Trolling A Troll

It’s probably not actually related, but I will remember it for this reason: Donald Trump was elected president of the United States on the day I got my first dick pic. My cellphone chirped in the middle of the night, waking me. (I keep it on because I know no one will call unless it’s an emergency.) I don’t even have to click on the message to see in the preview it’s a dick pic. I didn’t realize how upsetting it could be. I’m not traumatized, no, nothing like that, but I felt oddly somewhat violated. I hadn’t wanted to see that, I’d been woken up, it startled me, and it disgusted me. I’ve been attracted to both men and women, but a random image of a dick has never been an attractive image, yet a lot of men still don’t seem to realize this. I quickly smirked to myself a moment later; “Well, that’s never happened before. That was the first,” I thought. Without even thinking about it I immediately deleted it and tried to fall back asleep. But, I couldn’t fall asleep. Now I was wondering if I shouldn’t have deleted it in case I need to use it as evidence. Then I start wondering if there’s an app that will bring it back. Then I start wondering who sent it. Did it belong to the person who sent it? Why did they send it? Was it a prank? Was someone laughing at the idea of me receiving it? Was it a wrong number? Was it one of the people I’d messaged on a dating site? How did they have my number? Did I give my number to a creep at some point in time? Did someone give my number out? Is my number listed somewhere? Was someone upset with me? Do they know who I am? Did someone think I’d actually want that picture? Unless requested or in some kind of relationship, this seems completely inappropriate. It shouldn’t have gone on for hours, but it did and I didn’t get much sleep.

My first reaction had been to ignore it and hope it went away, but I woke up determined to get some sort of revenge. I Googled the phone number, but could only confirm it wasn’t spam and it belonged to someone with a zip code in my city. I typed it into FaceBook, but didn’t get very far. I looked through my physical address books to confirm it wasn’t someone I knew that I’d lost touch with. When I got to my office I checked the company directory and it didn’t belong to anyone at my job either. I blocked my number and dialed theirs. I’d pretend I was calling to sell them printer toner. I’d start out, “Hello, Mr…I’m sorry, how do you pronounce your name?” and see if they’d fall for telling me their name. It went to voicemail. I’d Google dick pics and I’d send one back. I’d come on to them as a guy. It might have been sent by a straight, homophobic guy who’d lose it over that. But it’s been done too many times. It was just before lunch time and I decided I’d scare them worse than homophobia. I texted, “This is Jason’s mother. Who would send something like that to a seven year old boy?! I just picked him up from school and we’re going straight to the police!” They never responded.

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Wrapping Up The Story Of The New Guy

I spent my business trip rather miserably. Every time I had to reach for a tissue I remembered why I had a cold and felt guilty all over again. “You threw away a potential relationship for a fling!” just repeated in my mind. But part of me didn’t regret it, either. I’d rally back how I was justified in my actions and perhaps my feelings for the new guy would return when I saw him again. Shortly after the week was up, he was asking me to come over and I agreed. I showered and got dressed pretty casually. I didn’t bother to do my makeup; I wasn’t going out and he’d seen me without it before. My doorbell rang. I opened the door and…disappointment. I felt nothing again. I wasn’t excited to see him. I wasn’t really attracted to him. I let him inside and we sat down on my bed, where I typically lounge. I was kind of cold to him at first. “How was the trip?” “Fine.” That sort of thing. I paused and decided to tell him everything. What did I have to lose at that point? My feelings were gone, I had to get it off my chest, and he deserved to know why my interest had suddenly changed. So, I told him everything. And I mean everything, back to when I met my foreign crush, through the details of my evening with him, along with the details about how I honestly felt about my intimate encounter with the new guy on his birthday, into how I felt on my business trip, and concluded with my current feelings. “Wow, you’re smiling and back to normal again. What a difference!” he responded when I’d finished. I hadn’t realized how much lighter I’d felt without holding that all inside.

Strangely, he didn’t take it that bad. Before I told him everything I’d asked him if he had been seeing anyone else. The inexperienced dater that he is, he asked if it was normal to share that sort of thing with someone you’re dating. I assured him it wasn’t at all, but I’d always been far from normal in my dating endeavors. He’d actually gone on a first date with someone from the dating app the night before. That had been why he’d turned down plans with me that evening. I’d kind of hoped he would come out with my friends for a casual birthday gathering they were having at a bar. I had hoped my friends opinions would help mold my own opinion of him. I desperately wanted to feel something for him again, just because it had felt like such a dizzyingly amazing experience I hadn’t had in so long, but forcing my feelings to return just didn’t seem to be possible. When I pushed him for details and found out he’d kissed this girl the night before I felt a flicker of jealousy. I hoped, perhaps I still had some attraction to him? But it turned out simply to be the idea of not being all that special anymore. He started to say he felt a little guilty and wondered if it was wrong to casually date two girls at once. No, no of course it wasn’t, not if you’d only just met them, and hadn’t agreed to be exclusive with either of them. So, then I let my story spill.

