Top 10 Worst Online Dating Profile Headlines

I’m sure this will surprise many of you, but I am single.

I know, I know. It’s impossible to imagine some great guy hasn’t snatched up THIS:
pof blog
But the truth is, I haven’t actively been trying to date for a while now. I briefly tried online dating a couple years ago, and I’ve had a few dates since then (through being set up by friends or striking up a conversation with someone), but it’s just never been a priority. I’ve never felt like I was missing anything by not having a boyfriend, and I don’t want to be the kind of girl who’s in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship.

That being said, I did promise myself at the beginning of this blog that I was going to take more risks this year, and jumping into the dating pool isn’t a bad way to do that. Being outgoing and meeting new people are important goals for someone like me, who’s a little shy and introverted. I recently moved to a small town, and as much as I’d love to have a meet-cute in some adorable little cafe downtown or taking an autumn walk in the park, I know it’s unrealistic, because obviously real life is nothing like a romantic comedy,  so I decided to give online dating another shot.

Surprisingly, it hasn’t been too bad so far. Maybe it’s because I’ve significantly lowered my expectations since the last time I tried online dating. I’ve been chatting with a couple guys who actually seem genuinely intelligent, funny, and charming (although the skeptical part of my brain wonders what particular brand of psychopath they are in real life), so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Of course, finding said intelligent, funny, charming guys has meant going through a lot of questionable ones. For the most part, it’s just mildly annoying; most of my inbox is filled with one-to-three-word messages from guys with whom I have nothing in common (based on their profiles). And that’s fine. With dating sites, especially free ones, that’s to be expected. What did surprise me was how laughably bad some guys’ profile headlines were. On this site, you can enter a brief tagline- something to catch people’s attention. For the most part, they’re standard greetings- “hi there!” or the like. Some are actually pretty funny; “kind of a one” and “No regrats. Not even one letter” made me laugh out loud. Plenty were just cheesy, misspelled, grammatically incorrect messes that I skimmed past. And then there are the ones below:

1.”Woman are just as SHALLOW as men if not more so.”
Because if your lack of subject/verb agreement doesn’t win her over, making a broad generalization about women that makes you sound whiny and defensive surely will!

2. “were are you:)”
At Barnes and Noble…buying you a dictionary.

3.  “A gentle poet looking for his princess”
BRB, vomiting FOREVER.

4. “quite guy”
doge

5. “too many ****ing picky people on here”
Yeah! Standards don’t belong in online dating!

6. “You should try my flavor.”
Based on his profile, which doesn’t have anything in his “about me” section other than a self-pitying rant about how online dating hasn’t worked out for him because, again, “women are more shallow then (sic) men,” I’m going to assume his flavor is sour grapes.

7. “justloveme!”
Not until you find the space bar!

8. “I’m still in love with her…sorry.”
Maybe you should put online dating on the back burner for now, buddy.

9. “Are you my next mistake?”
No, Taylor Swift.

10. “Iowan”
GET OUT.

Return to We Fest

I survived my second We Fest! Last year was a blast, and while I was initially less enthusiastic about this year’s lineup, I was super impressed by most of the acts. This year was a little different because instead of camping at Oatfield with a small group of friends, I went with my cousin Jodi, her husband, Rob, and at least twenty of their friends. I’m pretty introverted and was definitely outside of my comfort zone-spending five days with a huge group of strangers, despite having met a few of them briefly last year, was a little overwhelming- but I still had a fantastic time. I met some great new people and got to reconnect with some of the ones I met last year. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and didn’t give me much crap about sitting alone and reading for stretches of time, which was definitely appreciated. Like last year, I took some notes about the experience and compiled them into a brief-ish account of the week. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5
3:00 PM: Time to set up camp!
3:05 PM: I have no idea where these tent poles go.
3:10 PM: Okay, I have plenty of confidence in my reading comprehension skills but this instruction booklet makes no fucking sense.
3:15 PM: Done, thanks to Christine’s help! “One-minute pop-up tent” my ass.
3:20 PM: This guy with the surfer hair seems nice. He kind of looks like that Jamie guy Jodi brought to Christmas like six years ago…no way is it the same guy, though.
3:21 PM: “Hi! I’m Laura!” “Hi, I’m Jamie!”
3:22 PM: Aaaaand now I feel like an asshole.
3:23 PM: To be fair, I only met him the one time.
3:24 PM: He hasn’t acknowledged that we’ve ever met so I’m just going to assume he doesn’t remember me.
3:25 PM: Between the tent struggles, heat, and probably undiagnosed mild social anxiety disorder, I need a beer like twenty minutes ago.
4:00 PM: To pay back Charlie for the miscellaneous ticket processing fees, Callie and Todd have invented a game where you try to slip money into Charlie’s pocket.
4:05 PM: I can’t remember which of them suggested naming the game “Get Into Charlie’s Pants,” but I think it’ll be a lot more entertaining if we don’t include any context.
7:30 PM: Update: Todd successfully got into Charlie’s pants. It was glorious.
10:15 PM: Heading to a smaller opening act, a local band called “Maiden Dixie,” at The Saloon stage.
10:30 PM: There are a surprising amount of hipsters here. Not the type you’d expect at a predominantly pop country event.
10:35 PM: Maybe Coachella was too expensive and this was the next-best opportunity to wear lots of flannel and floral headbands to an outdoor music festival.
11:00 PM: This band doesn’t completely suck, but I can barely hear the vocals over the bass.

