Herpetologist – noun – \ˌhər-pə-ˈtä-lə-jist\: One Who Specializes in Study of Reptiles and Amphibians
Royal Herpetology 101: Introduction to the Myth of the Frog Prince
It’s a saying that single girls hear over and over: “You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” Well, I’ve met a lot of frogs. I’ve met some snakes and toads, too. If I ever decide that I want another career, I’ve already got plenty of experience in herpetology. I could probably win the Nobel Prize for Herpetology. I’d be the freaking Herpetologist of the Year. But unfortunately, I’m getting pretty darn tired of frogs. I am sick of douchey, psychotic, losery frogs.
I am a magnet for weirdos. All of my friends and family have been forced to admit that I seem to attract a higher percentage of creepers than the average girl. Some of these guys have been total jerks. Some have been perfectly nice, but unfortunate freaks of nature. Some have been certifiably crazy. And some have been a mutant combination of all of the above.
I’ve been on so many bad dates that I’ve all but given up. The upside? I’ve collected a ton of bad date stories. This column shall be called “Studies in Royal Herpetology,” because I’ve yet to find that elusive frog who’s actually a prince. I know that my Prince Charming is out there. I’ve seen the proof. Many of my friends are dating or married to their princes. I’ve met A LOT of honest-to-goodness princes! Unfortunately, they never seem to be my prince.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep wading through the pond scum.
“The Tale of Bobbio”
“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx
“Bobbio” was the very first online date I ever had. I was naïvely optimistic. His profile seemed perfect. He was a fellow teacher and a hopeless romantic. He was a quirky spirit with little bit of a nerdy side. He was a dedicated Christian and an all-around nice guy. He seemed mature and ready for commitment – two qualities that my previous boyfriend had definitely been lacking. Soulful brown eyes gazed up at me from his profile picture; Bobbio was a handsome man around my age with a shy smile. His emails were witty, funny, and heartfelt. Jackpot! (I’d soon learn that a better term for the situation might be Crackpot!) Our emails turned into phone calls. Bobbio did most of the talking. He asked me if I minded chubby guys. Of course not! More to love! I was a little confused, though – in his profile, he had described himself as having an “athletic build,” and his pictures backed that up. Bobbio also talked about Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Star Trek for a really long time. Not my thing, but no big deal. Harry Potter and Walking Dead are more my style of Geek Chic, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Nerdiness can be endearing. Finally, we made plans to meet up for dinner at Olive Garden.
I was so nervous that night! The butterflies in my stomach were krumping with chainsaws to gangster rap. I walked right past the man standing near the door until I heard him call out my name. It was Bobbio! Oh… It was Bobbio.
Either the dude was a time traveler, or he’d used some pretty outdated photos on the website. The guy standing before me was about ten years older and fifty pounds heavier than his profile pictures. Needless to say, I was caught off guard. Nevertheless, I just adjusted my expectations and decided to head into the restaurant with an open mind.
Let’s be real – I always thought I’d just love being showered with flattery. As it turns out, one or two sincere compliments are perfectly lovely. Continuous, over-the-top compliments are perfectly creepy. Bobbio started with the adoration from the moment I shook his hand and continued until the moment I finally shut my car door at the end of the night. For two awkward hours, I was treated to a steady stream of comments like these:
– You’re so beautiful, I can’t concentrate on my spaghetti.
– Your eyes are hypnotic. They’re magnetic. I’m going to drown in them. *accompanied by prolonged intense eye contact*
– My last girlfriend was embarrassed of me. She made me drop her off down the street from her work because she didn’t want her coworkers to know about me.
– Please don’t put me in the friend zone. I don’t need any more friends. I need true love.
– I fall in love too easily, I admit it. But you’re worth the risk.
– My best friend told me not to come on too strong, or I’d scare you away. But I have to say what I feel! *Note – His best friend was a 60 year old woman that he taught school with.
