29 Problems and He’s All of Them

Beer in-hand, I wonder how and why I ended up sitting on my couch, partially drunk, talking to a guy I just met about threesomes.

This is it, this is what my life has been reduced to. I take a swig from this porter that he chose for me to drink — likely due to it’s 9.0 alcohol percentage, and likely because he wanted to hear me tipsy-talk my way through my sexcapades on a Monday night.

Funny to think about how I was overwhelmingly terrified going into this date, as I’ve yet to meet any guy I’ve talked to on Tinder — for obvious reasons. But, what the hell. I accept who I’ve become and agree to meet this guy whose only sentence on his profile is “I do a really great Linda Belcher impression”.

I assumed that when I told this 29-year-old man to pick me up at 8, it would show him that I could be dominant and sexy. And when he picked me up in his super-new, super-fly, super-clean Ford, I was impressed. Thank God, a man who has his shit together. Driving around town, we search and prematurely fail at finding an open bar on a Monday.

While the SOP for first dates is to do exactly the opposite of everything that’s now taken place, it feels quite rebellious. I’m living my life on the edge, YOLO’ing with this Tinder Toddler.

Because clearly, after the third closed bar we went to, I suggested we grab some beers and go back to my apartment — making it clear, though, that I wasn’t headed in that d”erection”. We stop by a liquor store and I, trying to have fun with the inevitably peculiar situation we now found ourselves in, offer to choose three beers for him to drink, and him to choose three for me. Again, living life on the edge. I should be on Fear Factor or something.

The fact that all I ate today was a wrap makes this all the more entertaining for him, considering each beer he chose had nothing to do with taste and more to do with its alcohol percentage. It’s fine, dude, I’ll just use the bathroom every two minutes and question if my eyes are glazing over every time I look in your general direction… don’t make eye contact or he’ll know. Oh wait, I’m talking about squirting, so I can speculate that he’s speculating my sobriety.

I’m feeling comfortable around him — or maybe it’s the lack of food and alcohol combo — until he drops a huge, morbidly obese bomb.

This 29-year-old, who is supposed to have has his shit together, doesn’t own the car he picked me up in. It was rented for this date. A fucking rental car. I was driven around under false pretenses, while I gabbed about how I used to own a BMW to ensure that he knows I have previously owned world-class cars compared to what I drive now. My 2002 Toyota Camry feels like a Lambo now.

As if the last guy I dated (who happened to be one of the four virgins left in Tallahassee) wasn’t enough, this guy doesn’t have a car. I immediately cringe as I reminisce on my recent love life endeavors and gaze into the future of me knitting sweaters while watching ball-shrinking Lifetime movies alone.

Retreating into myself, I laugh it off and assure him that it’s totally fine, and understandable. Even if it isn’t. This is the point where I realize I can treat him how I would treat any of my friends: talk about sex. It’s enjoyable, at least. He tries to act irresistible and charming, but instead I imagine him walking around, hobo-like and confused, and me picking him up in my car for a date.

I cut off the conversation when he starts asking “what are you into?” I send him on his way and anticipate no texts from him, and that’s fine.

He did do a pretty great Linda Belcher impression, though.

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A Make Out Mission and Moe’s

If I could count all the unexpectedly bad dates I’ve been on, pretty sure the human race would go extinct.

Let me rewind.

After my boyfriend and I broke up in October, I have had no fraction of any urge to hop back into a relationship, much less date. Perfectly content being single, and that isn’t denial. My life consists of bad hair days and chicken nuggets and I’m not complaining. I don’t have to shave my legs, worry about the consistency of my physique or deal with arguments and jealousy. I can drown in my pool of equal parts drool and tears while rewatching One Direction’s “Night Changes” video without judgment.

Life is great without intermingling boy problems in my newly established life of independence and peace.

However… a face to make out with would be lovely. No emotional baggage or attachment; no sex, no date, nothing else. I want the temporary euphoria during a make out session with a stranger. Sounds premature, but I’m 22. I’m an adult, damnit, and I want to make out with someone without the repercussions of sex or any type of relationship.

A woman on a mission to find a face with make out potential, I decide to attack the bar scene in this questionably STD-ridden college town.

My first stop is a classier Irish-themed pub near downtown. Looking around, my options are limited to balding men with decreasing levels of testosterone or incredibly hot mid-20-somethings with girlfriends or girls on the verge of being girlfriends. I quickly down a Guinness and conclude that it’s time to get the fuck out.

