When I was 5 I had my first date with a girl at Rugrats Live and I peed my pants in front of her entire family, Reptar, and god. Up until that moment everything had gone super smooth. When we first met in kindergarten and got seated next to each other (which 5 year old Ryan thought was fate and 25 year old Ryan now realizes was alphabetical order) I told her that I almost ran out of the classroom when she sat down because I realized I was sharing my table with the prettiest girl in town. Looking back I came from a no-Starbucks small Long Island town that was most famous for being the heroin capital of the United States, so… probably not the huge compliment I thought it was at the time. When we got to the musical (is it technically illegal to call it that? It might be. No one tell Prime Minister Idina) I was so excited to be on a date with Jessica A that I refused to get up for anything, even to use the bathroom. Which is an okay plan if you have great bladder control and aren’t a 5-year-old. (It’s also important that I specify that it was Jessica A, the girl I had a crush on, and not Jessica S, the girl that lived down the block from me, or Jessica W, the girl that lived down the block from Jessica S, or Jessica M, the other girl that I had a crush on, or Jessica C, my sister whom I suggested we name Jessica because I thought it was a really unique name.) That relationship ended as quickly as it began. Not necessarily because of the pants-peeing, more so because we were five and between the two of us had the attention span of a single moth.
In middle school I was pretty void of any real romantic connections, but I did have a one-sided torrid love affair with this witch named Amanda. And by one-sided I mean that she started crying and freaking out about me to all of her friends because she was pretty sure she was cursed at a young age and so if she ever laid hands on her true love she would turn him to stone. And she was like, “how am I gonna explain to Ryan that we can never be together?” And I was like, “how am I gonna explain to Amanda that this is all a non-issue because I am very very gay?”
To be fair I didn’t judge her for any of the witch stuff because in my previous middle school relationship I totally screwed things up by accidentally helping the demon queen Rymekilb regain dominion over the seventh layer of hell from Satan himself and basically spoiled season 3 of Supernatural for myself before it was even written. So, really, who was I to judge? (It was a whole thing, it’s a long story.)
When I grew up a bit more I narrowed down my dating preferences a lot as I thought about the kind of guy I could really make it work with. I wanted someone like me. Someone that understood my humor and my anxiety. Someone that I could joke around with and compete with. I wanted a cuter, more motivated version of myself. And most of all I wanted someone with a lot of drive that also knew how to drive. Knowledge of which pedal does what was super valuable to me at this point in my life. After all, every Payless in the tri-state area still flinches when they see me pass by.
You’d think that once I figured that out my dating life would get easier, but that didn’t really seem to happen. The only thing that changed was I was able to weed out catfishers and demons at a more proficient rate. Although for my first real date with a guy we hooked up in the parking lot of a Burger King and then he made fun of my outfit with his friend before making me buy a whole new one at the Aeropostale in the mall. So I guess maybe I didn’t weed out all the demons. Hmm.
Ryan C. Robert is the writer of multiple comedy blogs, most of which are satirical and self-deprecating. He writes about his life in his personal essay series "Before Color," parodies cooking blogs in "Trish's Dishes" and posts writing prompts every single day.