1. What I Fucked Up: Overpromising sexually.

    Guest post by Will Hines, one of the best improvisers and comedians around.

    After college, I worked at a rural community newspaper (“Rotary Club Debuts Public Bulletin Board”) and had a fling with a coworker - a not unheard of occurrence, but dramatic for young me.  Her name was not Edna, but let’s say it was because I believe that no one within 10 years of my age was ever named Edna and this will protect her identity. Edna was also just out of college, cute and a good writer. But more importantly to me, Edna was a huge show-off. Specifically she was a show-off about being well-read and well-traveled. She’d drop purposefully impressive words in her conversation like “besieged” and “pungent” and self-consciously formal ones like “greetings” and “mad.”  She’d go out of her way to mention her travels in Spain and Prague and China. She’d quote the beat poets and 80s hardcore bands and Henry James.

    She was reeeeeal annoying.

    But at the time, I could not be deterred. I loved show-offs. Especially people who showed off their bookishness and worldliness. I was average looking, sort of a rough draft of Michael J. Fox, but also a shy naive guy, not far removed from honors student/compulsively quoting Steve Martin years. Not a virgin, though my limited romantic experience rounded down to virginity. And socially, my friends were the “stand in groups and quote movies” sort.  I’d stayed in Connecticut my whole life and rarely strayed from following the rules.

    So if a show off self-mythologizing girl wore her contrived adventures on her sleeve, I listened. And if they quoted the Dead Milkmen while they did it, I REALLY listened.

    Of course I got over worshipping this kind of person. By the time I was 40.

    Anyway, my attention flattered her, and we got together for a few weeks. It was sweet and fumbling and to my limited romantic experience and shy nature, overwhelming. But then she moved away for a year to teach English in Japan before that was the kind of thing these types of girls did. She and I wrote letters, with the understanding that our fling was over and these were just two friends staying in touch.

    But a year later she came back to visit and I arranged to meet her. For coffee. As if that was something I did. So we met up, and to my dismay, a great deal of our conversation consisted of her telling me about the amazing sex she’d been having with a Korean chef she had met in her final weeks there. Apparently he did romantic things like surprise her with freshly cut pears or show up with knife wounds from fights.

    I was shocked at how candid she was, and hurt that she was oblivious to how this would make me jealous. But she’d had another life for the past year in another country. I had stayed in my rural Connecticut town and memorized Gin Blossoms lyrics. Our fling was long ago in her memory despite being very near in mine. I was thrown: the whole year I’d hoped she’d come back and rekindle things. She was dramatic and bold, and I wanted to be dramatic and bold by proxy.

    After coffee, she said she had to go shopping (for avocados and vegan everything, I presume) and I went along. There in aisle 7 of a Grand Union supermarket, my former desire for her now transformed into a desire to prove something coupled with my jealousy of the Korean chef and my frustration of never having traveled or done much of anything, all welled up. I wanted to one-up everyone she had ever met. I wanted to be bold and sweep her off her feet with my passion.

    “Want to go have sex in your car?” I asked.

    She studied my face. I tried to hold steady as if she were going to blow air on my eyes and test for glaucoma. Whatever she saw there convinced her and she said “Hmm. Yes.”

    Once she said it, I realized that was the last thing I had expected. Who knew that people sometimes do ridiculous things if you just ask? 15 minutes later we were driving around back roads looking for a tucked-away cul-de-sac or some discreet dirt road.

    As we drove along I started panicking: was I ready for this? I’d had sex a not-that-many number of times, and they had been extremely traditional experiences. Even the ones with Edna.

    The car ride felt like a roller coaster climbing to its first dip, and I had a sense that part of the track would be missing. I reassured myself by thinking “Well, maybe I *am* this kind of person — the kind of person who just runs off and has sex in a car.” When you’re 22, you can still imagine so many futures, you know? Maybe I was going to be like Warren Beatty, just laying girls like crazy and breaking hearts all over the world?

    But then we found a spot, and pulled over. We ambled into the back seat and started making out. And almost immediately, I became amazingly self-conscious that we could easily be found. And of the sounds of our clothes sliding along the cheap plastic seats. And of the bright street light just a bit up the road. I started fidgeting, feeling claustrophobic and even sweating.  I knew that I was not in the mood to fuck and instead just wanted to get the fuck out of there.

