Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Got Ghosted and Then I Got Mono

The title of this blog post is misleading. I was technically infected with the Mononucleosis virus before I got ghosted, but its six-week incubation period caused my symptoms to remain dormant until long after the carrier ignored my last text. So it goes.

2014 was a pretty shitty year for me. I let the lack of a text message define my self-worth and then I let that happen again. And admittedly, the second time was far more spiritually debilitating than the first. I felt stuck in a dead-end job folding offensive graphic tees while avoiding human contact. I stopped eating for a while because my stomach was a knot of jumbled nerves. I hardly read.


Toward the end of the year, the giant pile of dog shit my face felt permanently shoved into finally began to dissipate. (This is my laziest blog post, that was my laziest metaphor.) I go on to land my dream job, go on vacation, have a stranger say she likes my blog.

Then on January 1, 2015, moments after midnight, I meet a real life guy at a real life party. I ask if he is the party police, because I am drunk and he is leaning against a wall. He is not the party police, so I ask, "Are you dating that girl you're with or what?" He responds, "No, she's just a friend. She is also on drugs." Three hours later, I announce that I am leaving. He asks for my number. I tell him not to bother if he has no plans to follow through.

He texts me that same night, says I am the coolest person he's met in 2015. This is funny, because it is 5AM on January 1st. I laugh, apologize for the weird things I said to him throughout the night. The truth is he is weirder. I like weird guys. I have deplorable taste in men. I reenact the following Vine in my shower later that morning.



He comes to karaoke a few days later. He records me singing Destiny's Child with a friend and Billy Joel with strangers. I think this is cute, that this will maybe contribute to an anniversary gift consisting of an amalgamation of video footage taken at the start of our relationship. He runs a video department at a Millenial click-bait site that employs terrible writers, so it isn't too far out of the realm of possibility. I shut these thoughts down as soon as they register, because they are Gone-Girl-meets-CW-level crazy and I am starting to entertain the dangerous possibility of Maybe.

He adds me on Facebook at the bar. I hide my latest blog post from him, it makes me sound unhinged, I am.

We make plans to hang out again the following Friday. I am off work at 11; I use my lunch break to paint my face. 11 comes and goes without a text. I sit in bed, I do not wash my face. This is either hope or desperation, it depends on who you ask. His response comes at 1AM -- he is sorry, he fell asleep around 8:30, says it's weird, that he never falls asleep that early. I push to meet up anyway, because he leaves for Los Angeles the next day and I depleted an entire ozone layer with the half can of Aqua Net I sprayed in my hair.

I take a cab to Brooklyn because my savings account is no longer empty. Things go well, things with this real life guy who actually texts and flirts with his hands. He likes my dress, I've never met a guy who doesn't. He takes me to Barcade where I lose spectacularly at Donkey Kong and again at MS PACMAN because I am not a nerd. This pisses me off because I am a sore loser. He takes video of me losing. Video montage, and I am crazy again.

He kisses me and we leave. He kisses me some more outside and it's fire. He pays for an Uber for me home. He texts me when I forget, to make sure I am home safe. He says he likes me, likes making out with me, wishes we'd made out more. The next day he's in the airport, texts me about a sign of Puerto Rico. I never shut up about Puerto Rico.

Then he's on the airplane. He sends me a photo of the airline magazine, because Dave Grohl is on its cover. This has implications. It says: I listened to something you said last night. This thing I saw made me think of you, and I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you.

Days later, after I know he's landed back in New York, I ask him about his trip. He says he is tired, but he wants to see me soon. He makes no effort to hang out that weekend, and I am about to start a small fire inside a car. Then I remember we are not in a relationship, I put the matches away, I am so breezy. A week later I try to make plans, he tells me he just got sick, but let's do it. So we do.

I drag him to two bars. At the first bar, he talks about former American Idol co-host, Brian Dunkleman, wonders aloud what that guy is up to. Brian Dunkleman is someone I think about every now and then, so I answer: He wanted to pursue stand-up comedy. Leaving Idol remains the biggest regret of his life. Dunkleman resents Ryan Seacrest, but don't we all? I take this as a sign, this weirdest of subjects that we have in common. That I can answer a question normal people would never think to ask.

