Recreating Lives

When I first moved to Hong Kong, I didn’t have any expectations on how it would go. I didn’t know anything about the city, and quite frankly, I only took the job because nothing else remotely as interesting had panned out1.

When I landed and was picked up by a driver sent by my then boss, I was in (a very sleep deprived 2) awe of just scale of humanity in the city. Up until this point, I don’t think I’d ever stepped foot in a city as vertical as this one 3. I knew no one in this city of 7 million, a sobering idea when I nearly got hit by a bus on my first day because traffic goes the opposite way 4.

Because I had no notions of what to expect, I was able to build a completely new life there with new people, new hobbies, and new interests. The only thing I really wanted to find in Hong Kong were good American craft beers 5.  That was it. This is not to say I wasn’t homesick. I was, for about the first 6 months, but that went away surprisingly quickly.

Moving back to Chicago has been an entirely different beast. From having spent 4 years for school here, I had an expectation of how the city would be like, and it was romanticized in my head as being the place where I first felt at home, where I belonged. I forgot that what made places feel good to me were the people there 6.

I find that I’ve fallen into a trap where I’m trying to recreate the bits I loved about Hong Kong (reliable public transportation, people who were ambitious in some form or another 7 or just did really cool things, gym community, British beers, boyfriend), but nothing is coming together. The CTA is notoriously, conspicuously, and frustratingly slow 8. I’ve made some new friends, but I don’t feel like I’m learning much about anything from them. My current gym is seriously subpar9. Not pining too much for British beers as I’ve found a couple of others that are pretty nice.

And yes, now addressing the boyfriend. Notice how I’ve been silent for quite a way on anything romance related? It’s not that I’m keeping things from you, reader. It’s just that there’s absolutely nothing worthwhile to write about. The dates I’ve been on have been so unremarkable that I have even been unable to spin any sort of remotely interesting story about any of them.

A friend of mine (she shall henceforth be referred to as Burrito Friend because our friendship started by pursuing a top 10 list of best burritos in Chicago 10) remarked a bit offhandedly to me that not everyone can be lucky enough to still be in love with their ex. And that struck me. Maybe it’s true, though it’s been a while since we split up, so it shouldn’t be the case, right? Am I enough of a sap to still be hanging on to this slightly more romantic image of him? Though I suppose it also says a lot that if we ever find ourselves in a similar locale and are both still single, I’d go after him in a heartbeat. Yes, I understand that we wouldn’t be the same people as we were when we were in Hong Kong, but why not try?

The Bun also weighed in on this for me since it threw me for such a loop. She thinks it’s ultimately a good thing that I haven’t demonized him in my own recollection. Though, it’s pretty hard to demonize a cute guy with a British accent who brought me all sorts of food, even when I was in the hospital. He even visited everyday.

Ok, maybe Burrito friend is right. But I should be able to find someone similar in Chicago right? Doesn’t necessarily have to be British or look like he did. I just want someone nice who will bring me food.

1. 4th year for me was weird because when everyone else was going crazy with recruiting, I was putting together an application for the Army’s officer candidate school. That didn’t pan out as I didn’t manage to heal from a nearly torn through tendon in my foot, leaving me scrambling around March and April for a job. The other places I had on site interviews at were completely horrifyingly soul sucking enough that I took a job at a small company I couldn’t find much information on in a city I knew nothing about. That should say something about how I felt about those positions.

2. Contrary to popular belief, I am not completely unflappable. I just prefer not to have many people around when I have my meltdowns. Someone I know once told her girlfriend that she was modeling her lack of expressed negative emotions after me. Anyway, I digress. That flight was super sleep deprived because I was an absolute ball of anxiety during the 12+ plane ride over. I was nervous enough to have gotten sick the second I landed in San Francisco from Dallas to catch the connecting flight over to Hong Kong.

3. Sure Beijing had been more populated, the city was also much more spread out.

4. When I drive back stateside now, I still have to remind myself that I need to drive on the right side of the road. Funny how just 2 and a half years abroad can have such an impact on my life.

5. But then American beers got crazy happy with beers that supposedly are flavored by jasmine tea,  blackcurrant, vanilla or something else equally as heinous for a beer. I now find myself pining for a glass of clear British pale ale.

6. I find that I’m saying I don’t feel particularly strongly about people very often now. But really, if you’re a friend of mine in person and are reading this, you know that isn’t true.

7. I have only met ONE new person in Chicago so far where I had the initial reaction of, “OMG you’re so cool. How can I be more like you?”

8. I have outpaced 3 buses on a certain route while on my bike recently.

9. Everyone there is perfectly nice, which is why I stick around (that and it’s close), but I’m not entirely convinced the coaches know exactly what they’re doing. It’s also a nice place for me to get a much needed ego-trip and feel superior to others.