Thursday, August 6
7:00 AM: Not many people seem to be up yet. I’ll sit outside and read for a while…because nothing says “drunken country music festival” like a nerd sitting alone with her nose in a collection of David Sedaris short stories.
8:00 AM: I’m bored, no one else is awake, and this is the only book I brought. I’m going to take a walk.
8:15 AM: Some of these RV’s are amazing. Pretty sure the one I just walked past is bigger than my apartment.
8:16 AM: When I’m earning more money and no longer in crippling student debt I’m totally going to buy an enormous RV.
8:17 AM: Although buying one of these would probably put me in MORE crippling debt.
8:18 AM: So I should just buy one now since I’m already in crippling debt anyway.
8:19 AM: FLAWLESS LOGIC.
8:45 AM: Just walked past a campsite where an older gentleman whose attire and personal hygiene screams “I chew disgusting amounts of tobacco and have a bald eagle decal on the back of my huge pickup truck that is probably overcompensating for something” stumbled toward me with his arms outstretched and slurred “Hey, honey! How about a We Fest hug!?” HOW ABOUT NO.
8:46 AM: I just muttered something along the lines of “No, thanks. I’m not a hugger” and walked past quickly. It’s too early and I’m too sober to have strangers invading my personal space.
12:30 PM: Playing Cards Against Humanity with the group. Nothing breaks the ice quite like “a big, black dick.”
2:00 PM: At Power Hour: a We Fest tradition where you take a drink every minute for an hour, noted by a whistle or an air horn. They have a dare wheel set up at an area of Lake Sallie called Camp Papa Smurf. Some of the dares are “take a mystery shot” or “social drink.” Those seem pretty tame.
2:01 PM: And some of them are “remove an article of clothing” or “body shot.” Oh, boy.
2:15 PM: A guy in a t-shirt that says “boobies make me smile,” a Canadian flag tied around his neck like a cape, and flip-flops drawn on his feet spun the wheel and landed on “remove an article of clothing.”
2:16 PM: At least he has the cape, so this should be pretty easy-
2:17 PM: Or he could just take off his shorts. Not the obvious choice in this situation, but okay.
5:30 PM: Big & Rich is starting in forty-five minutes but I’m going to skip it. I only know “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” and I didn’t even know that was an actual song until college; before that, I just thought it was a stupid phrase to print on t-shirts at Spencer’s.
6:30 PM: Relaxing in my tent. It’s really peaceful at the campsite with everyone down at the concert. It’s quiet, there’s a bit of a breeze-
6:31 PM: And there’s an insect the length of my thumb with what looks like a fish hook on the end of it on my tent roof.
6:32 PM: And now it’s been joined by an enormous daddy long leg. NEAT.
6:33 PM: THIS IS WHY I DON’T CAMP.
8:40 PM Heading down to the concert bowl to see Hank Williams Jr. I don’t know why, because I only know that one football song, and he’s seemed like kind of a douchebag in the interviews I’ve seen him in, but maybe he’ll put on a good show.
8:45 PM: THE PURPLE HAT IS BACK, BITCHES!

we fest4

8:50 PM: As we walk to our seats, a few guys holding strands of plastic beads shout “boobs for beads!” Rob proudly lifts his shirt to reveal his moobs and is rewarded with a string of shiny red beads around his neck.
9:00 PM: It’s hilarious to hear a guy who has made homophobic comments in the past sing “I really, really, really, really, really, really like girls” because it just makes it sound like he’s in the closet.
9:15 PM: Is it just me or is Hank’s singing really off-key?
9:16 PM: His guitar is out of tune too.
9:30 PM: Now he’s punctuating his poorly-performed songs with incoherent rambling. Time to go.
9:35 PM: Nearly ran into a guy wearing a stars-and-stripes speedo and a pith helmet.
9:36 PM: Seriously? This is the second year I’ve seen someone here in a red, white, and blue speedo.
9:37 PM: I understand patriotism is a big theme in country music, but there has to be a better way of showing that you love your country than squeezing your genitals into a tiny swimsuit.
10:00 PM: Hanging out at a campsite across from ours and it is downpouring. Rascal Flatts goes on in forty-five minutes. Swell.
10:30 PM: Not going to the concert. I don’t feel like dealing with the rain, and the only song I care about is “Life is a Highway” because we sang it as the opening number in my high school variety show (because when you think country music, you think of jazz hands and step-ball-changes).
11:30 PM: The rain is finally letting up so now a few of us are sitting at a picnic table. I just apologized to Jamie for not realizing we’d met before and he said he didn’t remember me either, so I feel like significantly less of a tool now.

Friday, August 7
9:00 AM: Okay, I brought ONE dress with me and I kind of feel like looking cute today.
9:05 AM: Aaaand I just got toothpaste all over the neckline.
9:06 AM: Just tried wiping it off and made it worse…oh, God. That does not look like toothpaste.
9:07 AM: IT’S NOT COMING OUT WITH SOAP.
9:08 AM: I just wanted to look nice once this week, dammit! JUST ONCE!
9:09 AM: Back to grungy camp chic, I guess.
10:00 AM: Jodi is teaching Chad, Trish, and I how to play Golf (the card game, not the heinously boring sport).
10:30 AM: To probably no one’s surprise, I’m not very good at a game that requires basic math skills.
3:00 PM: So this guy just ran past our campsite:

we fest3

4:00 PM: Holy shit. Someone in the group brought a mobile bar.
4:01 PM: You know that scene in the fourth Harry Potter movie where Harry walks into this shabby little tent that looks like this huge elaborate house on the inside and is like “I love magic!”? That’s how I feel right now.
8:30 PM: On our way to the Dierks Bentley concert. Can’t miss a chance to see one of my several celebrity husbands (for anyone interested, my celebrity husbands are a handful of country singers, most of the cast of The Avengers movies, and three guys from this Mexican soap opera my friends and I watched religiously sophomore year of college).
9:00 PM: This song is great and Dierks is killing it and everything, but there’s this big fiery red circle graphic on the screen behind him and all I can think is “WATCH OUT FOR SAURON!”
9:01 PM: I think I might be too geeky for this event.
11:00 PM: Just got back to the concert bowl for Miranda Lambert.
11:10 PM: Tabloid drama aside, this woman amazing. She’s an even more incredible singer live.
11:15 PM: It’s a little heartbreaking, because you can tell by the look on her face that she’s going through a lot, but she’s clearly channeling that emotion into her music.
12:00 PM: She’s only addressed the issue once: “I wish I could have been drinking all day. I just got divorced!” She’s greeted with an enormous cheer from the crowd.

