Where Are The Trolls Of Yesteryear?

TrollsY’all, remember when trolls were vaguely cute dolls that you won in a vending machine or at Chuck E. Cheese and they had bright colored hair that was fun to style and it was like the only doll your brother would play with because it wasn’t really a doll but a troll? Those trolls were awesome. I particularly loved the one I had with a jewel in it’s belly button- I called it my fancy troll and when Reba McEntire’s song “Fancy” would come on the radio, I would always think she must have a fancy troll too but then I got older and realized that song was about an empowered prostitute. The good old days y’all. The good old days.

Troll

Or, reaching even further back, remember when trolls were just monsters that lived under bridges and wanted to eat people? I miss those days.
Because, nowadays, trolls are people on the internet who live their entire lives to say the most hateful, offensive, annoying, hurtful, and batshit crazy vitriol online. Because they can. And most important to their cause, they can do it anonymously so they never really have to be held responsible for their words. And you can’t engage with them, not even to defend yourself or your beliefs because THEY DO NOT ABIDE BY THE LAWS OF LOGIC AND COMMON HUMAN DECENCY. I mean, at least trolls under bridges who were going to try and eat you gave you a little bit of a heads-up, you at least had a fighting chance with one of those kinds of trolls. But you can’t fight internet trolls. Not in any productive or satisfying way.

 Personally, I abide by the motto “Don’t feed the trolls” because it totally works with the kind of trolls who actually want to eat you and also the internet trolls. Instead of engaging, I just delete the comments. Done. Except, it isn’t because I *did* see that comment and it *did* make me incredibly angry and it *did* affect me, so even though the troll doesn’t know it got to me, it did.  So, I guess my question is: Where are the trolls of yesteryear?

-Mae

Dumb Things I Say on Dates

I’m smart.

This isn’t conceit, it’s just something y’all need to know upfront. After you read this post, you’re going to have some doubts. She says she’s smart, but did you read that thing about hurricanes? Surely, she’s had some traumatic brain injury. A tragic backstory must account for such idiocy!

Unfortunately, I have no such excuse for what follows. I am a girl who is completing her fourth degree this year, always wins at Scrabble, and regularly reads The Economist. I can sew a dress without reading the instructions and know all the South American capitals. I also say the stupidest shit ever on dates.

Poor Professor McGregor has now suffered through three such dates with me. Either he is completely charmed by ditzy girls or my kisses have some sort of memory erasing power. I don’t know if it’s his own intellect that makes my brain go blank or just a bad case of nerves, but here’s a sampling of Recent Dumb Things I’ve Said on Dates:

  • “You look very Boondock Saints in sunglasses.” Excellent, Grace. Tell him he looks like two slightly crazed renegade murderers, whom you can’t even recall wearing sunglasses, so what the hell? His silence is obviously just stunned pride about how hot he looks. No, you shouldn’t have just told him he looked good. That would be too normal.
  • “But Tampa doesn’t even get hit by hurricanes!” Y’all, I said this not two weeks ago and – as I type – Hurricane Isaac is unleashing a deluge on poor Tampa. I’m a weather dork, so I’ve seen every hurricane documentary ever played on The Weather Channel. I’m well aware that hurricanes can curve back into Florida. What’s worse, I was actually born in Fort Lauderdale! And yet…this came out of my mouth.
  • “I write an anonymous dating blog with Kate and Mae!” – This one was especially bright, Grace. Inform the attractive man you just finished making out with that he could end up in a blog post. To make it even better, why don’t you forget to reassure him that you only write about your own personal crazy and you’ve given all victims guys nicknames? He’s totally going to ask you out again. Guys love being gossiped about on les interwebs!
  • “I don’t see any John Hughes movies,” said while literally staring at a shelf brimming with them. This one I’m going to blame on my poor eyesight, but still. I know every movie Hughes ever wrote and directed. I have watched so many making-of Ferris Beuller shows, it’s sick. But stare at a shelf with them for five minutes? I won’t pick a single one out, apparently.
  • “You should have a medal made of eggs.” Don’t even ask.

Add to that all the discussions of philosophy that I can in no way contribute to and this is going really well, kittens. Why do gruesome disease outbreaks or weird parasites never come up over dinner? I could talk for hours about the various plague epidemics in Europe. Just thinking about the Candiru, a carnivorous fish which lives in the Amazon and lodges itself in unsuspecting swimmers’ urethrae, gets me chatty. Perhaps we can debate the value of the Oxford comma? Someone throw me a (somewhat twisted and nerdy) bone here. Without one, I’m probably going to pull a Cher Horowitz and start referencing the Hait-i-ans.

