It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling Tinder

Hi, everyone.
I know it’s been a while since I last wrote, and I apologize. I’ve been pretty busy lately running around with friends and trying to find a job (as ever). You might remember that at the beginning of May, I wrote about how the Buzzfeed post I authored went viral, and it resulted in me getting a job offer to write articles for the British website WhatCulture.com. In the month of May I wrote three articles for about 90 bucks (whoop WHOOOOOO)!!!

SOMEONE PAID ME MONEY TO WRITE WORDS THIS IS CRAZY

You can check them out here:
9 Underrated Kid’s Movies You Didn’t Realise Were Awesome
20 Reasons Being A Single Woman Is The Best 
20 Obscure Movies With Hilarious IMDB Descriptions

Just a note, the single one was originally written as just being directed at single people in general, but then my editor randomly changed it after I submitted it and so now the title doesn’t really makes sense.
Ah, the realities of writing for someone else.
But seriously, I love writing for What Culture and everyone has been incredibly kind and I strongly encourage you to go check out, not just my articles, but everything else on their cool Britishy website. I’d love it if you’d share or comment on my articles, too, as it helps my standing within the pecking order.

But now, on to the most exciting thing I’ve been doing lately.
Friends, it’s finally happened.
I joined Tinder.

Heh. Heh heh.

I know what you might be thinking here. Sara, you’re saying, don’t you know Tinder is for hooking up?
Yes, yes, Unspecified Mystery Reader, I had heard that. That’s why I never tried it or anything; I was just as skeptical as you. But I actually talked with one of my friends that had Tinder, and she told me it’s not really that bad and she recommended I try it.

I thought about this for a good long while. As you all may or may not have figured out by this point, I’m a bit awkward and unfamiliar with this whole dating tomfoolery. If you don’t count times when parents drove because we were too young, I’ve never been on an actual date. At the age of 22, this often comes as a surprise to people, and makes trying to date even more awkward. It’s made it easy to make excuses and never really give dating much of a go.
Now, as I have said repeatedly on this blog, I do NOT think there is anything wrong with being single. In fact, I think being single for a long period of time is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It allowed me to really sort myself out and figure out what I wanted and needed in a potential partner.
On the other hand, however, I’m just getting dang curious what all the “dating” fuss is about, and I’d really just like to give this whole thing a whirl. I even made a resolution for New Year’s that I would go on a date this year (probably).
But by May, my options still weren’t looking good. So impulsively one day, I plunged in and downloaded Tinder.

Eh, why not?

Let me explain the basic premise of Tinder for those of you who have never been desperate enough to use it. You create a profile where you can pick a few pictures to put on, along with a short bio. Then you set parameters like age range, gender, and distance from you. Then, Tinder looks for people who fit into your parameters in your area

Genuinely one of my favorite things to come from the internet.

You look at the profile and pictures of the people Tinder suggests to you, and it will show you if you have any mutual friends or likes on Facebook. Then, you either swipe left if you’re not interested, or right if you are. If someone you’re interested in also swipes that they’re interested, too, then it will show you that you are a match. You then have the ability to message each other and start a conversation. If you swipe left, then you never see that profile again–even if you swiped left by accident.
The first time I tried to use Tinder, I became very stressed out. I am terrible at making decisions, and Tinder is literally making what is essentially a snap judgement about someone based almost entirely off their appearance. I didn’t even swipe the first time I got on, because I felt so agonized about the prospect of making a mistake. I stared at this one guy’s profile for like fifteen minutes, paralyzed with indecision, before I finally panickedly closed Tinder by hitting the back button like five times unnecessarily. It took me a few hours to get my courage up again.
Tentatively, I tried again, resolving to be firmer and more hard-hearted. I braced myself, and swiped no on a couple of people. I immediately felt incredibly proud of myself. I could do this… I could Tinder!!!!
Then I came to a guy who I WAS interested in. Again, I felt crippled with indecision. What if I swiped yes on him but he didn’t swipe yes on me?! What if I was rejected BY A PHONE APP?!
And then, the beauty of Tinder dawned upon me.
WHO CARES IF YOU ARE REJECTED BY A PHONE APP, YOU NEVER HAVE TO SEE OR SPEAK TO THEM EVER AGAIN!!!! IT’S LIKE DATING WITHOUT ANY SORT OF PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!! I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO LEAVE MY HOUSE TO PARTICIPATE!!!

The excitement this realization brought me is perhaps a bad omen for someone who claims to want a date.

But back to my story. Bravely, I overcame my trepidation, and swiped yes for the first time. Instantly, a little message popped up on my phone saying we were a match.

Classy girls protect identities.

Classy girls protect identities.

Wait…. we’re a match? We really are? You’re saying someone looked at my picture and my profile and thought, YeahI’d be interested in her?!?!?!