The second bar is our shared favorite and I am glad about it, because it sucks now. Garbage people overtake a garbage bar, let it burn. He says he doesn't understand why guys would ghost me. He holds my hands across the table. We both have evening plans away from each other and it's fine. He kisses me goodbye because I lie about having a strong immune system. I just want him to kiss me.

Days later, Winter Storm Juno hardly hits. Everyone on Twitter is mean to Bill de Blasio. I watch the following Vine on repeat.



He does not text me this entire time. I relent and text him first, ask him how the storm was. He says, "Lame cause you wernt [sic] around." I realize now he probably meant to type, "Fuck off." Autocorrect is a tricky thing these days. My phone corrects 'believe' to 'BELIEBE.'

Two days after that, I am forward. I ask some version of, "What are you up to tonight? Want to do pickelback shots and make out or something," because I am a lady of class and distinction. He responds, "Yes that sounds awesome but I'm busy tonight." He gives me a reason that I cross-reference with social media in an attempt to verify the information. He does not know I do this, but he is telling the truth.

We settle on the next day, but he is too hungover to hang out or to text me until 8:45PM. I believe this excuse, because he is 29 which is almost dead. I never hear from him again.

I break the wall of silence with a text a week later. It is tinged with desperation; I am embarrassed when he does not respond but I am not surprised. I send a final text the following day because he needs to know he's an asshole who needlessly led me on. It's made worse because he knows that men have disappeared on me before. I maintain that I let him off easy. I wish I had spoiled Game of Thrones for him, but I am only on season two.

For the next week, I am that scene in Gilmore Girls where Rory is drunk off the gasoline they put in the Founder's Day punch. She is vulnerable and miserable because rich-boy Logan couldn't pause his rich-boy monocle-shining for one single second to call her. She is lying on the bathroom floor, crying and desperate, saying, "Why doesn't he like me? Why doesn't he call me? What did I do?" And Lorelai strokes her hair, tells her it's alright, knows that it isn't. Because Rory is this smart, beautiful, witty girl who has every single thing going for her and yet she lets her self-worth be defined by this one stupid guy who doesn't call her. I think about my mother.

But I get over it, I move on quicker than before, I am hardened, I wasn't in love, have never been in love, may never be in love. My friend tells me he was a muppet-faced motherfucker, that I look like Marina and the Diamonds, that I was dating down. I do not believe her, but I appreciate the attempt to make me feel worthy, to put a bandaid over the bullet hole.

Weeks later, I am sick. I have the flu, but work piles on so I can't rest. The flu doesn't let up, I fall asleep while I write. I am newly insured so I go to a clinic. I get steroids, they take blood, I have mono.

There is no happy ending here, no moral of the story. Sometimes life gives you lemons and sometimes life pours lemon juice and acid into your open wounds and doesn't let up until you beg for death. Then it doesn't let you die. The acid burns brighter. This is what I have learned.

I am, effectively, over it: Over the mono, over the boy. We talked for about a month, I wasn't worth a "No thanks," he wasn't worth a 30 dollar cab ride. So it goes.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Five Archetypes of Trash: Oh, The Men You'll Date

I have finally come to realize something: I am really good at dating, it is the guys I go out with who are not. I know what you're thinking: Ali, you are single as fuck. What are you even talking about? Well, asshole, I may not be able to keep a guy interested for longer than 12 hours, but that's his problem, not mine. I'm finished blaming myself for everyone else's inability to realize that, much like the black sea devil or chupacabra, I am a total catch: a rare and mythological prize with glistening skin, whose ultimate capture would be worth its weight in bitcoins. Silver may look better on me, but I am golden and I am worthy.

But back to the stagnant pools of standing water -- often sequestered by mosquitos and backswimmers -- that I have somehow locked lips with (or not) over the past 18 months. (Yes, I will continue to analogize men as undesirable slop.)

I have been out with more than five guys over the previous year and a half, but the majority of them land somewhere among the following five classifications of filth. Therefore, I believe the majority of men fall into one (or more) of these categories.