Saturday, August 8
2:00 PM: Last Power Hour of the week. I’ve been taking it easy these past few days but considering this is going to be my last night here, it wouldn’t hurt to loosen up a little. Time to make a dent in that Costco-sized bottle of Jack Daniels.
2:30 PM: Seriously!? ANOTHER guy in a red, white, and blue speedo? Is this just the We Fest douchebag uniform or something?
2:31 PM: At least the pink fanny pack complements it nicely.
2:45 PM: Aw, man, we’re out of Coke and I didn’t bring any other mixers.
2:46 PM: Joe was nice enough to let me use his ginger ale but there’s not much left and I don’t want to waste all of his pop.
2:47 PM: This is basically a big mug of Jack with a couple shots of ginger ale in it.
2:48 PM: Oh, well. Time to enjoy the camp bar!
3:00 PM: I’m not one hundred percent sure what’s in this shot Trisha made me, but it’s red and blue and sugary.
3:10 PM: I’m drunk and swapping sci fi book recommendations with Matt. I can’t go one day without nerding out here, can I?
3:45 PM: Why, yes, taking multiple Fireball shots does seem like an excellent idea.
4:00 PM: Does Jack taste good with lemonade? I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. FOR SCIENCE.
4:10 PM: Uh-oh.
4:11 PM: Oh, no.
4:12 PM: Too far.
4:30 PM: I just puked behind my tent and asked Todd (resident creeper of the Lake Sallie group) for guy advice. I’m not drinking again for the rest of my twenties.
4:35 PM: I’m just going to try and sleep this off before the Jake Owen concert.
8:30 PM: Jodi just woke me up for the concert and I legitimately forgot what day it was for the first few minutes I was awake. Then I remembered the last few hours. Ugh.
9:00 PM: At the Jake Owen concert. Feeling a little shaky but not nearly as bad as earlier.
9:10 PM: Jodi and Ashley want to check out the vendors rather than go right to our seats, but I’m not a huge Jake Owen fan so I’m okay with-
9:11 PM: OH, GOD, I forgot how much I love “Alone with You.”
9:12 PM: And I forgot about his sexy new haircut. BE STILL, MY HEART.
9:13 PM: New addition to the celebrity husband list.
10:00 PM: Back at camp, sitting at the bar and sipping Gatorade.
10:05 PM: Apparently my drunken plea for guy advice struck a chord with Todd (or it’s just the liquid inspiration from whatever’s in his Mountain Dew bottle) because he’s decided I’m his “intern” now.
10:10 PM: Lesson one: “Guys look for two things in a girl: a sense of humor-” Wow, that’s actually a good-
10:11 PM “And blow-” NOPE, the rest of that sentence isn’t going into my blog. My parents read this. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
10:12 PM: Now he’s encouraging me to chat up the cute guy in the cowboy hat who just walked up to the bar. I guess I have nothing to lose. I think my dignity is lying in a pile of vomit by my tent anyway.
10:13 PM: Me: “…Hi…” Guy: (dismissively as he tries to hit on another girl) “Hi.”
10:14 PM: Wow. Who could have predicted the dude would completely ignore the awkward girl in glasses and a t-shirt with a glass of wine, a book, and the words “well red” bedazzled across the chest?
10:15 PM: Eh. I tried.
10:45 PM: Okay, as much as I’m “learning” from Todd, it’s time for Blake Shelton!
11:00 PM: This guy is a spectacular performer. Besides being a ridiculously talented musician, he’s funny and engaging and just has a great stage presence overall.
11:15 PM: Hearing “Sangria” live cemented its position as one of my favorite new country songs. So pretty.
11:45 PM: HA. Hearing Blake call Adam Levine a douche gives me life.
12:45 PM: I’m going straight to bed since we’re heading home tomorrow and being hungover in a car for four hours sounds like torture.

Sunday, August 9
10:00 AM: The car is packed, we’ve said our goodbyes, and we’re on our way out.
10:05 AM: Jodi asks me if I remember that I started speaking Spanish yesterday when I was drunk. I do not.
10:10 AM: If the worst things I did were switch to a different language and go to a dubious resource for romantic advice, I’d say I made it out of We Fest pretty much unscathed.
10:15 AM: I’m exhausted, grimy, bruised, and mildly embarrassed. Will do it all again next year?
10:16 AM: Probably.

We Fest: A Country Convert’s First Time

I’m curled up on my cousin’s couch right now, relaxing with her and her husband after an evening of stocking up on grillable food and alcohol at Costco. Tomorrow morning, we leave for We Fest, the three-day outdoor country music festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. This will be my second time going, and after last year, I am so excited to go back. Last year, I wrote about my experience and posted it on Facebook, and I definitely plan about writing about this year too. Below is my account of my first year at We Fest for anyone who either wasn’t friends with me on Facebook when I posted this or doesn’t know me personally so they can be caught up when I post the second year account sometime next week. Enjoy!

***

As a lot of you know, I went to We Fest for the first time a couple weeks ago. This was a pretty big step for me for a couple reasons. Firstly, I’m a pretty new country fan. Prior to my friend dragging me to a Tim Sigler Band performance a couple years ago, I was not a country fan at all, and while the genre has really grown on me since then, I wasn’t sure how I’d handle three solid days of country. Secondly, the last time I went camping was when I was fourteen, and that was a completely different experience from We Fest (for one thing, Catholic Youth Camp generally discouraged campers from bringing whiskey). I remember not being a huge fan of the sleeping outdoors thing eleven years ago, so I wasn’t sure how I would handle it as an adult.

Because I am a humongous nerd, I brought a notebook with me to We Fest (because what booze-soaked outdoor music festival is complete without diligent note-taking?) to document my first We Fest Experience.  The following is a brief (-ish) play-by-play/observations of the weekend- not everything of course, mostly the stuff I remembered to write down and was able to decipher and organize once I was home and sober- for any of my friends who I don’t see often and want to know what it was like.

