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Sometimes, you have to date assholes.

I used to date assholes. Almost exclusively, certainly with frequency and with alarming consistency. I had a hidden magnet with pointed me to true asshole north. I could, with startling accuracy, swing a dead cat in the dark in hopes of finding a date, and hit an asshole.

It was a gift, really.

My first boyfriend was named Steve and lived in the middle of nowhere. My parents used to drive me, begrudgingly, 1.5 hours one way to visit him on his mom’s cattle ranch. I was 14 and didn’t quite grasp the budget-busting capacity of daily long distance phone calls. Mostly in which we didn’t actually speak, as he was pretending to french kiss me through the receiver. He tried to finger me next to a dirty fish tank in his cousin’s apartment in a dingy part of town and I kicked him in the nuts. Ah, first love.

Actually, my sister will tell you that my first boyfriend was my imaginary boyfriend in the 1st grade, to whom I gave the totally believable name, Johnny Rickertail. In my mind, Johnny had a pompadour like Elvis and rode a motorcycle. In 1st grade. I was firmly convinced he actually existed and had the ability to disappear when other people would show up.  Which, if you think about it, is also kind of an asshole trait.

The first boyfriend I had that made a mark on me wasn’t really an asshole. He was kind to me and said nice things, held my hand. We were very chaste and spent a lot of time together. He sang with me at my sister’s wedding. He had great hair and a beautiful smile. To this day, he is devastatingly handsome. And gay. This was news to no one but me, although I really should have picked up on his proclivities when he did my hair for our first date. It looked fabulous.

After him, I fell headlong and ridiculous for a boy I would never date. My heart seemed created especially for him, and in the middle of our complicated friendship I was sexually assaulted and he was diagnosed with cancer. Something in his cancer-induced suicide and in my stolen virtue created a brick wall around every part of me, except my vagina.

Thus, I entered my hussy stage (sorry mom). I dated. A lot. I dated a Navy boy who was sweet as could be…but was entirely, wholeheartedly and stupidly in love with someone else. I didn’t particularly care that he was, because he was cute and I was…whatever I was. That lasted a couple of months until he went on his WestPac and called me on my birthday to tell me he had proposed to “her”. I hung up and set his picture on fire in the back yard, using one of my birthday candles. I have always had a flair for the dramatic. Then, in a fit of vindictive malfeasance, I went out with a Navy Seal, who rolled down his window to scream, “HOOOOAAHHHH!!!” making me nearly piss myself. When I asked if that was something he normally did, he interrupted me by rolling the window back down and screaming “USFUCKINGA MOTHERASSES!!!!”.


There was the guy who came into the store where I worked, while I did my stint as Snow White. He brought me 14 dozen orange roses and 14 Mickey Mouse balloons. We had never met before.  I went to coffee with him, because seriously, what the fuck? Turns out, he was certifiable. I think his name was Carl, but I can’t really be sure since he asked me to call him by his last name, which he insisted was Knickerbocker. I have my doubts. He took me to dinner the next night at Marie Callendars and had a half off coupon, only valid if I ordered a chicken caesar salad.

I ordered the pot pie.

He threw a soda in my face.

There were many others in varying shades of weird, gay or feloniously disingenuous. There was even one who asked me to meet his family, then introduced me to his wife and two children. She knew all about me, I hadn’t even known she existed. The fit I threw, right there in his living room, was epic.

The last date I went on, before I met Clay almost made me rethink the possibility of love all the way around. He was a very nice man, who used to come into a store I managed in San Diego. He was always well dressed and every day, he came in and bought a votive candle. One day, I was working alone and he asked me out to dinner.

I was flabbergasted and flattered. He was sweet, I said yes.

We made a date and he called a couple of days later to ask if I would mind driving, his car was in the shop. Being a modern woman, I found nothing wrong with this and said yes. I went to pick him up at his apartment and his room mate answered the door.

Said room mate proceeded to tell me that my dreamboat of a date didn’t HAVE a car. Strike one for lying, strike two for being such a douche that your roomie rats you out. But, I was already there and I felt obligated to go through with the date.

He came around the corner, looking dapper, if not slightly nervous and I felt my resolve to not have fun, waiver ever so slightly. Then he said the following:

“I made reservations at Jyoti Bihanga.”

me: “You made what with the where to the who now?”

him: “Jyoti Bihanga. It’s a vegan restaurant.”

me: “Oh, I didn’t know you were vegan.”

him: “I’m not.”

me: *blink blink*

Now, look. Veganism is a lovely way of life, if that’s your thing. But, if you aren’t vegan and you aren’t sure that your date is open to such things, it probably isn’t the most conventional choice for a first date. But, I agreed. Because, I am nothing, if not adaptable. We went down to the car and I hopped in. He waited, at his door, even though it was unlocked. He waited, at his door until I got out of the car and went around his side to open the door for him. Holy crap.