– Are you sure you don’t like Doctor Who? I have the box sets of every Doctor Who show and movie ever made. We can cuddle on my couch and have a marathon!
– No, I’m sure I don’t like Harry Potter. Sorry, that’s not my jam. It’s for children. But let’s talk about Star Wars!
– Please don’t lose any weight. You have curves in all the right places. Your body is perfect. * Note – This one is extra super creepy, amiright?!?!?
Aaaaand so on. And on. And on and on and on. By the end of dinner, my head was spinning. As he paid the bill, I excused myself to the restroom and proceeded to have a mini nervous breakdown. I was such an idealist, such a daydreamer, such an optimist! Before Bobbio and I had actually met, I was convinced that he was going to be Mr. Wonderful!
Remember, it was my very first online date. I had not yet become the wise and jaded old crone that I am now. These days I am a bundle of contradictions. I am a dreamy realist and a realistic dreamer. I am an optimistic pessimist and a pessimistic optimist. I am all these things and more. Ask me again tomorrow, I may give you a totally different answer. I’m a woman, dammit – I’m expected to be complicated!
Anyway, I pulled myself together, made a firm decision not to kiss Bobbio, and headed out into the lobby. It turned out that Bobbio had a different plan. As we walked me to my car, I fretted about how to end the date. Handshake? Hug? High five? Fist bump? Tap dance solo? Suddenly Bobbio grabbed my hands, leaned in close and whispered, “I’ve been waiting for the moment since the day I was born. Can I kiss you?”
I was the proverbial deer in the headlights. A voice inside me cried “NOOOOOOOOO!” Yet another voice said, “Meh, whatever. Why not?” My actual voice said “Umm…. okay.”
Dear Reader, I cannot quite explain to you exactly what happened next. Imagine a massive, amorous lizard. Imagine a colossal snake unhinging its jaws to swallow its prey whole. Actually, imagine a ginormous, overly affectionate anteater. Have you ever seen a dog trying to slurp up every smear of peanut butter out of an almost empty jar? Imagine that, but in human kiss form.
It was horrible. It was traumatic. It was revolting. But worst of all? It was never-ending. The dude WOULD. NOT. STOP. And I just stood there, taking it, too awkward to end it. Finally I mustered the courage to gently push him away and take a clumsy step closer to my car. Aaaand he leaned in again.
“Wow. That was addictive. Can I kiss you again?” Do you know what I said? Do you KNOW what I SAID? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I SAID? “Umm… okay.” (Sigh.)
Dear Reader, try not to judge me too harshly. The important thing is that I learned from this disaster. These days no one is going to TOUCH me unless I want them to, much less repeatedly poke me with their gross tongue. But back then, I was much too concerned with being nice. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So the kiss continued.
Then he told me he’d call me. And that he couldn’t wait to see me again. And that I was the best kisser he’d ever met. (I guess there’s no denying my smooching prowess, even in less-than-ideal circumstances.)
FINALLY I got into my car and bucked my seatbelt… but the horror wasn’t over yet. “Just one more,” he begged – and then he was leaning down inside my actual gosh darn car to kiss me one last time. With an audible slurp, I broke free, said goodbye, and peeled out of the Olive Garden parking lot.
That’s what you’re thinking, right? THE END! Because there is no possible way I’d give Bobbio a second date, right? RIGHT?
Bobbio was so perfect in theory. He was almost everything I thought I was looking for. He was a Christian! He was a fellow teacher! He liked kids! He was mature! He was ready for a relationship! He thought I was amazing! Heck, he didn’t even want me to lose any weight! I was upset and confused and disappointed… so I talked myself into giving Bobbio one more chance. Let’s call it a case of temporary insanity.
A few days later, we met up at P.F. Chang’s. I soon as I got out of my car and saw him standing there, I immediately made my decision – NOPE! I finally trusted my intuition enough to listen to my gut. But I couldn’t just scream “PEACE OUT” and burn rubber. I mean, I suppose I could have, but I’m not evil. And I also really wanted some Chinese food.