Wednesday 8/6/2014

12:30 PM: Stopping at a nearby liquor store to stock up before we get to the campsite.

12:40 PM: Okay, this is a country festival, so whiskey seems like an appropriate choice.

12:45 PM: BLACK CHERRY whiskey!? That exists!? That sounds amazing! It’s kind of symbolic too…like I’m having my metaphorical “We Fest cherry” popped so I should get cherry whiskey…yeah, I’m reading way too much into this. I’m sure it’ll be delicious.

1:30 PM: OH JESUS IT TASTES LIKE COUGH SYRUP.

1:35 PM: Okay, it’s better with Coke. Actually, I think I’ll add a little more.

2:30 PM: I’m drunk and playing Harry Potter hangman on my phone at our campsite. I don’t think I’m We Festing right.

Thursday, 8/7/2014

1:00 PM: Checking out my cousin Jodi and her boyfriend Rob’s campsite at Lake Sallie. Their group is so big that their campsite seems more like a small village.

1:20 PM: Just played massive beer pong (trying to toss a large ball into buckets) with Jodi. You would think having a bigger target would make it easier. You would be wrong.

1:30 PM: Now we’re playing actual beer pong against Jodi’s friends Matt and Molly. I swear I was better at this in college.

1:45 PM: A few people in their group created a “redneck hot tub,” where they lined the bed of someone’s pickup with tarp and filled it with lake water.

2:00 PM: What’s “Power Hour”?

2:10 PM: Where’d the rest of my whiskey go?

2:11 PM: Hey, beer!

3:00 PM One perk of having a long walk back from Lake Sallie is that I have plenty of time for people watching. Let’s see…several guys with missing teeth…a t-shirt that says “take them panties off” (offending women AND grammar nerds with a single article of clothing!)…a red, white, and blue speedo (because nothing is more patriotic than stuffing your junk into a spandex version of the American flag)…remind me again why girls say they want country boys?

3:10 PM: Hey, Tim Sigler’s here! Oh, wait, nope, it’s just a guy in a cowboy hat and a black t-shirt.

7:30 PM: Oh, charming. One of the guys near our campsite is hardcore hitting on a girl who I’m pretty sure is seventeen years old. In front of her mother. Or he’s hitting on the mom. Classy. Back to Lake Sallie until Florida Georgia Line starts to take a break from the land of the creepy bros.

8:00 PM: Rob makes a great Jack and Coke. He seemed like a great guy to begin with, but the fact that he can mix a drink well has earned him the Cousin Seal of Approval.

9:00 PM: Checking out Florida Georgia Line with Jodi and Rob since I haven’t heard back from my group. Stopping at a booth selling cowboy hats. As much as country music has grown on me, I don’t think the fashion really suits me.

9:05 PM: OH MY GOD Jodi is letting me borrow her old cowboy hat and it’s ADORABLE and purple and beaded and doesn’t make my head look weird and I’m already planning several outfits around it (think punk rock cowgirl chic…shut up, it could work) and Jodi might not ever get this back now.

10:00 PM: Hanging out at Jodi and Rob’s campsite, waiting for Alisha to text me so I know where to meet our group (the joys of general admission). Rob just made me another Jack and Coke.

10:30 PM: Still haven’t heard from Lish, but Rob is awesome and is letting me take his V.I.P. pass for the Jason Aldean concert.

11:00 PM: Hey, I actually know some of these songs!

12:00 AM: KELLY CLARKSON WHERE DID YOU COME FROM!?

1:00 AM: Trying to escape the concert area.  Good thing big crowds don’t freak me out or this could be really uncomfortable.

1:30 AM: Oof…haven’t drunk this much in a while. Okay, I’ve had water and Gatorade and as long as I get a decent amount of sleep I should be fine tomorrow.

Friday, 8/8/2014

7:00 AM: WHOEVER THE ASSHAT IS WHO THINKS BLASTING “AMERICA, FUCK YEAH” FROM THEIR SITE AT SEVEN IN THE MORNING IS A GOOD IDEA HAD BETTER HOPE HE DOESN’T RUN INTO ME TODAY.

7:30 AM: It’s like Jack Daniels is repeatedly kicking me in the stomach.

8:00 AM: Bless Alisha for making ridiculously strong coffee.

8:00 PM: Walking to The Band Perry concert. It is impossible to walk through one of the tunnels here without a group of people chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Alisha and I tried to change it up a bit (“CA-NA-DA!” “SWITZ-ER-LAND!” “POR-TU-GAL!”) but unfortunately it didn’t catch on.

9:00 PM: Hell yeah, you put the “man” in “mandolin,” Neil Perry. Rawr.

10:00 PM: Waiting for Brad Paisley to start. More people watching: a tall guy wearing  only a child-sized pair of overalls, holding a cardboard sign that says “Daddy’s Home”…a guy in pink cutoff shorts and a helmet…some guy dressed as Waldo…hey, Tim Sigler’s-wait, nope, another guy in a cowboy hat and a black t-shirt.

10:30 PM: Lexi is testing out the Jenna Marbles method of getting creepy guys to leave you alone (for anyone unfamiliar with this strategy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wRXa971Xw0). For the most part it’s not working, because Alisha is recording it and laughing hysterically, but there was an especially entertaining exchange that was actually successful:

Random Bro: Happy We Fest!

Lexi:  D:

Random Bro: Boobs for beads!

Lexi: D:

Random Bro:…Boobs for beads?

Lexi: D:

Random Bro: Okay…nice meeting you.

Lexi: D:

we fest1

10:50 PM: Man, Brad is DRUNK.

11:00 PM: “Mud on the Tires” sounds even better live!

11:02 PM: ‘CAUSE IT’S A GOOD NIIIIIIGHT TO BE OUT THERE SOAKIN’ UP THE MOONLIIIIIIGHT….

