Summertime Fun: A Guide To Not Swimming

Are you a hydrophobic introvert who is being incessantly hounded to don the latest fashionable swimsuit and take the aquatic plunge? Do your friends insist on showing you a secret waterhole they claim only a select few know about? Is every grocery store’s beer aisle attempting to sooth you with the sweet sunny melodies of the Beach Boys? Well, worry no further my sweaty friend. I have composed responses to many of the things your water-loving cronies may say to you.

I always assumed stating the simple fact that I’m an aerobic organism that’s unable to respire underwater would be enough for people to understand why I prefer not to swim, but they continue to look at me like I just told them I occasionally molest gophers. What follows are some of the actual things people have said to me about swimming over the years. When I hear these things I usually just smile and nod or think of a lame excuse not to swim – like I don’t own a bathing suit (true) or I’m made out of starch and will disintegrate (not so true). But, I think I’ve finally had enough. While I could actually voice my opinion to these people face-to-face like a grown up, I will instead act like a true product of my generation and rant about it on a blog.

“It’s so much easier to move in the water.” No it’s fucking not. I absolutely guarantee I can run faster than you can swim. Michael Phelps can’t swim faster than a brisk jog. Also, I can prove mathematically that it’s not easier to move in water than it is in air. It’s called the drag equation (this is not a formula to become the best dressed man in women’s clothing – or the other way around).

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Act Nice And Gentle To Me

I took a philosophy course once in college, and I think I’d rather drag my dick through a mile of broken glass before ever doing that again. It wasn’t the fact that the entire thing was the intellectual equivalent of shitting in your hand and throwing it against the wall that made me so apathetic; it was the realization that none of what I heard was something I could ever embrace (I’d like to note that as of late, writing has felt like standing in for the wall). I would never let any of the outcomes of this so called intellectual masturbation govern my life or give it meaning (advice: instead of attending a philosophy course, try actually masturbating instead – it’s way more fun). In fact, the only real philosophy I can say I have is that most people are going to lead a shitty life and then die.

photo dfoster

I think it’s important to keep this in mind as we stumble our way through life, though I admit it’s not actually a philosophy so to speak, nor is it insightful. It’s just an understanding I came to a while ago that I think most people try to hide from in a shallow pool of ignorant optimism. As an aside, I’m pretty sure the happier you are, the stupider you are, though I’m still working on the graphs to prove so.

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What we have to look forward to, if we’re lucky.

This isn’t funny. Sorry. I guess you ought to stop reading now if that’s what you wanted, unless you’d like to laugh at how bad the prose is. I’d write about my exploits with the current girl I’m seeing, which have been filled with a fair amount of humor, but things have actually been going rather well. Also, she sort of reads my KAB posts, and I don’t think she’d appreciate me talking about all the awesome sex we’ve been having. Like, seriously, the sex is fantastic.

Off to my right I could see the letter, written with what must have been a very expensive pen, maybe a Waterman, which I’ve been wanting to get. The letters were elegant, but the strokes were heavy and thick, a deep lacquer against the well preserved paper. They would likely seem out of place in a woman’s diary, where the script often bubbles and ebbs across the page. They were more chiseled and compact, set in place with a heavy hand. I could see where sharp flicks of the wrist sent the ends of characters to trail thin and vanish. Feminine cursive does not flow like this. This was precise but not pretty, as if it was oftentimes much worse, and a special effort had been taken to make it legible. It was the style of a man who was far too busy being alive to care about his print. It was penned by a doctor.

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Sex, Lies, and French 75’s

Girl Number Five

Lying is often hysterical and I thoroughly encourage people to take advantage of opportunities to do so, though I do not suggest looking to me for advice. Socially, I am barely adept enough to tell the little white lies we all depend on, and usually rely on an abrasive mix of tactless sarcasm and churlish indifference to get by, which is occasionally funny in its own regard. Sometimes however, lying is of no benefit to anybody whatsoever, and becomes a dangerous game of disappointment. No one wins. No one laughs.

For example, say you’re filling out an online dating profile in the hope of attracting a few prospective suitors. Don’t list your age as twenty-two when you’re actually twenty-seven, don’t post a bunch of skinny pictures of yourself from five years ago when you are currently explosively fat, and don’t tell me you never do drugs if you are currently high on drugs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a twenty-seven year old overweight drug addict, but there is something wrong with lying about whether you are. Granted, I’m going to be far less likely to take an overweight, pill-popping alcoholic out for sushi, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some other fella who would kill to watch you eat ten pounds of raw fish and drink an entire bottle of Chianti. That guy just isn’t me.

