ve been doing this for five years. Those kids know me. They know what they can and cannot get away with, so it is a really bad day when I have to do anything beyond sit there… and that is dull. So it was, that I decided to delete some photos on my phone yesterday, starting with the screenshots folder. That’s when I realized what wonderful online dating gems I’ve screen capped over the last several months, to send to Gail and Catherine. Now, I share these with my dear (somewhat neglected, lately [promise to remedy that]) readers. While I try to be direct in my online dating encounters, I generally avoid straight rudeness unless the comment is offensive or sexual in nature. After that, it’s fair game.


He’s either got a great sense of humor… or a dungeon. Who wants to roll the dice?!?!


Awww. He came with a sermon on the dangers of… technology?



“How can you read this? There’s no pictures!”

deer head

“You wanna come home with my friend and I? He’s really into ladybugs and we share a dung-… I mean… studio.”


He had sent me a copy and pasted message of this a week or two earlier. Instead of being direct, I’d just encouraged conversation, because I thought it would be funny to waste his time, since he didn’t even bother to read my very short profile, which answered his question. When I clarified that, no, I would not be letting him lick my lady bits, he told me I was confused and should be on Christian Mingle.

sexy legs

The response for when “inappropriate and weird” doesn’t cut it.


“Who wants to get shankraped?!?! Anyone?”

confused guy 2

SOMEONE had to tell him… clearly… and I felt I was really quite nice in doing so.

ew 2

I… um. No.


Dude. That actually is pretty clever. I totally felt guilty for rejecting that dog. Also, if she stops responding on one dating site, it’s probably best not to track her down on another and ask why.

open minded

“You’ve made your values and deal breakers clear. I don’t think any of those things are important, but if you want to take the bait when I imply you’re close-minded for meaning them, I wouldn’t mind seeing you naked while you prove me wrong. Oh, yeah… thus.”


“I’m cheating. You up for that?”


No, really. There’s a character limit on Tinder profiles. It’s not that long and specifically mentions Jesus and love and no hookups. Also, the cut off for using the phrase “fwb” was two years ago… for me.


Dude. Fucking marry me.

The Reluctant Dater

Me: He called me beautiful, as an endearment. We haven’t even met. Is that creepy?
Gail: It’s not creepy, but it is hollow. He has no idea what you actually look like. Just don’t respond to it. You don’t want to make him feel self-conscious or like you’re reading into things.

Assistant Manager: I haven’t heard from you in awhile and was wondering if I’d said something to upset you.
Me: No. Everything is fine. I do think that, since we haven’t actually met, using endearments (beautiful) is uncomfortable.

I take instruction well.

Me: “I am totally wasting this guy’s time. I’m just not feeling it at all. Like, not even against him, just dating in general. He’s all ‘What would you like to do?’ and I’m all ‘Hang out with my best friend, while you text someone else.’ He hasn’t even done anything wrong. I just want to delete all of my profiles and take a break!”

Me: “Help get me into the mood to go on a date tonight.”
Me: “No. Wait. That came out wrong. It’s just that, every time try to psyche myself up, it comes out really… mean. You’re able to make me look forward to things, when I’m just like ‘DO YOU WANT TO DIE ALONE?!?! DO YOU WANT TO HAVE CHILDREN OR NOT?!?!'”
Gail: “Ummmm… maybe this is why you’re not enjoying your dates. It’s not a chore, Belle.”
Me: “You know, lately it really is. I just cannot do another bad date. I can’t. I’m half tempted to just text him with ‘I’m not coming tonight. I’m just not feeling it. Sorry.'”

I’m not sure what the catalyst was, or if there even was one. I just woke up one day and was completely over dating. The problem was, I’d been talking to Assistant Manager for a week already. We’d even made plans to meet and just hadn’t worked out the details. In fact, he’d wanted to spend Fourth of July together, but the last thing I wanted to do on my holiday was have a possibly awkward romantic date with no way out. However, bailing wasn’t really an option, particularly with my recent insistence that if things progressed to a first meeting with a man, I would meet him.

