Always Judge a Book By Its Cover

Seven years ago, when I was 26 years old, a friend of mine was launching a dating website, and he asked me to write a guest post about a failed dating experience. Below is that post. I just found it in my email. I am keeping it how it was when I wrote it 7 years ago because it’s ridiculous a) how mean I was b) how naive I was and c) how, when it comes to my dating life, NOTHING has changed.



So this guy, let’s call him Adam (because his name is Adam) emails me on JDate. I had joined this site reluctantly, as I had heard all the j-horror stories and did not want to become another statistic. I created very strict criteria for who I would actually be willing to meet in person– the guy in question must be hilarious, and I must laugh out loud at least twice when reading his emails. Adam passed my test with flying colors. I laughed not once, not twice, but THREE WHOLE TIMES when reading his first email– and it was only 4 lines. A 3:4 laugh to line ratio– I had struck gold!

We met for drinks a few days later. As far as first impressions go, I was impressed enough. Sure, he was short, kind of dorky, and a little quirky, but I found all this to be charming. Most importantly, he was “different.” He had worked as an investment banker for 8 years (no, that’s clearly not the “different” part), published a fiction book, and then quit his finance job to, you know, “focus on his writing.” I thought this was AWESOME. How many people, in this day and age have the balls to quit their comfortable, safe job to pursue their creative passions? I found the whole thing entirely inspirational. Completely smitten, I asked Adam to write the name of his book on a napkin, and, being the avid reader that I am, promised to read it that week.

The title alone should should have set off my “stay the fuck away from this psycho” alarm, but sadly, I ignored the warning signs. I won’t reveal the book here, because that would just be classless and tacky (re: I could be sued), but I will say that it involves a child murdering insects. And pets. Oh, and his father.

So I read the book. Holy crap. Not only was it the most poorly written book I have ever read, but it was also the most alarmingly twisted and disgusting. Books like this are written for one reason and one reason only: to warn society that one day, you WILL kill someone.

As you can imagine, on our second date, I demanded to know how much of this book was autobiographical. Adam immediately became defensive, asking “Would you ask Stephen King if The Shining was about his childhood?”  Wow, that was bold. This douche just compared himself to Stephen fucking King!

Once I got over the fact that he had the audacity to put himself in the ranks of a world-renowned fiction author, I answered his question: “Absolutely. I would absolutely ask him.” And, just as an aside, while Stephen King is immensely talented and I thoroughly enjoy his novels, I sure as shit would not date him.

Adam then spent the rest of the date assuring me that he comes from a “very normal, functional” family. Yet later, on date 3, he would admit that he had to give up sports because he found himself expressing all the pent up rage he had for his father on the field. Yeah, that’s totally normal….for Hannibal Lector.

So I tried not to focus too much on the terrible book or the crippling psychological issues, and instead turn my attention towards what I had originally found to be so awesome about Adam– that he boldly quit his finance job to pursue his dream.  What balls!  “What was it like to tell your boss you were quitting?” I asked excitedly. “Well, my boss was my dad, so it was fine.”  Oh. Well. You just became the opposite of awesome.

Desperately searching for one positive thing I could latch onto, I asked about other works he had published since becoming a full time writer. This number, much like my attraction to him at this point, was nada. Newsflash: If you are not making money off your writing, you are not a writer. You are unemployed.
((Editor’s note: I see the irony in that statement, as I now consider myself a writer (of sorts). Who has made exactly zero dollars off her writing.))

So I did the calculations in my head: talentless writer + inflated ego + daddy issues + untreated mental illness + silver spoon up the ass = Run, Emily…FUCKING RUN.

The sad part of this tale is that it took me 5 dates (3.5 weeks of my life that I’ll never get back) to put all these clues together and form a concrete thesis about this guy. Why WHY do I wait for so much evidence to gather before I arrive at my conclusion? If I take a month to crack the mystery of every guy I go out with, before I know it I will be crazy old cat lady. And I hate cats.

From now on, I am judging the book– both literally and figuratively– by its cover.

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