You’re the Jerk, Jerk

photos by tommy kha

Him: Do you intentionally go on dates with people that you think you’re more intelligent than to make yourself look better when you write about it online? I’m serious. You come off as so holier-than-thou you’re either embellishing – or at least altering to your advantage – much of these conversations, or you go out of your way to find idiots to make fun of to your readers on the internet. It was funny the first few reads, but it’s just the same old bad date where “Him” doesn’t have any social tact or depth, and “Me” is completely grounded, sane, and level-headed. Is this a self-esteem thing? It really is starting come off as “look at how great I am! Can you believe I keep going on these dates with such duds?!” Do you go on any good dates? Are these just the bad ones? Look, I don’t mean to be an asshole. You seem like a cool guy. You seem interesting, you’re hot, you’re funny, and I bet you make delicious food, but to be frank, you’re really starting to come off as a big jerk, Jerk.

Me: Andrew, you really have to work on your flirting skills… Still, it’s flattering…

Him: I figured that’s the type of response I’d get, seeing as how what I wrote wasn’t some two-dimensional middle-school comment criticizing something on your bookshelf. But I’ll take it as a sort of affirmation: you’re a jerk.

Me: Andrew, what you wrote was an out and out attack that I didn’t feel deserved a serious response. I don’t understand what type of reaction you were trying to trigger by calling me a bunch of names? I blog about awkward dates and cringe-worthy situations – it’s right at the top of my web page. If you don’t like it, best just to close the site rather than attack me for it.

Where do you blog online? I’d like to read what you write, make personal assumptions about you, and criticize your choices.

Oh wait, no I wouldn’t. But if you’d like to go on a date…

Him: I didn’t call you names, nor did I attack you. I stated how you are coming off to me in these re-caps of your dates, and asked you questions about them. Don’t put something on the internet – let alone allow people to comment about it – if you can’t handle criticism or give a dignified response.

I’m not even criticizing you for writing about your awkward dates. I think that’s a funny premise. My only criticism comes from how extremely one-sided the awkwardness seems in every single post. It’s like the entire time you’re rolling your eyes, or winking to the audience, throughout the re-cap. I’m sure I’m not the first to wonder why you’re consistently going on so many awful dates that you seem over or better than before they even begin.

I don’t have a blog myself, but if I did and I wrote about something as personal as you do in the way in which you write, I would expect personal assumptions, criticism (both constructive and not) and yes, the occasional attack (which I still believe is not what I did).

Me: I’m not surprised that you don’t have a blog yourself. Some people find it easier to criticize the work of others than to actually put themselves out there in a real way. You called me holier-than-thou, and implied that I suffer from self esteem issues, no? That’s what I meant when I said you were name calling and attacking.

I’m a little confused. You say you like the premise, but then complain when I execute the premise. That seems like an odd complaint. So, you think my postings are a little one sided? Okay, fine, but I’m not naming these people or showing photographs of them. I’m not harming anyone by writing this. Me blogging about the dates in a ‘one-sided’ way is the equivalent of me telling my pals over brunch about an awful date I had last night. Who’s side am I supposed to tell but my own?

Am I intentionally going out with people who seem awkward, defensive, or lacking in social skills? Absolutely. That’s what I write about, after all. That’s my currency. Do I think I’m better than them, or smarter than them? Nope. I just write about the awkward, cringe-worthy things they wind up saying to me.

I’m not going to apologize for expressing myself on my own website. I get that you don’t like it, but I’m flattered that you’re reading.

Andrew, this really is the most convoluted way anyone’s ever asked me on a date. Sheesh.

Wanna know more about the redhead with the side boob?

She’s doing a hilarious show at Upright Citizen’s Brigade called Naked People.

WednesDATE: Alienation

photos by tri vo

Him:  How’s your night going?

Me:  Not bad.  I had a show earlier, and I met a few of my idiot friends out here for a night cap.  All in all, a decent showing for a Friday night, I guess…

Him:  What?  Why idiots?

Me:  Oh, I just call my friends idiots.  It’s a compliment, sort of.  They’re funny people, and we usually wind up acting like idiots.

Him:  I spent the evening alone.