When all the cards were on the table, he asked to borrow my phone charger. This was when I remembered I’d put aside a bunch of promotional items from my company to give him. One of which was a portable phone charger. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’d essentially just broken up with him, as I’d let him know I no longer had feelings for him in whatever kind of short-lived relationship this had been, but I saw no reason I shouldn’t give him the goody bag anymore. So, I handed over a tote bag with a portable phone charger, pens, measuring tape, and so on. He thanked me but then looked a little confused. “Is this like a consolation prize?” he asked. Yep, I’d just dumped someone and then given them a gift bag to take home. Smooth. Because that’s how awkward people do it.

We went out two more times after that. As “friends.” We got some food, some drinks, and returned to our separate apartments. Then, at a gradual pace, we spoke less and less frequently. Every day turned into every week and every week turned into “once in a while” and that turned into not always answering every message. His FaceBook page is still connected to mine, while his profile is now nothing more than a ghost reminder of the couple of weeks we had in the past. I haven’t matched with anyone on my dating apps in a few weeks, ‘nor come across any dating site profiles I felt like clicking on. I’ve been considering hitting the bar scene again, but haven’t found the right wing women yet. There’s love and there’s sex and it’s great when you have them both with the same person, but when you don’t have either, sometimes it’s nice to have one if not the other.

3rd Time Meeting The New Guy

I spent most of the new guy’s birthday nervously awaiting seeing him that evening. I’ve always been bad at withholding information or being dishonest, but I also didn’t think someone I was dating would like to hear that I’d slept with someone else just under 24 hours before them on their birthday. It was all so out of character for me. I discussed the situation with a friend over instant messages. Their modified advice -after I insisted on having to say something was: “Tell him that you are interested in him, but that you wanted to have a fling with this guy who you’ll never see again. And then even if he doesn’t want to sleep with you today, I would almost guarantee that it won’t matter and there would still be the chance to see where it goes at another time. He can’t be upset that while you were single you hooked up with a guy from out of town whom you’ve known for far longer than him, and had plans to hang out with even before you knew him. You might have to explain it to him that way. But that’s the only way it is. He may be upset at first, and that’s because he’s jealous, but he should get over it.”

The new guy’s birthday plans with his family ran late. Like, close to midnight arrival at my place late, but since it was his birthday and I was leaving on a business trip, I felt like I should still see him. Waiting for a guy to come to my place late at night for the second night in a row was too weird for me. I was feeling awkward before he even arrived. I let him in my apartment and right away I knew I wasn’t excited about seeing him. This is awful, I thought. I continued to be awkward around him, and I knew I couldn’t say anything to him on his birthday. I gave him the card I’d made him and he seemed to appreciate the effort. I hadn’t had a big enough dinner, so I wasn’t in the best mood. When I mentioned it, he kept offering to go out to get something for me, but I couldn’t let him go out in the rain on his birthday just because I hadn’t eaten enough –and after the previous night I’d just had. Why was he so nice? Was he that into me? I felt worse. Though he put no pressure on me, I still felt like I should help him have a good birthday in whatever ways I could. So, since he wasn’t going back out we ended up sleeping together…sort of…no, we did…but it was just…well, that bad. I don’t entirely blame him, clearly there was a lot on my mind keeping me out of the mood, causing me to be so cold towards him in my awkwardness of the situation I’d created…But his lack of skills played a part as well. It seemed like he just said all the wrong things at the wrong time and suddenly became an incredibly awkward person himself. We stopped what was going on and lay there in the dark. He described worst-case-scenario and asked if it was that bad. It was, but I just couldn’t say it. I played down the level of “bad.” It also couldn’t help that this performance was being held up side-by-side with last night’s, just making it seem that much worse. I felt kind of awful. Did I mention that already? And he had no idea about half of it. We went to sleep.

The next morning I had to run a few errands and pack for my business trip. We said goodbye, nothing special, and I went about my day. I had the beginning symptoms of a cold. I knew why. I also felt sad. “Sad” is such a simple word, yet it really didn’t feel any more complex than that. I had hoped when I saw him my feelings would return, but ever since I’d rekindled my crush on the foreign guy, my feelings for him had vanished. In a breakup you miss the other person. In this, I just missed what I’d felt. I thought I’d go on this business trip and see if I missed him. See if I’d want to give him another shot after the night before. When I returned I’d tell him what happened…

My Foreign Crush Visits…

After my last post, my foreign crush sent me an instant message that evening about how late his flight got in and how awful his hotel was. I teased him that I had offered him my place originally, thinking back to how I felt about him when we’d made these arrangements nine months earlier. He sent me a picture of himself in the tiny hotel room. My mind flashed back to the more intimate pictures we’d exchanged in the past. We made plans to meet at his hotel the next morning, and that went to plan aside from the new guy being on my mind; filling me with awkward guilt, confusion, and discomfort around my foreign crush. We hugged hello when he came down from his room. He hugged me just like when he hugged me when I thought I’d never see him again. He said he hadn’t gotten much sleep in his noisy room. I told him he sounded tired, and he corrected me that he had a cold. Good, that means no bodily fluids will be exchanged, I thought –I can’t be sick for this business trip coming up. I suggested we pick up some cold medicine and as he looked down at the pills he purchased that he hadn’t taken, he told me that he couldn’t swallow them without water. I gave up my bottle of water. He suggested that he pour the water in his mouth, but I shook my head, “I can’t risk catching your cold, just keep it and I’ll get another one later.”