God, what was I waiting for?! This dating thing is a PIECE. OF. CAKE. I started swiping like crazy, soon becoming drunk with the power to reject or approve potential soulmates (probably). And, even more heady, almost every single guy I swiped that I was interested in had already said they were interested in me.
It was a miracle– THESE GUYS DON’T THINK I LOOK LIKE I’M TWELVE YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!
Pretty quickly, a few guys even MESSAGED me. I was chatting with guys in a romantic context on my phone…. THIS IS THE FUTURE.

And, happily, most of the guys were really nice. Unfortunately, one fella got right off to a bit of a personal start, and inquired about my feelings on “butt stuff.”

And so I blocked his ass; hopefully that got the message across. One of the nice things about Tinder is you can block someone at any time and they can never see your profile or contact you again.
Overall, most of the guys I was matching with who messaged me were really nice and not creepy. However, there were definitely a few interesting profiles I came across:

Oh, hi there, pretend Eric Church.

Oh, hi there, pretend Eric Church.

Okay, but I really like his style.

Okay, but I really like his style.

wpid-screenshot_2014-06-01-18-40-27.png
I left his name because, oh my god his name is Countryman?! Also, I thought he was Kevin Durant for a minute.
But speaking of NBA players, the most exciting moment of my Tinder experience came when a profile was suggested to me that is most likely someone pretending to be Steven Adams of the NBA Thunder (my new favorite Thunder player if Derek Fisher retires), but OH MY EVER LIVING GOD IT COULD BE STEVEN ADAMS ON MY TINDER AND THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY HE MIGHT SWIPE RIGHT ON ME.

THE ONLY PROBLEM IS I WOULD PROBABLY SPONTANEOUSLY EXPLODE

I should’ve taken a screenshot of it, but I have NEVER swiped yes so fast on a Tinder profile in my life.
The most traumatizing moment definitely came when I discovered my own cousin on Tinder (I CAN NEVER UNSEE), and also horrifying was when one of my best friend’s younger brother appeared. But also cool was finding a couple guys I knew and went to school with. We both swiped yes on each other and then laughed about how we were both on Tinder.

Then, a guy I went to high school with but I didn’t know at all during that time matched with me. I’d actually played against him a couple seasons in indoor, so we’d at least nominally met, but I didn’t think he’d really remember who I was. Yet he straight away asked me to play with his indoor team, but I unfortunately have been injured with quad tears for the past two months (a whole other story that I will get to on another post). But, to my shock, even after I told him I couldn’t play, he asked me to still come watch his game. AND there was definite flirtiness (I think).
Was… was this a…. DATE?!?!

COME ON SARA KEEP IT TOGETHER

Let me just explain how surreal this is to me. This guy, who we will call The Lad (remember, classy girls protect identities), was really popular in high school and played football. I NEVER even came into contact with him in high school, much less spoke to him. I always just admired how hot he was from afar. And now I think he might have possibly asked me on a quasi-date??????

hahaha what I don’t know how to react or handle this or even breathe send help please help

But, as with all things when it comes to me and guys, this situation is not so simple. The Lad asked me last Sunday to come to a game that is tomorrow, Saturday. So Sara, you’re saying. What’s the problem with that? That actually sounds really simple. Why don’t you just go up to the game and watch? It’s not a big deal, and it’s not like you don’t spend a majority of your time in soccer arenas anyway. Just do it. DO IT. GO TO THE GAME.
Well, Overly Insistent and Pushy Mystery Reader Who Sounds Like My Family and Close Friends, here’s the problem.
I haven’t spoken to him since then. He hasn’t messaged me or contacted me at all since Monday. What if he forgot he invited me, or he only matched with me so he could ask me to play and then when I couldn’t he felt obligated to invite me to the game to be nice? If he was really interested, why hasn’t he talked to me? What if he’s just a big creep?
Now you may be thinking that I sound absurd, or silly, or why in god’s name don’t I just message him? But I have accepted this about myself and dating– I have to take baby steps. Really, really tiny baby steps. Maybe more like a couple weeks old baby steps that aren’t really steps at all but are just the baby kicking its legs around in the air under its mobile.
To date, I’m going to need a LOT of encouragement and reassurance. I am the most oblivious girl alive sometimes, and I NEVER realize when guys like me unless they come right out and say it– and even then I’m still a bit skeptical. Dating is just a whole new world for me, and I am no Hernando Cortez to go rushing right in and conquer it ruthlessly and without fear– the natives reportedly ripped out hearts, remember.

Yep, I mix history and dating. Maybe why I'm still single?

Yep, I mix history and dating. Maybe why I’m still single?

And so I waver indecisively, as agonizingly unsure as the very first time I faced a profile on Tinder. Should I go? Should I not? Should I message him? The answer is not clear to me, and I am struggling mightily with my natural shyness and awkwardness in a romantic context. I’m sure I’ll update you on the thrilling conclusion to the pathetic sagas of my love life, whatever they may be.
I just don’t understand why I ever thought Tinder was a good idea. Maybe I’m going to give up on this whole dating thing after all; my stress levels are rising exponentially and I don’t understand how so many people do the dating.

