Not enough to go around

Since this blog discusses things like technology in dating, the Bean and I have to seriously keep up to date with news and developments in this field1. This new article in the Guardian seriously needs to be discussed, a challenge which I’ll take on in this post. It discusses Jon Biger’s new book Date-onomics and its findings that “there may not be enough educated men [i.e., those who have a university degree] to go around”.

The article postulates that the “pool is smaller” for women looking for college educated men to date. Of course, after reading this, I started to think about my own pool — am I having trouble finding university-educated men? Or am I just having trouble finding men that I like?

Considering that my cohort of the university-educated meet new people primarily through work, school, and friends of friends, the possibility of our even making small talk with someone without a college degree is miniscule. I can count on one hand the number of non-college graduates I have met and become somewhat friends with on one hand in my 10 years of living in Hong Kong2. College graduates, especially those from foreign universities, congregate at the same bars, cafes, and restaurants. We go to the same house parties and probably know a lot of the same people. In other words, for most of our peers, our entire pools — whether for dating, screwing around, paddling — are university-educated. What’s more, the customisation of online dating for users helps us pre-select only the “like-minded” types of people we want to see — you can toggle your settings on Coffee Meets Bagel, for example, so that no non-diploma-holding individuals ever get presented to you on your phone screen3.

If we only meet college-educated, somewhat “like-minded” potential partners, saying that we are “looking for someone with similar education” doesn’t mean very much at all. In fact, it becomes a given, controlled variable in all of our social interactions — trying to find someone who doesn’t actually have a degree is hard!

The question I’m attempting to answer today is this: is the bachelor diploma the single utmost, dealbreaker-esque criterion of young women looking for a potential partner, or even a date?

I can imagine that many young women would say “yes” to the above question. After all, we don’t want to seem like we’re selling ourselves, nor do we want to see too arrogant about what is within our leagues. But the reality of our little criteria checklists is much more messy. Last night, I indulged in a little Gilmore Girls binge and watched the episode where Paris goes to a speed-dating event hosted by a Yale University student club. When the first guy reveals that he’s an art major4, she immediately jumps up and moves on to the next station, pushing another girl out of the way.

So let’s put it bluntly — would you rather date a painter who graduated with a visual arts degree from Yale and has no steady income, or someone in a profession that does not require a college degree — a flight attendant, perhaps, or a chef? Now, an individual answering this question would probably say “that depends”, and proceed to list off a bunch of additional criteria5. These selection factors are unique for every person, and while they probably exist in addition to “college-educated”, they have got to be more important.

Dating is very often not about finding someone “like-minded” — it’s about optimisation of several different criteria, in a highly personalised matrix, in a radar chart6. Articles and books about the lack of college-educated men isn’t doing any single women any favours. I’d like to see, instead, someone take on a population study of single men who have jobs and are not in debt. Or have been promoted more than twice in the last five years. Or can perfectly demonstrate the use of a semicolon.

1. I also recently started following many many news outlets on Facebook so that I can jump over the paywall by linking through social media; goodbye to productive thesis writing days in the office!
2. Of course, I realise that this situation may be specific to metropolis living, and even more specific to metropolis living for expatriates. In Hong Kong, even the bars are opened by Ivy League degree-holding ex-investment bankers. It probably won’t be the same if I were living in a small American town.
3. CMB also asks why a user likes or passes on a particular profile. One of the drop-down menu options is “well-educated”. I’ll be the first to admit that I have clicked on this particular bubble many times. On the contrary, when I pass on a profile, I often write in “too many typos” or “bad grammar”.
4. I feel like I have to emphasise that he said ART major, not ARTS. I am in the ARTS faculty of a major university, but I will not come within 10 feet of a paintbrush unless it’s for DIY purposes. Excuse me for my self-delusion, but I do believe that the ARTS discipline that I am in is a lot more useful.
5. The analogy I used earlier when trying to discuss this with a friend is that it’s like economic regressions: If <college educated> then <x>. If <not college educated> then <y, z>. All my regression knowledge comes from an econometrics course I took in my sophomore year of college, so it’s not very good but I still think the analogy is apt.
6. This is becoming the post in which I expend all my possible Excel/data analysis knowledge. For a historian, I have nothing to be ashamed of.

