8. fish: pessimism & parking lots.

So here we were, fish had bailed on our “morning after” breakfast which had scooted my foot a little more out of the proverbial door. I’ve wondered since if fish suggested the follow-up more casual (and decidedly sober) park walk as a sort of olive branch, but I can’t be certain. At any rate – we we’re sort of flopping around our intentions and I wasn’t convinced he took me seriously, and after three months of doing whatever it was that we we’re doing – I’d lost emotional steam, so to speak, it just felt like it was falling flat with fish. And with one foot out the door, my effort and interest was taking a nosedive.

A quote about my dating life from my middle sister:

Honestly, a guy has to work so hard before you even give them a chance. You never believe anyone is interested in you. What do they have to do? – Labella

She’s not wrong. Because of the relationship with my ex, and my penchant for being most attracted to men who show the bare minimum interest in me, I take precautions to the extreme, too extreme; I pull the rip cord, hit the emergency eject button or I run away at the first sniff of apathy. I’ve concluded in these past few months that I’m still just not ready to really be dating. It’s not just meeting the wrong guys, which I think I have; but I’m also convinced I’d probably screw it up with the right one too.

Shortly after our park date, during a text conversation, the tone I was picking up was just “smh” from fish. And I get it, I feel it too from time to time, and I started to overthink it, and thus you’ll see me reaching around blindly for that aforementioned rip cord:

Me: Sometimes your aloofness reads as disinterest.
Fish: Dunno where you get that from
Me: Me neither just a vibe
Fish: Shove ur vibe up your @$$
Me: Will do! You want me to leave you alone?
Fish: No all is fine and good
Me: Dude I honestly can’t tell.
Fish: Gee what do u want me to do
Me: I got nothing
Fish: U can be worried if I stop talking to you, dunno what ur worried about now
Me: I’m not worried. I just don’t know you well enough to know your humour.
Fish: Well if i didnt like u i wouldn’t have went on a walk.

The next day he texted me again after playing volleyball, complaining of an injury and tensor bandage. As he texted me, I was busy gossiping over tea with my mother, who you may remember has known fish since he was a tween. I read these messages out to her as I sent and received them and she was beside herself in the absurdity of reality and more importantly, she was totally goading me that I had to go:

Fish: … im holding down the parents fort while theyre away tn. so if u wanna check it out come on by haha. im just eating a box of kraft dinner watching bucket list.
Me: lol are you asking me to come to your parents house?
Fish: Could haha. Just me atm but [baby brother] should be back in a hour or something.
Me: Tempting. Leave before he gets back?
Fish: U wouldnt hafta no. I was just stating hes gone.
Me: Hm. You’ve peaked my interest.
Fish: Just wondering what shell do.
Me: [Baby brother] tells [Dad] that Fish had Mimi over here while he was gone? Funny. I’d do it if you wanted me to.
Fish: I do! Could possible be weird though. I dunno. I wanna see u soon again. Maybe hafta waiter out.

Fish soon thereafter left town for a concert/festival not far out of town – it’s a big binge drinking affair so I wasn’t surprised I got a few drunk texts calling me babe. I ended up golfing over the weekend and then heading to take in the sights and a few concerts at the CNE in Toronto with my daughter and friends. But we set our next date, going to the movies to see Happytime Murders, for the week I returned from the cottage. I went out and picked up some happy sativa weed called Strawberry Cough for us and rolled a joint.

What comes to mind as I look back on this time frame is that this is when eight begins to watch my social media, and in short order, reached out to me after our “hiatus” of sorts. Sad isn’t it? That after all this time – and in the midst of reflecting on fish – there’s eight – clouding the issue. Here’s a snippet from the eight blogs from this time-frame:

[Eight] asks me what I’m up to and I tell him I’m getting ready to go to the movies. The truth was I was going to the movies with … fish that night. – from Eight #3

So after a week at the cottage, sometimes spent exchanging long emails with another guy I call the professor, I returned home a little freckled and in summer spirits just in time for our marijuana movie night. We left the specifics to the last minute as usual – which resulted in me ordering the tickets on my phone as I drove to meet him at the theater – my treat I guess huh fish? We parked near the back row, and smoked a joint I had rolled while sitting on the sidewalk/curb. He coughed his guts out, which I found surprising given the amount of cigarettes he smokes, then headed inside to grab our seats. Before the movie started I watched as he became agitated and visibly paranoid. He rubbed his hands together in a bewildered state, unable to sit still in his seat. The movie is perverse and hilarious – I highly recommend it (punny) and afterwards we got back to our cars and fish still looked sort of off. I didn’t want him to drive but he wouldn’t accept a ride so I told him to sit and chat with me. We sat on the curb but he didn’t have much to say – I sort of felt like I was recapping the movie unnecessarily and interviewing him. We looked at each other silently a while before he chimed in with “Do you want to make-out in the car?” Spoiler alert: I did not really want to make out, and yet it seemed as good as any way to pass the time while I made sure he was clear to drive. We climbed in the backseat of my hatchback, but make out we did not. We had sex, pretty much immediately. It was, despite not really being that thrilled by it, really fun in retrospect, and at the very least, juicy fodder for the blog. While we romped in my tinted back seat, other couples came and went to their parked vehicles nearby which caused us to laugh several times. When we were finished I climbed back out of the car, he seemed himself again. As the date came to an obvious end, I pulled one of my more awkward stunts:

I high-fived him, said “thanks for the sex”, got in my car, and then drove away.

Over the next few days fish checks in, lazily. He’s either sore from a sport, or work accident, or hungover, or doing laundry. Timeline wise for these stories/blogs were in the last week of August now – which you’ll remember means a guy I called eight and I are a few nights away from a blackout birthday boink. Let’s end on how fish, a guy I’d been talking to for three months at this point, wished me well on my 32nd year: he texted me “happy bday” a day late because he’d been so drunk on the day of.