I’m starting to seriously question whether I’m cut out for it at all.

I don’t think it’s for me.

 

 

Thoughts From A Chronic Groupon Massage Purchaser

Hello, Dear Readers.
I want to start off today’s post by asking you something. When you hear words like “luxury” or “relaxation,” do certain images come to your mind? Perhaps something like kicking back with a drink in your hand, or reading by the pool, maybe even a hammock in the quiet of the great outdoors. For many people, pampering is the name of the game when trying to relax, often along the lines of some sort of spa day. And once your mind drifts that way, perhaps you, like many people, also find yourself picturing that stereotypical image of a massage on the beach at sunset.

Something like this.

I must admit, I have always bought into that glamorous idea of a massage, where someone soothes away all your tension in a lovely place that smells good, while soft, magical music plays in the background. As I grew older, the appeal only increased. After a hard soccer game, when my body was tired and aching, what could sound more heavenly than someone to rub my feet? Or when I was studying for an important test, and my head and shoulders hurt from hours spent hunched over my notes, what could be better than someone to rub those knots away? To me, a massage sounded like the very height of luxury, the kind of thing rich or famous people did every day to deal with the stress of their glamorous lives. But this always seemed an unreachable goal for my poor, middle class self– an effervescent dream that danced in the sunset on the horizon, never attainable.
Then I got a job. And a bank account. Of course, I did not realize it at the time, but this was the first step on a long and colorful road I would come to embark on. Today, I’d like to share with you some of the more memorable impressions I have received in the world of massage.

The first massage I ever received was not exactly your typical experience. My family and I went on vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas which, if you have never been, is a town that was essentially made up of spas and resorts when it was founded. Today, there are still a number of these old spas that are still functional and you can visit them– for a price. But it just so happened that at the particular time we were going to be there, my mother discovered that one of the spas was having a very special deal– you could go through, not just a massage, but an entire spa routine in their historic spa. And, best of all, it was SUPER. CHEAP. Like, I had enough money in my bank account to afford it, and there would still be money left over afterwards.

IS THIS REAL LIFE MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE

The only thing that made us hesitate was a slight catch– it was customary to go through this entire spa treatment… naked. Now, this was not like a you go into a dimly lit room and take off your clothes and get under some covers naked, this was like you take a special mineral bath, then you go and get hot towels put on you, and then you sit in a old-timey steam machine, and then you get a massage naked. This required you to move from place to place. Neither my mom nor my sister nor I were especially keen on this idea.

But after some researching, we found something that said you could wear your bathing suit if you were more comfortable that way– perfect!!! After scouring the process, we realized that we would have to take our tops off for the massage part, naturally, but just wear a two piece and that’s not even a big deal, just pop it off and lay down on the table under the sheet. Solid. I’m sold! So we booked our spa treatments, and gleefully headed off to immerse ourselves into the luxurious world that until now had only been the realm of the rich and famous. Not any more, movie stars.
Let me ask you another question, Readers. Whenever you were younger and in school (or perhaps you even now are at that age) did you ever go to gym class and have to do something called stations? You know, where the teacher sets up like six or seven activities and you spend five minutes at each before they blow a whistle and you have to hurry off to the next one?

CURSE YOU STATIONS

CURSE YOU STATIONS

Well, picture something similar to that, but in an even hotter and sweatier environment than a school gymnasium, and all your fellow classmates seem to be at least sixty years of age and up, and also completely naked. Now, I am an enormous advocate for loving your body and being comfortable in your skin, and maybe by the time I’m sixty I will be as confident (or perhaps just utterly indifferent) as those ladies seemed to be in their nudity. I had not (and still have not) attained that level.
We were hustled from “luxury” to “luxury”– first a bath in a tiny curtained cubicle, and then into one of the steam machines, and then to a table set up next to a ton of other tables where the lady inquired what my “troubled areas” were that I wanted the hot towels on. I felt very unprepared and overwhelmed, like lady, I have never done this before, you tell me (“Uhhh… my right knee kind of hurts?”)
During this time I kind of became separated from my mom and sister because you just had to go to wherever a “station” came available, and in some places you just had to wait. (Oh hi, don’t mind me here, just chilling in my wet bathing suit freezing my butt off and trying desperately not to stare at the naked lady who is so wrinkly and sagging that somehow things are drooping in just such a way that her modesty is remaining intact.)

Let me give you a tip, do not ever, under any circumstances, google “wrinkly saggy old ladies” because the internet is why we can’t have nice things

Finally all that was left was the massage, and feeling much like cattle being herded, I was directed back to another area of the spa to wait my turn. But first, I was required to rinse off in a special shower, to make sure I did not have any minerals on my skin. I say this shower was special because it was in the open– and a lady was just sitting by it, like a secretary at a desk. I started to get in when I was informed that I needed to take my bathing suit completely off.
Completely off.
My bathing suit.
.