I drove the short distance to the restaurant, listening to him make a “pshew pshew pshew” noise with his lips. I can only assume this was to hide the loud and distressing whistle emitting from his nose.

We were seated in the restaurant where he committed another faux pas, which for some reason some men think is cute. He ordered for me without asking me what I wanted. I could feel a steady, nasty, angry heat rising up from my toes, which had been sexily stuffed into decidedly not vegan shoes. This dude was seriously starting to piss me off.

Our meal came, a series of grains and beans and other assorted vegan items. He promptly grabbed his knife and began to eat. Did you catch that? Just his knife. He ate tiny grains of couscous and spiraled, egg-free noodles and plump little olives brined with garlic, with only his knife. All the while, talking through knife-fulls of hippie food about how his dad used to give him showers with a fire hose. He described this in vivid detail, as his nose whistled over the sitar music and pieces of quinoa flew from his lips. He took great, slurping sips of iced tea, and belched into his napkin with great aplomb.

I sat, aghast.

When the waitress came to see if we wanted dessert, without hesitation, he bellowed, “Yeah, I want Jell-O.”

It is my firm belief that you do not order Jell-O at a restaurant unless the following circumstances have occurred:

You are deathly ill, in which case get the hell out of the restaurant and go home.

You are celebrating your 5th birthday.

You are celebrating your 95th birthday.

You are not in a vegan restaurant.

The waitress, poor sweet, undernourished and anemic little vegan thing that she was, had to inform him that gelatin of any kind is not a vegan product, therefore, they didn’t serve it.

Hell hath no fury like a freak denied his Jell-O.

He went nuclear. There was spittle. And cussing. Topped off with the grande finale of him pitching forward and throwing up his entire vegan feast on the table cloth. I beat feet faster than I have ever moved without something chasing me. My car simply could not get me out of there fast enough. He ran from the restaurant, waving his arms and screaming my name at my back windshield as I drove away. He called me two days later and told me I owed him $20 for my half of dinner.

Over 11 years have passed since I met Clay. Since I first saw his eyes hit mine in that way that is both magic and completely breathtaking and also acts like a mild laxative. That gut squeezing, slightly sphincter clenching realization that someone has wholly taken your heart out of your chest and is holding it in their hands.  That sense of being split in half and glued back together with their joints and muscles holding all your weak spots together. That sense that you are never going to be the person you were before you met them and seriously, thank God, because that person kind of sucked.

He has never waited for me to open his car door. He has never yelled “ASSNITED STATES OF FUCKMERICA, BITCHES!” out of the car window. He is gentle with my heart, forthright in dealing with my bullshit and more than him loving me, he likes me. He makes me a more responsible, logical, realistic person, simply by his example. I catch him looking at the hand that houses the diamond he gave me. It sparkles with his promise. It is his birthday and I simply cannot give him a gift that equals what he gives to me, simply by virtue of his presence in my life.

Happy Birthday, Burke. I love you.



29 Responses to “Sometimes, you have to date assholes.”

  1. Cara Says:

    This is one of my favourite posts you’ve ever written. Also, girl knows how to pick them.

    Happy birthday Clay.

  2. Sayre Says:

    Flutter, my dear, you finally got it right. Thank God. You are much too precious a person to waste of the dregs of dating society.

    Clay, thank you so much for being her knight in shining armor and rescuing her from a parade of losers. You too have got it right. What better way to celebrate your birthday than with our wonderful Flutter. Birthdays and the rest of your life. Happy birthday, Clay.

  3. alejna Says:

    Wow. I am flabbergasted by that parade of dating experiences. Also thoroughly entertained. I’m just so impressed at the wide range of ways that those dudes could be assholes.

    I’m so happy for you and Clay that you found each other. (Even though your relationship may not provide as much entertainment value, as least in terms of writing fodder, as that parade of assholes.)

    Happy birthday, Clay!

  4. TheChambrayCountess Says:

    I love reading everything you write but today’s post is even more special because you have proved that even if you feel trapped, your cycle of negativity can and will be broken if you keep moving forward. Happy Birthday to Clay, he is the luckiest guy in the whole world… and I am pretty sure he knows it ;)

  5. TigereyeSal Says:


  6. emily Says:

    Wow! That last paragraph is amazing. And “holy crap” on your dating history! Puked on the table?! I would have thrown in the towel, for sure.
    Happy birthday, Clay.