    In an absurd halt, I stopped everything and told her I had to leave. “I’ve overbid,” I remembered saying.

    She looked confused, and now looking back I wonder if she was hurt. “Well, that’s fine,” she said. “If you’re not in the mood to romp let’s not romp.”

    She drove me back to the grocery store in silence.

    I didn’t lose touch with Edna. She moved to New York City, and then a few years later I did too. We’d see each other. But I lost my appreciation for people who use words like “romp” and talk about the “devastating” poem they read. Good people to run into, but not good people to date, at least for me.

    Though one night in New York I ran into her in a bar and we had a drink. She was a yoga teacher (of course) and I was teaching improv comedy. She was ranting about something that was wrong with a feminist something and I wasn’t really listening. It did occur to me to re-proposition, but I held off. Because she might have said yes.

    Will Hines is a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and is one of the funniest people on the planet. Follow him on Twitter @willhines.

    For more stories of fuck-ups, please follow this tumblr, and check out some of our past posts about breakups, blowjobs, and bad decisions.


  2. What I Fucked Up: Trying to climb a fence.

    In middle school my best friend and I got into filmmaking. I had dabbled in creating movies before—I made a short film with puppets for a 5th grade health class assignment on the dangers of heroin that was the Requiem for a Dream / Muppets mash-up you never knew you needed. Why ten-year-olds needed to study opiates I don’t know, but maybe I was just blind to the grade school drug scene. The point is, my video camera was giant—the kind where you actually had to insert a blank VHS tape into it and was only useful for stationary filming at home. Not that I minded, since all of my electronics back then were huge—I had a digital camera the size of a shoebox that required you to insert a floppy disk to use it. And one floppy disk held approximately two photos. It was amazing.


    But that Christmas my best friend’s family got a new video camera. I’m sure they intended it to record their family’s special moments, but we decided it was for us to make art. The camera was beautiful: it was handheld, it took mini DV tapes, and it had filters you could put on like Night Vision and Sepia. Obviously it was what the professionals used. So we couldn’t just let this Instagram-precursor sit around waiting for holidays, we needed to make some movies. Specifically, horror parodies.

    After a few experimental shorts, my friend and I were ready to make our first feature (AKA a 10 minute movie)! It was about a deadly forest gnome and we wrote out a loose outline, figuring that like all great movies all dialogue could just be improvised. The only thing left to do was cast some other actors. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with my crush, so I asked him to be one of the guys who gets murdered. If you need a pickup line, feel free to take that one out for a test drive. My house had a few acres of woods behind it so it was the perfect gnome-murder location. That meant that after so many diary-entries fantasizing about this day, my crush would actually be coming over to my house. No, he wouldn’t see my bedroom, but he would definitely see my unkempt forest. WINK. Gross.

    The shoot started off really well! It was full of extreme hand-held close-ups and shaky cam running just like The Blair Witch Project taught us good cinema should be. We’d also improvised some HILARIOUS bits where the gnome encountered a Pokeball (trash from a McDonald’s Happy Meal) and where the gnome encountered another monster (my dog Brutus). I was feeling pretty confident because I was doing a great job acting as a terrified camper and I looked really good—I’d crimped my hair, put on bright blue eye shadow, and was wearing my favorite pair of glittery jeans, so my crush had to be impressed! Then it was time to film the big chase scene, which just so happened to be my scene with my crush. The gnome would run after us, I would climb the chain link fence that bordered my yard and the park, and the gnome would grab my crush and devour him. Simple.


    My friend called action and we started running, our goofy friend grunting behind us as the gnome. My crush did his choreographed fall and yelled “Go on! Go without me!” I let out a dramatic “I’ll never leave you!” but then proceeded to keep running. Titanic was another big influence at that point. I ran to the fence, climbed to the top, and with a push jumped down to the other side. But as I jumped, I heard a CRRRRRRRSSSSHHHH! Laughter and shouting erupted from my friends and as I looked down I realized what had happened. The fence must have hooked onto the fabric of my jeans and underwear, and as I jumped, I ripped them completely off. I screamed and tried to shield myself, grabbing a fistful of leaves for cover as if I were Eve. My best friend ran to me and used her body to block mine as we made the long trek back to my house. But the boys just kept laughing and laughing and I knew that any romance with my crush was now doomed.

    Later I made my friend delete the footage of my exposé. At the time I was relieved to have it gone, but now I realize that was a mistake; we had deleted the only moment in our comedy of actual comedy.