10. Carbon Live Fire Mexican was the winner. Get the Motherclucker, Stelotes, or Fish named William burrito. Their elotes are also great, as are their flour tortilla chips that come with the guacamole.

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The Ubiquity of Headphones (and why it’s a terrible thing)

Dear Missed Meet Cute,

It’s quite rare for me to want to strike up a conversation with someone random1. I normally don’t know what to say, or if I’m intruding, or if I’m being very awkward. I can’t seem to make mundane small talk2 without either being bored out of my own mind or worrying that I’m boring the other person out of their mind.

Now, imagine my surprise when on my way home from work, I spied you, on the train in your scrubs like a baby doctor3, a nurse, an orderly, a phlebotomist, or a hospital lab technician. You even had a bit of a 5 o’clock shadow4, brown hair, and smelled really good5. We even made eye contact! All good right?

NO. A resounding NO. Why? Because you had your earbuds in. Earbuds and headphones are the number one killer of spontaneous conversations. Yes, I understand that you probably had them in to avoid having a conversation with someone rather unpleasant on the train, or to be able to ignore the man pushing a stroller around (which may or may not have had a kid in. I couldn’t tell because it was completely covered) asking for money for him and his child with Down Syndrome. But you missed me! Awesome, not so little me! I could’ve dazzled you with my wit, my stories of travel, and my terrible (but amazing) one liners and puns!

Instead, you sat there, hunched over on your phone with your earbuds in, trapped in your own little bubble of solitude. What do you headphone wearing people listen to all the time anyway? There can’t be that much music in the world to listen to over and over again, every day on your commute. A podcast maybe? Still! There is only a finite number of podcasts. Wouldn’t it be more exciting to pay attention to your surroundings? How do you even know if a car, much less another person, is coming up behind you6? What is so terrible about the world that you have to incessantly seclude yourself in your imaginary bubble? I promise that the world is not that scary or nasty all the time!

And the worst part of our very ephemeral encounter? You even held the door open for me as I came out of the same station as you.

-A very disappointed Bean.

1.I used to have the worst anxiety about talking to random people to the extent that I would rarely even ask for help or directions when lost. Doing quite a bit of traveling (some solo or mostly solo) has changed that a lot, mostly because I’d have gone a week or so without speaking otherwise.
2. This is also why I’m absolutely terrible at real networking events. I can’t seem to get the small talk out of the way to talk business with someone.
3. Not a pediatrician. I’d say pediatrician if I meant a doctor who cares for babies. Rather a doctor in training. I tend to refer to a lot of entry-level people as “babies.” As in, I have quite a few friends who are baby investment bankers.
4. Men who read this blog take note: I really like guys with a respectable 5 o’clock shadow. I’m also single.
5. Smelling good is a HUGE pre-requisite for me. I think I’ve mentioned this before.
6. This is a big one for me since I also tend to bike everywhere. I’ve had people ask me how I can bike all day without listening to music. I like living.

New Year, new profile, new image?

Hello, my name is The Bun. I am a twenty-something Western-educated graduate student in the humanities, perpetually single, and politically moderate. I like eating bread, wearing skinny jeans, and reading works by Oscar Wilde. When I grow up, I want to write a book1.

In 2016, I will endeavour to spend more constructive time (and enjoy spending this time) alone. I will try to become less invested in other people’s problems when they ask me to give them advice. I will also kick off the year in this post by walking readers through the excruciating art of profile writing. The Bean has discussed the effectiveness of Tinder profiles and greetings on the recipient of a message, at good length, with good detail, and in good humour2. I am here to take on the process of writing a profile for myself.

I have always been the kind of person who spends a long time thinking about how to represent myself, in a variety of different situations, to achieve maximum impact with those around me3. But my recent experiences writing scholarship applications was entirely too draining. Did I want to sound smart? In need of financial support? A potential leader among equally smart and qualified individuals? Writing about my achievements in the professional world began to sound disingenuous, and I ran out of synonyms for “opportunity”. I am not shameless enough to exaggerate a story about the plights of being a woman or a not-quite third culture kid4. I could not go over the word limit, yet did not want to write too little.

Curating a Facebook page or Twitter account is just as troublesome. How can I sound socially aware, but quirky and follow-able? But when we move onto online dating profiles, the “follow-able” criterion becomes “date-able”, the space to express ourselves becomes smaller, and the stakes, at times, are higher. We may also never know how our profiles are perceived by a viewer; currently, my Tinder information is a Zoolander quote. No one bites5.

