Tuesday, July 19, 2011

H2LG1D Is Going On Hiatus

Hey guys!
Thank you so much for all of the support you've given this blog for the past six weeks! It's been a lot of fun. Unfortuantely, as I've said before, I'm running low on stories to tell, so I'm going to be taking a break from writing for a bit, until I can stockpile some new ones. Feel free to keep commenting on old posts, and remember, you can always email me if you have something scintillating you want to share! Guest bloggers are encouraged, and always welcome.
Until next time,
E

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's Your Best Rando Encounter?

I'm sorry to report that my personal store of rando encounters has been depleted. Since I don't want to bore you with any bottom of the barrel stories, I leave this post open to anyone who wishes to share a rando encounter of their own! I know that I'm not the only one with stories to tell :) Just type it up and leave it in the comment box below. Sidebars are appreciated, but not required.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Memorium

Kids, I’ve been telling you the story of how I suck at dating, and while there are many things to learn from these stories, this may be the biggest. The great loves of your life won’t necessarily be the people you date, they’ll also be the people who happen to you. Now, I’m not saying you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your love life, you have to take action and you will. But never forget that on any day, you can step into a classroom door and your whole life can change forever. You see, the universe has a plan, kids, and that plan is always in motion. An owl flaps its wings, and it starts to snow. It's a scary thought but it's also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine constantly working, making sure that you end up exactly where you're supposed to be with, exactly when you're supposed to be there. The right place at the right time.[1]


I met the greatest love of this quarter of my life when I was twelve. What’s funny about this story is that, initially, I didn’t even know he existed. When he finally did catch my attention, I didn’t like him much at all. You see, as a middle-schooler, I was forever preoccupied with what is cool, and Harry Potter certainly wasn’t cool. He hung out with that kid (you know the one I’m talking about—the pale-as-milk kid who made his own armor and went around talking about “vorpal blades” going “snicker-snack”) and I didn’t want to associate with anyone who associated with him, less I lose whatever meager hall-cred I’d gained by smart-mouthing the World Religions teacher.
Sidebar: I later apologized profusely and begged in secret for him not to make me come to early-morning “Religion Club,” aka detention, lest my parents ground me forever…I was only a wannabe snark back then.
However, over Easter break, after some prodding from my sister, I decide to give Harry a chance—I could at least talk to the guy. Maybe we could be friends.

One conversation. That was all it took for me to be hooked. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if Harry wasn’t perceived as “cool” by the other kids at school; all I wanted was to talk with him again—he was that enchanting. I was exactly like a googly-eyed tween: I replayed (and reread) our first real meeting over and over in my mind, picking up on new things to love, little idiosyncrasies and quirks that made him all the more adorable. I wanted to dive into his skin and live there awhile, just to see what it was like to live in his world.
The more I got to know him, the deeper I fell. Even then I had a feeling that this was no “baby crush” or “blip” on my emotional radar—I was in for the long haul, and our story would play out for years to come.

And it did. After the first blush of our hopeful beginning, things did cool down a bit. I got busy, and didn’t have as much time for him anymore. But he was always there for me, whenever I was lonely, or feeling sad or homesick—he’d find a way to cheer me up, telling me all his old tales again.

The summer between eighth grade and freshman year, I went off to Camp Takatoka. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with Harry while I was gone, especially because I knew that he had some crazy stories to tell me—his life, as it turned out, was an unending saga—but I dealt. My dad teased me with a letter in which he hinted at some of Harry’s wild adventures—something about an old derelict house and a prickly groundskeeper.
Sidebar:  My dad and Harry were actually friends too, which some people might think is weird, but whatevs. I think his spirit reminded my dad of an old friend of his from college named Frodo…
Naturally, I was annoyed that I wasn’t able to hear these new stories firsthand, but I was sneaky, and figured out a way to get a hold of him before my parents picked me up from camp. Let’s just say, it involved some bribery, and lots of staying up late trying to hide the light from my flashlight under the covers.
When I finally did make it back home, I was astounded to see the change in him. All my seventh grade worries about his scant popularity were put to shame. He’d changed over the summer, and suddenly, everyone wanted to be his friend, drawn to him because of his magnetic personality and captivating story-telling abilities. People were literally lined-up around the block to meet him. Harry was everywhere.
But, still, he didn’t forget about me. He was there when I didn’t get the part I wanted, or in the eerily quiet hours that followed after my sisters and their families went back home after Christmas. Sometimes, there are people in your life who just feel like coming home, and that’s how Harry felt to me.
I continued to support Harry in his newfound stardom. I went to all of his big release events, waiting in line with countless others whose lives he’d touched, and eventually, when Hollywood decided to make a sprawling, eight-part movie about his life, I went and saw all of those too.
Which brings me to my point. Back when I was twelve, I had no idea that a paperback that an odd classmate of mine carried around school about some boy wizard with a lightning bolt on his forehead would lead me to one of the greatest love stories of my life. I don’t love Harry Potter just because I love to read, or because there are spells and magical creatures, or because anytime a new book or movie is released, I have an excuse to play dress-up (though that is a definite plus). I love it because in those hours I spend with Harry, I find myself completely immersed in a world that is my own and not my own, with characters that have become as familiar to me as old friends. Over the past twelve years, The Boy Who Lived has taught me valuable lessons about friendship, truth and goodness; that what is right isn’t always necessarily what is easy, and that it’s not about what you can do, but what you choose to do with your life that matters, and that one should make love, not horcruxes.
Tonight marks the end of an era then. Some may think it’s silly to get emotional over the end of a movie franchise, but in so many ways, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to that old friend. The release of this last movie closes the book of my childhood in a way.
Sidebar: Yes, I know that as a twenty-four year old, I hardly qualify as a child anymore. Shhhh. I’m sentimental. Plus, there's no reason to dress up anymore, unless they start screening midnight showing of HP at the Landmark like they do Rocky Horror...oooooh, lightbulb!
So, heres to you, Harry! May you join the ranks of Alice and Peter, the Pevensie’s and the hobbits, Sara Crewe and Mary Lennox, and all the other characters throughout history that have managed to captivate children and adults alike, and go on to inspire countless fanfics in which shippers desperately try to pair Draco and Ginny.