  3. What I Fucked Up: Guilt.

    Guest post by Anna Drezen, comedian and creator of How May We Hate You.

    Once upon a time, I was an odd but very confident child.

    I was individualized enough at that age to have strange and varied interests, but had not yet developed the requisite ashy, awkward, protective shame that goes along with being weird. My freak flag was flying freely. I did baseball, ballet, karate, and gymnastics. I’d dig up fat earthworms from the lawn, wave my mom over, and kiss the shit out of those worms. For some reason I was Aspergers-level obsessed with The Mummy. There was a lot happening.

    I never felt bad about myself or my weird. But now, things are different. I exist in a state of perma-embarrassment. Whenever my phone rings, I assume it’s my boss about to fire me, or Chase bank telling me my identity was stolen, or some semi-friend about to call me out for talking shit. Even just seeing the title “What I Fucked Up,” my heart is flooded with shame and guilt. I am now very well acquainted with the blissful partnership of these two similar but distinct psychological states.

    My mom is Irish Catholic and my dad is Jewish, so you’d think this was a genetic thing. But I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint one very formative experience as the catalyst for the way I am now.

    I was framed for punching a classmate in first grade.

    See, me and this skinny kid Mike P. had this weird game we’d play called Daddy. Are you creeped out yet? You should be. Basically, I’d run up from behind him at the end of recess, hug him really hard around the stomach, wait for the whistle, and yell “DADDY!”, and then we’d race each other back to the school building. He would always, always win.

    See? Weird, but unashamed. There was no point to it, but it made us happy.

    One fateful day, upon spotting our lunch assistant Frances putting the whistle to her mouth, I swung my laser focus across the playground seeking out Mike P. for our daily weirdness. In my haste, I made a mortal error: I picked the wrong Daddy. From behind, Mike P. arguably looked like the only kid in our grade who was smaller and frailer than he: Mike D.

    But I didn’t realize it until it was too late. I noticed my arms went further around him than usual, and he didn’t put up any resistance, so the two of us toppled over into the playground pebbles. Then, when the whistle blew, I didn’t hear him get up and start running after me. In my 6-year old mind, I figured it was because I was running so super fast that he was too far behind me for me to hear his footsteps. I ran as fast as I could, high on success, and won the race easily. Best day of my life!

    But from Mike D.’s perspective, he was just minding his own skinny business, trying not to be felled by a soft wind, when the weirdest, manliest girl in his class grabbed him from behind, yelled something aggressively sexual, body slammed his tiny body down into the gravel with the full weight of her body, and then immediately sprinted away. He was scared, he was hurt, and he possibly wet his pants. I’ll never forget walking past the nurse’s office and seeing him weakly standing there like a little oil spill duckling as the school nurse glared at me.

    When I got back to class, my teacher gave the rest of the class a ditto and called me over to her desk. “Anna, why did you hit Mike D.?” I was super confused. “What? I didn’t hit anyone.” She sat back in her chair, very disappointed that her star pupil was flat-out denying her violent behavior. “Anna, everyone saw you punch and shove that boy on the playground.” Suddenly I realized what had happened. He’d obviously gotten hurt, but that was never my intention. I felt this horrible, twisting, new sensation: guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. I was so overwhelmed by the new feeling (and was so little) that I didn’t know how to explain to her what had happened. All I could manage was:

    “I didn’t do it.”

    She sighed. “Anna, if you don’t stop lying, and if you don’t apologize to Mike D. for hurting him, I’m going to have to send you to the principal’s office.”

    I froze. The principal’s office?! ME?!?! I required extra homework every night because I was so smart and talented and well-behaved, and here she was, threatening to send me to the place for kids who smoked pot or exposed themselves.

    I did everything she said. I felt so sad and knew it was unfair, but I did it anyway.

    On my way home from school that day, I overheard his teacher loudly regaling a group of moms about how Anna Drezen beat the shit out of one of her students. “And it WASN’T JUST A PUNCH. She SHOVED HIM INTO THE ROCKS.” The moms oohed and ahhed at this gossip about a child. In a fair world, they now all have shitty necks. Who knows.

    When I got home, I told my mom what happened, eager for her to take my side. But she wasn’t quite getting it. “A boy got hurt, Anna, and you’re the one that hurt him. Be more careful next time.”