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Welcome to America, Land of Mediocrity!

I’ve been back in the US for almost a year now, and this transition has not been the easiest. While I initially came back more outgoing and open-minded, I’ve found that I’ve since regressed to become a bit more standoffish, more judgmental, and most alarmingly, more bitter. Coming back to the US has made me a more bitter person. Why?

The answer is mediocrity. When I was abroad, I was surrounded by high achieving people who inspired me in one way or another. My co-workers were all great people with either high academic achievement or savant-like people skills. The gym community was populated by multiple managing directors of major international banks, high flying lawyers, hedge fund owners, artistic entrepreneurs, and airline pilots. To be honest, I normally felt the odd one out at the gym work-wise, but then, not many 21 year olds1 are able to have their acts together enough to graduate college and land a cushy job outside the country, so I was in good company. Perhaps it’s just that the people who are normally living abroad as expats usually choose to go abroad and teach English2 or are sent by their companies to head up some new office or another.

While traveling, I had the luck to meet some fascinating people, who were not the textbook definitions of success but were interesting and intelligent in their own way. I will readily admit now that I probably would never have met a commercial fisherman who indulged in motorbike racing and entirely too many prescription drugs3 in the normal course of my life. I find that most people, myself included up until this point, choose not to socialize with those who we perceive as different. As my brother plans for his wedding, he and his fiancee are realizing that they don’t know any creative people who they can ask for favors to help with flowers or photography or anything else associated with a wedding. All they know are young finance professionals like themselves, and sadly enough, they are ok with it.

Since being back in the US, I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t want to be better. They want to blame the system instead of working hard for themselves. Others I find are just plain lazy and subpar.  I see this in the classes I’m taking at Chicago’s public research university4, at the my new Crossfit gym5, and in people I’ve met doing various things around the city. The Chicago Transit Authority is just as bad. When I complain, others merely shrug and say this is how all public transportation is like. They don’t believe me when I say I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for a train in Hong Kong, even at 2am on New Year’s Day. They choose to be in denial. They choose to be second-rate.

Perhaps I just care too much about the people around me, but I just don’t understand why people don’t want to better themselves. And the result of all this? I snap at those who ask stupid questions6, I’m constantly annoyed with late buses, trains, and cell phone outages in tunnels7, but mostly, I think I’m bitter at myself for choosing to leave behind a life I built in Hong Kong that I could not have8.

1. At Crossfit gyms, there is a tradition of doing birthday burpees. You do as many burpees as the age you’re turning. On my first birthday I celebrated in Hong Kong, one of the other members called me out because she noticed on Facebook that it was my birthday. I was then asked how many burpees I’d be doing. After my reply of, “22,” I had to show my Hong Kong ID card to prove that I indeed was that young.
2.Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. Those are who are derisively referred to as “Losers Back Home,” especially in Asia. Losers back home normally couldn’t hack it for some reason or another and profit from the mere fact that they are white. They are a lesser breed of expats who mostly wallow in a very colonial sense of white entitlement while abroad.
3. I traveled overland from Thailand to Malaysia with him and the travel buddy. The fisherman passed out on 8 Xanax.
4. A girl who is currently in my lab group for chemistry is struggling to maintain a B, even though she has taken the class previously with the same professor and has all her old exams. Instead of studying, she tries to memorize answers from previous exams and tries to copy her old lab reports. I don’t understand why she would choose to copy from her previous assignments considering that she failed the course the first time around. She gets mad at the TA and the professor instead.
5. Most of the other girls I’ve met at the new gym are very averse to practicing stuff they suck at. The coaches don’t seem to push them too hard into improving their suckiness though. End result? I’m near the forefront of the leader boards at the gym, which is pretty disheartening.
6. A girl in my biology class asked me in all seriousness, “Which one is the x-axis? Is it the vertical one or the horizontal one?”
7. Seriously America. Figure it out. I had cell reception while traveling in a tunnel under the Hong Kong Harbour. Yes, that’s right. I had cell reception underwater. I also had cell reception in the middle of a jungle on an island off the coast of Thailand.
8. Dear Reader, you are no doubt asking yourself, “Why did The Bean leave behind this life she built and liked so much?” The answer is that Hong Kong is not the place I’d like to be in 10 years. The dilemma that most expats face around the 2-year mark is whether to stay or go. If I’d have stayed for 3 years, I would’ve been half way to my permanent residency in Hong Kong, which takes 7 years to get. At that point, I might as well stay. By the time the 7 years were up, I’d have put down roots there. Hong Kong, though, is not somewhere I’d have liked to stayed. While it’s all fun and games, especially in your 20s, the ultra-segregated environment colored by elitist condescension is not somewhere I’d like to have a family.