- Grace

Real Talk With Grace’s Mom: Marijuana

Most women I know dread becoming their mothers. They’ll say something out of character – whether it be more biting, more conservative, more in line with Wiccan teachings, what have you – and follow it up with, “Oh, God. It’s happening! I’m turning into my Mom!”

This is not a problem for me. My mom is awesome. If, in 30 years, I wake up to find myself identical to her, my life will be a success. She paints, she has a wicked sense of humor, she’s impossible to beat at Trivial Pursuit, and – most of all – she has an amazingly clear-eyed view of human nature. Y’all, my mother knows All The Answers. Sometimes, however, these answers surprise her eldest daughter.

My mom is really great about not prying into my personal life (Unlike my father, whose fears of my impending catladydom have turned him into a deluded matchmaker, convinced my soulmate is the pest control man’s grandson, because “he looks like your type – scruffy, wearing a vest.”), so our relationship conversations are few and far between. Most of the time, they happen because I am in dire need of some advice. Like when I asked “So…would we call a man’s habitual pot smoking a deal-breaker?”

Y’all, I know. I’m a traitor to my generation. Yes, I think marijuana should be legalized and I don’t care if my friends do it, but it’s not something I’m personally into. I hate being drunk, much less high. It’s just not something I can relate to – I prefer all my faculties to be in full, working order. Plus, let’s be honest: I’m paranoid enough. Can you imagine a high version of me? Jesus Christ. That’s a terrifying thought.

So, yeah, I don’t smoke. Quite a few of the men I’ve dated, however, have. It hasn’t bothered me, when it’s only a couple times a month, but when it’s all the time? My brain starts turning. Do I really want to start a relationship with someone who is so fundamentally opposite of me, in this lifestyle choice? What if he chooses smoking over hanging out with me? What if he gets caught? Oh my God, what if I get caught, because I was aware of it and that is also (maybe) a crime? What if he smokes, because if he doesn’t, he turns into the Hulk, thanks to a gamma radiation experiment gone terribly, terribly wrong?

Why, yes, my brain is a terrifying place. Yet, these questions are valid. (Especially the Hulk one – have comic books taught us nothing? Radiation is not to be trifled with, people!) Or, they seemed that way anyway, before I talked with my mother, whose response went a little like this:

Grace, you’re being ridiculous. Some people need pot to relax. Some people need books to relax. Just because you’re the latter doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the former. Be glad he has it in his toolbox and it works. I wish your dad would smoke a bowl sometimes, it would really help him out. Hell, if I get Glaucoma when I’m 80, maybe your friend could hook me up with a reputable dealer. Besides, it’s better for you than cigarettes, unless you’re one of the teenage boys in which it induces psychosis. Does it induce psychosis?  If he’s completely functional, who cares?

Duly noted. So, yeah. My mother is way cooler than I am and, apparently, my dad could use some pot. These are the things a girl learns, when taking advice from Grace’s mom.

- Grace

I Think You’re Neat, Let’s Date

Y’all, relationships are difficult. Navigating them feels all too similar to escaping Azkaban without a wand. How can you ward off Dementors without the Patronus charm? How do you prevent heartbreak without a love potion?

You can’t. Or, rather, I can’t. You’ve probably married your high school sweetheart, with whom you never get into arguments about the mythological background of unicorns, and are currently living a life of suburban bliss. If so, this probably isn’t the blog for you. My wit and anxiety-borne wisdom have nothing left to teach you, grasshopper. Be free!

Right. So, everybody else, let’s just agree. Dating totally sucks, right? It’s really exciting meeting somebody you like, of course, and there’s that whole kissing thing, which is super fun. It’s also emotionally harrowing. The beginning of a relationship seems especially fraught with danger. Does she like me? Does he think my teeth are crooked? Does she want me to kiss her? Is it weird that his last name rhymes with my first name? So many worries! And, yes, it is kind of weird that your names rhyme. You need to have a plan, if this gets serious, so you don’t end up named Mary Berry.