Tonight, I'll be right where I'm supposed to be, at the midnight premiere, donning my Hogwarts' best and choking down Red Vines, ready to cheer you on to the end!
Okay, I don’t know about you, but I could go for some pumpkin juice and a chocolate frog right about now…


[1] I did not write most of this introduction, but merely adapted the cold open of Episode 22, Season 4 of (what else) “How I Met Your Mother.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Someday Somebody's Gonna Ask You a Question That You Should NOT Say Yes To

A couple of months before my freshmen year of college, my friend Alex, cyber-introduced me to a high-school friend of hers named Bryan Ryan. Both of us would be going to A&M in the fall, and since no one else from my graduating class had chosen to be an Aggie, I would take whatever introductions I could get in an effort to make that first week less awkward.

This was the dawn of Facebook (Remember the time before groups and news feeds? When reading someone’s profile page required no scrolling, and he or she only had the one picture?), so I got to know the basics there; the rest I learned through AIM conversations.

Sidebar: Oh, AIM. How I miss thee, and thy constant reliability to relay my messages quickly and with jazzy emoticons that winked and flashed different colors and to not constantly kick me off like some other chat servers I could name *coughcoughfbcoughcough*

What I learned about Bryan was that he was going to major in history, was super-involved in his church, and was kind of a douche. Seriously. He once reprimanded me for typing the word “shit” in a sentence. Before I had even met him.

So it came as a surprise when I finally met Bryan (after getting lost on Southside in the middle of FOW and getting berated by him for texting him to ask directions, as texts were not in his cell phone plan, and now he’d have to pay 25¢ extra for my plaintive error) that he was a bit better in person. Besides, at this point, I didn’t have many allies on campus and I couldn’t afford to be picky.

Sidebar: Bryan himself will tell you the he was kind of a jackass at the beginning of our fish year. Nevertheless, let it be known that he grew into a ridiculously fun and goofy guy who takes great delight in a well (or ill) timed “That’s What She Said” joke

We became friends. We quickly formed a tight-knit little group of good Catholics and future St. Mary’s Superstars (adding up the number of Awakening leadership and speaker positions we’ve accumulated over the years hints at a slightly nepotistic culture). I was happy to have found a home with these girls and guys, and enjoyed my newfound freedom by going to Wal-Mart at three in the morning to buy hair dye, engaging in “group therapy” sessions at the RY until dawn, playing mud-football on Simpson Drill Field and possibly (definitely) trespassing to go through the semi-truck graveyard and take a turn on “the zipline.” Mostly nocturnal activities, as I spent my days slaving away behind my computer...

Ha.

There was just one itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny problem. Bryan was a huge flirt. And I really did not like it when Bryan flirted with me.

My frustration with all of the winks and suggestive comments and knee-touching came to a head at the annual Advent Party (yes, college students actually planned and put-together a party celebrating Advent). We were in the kitchen, hovering by the queso Crock Pot and hoping someone would bring more chips. I was regaling the group with my roommate’s and my newest scheme in our life plan: we had concluded that when our future fiancés proposed in the distantly distant future, we wanted him to play “Question” by the Old 97’s, because it was the cutest song EVER and it would make us cry.

It was at this specific point that Bryan put his arm around my shoulders, leaned in close and whispered, “Oh, honey…you want me to make you cry?”

I had had enough. I sucked in a deep breath and practically screamed—

“BYRAN RYAN! We will NEVER date!!”

You know how in movies, whenever there’s a party and one of the characters says something inappropriate or embarrassing  really loudly and the DJ scratches the music off and everyone turns and looks?

I’m pretty sure that happened. Bryan attempted to recover his dignity, and I looked interestedly at my fingernails.

This incident has since become quite the joke amongst us oh-niners, but to this day, I’ve remained true to my word: Bryan Ryan and I have never dated—though Bryan still flirts with me obnoxiously on occasion, just to irk me.

But, hey, points for consistency, right?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cass O'Nova, the Earl of Sandwich(es)

My freshman year of high school, I was duped by Big; my freshman year (and, let’s be honest, my sophomore year, too) of college, I was hoodwinked by Cass. I’m telling you—freshmen are idiots.

 
It’s funny—when I first met Cass, he was a paltry shadow of the lady-killer he was to become. He was pretty quiet and unassuming at first, though he was ridiculously good at guitar (I’m a sucker for musicians, what can I say). However, after a few weeks, Cass apparently felt comfortable enough around our group to let his flirt flag fly.

And what an excellent flirt he was. Cass had the remarkable ability to make you feel like you were the only girl in the room: he’d hug you with his whole body and hold on a beat longer than necessary, he’d give your arm a squeeze as he’d walk by and flip you a look and you felt like it was a secret sign passing between the just the two of you. He was hardly an Abercrombie model, but he was fairly easy on the eyes, and it wasn’t long before you realized you were half in love with the guy.

What you didn’t realize (or perhaps, simply didn’t want to acknowledge) was that every other girl around you was in love with him too.

I later came to understood that to have feelings for Cass was (as I cautioned another girl who had fallen prey to his blue-green eyes) akin to catapulting into a swirling vortex of self-loathing.

Sidebar: I later relayed this description to the man himself. He laughed good-naturedly, and then pointed out that a vortex by definition is swirling, making my portrayal slightly redundant.

However, my freshman (and sophomore) self had masochistic tendencies, at least in the emotional sense, and so I continued to beat my head against that wall for months.

Sidebar: Remember that boy Johnny B. mentioned that came between me and a certain female friend of his? Yeah, this is the guy.  

I once told a friend that crushes could either be measly blips on your romantic lifeline (like the time I liked someone for a week, simply because my roommate suggested it), or they could be overarching, spanning months or even years (like Graham, the hot asshole). Cass was definitely the latter. It’s true that sometimes I hated him and other times I pretended indifference and other times I even liked someone else, but during those first two years, Cass was always there in the back of my mind.

I won’t go into all of the gory details of my insanity—this was no mere baby crush after all—but inevitably, all of this repressed emotion and unrequited feeling had to come to a head at some point.

And it did. At a party after Christmas break my sophomore year, after I spent the holiday not talking to Cass because I was pissed at him over some perceived slight.