    “If you don’t stop but-ing me, you’re not going to gymnastics.”

    That settled that. I swallowed hard, accepted my plea bargain bravely, and got into my leotard. “Surely I shall reclaim my pride in the gym,” I thought. “They’ll see me for who I really am.”

    I was a fool.

    That night at gymnastics, I messed up a front walkover. My teacher went off on me in front of everyone for “being a baby.”

    By far, the worst day ever. The intense guilt was more than my little body could take, and I’m convinced it’s never worn off.

    I’m now a performer and enjoy that regulated version of people paying attention to me, but I can withstand very little other social interactions for fear that people will see right through me and find out that I’m bad. Therapy is helping, but I truly think of that day as my comic book origin story for why I am the way I am. “She fell into a vat of shame, and emerged Endless Guilt Girl!”


    14 years later, under the influence of some liquid courage, I approached Mike D. at a house party to drunkenly explain myself. He laughed and told me not to worry about it, but I swear to god, he totally flinched.


    I recently found out from my mom that she pulled me out of that studio two years later after discovering they were encouraging us 8 year-olds to watch our diets. She found out because there was a small sign that said “Pounds Mean Points.” SHAME ALL AROUND.

    You can check out more of Anna Drezen’s comedy and storytelling by following her on Twitter (@annadrezen) or checking out her hilarious Tumblr, How May We Hate You. And if you want to see this kick-ass lady live, she performs stand-up and improv all over New York City. 


  4. What I Fucked Up: Introductions.

    I have a pretty good memory, which seems like it should be a positive quality. And it is, except when I “meet new people” who I already know.. Maybe I am not very memorable, or maybe I just associate with flakes, but often people who I have met reintroduce themselves to me. But instead of graciously pretending that this is the first time we’re meeting, I tell them that we already know each other, usually providing a creepy level of detail as to when we met, what they were wearing, and what we talked about. I try not to bring up my smell memory.

    What is said:


    What they then think:


    But what’s worse is that I do this by choice, even when these people aren’t even trying to talk to me. If I spot someone on the subway who I met ages ago, I can’t help myself. I greet them by name, causing them to get incredibly uncomfortable and totally ruining their plan to play Angry Birds in peace. The dumb thing is, I usually don’t even want to talk to these people, I just like reestablishing contact, even when it inevitably makes me seem like a creeper. Then again, I guess I am one, so maybe my “first” impression isn’t so bad after all.


    Over the next few weeks I’ve got some amazing guest comedians who will be sharing their What I Fucked Up stories and drawings for you. Get excited. Good stuff is on the way.  


  5. What I Fucked Up: Trying to lose my virginity like in a movie.

    In high school I thought I was the coolest. I mean, why wouldn’t I be? I was totally PUNK RAWK, I fought THE MAN, and I was like, TOTALLY experienced when it came to boys. However, for all of my super sexy eye-destroying lap dances, I hadn’t had sex.

    For the first part of high school, I was terrified of sex because I thought that the second I took a ride on the P train I would instantly get pregnant. I was more scared of getting knocked up than of spiders, snakes, and serial killers combined. At least with those things my suffering would be short-lived. At one point when I was considering having sex my best friend (who was sexually active) told me that if I was that freaked out about the consequences, I wasn’t ready. In the moment I was offended, but I listened. Because she was right. 


    However, by junior year I was ready. I was on the pill, I had bought condoms, and I got some lube with spermicidal jelly. If there were an easy way to add even more birth control measures to the mix, I probably would have. There would be no fucking around… with my fucking around. My boyfriend and I had been dating almost six months, and when I realized that our anniversary fell on prom night, I knew it was a sign. We were going to do it. And it was going to be perfect.

    Throughout high school my favorite movies were Fight Club and Cruel Intentions. At one point in Cruel Intentions, Reese Witherspoon loses her virginity to Ryan Phillippe in a tender, candlelit montage. “Colorblind” by Counting Crows plays. It was the sexiest, most romantic thing I’d ever seen, and I was desperate to live it for myself.

    So prom approached and I made sure everything was in place—after the school-mandated After Prom, we would spend the night at my house. I’d gotten the OK from both sets of parents since we’d be getting back so late and my beau had a habit of falling asleep at the wheel. However, the night before prom my boyfriend decided to go on a bender. He and his friends drank and smoked till they were sick, though he swore he’d be fine for prom. Which he was, until he participated in the After-Prom’s sumo wrestling and proceeded to throw up everywhere. I had to help him to my car and immediately put him to bed because he’d gotten so sick. I was livid—destiny had betrayed me!

