Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Awkwardness of Pseudo-Dates

There are no stupid questions.

But there are damn confusing ones. Questions that beget more questions, filling the listener with untold uncertainty. Something as simple as “Do you want to come to yoga with me this Thursday at 8?” can contain layer upon layer of potential hidden motives and trapdoors which, if you take so much as the tiniest misstep, you will plummet into, and you can bet your ass there will be spikes at the bottom.

You may think dating is the worst, but the true epitome of unpleasantness is almost dating. At least when you’re on a “date,” you can shoot for the stars. Go for that kiss, and when you find your lips landing firmly on the cheek of denial, rest easy knowing that at least you tried. You may not have even made it to the moon, but thanks to the heat shield of certainty, your reentry into the atmosphere of loneliness will be smooth and relatively flameless.

But what about those other times, when you end up doing something fun with a girl, just the two of you, but nothing is ever specified? Is this romantic? Are you just friends? Was that stop to pick up a bunch of heavy objects after dinner truly spur-of-the-moment, or was the whole thing just a set-up to get your burly arms along on her errand?

There’s just no telling! Sometimes you’re on a date and you start to believe in the idea of mutual attraction. But other times one person is into it and the other is totally oblivious, and despite every sign you throw at her, she manages to dodge the hint.

Is her adroitness due to her obliviousness, or is it a concerted effort to avoid leading you on? And is everyone as neurotic about this as I am?

There you are, staying up late in your dorm with the girl of your dreams, just talking, experiencing one another, and it seems like neither of you wants to go to bed. Every lull leads to extended looks, and you can tell the feel of the evening is about to shift, but then conversation picks up again, and throughout it all, you’re too chicken try to take things in a physical direction. You’re good friends, and you don’t want to ruin that with your bullheaded presumptuousness. You’d be crushed if you revealed yourself, only to find out you’d read it wrong from the start. Eventually night drags on to dawn, and the two of you head your separate ways, last lingering gazes held until one of you closes your door.

Of course she’s into you, you dolt! But it’s impossible to convince yourself, and the devastation of being wrong is unthinkable. So instead you’ll let that moment slip through your fingers, and you won’t be able to sleep because the doubt and regret will course through you like a poison, and for the rest of your life, you’ll regret not taking that leap.

At least, that’s how it is for me. To be fair, I haven’t lived a complete life yet. Maybe I’ll have wild, romantic experiences that will get me to stop thinking about that night on the cruise ship when I stayed up with that nurse with the southern accent and watched the sunrise, and somehow didn’t kiss her. Maybe I’ll stop thinking about the time that naked girl called me into the shower to help her adjust the heat, and I did exactly that, then left. Maybe, but I doubt it.

And sometimes you end up on the other side. Someone will come to your apartment with her friend to bake cupcakes, and the friend will mysteriously have to leave, and suddenly you’ll be alone with this person you have no interest in, but now she’s hitting on you, and now she’s opening wine, and now she’s leaning closer, and oh god.

It’s a part of me, this inability to interact with women, to know what they’re thinking and what to say to them. It’s plagued me even longer than my acne or asthma or my ever-embarrassing tail.

My dad did his best to train me in the art of interacting with the opposite sex, but I took to his lessons like particularly inept oil takes to water. I think all of my failures and awkwardness and imperceptions can be traced back to a single moment, one I’ve never been able to live down. My dad likes to tell potential mates of mine the story of how, one morning when he was dropping me off for elementary school, a couple of girls from my class greeted me. Being relatively normal human females, they said something friendly, like “Hi Russ!” But even this simple salutation skyrocketed my scared-and-confused meters off the charts, leaving me too dazed to respond at all. My dad seized the moment to give me some of his point-in-time instruction, which was a piti.

I was a Nickel, and by god, I was going to learn the subtleties of basic conversation. In order to introduce me to the concept of pleasantries, he posed a hypothetical scenario: “Suppose, for example, you noticed that a girl had on a nice pair of shoes. What could you say?”

Ever clever, I immediately came up with the perfect comment:

 

Nailed it!

My father was impressed. Maybe I could catch on after all. So he took the scenario one shoe-step further. “And suppose,” he continued, “you didn’t like the shoes she was wearing?”