11:03 PM: Correction: “Mud on the Tires” sounds better live when I’M not singing along.

11:30 PM: …Did Brad Paisley just sing a line from “Let It Go”!? That might be the most adorable thing I have ever witnessed.

12:30: Heading to Jodi and Rob’s campsite to skip any of the Oatfield insanity.

1:30 AM: Jodi’s group has this DJ set in a trailer set up at their site, so they’re having a dance party. Great mix of music. Just danced to “Rebel Yell” which, according to Jodi’s friend Todd (apparently tonight’s DJ), is the second best song ever. I ask him what the best is. He says I’ll have to wait until he plays it later.

2:00 AM: Security just made us shut off the music! Nooooo! NOW I’LL NEVER KNOW!

2:10 AM: Jodi is trying to revive the dance party by playing music on her phone. It’s not really working out.

2:20 AM: Now Jodi is trying to revive the dance party by convincing people to sing and has pulled up the lyrics to “Sweet Caroline.” God, I love my family.

2:30 AM: Things are getting weird with a big foam glowstick. I like this group.

3:30 AM: Jodi is insisting that I crash at her campsite rather than walk back to Oatfield. Why can’t she accept that absolutely no one would mess with my mad ninja skills!?

3:32 AM: So…no one just saw me trip over the ramp up to the DJ trailer, right? Good.

3:35 AM: Fine, fine. I appreciate her concern for my safety. And her friend Jackie is being nice enough to let me sleep on her air mattress.

3:40 AM: I should probably stop drinking now anyway.

3:45 AM: Ooh, fireball!

 Saturday, 8/9/2014

6:30 AM: Ugh, fireball…

1:00 PM: Got back to Oatfield a few hours ago. It’s kind of drizzling, and the whole campsite is pretty quiet. Just playing games with Alisha, Brian, Sam, and Brit (B.S., Presidents and Assholes, Cards against Humanity) under the canopy. Maybe today will be a little more laid-back.

3:00 PM: I spoke too soon. This place is a shit show. I just had someone of questionable drinking age slur/shout “I JUST HAD SIX SHOTS IN TEN MINUTES!” about two inches away from my face, so that was fun.

5:00 PM: My tent is currently occupied by one of my camp-mates and a “friend” he made here. I don’t mind, but it seems kind of awkward considering the girl is camping with her mom, who is sitting right across from our campsite (and no, this isn’t the possibly seventeen-year-old girl..why are there so many girls here with their mothers!?).

6:00 PM: Camp-mate insists that the girl’s mom doesn’t know what’s going on. Uh-huh. I’m sure she thinks the two drunk kids alone in the tent are just playing Go Fish.

10:00 PM: Waiting for Zac Brown Band to start. Alisha is loudly singing “Savages” fromPocahontas. I have no clue how that started.

10:20 PM: OH MY GOD, someone here is dressed up as Beetlejuice. He has the crazy hair and zombie makeup and striped suit and everything. Who thinks “You know what I should dress up as at a country music festival? A Tim Burton character!”? I mean, I love it, just surprising. I should get a picture with him.

10:21 PM: Where did he go!? How did I lose someone wearing a black and white striped suit and zombie makeup in a crowd of country fans in less than a minute?! This might be my biggest We Fest regret.

11:00 PM: Some random drunk guy standing next to me just grabbed my beer, gulped a bunch of it down, and handed it back to me saying “Just wanted a sip.” General admission is SO much fun.

11:10 PM: The fiddler in the Zac Brown Band is so damn cute. I never thought the fiddle was a remotely sexy instrument until now.

11:30 PM: Alisha just pointed out that the fiddler looks like Chevy Chase.

11:31 PM: DAMMIT, LISH.

11:32 PM: …Still sexy.

12:30 AM: Pretty sure this frighteningly tall drunk guy is going to fall over on me any second. I don’t think the band is going to play “Chicken Fried” at this point, so may as well leave and beat the rush. Time to head over to Lake Sallie to return Jodi’s hat.

1:00 AM: Jodi is letting me keep the hat! I mean, I know in actuality I probably won’t even wear it until We Fest next year, but it’s SO CUTE!

1:30 AM: Heading back to Oatfield since we’re leaving early-ish in the morning. It is impossible to wear this hat without walking with a little swagger.

1:40 AM: Yeah, I’m definitely coming back next year.

we fest2

Fireball and Tomato Juice (And Other Questionable Food Decisions)

Holly has been my best friend since ninth grade. We formed a bond while we were waiting for our moms to pick us up after auditioning for the fall musical (and embarrassing ourselves spectacularly) when she complimented my t-shirt (camouflage with the caption “Ha! Now you can’t see me!” printed across the chest) and we commiserated over how horribly we’d performed during the audition. Nearly twelve years later, she’s still one of my favorite people; Holly is one of the brightest, funniest, most creative people I know, and she’s always been there for me, no matter how trivial my problems might be.

bff

In addition to being a generally wonderful human being, Holly is also my fine arts buddy; we do classy things like take a road trip to Chicago to see The Globe’s international tour of Hamlet or try escargot at a fancy French restaurant before going to the opening night of Fanciulla del West at the Minnesota Opera.

And sometimes we do not-so-classy things like adding fireball to a bunch of stuff to see what it tastes like.

I promise this isn’t as stupid as it sounds.

The plan stemmed from a growing need to get rid of a bottle of Fireball Holly left in my freezer on Halloween (we combined it with root beer, and the result tastes like liquid Red Hots; a candy-flavored drink seemed like an appropriate choice for the holiday). And yes, I am an amazing friend for not drinking any of it for eight months.