The One

We met via Craigslist, the sometimes cesspool of the Internet of all that is sexually depraved. It came as a surprise to me too. I’d always imagined that we would first bump into each other somewhere more conventional, go out a few times, and hit it off before anything more would happened. But no, I guess the heart wants what it wants, and there is no stopping it.

To me, it was definitely love at first sight. On our first date, we just walked around the block, a charming little stroll around his neighborhood. But by the end, I knew that I needed to have him in my life. Him and all his blueness.

This past summer was our first together, and he has been an absolute gentleman. He’s taken me to work and to school, and he’s taken me on adventures within Chicago: up and down the lakefront, in and out of various neighborhoods. He is always up for doing whatever I want. All he asks me in return is to ride him hard, if you get what I mean.

And I have. Granted, just starting out, he was a bit rusty, but once he got used to my cadences and rhythms, we can now go on for hours on end together. Me on top. Him, uncomplainingly on the bottom. The only time we have to stop is when my legs get too tired. I take good care of him too. At least once a week I’ll rub him down.

Instagram tells me that we’ve only been together for 22 weeks, but he’s also already met all my close friends. They’ve all complimented me on such a treasured find. I like to joke that he is the only constant thing between my legs these days. They laugh. I couldn’t be prouder.

And now, I’d like to introduce him to the blog.
bike

The Algorithm God of Small Things

Once upon a time, I opened an account on OkCupid. A friend had recommended it as a good tool to use to meet some new people. Being single, bored at my job, and a bit tipsy, I typed out a moderately-detailed profile that highlighted my love of bread1 and the film Robin Hood: Men in Tights. I uploaded a respectably-recent photo of myself in which I was smiling. Then I clicked into the questions, and I was hooked.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the algorithmic ideal of OkCupid, the process is such that even very small, somewhat inane and seemingly trivial questions can help a user to triangulate their perfect matches2. Users answer bunches of questions and a match percentage arises from in-common answers.

However, one fundamental, insurmountable barrier that was not (and could not have been) addressed by the hundreds of questions I answered stood in the way of a relationship with the only person I ended up meeting from this site. Even though we both correctly answered questions about Shakespearean syntax and logical analogies, several more serious, life-changing priorities kept us casual3.

Would things have been different if we had sat down and completed the “36 Questions that Lead to Love” from the New York Times? Could something have changed if we had simply stepped beyond the quirky and entered the realms of the serious? If he had known how I felt about my relationship with my mother (Q.24) or if I had understood his most terrible memory (Q.18), could we have been more?

Here’s what I’m going to do today: instead of getting all sappy and philosophical as is my usual tendency, I’m going to answer my own question with “I don’t care”. Instead, I’m going to give a voice to those little quirks that we all have, and shouldn’t be embarrassed about if they are what leads us to swipe right, send that first “hey” message, or wear nice underwear to a second4.

Here are a couple of OkCupid questions that I got a good giggle out of, and was happy to talk to someone who had the same answers:

“Does it bother you when someone says ‘PIN number’ or ‘ATM machine'”?
“How spicy do you like your spicy food?”
“In the line “Wherefore art thou Romeo?,” what does “wherefore” mean?”5

And here are a couple of my own small quirks that help me determine if a date is worth repeating:

“How long/how well would you have to know your date before holding hands?”
I have a small rule: no handholding in public (walking down the street, etc.) unless I know his surname. And preferably more than just that. I find it intimate, and a sign of trust that goes beyond even what is required before sex.