This was tricky. I was thinking something negative, and yet, to meet social standards, I was required to say something positive. A puzzle! I gave the situation a lot of thought, imagining where each potential response might lead, before answering with:

 

 

 

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How to Write a Blog Post in 39 Simple Steps!

So, last week we got Freshly Pressed for the second time. Woooo! And we even somehow got more page views than during our first lightning strike of good fortune! Perhaps because we now have so-called ‘content.’  Anyway, after much frivolity and celebration, Sam and I set out to determine exactly how this came to pass. Unfortunately, our frivolity was a bit too frivolous, and the next morning, all we had was a pizza napkin with the phrases “internet gnomes” and “snorkel” scribbled hastily in tomato sauce.

We later expanded on this idea, but “really sneaky internet gnome oceanographers” still seemed like a subpar explanation.

Having failed at our initial attempt, we decided to do the next best thing: retrace our steps and copy them exactly.

After much sleuthing and step-tracing, we’ve compiled a handy, step-by-step guide that should allow us to achieve brilliance on a weekly basis. In our extreme beneficence, we’ve decided to share these trade secrets with you, the reader. This may be career suicide, but as enlightened members of the Internet Age, we realize that all information must be free and open for the good of humanity. So here, without further ado, is the secret to creating a killer blog post (maybe).

5 P.M. Step 1 (Russ): Prepare

Good. You’re starting early. This is gonna be a piece of cake. Sit down at your unnecessarily-powerful gaming computer, slap on your nerdy wrist guard that protects you from the dangers of typing, and pour yourself a little scotch to, you know, channel the Spirits of Hemingway. Here we go.

5:05 P.M. Step 2 (Russ): Procrastinate

You have more than enough time to write this bad boy. After all, you started early! You deserve a reward for your dedication. Maybe an episode of TV. Or two. Or three.

6:30 P.M. Step 3 (Russ): Guilt

I can’t believe you wasted all that time! What were you thinking? And you call yourself a writer. Writers write. They don’t sit around, you know, not writing.

7:00 P.M. Step 4 (Russ): Choose a Topic

Let’s see, what to write about? Your life’s been going on for a while now—something must have happened somewhere along the line. Something? Anything? Oh god. How could anyone ever care about what you have to say?

7:15 P.M. Step 5 (Russ): Admit Failure

Face it. You’ve never experienced a single real crisis or challenge or unique event (outside of that time you tripped and caught your ice cream scoop with its own cone). How could you possibly think you’d be able to produce quality writing inspired by your own life?

7:45 P.M. Step 6 (Russ): Beg

In the course of living amongst humanity, you’ve managed to spend a lot of your time around “people.” Maybe they can help! Go through your phone book and ask everyone you know if they have any brilliant ideas for your blog.

8:00 P.M. Step 1 (Sam): Receive the Signal

Instant message from Russ. Hello. Yes, you know what day it is. You’ll get done in about an hour probably. No you don’t have any idea about what to write about.

8:30 P.M. Step 7 (Russ): Resent Others

If they had truly been your friends, they would have dropped everything to figure out exactly what you should say to the people of the internet. Reminding you of the time you ate eight-month-old cream cheese isn’t enough!

9:00 P.M. Step 8 (Russ): Come to Terms with Reality (Not sure if this step has ever actually occurred)

Ok, it’s getting late. You need to have something written. After all, tomorrow’s a Tuesday, and you’ve made a group of strangers a promise for some reason.

9:45 P.M. Step 9 (Russ): Start a Draft

The time has come to actually put words onto virtual paper. Slap on some tunes, like the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack or the music of World of Warcraft. Pound a Rockstar or two and get in the zone. If you just start hitting keys, letters will appear, and perhaps they’ll form words, which will perhaps make sentences.

11:00 P.M.  Step 10 (Russ): Finish the Draft

Genius. This is pure gold. You’re really on a roll tonight.  You’re even starting to remember why you love writing.

11:10 P.M. Step 11 (Russ): Read the Draft.

Oh god, what were you thinking? Did you write those words? Those utterly despicable words. The caffeine must have given you hallucinations or something.

11:15 P.M. Step 2 (Sam): Finish Work at the Office

Holy cow, how did it get so late?