As it turns out, Fireball’s website has an extensive list of recipes (most of which have the word “balls” in them, which appeals to my twelve-year-old sense of humor), and a lot of them involve combinations I never would have thought of.  In the end, we each chose two recipes: one cocktail and one food. I only had two guidelines for the cocktails: they had to be ones we hadn’t tried before, and they had to be ones that didn’t involve other types of alcohol; as delicious as some of the ones on the website sounded, I really didn’t want to buy a huge bottle of butterscotch schnapps or pumpkin liqueur or some other obscure ingredient that would just end up sitting in the back of my fridge forever after using it for one drink.  All of the recipes we tried besides the cupcakes were from Fireball’s official website, although we tweaked them a bit. In some cases, doing that worked out really well; in others, we probably should have experimented a little more.

THE FOOD

1. Fireball barbecue sauce

I figured this one would be hard to screw up, which appealed to me because I never cook and wanted something easy. The recipe on the site was technically for baked barbecue chicken, but because it was hot as balls outside that day and we were already using the oven for Holly’s recipe and I didn’t want my apartment to feel like Hell, I decided to just mix it in a crockpot with frozen meatballs. The result: they were delicious. You couldn’t really taste the Fireball that much; the sauce was kind of sweet, but that was probably just the brown sugar. Holly noted that the syrupy-ness from the Fireball was kind of detectable, but it wasn’t overpowering. I would definitely make this again.

meatballs

2. Fireball cupcakes 

Technically, this recipe didn’t call for Fireball, they’re just called Girl on Fire cupcakes (after The Hunger Games success), but because they came up in a Google search for Fireball recipes, we rolled with it, replacing the water in the batter with the cinnamon whiskey. We also added a little Fireball to the frosting as well, hoping to increase the cinnamon flavor. Unfortunately, the cinnamon flavor was cooked out of the cupcakes, leaving behind only a rotten whiskey taste, so it was more like somewhat bland cupcakes with an ass-flavored aftertaste. They didn’t even look as cool as the ones in the recipe (although that might have to do with the fact that the original baker used a professional frosting tube and we just cut a hole in the corner of a plastic bag…hey, we get points for resourcefulness!). We used boxed yellow cake mix, which is what the recipe called for, but we think we would have had more success if we had made the batter from scratch….and just added cinnamon rather than Fireball. Conclusion: Fireball-THEMED cupcakes have the potential to be awesome, but actual Fireball cupcakes taste like sugary poop.

cupcakes

THE COCKTAILS

1. Fireball and Iced Tea

I thought this one would be my favorite because I love cinnamon tea. I figured it would just taste like cinnamon iced tea with a bit of a kick. However, we underestimated the strength of Fireball, and despite using the amounts of iced tea and whiskey listed in the official recipe, it just tasted like a big glass of watered-down Fireball. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t something I would be able to drink a lot of; it took us a while to finish the one drink, just because the Fireball was so overwhelming. Next time: more iced tea, less Fireball.

iced tea

2. Fireball Bloody Mary

This was the one I was the most nervous for; seriously, what weirdo over at Fireball headquarters was like “You know what would taste great together? Tomato juice and cinnamon.” Even the site’s name for it, “Bloody Balls,” is disgusting. But I really wanted to try an unusual recipe, so we risked it. At first, it lived up to my expectation that it would be gross; it just tasted like sugary tomato juice. Then, Holly had a stroke of genius and added a good squirt of sriracha to it…and it was SO. DAMN. GOOD. The spiciness of the sriracha helped combine the sweetness of the Fireball and the savory-ness of the Bloody Mary mix into this unique, amazing flavor.

bloody mary

BONUS SHOT RECIPE!

Inspired by the Bloody Mary success, Holly tried to recreate a shot she had tried at The Shout House in Minneapolis called an Atomic Fireball, named after the candy, which apparently the shot is supposed to taste like. The shot at the bar combined Fireball and Tabasco, but because the only hot sauce I had in my kitchen was sriracha, we had to make due with that. Lesson learned: sriracha and Fireball is not the same as Tabasco and Fireball, and it definitely doesn’t taste like candy. It does scorch your throat going down, so that’s fun.

atomic fireball

Overall, it was a successful experiment. True, some of the recipes weren’t anything I would ever willingly ingest again, but I had so much fun spending the evening with my bestie. Seriously, I’m so lucky to have this girl in my life. We go together like Fireball and tomato juice….and the sriracha is our bond of friendship…okay, this simile is becoming more of a mess than the cupcakes, so I’m going to stop now.

The Bat Cave

My first apartment was a dump. It was a grimy basement-level unit in an old house that had been renovated into three apartments. The whole place smelled mildewy, made worse by the mid-August humidity. The carpet was thin, dirty, and scratchy, seeming more suited to a used car than a home. The asshole who had my bedroom before me had apparently superglued a poster of Eminem to the closet door and only succeeded in scraping off part of it before moving out, leaving chunks of the rapper’s face stuck to the wood. It was disgusting.

But, my friend Amanda and I agreed when we’d signed the lease, it was a step up from dorm life. We figured it would be nice to have to share a bathroom with only one girl instead of twenty, not deal with malfunctioning fire alarms at 2 A.M.,  and stop having to sneak our way around the whole “dry campus” rule by hiding vodka in plastic water  bottles in mini-fridges. Besides, the place was only two blocks away from campus, had free on-site laundry, and most importantly (especially for two college seniors racking up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans), the rent was cheap. We were willing to overlook the negative aspects.

I had a couple multi-legged pest scares within a few days of moving in; I nearly destroyed the bathroom trying to drown a massive spider that crawled out of the shower drain, and I had a terrifying showdown in the living room with a centipede as long and thick as my middle finger, finally defeating it with my thousand-pound Shakespeare anthology (and people say English Lit is a useless major!). Amanda bought a can of insect repellent to spray around the perimeter of the apartment, which seemed to keep out any other creepy-crawlies, leading me to believe we were now safe from any vermin invaders. I never considered the possibility of an aerial attack.