I found myself mumbling some sort of protest, something about how that couldn’t be right because it had said I could wear my bathing suit. The shower secretary simply stared me down with steely eyes, informing me that I needed to wash off the minerals so my skin would be prepared for the massage. Slowly, in a daze of horror, I found myself taking off my bathing suit, three feet from a complete stranger, who carelessly turned on the shower thing, indifferent to the fact that my soul was slowing withering as my body attempted to shrink in upon itself.

Pretty sure this was my expression the whole time.

After this shameful procedure was finished, I was allowed to wrap myself in a towel, which I then had to huddle in for a period of ten-ish minutes (that felt like an eternity) as I found myself just sitting in a chair against a wall as I waited my turn to see a masseuse, like someone in the waiting room at a dentist’s office. Except, you know, I was completely naked except for a small towel with strange people about my person.
Finally it was my turn, and I rushed into the room, ready for the entire procedure to be finished with. But the best was yet to come, my Dear Readers. For my masseuse then instructed me to take off my towel, get onto the massage table, and then cover myself with the sheet.
I stress the “then” part, because the order this was supposed to occur in was very important. If you’ll recall, I was naked under my towel. And then I had to get myself onto the massage table. I am a very short person, if you didn’t know, so it was more going to be a climb onto the massage table–this would not have been a graceful procedure if I was decked out in mountain scaling gear.
But alas, I was naked.
You’re a human being, you have a body (unless of course you’re an alien or a ghost or something, in which case, that’s freaking cool, and thanks for reading my blog!)– I’ll just let you ponder why this might be uncomfortable.
Ah, if only my masseuse would have stepped out for this event, it might have remained just awkward instead of one of the most humiliating tasks I have ever been instructed to perform in my life. But she did not. She simply bustled about the room preparing things as this occurred.

Here’s an adorable puppy awkwardly climbing to take the sting out of some of the things I have asked you to imagine already.

To this day, it still occasionally strikes me that there are two strange women floating about Hot Springs, Arkansas who have seen me in my altogether.

But let’s take a minute to pause here. That story indicates to you that I found my first massage experience pretty traumatic, right? So why, you may be asking, does my post title seem to indicate that I have purchased massages numerous times?
Well my friends, never let it be said that I have shied away from or been held back by awkwardness in my life. (Seriously, though, I would never be able to do anything if I let a previous awkward experience with it ruin stuff for me.) Eventually, I discovered websites like Groupon, and LivingSocial, and CrowdSavings, all simply swimming in deals for massages at different places. And somehow or another, I found myself succumbing to the siren lure of that mystical, magical image of the massage on the beach at sunset– not that I have ever had a massage on a beach at sunset. But still, the image tempted me.

SO TEMPTING

Luckily, the majority of my subsequent attempts actually went very pleasantly. Massages became an indulgence I could occasionally afford with help of a discount website, and when I was stressing over a midterm, I could simply schedule one of the massage deals I had purchased to help me relax.
But as with all things in life, from time to time stuff doesn’t go quite as expected. This happened when I bought a groupon to a massage academy, that I came to find out was in a… less affluent part of town. This particular groupon was incredibly cheap, and I realized it was because it was going to be given by a student studying to be a masseuse, not an actual certified one.
Now, if you have followed my blog for any length of time, you have probably received the very accurate impression that I do not have a great deal of experience with boys. But what you might be surprised to hear is that I have actually been talked out of my bra by a man.
His name was Jesus, and he was a man in his (I’m estimating) mid-40’s. He also happened to be the student masseuse that I was scheduled to receive my massage from. Now, as I mentioned, this whole situation ended up feeling very dodgy. Typically when you get a massage, you undress down to your underwear only. But in this case, when Jesus instructed me to undress to my comfort level, I was feeling distinctly uncomfortable. I was in a bad part of town, at a somewhat rundown massage academy, facing a massage by a man for the first time. To make matters worse, my sister was not getting a massage at the same time like she had every other time before, so I was all alone. I opted to leave not only my bra on, but also my shorts.

Okay, I’m ready!

What proceeded was one of the strangest experiences of my life. Jesus started asked me lots of questions about myself and life, and he began making predictions about what kind of person I was based on where I had tension in my body and what kinds of chronic aches I had. At one point he was asking me why I let people push me into doing things I didn’t want to do and encouraging me to stand up for myself. He continued to give me life advice, all while periodically “pushing out the bad auras” and “throwing them away” (always followed by a literal shaking of his hands after hovering them over my body a few inches). It was almost like receiving a massage from a fortune teller– he talked really fast and sometimes with an accent I couldn’t understand so I just nodded sometimes even though I didn’t know what I was agreeing to and I think this led him to make some inaccurate predictions because I provided him with false information and now sometimes I’m secretly afraid he laid a curse on me and that’s the real reason I’ll never find a boyfriend (probably).