Sidebar: Okay, okay, but this is all you get. I was very chatty my freshman year, and very concerned with talking about my feelings, and not very concerned about who I told about them. Confused by Cass’s behavior, I decided that we needed to have a DTR (not that we were actually dating, or anything, I just wanted to know. Because being clear with one another about our feelings is so important, right?) Long story short, I may have, in my eagerness to “define our relationship”, woken up Cass from a deep(ish) sleep in order to have a chat about “us.” It’s a wonder he was still friends with me after that…

Anyway, the party. One thing lead to another, and miracle of miracles, Cass and I kissed. And kissed. Aaannd kissed.

Naturally, I wanted to talk about it the next day, which we did, eventually, with a little (a lot of) prodding from me. We concluded it was just a fluke, brought on by too many vodka shots, and resolved that it shouldn’t happen again.

Of course it happened again, and this time there was no alcohol to be blamed.

In my naiveté, I thought perhaps these increasingly less-random MOSs meant that Cass had, in fact, developed feelings for me.

After two more “tête-à-tête,” I decided that the time had come to talk of many things—of feuds— and relationships—and DTRs—of “maybe now?”s—and flings.

Cass awkwardly removed his arm from my shoulders, and uttered four words that crushed my nineteen- year old spirit for a good week and a half: “This is just lust.”

To say that I was mad is an understatement—I was livid. Did he really think that I was the kind of girl who flittered about making out with just anyone? Hardly! I was extremely picky, except when I wasn’t, but even still, I could count the number of guys I’d kissed on one hand.

I gave him the what-for a few days later, fuming in measured tones from the backseat of his car, “It’s going to be a long time before I trust you again, Cass!”

Sidebar: Maybe they weren’t so measured…

I grieved on my friend’s couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and as much junk food as I could hold from the C-Store. We watched Ever After, and Pride & Prejudice, and many other movies that featured leading men in tight-fitting pants. I got over it enough to function, and began to move on with my life.

Of course, he called me two weeks later.

Before you get your panties in a bunch, though, know that it wasn’t to get me back on his hook. There were no teacup pigs involved in this portion of the story (though I had heard the “I just can’t be with you…right now” line before). No, instead of a teacup pig, Cass presented me with…a sandwich.

You see, in the couple of weeks between my failed attempt to get Cass to date me, and this brown bag lunch meeting, Cass had gotten together with Emma. Who was also friends with me. Emma, being the good-hearted person that she is and knowing our history, didn’t want me to find out about their budding relationship from anyone other than the primary source, so she urged Cass to arrange a time to tell me himself.

Which he did. Over a ham and cheese on Wonderbread sandwich.

I recall that the conversation went something like this:

Him (handing me the sandwich): So…the reason I asked you over here was to let you know that Emma and I are dating now.

Me: Okay. Cool.

Him: So, yeah. Just wanted you to know.

Me: What do you want me to say? She’s a nice girl. Congrats.

Him: …okay, then.

So, gold star to Cass for having the decency to tell me straight up that he ate his famous last words (“I don’t want a girlfriend…right now”), though I would suggest different fare if you’re planning to borrow this strategy…after all, nothing says "I don't like you, but enjoy this tasty consolation prize!" like filet mignon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Those Prepositions Are Pesky, No?

Here’s another one from my Rando Archives:
The scene: A mostly deserted street in Cork, at approximately one a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day (or rather, St. Patrick’s Night)

The players: Myself, Brie (who you already know) and our new friend, Catherine, who we met the night before at our hostel

After a fun-filled day that had passed in a haze of parades, Guinness and green, Brie, Cat and I spent the night crawling from pub to pub, playing King’s Cup with the handy pack of cards that Cat happened to be carrying and hunting for cute Irishmen (we didn’t find any that trip, though we did find some cute Aussies in Galway).

Just before last call, I got a hankering (as I usually do at about this time of night when the alcohol has been flowing freely) for pizza. We managed to find a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria that was still open and serving, so I forked over about 12 euro for a small pie, which seemed a slightly ridiculous sum in the sober light of morning, but at the time appeared to be quite a reasonable price to pay to soak up all of the stout ale sloshing around my stomach.

As we were waiting outside for our order, a slight man of average height ambled over to us, his uneven gait aided by one of those crutches that attach to the forearm.

“I,” he announced by way of introduction, “will do anything to you, if you let me have a slice of your pizza.”

Uncertain if he simply mixed up his prepositions and a bit perplexed by his sudden presence, we assured him that if he waited, we would give him a slice of pizza. We were feeling magnanimous, after all, and it seemed in the spirit of St. Patrick to give back to the Emerald Isle.

Rando McSeamus proceeded to engage us in a drunken and slurred and mostly one-sided conversation about how he didn’t actually need his crutch, but that it could be quite useful as a weapon. It was at this point that I went inside to check on our food, and Rando McSeamus presented Brie with a “diamond” ring, which she forgot about until she found it lodged in her pocket the next morning.

I returned with our mediocre Irish-style pizza (though it was pepperoni, and did not in fact have any potatoes on it), and presented Rando McSeamus with a slice, which he accepted gratefully and ate with much glee. Then, he made this pronouncement:

“But really, I will do anything to you…anything at all in your dirtiest imagination.”

We exchanged glances. Oh, so he really did mean “to you” and not “for you.” Well. That’s a bit awkward now, isn’t it?

Us: No, really, we must be going now.

Him: But what about the oral sex?

Us: We’re good actually. But…thanks…for the offer. We guess.

Him: I could come back with you to your room?

Sidebar: Thank God we had sense enough to lie about which hostel we were staying at for the night.

Us: Oh. Um, well you see, there are rules…about that. Yeah, they kind of...frown…on guests and…fraternization.

Sidebar: Yes, there were that many ellipses in our responses.

Him (looking genuinely confused): But I’ve done plenty of foreign ladies at Sheila’s!

Us: Yeah, well, I guess they must have changed the rules. Sorry!

And then we scampered back to our hostel (not Shelia’s obviously—who knows what kind of establishment she was running), laughing so hard we almost lost our snack. We devoured the pizza in a matter of minutes (as girls are known to do when there are no gentlemen around to witness it. Otherwise, we only eat one slice and daintily pronounce ourselves to be “simply too full to take another bite!”). There was some dancing, some more drinking, and then we snuck out to another bar called Sin E where I belted out “The Rare Ould Times” with another drunk Irish person, and later scampered back home with much merriment.

