Studies in Royal Herpetology: The Tale of Bundy


Herpetologist – noun\ˌhər-pə-ˈtä-lə-jist\: One Who Specializes in Study of Reptiles and Amphibians

If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to check out my first Royal Herpetology post to learn more about this fascinating field of study: Studies in Royal Herpetology: The Tale of Bobbio

 “The Tale of Bundy”

“Optimist” is a word which refers to a person who thinks hopeful and pleasant thoughts about nearly everything. For instance, if an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, “Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,” but most of us would say something more along the lines of “Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!”
– Lemony Snicket

Oh – why can’t I quit you? True, it’s been a couple of years since I dared to subscribe to you and your tempting lure of false hope. And yet every few months, I consider signing up again. BUT WHY? Every normal guy I meet looks at me as if I were some interesting species of rodent. And yet every creepy weirdo finds me absolutely irresistible. Although I hear about so many happy soulmates who you have brought together, you have failed to bring me anything but losers and psychopaths.

Speaking of psychopaths, I think there’s a chance that the last actual honest-to-goodness date that I was on was with a serial killer. I’m going to call him “Bundy.” Much like the real life murderer Ted Bundy, this guy seemed charming and friendly. He reminded me of some awkwardly endearing British actor. Tall, lanky stature? Check. Roguish mop of hair flopping down into chocolatey brown eyes? Check. Beaky yet adorable nose slightly too big for his face? Check. Sweetly quirky sense of humor? Check.

Keep calm and carry on, amiright?

I guess it doesn’t matter how many bad dates I have. I’ve accepted that I will always be optimistic and excited by the possibility of meeting a good man. Though I try to fight it every single time, I can’t stop myself from hoping. Like Emily Dickinson wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.

To be honest? The cynic in me would like to shoot that stupid “hope bird” right out of my own heart with a BB gun so all of this nonsense and bullshit could be avoided.

Picture it. Greensboro. The summer of 2014. A certain curly-haired 31-year-old is hoping that curse on her love life may finally be broken…


Sophia Patrillo is my spirit animal.
After a month of texting and a couple of phone calls, Bundy and I planned our first date. Dinner at Applebee’s followed by a stroll through Barnes & Noble. So what if his sense of humor seemed even… quirkier… on the phone? Food AND books? What could go wrong?


A dead cat. That is what could go wrong.

Just kidding! Do you really think I have a bad date story involving a dead cat? That would be absurd! Stuff like that doesn’t happen in real life.

It was actually a dead kitten.

scared cat

A few hours before we were supposed to meet up, my phone rang. In a choked voice, Bundy told me that his kitten had just died. The Facebook photos of the tiny kitten he’d found on the engine of his truck immediately flashed through my mind. After reaching out to see if anyone would adopt it, he had decided to keep it. “Lil Bit” had only been a few weeks old. Bundy didn’t know that I already knew all of this, because of course I wanted to keep that Facebook stalking on the down low. I listened as he told me the story that I already knew.

If you know me at all, you know that I am an animal lover. So hearing Bundy’s words stirred a strange mix of thoughts and emotions in me:

  • Empathy – Poor Bundy! This is so awful. I would be completely devastated…
  • Disappointment – I guess we’re going to reschedule this date?
  • Relief – I guess we’re going to reschedule this date! (First dates are stressful, y’all!)
  • Happiness – He is so sensitive and sweet! It takes a genuine man to share his feelings like this.
  • Discomfort – What do I say? This is so weird. I am attempting to comfort my blind date about his dead kitten. Oh gosh, I think he might be crying. This is so awkward. Ahhhhhhhh…..


I asked Bundy if he would like to wait until another day to get together. To my surprise, he still wanted to go. “It would probably be better,” be sniffled, “for me to get out of the house and not think about it.”

That evening, Bundy and I parked next to each other in the Applebee’s parking lot. As he got out of the truck said hello, immediately my nurturing instincts kicked in. I hugged him and asked how he was holding up. He looked like a big, goofy, sad puppy. He apologized for being upset, and then handed me his iPhone.