11:20 P.M. Step 12 (Russ): Freak Out

You clearly have no talent. Maybe this blog thing was a bad idea. But wait, blogging is all you’re qualified for. If not this, then what?!

11:30 P.M. Step 13 (Russ): Write Another Draft

Ok. There has to be something salvageable here. If you can just trim the bad parts, your junkyard of a draft should provide the materials to rebuild your post, stronger than it was before. You have the technology.

11:35 P.M. Step 3 (Sam): Go Home

Bike home in the dark. On the way, it’ll start to rain.  Keep an eye out for low-hanging branches which will whip you in the face, just to make sure you aren’t enjoying yourself too much.

12:15 A.M. Step 14 (Russ): Send It to Sam

Send the file to your co-blogger, hoping against hope that your words won’t cause his eyes to melt away in horror, like that time you accidentally looked into the Ark of the Covenant.

12:16 A.M. Step 4 (Sam): Ignore Draft

There’s a draft of something on your computer when you boot it back up. Lovely. You should read it, but you haven’t eaten in a while. Food will put you in a better mood, and you’re going to have to make it eventually anyway.

12:30 A.M. Step 5 (Sam): Finish Dinner

That was a good decision. Nothing like salami on pita bread to let you know you’re alive.

12:20 A.M. Step 15 (Russ): Worry

As Sam reads the draft, you’ll be unable to accomplish anything. Will this be the one that finally reveals your complete ineptitude? Will you alienate all your readers? Will they realize how unfunny you are? Oh god, why hasn’t Sam said anything? He’ll assure you it’s because he was making dinner, but you know the truth. He doesn’t know how to break the news to you.

12:30 A.M. Step 6 (Sam): Read and Edit Draft

Hm. This post makes very little sense and will probably insult a good many of your readers. How do you break the news to him? And how the hell does he expect you to draw a cow explaining ‘the concept of remorse’? Make some edits and hope the images won’t change in the rewrite.

1:00 A.M. Step 7 (Sam): Protect Russ’s Ego

Go back and add some positive feedback to your edits so Russ doesn’t think you hate it.

1:05 A.M. Step 16 (Russ): Rejoice

Sam says he likes it! Not only that, but he’s made a slew of edits and now it’s five times funnier. That guy’s the best!

1:15 A.M. Step 8 (Sam) Start Drawing

Well, you’d better get started—it’s not getting any earlier. Start with the one that seems like the easiest and least likely to be in the final draft. Make sure to save the most complicated one for last so that when you finally get to it you’re so tired that the thought of drawing it becomes an overwhelming chore!

It’s best to queue up all the latest episodes of The Colbert Report on the other monitor as you draw. Keeps the mind occupied.

After each drawing is finished, send it over to Russ. If it confuses him, you’ve done something wrong. Usually though, he’s absurdly excited about it to the point that you feel embarrassed. Then he’ll make a couple perfectly reasonable observations about how to improve them, and you will grudgingly grumble about having to make them even though he’s absolutely right.

1:20 A.M.  Step 17 (Russ): Rewrite Over and Over and Over Whilst Giving Feedback on Sam’s Drawings

You wonder how Sam will manage to bring your absurdly complicated whims to visual reality. Every half hour or so he’ll shoot you a draft of a drawing. How did he make that so good?! Once in a while though, you’ll need to step in and tell him that the hands he drew are too claw-like and terrifying. While he deals with this, do around 5 rewrites, making sure to work in some television, or, if you’re alone, something more risqué.

2:00 A.M. Step 9a (Sam): Enjoy Yourself

You’re making fairly good progress. See, this is fine. This is fun! Drawing is what you love to do, right? Why do you act like this is some sort of chore you have in addition to work? You just need to relax a bit!


2:10 A.M. Step 9b (Sam): Really Enjoy Yourself

Inhale or imbibe some relaxing substances. You’ll have a blast! This is going to be the best post ever.


3:45 A.M. Step 10 (Sam): Panic

Your masterpiece is complete! Adding that extra alien spaceship was totally worth it. And it’s only–how is it already 3:45?? There are still… 9 more pictures to draw??? How did this happen? You’ll briefly consider lying down and resting your eyes for just 10 minutes, but you know if you do that, there’s no waking up.

