The Gentleman from Frederick

I just love nice and kind and supportive people and I love a good date story. In this case, the story I am going to share with you is actually the story of a date with me. This might come across as me stroking my own ego, and though it is probably partially that, objectively, I think it is nice story aside from the fact that I am the protagonist.

The other night I met the Gentleman from Frederick (GFF) for the first time in real life. He is a fan of my blog who has developed into a friend and he generously invited me to dinner. After, as we walked away from the restaurant, he said to me, "I could write a blog called Across the table from Jen."

This made me really excited because a. I love hearing stories I am involved in and b. I had no idea what I was going to write about next and I needed a topic. Practically jumping up and down (well, probably actually jumping up and down), I said, "YES!!! Please do! That would be great!!!"

I didn't expect him to actually do it. But, he did!

Before I share his story with you, I want to tell you about the context in which I received it so that you will know how badly I actually needed his kind validation.

I have been really demotivated recently. Normally an early bird and someone who loves to be productive, during the last few weeks, I have had a really hard time motivating myself to even get out of bed. Not having a job and worrying about my financial future is a drain. Pouring my heart and soul into my book and my blog and sharing my life with strangers, in the hopes that you will like what I have to say and it will entertain you and uplift you is stressful. Every time I press the publish button, I worry.

Will I be boring? 
Will you like what I have to say?
Does my humor come across?
Will you get my sarcasm? 
Will you understand my message?

So, I have a lot on my mind and it is causing me to be depressed - not as in sad, just as in I am just not functioning with the energy I need to accomplish the things I need to do.

In this depressed state, I need a lot of encouragement! I am very lucky to have some really, REALLY supportive fans, like the Gentleman from Reddit and so many others I have told you about. However, at our dinner, the GFF patiently and kindly listened to me vent about some harsh and unkind comments I had received on a blog that day, comments that I need in my current state about as much as I need another yeast infection.

The thing is, the bad comments don't upset me because I take them personally, they upset me because meanness just depresses me in general - it doesn't make me feel bad about myself - it makes me feel bad about humans.

Whatever happened to "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"


The day after our dinner, again, I couldn't motivate myself (and had received a bunch more mean comments which were not helping). By 3 PM I still hadn't gotten up except to go to the bathroom and to get a pint of ice cream from the freezer to bring back to eat in bed, when the story from the GFF arrived in my inbox. I had already cried some tears that day over some harsh words I had received but as I read his story I burst out sobbing... the good kind of sobbing, the grateful kind.

I hope you like his story. I'm dedicating this one to my parents because they are my loyal fans too and I know if no one else does, at least they will love this.

Across the table from Jen 
by the Gentleman from Frederick

So, we all know the map of the dating world today is weird. It just is. We’ve all come to accept the digital app thing and all the oddities that come with it as normal, but it’s weird. Even when you try to be realistic about it and approach things with the same attitude you would if it were a real world interaction, the truth is that until you are actually face-to-face with a person at an agreed upon destination, the whole process is digital.

So digital yes, but still with a real living person on the other end. From gaming to dating apps, there are those out there who when faced with a perceived no-consequences option due to the anonymity of being online, decide to just go ahead and be awful human beings. They have a true choice - the cost/benefit ratio is flat, yet instead of choosing to be decent, they just go right straight into being awful people. It makes you wonder if that is who they really are and if we only see decency from them in real life because societal rules force it upon them.

This was one of the topics of discussion when I, through a series of seemingly random and fortunate events, found myself across the table from Jen Lourie.

Jen is one of the people who when faced with this same decision described above, attempts to make the world a better place. She is brilliant and kind and comes across in person in very much the same way that she does with her writing. In fact, at least for me, hearing her voice for the first time, she sounded exactly the way I was hearing the narrative in my head when I was reading her blog. I particularly appreciate the class and grace that Jen has taken in our interactions both digital, and now (yay) in person.

Without going into the whole story of how I wound up on dating apps in the first place, I came across her profile while swiping and thought, “Wow, she’s really lovely.” I checked for a bio and at the bottom it called out that she had a blog with a request to give it a read. So I did.

Fast forward to getting sucked in and reading the entire thing in one sitting and then promptly forwarding the links to some friends with an “OMG check this out” message attached. My friends' immediate response was, “Super like her right now!” So I did. Best super like ever.