The second bar is more of a dancing scene which, in retrospect, seems reasonable considering what I’m seeking. Wrong. The live band seems to be convinced that playing “Wonderwall” will get people shakin’ it on the floor amidst the asthma-inducing smoke machines and crazy lights that are so overdone I feel like I’m in a remake of Night at the Roxbury — wait, they’re leaving and a DJ is coming on. Praise Jesus! First song he plays: “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Second song: “Don’t Stop Believing”…

Losing hope and sexual energy, I get on the dance floor, slowly becoming encompassed by women in their 40s. Fine with me, their attempts at being sexy are making me look like goddamn Beyonce. But it’s also deterring the only two solid-looking guys in the joint. They leave. Fuck. Two shots of tequila, let’s go.

Five minutes away leads me into Bull’s (Bullwinkle’s), the most college-level bar in town where it’s strictly 21+, so I know I can’t make out with anyone totally younger than me. First thing I do is order a shot and a Vodka Sprite, then proceed to run to the bathroom to make sure I’m not looking like Rosie O’Donnell. I must be buzzed, because I actually am looking like Beyonce right now. I head up the stairs, feeling like a million bucks. And that’s when I see my ex boyfriend at the bar, staring directly at me.

Side note: You should know that we attempted being friends after I broke up with him, but he ceased communication because it was too hard for him and he needed to get over me. So this is about a month later.

Unsure as of what I should do, I smile awkwardly and do a casual, almost aloof wave at him.

What I get in return is a nod in my general direction, then a glance-away. Rude. I shrug it off with another shot and wobble over to my friend, who is surrounded by guys. Not the best looking, but decent enough for my alcohol-assortment goggles. One of these will be the guy I will make out with, I know it! My standards and inhibitions are lowered to the point of no return.

I start a less-than-classy conversation with a guy who tells me he’s in porn, as a joke (I’m still not 100% sure), and I play along by saying I am, too, and how we have so much in common already and we’re meant to be. Because he knows I’m joking, this doesn’t scare him and I can tell he’s game. Things start getting blurry. I need to survey the other options in the building. So I move along for the time being.

At this point, I see my ex and I’m drunk enough to confront him about how he’s being immature and he could at least say “hi” like a functioning adult. But then he vanishes back into the crowd. Another shot, can’t remember what. Then some guy (I don’t remember him being attractive even through my drunk lens) bought me some shitty Apple Pie shot. I went back upstairs and start speaking to this heavier guy about video games, and how fucking awesome I am in general. I don’t remember anything else after this.

My head is throbbing the next morning. Did I at least accomplish my make out mission?

The day turns into me trying not to throw up and Netflix binging. Around 4 p.m., I get a text from a contact listed in my phone as “Hot Bulls Dude”:

Hey it’s Matt I’m on my way

Huh? I text back:

I’m sorry, think you have the wrong number!

Ding:

You told me to get you around 5 today cause we’re going on a date

Me…

No? I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.

Hot Bulls Dude:

This is Lauren right

Is he a stalker? Is he going to kill me? Am I in Taken 3?

Yes.

Hot Bulls Dude:

Then we’re going on a date you gave me your address already at bulls lol

While he may kill me, my stance is, why not? If anything, it’ll make for an interesting story. I don’t know what the fuck is happening, so I agree to go on said date.

He shows up at my door and my contact name serves me correct. He’s hot and my jaw is on the floor. How did this even happen? Am I actually Beyonce to where I’m on this guy’s level, physically? I am wearing a V neck shirt and jeans. I am not prepared for this. God damnit.

But alas, we see Interstellar and then he takes me to eat at fucking Moe’s. Fucking Moe’s. A burrito joint? Really? Does he want me to smell like a foot and hold in the inevitable gas that will result from eating here? Whatever. I get a burrito bowl even though I want an actual burrito, because there’s no way I’m going to look sexy while stifling a burrito in my face.

After much debriefing, Hot Bulls Dude tells me how I seemed completely sober and he tried to kiss me, but I told him I wouldn’t kiss him until he took me on a date. So I put my number in his phone and wrote my address on a bar napkin. A bar napkin? Really? That’s Strike One, why would a guy follow through on a date with a bitch who writes her address on a napkin? Where did I get a pen from? Why didn’t I put it in his fucking phone? And why did I ask for a date when he was willing to make out with me minus the intellectually unstimulating date situation?

Wanting to punch myself in the hungover face, I pretend as if that’s not how we met and just think about making out with him instead. Suffering from burrito breath, I pop a stick of gum in my mouth and listen to him and talk about my overall interests. Finally tuning in to his incessant droning, it slaps me in the face like a fat person’s triple chin: He’s fucking stupid.