After explaining how to navigate our trains, we headed to a few tourist spots he was interested in. I warmed up to him a little and didn’t feel quite so awkward, after all he was good company and there was a reason I’d had an interest in him when we first met. He asked if I was seeing anyone. I was thrilled to get the truth about that off my chest, “Well, actually I just met someone…” I told him the short version, though having only seen the guy twice and known him a few days, there wasn’t much of a longer version. When he spoke about visiting my country, he’d assured me he would be single and there was no way he was going to be in a relationship by then. I guess no one can really plan anything like that out. He went on to tell me that he’d been in a relationship with someone for four months and that he lived with her. They’d split up for his months-long vacation, but depending on job interviews upon his return there was a possibility of them getting back together. Four months; I did the math in my head.THAT’S why you stopped messaging me and flirting with me!” I happily exclaimed. It was such a relief to know it wasn’t me and it really had been because he’d met someone else after assuring me that wasn’t where he was. He smiled, “I didn’t think it would be appropriate to send nudes while I was with her. I don’t know, I’ve been thinking about going back into boyfriend mode. I might want that.” I nodded, smiling. There wasn’t a chance of us hooking up between us both sort of having someone and his cold –and I hadn’t done anything wrong to cause him to stop talking to me! He said he thought he’d told me about her. He hadn’t. He probably didn’t even think about it. But that was fine because now I was free to have a good time with him and not worry about where it may end up. So, we went to a park, we went to places he wanted to be photographed outside of, we went to places to eat…and then we went to a bar, and another bar…

We had a drink or two or three and it was like everything that had been wired one way in my brain had been undone. Before the drinks he’d arranged to meet up with another friend of his to return their lost cellphone to them. His plan was that we’d go our separate ways after that. He said he wanted to be on his own for this part of the trip. It wasn’t really rude, he did prefer traveling alone, we’d spent a lot of hours together and had only planned on seeing each other this day, anyway, but it’d still made me feel slightly sad and undesirable –That was sober-me. Three-drink-me couldn’t stop dropping hints about how he should come to my apartment that evening. His hotel was awful and my place would be a five-star resort in comparison. He finally gave me a very firm, “Look, you told me that you were really interested in this new guy and you were hoping it went somewhere. I’m not going to let you screw that up.” And just like that the new guy meant nothing to me, the drunk-me, but still me, chimed in, “I met him four days ago! I’ve seen him twice! We haven’t even slept together! We never talked about not seeing other people! I’ll never ever see you again after tonight, you know that!” Then, I rattled off some unsettling thoughts about the new guy I’d been blinded by my original attraction to him to acknowledge earlier. Sure, they weren’t such big flaws, but there were apparently some hesitations I really had held about him and it was possible we weren’t that great of a match. My foreign crush shook his head, “What about my cold, you wouldn’t share that water bottle with me all day!” I shrugged, “Ah, the alcohol will kill the germs,” I replied. “It doesn’t work that way,” he said. I knew that too. I persisted. He had to meet his friend, he said. But, I’d already made up my mind. “Tell him that something came up and you’ll meet him two hours later. Come back to my place and meet him afterwards.” He hesitated, but picked up his phone and sent the message. His friend hadn’t replied. “I have to meet him,” he said. “It’s not like I’m not interested-” he grabbed my hand and put it over his pants, “As you can see, I’m very interested. But my friend didn’t answer and I have to meet him.” I looked around, “Maybe they have a bathroom we could use…” I trailed off. Moments later we were making out. It was like an aggressive, passionate, in-the-moment, have-to-have-you-now kind of kiss. I felt like I was ten years younger, mature adults didn’t still make out in bars like this, did they? And I noticed it was also a much more intimate kiss than I’d ever had with the new guy. “I’m going to meet my friend now,” he said, “But, leave your door unlocked. I don’t know what time I’m going to come over, but I’m going to head back to your place tonight if you still want me there, and I’m going to——” That last part is a lot more sexually explicit than I usually let this blog go, but it ended with “all night long.” We had a deal.

By the time I got home I’d sobered up just enough to over think just about everything. I poured myself a glass of wine trying to feel like I had earlier at the bar. In a few hours it would officially be the new guy’s birthday. My foreign crush would be over my place soon. Would this ruin things with the new guy? Why should it, it wasn’t like we’d discussed being exclusive. Maybe it wouldn’t even go anywhere with him and there was certainly no chance I’d see my foreign crush ever again. I’d waited nine months for this exact night. I’d anticipated it and thought about it on multiple occasions. I’d taken grooming habits he preferred into mind weeks in advance for this night. Was the new guy really my only shot at feeling this way about someone again? Would things turn into something more with him? Would they still if I wasn’t alone tonight? Did I want to be with someone who would react so strongly to my actions after just meeting me? Would he mind that much or did he have other dates lined up? Was it wrong I’d told him we should wait, yet would sleep with someone else before him? Would this change how I felt about him? I could still tell my foreign crush “no.” He sent me a message asking if I was still up and wanted him over, “Yep” I immediately replied. He was getting in a cab and would be over soon.