Me:  I’m sorry to hear that.  Wait, by choice?

Him:  No, just out of a lack of things to do.

Me:  Oh, right, well then I’m sorry to hear that.

Him:  Are you looking for a boyfriend?

Me:  What?

Him:  Are you looking for a boyfriend?  Like, someone to settle down with?

Me:  I dunno.  I feel lonely sometimes.

Him:  I feel lonely all the time.  Completely alienated.  Even in a crowd.  Maybe especially.

Me:  I think I understand what you mean.  The world has become more alienating, somehow, as we increase our inter-connectivity with social media.

Him:  Haha…  Blame Facebook.  (pause) Yeah.  Facebook’s depressing.

Me:  How do you mean?

Him:  I wake up and check Facebook, and after a certain point i get depressed.

Me:  Can you say why?

Him:  It’s too much, maybe.  All these links and photos.  I saw pictures of my friends having a picnic, and I immediately got nostalgic.  I used to just GO on picnics.

Me:  Haha…  I can see your point.  Facebook has turned us all into voyeurs of the mundane.

Him:  I think it’s evil.  We used to call each other on the phone and catch up with each other, and now, instead we visit a friends Facebook page to scratch the itch of catching up with old friends.  But it’s not interactive.  It’s the illusion of interaction. 

Me:  Yeah.  I get where you’re going.  I try to keep my social media time as low as possible.  And I try to isolate what I think Facebook is good for, and just do that.

Him:  Like what?

Me:  One liner jokes and self promotion.

Him:  But that’s the problem.  Everyone’s like that now, and NOBODY’S looking for a boyfriend.

Me:  Haha…  I guess you’re hunting for one?

Him:  Yeah.  I’m really lonely.

Me:  I don’t like the idea of saying I’m looking for a  boyfriend.  I feel like it’s similar to saying ‘I don’t feel complete without being validated by somebody else.’

Him: Ugh.  That’s how everyone feels.  I just really want a boyfriend.  I don’t care if it’s not a popular point of view.

Me:  That’s pretty clear.  It’s been my experience that people fall in love when they’re ready to do it – when the meet the exact right match for it.  There’s no use putting it on a timetable, or trying to manufacture it.

Him:  Why not?

Me:  I dunno.  Don’t you think that there’s already a lot of pressure, without adding expectations?

Him:  It’s just that…  New York men are just looking for the next person to have sex with.  Nobody wants to settle down.  I liked it better in Berlin.

Me:  You lived in Berlin?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Of course you did.

Him:  In Berlin, everyone wants to have a boyfriend.  Then when they’ve been in a relationship for a little while, they start looking to ‘trade up.’

Me:  Sounds like Boyfriend Hopscotch.

Him:  Haha…  I guess so.  But I prefer it to this…

Me:  May I make an observation?

Him:  Okay. 

Me:  I think you might be depressed.

Him:  You might be right.  Aw.  That’s so disappointing.

Me:  What?

Him:  You’re not looking for a boyfriend.  But you’re going on a lot of dates.

Me:  I’m meeting a lot of people, and writing about it.

Him:  Yeah.  I guess.  Pardon me.  I have to check my phone.

Me:  Did you get a txt?

Him:  No.  I just want to check Facebook.

Me:  Ah.  Right.

Him:  Don’t put this on your blog and call me a Jerk.

Me:  I wouldn’t think of it.  This conversation barely qualifies as interesting.

Him:  Wow.  Now you’re being a Jerk.

Me:  I have my moments.

I’m Dating Everyone

Little known fact: I’m dating everyone.

It’s true.  It’s evolved into my motto for 2011.

I’m dating everyone.

I was in long term relationships for pretty much all of the aughts, and I’m taking a breather this year.  I’m feeling emotionally worn out, to be honest, and I’d like to focus on my work.

Is that okay with you?  More in a second.  I’m going to talk about chocolate for a second, and then juxtapose it with a poop joke.

Chocolate covered pretzels are super easy.

Just temper a buncha chocolate.  That means add heat to it, in a double boiler.   Use a double boiler so you don’t scorch the chocolate.

If you don’t have a double boiler you can make one with a metal bowl and a pot of water.