I discuss my love for travel and my plans for next year, visiting England, Germany and France. I ask him his top places he’s visited and he states, simply, “Washington and California.”

“Washington D.C. or the state?” I inquire.

“Those are the same place. Where the President lives,” He nonchalantly states.

I blink at him, waiting for the punchline of this unamusing joke. He stares back. I realized he wasn’t joking.

And that’s the story of how I got up and walked out of a burrito restaurant on a date and aborted my make out mission.

Swiping Left on My Insecurities

Let me start by mentioning how much I despise online dating.

I despise online dating.

It’s the modern day equivalent to walking into traffic to get hit by a garbage truck: you saw it coming, you anticipated it hitting you, but you blame the truck for not stopping.

So I joined Tinder as a joke, which we all know is code for “I am not joking. In fact I’m looking for the man I’m going to marry” or “I need a confidence boost.” Okay, fair enough, though I doubt I’ll find either one in this dating app I’d like to refer to as my own personal hell.

Photo from crazierlife.com

Setting up my account was simple — my Facebook pictures were automatically added to my soon-to-be masterpiece of a profile. My default picture includes myself and two of my girl friends. It’s brilliant: my unsuspecting victims swiping through will have to guess which one is me. It’s like a game: which girl will you be hitting on today?

Then, the tough part came (pun intended). “About me.” Shit. Okay, think of something that will turn guys on:

“I take balls to the face on Tuesdays.” No, too slutty.
“FSU. Guinness. Call of Duty.” Not slutty enough.

Perfect.

As I’m now a solid 4.3/10 on Tinder, it’s time to find myself an emotionally premature man before my eggs deteriorate.

My swiping starts out picky. Left on everyone. Then, my first coveted right swipe takes place on a guy with the ever-so-cliche line “We won’t say we met on Tinder.” But his picture is of him with a mentally-handicapped girl, so maybe he’ll be a stable father-figure to our four boys, three girls and eight cats.

“IT’S A MATCH!” I’m officially the shit.

“Send message” or “Keep playing”? Wtf, Tinder, this isn’t 2029. I’m not making the first move on this dating phone app. Keep playing.

I come across a man-child who claims he’s 19, but so blatantly looks like an 11-year-old Michael Jackson victim (too soon?). I ask myself if it’s secretly Chris Hansen trying to catch Tinder predators. I swipe right on this pseudo-college student, because I’d definitely tap Chris Hansen if he caught me.

As I’m frolicking through this nightmare of a dating app, I notice that most of the guys on here seem to all have the same types of pictures:

Yes, Anthony, having five pictures of you kissing and hugging the same girl will totally prove to her and everyone else that you’ve moved on.

Dylan, why are you holding up a fish next to your face? If you like the smell that much, I can point you in the direction of the nearest sorority house.

Ahh, yes, the inevitable Frat Point. Clearly pointing at what you aren’t getting later.

After an hour of swiping, my ego inflates into a hot air balloon when I see how many matches I got. Wow, I must be quite the catch!

Wait… why did I match with literally every guy I swiped right on?

…DO THEY SWIPE RIGHT ON EVERYONE?!

As the realization sinks in, my self-esteem level abruptly disintegrates between my fingers. I unwillingly pick up my phone and continue. Almost instantaneously, I get a bunch of messages from these false, spammed matches. “You all lied to me,” I whisper angrily at my phone.

The mingling is short and abysmal, to say the least. The main topic of each conversation consisted of overused penis references and their imaginations that their manhood exceeds basic anatomical logic.

I quickly learned that whatever is in your “About Me” section is what these sex-crazed boys are going to spearhead conversation with. After reading mine, one would assume that they would not initiate contact whatsoever. Little did I know…

Some had fun with it.

Others, well, not so much.


Some tried negotiating my exclusive offer.

Some laughed off the awkwardness.

Well, that joke just hopped on a plane to Asia, because it went right over your head.

Sigh.

My knight in shining armor.

He had the same idea as me, I guess.

After having an existential crisis, this gem redeems the entire male race.

It’s safe to say that 24 hours on Tinder was long enough. I shall now reiterate my hatred towards online dating, only now I have supporting evidence as to why that is.

Back to knitting sweaters and grooming my 19 cats.

Thickening Silence

Loneliness isn’t a feeling, it’s a constant, unforgiving condition. It is not a passing gust of wind or temporary state of being. It’s like your shadow – always right behind you. Even the brightest hour of the sun’s day couldn’t make it disappear.