“What do you do if there’s a silence during your first date?”
To fill in awkward silences during my first ever Tinder date, I made up a game. “Hey,” I would say to my date, who I understood as not necessarily incompatible, or even a bad date, but possibly just a bit out of the groove after knowing each other for less than an hour, “let’s look around the bar and make up stories about the people we see.” I would usually offer to go first — “that guy’s name is something boring like ‘Vincent’, and he’s an accountant by day and a champion Starcraft player by night. He lives with 2 cats.” First dates can usually be awkward, but that doesn’t mean we should discount second dates. If a guy I’m with is willing to play along, then it’s usually a good sign6.

“How would you suggest to end a first date?”
I’m a fan of hugs, and I will always suggest a hug as a respectable goodbye gesture to a pleasant evening. What the date does in return to my hug is up to him — I’d accept anything from a gracious acceptance to a smooth line leading to a kiss. How a date responds to my hug request sounds absolutely minuscule in the grand scheme of love — but I’m going to irrationally postulate that it really does matter!

If we get to a second date, we can pick up our hand-holding, bar-game playing, and goodbye-hugging from where we left off. Hopefully the positive trajectory will continue.

1. I believe my exact wording was “bread — in both solid and liquid form. Because people who consume carbohydrates are happier than those who do not”.

2. I mentioned in my last post that I’m looking for a beer and Oscar Wilde-loving beagle owner. Of course, I care about the bigger issues too, but it doesn’t take a discussion of life ambition to build an intriguing foundation.

3. We had a 93% compatibility rate, the same taste in TV shows, and great sex. Oh well.

4. As a graduate student of a field that is not philosophy, I also refuse to engage with the hypothetical. Take your Trolley Scenario for moral ethics somewhere else. Be empirical, or go home!

5. a) It bothers me. It really, really does. b) Spicy enough that I can feel the burn, but not so spicy that the taste of the actual food is secondary. I’m not in high school anymore, and I will no longer participate in chilli eating contests to look cool. c) THE ANSWER IS ‘WHY’!

6. My favourite entry to date is “that guy’s name is Fabio, and he’s a failed tennis player turned coach. Lots of girlfriends. Speaks incomprehensible English but women find it a turn-on.” The more detail, the more conviction, the better.

Words with(out) meaning

It was on a tipsy night filled with bravado and celebration that I popped the question to some male friends: “Would you ever tell a girl that she’s a good kisser if you didn’t mean it?”1

“No,” they all replied, unequivocally. One added, “why bother saying something like that at all? It’s really not that hard to get laid.”

As a person who works a lot with language, words mean a lot to me. As a member of Hong Kong’s under 30s generation, I know that all people say certain things sometimes, without meaning all of it. I, myself, typically come prepared to first dates (especially set up through that internet app thing that uses the thumbs) armed with an excuse as to why I have to leave at a certain time2. I recognise that being told that I’m a good kisser or that I look hot might not necessarily mean that my lips have unprecedented prowess. It may, very well, be just an indication that the other person would not mind seeing me naked.

So where should we draw the line between “things people say to get laid” and “things that people actually mean?” How can we tell the difference in sincerity between a badly spelled text saying “ur butts hot”3 and a seemingly genuine, face-to-face “I think I’m in love with you”4? My suspicious brain works itself to smoking status as I construct theories about ulterior motives and possible miscommunications. Can I even really trust my male friends who have told me that they wouldn’t say it if they didn’t mean it? Should I have questioned their motives further?

But while my mind is speeding ahead and I am growing more and more wary of the power of words as a tool to tell lies, I begin to fantasise about the the improbable but amazing hypothetical situation whereby all nice things are said out of pure honesty. Could it be possible that the same person who thinks my butt is hot is also falling in love with me, for real5?

I hope it’s possible6. Perhaps it’s true that actions speak louder than words, and that I should protect and arm myself with a fashionable trench coat of cordial scepticism. But I don’t want words to lose their meanings. I am jaded enough to question every statement, especially every positive thing, that a man says to me. (Un?)fortunately, I am also just enough of a romantic to truly want to believe it all.