Figure it out.  I’ll wait here while you do fifteen seconds of internet research to find out about Double Boilers.

So, yeah, I’m Dating Everyone.  Did I tell you?  I told you?  Good.  I am.

It’s become the thing I say when people condescendingly ask me why I don’t have a boyfriend.

‘I’m Dating Everyone,’ I say.  And yes.  I’m smug and arrogant when I answer the question.

At your age, with your personality etc. I can’t imagine you having to be single?  Don’t you have a boyfriend?

No.  I don’t.  Nor do I want one.

I don’t like your implication, that people have to either be coupled up or cower in fear of being forced to live out their golden years with nothing to support them but their own thoughts and musings.  Perish the thought I actually get some peace and quiet in my retirement.   Just kidding.  I’m never retiring.

My grandmother’s single.  She seems to be having a good time of it.  She’s been single for 20 years since my Grandpa died.  She likes to do puzzles.

Do you honestly think everyone is wandering around, desperately trying to find the ‘missing half’ of themselves that will make them whole?  I hope not.  Sounds like a good way to waste time you should have spent pooping and writing shows, and baking for lovely people.

And pooping, darling.  And all that pooping.  Everyone knows, people in relationships don’t poop.

It implies that you’re not good enough on your own, and most of you are!

The rest of you, I dunno…  Get a boyfriend, I guess.  Quickly.

But for me, that person will either turn up or he won’t.  I’m not looking.

I don’t like the implication that at my age I should really settle down.  And if you ask me, I’m Dating Everyone will be what you hear, with varying degrees of smugness attached to it, depending on how I’m feeling at the moment.

Isn’t that precious?

No. It’s not.

It’s arrogant.  I think arrogant behavior can be funny, though.  I’m really arrogant and humble and arrogant.  And grateful.  I feel grateful pretty often.

I feel really arrogant sometimes too, when I’m onstage or when I’m writing my blog and things are going well.  I feel arrogant sometimes when I’m directing or coaching comedy and I’m getting through to the actors.  I also feel humble in those moments.  If I nail an improvised song, or a written sketch at Maude Night, or an audition, I feel arrogant.  Bulletproof.

But there’s always a humble part of me that knows that the important ingredient, the x factor that makes any actor special, just comes and goes whenever it wants.  If I practice more and work more, it comes more often, but it still can leave whenever it feels like it.  That makes me feel humble.  And arrogant.  And humble.

And sometimes shy.  Don’t ask.  That’s a whole other can of worms.

I’m not sorry for being humble or arrogant.  It’s part of the process I go through to do comedy and music.  It sucks a little, but I don’t think I would trade it for anything at all.  It doesn’t suck a lot more often.  I have talented friends who care about me, and I get to share the stage with the best comedy minds of my generation.  I get that.  That’s what luck and hard work and life has given me.  It’s a gift and it’s mine, and it’s not for anyone else but me.   And that makes me feel humble.  And arrogant.

I’m pretty sure I’m not harming anyone by trying to make people laugh, except the feelings of my closest friends, once in a while, when I think I’m being funny (and I am) but I’m also inadvertently acting like a Jerk.

And my friends know that about me, and don’t make me apologize for it.  I don’t have a whole lot of close friends, but the ones I do have are excellent human beings.  I could have done much worse.

Darling, see what happens?  I start talking about my favorite subject (poop) and I get off topic.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels.  Temper the chocolate.  Drizzle the pretzels. Toss.  Refrigerate.  You’re done.   Take them out after 10 min, or they run the risk of getting ashy looking, like the Elderly.

You’re a superstar!  You made candy!  Share it with your friends!

But don’t ask me who I’m dating.  It’s arrogant, but I’m still going to say it:  I’m Dating Everyone.

Ever so humbly, that is.

Jerks.

Tuesdate:

Him:  So here he is. 

Me:  So here HE is.  Look at you, small drink of water.

Him:  STOP IT.

Me:  I mean it.  You’re gorgeous. Better than your pics online.

Him:  Isn’t Grindr weird?

Me:  I kind of think it’s amazing.  It’s like Chat Roulette, but in person.  You never know what you’re going to get.