As happens sometimes, when reading someone’s story where they are accepting vulnerability by putting it out there on the internet, turning it into a book, and blogging it along with photos attached, I started to see Jen as a kind of celebrity. Her stories are funny, some heartbreaking, and always insightful by the end. The more she put out there and the more I read about her, the more I kept thinking, “What a fantastic woman she must be.” Suddenly, anonymous people on the internet being jerks to her started to offend me. I was emotionally invested and I didn’t even really know her personally.

At some point, as I’ve been pushing myself to do, I got out of my comfort zone and actually posted a comment to her on one of the blogs. Surprisingly, she answered pretty quickly. So I sent her an email at her suggested contact info about the topic and she answered me again! (What strange alternate universe have I fallen into?) What followed was some great email banter back and forth about a few things leading up to my requesting to be her friend via Facebook, to which she agreed. From then on I made a point of being as supportive as I could by sharing her blog to my contacts of wonderful and creative people because I honestly think they’d really enjoy reading it, and it helps Jen.

All was well and good until she mentioned that her contract at her current job was ending and unemployment was looming in the near future, along with all of the uncertainties that comes with that. Having spent six months unemployed myself, I felt her pain and anxiety at this news. So I once again went outside my comfort zone, since for some reason she seems to have this affect on me (and it’s pretty fantastic) and I offered to treat her to a dinner so I'd at least know she was eating well.

Guess who said yes? So, here I am, 41 years old and doing a happy dance in my living room like I’m sixteen again and the cool girl from school called me, to which of course my daughter was like, “Um, what are you doing?”

So, plans were made, times set and off to dinner I went. I was nervous of course, despite Jen’s repeated assurances there was no need to be. I’m still introverted at heart; it happens anyway. She walked in and I managed not to stutter over my incredibly complex greeting I had prepared for when I finally came face to face with her. “Hello!” came out nice and clear with the correct number of syllables. Nailed it!

Turns out, when finally finding myself across the table from Jen, she was not what I expected at all. She completely and totally exceeded all expectations, and did so with authority! Here was this beautiful woman who proceeded to engage me in light and intelligent conversation. She read me some pieces of her book, asked me all kinds of questions about myself, my daughter, my journey leading up to dinner with her. She’s every bit as brilliant and kind in person as she comes across in her writing, and I got to spend a lovely evening sharing time and some delicious food with her. She even dropped a bomb on me telling me how handsome I was, to which I am surprised I did not just spontaneously combust right there on the spot.

Did I mention that she is stunningly beautiful on top of all this? Yeah? Okay.

I had a fantastic time sharing food, time, and space with her, and I am so grateful that all these strange little events happened the way that they did, so that dinner with her could happen. The only thing I’d have liked more was to stay and talk longer with her. I got a goodbye hug - I’m a hugger so I loved that. She gives a mean hug and she smells nice, so I did in fact melt a little inside.

So, when it comes to the anonymity in our way of communicating these days, when you are faced with the choice and little to no personal penalty, you can be nice or you can be a jerk. It really is just lazy being rude to people, and honestly while it may not hurt you, it gains you nothing either. Try being nice and who knows… you too may find yourself across the table from a stunningly intelligent and beautiful woman like Jen.

Thank you GFF for generously treating me to to dinner, sharing every single one of my blog posts with your friends, listening to me vent both in person and through messaging and validating me so, so kindly. And, most importantly, for sharing your wisdom with us about how things can turn out when you are just nice. I appreciate all of it.

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  1. awww.. this was cute! I'm glad GFF went past his fears and took initiative on everything!

  2. I can totally relate to the getting sucked into your story, and becoming invested in your story. It sounds like you had a much deserved good night out.

  3. You and GFF are both remarkable reminders that "Life begins at the end of our comfort zone."

    1. I can't take much credit for that as I don't really have a zone outside my comfort, or maybe I do but don't venture there. GFF gets all the credit.

  4. But are you going to see him again?

  5. What a great story. I know how important feedback is in our lives, especially when its so positive like this one. As adults, we get so little of it compared to when we were kids. And this guy sounded like a great well balanced guy. Good luck Jen!

    1. Thank you so much redcaboose522. Your comment made me say "AWWWWW" really loudly.

  6. John Masi, I love the idea of a cabin on a lake in Maine!! Hopefully you can find that with someone that doesn't bother you too much but if not, heck yeah to enjoying it on your own! That is very sweet that you are hoping I find the guy although I hate for you to care about my well being above your own! You first, then me, okay? haha

    I haven't had Brighams ice cream but now you made me hungry. You know, ice cream if my favorite. I am partial to Bayley's (


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