Bless this fish – he tries – sort of.

In the next blog I’ll tell you a quick little tale that takes place in at the end of September that I call the “tuck-in” and about another faux-pas the morning after I found a fish at a beer festival downtown. Until next time dear readers – stay floppy.

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6. fish: two truths & a lie.

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I had fallen asleep around 2:30 in the morning, after the flounder of a second date with fish, but was wide awake by 6. Around 8:30 I heard my phone ding. I had dropped my phone in a Dairy Queen parking lot earlier in the week and had a Genius Bar appointment around lunch to replace the glass. The morning was supposed to include breakfast/brunch with fish first, the operative words here are “supposed to”.  What you’re about to read is the verbatim text message exchange that I caused me to entirely emotionally check out with fish:

Fish: omg your screen. 3 hours til fixaroo
Me: Yeaaa. Just doing my hair. U readying?
Fish: I was thinking about it … starting to get bored laying here for the last 40 minutes

Fish sent me a yelp review of a local greasy spoon saying it looked good. I told him I’d been there and the coffee was delicious (it literally tastes like bacon grease is mixed in).

Fish: If u just slept over everything woulda been so much easier.
Me: Ur cute. Get ready.
Fish: Whats the plan.
Me: I’m almost ready. Lets go.
Fish: Where
Me: Breakfast. At that spot.
Fish: I dont even have a coffee in me yet. 😦
Me: They have coffee there.
Fish: Oh

25 minutes went by … twenty … five … minutes.

Me: Are you ready yet?
Fish: Prit near just have a coffee watching sports
Me: If you don’t wanna go it’s aiite.
Fish: I’m not amped to but I would. If we’re being honest haha
Me: Thats alright!
Fish: If u were already here wed already be waiting at a table
Me: Sorry.
Fish: Thatll bug me for weeks lol

So I told him the truth:
Me:
I don’t know what to say. I assumed when you said “you can leave” you meant you wanted me to. So I did.
Fish: Kicking a girl out of bed you crazzzy.
Me: Well we don’t know each other super well.
Fish: I know you. (Uh, no you really don’t.) It’s good though! I’m not actually upset.
Me: Ok!

At this point I had already ended up on the patio of a Starbucks and was sipping a passion tea, with the warm summer sun kissing my face as my inspiration to be a little nicer than I wanted to be. Fish continued to text me incessantly about complete and utter bullshit like how he’s watching tennis, my favourite (it’s not but ok) and then he circled back:

Fish: If ur set on going out for brekky im down
Me: I can find something else to do, its aiite.
Fish: Lol that doesnt sound cool
Me: It’s all good! Enjoy your am!
Fish: Ur so angry at me
Me: I’m not promise! Its your weekend, you gotta do what you wanna do!
Fish: Is that so

I waited almost half an hour before sending this, I wasn’t going to reply but I thought he deserved the truth for what it was worth anyway:

Me: If you’re upset I didn’t stay just know I wanted to and I would. Mid week even if thats what you want (he’d asked me to before). But you need to be super direct with me otherwise I’ll second guess it and bail. We haven’t talked at all about what we’re looking for from each other which is going to make things uncertain.
Fish: Oh I’m not upset and all understandable
Me: Today felt like a blow off. Which is ok if it is. Just say so.
Fish: Its not i just was tired a hour ago now Im fine. Can still go out. Or ill just making something. My stomach is still growling.

In my head, my truth was: Go fuck yourself maybe?

The truth is I wasn’t mad at all that he bailed on breakfast – I was mad about the communication, or lack there of. He sent me a yelp review which to me implied his intent to go, I told him I was getting ready which showed my intent to go. But somewhere in those texts – he changed his mind and that was the only thing I cared about … that he wasted my time. Twenty minutes is nineteen too many, sorry. As he continued to text my phone he threw around the idea of us going for breakfast yet again, “quickly” before my appointment. I told him I was already at a Starbucks, some other time, and that shortly I’d be out of reach. He told me it was “dumb” that I was taking the genius bar appointment time so seriously (um ok, truthfully, again, fuck your opinion of how I spend my time, bud) and then he said:

Fish: Well I dont want to make u late!! I promise we can hang out anytime! Super didnt try ditching you today I tend to be lazy in the morning without a coffee at least. U were up and attem too early. Cuz youd be totally off if you think i dont want to see you again. Ur awesome! You have no worries atm. (It’s um, cute, that he thinks I’d worry about whether or not he likes me after all this.) Id like to do all kinds of activities with you.
Me: Fair enough. Just be direct with me. My instinct is to bolt. I’m working on it but it’s still a thing I do. And make a list on your phone.

He continued to text me, asking if I was interested in a meteor shower Sunday. I told him my daughter was coming back Sunday am from her fathers so I was unavailable. I was attending a BBQ later in the evening, and fish was going to be with his friends so no plans on the horizon with him made sense. He did ask me something I wasn’t expecting before I said goodbye – he asked about my ex.

Now listen, my ex is tall and handsome, with a big beard and thick head of hair. He basically has all the physical features guys would be insecure about but honestly, no amount of him being a good dad or good looking ever made up for his shortcomings: respect, compassion and honesty. I’m literally looking for everything that he was not and I couldn’t care less about everything that he was. Fish creeped my ex on social media that afternoon – I didn’t care. Fish would’ve seen photos of me at 195lbs – I didn’t care. The truth is, if you ask me a question – I’ll do my damnedest to be honest – no matter what it costs me. Another truth is though that later that night – I would make a choice that certainly felt like a lie.