Him:  Believe me.  I know.

Me:  That sounded ominous.

Him:  I’ve met some real creeps.

Me:  I’ve met jerks and nice people.  No real creeps.

Him: Maybe that’s because you’re the creep?

Me:  Nice.  I tell you you’re pretty, twice, and you imply that I’m a creep.  You should write a book on dating.

Him:  Uh oh.  Am I one of your online Jerks?

Me:  Are you?

(pause)

Him:  No.

Me:  Well there it is.

(pause)

Him:  Anyway, who keeps score?

Me: Of what?

Him:  Of that sort of stupid stuff?  Compliments and whatnot. 

Me:  Obviously I do.  I just demonstrated that I do.

(pause)

Me:  Relax.  I might be joking, you know…  I might just still think you’re an attractive little wonder, at 5’6”.

Him:  Stop saying little.  I don’t like to feel little.

(i’m feeling brave, and so i take a step toward him.  i put my face next to his.  i can feel the breath come out of my nose against his cheek.  he smells spicy.  like cinnamon or ginger, but not quite those things. )

Me:  What about now?  Do you feel little now?

Him:  Yes.

(i put my hands on his ribcage and squeeze gently.  the hair stands up on my arms.  i have goosebumps)

Me: But don’t you kind of feel really powerful?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  You’re pretty.

Him:  Ugh.

(he moves away)

Me:  Haha…  okay.  So, no saying you’re little, and I’m guessing – no ‘pretty’ either?

Him:  Why not handsome?  Why can’t I be handsome?

Me:  You can.  You are.  You’re very handsome.  You’re also pretty.

Him:  Ugh.

Me:  Well the good news is: I like pretty.  So dry your eyes on that.

Him:  You’re cute. 

Me: Compliment number one.

Him:  What?

Me:  That’s the first compliment you ever gave me, in person.

Him:  Oh great.  How far behind am I?

Me:  Only a few, but I’d rather stay ahead in the compliment game, if you don’t mind?

Him:  Why? 

Me:  I’d rather you owed me.

Him:  What??

Me:  It’s a thing that my grandfather says.  I used to borrow money from him, sometimes, at the store to get comic books.  I would ask to borrow five dollars.  He would give it to me.  When I got my allowance I’d try to pay it back, and he would say ‘No, I’d rather you owed me.’  Then he would smirk, as if he’d just told the funniest joke in the world.

Him:  That’s cute.

Me:  It’s infuriating.  He’d smirk at me, here and there, for the next few weeks, and I knew he was thinking ‘You owe me five bucks and it really bothers you, and I love that.’  He was right, too.  It was exactly what I was thinking.

Him: That’s cute.  He sounds pretty awesome. 

Me:  He’s a good man.  For sure.

Him:  Can I ask you a question?

Me:  No.

Him:  What?

Me:  Sorry.  That was supposed to be funny.  I said no, when the only appropriate answer was yes.  I thought it would be funny.

Him:  Was it?

Me:  Yes, but you’ll just have to trust me.  You didn’t see your face when I said it.  It was funny.

Him:  I guess I’ll have to believe you.

Me:  Good.  Because I’m lying.

Him:  What??

Me:  Sorry.  That was another joke.  That one wasn’t funny.  I get nervous and act like an idiot.

Him:  You make it charming, somehow. 

Me:  You didn’t know me in college.

Him:  Were you different?

Me:  I was nearly insufferable.

Him:  You’re pretty too.

Me:  Shucks.  Okay.  That’s two for you.  Fuck.

(long pause)

Him:  You’re not some sort of creepy Rice Queen, are you?

Me:  Uh…  I mean..  I thought that was obvious?  You’ve been to my website, right?

Him:  Yeah.  There’s lots of Asians. 

Me:  But not ALL Asians, right?  I like a lot of things.  A lot of people.  I like kind people.  Asians are kind, frequently, if you’re kind to them.

Him:  I guess that’s not so creepy.  I guess that’s okay for Asians.

Me:  Yeah.  Well I forgot to say:  I feed on their tears.  Keeps me young.  I’m like a succubus, or a psychic vampire of some sort.  I’m 183 years old.  I make them cry and then drink their salty tears.  But it only works with Asians.