“You want to see her? Here are some pictures. Lil Bit was such a sweet little thing. I can’t believe she’s gone. I hope I don’t have any wood stain on my clothes anywhere. Right before I came, I just finished building her a little casket. It turned out real nice. Actually, before I buried her I took a few pictures of her in there. Do you think that’s weird? Most people would probably think that was weird. But I think it’s going to help me cope. You know? I guess I won’t show you those pictures. Unless you want to see them…”

Um, yeah… No thanks, dude. Ignoring the unasked question lingering in the air, I pasted on a sweet smile, patted his back, and thanked him for sharing his feelings with me. (I may or may not have been channeling my inner second grade teacher at this point.) With that, we headed inside to have dinner.

Today’s Lesson: How to Avoid Douchebags

I suppose you could say that dinner conversation was interesting. Bundy must have been determined to swallow his feelings and move on, because he quickly became a lively, enthusiastic dinner companion. Over Oriental Chicken Rollups, I learned more things about him:

At least I got a free meal.
Bundy’s favorite hobby was photographing knives. He also enjoyed collecting them. Spreading out his collection on the perfect backdrop, with just the right lighting? That was his passion. Hmmm.


psychoBundy still lived with his mama on their big farm. He didn’t see why so many people were in such a hurry to move out of their childhood homes. At twenty-nine, he was in no rush to get his own place.

Bundy didn’t really like hunting. He didn’t get the appeal of sitting in the woods waiting for deer to come wandering through. But what DID give him a rush was killing “pest animals” on the farm. Clearing out a nest of squirrels from a tree in the front yard? AWESOME! Getting rid of the chipmunk family in the garage? SWEET! Taking down the groundhog by the driveway? EVEN BETTER!

omgIn fact, Bundy’s mama had a theory. She thought that the kitten had been sent to him to teach him a lesson to respect all forms of life. It turns out that Bundy had really wanted to go ahead and “take care” of the stray cats that hung around the farm. The only thing stopping him was the fact that his mama wouldn’t let him. That was how Lil Bit had ended up orphaned on the engine of his truck.

noAt this point I guess he finally noticed my look of horror, because he suddenly seemed self-conscious. Quietly, he asked me if that made him a bad person. Being direct and blunt is not one of my talents. In fact, I sometimes sugar-coat things so thoroughly that I could work part-time for Willy Wonka. So I smiled nervously, told him I was glad that he got to spend time with Lil Bit before she passed away, and changed the subject.

will wonkaHere’s the thing, though. The weird thing. The baffling thing. When he wasn’t sounding like a total psychopath, Bundy was actually funny and completely charming. Hilariously self-depreciating anecdotes were sprinkled with thoughtful questions about my own life. It was super confusing. So despite the red flags waving and the emergency sirens wailing in my head, I wandered over to Barnes & Noble with him.

ryanAs we perused the shelves, we discussed our favorite books. After a few insightful comments about some of my most loved novels, he suggested that we head to “the best spot in the whole store” and proceeded to lead me to the DVD section…

The children’s DVD section.

benWith a cry of delight, Bundy picked up a boxed set of the entire Magic School Bus series and hugged it to his chest. He didn’t buy it, though. He already owned it! Besides, although he loved the adventures of Ms. Frizzle, we still hadn’t reached his favorite cartoons.

Buckle up, indeed, Ms. Frizzle.
He moved on to the preschool section. I watched incredulously as he thumbed through the Franklin selection, his excitement barely contained. Bummer – he already owned all the titles they had. So he skipped over to the Little Bear stack.

Hello darkness, my old friend…
“Have it, have it, have it,” he muttered as he read the title of each DVD. “OH YES! A NEW ONE!” he suddenly announced in triumph. But his glory was short lived. With a sigh, he put back Little Bear’s Rainy Day Tales because it “sounded kind of boring.”

“Kind of boring.”
I put my sugar-coating apron back on. “I like kid movies, too. But I like Disney and Pixar and DreamWorks movies. Bundy, can I ask you how you ended up getting so into preschool shows?” That was my sweet little way of expressing “DUDE, what the &%$#@ is wrong with you?!?”