Here are the five types of guys I've been on dates with. You probably have, too. Mix and match at your leisure.

1) The Overt Racist


I agreed to go out with this one jackass because good judgment is not a thing I possess. He showed up to our date -- which took place in a metropolitan city whose streets run rampant with rat droppings, human waste, mutated cockroach carcasses, discarded drug paraphernalia, raw meats, tainted fountain water, asbestos, shards of broken glass, airborne diseases, deadly toxins and more -- wearing flip flops on a cool October afternoon. We were not at the beach; he was not a lifeguard. It was not okay. Truly, it was my fault for not feigning food poisoning upon first sight of his unclipped toenails. But at least he wasn't wearing these, I guess.

We sat down at a "restaurant" that was really just a glorified diner with those laminated menus that have inaccurate pictures of food in case you don't know what french fries look like. He ordered a shot of tequila and a drink. It was 3pm and he was ready to get white-girl wasted. I had work in two hours.

My date was every part the classic white, male comedian he thought he wasn't: loud, grating, pale, annoying, ghost, terrible, garbage, three-year-old sewer water that somehow finds its way inside your shoe. He was that rogue potato chip corner that maneuvers itself into a synchronized knife-formation as it stabs at your gums until they bleed. If anything, I am being too kind.

As soon as he found out I am half-Puerto Rican/half-Ukrainian, he said, "Aren't both of those cultures known for their really beautiful women?" I rolled my eyes so far back into my head I could see brain tissue. He misinterpreted this as amusement and continued, "Puerto Rican girls are really beautiful. Which is why they're all pregnant at sixteen. Heyyyyyyy-oh."

Ways in which I wish I had responded to this: set him on fire, order the most expensive thing on the menu and set that on fire, break his iPhone and then his hands and then his dick.
The way in which I actually handled it: A mortified "...did you really just say that to me?"

But wait -- I am a glutton for punishment so, naturally, there's more. We somehow got on the topic of Neopets, because every man who exists within this godforsaken realm is forever pre-pubescent. I mentioned something about being banned from the site when I was 12 for scamming people out of their neopoints, to which he promptly dropped the n-word, as though that's a casual, acceptable thing to sneak into conversation.

Ways in which I wish I had dealt with this: a swift kick in the dick, eighty times, followed by a public smear campaign against his character.
Actual way in which I dealt with this: A look of incredulity and disgust followed by, "...you do realize you're white, right?"

He responded to my arched brows and dropped jaw with, "Oh, I'm a comedian, it's okay. Words don't have power unless you give them power. I'm not racist." This isn't Harry Potter, we aren't summoning Voldemort. I told him I had to leave. He texted me the next day, believing our date had gone well.

2) The Subtle Racist

Half the time I can pass for white, half the time I cannot. I consider myself ethnically ambiguous looking, because I have been called a 'stupid [insert ethnicity here] bitch' on the subway many times, but I have also been told to 'prove' my heritage to people who think I am whiter than Taylor Swift dancing at a Macklemore concert.

when you identify so strongly with a stereotype
On first dates, I always bring up my background. Guys are either grossly into the fact that I'm half Latina/Hispanic/whatever-phrase-offends-you-least or they're seemingly indifferent -- which typically leads to a revelatory racist comment somewhere down the line. Neither outcome is appealing. I've only met three guys so far who have reacted normally -- two of which were men of color, because no shit.

One guy -- who I regretfully went out with way too many times -- referred to me as Shakira on our first date. It makes sense, because Puerto Rico is actually Colombia, I just forgot about their interchangeability. I let that one go because Shakira is hot and I am an idiot. Over the next few weeks he let his racist flag fly sky-high, which ultimately culminated in the declaration that minorities are lazy people who get everything handed to them from the government. This makes so much sense coming from someone born into an upper-middle-class, white suburban family who got his job via nepotism. When I reminded him that I was Puerto Rican he said, "Yeah, but you aren't really."

Translation? "You're not dirty, gross and uncivilized like the others. I can touch you. Remember that I am still better than you, though."

This guy looked like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, by the way.