Luckily, we never saw Rando McSeamus again.

However, Brie still has the ring that he gave her…one day, B…one day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Save Your Peacock(iness) for Katy Perry

Women like confident guys. This is not a revelation—at least it shouldn’t be if you’ve be reading this blog—but there is a line, a fine, fine line, between confidence and cockiness.

 
Tip #5: Confidence is hot, cockiness is not.

I met Tom at a happy hour last spring. Things started off really well: we engaged in a good conversation for an extended period of time, he bought me a drink, and before he left, he got my number. All in all, an auspicious beginning.

He called a few days later to ask me out on a proper date, and we agreed to go out on a Wednesday. He suggested dinner and a movie, because there was a new Jake Gyllenhaal out that he really wanted to see.

He showed up half an hour late to pick me up, though he did do the right thing and texted me to let me know that he was stuck in traffic, but again, the promise of that “auspicious beginning” was starting to wear thin.

Since we were already running late, I didn’t want to waste more time by having him come all the way up the fourth floor of my apartment to pick me up at my door, so I ran downstairs to meet him, where he was waiting for me in his sleek and zippy Corvette.

Sidebar: I’m not the kind of girl who cares much about cars. Expensive cars can be nice, but really, so long as it has floorboards, air conditioning and doesn’t reek of mildew or gym-sweat, we’re good.

You could tell Tom was incredibly proud of his ride—in fact, we’d talked before about how he likes to work on cars, and takes his Corvette out racing from time to time—and that’s cool. I was glad to see that he was passionate about his hobby, even if it wasn’t something that I was into.

No, the problem came after I had lowered myself three feet to the ground to get inside the thing and we sped off to dinner. Not only did Tom LOVE his car, he also seemed to love living the fantasy that he was actually Paul Walker in The Fast and The Furious.

He drove in such a way that I not only feared a bit for my life, but I had the thought that if I was in another car on the highway witnessing this “need for speed,” I would probably be muttering curses and giving him the angry fist shake.

Sidebar: Leave the drag racing-style driving for the track, boys. I’m sure it’s much more impressive to the ladies from the sidelines than from the front seat.

We got to Studio Movie Grill about forty-five minutes early. Tom had decided that instead of going to a restaurant for dinner, we would simply eat in the theater before the movie. An interesting choice, but, okay…I’ll roll with it.

Sidebar: This may just be personal preference, but I tend to think taking a girl someplace a bit more off-beat than a chain restaurant on a first date shows that the planner put a modicum more thought into the evening.

He paid for our tickets (there was a Groupon deal that week), and we got our menus, walked into the empty theater and took our seats. Literally the first words out of Tom’s mouth after we sit down were the following:

Him: So, I’m sure you’ve been checking out my Facebook, so tell me, which do you prefer: long or short?

Me (looking at him like he’s a crazy person, as I have NO idea what he’s talking about): Um, I’m sorry…what?

Him (matter-of-factly): My hair. Do you like it better long or short?

Me (bewilderedly): I actually haven’t spent any time stalking you on Facebook, so I’m afraid I don’t have an opinion to offer on the status of your hair length—sorry.

I couldn’t really tell if he was trying to be funny, or if he genuinely thought that CLEARLY I would have spent hours poring over his wall and pictures and favorite quotations in preparation for this date.

We ordered our food (I wasn’t really hungry at this point, so I just ordered dessert, he ordered grilled cheese), and spent the next half hour or so before the movie started chatting about nothing terribly memorable, since his opening line was so hard to beat.

The movie ended up being pretty interesting, so we were able to talk about it on our way back up to his car after it was over. He opened my door for me, like any good man should, and I climbed into the passenger seat.

Quickly, the conversation turned to work, and Tom confided in me that he had a huge presentation to make to BP in the morning that he hadn’t started yet.

Me: You haven’t started it? Like, you haven’t even made an outline, or anything?

Him: No. My boss is kind of ticked, because I’ve known about it for about three months.

Me: Wait. So, you’ve known about this major presentation for months, and you haven’t done anything on it.

Sidebar: Don’t get me wrong, I am a horrible procrastinator, but this is just unprofessional. Was I supposed to be impressed with his devil-may-care attitude?

Him: Nope.

He pauses before going on.

Him (ardently): I’m just so…so angry with BP! I mean, everyone thinks that they’re such a great company, but really they just suck and have good PR people…

He continued on in this vein for several minutes. I had a fervent desire to stop him and say, “You know, my sister works for BP…” but I refrained.

The rest of the drive went by in a blur (that’s not a metaphor—we were back to tailgating and constantly switching lanes again). When we got back to my apartment, he got out to give me a hug, and asked if I was going to the Howdy Club crawfish boil that next week. I said maybe, and he left.

He hasn’t called me since, though I did see him at another happy hour after that. He didn’t really come over to talk to me, but any time he passed by, he would give me a quick wave. Once, I gave a sarcastic wave in return. He responded by high-fiving it. I collapsed into giggles.

The moral of the story is this. Trying too hard to impress your date, whether it through over-the-top romantic gestures or reckless driving, it generally backfires. Stick with the small stuff: opening doors, making sure that you don’t have stains from lunch on your shirt and that any space she might see (your car, your apartment, etc) is presentable will go a long way in making a positive first impression.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tales of a Freshman's Crushing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that freshmen, whether in high school or college, are idiots.

I don’t say this to be unkind, but speaking from personal experience as I look back upon my first year in high school, and later, my first year in college, I cannot help but wonder if I suffered some sort of debilitating brain trauma during August of 2001 and August of 2005. In fact, I maintain that one should get a free pass during both of these years, as one cannot be held accountable for all of the imbecilic things one does and/or believes while one is a freshman, even if one should know better.


I started high school with the naïve belief that life would be like the end of a John Hughes film: yes, I was a little bit quirky and stood firmly on the middle rung of the popularity ladder, but I held on fervently to the hope that there was some guy out there who would look at me and see the pretty and witty girl I thought I was deep down—my own personal Blane McDonnaugh or Jake Ryan.