I had gone about my business: got my phone screen fixed, had lunch in the quaint little hamlet just outside of town, and was wrapping up at the BBQ with my cousins when my phone went off but this time, it wasn’t fish, it was a guy I call gosling/elf/LB/green and workguy, because, yes, I work with him (yes that’s bad I know). I had this to say about him in the 4. fish blog:

Guys you’re “talking to” will assume you’re banging your guy friends, so just keep that shit under wraps especially if, like me, you are in fact banging your guy friends. (I can’t wait to write the blogs about one of my best friends – a guy who nicknamed himself LB – its short for little bitch. We lowkey ruin each others lives – it’s a good time.

To summarize LB: He’s one of my best friends. We work together, we go out for lunch and we text all day daily. We are each others confidant’s in ways that we don’t let anyone else in. We know each others greatest fears, insecurities and wishes. But we cross boundaries, we sext, we get jealous, and when we’re really stupid, we sleep together. But in a lot of unconventional ways I love him. I might’ve loved him the day I met him. We know it’s impermanent; circumstance and us finding real love will end how we are with one another. So when the bell tolls (my phone dings), and its him, I have to go. He and I have always been running on borrowed time.

So when my phone dinged a few times as I stood around a backyard BBQ, I looked down to see two texts: one text from fish, who’d blown me off for breakfast and one text from my LB/gosling, whom I hadn’t spoken to in two weeks. I’ll end this blog here and let you guess who sent which:

“Id let u just pick me up! Its fun but I have mimi fever.”

“I need you.”

… and then I made a choice. And then I told a lie. But that’s another story. Until next time.

1. fish: un prologue pour le poisson.

Sleep with the fishes they say – and oh boy have I ever. I have zero clue what kind of creature fish is; he’s either a run-of-the-mill fish-with-benefits or I’m accidentally somehow fucking up the early stages of what could be a boyfish. For reasons still unknown – fish has successfully bamboozled a relatively long term and consistent standing in both my iMessages and my anatomy despite all our emotional flip flopping. Luckily yours truly is a special kind of emotionally unavailable, and the fish seems to be as well, so when it’s just us two it’s relatively smooth sailing.

Let’s dive right in shall we, here’s what you need to know to start this next series:

Delayed debut: Fish and I have known of each other since we were about 14. We’ve stood in the same room, without introducing ourselves, countless times. Our social circles cross in weird ways – I’ll write about those as they come up organically in the story. But this is more of that “big city but everyone knows your name” stuff. The people I blame (other than us) for the delayed debut? Our parents. Yes, you read that.

Family familiarity: I’ve met, saw, spoke with, dined, and partied with all of fish’s family members (his parents and 3 siblings), like, more often than a handful. Fish spent hours with my mother almost every single day for 10 years. Yes, you read that.

Business buoy oh buoy: My mother worked for fish’s family-owned business for her entire career in this city. Not to worry though, what you’ll read here takes place after her retirement. Fish, the eldest son, will take over ownership upon his father’s retirement. As a teen I babysat all of the tradesmen’s children.

Peculiar particularities: I don’t know if the proverbial they settled on “opposites attract” or not, but honestly fish and I couldn’t be more different. He’s social calendar is planned out weeks in advance. I fly by the ass of my jeans. He’s immovably independent when life gets hard. I lean hard on my support system including my mom, sisters and friends and colleagues. He shops with coupons or he doesn’t shop at all. I know where the best deals are for things but if I want something – I generally just buy it. He cooks a lot. I fast most days of my life, and eat out a lot. He gets blackout drunk regularly. I drink socially and don’t usually love it. He gets so paranoid when he smokes pot he cant sit still. I smoke pot and you would never know I was high as a kite.

Fish Lips, Facts & Other Features. Fish has a kind face, a contagious smile, and blonde silky hair long enough up top to run your fingers through, and lord jesus it’s soft, but it’s not what I’d describe as long persay, floppy maybe? He’s handsome though in a way total goof sort of way. He’s taller than me, even in heels, so that’s a check. Fish is fit but on the leaner side; when I’m naked with him I feel sort of like a whale. He always smiles with his mouth open and top teeth showing. He dresses well for dates – which I didn’t expect. He’s a Pisces … L-O-fucking-L. His Instagram is full of photos of him fishing, cottaging, bro-ing out, plus like a hundred groomsmen selfies.  He likes cheap beer, uses coupons and cooks one new recipe every week. He’s painfully shy and self deprecates a lot (about things like his couch or his dick size, which is perfectly fine but I digress). There’s zero predictability to his emotional intimacy. He says the nicest things about his dad, he’s super independent, mostly straightforward, financially stable, hard working, and insanely popular. In addition to the excessive drinking, I’ve come to learn that he’ll do mushrooms and cocaine on his “weekends away with the boys”.

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The first time I thought I was going to meet fish was at a staff family event.
I was very young, close to 14, and they had arranged a laser tag party for staff and their kids. My mother had told me a fish my age would be in attendance. All I knew was that he was blonde, taller than me, and our parents were friends (ergo, we’re totally betrothed duh, right?) But fish wasn’t there. I ended up spending the night with his three siblings – getting to know them in all of the awkward ways teenagers interact in forced social situations.

My earliest recollection of seeing fish was at a house party years later.
Fish has an unmistakable nickname in real life and I heard someone yelling it loudly. We were maybe 17 and at an absolute rager of a house party. Fish had been dared $20 to drink gutter water pooled by the curbside. I watched in horror as he obliged. And because I’m neurotic my only concern was getting out of his vicinity so it didn’t get back to his dad that an employee’s daughter drinks underage. Yes, you read that right.

My most recent experience with fish was shopping for sheets at Hudson’s Bay.
It’s about as much of a cliffhanger as I can leave you with while also being a succinct example of one of the weird limbo’s of casually dating. Where we are today is best described by the following direct quote I said to my mother: “He’s not my boyfriend; he just wanted to know what duvet cover I liked best.” Did he buy the one I liked? Yes, he did. But who knows – maybe he just really likes my taste in interior décor.