3) The Misogynist

I have found most men to be some truly appealing combination of racist and misogynistic. The smart ones keep their archaic views on women and the kitchen stoves to which they believe we belong chained quiet for the first few dates. But one guy I went out with unknowingly chose honesty over getting laid. It was so refreshing. An hour into our date, he said, "Women intrinsically lose their value once they turn 26, you know?" I was 25 at the time, so it's like he was telling me to hurry up and marry quick, because in a few short months my worth would be equivalent to that of a JC Penny's clearance rack. When he could tell I was pissed he said, "It's society, you know...?"

He texted me One Direction lyrics the next day, but they weren't even the right lyrics. And that's such a simple thing to Google, you know?

4) The Perfect Guy Who Never Calls You Back

The guys I really like always drop off the face of the planet after a few dates. Here's what happens: We go out, we get along famously, he says he wants to see me again, I do some light social media stalking when I get home and start writing up our wedding invitations. Then he disappears. He never responds to my texts; he dies. See this post and then this one, for reference.

It wasn't until I started dating regularly that I came to realize just how cowardly human beings really are. Out of the 10+ guys I've gone out with over the past few months, only one has been upfront with me and told me he wouldn't be in touch with me again. That guy kicked me out of his apartment moments after I gave him head, so, you know, still an undeniable piece of shit but baby steps.

There's something to be said for honesty. Radio-silence makes you feel like shit, like you're not worth the ten seconds it takes to craft a text and hit 'send.' I now make way too many jokes about not being called back, and they're never funny. It just makes things weird and uncomfortable because there's a palpable level of hysteria and defensiveness attached to said jokes. I am not really joking. A guy asked for my number recently, and my immediate response was "Listen, if you're not going to text me that's cool, but don't bother taking my number if you're not going to follow through." Admittedly, I was drunk, but I didn't need to be -- abrasive is my default at this point.

If a guy doesn't text me for a few days, I am ready to torch his house, his life, my life, the MTA, the cat cafe, those weird leashes people put their kids on, the moon, a row of ornately carved armoires, cellos, JFK's baggage claim, whatever.

5) The Next-Level Weirdo

I like weird guys. They are my kryptonite. My mom keeps telling me to settle for a normal guy with a 9-5 job, probably in finance or sandwich making or trolley driving, so I can have the white picket fence and the two kids anddddddddddddddddzzssffffkddasklsks;ssssss;llll;aaaaaaoofap;faaa;;;;;;;;;;;ll oh, sorry, I fell asleep on my keyboard imagining my future with a suit-donning, number-crunching motherfucker who takes his coffee black, no sugar and does not believe in evolution or women's rights. I can't help it. There is something about a guy whose thought process falls somewhere between the brilliant pay off of the Merman scene from 'Cabin in the Woods' and the sad, beautiful, tragic desperation of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' that I am naturally drawn to. It's probably because I'm kind of a weird sack of shit, myself. What's that Robert Fulghum quote frequently misattributed to Dr. Seuss? "We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” Whatever.

But the archetypal Weird Guy is an insanely frustrating one to date. You never have any fucking idea what he's actually thinking, how he really feels about you, if he has feelings, what solar system he's orbiting, if he believes in the sun, the stars, Jupiter. He sends you texts about Taye Diggs' extra fingers and weird alien emojis hours after your date, probably indicative of his true home planet. He's evasive and flighty and can't make solid plans with you. He's exciting and usually hot because why else would you bother, but he's so fucking infuriating that you're never sure if he's worth it.

When you finally give him an ultimatum, he doesn't respond, so you throw your phone at the wall because you already surrendered your sanity, what's another 200 dollars you don't have? You manage to move on and he senses it like a shark entering bloody water, so he texts you. And in that moment, you would like nothing more than to sear the fleshy pads of his fingers off so he can never text another human being again.

I once went to dinner with my friend, Anna, after I'd been stood up by another guy earlier that day. (One Direction's 'Story of My Life' plays faintly in the background.) Our waiter was cute and weird, so I left my number on my receipt. He texted me a few days later, we had the weirdest conversations, I was stupidly intrigued. Topics of conversation included: the jarring, visible transformation of a landscape depending on its abundance or absence of foliage, eukaryotes, plastering walls, the word 'torque,' circular saws, fig trees, the Bronx. We eventually hung out, he was fifty shades of crazy and I was totally into it.