I have not been doing this long, but I believe there is an etiquette that ought to be followed when it comes to online dating. Before you faint from the hypocrisy of that statement, give me a chance to explain. Yes, this is coming from the bastard who posted all of his unanswered messages last week, which managed to be offensive to just about everything that walked or crawled at one point. But, I have never failed to be anything other than a gentleman on any of my dates thus far, and I have never intentionally given anyone the wrong impression of myself. Now if for some reason they read my messages and assume I’m a suave and sophisticated person, it’s not my fault.

Date number five started in typical fashion, with me driving around the side streets of downtown Austin completely lost. I was desperately trying to find where this girl lived but refused to look at my iPhone out of some sort of boyish sense of pride. Somehow I recently managed to convince myself I can find my way around using the night sky, despite the fact that I know nothing about celestial navigation. The last time I attempted it, I wasted fifteen minutes before I realized what I thought had been the north star was in fact the red eye out of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

When I finally looked at Google Maps and found where she lived, I parked outside her place, got out of my car, and texted her. I’d been practicing my sexy man lean (advice from my sister, who insists you can get any woman to fall in love with you if you can lean against something just right), so I did that against my car.

I stopped my sexy lean when I saw my date undulating down the stairs like a walrus on heroine. I’m not going to say she was obese, but she had definitely been hitting the jelly donuts hard since the last picture she uploaded to OkCupid. And I think those jelly donuts were filled with tequila. For a moment, as I watched her drunkenly waddle towards me, I contemplated making a break for it – I know I’m out of shape but there was no way this chick was going to catch me. Or, I thought, maybe I could pretend like I’m here for someone else.

I only let these ideas dance about my mind for a few moments before I killed the music. I hugged her and didn’t allow any expressions of disappointment to play across my face. She had certainly been dishonest about her body but it’s not like I’m the most handsome man alive. Besides, I might have a fine time with her anyway, even if I’m not attracted to her. Also, she might have hot friends.

Fifteen minutes later I realized just how stupid I am. It took us five minutes to walk to the restaurant. She had clearly lubricated herself already, and not in the good way either. I’d say she had managed to get a good three drinks deep before I had arrived (lesson: always talk to the person on the phone before you go and pick them up). She spent most of the time rambling on about how she knew everyone in the city and that her “bro” at the bar would totally hook us up tonight. When we got there, her “bro” at the bar got the same look on his face as I probably did when I first saw her, but it quickly changed when he realized all the seats at the bar were occupied. To my dismay, we ended up sitting off in a corner that was far too secluded from the safety of the public. It was candle-lit and disgustingly romantic.

My date’s mouth remained open for the next hour and half as she projectile vomited words into my face, stopping only briefly to consume food and imbibe more wine. She wasn’t a mean person, but she was pretentious, acted like she knew everyone and everything, but never said anything interesting. Every now and then I would interject a random remark to amuse myself, but there wasn’t much to do besides suffer through the pain.

So, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of – I got absolutely soused. I wasn’t going to let this girl be the only drunk in the room. I’m not sure how much I drank exactly, but it was enough so she didn’t bother me anymore, which I imagine was quite a bit. After we finished eating and drinking, I paid for the meal, and we walked back to her place, where I came to the unfortunate realization that I was far too inebriated to drive home.

“You should come up to my place and stay for a bit,” she says.

That was the worst idea I had ever heard so I did it. Her place wasn’t so bad. It was kind of cozy. She started playing an episode of Black Books (British TV show I’m a fan of). She had some cool artwork on her walls and the chair I was sitting on was nice. No, this wasn’t so bad at all. But, just when I was figuring I could spend an hour or so here to sober up before driving home, she handed me a giant paper cup full of wine.

Well, I didn’t want to be rude….

An hour later, when I realized I was drunker than I had been an hour earlier, I got the brilliant idea of asking her if I could lie down for a bit. I told her I wasn’t trying to be cheeky, but I had work tomorrow and wasn’t sober enough to drive. She seemed all too willing to accommodate me and showed me to her bed. I lay down and was feeling pretty good about myself until I discovered that she thought this was an invitation to not only lie down with me, but basically on top of me. I recognize the fact that this was her bed, but she was definitely too close. When she started playing with my hair and touching my chest I knew I had made a grave error in judgement.