Until next time dear fishies.

meet cute: pave the way.

If I’ve learned anything about romance in 2018 it’s that dating apps are a misnomer. I think a lot of people, including me, go on dates, but it doesn’t often result in the conjugation of dating. So when I’m out in public – I’ve been practicing – flexing my meet cute muscles. Seizing the opportunity to linger in glances a little longer than usual and in general just flirt for flirting’s sake.

Meet Cute: (in a film or television show) an amusing or charming first encounter between two characters that leads to the development of a romantic relationship between them.

I’ve said it before but I work in advertising and I’m very good at what I do. My employers have referred to me as “walk-on-water” staff; I can do no wrong. My particular department consists of just myself and my boss. We shared an office for 7 years so he’s been privy to my maturation: I was in my early twenties when we met, since then I bought a house, became a mother, got engaged, legally separated, sold my house, and now started dating again as a single mother. He’s heard my ex scream at me over the phone before; he’s watched me burst into tears many times.  He provides a lot of advice and support and I, in turn, rat him out to his wife over text message if he’s eaten anything that will cause flatulence or cholesterol complications.

Our firm moved into a beautiful new industrial chic space slightly outside of the downtown core last year, and my boss and I are now in offices side by side. In order to stay apprised of each others personal lives and ongoing projects alike, we are oft found visiting one another. He sits in the guest chair across from my seat. I sit in the window sill of his office, soaking up sunshine rays like a cat (I love a good window seat).

Part of my glow up since divorce has included dressing more youthful. I’ve mentioned my new weekend uniform of ripped jeans and converse. I’ve adopted a new way of dressing at work as well. New body/new clothes; basically, trendier and tighter compared to pre-divorce depression wardrobe. On this particular day I was wearing what’d I’d describe as pale pink genie pants, black Timberland heeled boots, and a tucked in fitted black sheer and lace long sleeve blouse. I had let my hair air dry the day prior, leaving a wild beachy wave in it’s wake. I felt good, soaking up the last of the autumn’s afternoon sun, perched in my bosses window.

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As I sat there with the right side of my body pressed against the glass, the conversation I had been in lulled; my boss became distracted scrolling through his emails. I watched a paving construction crew laying new asphalt. There were a lot of men outside of the window, two paving machines, two rollers, and a crowd of men waiting for the time that their task was to be done I assume. One such man strolled down the fresh asphalt, with a small toolbox in hand, and stopped directly in front of the window. He’s tall and fit with broad shoulders and his walk prominently lands on the heels of his boots, scuffing the smooth black road. He set down the toolbox and absentmindedly glanced up and down the work site obviously waiting for his job to begin. In my window seat I looked at his toolbox, trying to figure out what sort of task was his to complete, I settled on marking the road for the paint truck to come through – but I couldn’t be certain because what happened next was almost an adorable meet cute:

As the construction worker scanned his surroundings he looked up at our office building. We’re only two stories high but the footprint of the building could span a city block if we were downtown. The entire exterior is dark grey brick and lined with windows. A girl with wavey blonde hair is perched in one of windows, and she (hello, me) is totally staring at him. He did one of the most rom-com worthy double takes I’ve ever seen in real life, his eyes snapped back to me instantly. I watched as a smile crept across his face and I grinned back. He looked down to his feet. As he looked back up to my window he waved; I lifted my hand from my knee and formed a peace sign with my fingers. He laughed. And that dear readers, felt totally like a meet cute.

Whatever my boss said next I didn’t really hear. The sound of my name had snapped me out of my nonsense. He needed some sort of file from me and I left the window and went back to my desk to forward it along. About an hour later, I was seated at my desk, where my back faces my own window, just two panes of glass from where I had been seated earlier. My boss and another colleague involved in that day’s project were in my office with me. The pavers had mostly progressed past the line of sight from my window. My boss and colleague commented that they could see another coworker of ours jaywalking across the road, through the construction site on her way back to the office from lunch. I swiveled my chair and looked out to see her walking behind a roller as it made it’s way up the street. She waved up to us, I smiled and waved back, and my peripheral vision picked up a movement from the seat of the rolling machine.

My meet cute paver from earlier was waving again, as he drives down the new road. Now here comes me at my diddly-doodliest. I’m with my boss, a colleague, looking at a construction worker, and waves meant for different people have just been exchanged. I smiled at the giddy paver and I blew him a kiss; he blew me three back as he roared by at a snails pace on a asphalt roller. And all three of my colleagues burst out laughing, two inside with me, and one outside with him. I laughed, he laughed.

When I told my girlfriends this story via text my last message was “and later this afternoon a bouquet flowers showed up at the front desk addressed to the girl in the window.” “WHAT?!” Ok, ok, I’m totally making that part up. I never saw the guy again since – their jobsite had moved on by the next day – and he looked like he was my age which means he’s totally married. But honestly, I just really enjoyed experiencing mutual attraction/flirtation without agenda.

4. eight: destiny is cold af.

Eight has a way of letting you into his life with one fraction of a tiny detail at a time, but only if and when he was good and ready. Asking him questions generally made him back off entirely – so I learned to let him come to me. Why does he get the destiny theme in the titles? Honestly because I think he might actually be the boy version of me. But the few differences between us made all the difference in the world. The things I learned about eight, as I said, came slowly and at his pace; they all reminded me a lot of myself. He’s very close with his family, especially his mom; same. Our extended families are from up north; same town. Virgos; same. (Rest assured I sort of knew this was doomed from the start, imagine 2 Virgos, yikes.) He holds himself to a very high standard; same, sometimes too high. He seems to genuinely enjoy being around kids, especially sports mentoring; same. The people in his life love him fiercely; same, they will cut you if you hurt me. He’s unabashedly prone to singing and dancing anytime, any place; same, this is the one thing I can’t shake about him. And he is probably one of the most polite-on-paper people I’ve ever met, eight will find a way come hell or high water to fit ‘thank you’ into every conversation multiple times; same, thank you very much. Those qualities are all fine and dandy but, and this is a big but, he seemed to lack motivation, which, if you’ve been a bachelor forever, is sort of counter intuitive to dating. Like I said, eight has taught me that potential is meaningless without forward momentum.