He led me on for weeks after, always refusing to agree to a particular day to hang out again. I finally texted him "If you're not interested just give me a heads up. I promise I won't burn your restaurant down," which he promptly ignored. Fair enough, goodbye. Then, a full week later, he wrote, "I shall."

I finally drunk texted him from a Jesse McCartney show and ended things. Admittedly, there was nothing to end. Now I'm ending this.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cat Cafe? More Like Crap Cafe Where Nothing Happens

If you know anything about me at all, it is that my desire to hang out with animals will always outweigh my want for human companionship. Said desire extends to dogs, cats, rodents, maybe birds. I fail to think of an animal that I do not have a natural and inexplicable affinity toward, except for most reptiles but they don't count because they do not deserve love.

When I first heard about the opening of a cat cafe in New York City, I was like a 12-year-old girl at a One Direction concert. (I was like myself at a One Direction concert.) I soon found out actually experiencing the cat cafe is more like being a normal person at a Phish concert: it is never-ending and anyone obviously deriving joy from it is on a multitude of drugs. I feel it is safe to say that my visit to the cat cafe may be the least amount of fun I have ever had in my entire life. And I say this as someone who once attended a silent rave while listening to a dead iPod.

For those of you unaware of its beginnings, the cat cafe first originated in Taipei fifteen years ago. That means it took fifteen years to build a Hub of Disappointment in New York City that has zero relation to the MTA. If you are unsure of what a cat cafe is, I refuse to elaborate further, because it is the most self-explanatory phrase in the world. Cat Cafe. It is cats + cafe. It is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth, unless you are deathly allergic to cats -- in which case it still manages to be the happiest place on Earth if you are a piece of shit that people want dead.

New York City's cat cafe (called the 'Meow Parlour' because we are now in England) currently has a wait list that extends well into March. You would think it housed something rare and extraordinary, like the entirety of the 27 club (and the half-ghosts of all its future members) resurrected in an underground lair that leads to Atlantis.

Perhaps that is an exaggeration, but I figured that, at the very least, there would be cats and coffee present. Those were my standards.

Because what is the first thing you think when you hear the word 'cafe'? Coffee? Is it coffee? Maybe the word you think of is 'coffee.' Because 'cafe' literally translates to 'coffee' in at least seven million different languages. I don't need to download Rosetta Stone to believe in the veracity of that statement. So I was expecting I would be able to choke down a latte in the presence of cats. In case you do not know where this is heading: there was no coffee. Health violations.

Disclaimer: The day I rushed to the cat cafe, I was mildly hungover, unshowered, and there was a gaping wound in my knee, crusted with blood from being dragged across a sewer grate the day before. I was not in the most understanding mood for meeting with the world's most unfeeling creatures.

There was a torrential downpour that Sunday. The vast majority of New Yorkers are witches, so the cat cafe saw quite a few cancelations from people afraid of melting in the rain. Before entering the cat cafe, my friends and I were required to sign a waiver. I did not read the waiver because it was very long. Maybe there was something in it prohibiting blog posts about how much it sucked. I will find out when I get a cease and desist.


Imagine a room. Imagine cats sleeping. Now, be bored. That is it. That is the cat cafe, I have ruined the illusion, I have saved you nine dollars.

All of the cats were asleep. It was like observing the aforementioned silent rave while sober. Yet people were having fun even without any form of stimulus and I still do not understand why.

And here's the thing: those cats don't owe me shit. They do not owe me comfort or love or acknowledgement. They're rescues for fuck's sake. I am an asshole for writing this post. This is one of those things that is not about me in any capacity. But my god, those cats were so fucking dull. Interacting with them was like trying to feed a glass of milk to a cardboard cutout of Zac Efron.

I am aware that cats sleep for an average of 16 hours a day because I have had so many cats in my lifetime. I know cats are not dogs, and yet I was still vastly underwhelmed.

There was one three-legged cat which is cool if you like broken things.