  7. Sybil Law Says:

    Oh my… I hate to laugh at what were undoubtedly some horrid dates for you, but I seriously laughed out loud!! GAAAHHHHHH!!! Also: Hahahahahahahaha!!!
    It is with great pleasure, now, that I say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Clay!
    I am also glad that you’re in my dear Flutter’s life!
    Now, I go back to laughing…

  8. Major Bedhead Says:

    Oh my.

    I’m SO glad you found Clay because, wow. That’s a whole heap o’ crazy men right there.

  9. TwoBusy Says:

    I’ve got nothin’ but wild applause all over here. I can’t even pick out what my favorite part was… right now, it’s a toss-up between vomiting jell-o guy and you defining Clay as the romantic equivalent of a laxative. That may change when I read it again. Which I will.

    Also: A very happy birthday to the man in question.

  10. magpie Says:

    He sounds like a gem. Give him a kiss from the internets.

    (And bad-date vegan – that made me snort.)

  11. Chibi Jeebs Says:

    I can’t decide whether to love you or hate you for your inherent ability to make me cringe, laugh, and tear up in a matter of seconds. ;)

    Happy birthday, Clay!

  12. Kyla Says:

    Happy birthday, Clay!

    This post was wonderful…and it makes me extra happy that I fell in love with a boy on the Internet at 13 and married him at 17. No time for asshole dating!

  13. Jaded Says:

    After that string of assholes, you earned a winner. Actually afterone of those assholes you earned a winner.

    This post felt like a Candace Bushnell novel except for the language being carefully crafted and the protagonist being genuinely like-able.

  14. Suebob Says:

    Your story is great. I especially like the end part.

  15. Mary Says:

    I loved this. I don’t know Clay, but reading this made me love him. And reading the vegan part made me pee my pants!

  16. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah Says:

    Your assholes make my assholes seem mild.

    I’m glad you found Clay.

  17. Painted Maypole Says:

    holy crap. you could write a book about your crazy dates alone. ;) Glad you finally found Clay, a keeper if ever there were one. ;)

  18. john langford Says:

    cuzzin’ o’ mine:

    you are so freakin’ funny. i almost wet my pants reading this. you and i should collaborate on a book entitled “1001 dates from hell”, one of which included a date of mine passing out and wetting the bed. my bed. my brand new $1800 sealy posturepedic pillowtop mattress that i hadn’t even paid off yet and i couldn’t flip over because it only had one side. and i had to leave town for 10 days and my whole house smelled like a greyhound bus station bathroom. only slightly worse than the cleaning fluid that the steam cleaners used. i had to sleep in the guest room before the smell died down enough that i didn’t have to wear a respirator. so…whaddya say…are you in?

    big love,


  19. De a Says:

    It’s a damn good thing you’re not a quitter!

    Happy Belated to Clay. I’m sure this next year will be a memorable one, with much to celebrate together. Enjoy!

  20. Deb Says:

    I’m thinking that date at the vegan restaurant might win a a prize for worst date. Sounds like you have a keeper now. I’m glad.

  21. Emily R Says:

    I had exactly 12 spare minutes today. I am SO glad I spent them here.

  22. sweetney Says:

    What a tribute. Beautiful. xo

  23. heidi Says:

    Oh my gosh!! The weird non-vegan guy?! You can’t make that stuff up. So glad you’re with someone kind and true.
    Love, love, love this post. Love.

  24. Jocelyn Says:

    The BEST birthday post ever. Oh, and I give: my assholes can’t touch your assholes with a ten-foot pole of stunted wack-job.

    I howled so much as I read…from Rickertail to the US OF AMOTHERFUCKER guy to Jell-O in the vegan restaurant. You remain a. scream.

  25. christine Says:

    that last guy made me laugh so hard i practically cried! BUT, IN THE END, I AM GLAD YOU AND CLAY HAVE EACH OTHER. HE IS BEYOND LUCKY TO HAVE YOU IN HIS LIFE MY DEAR. XOXO (God damn caps lock! ack!)

  26. Deb Rox Says:

    This is all epic. I want to read your novel about the affair that ended in his wife’s living room, because that is everything right there.

  27. JoyinChaos Says:

    I wish I hadn’t slipped out of the blogging world. This post is really what it’s all about. It’s just brilliant writing. Funny and sad and with a happy, heart-tugging ending.

  28. Nikki B. Says:


    You know what they say about assholes – everyone’s got one. Sounds like you’ve had more than your share! :D

    Happy belated, Clay!

  29. Finn Says:

    This post was WOW! Funny and sad and sweet all in one. I’m glad you finally found the One after your myriad of assholes.

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