I thought I’d found him before school had even started. We met at the senior-freshman swim party (because having freshman girls parade around in their bikinis in front of senior boys is always an excellent plan): I was hanging out in the pool with a couple of my girlfriends, and this cute senior boy swam over and stunned us with his suave opening line of “Hey…what are you guys, freshman?”


Sidebar: This query informed another hilarious encounter months later, when my friends and I were trick-or-treating. We rang the doorbell of a house near our school, and another popular senior answered. As he handed us our miniature Snickers bars, he asked, “So…what are you guys?” To which, I replied, “Freshmen.” I’m fairly certain the answer he was looking for was “a princess.”


Later, I realized what a stupid question this was, as the average class size at my school hovered around eighty-five, and by the time you got to your senior year, you’d been in school with most of the class your entire academic life; ergo, if he didn’t know us, then obviously we were freshman. But in that moment, I was simply starstruck that this senior, who was president of Student Council and a football player besides, had chosen to strike up a conversation with me, the only girl at the party in a one-piece.


Sidebar: My mother had made the proclamation that summer that two-pieces were no longer decent on my increasingly curvaceous figure. It was to be an edict that was rescinded and reinforced several times over the coming years.


When school started, I got a thrill every time I would see my Big Man on Campus in the hallway. He walked past my locker every morning and would flirtily trip me when he passed by on the stairs. He called me by my last name, which made me feel older and cool. We chatted on AIM and he occasionally called me at home, and we engaged in brief conversations that left me out of breath, as I usually conducted them while pacing the floor.


Of course, there was drama. Big hinted at asking me to Homecoming, but then didn’t follow through (not that my mom would have let me go with him anyway—I think she was seriously perturbed by the fact that an eighteen year old was expressing interest in her “caboose”). Plus, Big was walking a fine line between cute potential boyfriend and stalker—he once called my mom’s cell phone while we were on a trip because he wanted to talk to me. My first words to him when she handed me the phone were “How in the hell did you get this number?!” It turns out that my mom left it on our answering machine, but it was still a little creepy that he actually used it.

But what really put me on the edge were all of the rumors. Big had allegedly been driving Meg, another freshman, home with some regularity. He confessed to me one night that they had kissed, though he insisted that it “just happened” and he didn’t really like her, which sent me into a journalistic frenzy (“That’s B.S.! How can you kiss someone if you don’t like them?” Oh, poor, innocent, little E…you had so much to learn about the world), though clearly it didn’t affect me too much, as I was still pining after him for weeks afterwards.


Sidebar: Later on in the year, the rumor mill was still churning out juicy gossip—apparently, Big and Meg did a little more than just kiss, something that earned Meg the nickname “Pop Rocks.” At the time, I wasn’t clear on what that actually meant, but I knew enough to know that I couldn’t compete with a girl who used candy as a prop during hook-ups.

My crush on Big gradually subsided as I found other, cuter, senior boys on whom to fixate. My friends and I devised clever codenames for the objects of our obsession, such as “Skittles,” “M&Ms,” “Zippers” and “Buttons.”


Sidebar: I said it once, I’ll say it again: freshmen are idiots.


However, Big was to come back into my life and onto my radar during fall finals. At this point, I had fully embraced the fact that I have not a single athletic bone in my body, and (thankfully) had decided to pursue theater as an extracurricular instead. I had been in a couple of musicals in middle school, and that fall had received rave reviews in the walk-on role of “Friend of Jeannine” in Ordinary People.


Auditions for the winter play, Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take it With You, took place during finals week, and I’ll give you one guess as to who else showed up to read for a part. Big had done a couple of musicals in the past, so it’s possible this wasn’t solely a ploy to torture me, but in the end, I was cast opposite Big as Alice, the fiancée of his character, Tony.


At first, I was over the moon—it wasn’t very often that a freshman was given a lead in a play. Then, I remembered that this meant I was going to have to kiss him.


Not only was I going to have to kiss Big, and kiss him more than once in the coming weeks, but it was going to be my first kiss (a fact in which he relished—at our read through over Christmas break, he sat uncomfortably close to me, eager to get started so that we could “make out.”). First kisses are awkward to begin with, but getting your first kiss from a guy you kind of loathe, in front of about fifteen of your peers and teachers? Über-awkward.


I survived, though my nascent acting skills couldn’t completely obscure the immense lack of chemistry between the two of us. He continued to terrorize me for the rest of the year, but in May, Big graduated and went off to college in Chicago, and I never had to see him again. He does pop back into my life every once in awhile, aided by that great enabler of cyber-stalking, Facebook. The last time we spoke, he was trying to get me to drive up to Waco and visit him. He generously offered to sleep in his king-sized bed alone, so that I could have the couch.


He remains fascinated by inappropriately-aged women to this day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Guest Blog: Why Optimism, con't

When we last left Brie, she was in the middle of her date with Stephen, a guy she met online who had questionable notions regarding adequate housekeeping and very few skills when it came to reading body language.
 ***

My roommate and I have concocted this plan for whenever we go out on dates: if you need out of the date, text 911 and diligent roommate will call with an “emergency” that requires immediate attention. Best. Plan. Ever.


While Stephen was in the bathroom, I grabbed my phone and texted the pre-planned 911, but was nervous because I knew she herself would be on a date as well; I was hoping she had kept her phone nearby. Luckily, as soon as Stephen walked back into the room, with his shirt off (again, not thinking about what went down in that bathroom – pun intended), she called. My savior! I had never been so happy to hear my ringtone in my life.


Nonchalantly, I said, “Oh, it’s my roommate… sorry, hold on.” He disappointingly sat next to me on the mattress and began to rub my shoulders, and I tried not to cringe as I answered the phone as calmly as possible, as if I were surprised by the call: “Hey.” My roommate was cracking-up laughing as she said, “So, my date choked on some popcorn and we need you right away. There is no one around and I can’t save him by myself; hurry, come quick.”

Sidebar (Brie): I had a chat later with her about how to properly convey an emergency situation.


I was trying to turn the volume down on my phone because I knew if Stephen heard her laughing he was not going to believe there was an emergency. I add the appropriate “uh-huhs” and “oh-no’s” and “I’ll be right there’s” and hung up the phone. I turned to see puppy dog eyes looking back at me as I said, “I’m sorry, my roommate needs a ride, she went on this date and I don’t know what happened, but she is stranded at the movie theater. I know he picked her up, so maybe something went wrong and she doesn’t want to be with him anymore. I don’t know any details, but I have to go.”