To be fair, I do think the cafe is doing wonderful things for those cats, truly cares about keeping them healthy and happy and wants to adopt them out to loving homes. That does not change the fact that I would rather struggle through The Bible written entirely in Eteocretan than ever visit it again.

The moral of the story is that I wound up paying nine dollars to be silently rejected by sleeping cats for an hour. This is something that happens to me on a daily basis, but by men and for free. Do not make my mistake. Ride the subway less than four times, instead.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Am Taylor Swift in 'Blank Space'

Two weeks ago I spent an evening that transitioned seamlessly into mid-morning with a boy so unbelievably charming and stunning and smart that part of me doesn't believe he existed at all. If I hadn't woken up with my collarbone covered in bruises the next day, I would have fully subscribed to the notion that we are all merely brains in jars, subsisting in our own bodily fluids in a lab somewhere. That this world is nothing more than a hallucinatory experience we create for ourselves. Only, mine got fucked up somewhere along the way, because if experiences like this one and all the ones before it are the products of my own creation, I must have a supremely low opinion of myself and of what I believe I deserve.

pictured: a collective photo of the men I have gone out with in 2014
Fact or fiction, fantasy or reality, here I am, once more, to bitch about dating, not dating, nearly fucking, feeling too fast and then feeling like shit. All in the span of a week and a half. So it goes.

We met around 2am in a dimly lit bar, whose first Yelp review says: "I would take a date here if I were trying to get laid." The boy in question was too good-looking, too smart, too agreeable. Conversation came easy. We talked about literature and poetry -- two things I save for myself, because words about words don't come as easy for me, I keep it all too close to my heart. But I felt at ease with him; I felt challenged and I wanted to win. He was brilliant and totally alluring, ideal; he seemed honest and sincere. He was a cuter version of Andrew Garfield circa The Social Network and I am a stupid, shallow bitch.

He was the epitome of my very own James Dean daydream, and I am embarrassed that I allowed myself to be so manipulated by a boy with a pretty face and prettier words. He placed a hand on my thigh and said, "I can't help it, Ali, I'm drawn to beauty." And in any other bar, with any other boy, I would have rolled my eyes so far back into my skull that the nerves would have detached, warranting me instantly blind. Instead, I was charmed. This one knew what he was doing. (I know nothing about biology.)

After less than two hours of talking, we walked back to his place, because my need for male validation will always outweigh my natural instinct to survive.

We talked some more about books, he pointed out the four on his bookshelf he was currently reading. I was reading one of them, too. He put on some weird music I wasn't into, because I'd rather listen to that Justin Bieber/Slipknot mashup than early 20th century jazz. He slipped his hand around my waist and pressed his lips against my neck. I will spare you further detail. But I will allow myself this: I have never felt so desired, like the touch of my skin could alight inside someone like that before. I am no archetype of beauty, of goodness, of woman -- but I do believe so many decent things about myself. I am funny, I am loyal, I am smart and I am strong. But I hardly ever feel beautiful, like my aesthetic is worth a second glance, so I deflect and I poke fun at myself and I roll my eyes. This is how I build my walls.

But this boy, the one with the endlessly flourishing vocabulary, who had a way with words like the type of quirky male protagonist that exists solely in a John Green novel -- this one, he knew what to say to get my dress down around my ankles in record time.

When we paused the first time, he pulled me to his chest and we talked. It was disarmingly candid. He traced the lines of my body and I told him about the boys who never called. I made it clear that I'd been hurt, that l'd been pushed heavy into self-doubt, because people didn't even have the decency to fade away anymore. They simply weren't, one day. That there is something about me that turns people into ghosts.

He said it was clear to him the guys who came before him, the ones who disappeared, had some kind of problem that had nothing to do with me. That there was nothing wrong with me: I was gorgeous and funny and interesting and smart. And in that moment I believed it, because he was a beautiful boy and I was naked in his bed. I allowed myself vulnerability, transparency. I was a glass case when I should have been steel. 