Originally, I was hesitant over the age difference. Assistant Manger just turned 34 and I turn 27 in September. Before I started looking for any way out at all, I’d messaged my friend Lacy, whose husband is 35. She told me that while it’s weird to think about if she considers that he graduated high school when she graduated elementary school, day to day, their age difference doesn’t really come up. Furthermore, Assistant Manager wanted kids, but not tomorrow, which would usually be my concern in regards to age. Most men I’ve dated or spoken with, in that age range, either don’t want children or feel like the clock is ticking. Additionally, this guy has a career he enjoys and makes fair money. He’s never been married, but was engaged once and is looking for something serious. And finally… he’s Catholic.

Y’all, the man is Catholic. You have to understand that, growing up, I knew every Catholic kid in town… because there were like eight of us. It’s just not common in the South. Christianity spreads like the clap, but specifically Catholicism? Please. I still occasionally get accused of worshiping Mary. So, age being the only real concern, and not even really one at that, I decided I needed to see this through… more or less.

Me: When did you two break up?
Assistant Manager: January 09.

– Whoa. What? That was like… yesterday. January wasn’t even six months ago. I knew there was something wrong with this guy. Every fucking time! I should just stop talking to him altogether. 

Me: He just told me his fiance left him in January.
Lacy: Wow. Maybe there’s an explanation? 

– Don’t be an asshole, Belle. Just ask him about it.

Me: That’s… recent.
Assistant Manager: Five years ago. Not that recent.
Me: OH! January 2009! I read January 09, 2014!

Even with that cleared up, I was looking for red flags. I don’t know why. The guy looked great on paper. His pictures were a little blurry and, based on my Facebook stalking, didn’t seem to be current. He was nice and wanted the same things I do, though. He didn’t send a dick pic or ask if I like massages. It was just the idea of another man who insults my career… another hovering moment where I’m not sure if he’s going to pay… another guy who lives with mom… another weepy and hysterical phone call to my Gramma or Gail… another I SHAVED MY LEGS FOR THIS?!?!… another funny blog story.

So… I acted like an asshole and figured if he put up with it, I was obviously meant to meet the guy.

No, really. Just put that sentence on the headstone above my solo burial plot.

I’d like to just claim that I didn’t want to get to know this guy through text message. That really was the bulk of it. The first guy I ever dated, after my divorce, I messaged for two months while he was in Afghanistan, only to realize that 1. it was super awkward for a stranger to know so much about me and 2. I wasn’t actually ready to date, anyway. So, yes, that was my primary concern… but it doesn’t explain why, in addition to ceasing most communication with the man, I totally postponed a date to play Bunco with a bunch of middle aged women last Friday.

That’s right. Assistant Manager wanted to meet for dinner a week ago. I told him I’d get back to him about the time and then claimed I had already had evening plans with Ava, because she’d just texted and asked if I could play a dice game with her, her mother, and her mother’s friends. I was just dreading another date so badly… with anyone. 

Last night, however, was the moment of truth. I would either keep the date or cancel, get to a point where I wasn’t over dating, and always wonder what might have been. So… I kept the date. In the time when I was getting ready, I did find some peace. Whatever would be would be. If he was a chubby troll, unwashed, or just plain drunk, I could easily leave in under 30 minutes. After all, my record is only 20. So, I shaved my legs, did my makeup, worked with my hair the best I could, since I desperately need a cut and look like Mufasa, and even headed out with plenty of time to arrive at 8:30 on the dot… after getting lost in the city I’ve lived in my whole life. Sigh.

Fortunately, I found the Starbucks I needed… and Assistant Manager, who was a lot cuter than his pictures, who waited outside for me, opened the door for me, bought my coffee, and chatted and laughed with me for an hour and a half… plus an additional hour and a half in the parking lot after close.

Me: “I graduated high school in 2006.”
Assistant Manager: “… seven years after I did. I graduated in 1999.”
Me: “You graduated the same year as Buffy!”

We had a genuinely good time. Though I could hear Gaily’s voice in my head telling me to ignore it, I apologized for my flakiness, explaining that I didn’t want to get to know him through text message (leaving out Bunco). Assistant Manager even agreed that his questions about my marriage, coupled with endearments, probably came off wrong. We made jokes about it and it was no big deal. There was no confusion about whether or not he wanted to see me again, as he walked me to my car and opened my door for me. He even texted me after I left, asking me to let him know I got home safely. We set a date for Monday or Wednesday, depending on our schedules…

Assistant Manager: I’ll text you tomorrow.
Me: I’ll actually text back this time. 😀

… and I almost missed a good date, because of the sour taste from all those bad ones.