    But I was determined. For our anniversary I’d gotten us Green Day tickets for the following weekend (as said I was so punk!!!) and decided that would have to work as a substitute Virginity-Destruction Night. Again, I planned everything.

    This time, thankfully, he was not hung over. After the concert he drove me home and we started fooling around in my room. I told him to hang on, which he did, while I lit 100 tea candles and put on the music. A CD of nothing but “Colorblind.” Obviously.

    But unlike Reese and Ryan, our first effort was clumsy and painful. I was trying not to cry and he just kept apologizing, like all good sexual encounters. Luckily, it was over quickly. We’d only gotten to the second go around of Adam Duritz warbling coffee black and egg white before my boyfriend’s eagerness got the best of him. I was grateful.


    Throughout high school I kept an online journal (OBVIOUSLY I DID) and the only entry about that night and about my passage into legit womanhood reads:

    “I was wrong. It did hurt.”


  6. What I Fucked Up: Being “on duty” on Halloween.

    I was an RA in college, which made my sex life embarrassing and my dating life morally questionable. However, there were other hazards of the job, such as having irrevocable mental images seared into your head.

    Occasionally as an RA you have to be “on duty,” which means patrolling the halls and breaking up parties. My first year, I was on duty on Halloween, which is the worst day of the year to be on duty. Everyone gets drunk on Halloween, and so odds are you’re going to spend your holiday in a hospital waiting room while some kid’s stomach gets pumped.

    I decided I wasn’t going to let that happen. I was going to be vigilant like no RA was before.

    I did my first set of rounds at 10 p.m. and in one hallway I saw a group of almost completely naked girls walking down the hallway. Now this isn’t just normal Halloween sluttiness. I can see everything. The only thing they’re wearing is the polyester bits of fluff from the inside of stuffed animals strategically glued to their bodies. I’m not sure if they’re slutty clouds, a slutty fog bank,  slutty liquid nitrogen, whatever. I just scan them up and down looking for alcohol. But clearly they don’t have any, or if they are, they’re hiding it in a place I’m not going to go look.  


    So I keep going on my rounds and make it down to the lobby of the dorm, where I find a pack of hipsters wearing creepy wolf masks covered in fake blood. So, hipsters. But as an RA the thing that scares me is they’ve got backpacks. Backpacks carry beer, and beer carries freshmen to the hospital. I ask what they’re up to, and the lead wolf, the Alpha, says “we’re heading out.”

    “To a bar?”

    “No, we’re going to a vegan bakery.”

    How anyone can eat a tofu cupcakes sober is beyond me, but they’re out of my building so I figure it’s not my problem.

    At this point I was pretty pleased with how the night was going. Nothing too crazy had happened. Yet.

    2 a.m. rounds come, and I walk out of the stairwell on one of the floors and immediately hear un-tiss un-tiss un-tiss baaaaaaaaa. And there’s no ignoring that. So I go up to the room,  knock, and the door swings open to reveal a giant wolf/sheep orgy. The fluff is everywhere, flying around the room like a goddamn teddy bear massacre. Everyone is in various states of undress, some totally nude, yet they’re still wearing the wolf masks. And there’s fake blood (at least I really hope it’s fake) smeared on faces, across bodies, down the walls. It looks like a sex ed film directed by Quentin Tarantino. But worst of all, standing on a bed in the back of room, reigning over it all is one of my freshmen. He’s wearing a pink frilly dress, a bonnet, his hair is in two greasy pigtails, and he even has a shepherd’s crook with a bow on it.  I realize he’s dressed as Transvestite Little Bo Peep, or the version of Bo Peep that would come out of a Mother Goose’s PCP nightmare.


    But in the end I couldn’t actually write them up because there was no alcohol in the room. Let me say that again: NO ALCOHOL WAS INVOLVED in what I now refer to exclusively as “The Fluff Party.” So I told them to turn down the music and to be safe. And as I was leaving, my freshman, the David Lynch + Bath Salts Bo Peep, looked me in the eyes and said, “thanks for the free condoms.”