1. The bravado and celebration for this evening came from, well, being told that I was a good kisser. It was flattering, to say the least, and I may have had wanted to give the idea a little more empirical experimentation.
2. Excuses I’ve used in the past: “need to attend a birthday”, “roommate is upset at boyfriend and needs to talk”, and “have to be up early to pick up relatives from the airport”.
3. Although our blog has “tall tales” in the title, roughly 99.9% of all content that we write about is truth. This example is not an outlier.
4. And does it matter if this is said before, during, or after sex? Is there a difference in intention based what is about to happen, or had just happened?
5. Throw in a pet beagle and a mutual love for Oscar Wilde and beer and we have the formula for the perfect relationship.
6. All other insecurities aside, I’m ass-proud. It’s a good quality. (Just let me have this one)

Anatomy of a Tinder Greeting

Dear Men of Tinder,

When you send me that first message, please use half a brain. Here are some examples of greetings that I did not even bother to reply to, and thus, did not get you laid:

  • “Hey”
  • “Hey I’m Efy nice to meet you.”1 
  • “Hey Bean! How’s your week going?”2
  • “Hello!”
  • “Good morning!”
  • “What’s an expat?”3
  • “I love. Terrible puns as well!! Why are you reacfliwt. To the U.S. Of The”4
  • “Ever had a threesome”
  • “Esoteric that word is such beautiful grammer. As beautiful as an Oriental like u.”

The last one takes the cake. 1) That’s not what esoteric means. 2) Horrific grammar. 3) Leave me alone you fucking white boy with Asian fantasies (but apparently not enough sense to understand that Oriental is racist and not a compliment). This is what I get for being a bit shallow and swiping right on a cute guy.5

Now, here are some that worked. Let me preface this section by saying that my profile explicitly mentions my having a badonkadonk6, my love of weightlifting, a random country I’ve been to, and an enjoyment of terrible jokes.

  • “What did the buffalo say to his son when he left for college?” (Bison)
  • “You look exciting.”7
  • “What’s the fastest thing in the world? Milk-It’s pasteurized before you see it.”
  • “That’s pretty good use of forced perspective with the fountain….is that Singapore?”8
  • “Pancakes or waffles?”
  • “A lifting booty? congrats! How long have you been lifting for?”
  • “Nearly everybody has the same number of Tour de France titles as Lance Armstrong.”9

Men of Tinder, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you make the slightest effort to half-heartedly gloss over my profile, I’ll most likely reply10. I’m not asking you to give me your heart to me on a silver platter (I’ll probably be creeped out because this is Tinder we’re talking about), but I also don’t have to give you a chance in hell to put your penis in me unless you try just that tiny bit.

1. Tinder already gives me your name. No need to reintroduce yourself.
2. You might seem friendly, but really, why should you give a rat’s ass about my week? You don’t even know me. Don’t ask me how my week is going. That is reserved for friends I don’t really keep much in touch with.
3. http://bfy.tw/1u5L
4. Sloppy drunk texts are the equivalent of finally working up the courage (by drinking) to talk to the cute girl or guy at the bar. Then you vomit all over them. There’s no coming back from this.
5. Tinder informs me that he is now 1548 miles away from me. Thank goodness.
6. Don’t judge. This is Tinder. Badonkadonk is also really fun to say.
7. This is an amazing compliment. No one ever wants to be boring, and how often do you ever get called exciting??
8. +1 for correctly identifying a city from a partially obscured statue and a hotel
9. +2! Random trivia + bad joke!
10. Sometimes I might be too creepy or weird in my replies though. Case:
Tinder guy: I can’t wait to introduce you to my mom!
Me: Already? Cool! I’m so honored! (Your mom is cool right?)
*I have thoughts of maybe he is a serial killer who uses Tinder to find victims (Has there been a Law and Order episode of this yet?)
Me: Also, I hope she isn’t dead because that’d be a little creepy.
-END OF CONVERSATION-

All the world’s a daydream…

The Bean’s and my favourite bar in Hong Kong is a British-style pub, complete with leather couches, a few dozen craft beers, and substantial pies1 on the menu, set in a homey atmosphere. We have had drunken nights, work lunches, and even wedding receptions at this place; most recently, however, I have taken to perching myself in a bar stool and writing my latest thesis drafts. The people who would bring their laptops to a pub at 6 o’clock on a Monday2  are few and far between, and are nearly always IPA drinkers who look purposefully unkempt3 , but I always wonder if I would ever find myself having a conversation with one of them about our work, our choices of beverage, or mutual love of MacBook Air computers.