He actually kind of looked like Zoltar, maybe I should have listened to some of those predictions…

Suffice it to say, I left that place confused, oily, and a different person.
My most recent massage was this past week, and luckily it was at a place called Petra’s, where my sister and I had been before and really liked. Because neither of us have any semblance of a love life (the excitement with Jesus was a couple of years ago, sadly) we tend to end up doing everything together instead, and we had what was essentially a couple’s massage (or the single sisters’ massage as I like to think of it)…. aka we were in the same room.
My first tip about getting a massage is make sure you go to the bathroom before you start. I didn’t need to, but I still pretended I did because I wanted to check in to the massage place on Facebook because I had thought up the oh so clever caption “I live for the massage, massage, massage, live for the massage-sage, live for the massage-sage” to put with it. Yes, I know I am a product of my terrible generation and I’m obsessed with social media and blah blah blah. But really, I just love terrible puns, and I was not passing up my chance to parody Lady Gaga.

This post took me a really long time to write because I got lost looking and laughing at the Google search results for puns

Another tip when getting a massage (especially if you are a lady) is to make sure you shave really well. It’s a slightly disconcerting feeling to have someone massaging your legs and you suddenly start thinking Oh god oh god oh god oh god did I remember to shave above the knees last night (nope!). My masseuse was really nice, and it just seemed like I owed that much to her, but it was too late at that point.
The biggest problem I have noticed in my chronic massage experiences is that I have trouble just being. Like, the point of a massage is that you’re supposed to just lay there while someone else pampers you. But the problem with massages is that you’re supposed to just lay there while someone else pampers you. Without fail, every two to four minutes I feel like I should say thank you, but what kind of body oil slick slope does that lead to? Where do you stop? How many times is too many times to say it? Is she silently judging me because I’m not saying it and she thinks I’m an ungrateful jerk? Or if I started saying thank you periodically, is she going to think I’m a freak and it will get really annoying?
I usually spend the first ten to fifteen minutes occupied with thoughts like this, and just trying to keep my eyes closed (Third tip– If you’ve never had a massage before, I’ve realized that it is definitely best to keep your eyes closed so you’re not just uncomfortably staring at your masseuse). Finally I’ll come to a point where my brain will think, well, it’s too late now, I’ve gone too far as it is and she’s going to think of me what she’ll think of me.

Gratuitous Doug gif, because it’s guaranteed to be Funny (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE)

Like me, you may have noticed in life that things you really build up an image of in your head rarely end up being like you think they will. I was finally relaxing, beginning to enjoy my massage, and I was at last able to keep my eyes closed without having to scrunch them. I’m settling in, and I perk up my ears to allow myself to be soothed by whatever dulcet sounds were drifting through the room. Now, if you’re talking about soothing background music, I definitely prefer things that have to do with water– rain, rushing rivers, babbling brooks, thunderstorms, etc.

Something about this is soothing to me on a visceral level.

Unfortunately, a rainy day soundtrack had not been selected for our massage time. Instead, something that sounded like electric guitars in space was playing. Not terrible, just… strange. We came to the point in the massage when it was time to roll over and put your face into that little face rest thing that has a hole in the middle. Not necessarily the most comfortable thing to put my face on, but not a big deal, of course. Unfortunately, around the point when my masseuse began working on my arms and shoulders, it came to my attention that my eye itched. Ferociously.
In case you didn’t know, it is very hard to make subtle, stealthy movements when someone literally has their hands on you. I began trying to rub my face on the thing, but the itch was just so located that I couldn’t get it to the face thing to rub on without essentially just turning my head and rubbing my face up against it like Baloo in the Jungle Book does with that tree.
http---makeagif.com--media-8-12-2013-Va35v6

My arms also happened to be otherwise occupied, so there could be no quick, casual scratch and run either. I suffered through for the next five minutes before the itch finally faded. Around that point, my masseuse moved up and started rubbing my neck… and then my head. She was massaging my scalp, guys. You know those people who, if you play with their hair, they will actually literally melt into a puddle? Yep, that’s me.

So accurate it hurts.

So accurate it hurts.

Another fun fact about me– when I get really relaxed, I have an unfortunate tendency to drool. So for example, when I’m really, really tired at night and I sleep really heavily, I’m much more likely to drool. Makes perfect sense, right, I mean my muscles relax so my mouth gets very slack and so slobber is much more likely to come out (It’s science). Well, when this lady began massaging my scalp, I fell into utter relaxation mode.  I wasn’t concerned any longer about the fact that I might have forgotten to shave or that my hair might have somehow suddenly started producing dandruff the very day I got a massage or even that my bare chest was currently smooshed into a table.  I don’t think I even knew what my name was.
Regrettably, however, this led to an unfortunate circumstance– as my lady finally quit rubbing my scalp and went back to rubbing my shoulders, I emerged from my stupor to find myself with my mouth wide open, drool hanging precariously from my lip. My eyes had barely had time to process the fact that I was staring down at my masseuse’s tennis shoes when I felt the drool lose its tenuous battle with gravity. In slow motion, I watched it plummet towards the ground, and the desperate refrain running through my mind was please don’t land on her shoe please don’t land on her shoe pleasedon’tlandonhershoooooooooe

The last thing my spit ever saw

With my track record, Readers, it’s really a miracle that I didn’t end up drooling on my masseuse’s shoe. But maybe fate owed me one– I did fall asleep once on my then-boyfriend and I literally covered his arm in my sleeping spit.
The rest of the massage passed without too much incident, and I found myself enjoying the experience immensely as a whole. Another, very pertinent tip to know about massages is that you should expect to feel like you just finished wrestling a greased pig in a vat of Crisco when you finish. I generally go straight home and take a shower after. That aside, I certainly felt relaxed after I was done, and that, of course is the point.