  7. What I Fucked Up: Braiding my hair.

    I don’t know about girl stuff. For instance, you may recall that walking in high heels nearly caused my death. Another beauty area that is just a black void in my brain is hair styling. I have long, thick red hair and the absolute tamest that it gets is one hour of limpness after I’ve fried it with a straightening iron. But if there’s even the suggestion of humidity it twists and puffs and I look like I’m a member of an 80s metal band. Braids also confuse me—how do you make it so the thing isn’t bristly with a million strands poking out? And girls who can make crowns on their heads out of braids? Witches. 1. No human can braid hair on their own like that so it’s clearly magic. 2. No one would make themselves look like a living fairy unless they were trying to lure a child into a gingerbread house.

    So as much as I try to watch YouTube tutorials, look at Pinterest boards, and read beauty tips, I’m never going to have braids like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or The Hunger Games. But you know what? Maybe that’s why it’s fantasy. Braids are the unicorns of our time. 


  8. What I Fucked Up: Cooking celery root.


    Despite my obvious love of eating, I am not a good cook. But never have I regretted an attempt so much as the day I tried to make a celery root casserole. Just thinking about it makes me throw up a little in my mouth… but at least that tastes better than celery root.


  9. What I Fucked Up: Channeling Marilyn Monroe.

    During the period of time where I was dating autistic men and the children of celebrities, I also dated a man who was very different from my usual type: a Republican. Not only that, instead of being my usual scruffy dork, this guy was a clean cut straight-laced all American. He was tall and muscular, wealthy with a one bedroom on the Upper West Side, and was a law student at Columbia pursuing a career in politics. Unlike my usual dates in East Village dive bars, he took me to fancy restaurants, museum events, and would slip a cab driver a $20 bill to make sure I got home safely rather than allow me to take the subway after 10 pm. Sure, he was a tad morally repugnant—he didn’t support gay rights or women’s reproductive rights or any of the stuff that matters—but man, it’s fun to be pampered, especially by someone who visibly has a personal trainer.

    Due to our philosophical clashing, I knew this would never be a long-term thing. However, I was having fun and so wanted to do something special for his birthday. Unfortunately his birthday happened to be the day after Christmas, so I was going to be in Ohio and unable to see him. I figured I’d just send a nice email and maybe buy him dinner when I got back. Simple!

    But during Christmas with my family I made the mistake of answering the “are you seeing anyone?” question honestly and brought him up. They asked about him and I told them some of his specifics that I could remember—he was a football fan and he had a dog named Indy, and oh yeah, his dream is to someday be president! My dad was impressed, “Really?” I told him yes, he confessed it on our first date! In fact, because of that I’d jokingly referred to him to all of my friends as “Mr. President.”

    My dad’s eyes lit up with an idea. “For his birthday! You should sing him ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ like Marilyn Monroe!” I laughed because it was so ridiculous. I told him that it wasn’t a good idea… I mean we’d only been seeing each other for a month or so and he isn’t a weirdo like me, it would probably just freak him out. My dad got very serious. “Chelsea, if he can’t appreciate something as creative and hilarious as that, he’s clearly not the one for you.” It struck a chord. As I’ve said in the past, my father’s advice is often not very good. In fact, it typically involves something about the differences between cheating and a “sport fuck.” However, here he was actually right.  The song would be funny and original and sort of sweet since it meant I was remembering a detail from our first date. I was sold! After everyone went to bed that night I stayed up practicing my Marilyn impression and changing the words to the song to have some more specifics for him. When I finally got a take I liked—the perfect blend of sultry and quirky—I sent the MP3 off in an email to him. I couldn’t wait for his response!

    But his response didn’t come. Not the next day. Or the day after. Or the day after that. By the time I got back to New York I was completely regretting my risk. It’s just TOO weird to do for someone you just started casually dating. There are rules! And one of them is apparently don’t impersonate a classic sexpot for the guy’s birthday. I decided to just pretend it never happened. Ignore it. Maybe the email went to his spam folder! I called him and we made plans to get dessert and I was relieved, this meant everything was OK right?

    Wrong. At our dessert things were awkward—he did the cheek kiss rather than a real embrace. I asked how his birthday was and he told me it was good, then thanked me for my “little song.” My face flushed red. I said no problem, glad he liked it. He said it was cute, but he’s realized we’re just very different people… so this should probably be our last outing. I nodded in feigned agreement, my mind immediately wondering whether this meant I had to pay for my own cannoli, and said I understood. Inside I was kicking myself for ever listening to my father. Yes, he was right that this guy wasn’t “the one,” but I already knew that! I wasn’t with him because I wanted a soul mate, I was just enjoying the four star cuisine served with a side of abs.  