The night went…very much as expected. Things were…pretty great. We both were. There certainly was chemistry between us in that department. I was unlike myself, even –in a good way. It might have even been better than the first time when I was still in my vacation-mode. That “all night long” promise hadn’t actually been that far off. I looked over at him sleeping the next morning. I liked him. It was such a stupid thing because all I’d done was rehashed my dormant feelings for him. I wasn’t thinking about him anymore. Months ago I had pushed him out of my mind with the idea that he wouldn’t speak to me again. And now I’d slept with him. And I kind of didn’t regret it –I couldn’t. But now I had this crush on him all over again and I’d never see him again. There was probably over a 98% chance I would never, ever see him again, and there was absolutely no point in having feelings for him, but now I’d have to forget that again. And I tried to fall back on the thought, “at least there’s the new guy…” But suddenly, quite suddenly, that didn’t mean anything to me anymore. It was gone. Just like that. I knew it as much as I tried to tell myself it couldn’t have been ruined that quickly, that easily. So I told myself maybe it would be better when I saw him.

My foreign crush took a shower. I was excited that my crush was in *my* shower. It’s that lame. He got dressed and then that was it really. I walked him to my door and he hugged me goodbye and wished me well in life. We said if either of us ever happens to be in the other’s home country again…But it kind of broke off knowing how unlikely that was for both of us. I unlocked my door and then turned around and in a rush of emotion threw my arms around him again, “aww, I’ll miss you!” I exclaimed. He hugged me back and then he left. The moment my door closed I immediately started crying. I don’t know how much of it was because I missed him or how overwhelmed I felt with the idea of seeing the new guy that evening, but I decided not to let him know I’d started crying after he left. I wasn’t going to be emotionally attached annoying baggage for him. I texted the new guy, “Happy Birthday! =) When am I seeing you later?” with tears still streaming down my face.

“What A Difference A Day Makes…”

9/6/16:
My favorite movie touches upon theories of how time flows, and there’s a scene where they describe the start of a relationship as fast. I’ve always been able to relate to that. I meet people and I feel nothing again and again. They’re always nice on paper, no real flaws that I can find, but the connection just isn’t there. I’ll see them for a few times, giving it time. I start to like them sometimes, but it never develops past that. The few times I’ve fallen for someone it was fast. It was a rush of a sudden overwhelming amount of…liking them. I can’t say “love.” I don’t believe one falls in love that fast with someone they hardly know, but when I like someone, when I really like someone, I’m excited and it’s a complete rush. My brain obsesses at the beginning. It’s like an explosion of sudden emotion shortly after meeting them and it’s hard to quit. It fades some overtime, it settles, it might disappear, or just calm down, but the beginning is always a rush, and that’s where I am. Saturday I had nothing. Saturday I was still lonely. Saturday I was debating stringing along some mediocre dates just to have someone. Sunday everything was different. I spent Sunday, Monday, and this morning in a wave of excitement. I went to sleep after midnight and I woke up at 4am filled with anticipation. I’ve been anxious and excited because I can’t get him off my mind and I want to see him again. I’m trying to fight it. I’m telling myself to slow down or I’ll burn off this feeling too quickly. I’ll overdo it and tire too fast. But no matter how much I try to relax, I can’t switch it off.

It’s funny, as lonely as I was at times, and as much as I knew there couldn’t be any real future with someone who lived as far away as my foreign crush, I half hoped I wouldn’t wind up falling for anyone until he visited my city, and now just four days before he’s here, the urge to see him disappeared. What timing. I feel oddly guilty about seeing him. I’ve only half mentioned it to the guy I just met. It’s silly of course. We’re not in anything serious. I don’t know where this will go. I’ve only known him for two days. Two days! But I don’t want to date anyone else right now. I don’t want to keep my options open. I want to see what happens with him. I hope something happens with him where this just works out. I did like my foreign crush, but the bubble popped when I looked at that situation realistically. This cloud of doubt has always been above my crush on him and I knew my crush was more about fun and a temporary attraction. I haven’t felt this crazy about someone in…well, about four years. Since my last real relationship. And it’s scary because this is so new and it might all fall apart so quickly, still. I’m nervous about falling from where I’ve flown to in this now. I’m in my head, dizzy, spinning with so much hope and so many ideas of what could be. My mind’s already raced to the extremes: what if this lasts, what if I never date again after him, what if this continues, and he keeps feeling the same way about me too, how do I feel about his last name, what if we had children, what if we stay happy together for many years, will I get along with his friends, will we have a healthy relationship, we could go here and there together, if I still do that big vacation in a year I’ll miss him if he’s still in the picture, and so on and so on…