For modern daters, most worries center around the progression of a relationship. How a couple gets from meeting to boyfriend/girlfriend is not as simple as it once was. Back in ye olden times, I’m told people traded fraternity pins and letterman jackets as signals of their exclusivity. If only it were still that simple. Nowadays, we spend way, way too long in those vague beginning stages.

Take Professor McGregor and me. Tomorrow night, we’re going on our second official date. If all goes well, we’re…

Well, I don’t actually know. Seeing each other? Dating? We’re certainly not at official status yet, but he’s also more than just “a friend of mine.” Friends don’t normally buy you dinner, then kiss you up against a wall. (Mine don’t anyway. Your social life could be way more exciting than mine, who knows?) If we are seeing each other, when does it become more? What’s the timeline for this sort of thing?

There isn’t one, damn it.

Which is the whole problem. Y’all, why don’t we have a game plan? We spend so much time fretting over the status of a relationship, when we should be enjoying said new relationship. Unfortunately, there is only one way out of this mess: a DTR. Unless your mate casually slips the word “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” into a conversation with others, the dreaded DTR is in your future. Oh, the akwardness of it all! I’ve known people – *cough* Mae *cough* – who texted their significant others asking their relational status, all in an effort to avoid the awkward talk. (Note: It worked out well! They’re engaged! This is obviously a smart thing to do.) This is how much we fear a DTR, friends.

It doesn’t have to be this way. World, I have a proposition. Guys, the next time you start seeing a girl whom you’re sincerely interested in, ask her this:

“Hey! I think you’re really neat. How about we go on a few dates, make out a couple of times, then become boyfriend and girlfriend, after a month or two?”

Y’all, if a guy asked me this, I’d be so smitten. A clear plan! No more wondering if you are going on another date. He likes you! He wants to date you, with an eye toward official status! All you have to say is “I think you’re neat too. Let’s do this!” and everyone knows where they stand. It’s so simple.

Some of you will say this takes the fun out of things. I get that. Only…what’s been happening inside my head lately hasn’t been fun at all. If I’d known Professor McGregor wanted to go out again, so many anxious phone calls to Kate could have been avoided. As soon as he asked me out, I was at peace. Sure, I’m still going to freak out about what to wear tomorrow, but he definitely doesn’t think I’m a troll who can’t kiss. This is progress! Just imagine if I had some sort of timetable to adhere to. I would be a freaking zen master right now.

So, guys (or braver girls than I), think it over. Try it out. This is the wave of the future, people!

- Grace

The Hell?

I’m engaged as most of you know, and I think that it’s pretty damn spectacular. I mean, finding someone who loves you completely for who you really are and treats you as a partner in life isn’t exactly an easy thing to find. Truth be told? I struck the fuckin love lottery. But ever since I struck the love lottery, certain ladies I know have thrown some shade my way in regard to my marriage. The shade comes in the form of “Oh! That’s great for you. I’m just too ambitious to get married right now.” to which I reply, “The hell?”

 Why in the world would marriage make me less ambitious? I’m still writing a book, am I not? I’m still working full-time in a competitive marketing agency, am I not? I continue to make goals for myself, do I not? If you prick me, do I not bleed ambition? What. The. Hell. How dare you cast aspersion on my ambition. I’ve lived on my own for years now, paid my own way, worked and lived solely for myself and enjoyed it. Now, I’ve met someone I am madly in love with, who supports and encourages me to continue setting and achieving goals, and somehow that means I’m not ambitious anymore? No. Uh-uh. I reject your shade. I am just as ambitious if not more so than I was before. AND I’m in love. Save your shade for the beach and deal with it.
-Mae

My First Boyfriend Was a Twit

Warning: This post is long. I wrote it on my plane ride home and got a bit carried away. So, maybe grab a snack? A cup of tea? Be careful, when you giggle with hot beverages, though!

Today, I’m going to tell you a story. This is mostly because I have nothing to write about (outside of Professor McGregor’s poor texting habits, which have me strung the hell out, kittens), but also because I’ve done some reflecting. A lot of people seem totally bemused/horrified by my inability to just let things roll in love. Nervousness is understandable, but relationships give me the sort of paranoid anxiety typically found in psych wards or Spanish soap operas. Luckily, I have done a psych rotation already! So, I analyzed brain-Grace a bit and came up with one possible root of my crazy:

Teenage boys are shitheads.

The end. Oh, you were expecting something more involved and eloquent than that? Okay, neat. Let’s talk about my first boyfriend in embarrassing and uncomfortably personal detail, shall we? This should be fun.