So what I’m trying to say, Dear Readers, is that if you’ve been eyeing those Groupons lately and dreaming, like I did, of that massage on the sunny beach, I encourage you to go for it. It more than likely won’t be exactly what you were expecting, but isn’t that the best part of life? Sometimes you don’t get what you thought you would, and yet you end up loving it.
As for my final tip about getting a massage– don’t try to write a blog about it, because no matter how you try and phrase it, writing about someone putting their hands all over your oiled, lotiony half-naked body just comes out sounding so awkward.

But hey– never let it be said that I allow awkwardness to stop me.

Oh schwelllll!

 

Pizza’s Peculiar Recurring Role in My Life

Dear Friends, I want to tell you a story.
I know that you’ll find this hard to believe, but once upon a time I was painfully, terrifyingly awkward.
Now, I can guess what you’re thinking– what do you mean, Sara, once upon a time? Aren’t you still painfully, terrifyingly awkward?
And you are partially right, I am still very awkward.

I’m about this level of awkwardness now.

However, compared to my younger self, I now have all the confidence of Grace Kelly at a state dinner in Monaco. To put it kindly, when I was younger I sometimes became overwhelmed in certain social situations.

I was that blonde lady on the right.

So, big surprise, in high school I was not one of the popular kids. I’m not saying I was like an outcast by any means; I was acquainted with most everybody in my grade and I had a large group of friends. I just was not in the popular crowd. Now, I can’t speak for other places, but at almost every single high school in my state, the most important people at a school are the athletes. And generally, football players are the priority. For example, when I was in high school we put in a million dollar football field but didn’t have enough books for every classroom. Completely logical, right?
But anyway. So as you may know, I am an avid lover of soccer and I have played my whole life. This includes all four years in high school. It just so happens that after our million dollar football stadium was put in, the rule became that any time we played while it was raining, we played on the football field because it had turf. I was a sophomore the first year this rule came into effect. I won’t attempt to describe to you now just how awkward I was as a fifteen year old. Instead, I will let the following story speak for itself.

We had a home game, and I was incredibly excited because I got put on the varsity roster.

VARSITYYYYYY

I don’t actually remember, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say I didn’t even get to play, or if I did it was only for a few minutes. But what I do remember is that we had to play on the football field, because it poured down rain the whole time. I also remember that we won the game. The boys’ soccer team played right after us, and they won their game, too. I don’t know how or who or why it happened, but the word went around that all the Varsity players (THAT INCLUDED MEEEEE) were allowed to go eat Mazzio’s Pizza buffet for FREE.

I DON’T EVEN LIKE MAZZIO’S BUT ALL I HEARD WERE THE WORDS “FREE” AND “VARSITY”


Now, I must admit I don’t even really like Mazzio’s Pizza. However, I was particularly excited on that occasion for a specific reason. About two weeks before that game, I had gone to Mazzio’s with my dear friend Kasey and her family, and I had stumbled across a little piece of heaven.
It was called cheesecake pizza.

IT’S CHEESECAKE… PLUS PIZZA. NEED I SAY MORE.

Let me just lay this out for you, guys. When I really like a food, I am serious about it. Really, really serious. And when I rolled into Mazzio’s that rainy day of my sophomore year, all of my focus was directed on securing and consuming as much free cheesecake pizza as I could. The second I went through the door, I headed straight to the buffet, gleefully scanning it for the magical concoction I just knew was there waiting for me. But as my eyes ran through the offerings in front of me, I saw nothing that looked like the remembered cheesecakey-pizzaey delights of two weeks before.
Disappointed, but not defeated, I returned to my seat to keep a gimlet eye on the buffet, for surely they would be putting out the cheesecake pizza any minute now. Thus, I spent the first approximately fifteen minutes darting frenetically forward every time a new pizza was put out to eagerly check if it was cheesecake pizza.
Finally, my stakeout was rewarded when I saw a lanky teenager disinterestedly shove onto the buffet what my discerning eye recognized as my eagerly awaited prize, and my legs quivered as I leapt from my seat and charged forward towards the buffet.

“CHEESECAKEPIZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!”

But when the fevered haze of gluttony cleared from my eyes, I was frozen with confusion. For what I saw before me was not what I remembered from two weeks before. It sort of  looked like my cheesecake pizza, but it wasn’t exactly the same.

“Is… is this a trick? Cheesecake pizza, are you hiding in the ceiling?”