I woke up on Monday after meeting him ready to go on a hike with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, but hours passed and my friend didn’t answer my phone calls or my texts. Was my friend flaking out on me at the last minute?! I frowned at the time and although it felt too soon according to the usual “rules” to reach out to the guy I’d just been with ten hours earlier, I really wanted to see him again. Did he want to go on a hike with me instead? I texted him. He had made lunch plans already. I told him that was fine and not to worry about it, but he said my plan sounded much more awesome. “You can’t ditch your friend because I just got ditched, it wouldn’t be right,” I told him, as much as I hoped he would. He suddenly played down the lunch plans and told me to give him a minute. Fifteen minutes later he was headed over to my place and we were in the car headed to our hike. He cancelled plans for me, he liked me, and he couldn’t be upset with me over cancelling the plans because I’d already told him not to. I was excited. We were in the car for over an hour. I had intended to put some music on, but it wasn’t until we were already there that I’d realized we’d already spent the entire ride talking. He looks at me with this interested and curious smile when I say something that he likes. We started the hike. Sweaty and out of breath scrambling up some rocks we realized we’d gone a bit off the path. We looked around for the path and he paused. I knew he was going to kiss me, I anticipate it, and still I try to pretend as if he’d caught me off guard, except there’s this sort of energy in the air each time before he kisses me. Everything slows for a moment. And each time I’m left with the same smile. It’s comfortable with him. We got back on the path and continued on. I stopped to get a pebble out of my shoe, balancing on one foot. He came over to me and held my shoulders to steady me. I flashed back to a couple I’d been envious of on the train a week ago when the girl bent down to tie her shoe and the guy with her had held on to her to keep her from falling. How did I wind up in this position so quickly? We passed some other hikers and noticed something amusing. We made the same joke at the same time. How did everything come so easy with him?

I was exhausted on the car ride home. Drained, but content that he was still with me. I asked him for more details about his ex that he used to live with. I wanted to better understand his past and where he stood now. He told me about their breakup, their fights toward the end, and his theories on her behavior. Suddenly I felt sad picturing their relationship crumble and knowing the feeling all too well. I could already see what it would be like if it ever turned into anything more with us, and the horrible demise we’d one day face. I was quiet for a while. But we weren’t at that point now. I glanced at him and smiled. I invited him up to my place.

In my bedroom I described all the color I’d seen in his eyes and he laughed telling me I was very observant. We talked, listened to music, and I showed him a couple of songs he hadn’t heard after he’d expressed interest in the singer. He correctly guessed the meaning behind the title of one of my playlists. Soon all the songs that I’d been listening to over the last few years sounded like they were about him. Then he kissed me and our clothes started to come off. We paused so he could go to the bathroom, and when he came back I’d had a moment to think. I thought about what I would say. I didn’t want to tell him I liked him, so I decided to play it off as a lesser statement and just tell him that he was cool. “I always do this right away. But you’re cool, and so I was thinking maybe I’ll wait until the next time I see you.” Sure, it sounded silly, I sleep with those I’m not that into right away, but now when I like someone, I choose not to be with them? Only, I didn’t want to ruin what was going on. Maybe my feelings never properly developed for everyone else because it was too rushed. Maybe I’d ruin what had already begun. He told me that was alright and he was enjoying kissing me. I meant to say that I liked kissing him, but somehow, “I like you” came out, so I started talking really quickly, as if all of the new sentences would cover up what I’d said, but I was very aware of a flicker of a smile that had appeared on his face as I said it, moments later washed away with a look of confusion as I rattled on about other things. He liked that I liked him. Maybe he liked me too. Sure, it wasn’t so bad, “I love you” would’ve been a horrible thing to say, yet still on the second day of knowing someone, “I like you” still sounded too forward. But I do, I do like him. He said he hears about how great he is and “let’s wait” a lot. I wondered who said it to him last. I thought about what I’d said and hoped it didn’t sound like too much so early on, I wasn’t usually this sentimental, and I didn’t usually make such a big deal about this; It couldn’t be a big deal because it was a scary thought to acknowledge how I felt so soon. So I told him that he wasn’t that special. He nodded and said he knows. I think he knew what I meant. So, we kissed some more and lay together a little longer before he eventually went home.

We lingered by my front door. I’d be leaving on another business trip this weekend and we both had plans during the week. He said waiting to see me until after my trip sounded too far away. He asked if I was free Friday night –his birthday. Every time I start dating someone I always cross my fingers it isn’t around any holidays, our birthdays included, to avoid that awkward questioning of if you should get them anything so early on and if so –what. When he’d told me his birthday the day before I’d just assumed I wouldn’t see him because his family was visiting him, but now there were all types of pressure about that day. He smirked and I knew what he meant. I told him he should spend time with his family and friends, trying not to butt in as an important person in his life at this point of time, but he assured me his parents would be at their hotel by that hour and he had a picnic planned with his friends the following day (which I wasn’t really available for anyway.) I told him I couldn’t and he sarcastically joked, “Great, another year without birthday sex!” I was getting guilted in, but it wasn’t like I didn’t want to see him anyway. I told him maybe. And once again, as soon as he left, I couldn’t wait to see him again.