The nerves were gone. I was relaxed, confident, and delightful. So OF COURSE that made me even more darn irresistible to Bobbio. He began to talk about our future together. I smiled, nodded, and gave vague, polite answers to his increasingly personal questions. Then our waiter brought us a plate of complimentary garlic noodles, on the house! Bobbio grimaced and complained that the garlic smell was too strong. To his evident dismay, I smiled brightly and stuffed my face. When it was time to leave, I asked for a to-go box and bagged up the leftovers! What did I care? I was no longer concerned about making a good impression.
When the meal was over, Bobbio sprang from the table and made a grand announcement: “I have a surprise for you! It’s a present! Don’t worry, it’s not a ring. I’m not ready to propose – YET!” I followed him to his car, thanking the Good Lord that it was parked in a crowded, well-lit area. I didn’t think Bobbio was dangerous, but you never know. (NO, SERIOUSLY. YOU REALLY NEVER KNOW. One time I unknowingly went out with an ex-con… but that’s a story for another post. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I was a magnet for weirdos.)
As soon as Bobbio opened his car door, my eyes began to water and my nose began to run. Keep in mind that I was standing several feet away. It was like the vehicle was packed with tiny invisible ninjas who jumped out and began squirting AXE Body Spray directly into my nostrils. Bobbio reached in and presented me with a colorful gift bag.
Inside was a stuffed rabbit – not an actual taxidermy specimen (once again, thank the Good Lord!) but a cute brown toy bunny. This was the source of that masculine stench. The rabbit was saturated in eau de desperate, wearing a pink ribbon, and holding a letter. “Meet Bunnio! Get it? My name is Bobbio – and this is Bunnio!”
From another man, with better taste in cologne, this would have struck me as a really sweet and thoughtful gesture. But then I read the letter. It was basically a typed list of directions in Comic Sans on how to take care of Bobbio, complete with cheesy clip art. Here are some actual, unedited excerpts (although it killed me not to correct the grammar mistakes):
– Please apply lots of hugs and kisses on the Bunnio daily, at least 10 times!
– Make sure Bunnio is always entertained! Shows to avoid include American Idol as it makes Bunnio break into dry heaves!… Bunnio does enjoy The Real Housewives of Atlanta and New Jersey though, but don’t judge… only real rabbits wear pink!
– Bunnio is phone friendly, so you can insert your phone into Bunnio’s back and it will sound like your friends are talking from the Bunnio rabbit itself! Don’t try with creepy sounding people, or nightmares may be a side effect (please note, not all models of Bunnios have this function. Upgrades are available after a year of ownership)
– Bunnio is prone to loud snoring!
– Do make sure that Bunnio eats right as he sometimes tends to overdue snack foods and finds it difficult to get into his rather fetching pink ribbon!
– Bunnios love cold so make sure that AC is at least on 70 degrees or slightly lower at all times!
I thanked Bobbio for his lovely gift and let him kiss me goodbye. This time I was at least assertive enough to firmly push him away after a quick peck. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I drove straight to my friend Liza’s house to share the tale – and the memento! I was too cowardly to actually call Bobbio to reject him, so Liza helped me craft an email message. I tried to be as gentle and caring as possible. I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, but it was something along the lines of “it’s not you, it’s me.” Spoiler alert – it definitely was him, not me. He messaged back within minutes – he thanked me for my time and my honesty and told me that he wasn’t shocked because “his Spidey senses had been tingling.”
THE END (for real this time)
Royal Herpetology Field Guide Notes –
1. It doesn’t matter how good someone seems on paper if you’re not into him.
2. Online dating profiles aren’t always 100% accurate. (GASP!)
3. Flattery will get you nowhere if it’s disturbing in its content and frequency.
4. You are in no way obligated to kiss someone, even if they ask politely.
5. Saying no to a request for a kiss (or anything else!) does not make you a rude person.
6. Beware of men who give you toys on the second date!
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.