Try to understand my dilemma here. I had built myself into such a state of anxious anticipation, that my mind just could not seem to comprehend that what I thought was cheesecake pizza, just might not be cheesecake pizza.
I stood there, staring at the pizza before me in bewildered contemplation. Was it cheesecake pizza? Was it not cheesecake pizza? I just could not seem to confirm either way. As I was frowning down at the pizza in this fog of confusion, I gained the vague awareness that someone was standing next to me.
Now, have you ever just known that you had a weird look on your face? Like, you could just feel that there was some bizarre, contorted expression firmly planted on your features? As I slowly turned my head to see who was standing next to me, I realized that I had one of those looks on my face:

If I had been an animal in high school, I would have been Libby there.

I simultaneously became aware that I looked like a drowned rat, with my soaked hair straggling all around me and my too-big, bulky hoodie on, with all trace of makeup washed away and skin still clammy and pale from the cold. The other thing I became aware of was that the person standing next to me was none other than Hunter Smith.
Of course, this probably means nothing to you, but let me give you some background– remember how I said athletes took priority in our school? Well, Hunter Smith, although a sophomore like me, was already something of a celebrity at our school. He was a star on the football team, but he was one of the best players for the boys’ soccer team as well. He was also, naturally, one of the most popular kids at our school. Though we were around the same age, in the same grade, and played the same sport, I had never spoken a word to him, and I was fairly certain he had not the slightest idea who I was.
I could only stare at him in a sort of bewilderment. Much like my mind could not comprehend the discrepancies between the cheesecake pizza I remembered and the cheesecake pizza that I had found before me, I could not comprehend that Hunter Smith was standing next to me, looking at me. The most popular guy in school was standing next to me, and I could only stare at him in disbelief.

Umm… you can’t be standing there?

Into the dead silence, Hunter innocently asks, “Hey, what is that?”
Oh, Readers.
All I can say in my defense was that I was already in a somewhat strange state due to the distressing situation with the cheesecake pizza. Then, you add to that the fact that someone I was in awe of (I’m not joking, I was outrageously and comprehensively intimidated by Hunter Smith and his athletic skills) was speaking to me, and I can only say that my brain simply shut down.
I took a deep breath, and then suddenly launched into this whole, long, stumbling explanation about how I thought it might be cheesecake pizza but I wasn’t sure it was cheesecake pizza because I’d been here two weeks ago with my best friend and got cheesecake pizza and this didn’t look the same as that pizza and blah blah blah blah blah. I honestly don’t even know all of what I said. Eventually, after who knows how much time, I came to my senses and realized I was rambling on to Hunter Smith about cheesecake pizza. Abruptly, right in the middle of  a sentence about heaven only knows what mysterious existential examination of the nature of cheesecake pizza, I stopped speaking. And resumed staring at Hunter.
Into this void of discomfort, Hunter politely says, “That’s cool. Is it any good?”
Ah, Readers.
This time I have no defense for what happened. I can only cringe.
In response, I scoop a piece of the much pondered pizza onto my plate, pick it up, and proceed to shove half of it into my mouth. Then I stood there, chewing. As I continued to stare at Hunter Smith.

Hiii. Just me here. Chewing.

After a good fifteen or twenty seconds of chewing to finally make it possible to swallow the half a piece of pizza I just ate, I finally manage to free my mouth to snap back this witty rejoinder: “It’s okay.” I then shoveled three more pieces of pizza onto my plate.
And then I stood there.
And continued to stare at Hunter Smith.

No. No, I don’t have any idea what’s going on either.

Into the absolute vacuum of awkwardness, Hunter replies, “Well, I think I’m going to get some.”
I nod dumbly back, and continue to stand there.
Hunter stands there.
We stare at each other.

EXCEPT WE WERE A FOOT APART

At last it occurs to me. In my fervor to secure ALL the cheesecake pizza for myself, I had unconsciously placed my body squarely in front of it. I was essentially hunched over its spot on the buffet, completely blocking all access to it. There was no possible way for Hunter to get to the cheesecake pizza.

BACK OFF MY NOMS

“BACK OFF MY NOMS”– my unconscious psyche.

Slowly, slowly I uncurled myself from the space around the cheesecake pizza where I was crouched like a beast of prey over my hapless victim. Then, without speaking a word, I backed away, turned around, and walked off.

Yep, and just walking away now.