The frequency and quality of the communication with eight had taken off the week leading up to my birthday, which fell on the Saturday. My Wednesday was busy as heck, eight had texted me to say he was going to his usual wing night with friends that night; it was the hot spot for our high school, I guess they never grew out of it. I never knew if this was his way of saying don’t text him, or do text him, or show up at the pub; but I always settled in my mind on, “uh I only care about where you end up if you outright ask me to join you, otherwise, have fun I guess.” I received a Thursday afternoon text from eight, telling me about his wing night leftovers for lunch (yes, really, thank you for the update eight). I was still be-bopping all over my schedule, generally crushing goals like a champ, and I knew he had a game that night in town, and since I’m a busy lady, I hit him back with the one-two punch because, carpe diem dat ass:

“I’m coming to see your butt tonight I think.”  – Me, a demure desirable lady.

Fortune favours the brave – and destiny, well destiny will send you a cute tush if you just tell it you’re coming to see it. “Oh nice, I’ll wear my extra tight pants then” he replies. Dead. Swoon. Wait, was this what he was waiting for? Me to just show up. I didn’t text him back for the rest of the day knowing that the text silence ensured neither of us said anything to kill the flurt vibe that took what feels like forever to figure out.

I went to the game that night looking adorably incognito in the white-girl-at-sporting event uniform: a white tee, plaid shirt, ripped jeans, and cap. I arrived as the anthem started, grabbed a Caesar and took my seat closer to the opposing team among a group of white haired old men who know nothing about sports – my favourite kind of spectators, for real. It only took a second, and I then I saw him. It felt like a big deal at the time, frankly well past “long overdue”, it was bordering on asinine at this point. He was crouching by the team bench in his tightest pants; he has the meatiest butt and the thickest thighs (and I think I loved him). No I’m being stupid. None the less, very quickly I realised just how adorable he really is (do guys hate being called adorable, because too bad, bitches, some of you just are adorable mkay). He’s just a little taller than me and he’s thick the way I like dudes, with one of those crazy dark working tans that make men look like they’ve rubbed dirt on their arms. It’s evident he’s well loved by his teammates as their faces light up when they talk to him, slapping him on the back energetically. But the best part about finally seeing him? I knew, without hesitation, he was looking for me. I sat there, across a field, watching him scanning over the crowd, over and over and over again; he wasn’t even being discreet about it. There was something voyeuristic about the whole “I can see him, but he can’t see me” thing – it was exciting and also weirdly embarrassing too, like the two of us had a secret the other thousand people there didn’t know. Spoiler alert, the secret is that we’re idiots and this thing between us is never going to work out the way either of us wants it to. Don’t hold your breath though, I stayed undercover for the duration of the game, that night, he didn’t know if I was there or not, and I preferred it that way. The ironic part about him not seeing me was that where I was seated was directly in his eye line for most of the game. Like the depth of field for a camera lens, I was sitting in the middle of his field of vision, but I would’ve been out of focus if he had his eye on the plays, so  there I was, able to look straight at his face, unseen, it was surreal.

The other swoon-worthy thing (apart from his butt) is, whenever the music comes on between plays, he dances, and not like a little; he slaps the sides of his fist against his thighs and tosses his head back and forth. He feels music, and it reminds me of me. I send my closest girlfriends from highschool a video of him dancing – they’ve told me a hundred times to drop eight like a hot potato, but they still send heart eyes back to not kill my vibe. “Does he know you’re there?” they ask. “Not for sure I don’t think.” The combination of the intensity of the game and my lusty bologna made my stomach butterfly city. They didn’t win the game, but it was the kind where it was so well played by both sides you can’t even be mad about it for a second. I was full blown shivering from the night air by the end of the game, so I hightailed it out of there faster than you can say “bye bitch”; he wouldn’t have had a chance to spot me making my way down the stairs.

I went home and threw on some jogging pants and began rolling myself a joint in my futile attempt to try and warm myself back up from being so cold for so long. Ding, my phone goes off and I see his name light up my screen, well that didn’t take long. “Didn’t see you at the game tonight.  Where were you sitting?” he says. I tell him roughly where. “Fuck off. For serious?” I replied with a cool “Yes.” (So cool.) He was sitting in an uptown pub with the team drinking beers, as is their tradition, and yet surprisingly, this ended up being one of those texting conversations where both people are just super present. It’s less than a minute between each message and every text is short rapid fire. He seems disappointed he didn’t see me and says “I’m slipping, I normally see everyone.” I tell him that his dancing is my “like my favourite thing ever”. We talk a bit about his game: his best plays and the moments that rattled my chill. He told me about one of the opposing players previous temper tantrums. I told him I liked his pants, he thanked me but said I probably liked lots of pants that I saw (take the compliment jeez). I reiterated that dancing pants are the most distracting. We got onto the topic of our high school, what I was like back then, I tell him I’ve never been in any major trouble with the law or authority, mostly low-key. He tells me I should live a little and I tell him that I do, and to “try me”. He tells me he was suspended twice for smoking weed on school trips (be still my heart) and I remark that there are things that are fun to get caught doing, smoking weed isn’t one of them. I send him a picture of the joint I’m smoking on my porch, he sends me a photo of the beer he’s drinking. It’s just after midnight, now a Friday morning and he tells me “You should sleep you probably work in the morning.” I tell him I don’t, and he tells me that he doesn’t either. I take the opportunity to tell him that my birthday is Saturday, and that my work gives us the closest weekday off before quickly changing the topic. I ask him what sports he’ll play in the next season and he tells me – but that doesn’t last long because he watches the emoji stamped panoramic video of the sports complex that I had posted to my Snapchat story while I was at the game.  “I just saw your story. I can’t believe I didn’t see you there. I’m shocked and pissed.”