Sidebar (Brie): This is why you drive your own car.


I grabbed my shoes and my keys as he stammered about hoping I could come back after I helped her. He walked me to my car, and tried the awkward goodbye kiss, but in my “concern for my roommate” I bobbed and weaved and managed to get out of there disease-free, which was a genuine concern of mine towards the end.


The following is the last of our correspondence via text message. And yes, this is word for word as my trusty iPhone has no text message capacity and can save all my messages for a time such as this:


Him. 9:00PM (this was about two minutes after I left) – Hey. I hope you can make it back and I hope your roomie is ok. If you need I can come to your place and be quiet!


Sidebar (Brie): The eagerness is a little creepy. I’m not saying you have to wait three days as the movies and TV shows have convinced society is proper, but give it a little time. Also…what plans did you have that you needed to be quiet for?


Sidebar (E): *Giggles uncontrollably*


Him. 9:28PM – I just shaved. So now my face is as smooth as your wrist.


Sidebar (E): I’m surprised that at this point he didn’t break out some “Song of Solomon”-esque compliments: Your hair is like a flock of Goats moving down the gentle slopes of Gilead…Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing…


About this time, I had arrived home and my roommate was waiting with a bottle of wine and two glasses, as any good roommate would. I walked in the door, threw myself on the couch and recounted the past few hours. When this text message came in, she was literally rolling on the floor laughing at me as I described the awkwardness of the wrist stroking. We discussed possible responses and everything we came up with was too bitchy to actually send, so I did nothing.


Date tip: Silence speaks louder than words.

Him. 11:29PM – Is everything ok?

By this time the bottle of wine was gone and I was certainly not going to engage in “tipsy texting” even if I had no intention of ever seeing him again.


Him. 12:40AM – I hope all is well for you and your roommate. I am heading off to work. Take it easy. I am hoping I did not scare you away or make you mad, you’re a really nice girl and I hope we see each other again soon! Good night!


Him. 4:57AM – Good morning babe!

Sidebar (Brie): WTF? When did any of my signals tell you we had moved on to the nickname stage?

The next morning I had decided I should probably say something; I was feeling a little guilty for just leaving him hanging. The following message went through multiple drafts and editing with the help of my trusty roommate.


Me. 9:52AM – She is fine now, thanks for asking. But I don’t think this is going to work out. It was nice meeting you, but this is as far as it can go.


Him. 1:20PM – What was it that turned you away? I thought you were rather great, I don’t know why you feel the way you do, but an understanding would be nice. I had a wonderful time talking to you!


Him. 6:23PM – Will you tell me what I did?


And that is the last I heard from Stephen. About this time, I realized that I had paid for the redbox, and in my rush out the door I had left it behind. I quickly looked up the policy of unreturned movies and found out that it is a dollar a day for twenty-five days; after that, you get to keep the movie. So, worst case scenario, I would be out $25; he returned it within a couple days and my card was only charged $3. Honestly, I would have been okay with him keeping the movie—the escape was well worth twenty-five bucks.

***

Oh, Stephen. Seemingly so sweet, and yet so unbelievably clueless. I’m curious to see which Guest Blogger’s guy you think is worse: Katie’s Mr. Suave, the slick, smooth-operator who was way too pushy, or Brie’s Stephen, who was way too earnest and in dire need of “Clean House: The Complete Series” on DVD. Let me know in the poll in the sidebar!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guest Blog: Why Optimism Isn't Always Rewarding

Welcome to our third Guest Blogger, and my bestie, Miss Brie! After I started doing guest spots on here, I called Brie and told her that she simply had to write this story—I think it may take the cake for worst date ever. It is, however, quite instructional—she’s included several date tips throughout. Unnecessary side-stories brought to you by me. 

 
***

I graduated from Texas A&M with only one ring, and it was on my right hand instead of my left.

After graduation, I entered the workforce as a teacher—buildings full of women and the occasional man who is usually married and almost always an arrogant ass.


Sidebar (Brie): If you are a male teacher that does not fit these criteria, I apologize. If you do fit these criteria, then stop being an ass.


Since I had made a rule to never mess around with coworkers (ladies and gentleman, you should make the same rule), my chances of meeting Mr. Right were quickly dwindling, as much of my time was spent at work with teenagers, women, and of course, off-limits, arrogant, asses. So, on a whim I joined this website called CatholicMatch.com. (link)  I wanted to at least narrow the online dating world to those who were Catholic and perhaps shared the same morals and values that I did.


Sidebar (E): Funny story. I got on Catholic Match too, for the hell of it. Overall, it’s a good site, but naturally, they want to approve anything you write and any photos you want to post. My written profile passed without a hitch, but they definitely denied one of my pictures because my dress was “too low cut and/or revealing.” Thanks, CM, for making me feel like a dirty whore.

At first, I joined out of curiosity and then it was kinda fun. I spent a few months emailing different guys, then it moved to texting and phone calls, and eventually we would meet up. I dated a few of them ranging from a week to a couple of months, but as soon as I realized I wasn’t into him, I would break it off. No sense wasting my time, or his.


I started emailing one fellow, Stephen, right before Spring Break. And since I was going out of town and would not have computer access, he asked for my number so we could text, a sneaky way of getting my number. All week long we talked—he even sent me “good morning” notes each day.


Date tip: Some girls find that sweet; I, however, find it a little creepy—I had only been talking to him for about ten days. I may be in the minority, but guys, give it a little time before being all cute and “coupley.”

Sidebar (E): This is why Brie and I are best friends—sometimes I think we’re the only girls in the world who get totally skeezed out by this kind of stuff. And yes, I said “skeezed.” We’re making it a thing.

I was scheduled to return to town on a Saturday and he wanted to meet up before he had to leave for work in Huntsville on Sunday morning. At this point, I was still thinking that he seemed like a nice guy, very gentlemanly, funny—so I thought “Okay, why not?” We made plans to stay in with dinner and a movie because I was tired and not really in the mood to “go out.”