He went on to tell me his friends have this tendency of radio-silencing a girl if she is too great. Too pretty, too charming, too much. He said that if these men, these boys, have any inkling of falling in love with her, they disappear. They stay gone. Because they aren’t willing to commit — not even in the form of a final goodbye. That the very possibility of love, even in its infancy, is a risk not worth taking. It was the opposite of every tired romantic trope I have ever read. I didn't believe him; I don't.

He said the guys who radio-silenced me were probably thinking along the same lines. And I won't lie, it’s a comforting thought. This idea that I’m so wonderful, so magnetic, so distracting in my perfectness that the only way to solve a problem like Maria is to end things -- suddenly and, well, without an end.

He told me not to derive my sense of self-worth from the absence of a phone call, and I suppose there's validity in there somewhere. But he was trying to flatter me, to fuck me, and I should have known better. I believe too much in sincerity, in the weight of one's words. It felt like an exorbitant amount of effort just to get his dick wet, so I took him for face value when he said that even if I never wanted him to fuck me, he would still want to see me again; that he actually liked what little of me he'd come to know over the course of those hours.

But maybe the fun for him was in the challenge. I didn't drink anything he handed me, so he drained half my glass of water in one gulp before insisting I finish the rest. He could tell I don't trust easy.

When we'd finished -- once he'd finished -- I stayed. He asked me to read him a poem that I loved. I said that I wouldn't, it was too personal. The reality is I was embarrassed. My hair was a mess of knots because, as Buddy Wakefield says, we are desperate in our fucking. My skin was blotchy and imperfect and I believed he had no business looking at me. So when I declined, he took a book from his bookshelf: "I'll read you something, then," and he read me some Nietzsche bullshit. 

He sat at the window, his face turned toward the light, cast in that mid-morning glow, that post blow-job languor. Shirtless, he took a drag of his cigarette and every inch of him was fucking luminous, unreal. This is the worst young adult novel you have ever read. But it's true: suddenly, my 15 year-old self's wet dream was very much personified, mere inches away from me. When he finished reading he asked me what I thought. It was one of his favorite utterances, "What do you think?" As though he actually gave a flying fuck.

He looked to me expectantly, like I could blow his mind the way I'd just sucked his dick, so I chose honesty: "I don't get it." It was a half-truth, really. I had tuned out. I was too busy watching his hands, the rise and fall of his chest, the tangle of his hair and how much better wild looked on him than it looked on me. 

It all sounds grossly pretentious, and believe me, it was straight out of a scene from the type of freshman year of college experience I'd never had but had always secretly wanted. He asked me to sleep next to him, he needed a nap before work. It was nearing 10am and sleeping next to boys is something I don't do, so I declined. He offered me a magazine for the subway, some coffee before I left. He touched me while I found my clothes around his room, smiled when I showed him my newly-ripped tights. The last thing he said to me was: "Hey, Ali. Stay beautiful." That, I couldn't take. I cackled like a witch (like a bitch). I told him he was a corny motherfucker, and I left.

I sent the first text, two days later, because I have no qualms about texting first. In the past, I have sent the first text, the third text, the what the fuck JUST TEXT ME BACK text. He replied immediately and I read it in his voice. Then the texts stopped coming, they went unanswered. So it goes. Again. And it's not that I fell in love with him over the span of eight hours. It's that I have yet to learn that people refuse honesty. That no matter the anecdotes he supplies me with to assure me that he's different, the simple truth is that he isn't. That I am right not to trust. That we are born with our hearts encased in bone for a reason. 

It's almost like an absentee, passive form of gas-lighting at this point. Those things he said? That I was beautiful and smart and worthy? That he actually wanted to see me again? It was foolish of me to believe him, to believe any of them. None of it ever happened. And it's because this wasn't the first time, or the second or even the third that I have to question myself.

I am that tired old Taylor Swift joke: the common denominator in all of my failures is me.

I am embarrassed that I am writing about it now, without humor. That I cannot remember how to be funny. That I don't know how to end this.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Am Not a Survivor

The only competition I have any chance of winning is one where I am asked to name all the Food Network personalities, because there is nothing else even remotely interesting on television between the hours of 10am and 8pm most weekdays. But that doesn’t stop me from imagining myself as Richard Hatch (minus the incessant propensity for nudity).