In the fall of 1999, two important things happened: I entered high school and became popular. I would like to say that my newfound status was due to my charming personality and excellent social skills, but that would be a lie. I was suddenly popular because I was blonde, had breasts, and possessed friends with strong social-climbing instincts. That I was in all gifted classes and spouted “fun” science tidbits were facts begrudgingly overlooked by the social elite. Because, you know, breasts.

Those self-same breasts attracted the notice of Chris Walters (name changed to protect the asshats). Chris was the coolest, dreamiest boy to ever walk the halls of Gizzard Junior High, the other feeder school, and I was blessed to be considered “pretty hot” by such a specimen. Or so I was told by my friend Ashley—whose name I’m not changing because everyone our age is named Ashley or Sarah or Megan—who’d briefly attended Gizzard and considered herself the social doyenne of our group. It was decreed that I should date him.

So, I did. Because that is what you do, when a cute boy says he likes you the first week of high school. I wasn’t a total social misfit.  What I was, it turned out, was crazy fucking awkward. Just so you know, historical romance novels do not prepare you for actual dating. High-school boys don’t understand Regency fan language, at all. Anyway, it was a disaster. Besides being cute, Chris was really into: gangster rap, drinking beer, and not doing well in school. Meanwhile, wee-Grace liked: N*Sync, not drinking beer, and being the first one to finish tests.

Our conversations went thusly:

Chris: Dude, that NASCAR race was so badass! Buddy and I laughed so hard when that car exploded.
Grace: Cool.
Chris: Don’t you think that new Methtastic Donkey Spittle song is awesome?
Grace: Uh…who? Wait, I mean, totally.
Chris: Mrs. Minchin is such a bitch. She gave me an F on that paper!
Grace: You said that Atticus Finch shot the dog, because he wanted to see how far the blood would splatter.
Chris: Yeah. Homie was tight.

We were like Romeo & Juliet, without all the dying or being passionately in love. How did this not work out? Well, I eventually figured out that Chris wasn’t cute enough to make up for how awful he was. We were at Ashley’s house, laying in the back of her stepdad’s pick-up—like you do in Texas—looking at stars, when this realization hit. It went like this:

Grace: Wow, it’s really pretty.
Chris (trying to put his hand near wee-Grace’s magical breasts):  Uh huh.
Grace: Someday, I want to go up there.

Note: You should know that I had just seen Armageddon and was still basking in a Ben Affleck-induced bout of romanticism. I did not actually want to go into space, because I don’t really like heights or Tang or death by fiery explosion, but it seemed really grown up and impressive to want to go into space.

Chris: In that tree?
Grace: No, you moron snookums. Space.
Chris: Ha! Yeah, right. You can’t be an astronaut.
Grace (who, I will remind you, didn’t actually want to space travel): What!? You don’t think I could be an astronaut? I’m in pre-AP Bio! And TAG Geometry! I could totally be an astronaut.
Chris: You’re too blonde to be an astronaut,  baby.

Later that night, I broke up with poor, dumbshit Chris on AOL Instant Messenger. Nobody tells wee-Grace she can’t be an astronaut! Also, in reality, he was getting less cute by the day. As it turns out, beer at fourteen isn’t so good for one’s weight or complexion. I was free! And I got out of my first real teenage relationship relatively unscathed, right?

Wrong. Because then some shit happened that ensured that moron got his revenge. Ashley, that lovely friend of mine, called the next afternoon in a breathless tizzy.

Ashley: Grace, I just heard the most awful thing ever!!! !! !! !
Grace: Lance Bass is gay?
Ashley (gasps): Not that bad. Omg, can you imagine? I would cry so hard. No, it’s about Chris. And you. I’m only telling you this, because you’re my best friend and we don’t keep secrets from each other, right?
Grace: Right…
Ashley: Apparently, he only went out with you, because he had a bet with Greg that you’d give him a blow job.
Grace: He’s probably just pissed I broke up with him.
Ashley: No way. Chelsea said Greg told her this last week, when y’all were still dating! I am so sorry, Grace. You must be sooo embarrassed. Tell me how embarrassed you are!