We met up at Taco Cabana, which was totally fine—I wanted low key. We had a nice meal, good conversation, and he was still making me laugh. There were times that I thought he was a little socially awkward, but I thought it had to do with the fact that it was our first date and maybe he was just a tad nervous, so no big deal. After dinner, we decided to go and planned to hit up a redbox on the way to his place.


When we walked out, he asked, “Do you just want to ride with me and I’ll bring you back to your car later?”


Date tip: It’s always a good idea to drive yourself, especially in the beginning (and definitely if you met online)…it’s just safer if you don’t know him very well, and you always have an out.

I must tell you about this car. There was a crack running the entire length of the windshield. It was about seven different colors from patch jobs over the past three decades. I could see “stuff” in the backseat that was overflowing into the front. The doors didn’t quite hang even. He jumped on the hood and said, “It’s a piece of crap, but it only cost me $200.”

The thought crossed my mind to leave right then and there, but I honestly felt like I was being judgmental and materialistic, so I said, “I’ll just follow you, but thanks for the offer.” I climbed in my own car and breathed a sigh of relief. We stopped at a redbox and got Inception, which neither of us had seen before.


Date tip: Get a short movie unless you are sure you want to spend the next several hours together.


We headed to “his place” or what I thought was his place, though it turned out to be his brother’s apartment. Stephen did not actually have a place of his own since he was working in Huntsville. That explained all the “stuff” in his car. He toted around all his belongings so he could just stay wherever he wants whenever he’s in Houston. I don’t think I need a sidebar here as you probably know what I was thinking.


Again, the thought crossed my mind to leave, but I repressed the feeling and tried to be optimistic.


Then, I walked into the apartment.


Sights: Empty beer cans, half-unpacked boxes against every wall, “things” on every surface including the floor, with a small path carved through the junk that pretty much went from the front door to the refrigerator and ended at the couch.

Smells: Stale beer and weed.


Sounds: What could have only been the thumping of the neighbors engaged in what sounded like some really great sex.


I was less than impressed.

Sidebar (E): Now why on earth would you be less than thrilled with the romantic scene Stephen presented you with here? I mean, is there anything that drives a woman wilder than the sound of enthusiastic intercourse coupled with eau de Mary-Jane?


He forged ahead and kicked things out of the way to lead me to “his room”. We walked in and all I saw at first was a mattress on the floor. Not a low bed, but a bare mattress with no sheets or blankets or anything. Oh, and there was a TV against the wall hidden somewhere amongst more half-unpacked boxes.


Date tip: Don’t bring a girl back to an unclean apartment. It doesn’t have to be professionally cleaned, but seriously? You are supposed to be trying to somewhat impress her.


Sidebar (E): We promise not to bring our white gloves if you ask us back to your place, but you should at least toss the dirty clothes into your closet, wipe off the counters and wash any dishes in the sink. A Glade plug-in is also a nice touch—just make sure it’s something manly(ish), like Clean Linen, and not Sweet Pea and Lilac. Not that I know a guy who did that or anything…you know who you are.


What floored me the most was that he thought it was totally acceptable to bring a girl to a room with a bare mattress on the floor. I started to think to myself, “Did he think I was that desperate to be with someone that a first impression didn’t even matter?” Again, the thought crossed my mind to leave and to be honest I don’t know why I stayed—maybe the adventurous side of me wanted to see what would happen next.


I told him, in what I hoped was not a condescending tone, that I would need a blanket or something, so he pulled some sheets from the dryer (I assumed they were clean and I don’t want to imagine otherwise), and laid them on the bed. I reluctantly sat down while he got the movie set up. He was still being a nice guy, so as I was sitting there, I was thinking, “Okay, I don’t know his situation or circumstances, but this apartment does not define who he is, so just breathe, don’t touch anything, and you’ll be fine.” He got the movie up and running, turned out the lights, and sat down next to me.


I honestly don’t remember anything in the movie because things started to get really awkward fairly quickly. He tried the whole “yawn, put your arm around the girl” move but since I was leaning against the wall, I had to lean forward to make it work, AKA not very sly.


Sidebar (E): Guys do that outside of back-episodes of “Boy Meets World”?


He took my arm into his lap and began stroking my wrist (I thought this was weird, but it is an important detail for later) Since his arm was against the back of my neck, I really wasn’t comfortable, so I pulled my legs up, wrapped my arms around them (partially to get my arm back from the awkward wrist-stroking) and leaned forward to rest my chin on my knees.


Date tip: Learn to read body language: this is the sign for “do not touch me.”


He didn’t read it that way; he thought I wanted a back massage. Seriously? I am not really a touchy-feely person anyway, add that to the fact that I am already feeling creepy-crawly just being in that apartment…the massage wasn’t a good idea. Still not reading the body language very well, he went in for the kiss. I thought “Hey, if he’s a good kisser, then at least the night won’t be a total waste.”


…He wasn’t.


Sidebar (Brie): I do remember at one point, he asked me how many guys I had kissed and then he said he was hoping he was my first…um, yeah. I believe my reply started with a laugh and ended with, “Definitely not my first.” Good thing it was dark or he might have been offended by the eye-roll that immediately followed.


Sidebar (E): Bahahahahaha. I mean, no, Brie totally doesn’t need extra hands to help her count her list or anything…


At this point, I had decided this would definitely be the last time I saw him and my plan was to get out of there as quickly and painlessly as possible. However, I was still worried about offending him—I’m not a total bitch. But, of course, we rented the second longest movie EVER after The Ten Commandments and I was racking my brain, trying to think of ways to avoid what might happen next. Eventually, he got up to go to the bathroom…he was gone for quite some time. I tried very hard not to think about what was happening in that bathroom. But I took the opportunity presented to me…


***

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this type of situation? Luckily, Brie had a simple, yet efficient, contingency plan for this exact occasion. Find out tomorrow what she did to avoid any more romantic overtures from “Needs a Clue” Stephen.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Expiration Dating: Part III (Johnny's Rebuttal)

I would first like to thank E for giving me the opportunity to share my side of the story. I have to admit that I am addicted to this juicy piece of online literature, and I am honored to contribute.