We all have fantasies about meeting the loves of our lives in our favourite places (or places in which we spend the most time), doing what we so often do. Perhaps it is a fantasy about two teenagers reaching for the same book in a library. Maybe two individuals will look up and lock eyes from across a crowded room4. When I worked the cashier at campus dining halls back in college, I had just the perfect daydream that along would come a well-intentioned, handsome, young future lawyer who would be acting as the sole caretaker for some fraternity brothers on student clubbing night. He would be sheepish that they were holding up my line again, and offer to buy me a coffee as an apology.

Every cafe, bar, and cold-pressed juicery we walk into is a place to meet our soulmates. After all, we can’t do any better than perfectly-aligned mutual interests, right?

It would be incorrect to say that I never meet anyone here — after all, I have been coming to this bar a couple of times a week for the past few years. But none of those interactions have ever checked all my boxes. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was asked, as I was carrying two pints of beer from the bar, “are you going to pay for those yourself, or is some gentleman going to do it for you?” I frowningly tried to enquire if he was offering to pay, and received the baffling reply “oh you look like a woman who makes enough money to pay for her own drinks, I’m sure”5.

I’ve reached the end of this post, and I just looked up from my position at my booth. The couple who was on the next table just walked out after an exceedingly awkward date, in which everything seemed off except for the physical contact. The place is half full with rowdy, middle aged, white businessmen, and a few friends I dragged here with me on the pretence of “hanging out”. No one new has approached me yet, but an old man at the bar did mistake my wave at the manager for himself as the recipient.

But despite the lack of mutually beneficial meet cutes6, this still the place I love to be. I may not be settled on one eligible bachelor, but at least I don’t have to date around for a favourite place.

1. I am talking meat pies here — juicy, savoury artistic creations that are topped with gravy and served with thick cut chips. Nothing screams comfort food more than good, old fashioned, steak and kidney.

2. Also known as “time for two drinks before happy hour ends”.

3. I believe that I also fall into this category, but my unkemptness often lacks the elegance of these hipster freelancers. My raggedy look comes from spending hours at a time translating old documents and taking notes — it’s something that I can personally be proud of, but will never become a fashion statement. (In other news, I’m awesome at drinking IPAs)

4. Recent works of popular culture have made use of this highly-cliched, but very sought-after, trope. Notable examples include the pilot of How I Met Your Mother. Also relevant: the music video for “Jizz in My Pants” by The Lonely Island.

5.This reply was baffling because I was wearing plaid and flip flops. Also, as a graduate student, receiving comments about my presumed affluence really makes me very sad. 

6.”Meets cute”? What’s the correct plural for this rather saccharine internet-age adage? Or is the term actually a verb? Please comment and reply!
Back to reading

Women Merely Glow

I never expected to be the girl who falls really hard for the first guy she dates.

We met at a party that I never really wanted to attend: the friend who convinced me to go and socialize ended up not even attending, but I met A. As the slightly socially awkward person I am, I decided to make small talk about the weather (hot and humid; this was a Hong Kong summer after all), to which A had the most dashing reply in the most charming British accent.

“Horses sweat, men perspire, but women merely glow.”

Done. Sold. That was the end of my perpetual singledom. Who knew I could find such a nice English gentleman on the streets of Wanchai1 that are home to hookers, drunken shenanigans, and most likely a fair bit of bodily fluid.

Aside from the first date2, nothing really was ever very awkward between us. We got along fabulously, ate our way through Hong Kong3, and watched ridiculous internet videos together. He would always bring me shit cake4 from his work, and sometimes really great cupcakes. He also brought me foods I craved when I was in the hospital for 10 days. I was a bit delirious from fever and probably smelled a little unwashed as my body couldn’t muster up enough blood pressure to keep me from feeling dizzy all the time. But he dealt with that and kept me company for the few hours of visiting hours the hospital allowed.