6:00 A.M. Step 11 (Sam): Rejoice

That’s the last drawing! Should you edit the text one last time? You could. But then again, it’s six in the morning.

“Can I go to bed now?”

The 30 seconds it takes Russ to respond will be the longest in the world.

6:00 and 30 seconds A.M. Step 18 (Russ): Let Sam Sleep

Sam never drinks as many Rockstars, so by the time he finishes the art, he’ll only be about 10% awake and will be very disgruntled by any requests for early morning companionship. If you try to ask him for input now, he’ll just start ranting, marveling at your ability to be so incredibly verbose without actually saying anything.

6:05 A.M. Step 12 (Sam): Sleep

Check Reddit one last time on your phone before collapsing in exhaustion.

6:30 A.M. Step 19 (Russ): Despair

You need to think of bonus jokes for all the images?! This last, dainty straw will be more than your caffeine-fueled, overclocked brain can bear. And you were so close to completing this week’s post without a mental breakdown!

6:40 A.M. Step 20 (Russ): Man Up

Just say the first thing that comes into your head. No one’s going to know. People probably don’t even read the mouseover text anyway.

7:00 A.M. Step 21 (Russ): Final Review

Read through it one last time. Too bad at this point you’ll no longer be able tell what’s funny and what’s gibbering inanity. Your ability to comprehend words will seem to have fled entirely. That’s the sign that you’ve finished the post!

7:15 A.M. Step 22 (Russ): Post It!

A great sense of accomplishment and release should wash over you as you stare at your fledgling post, all on its own out there in the dangerous world of the internet. It doesn’t know what it’s in for.

7:16 A.M. Step 23 (Russ): Refresh!

Time to go to the stats page and hit F5 until your fingers break. Has anyone seen it yet? What about now? Now? Any comments? I can’t wait to respond to comments!

7:45 A.M. Step 24 (Russ): Go to Sleep

When the sun is shining brightly in the rosy dawn and the birds begin their joyful song, delighted by another beautiful morning, you’ll know it’s time for bed. Shut down your computer, turn off the lights, and crawl under your covers, comforted by the fact that you’ve accomplished a bare minimum of productivity. You may not get paid, but at least it’s something.

8:00 A.M. Step 25 (Russ): Wait a Second!

As you drift off to sleep, your brain will drowsily mull over the post, which will inevitably lead to the realization that you should have referred to that evil taxi driver as a “toothless hobgoblin” instead of a “vehicle-dwelling night-lurker,” or something equally unimportant.

8:15 A.M. Step 26 (Russ): Boot Up the Computer and Make Changes

Leap out of bed and input the minor changes. As long as the computer’s already on, you might as well refresh the stats page. And if you wait just a few more minutes there are sure to be comments to respond to!…

——

And there you have it. As easy as stuffing a rabid weasel into a snake-filled gunnysack! And not nearly as much chance of infection! With these simple steps, you too can be on your way to making a mark in the blogging world. And if you’re nothing like us, perhaps you’ll manage to keep your psyche from shattering into tiny, unsalvageable parts along the way!

Note: If, in repeating these steps exactly, you find yourself able to write something that would gain Internet-wide mild approval and bemusement, we hope you’ll remember Reasonably Ludicrous as the blog that made it all possible. Good luck!

Bonus Step 27:

Add this step so that the title of your post can seem like a Hitchcock reference.

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The Single Person’s Guide to Not Being Sad on Valentine’s Day

A handy list of Do’s an Don’t’s!

DO

Wander around your apartment in your underwear. Or, if you’re feeling ‘ballsy,’ completely naked! Your girlfriend was the one who always wanted you to “put some clothes on, for god’s sake.” You thought that was counterproductive–she was just going to take them off anyway! Well now’s your chance to feel those hard-to-reach spots get caressed by the winds of freedom rather than by someone who demands you come to every single one of her interpretive dance recitals. Enjoy it!

DO

Watch at least 5 episodes of Entourage or any other show that makes relationships look worthless and singleness seem awesome. Don’t you want to be those guys? Well, if you were dating, you couldn’t be.