Him:  Really? 

Me:  Yes.  And did you also know that Black people can levitate?  They’re hiding it from you.

(long pause.  he starts laughing a lot)

Him:  You’re joking! 

Me:  Yes.  And you’re laughing.  That means…..

Him:  What does that mean? 

Me:  It means, you get a kiss, if you want one, later.

Him:  I’ll decide later if I do.

Me: Oh.  I. Like. That.

Him:  Really?

Me:  No.  It’s infuriating.   I’d rather you owed me one.

(we kept talking and walking.  later, he gave me a quick kiss.  it was a good kiss.)

He’s not a jerk…

But you are.  Come on.  You know you are.

Advice

People have been writing me lately, asking for advice.  I’m not exactly sure why. It’s not like I’m some shining beacon of wisdom.  I don’t exactly have human relationships nailed down, either.  But people are asking, and I thought I’d answer some of the questions people ask me from time to time.

Disclaimer:  Don’t take my advice.  I’m not a doctor, or anything.

Henry, from New York City writes:

Ok so heres my deal. Theres this guy I knew from a friend in college. They went to high school together in New Hampshire. We met like ONCE, and barley spoke, became facebook friends and of course never spoke again after that. I wasn’t interested or anything at the time. But then about a month ago, he “liked” one of my comments. I was surprised because I basically forgot all about this person who I hadn’t heard of or spoken to in 5 years. I messaged him asking how were we facebook friends? He said I was super sexy for liking a certain british SciFi show, this obviously started a stream of convos. I got to the point where I felt “why not meet the fucker?” He’s good looking, nice, funny, and tall as hell. But heres the thing. Hes alil aloof most of the time and weve only talked online so far. He told me about how hes dying of an illness of a name I cant recall and may not live to 40. Now, Im one to give the benefit of the doubt and I guess I did in this situation but something tells me it could be a lie. We didn’t talk for awhile after that and then we did today, most of the day when I was at work doing nothing. He enticed me like no other, saying he wants to fuck me with elaborate detail. I was more then intrigued to say the least. But again he flaked after he said he wants to meet tomorrow. Excited as I was I realized I don’t have his number nor he has mine. When I brought that up and how id like his number, no answer. So now I have no clue what to think and I expressed these very fears to him on meeting up and he said I had nothing to worry about. Well, I can be an anxious person, so I am worried now. I feel this is not a good idea to pursue, almost to good to be true. Am I right? Does this sound totally bonkers? I don’t know what to do really. Im sure nothing but I cant stop thinking about him and it.

Thanks for your letter, Henry.

It seems like you’re dealing with a nut bag.  Let’s break down the components of his story, shall we?

1) He says that he’s going to die by the time he’s 40.  Okay, let’s assume this is true, even though it sounds like something a weirdo online would make up.  If he’s going to use this illness as an excuse to be flaky, not give you his phone number, not follow through on plans – then you don’t need to be starting a relationship with him.  Even if it’s just a sexual relationship you two are starting, it needs to be based on mutual respect for each others time an feelings.  Sounds like he has neither for you.

2) HE SAYS THAT HE’S GOING TO DIE BY THE TIME HE’S 40.  C’mon.  Ostensibly he contacted you online for the purpose of flirting?  That’s not a flirty way  of going about things.  Something about it smells fishy to me.  You don’t start off a conversation with a stranger like this:

‘Hey sexy, how’s it going?’

‘Good.  Feeling horny – I guess it’s springtime.  Or, it could be a side effect OF MY LUPUS.’

Again.  Not how it’s done.

I think you’re probably dealing with a closet case, or an attention seeking weirdo.  The great thing is – he’s let you off the hook.  If he doesn’t trust you enough to give you his phone number, then you have zero obligation to him to see him through this ‘illness’ that’s going to claim his life prematurely.  That’s my rule of thumb.    You don’t trust me with your cell number, I don’t have to care about your rare, imaginary illness.

Block his IMs.  It’s New York.  There’s plenty of prospective partners out there, no matter what kind of relationship you’re looking for.

Thanks for the question Henry.  I hope you enjoyed my advice.  And like I said – don’t take it.  I’m not a doctor.