I sat at work the next day with a smile and a distant look on my face for most of the day. If I was in high school, I’d have probably been drawing little hearts around his name in my notebook. I thought about his birthday again. I decided I’d make him a card because I had a somewhat artistic side to me he’d already seemed to appreciate when he’d noticed my nail art. I worked on an intricate design for hours and then sketched out what I’d write inside on a post-it note for a while. I had to keep it simple and light, as I wouldn’t have even known him an entire week yet at that point. But I wanted it to say more than your standard “happy birthday.” I thought for a while about how to sign my name. I’d just write it. I couldn’t write the word “love” even though I might to friends. It was just too risky at this point. “From” was just too unfriendly. I couldn’t draw a heart because he might read it as “love.” X’s and O’s seemed too mushy. Maybe I had a sticker at home in my childhood sticker books of a silly face giving a kiss I could put in it…I considered all of this for a while. I’ve decided to see him on Friday, but I know so little about him I haven’t decided if I’ll include anything else in the card. What do I know about him? That he doesn’t like tomatoes and raisons? That he’s learning to play the banjo and sings in a chorus? How do I turn those things into a thoughtful present? Perhaps the card and my presence was enough. I couldn’t really do much or it would seem like too much for someone I’d just met, anyway.

I checked my phone every hour, writing down things I thought about texting him. I couldn’t come on too strong after seeing him for so long two days in a row. This is day three of knowing him. I had to leave a gap for him to miss me. I worried someone else would sweep up some opportunity and it’d be over before it began, but I couldn’t give in. We needed at least 24 hours where I didn’t reach out to him. Maybe I’d allow myself to text him tomorrow. Maybe I wouldn’t. Then my foreign crush sent me a message that he was looking forward to visiting my city. It made me nervous. I’d spent close to nine months anticipating his visit, and all of a sudden the excitement had faded. Would I really see him the day before I met with The New Guy on his birthday? What if we wound up at my place after midnight, would I sleep with him on this guy’s birthday and then jump back to this guy the next evening? It didn’t sound like me at all, I thought, and then I got a text from The Short Guy. He asked if I’d seen his acknowledgment to my drunken text from last week about hooking up with him. So there was that loose end too. I didn’t think twice about cutting ties with that one. I told that I’d just met someone I wanted to see where things went with. He wished me luck and said he still wouldn’t mind seeing me either, though. I kind of laughed to myself. I certainly can’t feel very undesirable at this point in time.

Casual

So little casual goes into acting casual. My foreign crush stopped speaking to me about four months ago. I certainly liked him more than other crushes that come and go, no matter how unreasonable it all may have seemed, but I did my best to keep most of it in my private writing. You’ve only heard about him a handful of times. None of my friends have heard about him in months. I definitely paced my apartment and spoke to myself aloud about him on more than one occasion, but it was all waiting for August. Of course nothing would ever really come of all of this and I should have been upset with him for ignoring me (which of course I spoke to myself about aloud at length and eventually knew why I wasn’t feeling that way, as well as why I felt the way I did about him and the most probable reasons he didn’t feel the same.) -But if there was another opportunity to see him one last time, I’d still enjoy having it. If there wasn’t, I could work on dropping the idea, so I wanted to know what options were on the table. Last we spoke we’d made plans that when he visited the country and came to my city in September we’d spend a day or two together. In order to free up my schedule I was planning on taking the day off work, which requires one month’s notice, hence the need for one last attempt at reaching out in August and no later.

I also had to refrain from messaging him any sooner because if he decided to ignore me, it would look too desperate to make another attempt. So, I waited. Sure, out of the blue I sent a random meme that went ignored 2 months ago, but besides that he had never replied to my last two messages and I knew I couldn’t make another move until August. (Although the last message I’d received from him was an apology for not replying to me lately.) I factored in the time difference, the date of his flight when he might not be available to reply, the date by which I’d need to let my office know my request for time off, that he might not reply to me right away, and that I couldn’t start off with asking him about September. So, on the right date, at the right time, I thought about my message. It couldn’t be long and overwhelming. At first I thought I’d make it flirty. I thought maybe I’d entice him into answering with a compliment, but I still wasn’t sure of the real reason he’d stopped sending me messages. “Hey sexy” if he’d lost interest in me would be too forward. “Hey you” was too intimate and overwhelming for this long of a gap. What if he’d stopped speaking to me because he was worried I’d gotten too attached? “Hey Mr. super-busy” could sound sarcastic or just plain weird. Maybe it was best to ignore that he hadn’t been speaking to me all that time because of “busy-ness.”