DON’T

Watch The Notebook or Love, Actually, or anything that’s not about rampant casual sex or a lot of killing. Be careful. In some of those movies that seem like they’re about casual sex (No Strings Attached, Strictly Sexual, Friends with Benefits) the main characters actually develop feelings and learn to grow and love each other! That’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid!

DON’T

Pull out that scrapbook your girlfriend gave you last Valentine’s day when you were still a couple. Look how happy you both were. She was so beautiful, and you had the most the wonderful times together. What could possibly have happened? Where did you go wrong? Why did she leave you? Whyyyyyy?!?!

DO

Get a little drunk. He thought you had a drinking problem, but you know that’s not true. The simple fact of the matter is that there’s nothing wrong with a few double-apple vodkatinis if it will help you forget the way he used to gently brush your hair back behind your ear. Alcohol makes it harder to feel anything, and things you can’t fully understand don’t bother you quite as much. So this Valentine’s day, get yourself a present: gallons of homemade bathtub hooch! As you relax, your pores will suck in the liquid indifference!

DON’T

Get too drunk. Because then you’re going to send some very regrettable text messages.

DO

Create a Facebook page for your cat. In a recent study, cats were proven to be the #1 way to distract yourself from your loneliness. How better to make your pet seem more like a real person than by giving it an internet presence?

DON’T

Facebook stalk your exes and compare yourself to their new girlfriends. They’re better than you. And on the off chance that they’re just skanks, what is he doing with her?!

DON’T

Compose love poems. Trust me; I’m an English major. Nothing is sadder than composing poetry, except for composing bad poetry. And anything you write right now is going to be pretty emo.

DO

Burn love poems, gaining strength from the heat of their passion. A bit of cackling is also recommended.

DON’T

Leave your apartment for any reason. Right now, couples everywhere are painstakingly attempting to fulfill their most elaborate fantasies for one another, reveling in an exhilarating exchange of physical and mental gratification.  If you step outside your haven, you’re bound to see couples engaging in that horrible sensation known as “joy.” This might send you into a fit of jealousy and rage, and that would be bad for your digestion.

DO

Eat away the pain. And if you want to wipe your hands on your clothes, go for it! Nobody’s watching. You can be as messy and self-destructive as you want. It’s your body—you’re not sharing it with anyone anymore. Stuff it with fried chicken and chocolate all day long! Well, maybe not chocolate. She used to love chocolate…

DON’T

Go on a first date. On Valentine’s Day? What are you, insane? That’s way too much pressure. If it goes well, the whole thing will start on such a romantic note that you’ll feel obligated to see it through till marriage. But how could it even go well? Why would she agree to a date on today of all days? Is she using you to fill some gap in her meaningless life? Are you using her for the same reason? What are her expectations? If you do end up hooking up, would she mind if you cried afterward? Better just to avoid the whole thing.

DON’T

Call your parents. They will probably attempt to console you, and having your parents on your side can be a terrible feeling. If not that, they’ll pester you about not having anyone, using keywords like “grandchildren” and “who could ever love someone like you anyway?”

DO

Send yourselves flowers. Nothing like some flowers to brighten up your day and/or room of mournful memories.

DON’T

Tell anyone.

DO
Spend some quality time with your favorite toys. They’ll never be able to abandon you—you took out their batteries.

DO

Feel a sense of healthy indignation. Why should you pander to a holiday with roots so muddled your elementary school teachers didn’t even understand them. What does the decapitation of an 8th century priest have to do with chocolate hearts and overpriced bouquets? It hasn’t got the logic of a rabbit delivering eggs or a fat man squeezing down a chimney pipe, so therefore you’re allowed to ignore it. A flying fat kid with a bow and arrow? How are you supposed to be romantic with the thought of that hovering above you? In fact, it’s probably best that you forget the holiday exists entirely. From now on, let February 14th be known as “Normal Day Day,” upon which all the men and women of the world will go to work, come home, and that night, be visited by the headache fairy, whose magical pixie dust grants you the excuse of being “too tired” tonight, honey.

There you have it. With this simple guide, you’ll be able to avoid the pain this invented, pressure-filled holiday confers on all of us. Good luck! And have a happy Normal Day Day, everyone!

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