    But it was too late. When Marilyn sang Happy Birthday she nabbed a president. When I did it, I was banished back to the East Village and to D&D players who could use a good shave. Ah well, at least they consider women to be people. Trade offs.


  10. What I Fucked Up: My birthdays.

    This Friday, August 23rd, is my birthday. This year that should mean fun, friends, and a generally great time. However in the past my birthday meant a shit storm of tears and crushing disappointment. Sometimes this was legitimate—one year my boyfriend forgot, one year I was stuck in the hospital, and one year my boyfriend broke up with me the day before. However, there have been other years where I had breakdowns over little things.

    I’ve always believed birthdays are magic because as a child every birthday my mom completely spoiled me.

    Here are some of my childhood birthdays:

    My mom created a scavenger hunt for me that led all over our house and at the end was a new puppy!

    My mom rented out an entire petting zoo to set up in our backyard. I literally got a pony!

    My mom took me to this wildlife rescue house that had my favorite animal, a tiger. I got to play in a room with a full-grown tiger for like an hour! It was not safe!


    I always assumed that birthdays were as important to everyone else as they were to me. Turns out, they’re not. Sure you might get Facebook posts from strangers but in my mind, that wasn’t AUTHENTIC enough. One year on my birthday I just made my Facebook status “Real friends call.” I received no calls.


    This wrongful assumption that everyone cares as much as me also got me into trouble with boyfriends through the years. For my boyfriend’s 16th birthday I’d saved up for months to buy him a cool new music device called an iPod that happened to cost $450 at the Apple store. For my birthday he gave me a $10 pair of earrings from Claire’s. For another boyfriend’s birthday I bought him a plane ticket to visit me in New York with tickets to a concert of his favorite band. For mine, he got me a Yankees t-shirt. Am I greedy and looking for gifts of high monetary value? No, just gifts of high value, things that take a lot of time, thought, and dedication! I remember one year I was excited because a boyfriend wrote me a poem… until he revealed he paid his friend to write it because he’s “such a good writer!” WHAT!? 

    Probably the most embarrassing year was my 18th birthday. I’d tried to plan a party for myself but almost all my friends were out of town. Luckily my boyfriend reassured me that it would still be great—he and I could spend the whole day together just us, and he’d plan some romantic surprises. I was so touched and honestly excited. The only thing better than friends is ROMANCE. 

    He came over to my house around noon and I asked what was first on our agenda. He said that our plans started a little later, so how about we have a water balloon fight? I thought it sounded fun and whimsical so agreed. I didn’t have a bathing suit—my dogs tore a hole in the one I had—so I borrowed a bikini from my mom. I looked pretty stupid, but I figured it’s just us so who cares.


    I ran outside in my undersized bikini, hair in a messy bun, no make up, and found four people from my school in my backyard. “Surprise!” they said. I say “people from my school” because only two of them were actually my friends. The other two were quiet, nice kids who I had talked to here and there but who I had never ever hung out with. My boyfriend beamed, looking proud. I began to sob, while trying to cover myself. I excused myself to the house while the four kids awkwardly stood on my patio.

    My boyfriend was confused; I’d said I’d always wanted a surprise party!

    “Yes,” I confirmed, “but with my friends.”

    “I tried to invite your friends, but they were all out of town.”

    “Right,” I said, “THAT’S WHY I DIDN’T HAVE THE PARTY ORIGINALLY! Plus why not invite me outside when I’m wearing clothing!?”

    “I wanted you to be totally surprised!” 

    “Just please make them leave.”

    So yeah, I made him walk out, tell my friends and acquaintances “thanks for coming! Now leave.” Not my finest moment. 

    Inside, I collected myself—at least my boyfriend and I could still have our romantic day. Sure there was this hitch but romance will prevail! But when I asked him what was next he was again confused. “This was it. The romantic surprises was just a cover, I didn’t plan anything else.” Once again I started bawling. In the end my mom paid for us to go lunch and my boyfriend scrambled together a romantic idea. Sunset on the beach! Unfortunately this was in Cleveland so the beach where we ended up bordered a swamp and was littered in dead fish. And so I made it a hat trick and cried for the third time of the day.