“Hey, look, I’m sorry. I’m just drunk and wanted to rest before I drove home. I have work tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody.”

What the hell wasn’t she going to tell anybody? Where she buried my body? I pathetically struggled to get up but quickly retired. My shoes were tangled in a blanket, I was drunk, I couldn’t drive, and I’m pretty sure this girl was stronger than me. Sometimes it’s best to just accept your fate.

So, I played possum.

Sure, I got molested for a while, but who hasn’t been?

Girl Number Six

My last date had left a bad taste in my mouth, literally, but I had already told the next girl I would see her. We had talked for over three hours on the phone the previous night so I had a much better feeling about her. I even told her the story of date number five and she laughed and told me not to worry. That helped.

But when I finally saw her, I immediately decided I hadn’t been doing enough worrying.

“Oh sweet, merciful Christ,” I think to myself. “She’s gorgeous.”

Her petite frame bounded down the stairs effortlessly. She landed on the ground with a huge smile and her big green eyes stared at me. She was the opposite of my previous date, whose picture deceitfully depicted a flourishing garden, when in actuality the flowers had wilted. This girl’s photographs had done her no justice at all.

I realized I hadn’t gotten out of my car to do that sexy lean thing. It was too late. She opened the passenger door and got in. I don’t remember what I said to her. We got Ethiopian food. I didn’t drink at all. She giggled a lot. We got ice cream afterwards and went back to my place. We drank wine and watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I took her home.

I thought things had gone really well, which is why I was so surprised by what she told me in the car.

“I’m sorry,” she says, “but you’re really sort of awkward.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt emotional about much of anything, but for some reason when I heard her say that, maybe it was because I thought things had gone well and she had a good time, I actually felt my face and my hands get hot. My heart started beating fast. I knew what was about to come. This was where I get rejected, which isn’t a big deal. I’ve been here before. I’m good at this. But, for some reason, this one hit me harder than usual.

“Sorry, really. You’re a nice guy and you were better back at your place. But you’re a little weird. Not in a bad way. We just don’t… gel. I’m not feeling it. I’m sorry but I want to be honest with you. You’re funny and cute enough but… I like you a lot in theory.”

I wanted to ask her what liking someone in theory meant but it had become physically difficult for me to talk at that point so I didn’t bother. I thought about how girls say sorry a lot when they do this. I wasn’t sure what she thought she needed to be sorry about.

It dawned on me that I possess the characteristics of a truly awkward person – I am strange without knowing it. I am odd when I think I’m normal.

“We can still be friends though,” she says.

Girl Number Seven

Evidence is mounting. I am finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that I’m kind of a little bitch. I took the seventh potential love of my life out to a few different bars on our first night together. The weather was cool and pleasant, so we walked around East Sixth Street (Austin’s hipster central). The bars were quiet. She smoked cigarettes with her long thin fingers and wore a black turtleneck, black shorts, and black flats. She drank French 75’s and talked about old things. Classically beautiful. Smart. She was four years older and four inches taller than me.

I thought things were going well so they probably weren’t. She didn’t laugh as much as the other girls. I wasn’t trying to be funny. I mostly listened and asked questions. We ran into three of her ex-boyfriends that night. I thought that was funny.

On the drive home her hand found mine. At the next stoplight her lips found mine. I walked her to her door and we resolved to get dinner the following night.

We split a bottle of wine at the Mediterranean restaurant we had chosen. She was a little tipsy when she got back in my car. I was too. She pulled me close to her by my hair and put her tongue deep into my mouth. With her hand that wasn’t gripping my hair, she took my fingers and pushed them between her legs, and up under her skirt.

“Take me back to your place,” she whispers.

It had been a while since I had had sex and I was nervous. I put on a record – Keep It Hid by Dan Auerbach – and drank a glass of wine while she drew on my mirrors. Her skirt fell to the floor. This didn’t help my nervousness.

When I tried to rip open the condom I accidentally threw it across the room. This prompted a laugh and an, “Oh my, you’re not very good at this,” from the curly haired brunette lying in front of me. The condom went behind the headboard and I had to crawl under the bed to get it.

Thankfully, ancient memories of how this worked and where things went came back to me and she enjoyed herself. When it became my turn, she started an interesting sort of cute dirty talk. I really liked it but I couldn’t finish. I tried for a while but eventually began to slow.