Now, the following exchange is as sweet as it gets between eight and I – from now until the end. It’s this conversation that let me know that when he wants to, eight is capable of making a risky move to see a girl he likes. The other edge of this sword though is, of course, that once I know a man can be this motivated to get to me and he chooses not to, I move on. For now try to imagine me in that moment and enjoy the best of eight and I, because I know I still do:

8: I just saw your story. I can’t believe I didn’t see you there. I’m shocked and pissed.
me: Why pissed?
8: That I didn’t see you sitting there. My focus is in that general area for most of the game.
me: Well. Heyyy!
8: I’m slipping.
me: No. You’re watching the game.
8: I watch everything. Who’s coming in, who’s getting food, who’s warming up. I scan the crowd constantly.
me: Well I got my drink during the anthem, which is when I got there.
8: That means I didn’t see you the entire game. That’s bad.
me: Well there was well over a thousand people there.
8: So.
me: You’ve never met me? (Hint.)
8: Doesn’t mean I don’t know your face. (Cute.)
me: I had a hat on? I don’t know! It’s not a big deal dude. Hiiiii!
8: Like I said, I have high standards. I like knowing everything that is happening during the game. Everything.
me: Because? You’re analytical? Whats the goal?
8: Not so much analytical but it helps me focus.
8: If I roll up a pinner and come pick you up, wanna go on a doobie cruise? (This.)
me: I literally just finished a big joint. lmao
8: It’s your birthday / day off / live a little goodie 2 shoes.
me: Ok. (Be cool bitch.)
8: If you don’t want to that’s cool, you can say no, I’m just busting your metaphoric balls, but if you do, whats your address? (Are you stupid, get in the car already.)
me: XXX Xxxxxxxx Drive
8: Ok I’ll be there in about 10. I drive a black Jetta. I apologize in advance it’s not the cleanest.
8: Out front.

It’s 2am on the day before my birthday, I’m high as a kite and chilled through to the bone, I’ve changed back into my jeans, wiped the smudged mascara under my eyes away, smoothed my hair behind my ears, and I’m getting into a black Jetta, with tinted windows that’s parked against the boulevard outside of my home. I practically skipped down my driveway, opened the door, and didn’t even try to hide the smirk, I got in the car and said “Hey … so this is unexpected huh?” He reached into the console of his car and handed me a joint and a lighter. “Do you always smell this good?” he asks. (Am I wearing perfume? Nope, I’m not. I had hairspray in my hair earlier. Is this a line? What’s happening? Can we make out? Omg, shut up.) I say it’s hairspray, he says it smells like flowers, I shrug, and light the joint, and I look like a bad bitch doing it too. I could feel the heat blasting, seat warmers on high, thank god, but I was still shivering, and it was visible, and I was immediately annoyed with my body core temperature. I’m not a nervous person and I’m realizing how I look like one. (But maybe just maybe if I get higher that’ll go away. Nope, it didn’t, got worse, cool.) We drove around for 15 or 20 minutes, smoking the joint and getting to know one another in little bits. I told him to stop asking me deep “whats the meaning of life” questions because I was way too high. He laughed and asked me something else that was way out of this world “Oops I did it again. Sorry.” Honestly I don’t even know what we said, that’s how high I was, that never happens to me, ever, honest. He asked me what my big day off plans were later that day, I told him shopping and he suggested, that if I’m interested, we could go get a drink in the afternoon together on a patio somewhere. I said yea I’d like to. We finished the joint. He dropped me off and wished me a good sleep. I went inside, changed back into my jogging pants and a text came in:

8: Are you going to be ok?
me: About? (Jesus, he noticed the shivering, fuck.)
8: Well you seemed a little uneasy. (Fuuuckkk.)
me: I had assumed you were going to be my funny penpal forever?
8: I’m pretty easy, we can do that if you want.
me: I didn’t say that.
8: I know I’m just razzing you. 🙂
me: I’m still cold from the game and high as balls. (Be honest.)
8: No wonder you’re cold your pants had tonnes of holes in them.
me: Ok dad.
8: Well it’s not rocket surgery.
me: I wear office bullshit all week. I like to dress like an idiot on my days off.
8: You could dress like a warm idiot. (This is still one of my favourite things. Ever.)
me: Ok mom.
me: Its still goddamn summer, I’m sorry I expected weathhher more congruent with our season.

fruli
The aforementioned jeans of a cold idiot.

We chatted a bit more. Why he couldn’t have just STUCK around and said all this in person I’ll never know. At 3am he signed off “I’m going to crash. Have fun shopping tomorrow. Message me if you’re down for that drink.” I replied in typical me fashion; “Same. Duh. I will/am.” I was so goddamn proud of that text – you don’t even know – probably because I was high, but I thought it was adorable. Eight replied “Ok, sweet. Have a good sleep.”

3. eight: destiny’s infatu8ion.

The goal here, today, me and dating, dating and I, isn’t necessarily to find a boyfriend or love right off the hop. I’m also here to be present, me, as I am, enjoying the growth and the journey I’m on in each moment. I’m learning all moments have the opportunity for sweetness, even bittersweet. Eight will come to tell me, in a conversation towards the end of our brief nothing, that there’s “nothing sweet” about bittersweetness. How wrong he is. Are you ready to hear just how effective that Snapchat Story was? Lets go:

How has my summer been, he wants to know, or does he, its possibly the laziest way to test my waters but I was pushing myself back into his life with social media – something I would eventually find out eats up a lot of his time. I found it adorable that he included his name in the text; in case I had deleted his number, silly goose, we both had each others numbers in our phones, Snapchat needed those to add each other.