He’d made a FaceBook post about seeing whales from his boat which I’d liked the day before I messaged him. This made for great timing. It would seem like I’d forgotten him, I’d seen an interesting post pop up in the newsfeed about him, thought of him again, and therefore was reaching out to catch up. I went with, “Hey, been a while, how’ve you been?” Casual. I was as excited about receiving his reply as I’d been when we’d started talking, even if it had sounded so formal with my name after “hey.” I asked him about the whales. I ended every message with a question to keep him talking. I made a great segue into the topic of travel. On day two of him replying, I finally brought it up as if it hadn’t been the plan the entire time. Had his plans moved around since we last spoke, because I think I could still fit him into my schedule if he was interested. When was his trip again? It’s not like it’s been on my calendar for half a year or anything…And guess who has a final date with her crush in September! …But there was nothing casual behind my sounding casual. What I really want is to find the person I can freely chatter away to without any planning at all. That’s who I really want to be with. Mastering dating isn’t anything anymore. Dating is just a game with strategic tactics, lines, and moves where you play the best version of you. I lost interest in dating long ago. What I want is a relationship where I’m just me amazing, nutty, judgmental, sweet and everything in-between all rolled into one, all the time.

2nd Date With The Short Guy

I’m an idiot. Have you ever done something stupid and just felt like an idiot? I spent my Saturday night like I was nearly a decade younger than I am. I had much too much to drink. It started out like most days before a date. Eventually “I have nothing to wear” became “I guess this will do” until I tried it on and the straps of the dress kept slipping down. I tried safety pins and tying them in a knot, but it just looked silly and not cute or sexy or whatever the heck I was going for anyway. Back to my closet of misfit outfits I do a double take on a dress that I haven’t worn in nearly a decade. Maybe I’ll blame my actions later in the night on the dress. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it and it’s not too short like most of my dresses that shrunk in the wash. Maybe it’s a little faded, but the only thing I ever remember about it is that a guy once guessed my bra size to be an entire size bigger than it is, and I decided that the dress misrepresented me. But now it’s 10 minutes later than it should be before I start doing my makeup to leave in time. I can’t say I don’t look good in it, and while I don’t feel like this date deserves any extra cleavage, I figure at least I’ll be on time.

Only then I step onto the train and I swear everyone’s eyeing my chest, so I send him a text. It’s my second date exactly a month from the first time I met the short guy. “I’m on the train so I should be on time but it’s only because I didn’t spend time changing my clothes and I wore a dress that wasn’t my first choice because it’s a little more low cut than I felt like wearing, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t look at my boobs any more than you would any other stranger passing by.” Before he replied, I followed up that text with, “Yes, I actually just sent you a text that says that lol.” At the next stop twenty minutes go by and the train hasn’t moved. Now I’m late. As I’m about to update my date on this turn of events they announce that a tree has fallen on the tracks and train service has been suspended. This time I call my date to work out a new plan. Eventually, a few different train rides later, I meet him off a different train stop. I don’t really believe in “signs” but I’m wondering if that tree was a message about how the rest of my night’s going to go.

We make it to the bar. It’s the bar I chose, not the bar he chose, all because I had a craving for this amazing artichoke dip they serve. We get a table and it’s at the booth I like. “Hey, maybe despite the tree falling and the rain things are looking up for your night!” he says. I open the menu and flip through but something’s wrong. It’s not the menu that I’ve been ordering from for the last few years. After a waitress explains to me they no longer serve any of my favorite dishes because of a new chef, my date changes his mind, “Or maybe not.” I tell him too many details about Clark Kent too quickly and he gets awkward, but he seems to push through it. I pressure him to tell me about the other dates he’s been on. Of course he’s been on dates, so I don’t even ask if he has been on any others when I ask this. He eventually opens up and we laugh about it. He’s telling me about how rusty he was and how he had some difficulties getting back in the dating game, but he hasn’t been seeing as wide of a variety since he met me. I tell him that this makes me nervous and we both assure each other that neither of us is looking for anything serious with the other. That martini was my first drink. It was a strong one. And without anything I liked on the menu, I definitely didn’t eat enough. One of the first stupid things I did. I’d joked with my date that he owed me a drink for my hassle on the trains and he opted to pay for everything. He hadn’t forgotten that I’d admitted to not being thrilled with him accepting my offer to pay for half on our first date. This time he didn’t let me.

I want to check out the bar he suggested, so we walk over since it’s in the area. It’s loud and not at all what we expected. But we’re there, so we get another drink and decide to people watch, harshly and sloppily making judgments about people we don’t know who can’t hear us. I’ve just gone with a glass of wine this time. It’s slightly pricey, so I’m happy with how fairly they’ve poured it, only I don’t know that I’ll regret the hefty pour later. My date paid for it since we didn’t want to open a tab and I was short on cash. I decided it would be fair for me to get the next round. For the next hour or so, we drank while we people watched people drinking. The drunk girl in the red was the worst. We tried to figure out if she knew the guy who was holding her up or not, but we decided he looked like he was going to take care of her rather than take advantage of her either way. We watched the progression of her drunkenness from her awkward dancing, to inability to stand, and eventually her making the “I’m going to be sick” face. We watched her for so long that when she passed by and accidentally stomped on my open-toed sandal I winced through the pain with this weird feeling that some kind of celebrity had stepped on my foot. Little did I know I’d be joining her in poor drinking decisions in just a couple of hours.