For the two remaining years of high school, I did everything in my power to avoid Hunter Smith, which thankfully was not that difficult. You may think that this story is now at an end, because it surely has to be, because it could not get worse.
Ahh, but Readers. If you thought that, you underestimate my mind-bogglingly vast affinity for awkward, embarrassing situations.
Senior year of high school rolls around, and somewhat to my pleasant surprise I found myself in the soccer Homecoming Court. My naive mind did not comprehend immediately the potential for unpleasantness here, because I was actually really excited to be in the Homecoming Court… yay! The exciting shine of that wore off instantly, however, when someone mentioned to me how we were going to be paired with an escort from the boys’ team.
And Readers, you already must have guessed that Hunter Smith was one of the candidates for the boys.
But I was optimistic. I staunchly reassured myself that I would not be paired with him! There were six candidates each, which meant I had an 5 in 6 chance of not getting paired with Hunter Smith. Those odds were practically unbeatable. I would be fine.
You know already, don’t you?
What I failed to learn was just how a boy and a girl candidate were paired up– alphabetically by last name. Aka they put us in alphabetical order and matched us with the corresponding boy.
Hunter Smith. Sara Rowe.
In the Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009, Smith and Rowe were the corresponding names.

Now, most all of the girls on my team had heard the great Cheesecake Pizza Story at one point or another over the years, and they were absolutely loving it that I was paired with Hunter. The story made the rounds again, and it just so happened that Hunter’s girlfriend at the time was the athletic trainer for the soccer team. I had to get my ankle wrapped every day for a while, and somehow I ended up telling her the story. She thought it was hilarious, and told me she was glad I was the one paired with her boyfriend and not someone else. I did not share the sentiment.
Fast forward to the day of homecoming, and as so many big schools insist on doing, we had to have a PEP RALLY. And this pep rally had to feature the Homecoming Court for soccer! And of course, it had to be a THEMED pep rally. Our theme? Black light. So we find out kind of last minute that our escort will, well… escort us down this aisle set up in the gym, through a sword arch made by the ROTC, and then we will sit in chairs in front of everyone for the duration of the pep assembly. Awesome. Fantastic.
So we gather outside the gym, waiting our turn to be called. Hunter is, thankfully, off talking to the boys. A minute or so before its time for the first pair to walk, they line us up just inside the doors to the gym with our partners. This is the first time I will have spoken to Hunter Smith in two years. Let’s just say I was slightly anxious. Luckily, he says very little, merely a hello and a how are you. I think, hey, maybe I can survive this. The pair in front of us takes off. We’re next. It’s totally dark in the gym, may I remind you, except for black lights everywhere. I realize it’s much easier to face Hunter when I don’t really have to see him. He takes my arm. We step forward. And then we are walking the tarp aisle laid out.
Oh. Oh I got this.

LIKE A BOSS

I throw my shoulders back and I STRUT. I am a senior. I am in the Homecoming Court. I am escorted by the school’s athletic champion.  And my fervent wishes have come true, and he clearly doesn’t remember that time two years ago I made a fool out of myself. I start smiling so big that I know my pearly whites have got to be absolutely GLOWING in all the black lights around us. We reach the ROTC members lined up on either side of the aisle, and they make a freaking SWORD ARCH over our heads as we go by. I am ON. TOP. OF. THE. WORLD.
Then, Hunter casually leans towards me and says, “So… had any cheesecake pizza lately?
….
…..
……

I am, as the last time I was near enough to Hunter Smith for conversation, struck speechless. He chuckles and says his girlfriend told him about it. Then suddenly we are at the chairs, and Hunter escorts me to mine before going to sit with the boys on the other side. I cannot tell you to this day what happened during that assembly, because my mind was frozen with horror.
When the evening rolled around and it was actually time for the actual Homecoming ceremony, I hid in the dressing room as long as I could, pretending to get ready. Someone finally had to come get me to tell me it was time to go take our places. Hunter– who let me stress was always kind and polite to me, except for the teasing during the assembly– very sweetly said how pretty I looked. And because I am the living embodiment of Socially Awkward Penguin, I told him, “You too.”

This happened last week.

Then we were strolling, me trying to keep up in high heels, which I feel like I don’t even need to describe to you how that went. Luckily we didn’t really have time to say anything, and no more references to cheesecake pizza were made, and after Homecoming was over the Hunter Smith saga came to a thankful close.

Oh, hi, why am I wearing these shoes and trying to walk on grass again?

Oh, hi, why am I wearing these shoes and trying to walk on grass again?

The regal Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009

The regal Soccer Homecoming Court of 2009

But Sara, you are saying, now that I’ve finally stopped rambling about cheesecake pizza long enough for you to get a word in. That story was painfully humiliating, why on earth would you ever share it?
An excellent question, and I thank you for it, because you have created the perfect segue for me.
As I blogged about before, I am a big fan of CiCi’s pizza buffet. Unfortunately, the last time I was there someone thought I was a man, and I proceeded to eat half of a pizza to comfort myself. I went again to CiCi’s for lunch this week, and I am happy to report that nobody mistook me for a member of the opposite gender. But alas, who to my wandering eye should appear, but Hunter Smith, who I have not seen since I graduated high school.
Me. Hunter Smith. A pizza buffet.
It all came rushing back to me, and to ensure that a repeat of the infamous Cheesecake Pizza Incident did not occur, I pretended that I did not see Hunter Smith. To be honest, I’m not even sure that he recognized me, or knew who I was.

Ah Readers. Isn’t it funny how sometimes life comes full circle?