“Get into them? I never got out of them! I started watching as a little kid and just never stopped! When I enjoy the gentle adventures of Franklin the turtle, it takes me back to a simpler time. I was innocent. I didn’t have stress or worries back then. So now there’s nothing more relaxing than coming home from a hard day at work, heading up to my bedroom with a nice mug of Earl Grey, and kicking back with Little Bear and his friends.”

okBundy walked me back to my car and thankfully only went in for a hug instead of a kiss. But his handsome alter ego was back. He had me laughing again with more funny jokes and comments. I WAS SO CONFUSED. Driving home, I didn’t feel like I’d just narrowly escaped becoming Bundy’s new skin suit. It was only with hindsight did I realize that my date might as well be a new episode of Criminal Minds.

Safely at home, I pulled out a notebook and wrote down all of my thoughts. I organized them into three columns – good, bad, and terrifying. The next morning at church, I shared the whole story and notes with best friend Katie. Unlike me, Katie does not sugar-coat things. She asked me if I was out of my mind. I whipped out my phone and texted Bundy right then:crazy

ME: Hey! I’ve been thinking about our date. You’re great guy, but I’m not really feeling a romantic connection with you…

BUNDY: Well crap.

ME: I think you’re awesome! But I know you’d be happier with someone who shares more of your interests, and ditto for me.


ME: I didn’t mean to sound flippant. I’m sorry if I’ve upset you.



Bundy is the only guy I’ve ever rejected who had such an angry reaction. I’m sure his intention was to hurt my feelings by calling me heartless. It didn’t work. Actually, I was amused and flattered that he assumed I had “a whole bunch of guys lined up waiting for their turn to date me.” They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I guess that’s true in this case. As a potential serial killer, Bundy probably did want to kill me! Funny enough, he ended up giving me an ego boost instead.

So, yeah… Never trust a guy who wants to show you a picture of his dead cat.

Wise words, kid.

Royal Herpetology Field Guide Notes

  1. Charm and humor can temporarily disguise psychotic tendencies.
  2. Barnes & Noble can be a terrifying place with the wrong person.
  3. Red flags and emergency sirens are not to be ignored
  4. Be cautious of grown men who still live with their mamas and have no intention of leaving. (Look at Norman Bates…)
  5. Photography can be disturbing when the photographer’s subjects are knives and dead things.
  6. Any future children I have will never watch Franklin or Little Bear.
  7. Beware of men who show up for your first date fresh from burying a body.

You look like my next mistake.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
*All gifs courtesy of
*Other images courtesy of:, quick,,,,,,, &

Studies in Royal Herpetology: The Tale of Bobbio


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

Pucker up.
Pucker up.

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.

Losers, and Douchebags, and Freaks, Oh My!
Losers, and Douchebags, and Freaks, Oh My!

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.

romantic comedy

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.

Tom Hiddleston, if you're reading this - CALL ME!
Tom Hiddleston, if you’re reading this – CALL ME!

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

where have you been

“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.

Me thinking about my life choices.
Me thinking about my life choices.

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*

target gif

– 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?!?!?

Welcome to Online Dating!
Welcome to Online Dating!

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!

What an idiot.
What an idiot.

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?”

shock gif

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.”

Dramatic Reenactment of the Goodnight Kiss
Dramatic Reenactment of the Goodnight Kiss

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.)

ew gif

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.

Actual photograph from the night of the incident.
Actual photograph from the night of the incident.

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 was a royal mess.
That was a royal mess.

That’s what you’re thinking, right?  THE END! Because there is no possible way I’d give Bobbio a second date, right? RIGHT?

Umm… wrong.

urkel gif

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.

Give me the Crispy Honey Chicken, and no one will get hurt...
Give me the Crispy Honey Chicken, and no one will get hurt…

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.

friends flip off gif

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.)

What the heck is wrong with me?
What the heck is wrong with me?

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!”

“It’s quite pungent.  It’s a formidable scent… It stings the nostrils.  In a good way.  I’m going to be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline.”
“It’s quite pungent. It’s a formidable scent… It stings the nostrils. In a good way. I’m going to be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline.”

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!

horrified chandler gif

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.