“It’s not rocket surgery.” – Eight, after meeting me in person the first time.

We talked about our summers: for him it was all sports and work. I told him I had been cottaging and working a lot as well. I think I followed up with asking how the sports season had been going, they were doing really well, and he felt as though they had a chance at the playoffs. I threw out a quick double entendre “I have a good feeling about your chances.” Did he pick up on it? He explained a few “unspoken rules” of his league, with regards to player behaviour, stuff I found genuinely interesting and wished he would keep talking about, and then boom, mid message about team drinks he dives straight into the fray.

“… So I’ve been meaning to ask you what your situation is? Are you divorced, separated, still living with your baby’s daddy??” Whoa destiny, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure very few love stories start this way.

I tell him I was never married, just engaged, and provided as little context as I could manage without coming off as distant because the phrasing frankly feels like he thinks I spend some of my spare time being interviewed by Maury Povich. His inquiry that night focused around timelines for the split, where I was living. He commented that my situation was “still sort of fresh”, and I agreed the formality of it was, but the context of the separation was comfortable for me. My mind wandered off “Is he trying to figure out if I’m emotionally available yet? Because that’s adorable and exactly what I want.” I asked him if he had any longer relationships recently; he had none to speak of. I mistakenly used the phrase “been chilling” to describe one of the circles of hell commonly understood levels of modern dating (we need to stop validating this shit), he agreed it was a good way to describe it. “Chilling seems like the decent play” he says, again referencing all the divorces his friends have gone through.

eight2

Over the next few days we start to exchange Snapchat selfies and videos while we’re at work. He’ll send little chat messages to tell me I’m cute, all of it is enough to make me smile when I see his name pop up. I make the bold move to send him a follow request on Instagram, he doesn’t post anything new, his account is full of travel photos from a big European trip from last summer, but he likes everything I post, and sometimes sends me a message to ask me about whatever he had seen. But the best moments of chatting with eight was when he would text me from his team bus on game nights. Those conversations are playful; there was banter and flirting and selfies. I assume that these conversations were the best because he was a captive audience who probably liked the idea of a girl texting him, A LOT, in front of his team mates – yes I’m a cynic. But none of that matters really; just that in those moments he is the eight I liked and miss now.

Full disclosure before this next part: Between all this fruitless texting I’m very busy being an employed, gym-frequenting, puppy-owning, shopaholic, coffee-addicted, mother-of-one who also happens to be involved in a fairly frequent and intentionally undefined friend-with-benefits situation with another “past life peripheral” guy, that you’ll find I am going to introduce as “fish”. And as of writing this, I still flop around on the fish deck. 

One afternoon, it’s a game day for eight and he’s en route to a town three hours north of our city, he texts me that he’s had a horrible day at work. He never elaborates into detail about anything so instead I tell him I can UberEats him a steak and milkshake if that’ll cheer him up. He says all he really needs is a vacation and rest, but that the idea cheered him up. He asks me what I’m up to and I tell him I’m getting ready to go to the movies. He asks if I have a group of people to go with and I give him the most non-chalent non-answer I can muster “Yes I do have friends lol.”

The truth was I was going to the movies with the aforementioned fish that night. We had sex in the backseat of the car in the parking lot afterwards, because I’m a romantic at heart.

I changed the subject with eight to ask about pre-game rituals, and I think maybe this was the first time eight let me try to flirt with him: “And then what? Run around and talk about how good your butt looks in your pants?” He told me they leave that to the fans. I replied with “Can you be a fan if you’ve never been to a game? Asking for a friend.” He said “Of course you can.” And I set him straight: “They. Of course THEY can. My friend. You know.”

Later that night, after my teenage-esque tryst in the parking lot, my phone buzzed on my nightstand a few times – it was eight. I popped over to Twitter to see what their score had been; the tied up game had gone way over but they got the much needed win to continue on in the playoffs. “Just what I needed, over-time on a Tuesday” his text reads. Maybe he wants congratulations but I’m still fixated on his tush, so scolding he gets. “Stop it. Are you happy?” “Yep but tired.” “Happy makes you sleep well. Ride the high into Wednesday.” “You mean Thursday.” “Why not both?” “Good call.” I put my phone down and go to sleep. In the morning I woke to a video he had sent sometime during their bus ride home: it’s his face, only intermittently lit by oncoming traffic, loudly singing along to David Wilcox: “I’m sailing away from my heartache … on a Riverboat Fantasy.” I’ve mentioned before how I’m unreasonably swayed into romanticism by music – well, you better believe I played that song while I blow-dried my hair – and the grin on my face while I got ready for work on that Wednesday morning can only be described as stupid.

And dear readers, in the next post, I’m going to tell you how the very next evening, eight and I finally ended up  face to face.

2. eight: destiny interrupted.

Eight took his sweet ass time using my damn phone number. I wish I could say but at least the drinks came shortly after. But we know that’s not true.

The drinks don’t come for a few more months, yes, I said months, and I had to do some serious mind-fucking to get us that far. When that first text came through he went straight back to his check-ins, and some days I’d catch a whiff of a nice gesture or intent, and others I’d find his texts to be a chore not to chuck my phone over. Part of me thought, maybe he’s insecure, maybe he’s not sure if dating a single mom is something he can handle, not a single part of me assumed that he was going to waste vast amounts of my time. But we learn these lessons best by experiences.