Y’all, I was sooo embarrassed. It was bad enough when the boy doubted my space-worthiness, but the whole time I’d been imagining romantic asteroid sequences, he’d just been trying to win a bet with his douchecanoe friend. It had been okay when I’d thought he’d liked me and I’d nobly realized the error of our match, but he’d never liked me at all? Seriously? Holy shit. If such a moron didn’t even like me, a smart NASA-appreciating guy never would. I was so screwed.

So, that’s a thing that happened. Combined with some other high school shenanigans (Highlights: You’re going to date my best friend, right after we break up?!,  You asked me to Homecoming, but only because Courtney already had a date?, and Of course, I believe you, when you tell me you’re not gay!) and my college boyfriend’s secret love affair with cocaine, it’s a wonder I’m not sitting in a padded room somewhere, mumbling about Ben Affleck. I have a hard time trusting that guys want to date me and not: just receive blow jobs (which I don’t give, for an entirely unrelated reason), date my best (gay) friend, or want to do drugs instead. Professor McGregor is really lucky I didn’t quiz him on gender politics in space, now that I think about it.

Incidentally, Ashley and I quickly went our separate ways in high school. She has all the same friends she did our senior year, including Chris Walters, whom she recently accompanied on a cruise to Mexico. Meanwhile, I am a really good person and didn’t wish the Norovirus upon their boat. I just passive aggressively wrote about them on this anonymous blog! Sainthood, here I come.

- Grace

Beards: Too Marvelous for Words

Men of the world, we need to talk. Don’t think I haven’t noticed what you’re doing. Everywhere I go, men are sporting more and more facial hair. Beards, goatees, and moustaches are running amok.

I love it.

Or, rather, my ovaries love it. Not so much the moustaches, as those skew a little 1970s creepster for my taste, but the beards. Good Lord, the beards. There’s something about a short, well-groomed beard that makes me more excited than Jessie Spano on caffeine pills. They’re right up there with British accents and three-piece suits on the list of Things That Make Grace Swoon.

Ryan Gosling, who doesn’t have a British accent, but is wearing a three-piece suit and sporting a beard. Swoon.

So, what is it about beards, exactly? We’re not supposed to like them. According to a study that made the rounds a few months ago, women perceive men with beards as more aggressive and older. By all biological rights, bearded men should send us running, mace can in hand (the foaming kind, mind you, to prevent blowback!), for the safety of a baby-faced harbor.

And, yet, I know I’m not the only one who loves scruffy men. Mae recently encouraged Captain Thoughtful to grow out a short beard for their wedding, because she wants pictures of a bearded CT sitting on their mantle for all of eternity. Bring up beards at a table with my friends and most of us start fanning ourselves. Is it because we secretly have caveman fantasies? Do we long for the embrace of a smelly lumberjack?

No. Well, not me anyway. You may love nothing more than a man who spends all day cutting down trees and wearing flannel. I shall not judge, liebling. However, my love of beards is a combination of things. First off, my sweet spot for men has always been the jawline. Blame it on all those Superman comics I read growing up. I love a strong jaw and beards do such a great job of defining one, or even creating one.

Second, they’re manly.

Fine. The damn study was right. Beards totally look all grown-up and aggressive. Why are these bad things, again? I know the 21st century is youth obsessed, but surely we can see the value in maturity. Maturity is hot! Do you really want a guy who gets carded every time he orders a drink? Or whom people sometimes mistake for your younger brother? No. You want a man who wears a suit well, but still looks like he can handle an ax. What happens if he whisks you to a Swiss ski chalet and the power goes out? Someone has to chop the wood shirtless, kittens.

Right. I just devolved into a Ryan Reynolds fantasy, didn’t I? Sorry about that. If you remain unconvinced of the beard’s allure, readers, I present one final argument: Bearded guys are fun to make out with. Not terribly scientific, I know. If my recent adventures with Professor McGregor are anything to go by, however, guys with beards are excellent kissers. The facial hair can result in beard burn, yes, but it also adds a bit of tactile interest to your romantic shenanigans. Who doesn’t love that?

Okay, readers, let’s dish. How do you feel about scruffy men? Do you love a smooth shave or do you prefer a little five o’clock shadow on your beloved? I’ve found points are best proven with photos. Lots of them. I shall get us started:

- Grace

P.S. Male spinster fans, I do apologize for this post. We try to be light on the mancandy around the blog, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’d love to hear your beard thoughts, however! Do they itch? Are they hard to grow? Do you long to go all Gandalf and grow a long one?