The condition doesn’t come from being physically isolated from the world and anyone within it, it comes from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or withholding views or speech that others might deem foolish or trivial.

It’s like my body is trying to stay alive while my brain is trying to kill itself. I’m not happy, not sad, but void of feeling – empty, numb.

It seems weak to cry, to divulge my problems to others or to complain. My self-esteem begs me to keep my voice to a dull whisper. I’m selfish and burdensome when I need to exhaust rants, tears or emotions, yet everyone is allowed to do so to me without judgment.

Wearing thin, I stare at my phone with no one to call, text, ask to come over. My problems feel insignificant, my existence seems pointless, my physical and emotional state not to be given a second thought. If I don’t make it to a certain event, no one wonders why, no one worries, no one asks; no one notices, no one cares.

My frequent reaction is to withdraw into myself; it only feels natural. I reject the world I’m forced to live in before it rejects me. I light up some weed and inhale my feelings back in before they scramble out and “make a scene”. Darkness creeps over, and I want to feel freer, more alive. I feel less empty, but not as close to ecstasy as I would have wished.

I look back nostalgically at photos of myself, how bright my eyes glistened, how my mouth extended beyond a blank stare, my face constantly lit up as if there wasn’t enough room in the world for my happiness. Surrounded by people who enjoyed being around me, who wanted to talk to me, who cared about what was going on in my sad, little head. That’s who I miss.

I wander in the darkness in attempts of finding the parts and brightness I’d lost. I wish upon anything that I could find who I used to be. I try to escape from the fluttering thoughts that flood my brain and cause more destruction than anything. But the faster I run away from the screams within, the louder they become.

When I look in the mirror, I see myself under almost as if I am under anesthesia. I am not who I was meant to be. I throw words around without aiming, I’m destroying myself and anything in my path and becoming reckless with my future. I’m searching for an exit, but I’m lost within my own construct of blank space.

Everyone thinks I’m pushing them away, when really all I want is to be saved.

A Roommate Love Affair

With my endeavors into the depth of the roommate abyss, only to emerge with a roommate’s head so far up their own ass I can hardly tell if they exist in the same universe, it’s easily concluded that my frequent conniptions result in a post about it.

Having a terrible roommate can determine whether you come home leaping with joy or locating the nearest bottle of Clorox and chugging its entirety before having to derive any more pain and suffering from the experience.

Most of the time, you aren’t consciously aware of when you decide that you do or don’t enjoy your roommate’s existence. It just happens. Bazinga.

We got along for a few months. But before I knew it, I was cleaning her piled-up dishes with my disappointed tears while she mozied on the couch, sobbing about her on again, off again boyfriend, watching Pretty Little Liars and drinking Strawberitas (the alcoholic beverage of choice for people who try to believe they actually get more than a sugar high from it and genuinely enjoy the taste of self-loathing).

My days typically panned out like so:

Morning: Embrace my inner ninja to make breakfast inaudibly and hastily, so as to not awake the beast within the next room; eyeball the pile of dirty dishes she left in the sink and cups sunbathing on the counter; escape the apartment, leaving behind a trail of tears and regret.

Afternoon: Constantly think about the dirty dishes and general uncleanly living area; debate back and forth on texting her to clean or not; finally texting her to clean, trying to convince myself that I have the upper hand in this relationship; totally backfires.

Late afternoon: Clean the dirty dishes and the general uncleanly living area.

Evening: The beast and the boyfriend have conquered the living room, as per usual; retreat to room; listen to them play-fight; overhear them actual-fight; try to fall asleep; fuck sleep apparently.

After failed face-to-face discussions about our living preference disagreements, it was clear that I needed a different approach: passive-aggressiveness. And the minute you need to be passive-aggressive with a roommate – because settling things like an adult isn’t working – is the minute you need to look for other living arrangements.

Our exchange of passive-aggressive notes on the mirror — written in dry erase marker and hatred — turned into a war that could not be won. My patience was wearing thin and my talking shit about her behind her back to my friends was no longer keeping me sane.

After a heartbreaking goodbye, I evicted my apartment and never looked back. But from time to time, I find myself reminiscing about our fond memories together and love-stricken notes to each other. The time in my life was one I will never forget.

…God damnit.

Overload

When is a relationship over? Is it when you stop caring amidst the spontaneous rollercoaster of passion, then hate, affection, then annoyance? Is it when you break up? Or is it simply when you move on long after the relationship ended?

The wonderings gather within my brain, prompting me to rethink almost everything that led up to this moment. I recall the past few months, weeks, hours, minutes, seconds. Milliseconds. Moments. Memories.