At this point of the summer he’s pretty busy between his work and game schedule. But he continues to check in, and I think, he wouldn’t waste precious time doing this if some part of him didn’t care. (Girl, shake your head, I know.) Its in these brief texting conversations that it first becomes apparent that our communication styles are completely at odds with one another. I never know what he means by anything, he misuses words, things contradict themselves and he keeps bastardizing all my favourite turns of phrases, and I really love idioms, so it’s throwing me for a loop.

I’ve worked as a graphic designer for the same firm for ten years, it’s my second home, second family, they’ve watched me grow up, make mistakes, become a mother, and finally, take charge of a life I was going to just let pass me by. We’re chatting about work and my history there, and all the perks that come with such a tenure. I reciprocate the inquiry and ask him what he did before he got into his trade. I’m not even joking a little when the conversation comes to a screeching halt with his response: “I was a little late to the party but I’m glad I’m here.” Excuse me, but what the fuck does that even mean? You can’t say “Oh I worked odd jobs. Oh I went to school for a few years.” I’m not going to judge where you’ve been, how could I, I’ve lived a life, it wasn’t perfect, but today and now I’m ready to build something new, that’s why I date. We’re supposed to be trying to get to know one another and the answer just felt out of place in the pacing of the conversation. These sort of abrupt out of place answers are a dime a dozen for us, I never know how to respond, so I generally just stop replying, and the next day: Ding. “How was your day?

One day I’m surprised he’s sharing more about his team and he suggests he’d like to leave me tickets to a game at the box office sometime, but doesn’t specify when. A few days later I joke about how he’s so elusive, and send a little wink face. I’m flurting, it’s like flirting adjacent. And again I get a response that drops my emotional IQ another point: “How am I elusive? My game schedule is very public, you could track me down with one google search.” I’m dumbfounded, he hasn’t invited me out to a specific game; I felt like I had to be a faceless fan to be within earshot of him. I don’t understand the comment – if I was playing I wouldn’t want the distraction/pressure of knowing a guy is there to see me – a guy I’ve been putting off meeting for weeks.

I can’t remember what his last text was, only when, sometimes around the beginning of the summer, and I had just had enough and I didn’t reply. I didn’t get a follow-up invitation to a game, I never found out what he did for a living for the last decade, and we never went for those drinks I suggested. An entire month would pass before I found a way to reel him back to me, without saying a word. I don’t know if its psychological warfare but Snapchat stories can be just the spark you need to burn your own goddamn time with fuckboys. 10/10 would do again though. 

Here’s the trick. It’d been a number of weeks since I had stopped replying. Guys had come and gone since swiping on eight. Ironically, I had been asked on a date to go see eight’s team play (I swerved on that guy for other reasons but I’ll tell you that story another time), and I found myself thinking about him, his dark eyes, and sporty summer dates. I still had a morbid curiosity about why eight was so elusive with me. I had long since deleted the text thread, out of sight out of mind after all, but I still had his number in my phone, because as much as I love replying with “new phone who dis” I do sometimes prefer to go ghost on guys who’ve proven they can’t take no for an answer.

Our MVP of this part of the story is definitely Snapchat’s “Add From Contacts” feature. I added eight, without a text, or a reason, in the middle of a workday and he added me back almost immediately. Over the next few days I posted some nonsense photos of my new manicure and some random things from my workplace downtown. Look at me: I’m feminine, and funny, I have an interesting and active social life that involves a lot of trendy pubs and I can keep up with bros, I promise. I stayed radio silent – never chatting or sending anything directly but when I knew I had his attention in the views I posted a muted video on my story. It’s of my face saying “bitch I might be” with an overlaid caption that said “Living My Best Life”.

mybestlife

Now, take that dose of crazy with a grain of my self awareness: I’ve always worked in design and advertising, and thanks to dating apps and my gaggle of bro-friends that shoot straight with me, I know which photos, and thus, which of my “looks” perform best with most men. For whatever reason, my hair half up in a ponytail and a mischievous smirk gets me the most attention, which equates in online dating to matches. The game plan in advertising is always the same: when you have good ROI on a branding esthetic/content – you ride it out, build on it, get feedback regularly, and when results stagnate start implementing your new campaign that, if you’re smart, you’ve been developing for a while. And rest assured dear readers, I’m running a whole new campaign these days. Boys better bring their A game – because I will literally tell anyone everything I know about mind fuckery.

So let’s rewind to earlier in the summer: Eight knew what is was like to be in daily contact with me. He knew what my social life and weekend habits were like. He knew I was generally a positive person who was easy going. But he only ever had access to my Bumble profile photos back then. They’re unfiltered and generally I try to look pretty put together, I’m trying to attract a gentleman after all (I think? Am I? I don’t know.) But this was the new frontier for him, he had seen snippets of my life in Snapchat photos, he could understand the brand of myself that I projected to my followers, and now he had la piece de resistance: he had seen of video of what I look like talking, with a shit-eating smirk on my face. Was the message for him? Well, we all know it was here and now. But at the time, those were details he didn’t know. He was missing two pieces information that would’ve rounded out his understanding of me: 1. what in the hell I was playing at, and 2: by design, I had muted the video, so he would wonder what I sound like.

From my own experience, it’s jarring when you know how someone talks, then find out how they sound. Those first few minutes where you internally adjust to what their pitch, tone and cadence is as they’re rambling off nervous hellos on a sidewalk outside a restaurant. I miss a hundred percent of what guys are saying in those moments. I could avoid this by telling them to call me first, but honestly so far all the guys I’ve met are never really ballsy enough, except one.

And by the way, if my boss ever reads this, I need a raise. Because my viral marketing skills are fire flame. Within minutes of posting that video on my Snapchat story I had a new SMS text message: “Hey! It’s Eight. How’s your summer been?”

And I literally cackled out loud “Gotcha bitch!”