“Hey, it’s okay,” she says softly. “The last time you had sex you were in love, weren’t you?”

Somebody Bet Me I Couldn’t Write A KAB Post Without Cursing

That person can go fuck off.

Some cars are boring. Other cars are so boring it could only be a result of special effort. A grey Ford Focus sedan will get you where you want to go in the most mediocre fashion possible. It won’t get you there fast. It won’t be a fun ride, and you probably won’t see anything interesting along the way. This, coincidentally, is also the perfect analogy for what it’s like to have sex with me, but I digress. The Focus is the car for the average, unremarkable person. It’s a car for the modest consumer – a car for the person who wishes to blend in, and the only way that’s cool is if you rob banks.

My 2004 Ford Focus also has this interesting feature whereby it falls apart when you drive it. I’m not sure if the previous owner paid extra for the shitbox package but it delivers. Run one of these trash heaps through six New York winters and put 100,000 miles on her, and she’ll turn into an uncooperative rust heap of pain and disappointment. Besides uncontrollably spewing power steering fluid all over the streets of Austin, she doesn’t charge her battery anymore, shakes like she’s having a seizure at speeds over fifty-five (apparently I have bent wheels – thanks shitty New York roads), and while the air conditioning doesn’t work too great anymore (hardly a concern in Texas right?), the cabin fan makes an extremely obnoxious noise that distracts you somewhat from the heat. My previous cars were actually way worse, but they were old and had character. There were so many things wrong with my BMW it became funny when something else broke. Besides, that poor thing was well into its third decade. You have to respect that. I’m only twenty-four and things are starting to go to hell. But when my Ford “What The Fuck Was I Thinking” Focus gets something wrong with it at the ripe young age of seven, it’s just pathetic. Stuff isn’t supposed to start going to shit when you’re seven. How many seven year old kids do you know with a bad back or a meth problem? Hopefully zero.

My cars are getting progressively lamer as the years roll by. I started out with a BMW, then a Volkswagen Jetta, then my Focus. If this trend continues, I’ll be driving a golf cart by the time I’m thirty, and not one of those pimp-ass Hummer golf carts either. I’m talking like a ten year old dirty white cart with no sun-shade that’s been crashed into one too many sand pits and smells like a mixture of stale beer and piss.

I don’t mean to romanticize about this. The only reason I bring it up is because this rusting pile of garbage is me now. Deep down in my soul I’m a Ford Focus and every time I see that thing in a parking lot I want to kill myself. It’s an ever present sad reflection of who I have become. I am a miserable purchase that’s falling apart. I’m not worth fixing because I’m well below Blue Book value and I think there are bees living in my trunk, though I’m not really sure because I haven’t been able to open the fucking thing in like a month.

In Japanese culture (this is a paraphrasing of another person’s words), when something became broken, they would repair it by filling in the cracks with gold. They felt that when something was damaged, it told a story, and became more beautiful. The gold was used to pay tribute to its history. That’s a charming thought isn’t it?

Clearly none of these assholes ever drove a Ford Focus.

Now, if I were a 1974 BMW 2002 with the cool push out pumpers and the vintage crank sun roof then yes, you would restore me. But nobody in their right mind restores a Focus, at least not anybody with even a minuscule amount of self-respect. You just drive a car like that around and hope somebody plows into you one day so you can collect the insurance money.

See, a car like the Ford Fucktard is what you buy when you decide to give up on your dreams. I remember thinking to myself, “You know, this isn’t me at all. I wouldn’t ever want to drive this, but you know what, I really need a car and this is practical.” And so started the slow spiral of all my hopes and life ambitions down the toilet. It sounds dramatic but I truly think that’s when it began. For some time now I haven’t been able to place the moment when I started feeling like my life was worthless, but I think three years ago, in NBT Bank, when I ripped out my heart, shot my conscience in the face, and signed the loan for that sinister machine, is when it all began.

I’m still doing this online dating thing but I think I’m about to make my last stand. Five dates with five different girls is enough. It was fun for a while but I don’t feel like lying anymore. When I stare into these girls’ faces and try to smile, or send them silly messages, I can’t help but become deeply saddened. I offer them a weak facade of awkward humor, knowing that behind this faded paint there is nothing for them. I tried upon people’s request, but this artifice is too difficult for me. I want to ask them a question but I know I shouldn’t. It wouldn’t make any sense to them.

Would you restore a broken-down Ford Focus?