To understand my point of view, you must first know a few things about me. I am a HUGE flirt, a bit of a flake from time to time, and extremely fickle. The thought of commitment makes me cringe, and given the chance I will run at the first sign of a relationship turning serious. Suffice it to say that when it comes to dating, I prefer to wade around in the shallows, never really diving into the deep end. I never learned to swim in those waters and I am terrified of drowning. Despite these points of interest, I still believe that somewhere past my “bad boy musician” façade, a decent human being still exists.


I’ve never read any of Nicholas Sparks’ Unrealistic Expectations of Love novels, but I imagine that the first time I saw Miss E could be a perfect scene. I was walking into a church function with a female friend of mine (whom I might have had a minor crush on), when a stunning young lady in toga caught my eye. This was a church function, after all, but all I could think was, “….Daaayaamn.” And she was quite the sight to behold: long flowing dirty blond hair, beautiful smile. I quickly ask my friend who might this fair maiden be. She looked at me with disdain and hissed, “You do NOT want to get involved with her!” I’ve never been good at following advice, and I’ve always been a fan of forbidden fruit, so naturally, I wanted to meet her.


Sidebar (E): I actually have no recollection of this first meeting. I definitely did not utter a two-syllable "damn"...I guess J didn’t make as big of an impression on me ;) It must have happened though, because I somehow ended up with his number in my phone, which is how the following took place.  

Our first hang out involved driving around College Station in my Jeep, talking about high school, past relationships, how she was such a theatre nerd. I remember thinking, “Wow, this girl is awesome, kinda nerdy, but in a cute way.” We didn’t really hang out after because a certain female friend of mine had a bit of bad blood with E. Something about a boy. Go figure.


Sidebar (b/c E really loves to use them): They later rekindled their friendship over the mutual disgust they had for me, and are to this day close friends.


Sidebar (E): There really is nothing like the shared experience of dating J to bring two girls together.


Flash-forward about a year and a half: After months of flirting via text message since her return from Italy, and my previous relationship’s fiery end, we were both back in College Station and single. We started frequenting our favorite pub a few times a week with our close group of friends and yes, one magical night, when the stars aligned and the alcohol was flowing, E kissed me. My first thought was, “This. is. AWESOME!” followed quickly by, “My ex is going to be PISSED!!” which, honestly, made our first MOS especially enjoyable.


So E and I started dating, or whatever it was, and we agreed to keep things casual. And things were very casual. We would go out, we would make out. Rinse, repeat. Kinda to be expected from a relationship that was supposed to be under wraps (it totally wasn’t).


Sidebar (E): Yes, it’s true that pretty much everyone knew. Except this one friend of ours, who ended up accompanying the two of us unknowingly on a movie date (he overheard we were going, and really wanted to see the movie too)—he figured it out about halfway through Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.


After a couple months of some amazing MOSs and nothing of real substance, I could tell that she was getting a bit irritated with me avoiding the “G” word.


Sidebar (J): Girls, we know when you’re upset about something, even though we might not show that we know. Most of the time we’re just avoiding actually talking about a problem in hope that you’ll eventually just give up and get over it. Sorry.


I began to think to myself, “Why not?” I mean, E was (still is) a great catch. Beautiful, witty, extremely intelligent, and she always had me on my toes. She’s fun to argue with, a trait I admire in a woman. I could see myself dropping a “G” word in the near future.


Soon after I began to play around with the idea of commitment, I made the extremely tough decision to move home the following semester. Now, do I try the long distance thing, or cut the ties before someone really gets hurt? I struggled with this decision for some time, bringing it to some of my female friends, over long lunches. I was on the fence.


And then: Halloween.


Oh, the party to end all parties. Our household had never seen such debauchery, and it will never (and should never) again. The Jell-O shots were gut-wrenching, but the kegs were nice. E decided to wear her (Catholic) high school uniform, complete with matching pigtails. I decided to be the Todd from Scrubs. By this point, everyone pretty much knew we were an unofficial item, so when I saw her CLEARLY flirting with Indiana Jones, I admittedly was a little jealous. In my slightly inebriated state, I decided that it was time to drop the G-bomb. After all, I couldn’t have Prof. Jones raiding my lost ark.

Sidebar (E): WOW.

I went into life-of-the-party mode and immediately wanted to do something stupid, like climb a tree to jump on our roof. You should have seen E run after me screaming bloody murder, “YOU’RE GONNA HURT YOURSELF!!!” Haha. The sight of her running through our screen door could have been a scene from an American Pie movie.


Sidebar (E): Sadly, this was not the last time this scene was to be reenacted. For some reason, J turns into freaking Edmund Hillary whenever he drinks. True story.


Luckily (or unluckily, depending) for me, our good friend was in the bushes… for some reason…and tackled me as I was scaling the fence. He has a habit of trying to beat me up when we drink. He never wins (seriously, bro, what is up with that?).

Sidebar (E): Johnny turns into Edmund Hillary, Sean turns into Mike Tyson. No, seriously, I’ve seen him bite a guy before.


So as the party winds down, we did find ourselves in my room. I did drunkenly drop the G-bomb. I was probably sporting a really smug grin. And all was right with the universe.


…but oh yeah, I’m moving in 6 weeks. Do I really want this?


I go into panic mode. Finding myself in a no-win situation, I turn to my friends for advice. I’m back on the fence about this whole thing. A few days later I had a long lunch with a female friend, and yes, I mistakenly double-booked myself. Totally my fault.


E seemed okay with it at first, but when she came over to my house later that day only to explode in a barrage of bottled-up frustration, estrogen and anger, I was quickly kicked off the fence. I wanted to spend my last six weeks in CS spending as much time as possible with my close friends and I didn’t want to feel guilty about it, especially if she was that upset. I searched what little conscience I have and decided to do the right thing.


Did I feel guilty? Of course. Was I to blame? Probably. Maybe I should have read a few of those Nick Sparks novels after all (and lain off the drunk texting).

In defense of my NEXT relationship: it was TWO months later, she grew up fifteen minutes from my parents’ house and was home every other weekend, and our families sort of knew each other. And yes, we were very much crazy about each other. It was a completely different situation.


Moral of the story, kiddos: Expiration Dating is never a good idea. Someone always ends up more emotionally invested and gets hurt. But it is fun while it lasts!!

Yours truly,
Johnny Brandolf