I like his hands. And the way they fit the first time he held mine. I like the way he smiled after the first time we kissed. How easily we fit. How easily I found it to love him even more. How easy it was to want him.

But I have stopped writing. I stopped reading. I stopped running.

The only thing I have written lately are the hovering thoughts in my head of me breaking up with him. All I’ve read is his piercing stares after I state my annoyance with his natural mannerisms, all of which have existed since I met him. The only running I have done is from him, and the awareness of my vulnerability that has been left out in the open.

Everything I used to do for enjoyment has ceased. My state of being has crippled under the pressure to make things “work”.  Work, work. Wasn’t this supposed to be fun? To make us happy? I’m all but close to him, because I intentionally create distance. I feel that this won’t last, so why am I tying a barbed wire to his ankles and dragging him behind me in the dirt? Have I ever been more cruel?

Small moments show me how I’ve lost control of myself, and force me to step back to witness how much I am losing in the process. The blinding gray comes back. A yellow haze becomes a circle around the gray that grows and grows and threatens to destroy everything – myself, and everyone within my emotional vicinity. But none of this makes sense, as much as I try to comprehend.

I take it out on him. And I don’t mean to. He is worthy of the happiest memories and journeys. He deserves all the world’s pleasures and joys, and I’m sorry to have become one of the greatest disappointments in his life. He tries so hard, but I bare no efforts due to my overbearing exhaustion and over-analytical presumptions within every relationship I’ve ever attempted to maintain.

Here we lay, beside each other on his pillowy bed. So close yet so far away. We’re lost within our captivated worlds, separated. My heart hangs on the precipice of falling. It’s painfully loud in my head, except all I hear beyond it is the silence of the fan spinning in recurrent circles to keep my temperature from rising. All I feel is the blankets, with their feeble attempts to convince us that the warm comfort is rooted from the love we said we once shared. All I see is a blur of him on the other side of the world. I’m losing focus abruptly, and trying to get nearer isn’t bringing him back into my vision.

I miss him. But I sit here quietly, letting the distance eat me alive – allowing myself suffer in silence, in my own numbness as it deepens into a vast pit of emptiness. I could be braver for him. I could jump. But I am selfish, indecisive and insecure.I sit wishing he hadn’t wasted his time on me. Wishing he hadn’t invested parts of himself into someone so fleeting.

When the summer ends, the nights grow cold and I’ll find myself alone once again.

An Introvert In Public Relations

I’ve quickly learned that I’m a walking contradiction to everything PR represents.

I presumed it would pose a concern when I realized I was introverted—more so than I was extroverted, anyway. I can certainly meet and exchange with other people without stress or awkward tension on my part, but I also habitually enjoy recuperating alone in my room, reading a book or binge-watching Mad Men on Netflix. Constantly being around people drains my energy. But PR requires frequency in communication with and physical nearness to other human beings.

But my yearning for the challenge of fitting in initially attracted me to the field and began my career pursuit in the PR industry. Maybe I wanted to prove it to myself that I don’t need to be extroverted. Maybe I wanted to prove it to everyone else. Maybe I wanted to convert myself into something I couldn’t be.

Last fall semester, I spent my time as an intern at a small, boutique PR agency here in Tallahassee. The minute I walked in the building, I knew I didn’t fit in.

Each PR girl I interned with (there were no men in the office when I was there) had the stamina of a race horse and dressed herself as if she was attending a Betsy Johnson tea party after work. PR girls are as close to perfect as anyone could be. They have the clearest skin, the shiniest hair, the best style, are the most composed, organized and outgoing. In comparison, I could double as Britney Spears after her meltdown.

I’m a spontaneously-changing chameleon of sorts, I suppose. I’ve learned to adapt to each environment and the people inhabiting the temporal space. It takes perpetual consciousness to be recurrently talkative, perky and aggressive.

Through my hardships and inability to fit the PR mold of a perfect candidate for the field, I accept that being extroverted cannot and will not ever come naturally to me, but that’s why I was originally fascinated by PR and began my challenging venture. I looked up to all the girls who had everything under control, with sophistication and grace all while being the life of the party. They are the ones who keep me pushing further and challenging myself, because even though the extroverted lifestyle is not in my comfort zone, that’s when the adventure begins.

Being an introvert in the PR field makes me value the nervousness and butterflies I receive on a frequent basis. I won’t have a carefree, worriless journey like most PR people do, and I won’t ever be able to fit in exactly. But it only makes me that much more of a stronger and passionate woman, just trying to find her own place in this world.