And hey.  Enjoy living past 40, Jerk.


The Last Of It.

That’s the last of it, probably, right?

Winter’s loosening it’s grip.

It’s not over, but you can feel it in the air.  It’s almost over.

There’s still a chill, here, in my kitchen.  Winter’s hooks are still right outside the window.   I haven’t yet taken my shoes off from outside, for fear my feet would suffer.  They take much longer to warm up, now that I’m older.

I’ve been thinking about the internet a lot lately.  I’ve had some real, vitriolic haters emerge, lately.  Don’t get me wrong — there’s been much much more support and kindness, but a few nasty jerks have reared their heads, too.  I’ve gained a lot a friends and lost a few.

That’s to be expected, I guess.  But I’ve been thinking about the internet.  Guys.  What if we’re on the verge of something great here?  What if we’re on the precipice of a huge leap forward for humankind?  Hear me out on this:

What if humanity is about to move to a more golden age?  Look! Dictatorships are toppling across the Middle East.   Listen – the democratic murmurs arise from a new, powerful middle class in China.  Feel – the stirrings of a new type of human experience – wait, that was just too much kimchee at dinner. But you understand what I’m driving at.

The internet is in its infancy, still.  It’s helping to trigger revolutions, not just political ones, but economic and social ones.  Look.  I’m a grown man simultaneously broadcasting my thoughts on humanity, and pictures of pie, my Japanese little brother, and my butt crack.  What I’m clearly trying to say is: Humanity We’ve Arrived.

We’re at that golden age we always dreamed of.  All we need is a few more dictators to fall, a few more people to open their hearts, and a few more women elected in the senate.  Seriously.  They’re under represented.  Gays too.  Get on board gays, ladies, and gay ladies.

Yes, I’m telling Ellen to run for office.

Pretty soon it won’t be fashionable to hate things online.  Pretty soon the world will move beyond that. Toward kindness.

I wonder where that will leave us?  What happens when we, as humans, leap forward? I wonder what the haters will do, when it’s not fun and funny to snark it up and look for ways to tear down people they’re jealous of online?

No, fag, I’m not talking about the singularity.  Unless, maybe I am?  I’m not.

No, wait.  I am:

I always thought of the internet as a human scream – the loudest ever heard.

What if that scream is just a symptom of its infancy?

What if it mellows out into a deep hum?  What if we take that hum and build off it, until it rises.

Mighty and mature.

A heavenly chorus of voices.  All singing at once.  What if we become heaven?  What if we all become the Horizon?

What if someday we’re so advanced, there’s no need for someone to come and tell us:  Enjoy the pie, Jerks?

SaturDATE

Sometimes people ask me on dates.  They see me on the internet.  Maybe they think I’m the answer to their life problems, or loneliness.  Invariably I prove them wrong:

Me:  So cute!  Thanks for the drawing.

Him:  You’re welcome.

Me:  They look so happy.

Him: They are.

Me: Did you notice how you put color in everything, except the people?

Him:  Yes.

Me:  You did that intentionally?

Him: Yes.

Me: Why?

Him: Because people are all empty inside.  Is that your backyard down there?  Do you have access?

Me:  It’s the down-stairs neighbor’s  It’s their backyard.  Can we go back to the drawing?  People are all empty?

Him:  Yeah,  people are all empty.  Corrupted.  Void.  Nature is the only thing that is perfect and the people in the painting are empty.  They need to keep the yard better.  Don’t you think?

Me:  Don’t get me started.  If that was my back yard there’s be a sundeck and a garden, and then some.  Hey.  So..  the people have no color because they’re empty?

Him:  Yes.  They are void and imperfect and they are empty.  That’s how they are able to be so happy.

(long pause)

Me: Well, thanks for the drawing.

Him:  You’re welcome.

(long pause)

Me:  Maybe I’d put in a fish pond, too, if it was my backyard.

Surprise ending –  I walked him to the train instead of inviting him to stay over.  There’s a combination grave marker store/bakery (I shit you not) on my street.  He stopped to photograph it and muttered to himself what a great find it was.

Enjoy the SaturDATE, jerks.