And let’s not kid ourselves — profiles are not always representative of the people they are supposed to represent. Scholarship applications can be ghostwritten and profile photos can be touched up. The ease of curation is, often, a myth, and it never stops with just creating the one profile. When we don’t get the attention we believe that we deserve (too few likes! The “we don’t have any more matches for you” message on Coffee Meets Bagel!) is to change the profiles themselves. Do I switch the order of my photos? Try to sound less smart? Hide my super fancy undergraduate degree?

As an experiment I will be writing into a magazine’s dating contest as a part of a Valentine’s Day promotion. To do this, I will need to submit a profile — a photo of myself, my age, my occupation, and some information about myself. As The Bean has already demonstrated, first impressions really do matter. Maybe I should write in that I would need a glass of wine, a bit of inspiration, and a spot of courage to get this one done.

 

1. I’ve got some half-baked drafts of teen romances somewhere in the depths or a USB memory stick. At the age of 15, I was wannabe-precocious and thought that I was pretty funny. I guess nothing has really changed, except that I now write postgraduate-level thesis chapters.
2. And with pictures, scathing remarks, and just a tad of sentimentality. Pretty good, I think!
3. On my first day of college as an international freshman, my chosen fun fact at my dormitory orientation event was “I had my first ever bagel this morning! It was delicious, just like they say on TV.” I became “the exotic one”. I had instant friends.
4. Really, I prefer the term “worldly”. Or, “not allowed to register to vote anywhere”. 
5. No one also cares about my super duper fancy university degree or the fact that one of my photos is adorably goofy. What’s up with that? We’re really going to have to get a male Bean in here one day to discuss the other side of Tinder profile perceptions!

Dating by Numbers

I want to talk about numbers in regards to dating. I’m not going to touch upon THE number, the one that tells the whole world how many people I’ve slept with because, quite frankly, that’s a very boring number that tends to provoke unnecessary judgement and/or congratulations1.

Instead, the first number I want to address is the average number of dates that I (and the unwitting friends I polled) are willing to go on before deciding to sleep with someone.

For me, it’s 3. The Bun actually shares this number with me. After a quick informal poll of friends, this number seems to be on the lower side. Now, I will say that I’ve never had a one night stand,2.but I am most definitely not going to wait after 5-6 dates. Generally with working out schedules, the first couple of dates, for me at least, are spaced a week apart. 5-6 dates meaning investing 2 months of my time before figuring out if we’d work out sex wise, and that’s just too long of a time to sink in.

Some may think that 3 dates is a bit short, but one month gives me enough time to figure out if 1) I actually like you as a human being, 2) do you bore me, and 3) do I want to share a wet spot3. with you? Oh, and a major thing for me is if the guy smells good. I know it sounds bizarre, but some people just smell funky to me and to no other person4..

After a quick informal poll of friends, this seems to be on the lower side for my female friends. For the girls I polled, the answers ranged from, “If I’m feeling it on the first date” to “at least 5-6 dates.”

For the boys, it ranges from “Hell, yea I’ll try to make a move on the first date” to “after 5-6” to “if we’re both feeling it” to “sometimes I’m so clueless that I just wait for the other person to make the first move.” One more data-minded friend broke it down directly: 155., 1, 1, 206..

Most people I asked were pretty hesitant to put out an exact number, or even a ballpark number. Instead, I tended to get quite a bit of explanation about why things are the way things are. I also wouldn’t want to sleep with someone if I’m not feeling it with that person, but generally I figure that out before dates 4, 5, and 6. Maybe I’m just too quick to judge, but I think I tend to have a pretty good judge of character7.

 

 

1. I’m a big fan of congratulating both my girl and guy friends on sex things.

2.Remember how I tend to obsess over axe-murderers? There’s a part of my brain that tells me that I might get axe-murdered by a one-night stand, even though I don’t own an axe. Also, meeting people is a really awkward affair for me most of the time, and I just don’t think I’m really that great at picking people up in bars or wherever people go to pick each other up.

3. This is one part of sex that movies and TV shows always forget about! It’s fun and games until the awkward moment of figuring out who gets the wet spot.

4. In college, I made out with a guy who seemed pretty great, but he also just smelled like a mix of cheese, old socks, and new paperback books. I like paperback book smell, but not when it’s combined with the other two. I asked another friend to smell him for me. Said friend went up to the guy, gave him a huge bear hug, took a very very audible inhalation, looked over at me, and declared, “Nope, smells normal!”

5. High school girlfriend.

6. Catholic enough to care, though apparently not anymore?

7. Not dating related, but I’ve met up with more than my fair share of people from the Internet in person, and I’m still around! My favorite first meet up involved getting picked up at a corner in Beijing (I’d only been there a few weeks tops) by someone from the Internet.

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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