Here are five reality television game shows that I would never win and why.

Fear Factor

I was obsessed with Fear Factor when I was younger, because I was a sadistic little shit who reveled in watching people fail. I now recognize that there is no way I would pass the screening process for this show, so kudos to the contestants who did – especially the ones who made it through to the second stunt. This is the part of the show where the contests are typically forced to eat something vile like live Madagascar hissing cockroaches or twelve million year old wooly mammoth balls. Imagine suffering through the pain of drinking twelve pints of warm rat blood and still being one-third of the way away from the $50,000 prize. Once you get past the mental anguish of the second stunt, you are forced to almost die performing the third stunt. You have to be Bruce Willis’ stunt double because the task typically calls for you to do some inane fuckery like jump out of a car that has been filled with carbon monoxide right before you speed off a cliff that plunges into a sea filled with eighty Great Whites that haven’t been fed since the Triassic age. This is made all the more difficult because you are chained up like Houdini and the only key that can free you has been swallowed by Joe Rogan and shat out into a burning pit of lava on the other side of the country. Also, you’ve been drained of one fourth of your blood supply. $50,000 is not going to cover your therapy bills when you win.

Survivor

The best way to win Survivor is to form an alliance with the dumbest players and then stab all of them in the back until you’re the last asshole standing. Your best bet would is to outsmart the biggest threats on the show and then turn the remaining contestants against each other. To do this you must be charming, charismatic and willing to play mind games. Unfortunately, I tend to make poor first impressions because of my unfriendly face, so unless I make it far enough in the game to worm my way into people’s hearts I’m screwed. Plus, things like shaving lotion and chickens become extreme luxuries, and I refuse to be in a situation where I must be willing to eat iguana feces for some off-brand shampoo.

Jeopardy

I am too fucking stupid for this show. It took me years to figure out the article placement. (What is ‘dumbass' …or is it who?) The only time I ever came close to getting more than 30 percent of the answers correct was during the most recent Kids Week, and that was only because Harry Styles was one of the answers. (Note: I got the Final Jeopardy question wrong anyway: “The last entry in Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary is used to represent this annoying sound.” I guessed the same as the eleven year olds on the show: zzz. But the correct answer was “snoring,” so I suppose I am not smarter than a fifth grader.) I would maybe do well on Celebrity Jeopardy because the questions are significantly dumbed down since celebrities cannot read, but I would rather crawl into a hole filled with gasoline and light a match than deal with the public embarrassment that would come with appearing on this show. Jeopardy is a more painful version of Trivial Pursuit: the moops, motherfucker, I don’t know shit.

The Hunger Games

This isn’t a game show or even reality, but the movie was on TBS a few days ago so I am counting it as television. According to the only fact I remember from my eighth grade science class, the strongest drive in the human body is its will to live. You may think my body and brain would work together to survive this fight to the death as long as possible, but I know better than to trust my eighth grade science teacher. When I think about everything surviving the Hunger Games would entail (killing other people, skinning squirrels, being surrounded by nature), I realize I would rather walk straight into the Cornucopia and get stabbed in the face with a hunting knife as soon as the Games begin than suffer all that effort and torment. My will to live is no match for my spinelessness and fear.

The Amazing Race

I’ve never actually seen a full episode of The Amazing Race because the premise is too stimulating for my senses. The idea of ‘racing,’ or ‘running,’ or even moving at a speed faster than a glacial pace is unappealing and disgusting to me. On top of the physical exertion is the mental exhaustion from having to figure out where the fuck you’re supposed to go next. One of my favorite lies to tell people is that I work well under pressure. What is more true is that I have conditioned myself to begin projects hours before they are due, instead of days or weeks. I am an idiot procrastinator who does not know how to properly manage her time. The one time I spent two days working on a paper in college (as opposed to two hours) I got an A+. So, yes, pressure causes me to get things done – because the only other option I have is to fail and I would rather be mauled to death by a dog with butter knives for teeth – but my work is mediocre at best. Add in the complications of unfamiliar territory, a language barrier and public humiliation? I would rather stay home and pluck my bikini line, hair by hair.

Originally written for Greasy Mag.