We left that bar because it was too loud. I was certainly drunk by now, but I knew my usual tolerance was about three drinks, so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt. I remember announcing that we should go into the next bar we came across no matter what it was. We headed into a bar I’d been once some years ago. It was empty and we could sit down and hear each other for a change. I opened a tab and covered our drinks. Had it been good wine, my only drink, or on top of a decent meal I would have been happy with the pour, but I don’t think any wine connoisseur would ever agree to a wine glass so full one can’t take a step without spilling some. That was my third drink which might have well have also been my fourth or maybe my fifth without a proper dinner. But we were sitting and I felt fine. Sure, I felt a little drunk, of course, but not that drunk. Even he thought we were just having some pretty regular conversation. That’s the last part I remember vividly, though. The rest of the night gets a little splotchy, but if I only write about the parts I remember instead of the parts I was filled in on, it’s not as interesting. It would almost end up with, “and then I woke up” right here. But that happens a little later.

I am pretty sure I remember a second glass of wine. Only it was that colossal glass of wine because it was somehow even more full than the first and some poured onto my hands as I made my way back to our table. That would be number four, or possibly number five or six if you count the amount of wine in the glass. Now the official fourth glass we’re both sure I had. It’s the fifth that we’re not sure if I had or not, but at this point does it really matter? Apparently I tried to tip 120% and he had to fix the receipt for me. This is where a lot of sentences now start with “apparently” because it’s what I was told happened and just a blank spot in my memory. Later, I was thrilled to find out I’d brought home my credit card. Apparently he called a cab and we took it to my place after I convinced him this was the best plan and refused all others. I remember having that conversation when I still remembered the night, but I must have become more adamant about this plan. Of course, then nothing went to plan. Apparently I fell asleep in the car. Apparently I couldn’t get the keys in my front door. And Apparently I threw up. A lot. For a while. This was probably not the “good time” I’d promised either of us would be having back at my place.

I woke up on top of my blankets, all my clothes on, with randomly sore muscles, some black and blues, and a skinned knee. “Shit,” is the first thing I say. I remember earlier in the night at the bar, I wanted to kiss him. I thought it would be fun to come back to my place after a few drinks. That didn’t happen. I don’t know what happened, I’m usually great at knowing how much I’ve had to drink and when to stop. I turn to him, he’s sleeping on my side of the bed. “How did we get here?” I ask. He starts to fill me in. It’s too early in the morning. I brush my teeth because it’s something I really need to do. Back in my bedroom I nudge him over and climb back into my bed. “You’re on my side,” I tell him while scooting him over. “Well, you lay down on that side after I finished cleaning up after you.” This is when I really start to feel like an idiot. I wasn’t that into this guy. I mean, he’s alright and everything but now he’s done something really nice that I probably wouldn’t have done for him. “Why does my knee hurt and it’s all rug-burned?” I ask him. “You tried to run back to the toilet to throw up again, but you fell on your carpet and skidded pretty hard. I tried to move you to the bathroom but you insisted on throwing up on your carpet, so I cleaned that up too.” “Aren’t you glad we didn’t go back to your place now? I point out. He laughs and agrees even though it was closer to the bar. The morning of recovery goes on and I notice more. He’s refilled my toilet paper, put on my air conditioning, brought me a bottle of water, and so on. He fixed my dress when it slipped too low. I cuddle up to him because I feel bad and grateful. The first night all I could think about was how short he was, but it’s not meaning as much to me anymore. Aside from some long term relationships I’ve been in, I don’t know anyone else who would’ve done this for me without expecting anything in return.

The morning comes and goes, but we’re still in bed. Then the afternoon comes and goes. We talk, watch movies, order food from a diner, and eventually do some things that I’d originally planned on doing the night before. I turn to him, “What did you mean last night about being rusty with dating? Why give a shit about how you’re supposed to date. I don’t do that. This is certainly not how you’re supposed to date. I sent you that text from the train, told you about someone I slept with around 10 minutes into our second date, threw up, and then hung out with you like this the entire next day. I don’t think you always have to date a certain way because I certainly don’t do it.” Around 5pm it seems decided that nearing a 24 hour long date isn’t normal enough and he heads back home. He’s hesitant because how do you say “well 15 hours was great, but 20 hours, that seems like it’s been enough” without it being weird. We text a little the next day. It’s just sort of a check-in/recap. I have to apologize and thank him once more for really going above and beyond in the nice guy department. It sort of almost makes me like him a bit, but not quite enough to develop any strong feelings, just enough to be comfortable with a third date and possibly heading to his place for a change. “Why did you drink so much? So you could tolerate me?” he asks. “No, I don’t think that’s it, I’d still see you sober…That’s as nice as my compliments get,” I tell him. I’ve been tough on him since the start and I’m still not really sure why.