However, all good things must come to an end. I suppose we had an extended summer romance5 where, aside from my hospitalization, we had all the great stuff you want in a relationship, traveling to exotic locales, trying out new foods, just having a good time hanging out and having sex, without the fights. Either that or we really were just that compatible.

Every time I go on a date with a new person now, I can’t help but to not quite subconsciously make comparisons. I know that’s not something any guy would ever want to hear, but it happens when the bar is set so high. I understand that I can’t create that first relationship, but at the same time, there must be someone worth dating for an extended period of time in Chicago, right? Right? Anyone out there?

 

1.Wanchai: historically, where American servicemen would throng the streets to let loose after spending months on a boat. The prices for prostitutes also increased when the sailors and Marines had shore leave.
2. We went to go watch World War Z because I am slightly obsessed with zombies. Turns out, he hates horror movies. I also somehow talked about trying to find a double ended dildo.
3.Getting sushi with me on a date will increase your chances of getting laid 1000%. Getting sushi + Indian food + Korean food in the same meal will basically guarantee sex.
4. Shit cakes were cakes his school would provide students for their birthdays. They were bland, dry, and somehow very dense, sponge cakes.
5. We only dated for a year. We both knew that this relationship had an expiration date as neither of us could envision staying in Hong Kong or moving to each others’ respective countries.
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Dear Mother

Dear Mother,

I must apologise in advance for letting you down – this note does not bring joyful tidings of the type you are expecting. I am not pregnant, and you will not be receiving a grandchild in nine months time, but please trust me in knowing that it is probably for the better. What I do want to address is that conversation we keep circling back to. You know, the one we had again last weekend, when I averted eye-contact and told you that I was definitely still very single, and you retorted by blaming me for my lack of trying, stability, or foresight about my future.

You believe that I don’t date because I don’t feel like it. This is not quite true; I tell you that I don’t date because I do not want you to know about even the top two inches of the cesspool that I have to wade through just to find a semi-decent dinner companion, not to mention baby daddy. I don’t feel comfortable telling you about the time my colleague criticised me of being “such a girl!” because I said that I did not want to be fuck buddies. I couldn’t exactly tell you about that guy from Coffee Meets Bagel who informed me “I have to tell a girl that the blowjob was good if I ever want a repeat”. I never heard from him again. And I really, really did not want to tell you about the law student on the scholarship committee who wanted to send a taxi to pick me up, and take me to his place for a “deeeeeeep kiss”. I probably lost out on a $2000/month scholarship because I said no to the booty call, but I still didn’t want to tell you about it.

The truth is, Mother, that dating kind of sucks. The other truth is that you live in a fantasy world where men are not sometimes assholes,  and it is very easy to land a tenure-track position in the humanities. I love you for your delusions, and I want you to keep them. I don’t tell you about the gropers, the sleazes, or borderline date rapists because I, ironic as this sounds, want to protect you from the plethora of linguistic perplexities of the modern dating world – “friends with benefits”, “sexual fluidity”, and “I don’t like labels!” – that can crush the self-esteem of even the most well-intentioned, optimistic young woman.

I don’t tell you about these men because not only are they not good enough for me, they are also definitely not good enough for you. I want to shield you from the bad feelings, ick at best and devastation at worst, that comes from knowing that your kid is making misstep after misstep. You told me to never second-guess myself, my attractiveness, or what I have to offer in a relationship; I can assure you that you do not want to be here when I prove time and again that it does not take much, or long, for that self-doubt to inevitably kick in.

Maybe I am also just really bad at dating. I may be too much of a bro around my actually-nice male friends, or frequent the wrong bars, or scare off Tinder matches with my tendency to use too-witty jokes. But please know that I am ready to trust someone – I’m just trying to avoid being stomped on, neglected, or otherwise mistreated along the way.

Love, your daughter,

The Bun

P.S. Please tell Cousin Marnie congratulations on her engagement. While you pass on my message, can you please also add that I was voted best speaker at the recent department conference? Actually, can you say that I dazzled so much that a cute postdoc asked me out? I can make a fake LinkedIn profile if I have to.