I went to bed late my first Saturday in the new place, but I was having trouble falling asleep thanks to a mysterious scratching noise. At first I dismissed it as a fan blowing a loose corner of one of my posters against the wall, but the sound wasn’t consistent enough for that to be the explanation. I was a little nervous to turn on the light and investigate- I had watched a horror movie earlier in the evening and was half-convinced that if I turned the light on I would see some deranged, homicidal redneck tearing through my window screen- but curiosity won over my wild imagination. I clicked on my lamp, put on my glasses, and looked around.

At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Nothing was being blown around by my fan. There was no knife-wielding maniac at my window. Then I realized the noise was coming from the little circular heating vent in the middle of the ceiling. I stared up at it, perplexed, as a small, furry, grey-brown head poked out of it.

A mouse, I thought. I was startled, but not afraid- until the “mouse” unfolded a pair of dark, leathery wings.

Oh, SHIT.

For about a second, I stared in horror as the bat flapped around the low ceiling of my bedroom. Then I started screaming. I have no idea what I hoped to accomplish-I guess I thought Amanda would hear me and come to my rescue (or at least I’d have someone to panic with)-but apparently she couldn’t hear me on the other side of the apartment. So I did what any rational adult would do: I called my parents. At 2 A.M. Even though they lived about a hundred miles away.

“I’m sorry, sweetie, but I don’t know what we can do,” my mom said, sounding half exasperated and half sympathetic after I had tearfully explained what was going on. “Grab a broom or something and try to chase it out.” I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that my bedroom belonged to the bat now and I would just have to sleep in the living room for the rest of the year, but I knew my mom was right. I wrapped myself up in my comforter for protection, took a deep, shaky breath, and ran to the door.

As soon as I threw it open, the bat fluttered out and started flapping around the kitchen and I hurried to the apartment entrance. We actually had two front doors: one that led to a little entrance area where the laundry was, and another that led outside. I propped open the first door with a card table, but I couldn’t find anything to hold open the second door. I knew I was going to need backup, so I finally tiptoed into Amanda’s room. “Amanda!” I whispered (although I’m not sure why I felt the need to be quiet; I guess I was worried the bat would hear us plotting against him). “There’s a bat in the apartment!”

Amanda sat up. “What?” she asked blearily.

“There’s a BAT in the apartment! Can you help me get him out?”

“Oh. Oh, no. I’m terrified of bats,” Amanda informed me. I struggled to maintain my composure and not snap that I didn’t exactly want to keep one as a pet either, but I couldn’t get rid of it on my own, when Amanda offered to call her frat boy friend Matt to come over and help. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea that we needed rescuing from a small, furry animal, but I was tired and frustrated and wasn’t having any success on my own, so fifteen minutes later I was holding the front door open while Matt chased the bat around our living room, wildly brandishing a broom at it. I lost sight of it for a moment but Matt insisted that he thought he saw it fly out. We carefully inspected the apartment and didn’t find him. I banged on the heating vent in my room to make sure it hadn’t retreated to his original hiding place but nothing flew out. We seemed safe, but I still spent the rest of the night on the lumpy futon in the living room anyway, watching reruns of Three’s Company and googling facts about bat bites, like how bats’ teeth are so tiny and sharp you might not feel it or find a mark if they bite you, and how rabies symptoms can show up years after you become infected. The landlord is going to get a very angry call in a few hours, I thought grumpily, tossing and turning on the thin mattress and cheap metal frame.

The next day a maintenance guy from my housing office came out to see if the bat was still there and find where it got in. He said the bat was most likely gone, because it would still be flying around if it was still in the apartment (which seemed like strange logic considering bats are nocturnal, but I didn’t question it). He found a gap in the wall of the furnace room that led to the chimney and we assumed that was how it had gotten in. He sealed it up, said he’d come back the next day to put a rubber stopper on the bottom of the furnace room door just to be safe, and left. I thought that was the end of it. Silly me.

I heard flapping around around two the next morning. I reluctantly turned on my light, not wanting to see what I knew would be there. Sure enough, the nasty thing was hanging on the wall next to my door; or more accurately, he was hanging on a block of wood on the wall by my door. The wood was there when I moved in, and I assumed it was covering a hole, but apparently it didn’t cover all of it. I tried to scare the bat out of my room with a broom and he squeezed into a quarter inch gap above the block of wood. I hit the block of wood, trying to scare it out so I could get it out the front door, but it wouldn’t fly out.

The rest of the morning was spent sleeping in the back seat of Amanda’s car.

The same maintenance guy came back the next day, and he managed to scare the bat out for good and properly seal up the hole in my wall, but I never slept well the rest of the year; even months later, my eyes would snap open at the slightest noise in the middle of the night, and I would lie awake worrying that I had been bitten in my sleep or when the bat was dive-bombing around my room and I would one day start hallucinating or foaming at the mouth or experience any of the other rabies symptoms I’d read about on Web MD.

I used to love bats. I thought they were so cute. They were my favorite part of the nocturnal exhibit at the zoo. My sister and I even used to pretend we were bats when we were little and used our bunk bed as a bat cave (yeah, I was a weird kid, don’t judge). That image has been shattered, all thanks to Bluff City Property’s inability to patch up a hole in a wall.

Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

A couple weeks ago, I joined my friend Leslie on a road trip to Indiana. Not exactly an exotic destination, but our musician friend Dan and his friend Jimmy were playing a couple shows there-Leslie, who’s also Dan’s manager, had booked them and didn’t want to go down alone- and I figured it was a good opportunity for me to kick off my goal of taking more risks this year. Not that driving down to a small town in another Midwestern state is especially risky, but hey, baby steps. It would also be fun hanging out with Leslie more; she’s almost as big of a nerd as I am in some ways, so we get along really well.

Prior to Leslie picking me up on Friday morning, I knew virtually nothing about Indiana. I knew it was where Parks and Recreation’s fictional town of Pawnee was set. I was pretty sure there was some big NASCAR thing that happened there. Past that, I was clueless. Once we took off, though, Leslie shared a fun piece of Indiana trivia with me: Gary, Indiana has the most serial killers per capita in the U.S. It’s also just outside of Valparaiso, the little town where we’d be staying. Well, I wanted risks. Avoiding getting stabbed and having my body dumped in a rock quarry definitely fell under the risk category.

The eight-ish hour drive went by surprisingly quickly despite not being particularly scenic (unless you count the comically absurd amount of cheese and adult video/toy store signs we passed in Wisconsin) and having to stop at tolls every ten minutes in Illinois (that state is a greedy sonofabitch), but we were still relieved to finally see the sign proclaiming “Welcome to Indiana: Crossroads of America!” (although having a state motto that basically translates to “Indiana: you have to drive through us to get somewhere better!” doesn’t seem like good advertisement). We crashed at the hotel for a few hours before getting ready for that night’s show- or rather, Leslie got us both ready, because she’s also a hair stylist and makeup artist/miracle worker with hot rollers and eye shadow. As someone whose idea of “fancy” is putting in my contacts and not wearing my hair in a ponytail, I appreciated the magic she worked on my hair and face, as well as her patience with my dumb questions (“So what do I do with the mousse? Just rub it in?” “Do I put the eyeliner under my eyes too?”).  She was basically my fairy godmother, but instead of going to a royal ball we were going to a dive bar in Michigan City, Indiana. At least we knew the music would be good.

Before I go any further, it would probably make sense to talk a little bit about Dan and Jimmy, since they’re the main reason we drove to the middle of nowhere/potential set of a Rob Zombie movie. Dan Hamrick is an Indiana native/honorary Minnesotan/Nashville transplant with a voice simultaneously soft and intense and impressive guitar skills. His  songs contain straightforward but heartfelt lyrics; “This is my Family” is especially touching (and seeing his family dance to it in Valpo on Saturday night definitely choked me up a bit), and “Flowers Because It’s Tuesday” has given me even more unrealistic expectations for guys. His partner in crime for the Indiana shows, Jimmy Charles, is also a Nashville-based musician (originally from Maryland): an up-and-coming country artist with a slightly raspy but strong voice and admirable guitar abilities. His song “Superman,” written to raise cancer awareness, is beautiful and heartbreaking and is not something you should listen to at work because the lyrics might make you cry a little at your desk. Besides their talent and creativity, Dan and Jimmy are both genuinely sweet guys who always make a real connection with their audience, which isn’t something you get from a lot of performers. I would definitely recommend checking them out, and I’ll include links to their Facebook fan pages at the end of this post.

Once we arrived at the bar where the show was, we learned something else about Indiana: it’s legal to smoke in bars there- and a LOT of people take advantage of that freedom.  The smell of cigarette smoke usually doesn’t bother me, but when the majority of the people around you are smoking in a small, enclosed space, it gets pretty suffocating. By the time we left that night, our clothes reeked like a redneck bonfire. I was also a little worried about how flammable my hair was; with people lighting up inches away from me, and my hair saturated with three different kinds of product, the possibility of my entire head going up in flames seemed realistic.

But there was one thing in the bar that really drew my attention-a risk greater than secondhand smoke or running into some Jeffrey Dahmer impersonator: a huge mechanical bull in the back left corner of the bar. I had known before arriving that it would be there-Dan had mentioned it in a Facebook post advertising the show- and immediately decided “I SHOULD TOTALLY DO THAT. I’m not remotely athletic, and coordination isn’t one of my strong points, but how hard could it be?” Of course, being the massive nerd that I am, I thoroughly researched (well, googled) any useful tips on riding a mechanical bull without getting a concussion or breaking your neck. It all seemed pretty straightforward: Move your legs forward and squeeze with your lower body. Keep your upper body relaxed. Lean back when the bull head moves forward and lean forward when the bull moves upward. Easy enough.

Still, my confidence faltered a bit when one music set, two whiskey cokes, one water moccasin shot, and a a game of pool with a local douchebag later, Leslie and I nervously approached the girl who ran the bull. “I bruise like a peach,” Leslie informed the girl. “Will I be okay riding this?” The girl considered it for a few seconds, then told us that the last time she rode the bull, she ended up with massive bruises covering her inner thighs. “So you might have to let your man know what’s up with that,” she joked.

That made up Leslie’s mind, but I still signed the waiver with a slightly shaking hand and climbed into the bull pen (sort of like a big, uncovered moon bounce). I had been so concerned about how I would stay on the bull that I hadn’t considered how tricky it would be actually getting on it. The girl in charge suggested getting a good starting bounce on the inflatable floor, which made it a little easier, but I still didn’t look remotely cool dragging myself up. Once I was on, I shifted anxiously on the bull’s back, trying to make sure I was balanced, and gripped the short rope handle at the base of the neck. “Ready?” the girl asked. I nodded, trying to look less scared than I felt. The bull jerked to life, and I immediately forgot every tip I had read. I lasted for about three seconds of being whipped around before I panicked, let go of the rope, and slid off the bull, surprisingly landing on my feet.  I started to climb out of the bull pen, thinking I had sufficiently embarrassed myself for the weekend, but Leslie and the girl in charge encouraged me to try one more time, so I once again clambered awkwardly onto the bull. I lasted a little longer the second time-maybe five seconds-before rolling off with a yelp and landing harmlessly, though much less gracefully, on the puffy surface. My face was flushed, my perfectly curled hair was mussed, and I hadn’t even stayed on long enough to brag about, but I was still grinning ear-to-ear when I left the bull pen. I felt like a total badass.

The rest of the weekend was enjoyable-I had so much fun hanging out with Leslie and getting to know her better, and it was great seeing Dan and Jimmy- but the highlight of the trip for me was riding that bull, as brief as it might have been, because it was something I never would have thought of doing before this trip. It’s funny that it took a trip to the middle of nowhere, U.S.A. to get the opportunity, but I’m grateful for it, and it was the perfect kickoff to what I’m hoping will be a year full of even more exciting possibilities.

Dan’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Hamrick/314900768647605
Jimmy’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jimmycharlesfans