Zack: Coffee Meets Bagel meets crazy

Author’s note: Sorry for the long break between posts everyone, I started a new job, and school has been kicking my ass. But I’m back on the wagon, I promise!

For those of you who have known me for some time or those of you who are solely getting to know me through these stories, I hope that you're starting to learn that there seems to be a specific type of gentleman that I attract. Or rather, said gentlemen fall into a few different categories:

The weird. The drunk. The disinterested. The crazy.

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And then, there are the attached-too-sooners. It shouldn't be a surprise to you that this writer tends to fall into this category when she likes a gentleman. I call this "the bad place." It's where my over-thinking, overreacting, and somewhat disturbingly good Google stalking skills get me into a lot of trouble.

And when I'm on the receiving end of it? Dude. It's a dark, weird, and decidedly crazy place.

With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to the story of Zack. And how he opened my eyes to the fact that it's insane to get so incredibly attached to someone in the space of two weeks time.

In spring 2015 - right around my birthday - I was finally coming out of one of the toughest 6-month stretches of my life. I'd been laid off from a job I enjoyed, was unemployed for three months, and the man who I had been dating for four months unceremoniously ghost-dumped me on New Years' Day.

I was literally his New Year's resolution. Or rather, his resolution was not to date me anymore. I mean, props to picking a resolution you could stick to. I usually lose my mojo for working out around January 12th.

And to add insult to further injury, the job that I had taken to end my three-month unemployment was less than inspiring, and the pay sucked.

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So, when I managed to pull myself out of the post-break-up quagmire (I know it wasn't a breakup, but roll with me here guys), I once again turned to online dating. But this time, things would be different!

In fact, there was a new app out (we’re pre-Bumble and Tinder at this point in my life story) that I should try, Coffee Meets Bagel. It’s tied to your Facebook so that you can connect with friends of friends in your network!

Genius! Inspired! Pre-vetted options!

So I signed up. The app will give you a single bagel (aka match) per day, and once you've connected, you go on your merry way communicating with them.

What I, in my naivete, did not realize was that there is also a paid function of CMB where users can purchase credits to get more bagels and meet more people whether or not they have friends who connect them.

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So a few weeks into Coffee-Meets-Bagel-World, I connect with a man named Zack.

Zack is a couple of years younger than me and lives in San Diego. Now, the age isn’t so much a deterrent as the geography. Commuting 90-plus miles to date someone seems a little excessive. But, given the evidence of my to-date dating life, maybe looking in a completely different region of California wasn’t a bad idea.

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So I connected with him after a quick review of the previously stated points in my head. And we started off well; he was well-spoken and handsome, an Army vet who was in sales of some sort.

And off we went.

Within a day we had exchanged numbers and begun texting, and then a shock of shocks, over the next week, he called me several times! Things were looking up, my friends!

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Subsequently, about a week into our conversations, we made a plan for him to drive up the following Sunday to meet up with me, that way he wouldn’t get stuck in too much traffic.

It was a great afternoon. We had what I thought was a nice connection. We enjoyed a beautiful day down at the beach. There was good food, good conversation, loads of flirting. Check, check, check.

We shared a kiss goodbye, and he drove back to San Diego. We tentatively had plans to meet up that week; I was going to leave work early to drive down and met up with him for dinner and stuff. Ya know, usual getting to know you dating type stuff.

And then things started to get weird.

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Not Buster & Lucille weird, but weird nonetheless.

Before I go any further, keep in mind: I have known this man via a dating app, texting, phone calls, and a single date for approximately ten days.

When he was driving back, I received several text message updates. I then got a phone call when he made it home safely. Which was then followed-up by a Facebook friend request.

I don't know about the rest of you, but personally, I avoid connecting with anyone on social media until an actual DTR (remember: Determine the Relationship) conversation has taken place and we are officially a couple. But, I also don't like to put up a fight where a fight isn't warranted. I save that for the big moments (see: Alex at Javier's for further context).

The next day was Monday. My day started with a phone call. And then there were text messages approximately every hour. Nothing sinister or creepy, but just like, making it very clear this guy was incredibly invested in the success of our one-date relationship.

That night, I went out to happy hour with a friend of mine. In a three hour period, I was the recipient of ten text messages, two missed calls with two voicemails. Why do you ask? Because he saw on Facebook that she checked us in at the bar and he was “concerned that I was drinking and driving.”

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Another excellent example of his overly interested/attached behavior was the next day. A friend commented on a post I made wishing me good luck on my date that night (I was meeting up with a different Bagel for drinks. Hey, we all play the field. Don't judge). Zack commented on her post saying that he and I weren't going out until Thursday, but thanks for the well-wishes.

I opted to delete the comment. Which led to my receipt of a phone call from Zack, asking why I took it down when it was sweet that my friend was rooting for us. It was at this point that I had to make it clear that I was going out with someone else, and that's what she was referring to.

You can imagine how well that went over.

Yup, I invited this guy into my life. Don’t worry - I fully understand that I deserve what I got with this one.

Or when he began to refer to me as “Darling” and “My love” after one date and knowing me for oh, approximately, ten days.

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Rest assured, I was fully aware that I needed to cut this guy off before things got even weirder.

I was also slightly concerned he would show up at my house or my office or something (see: Blair the Orchid Giver as another charming example of the creepiness of showing up at someone’s place of work, thankyouverymuch.), to talk to me and discuss what happened.

Given that I saw some blatantly red flags, I was unsure if I should cancel our plans but again, see above. I reasoned with myself that I should return the favor of driving down to meet up with him, and then just let things die out naturally and blame it on my busy schedule and the distance.

Thursday rolls around, and I armed myself with a couple of long podcasts for the drive and a hard stop of our evening at 9 pm to make it home at a decent hour.

Two plus hours later, I pull up in front of a house that I'm somewhat confident was used in a horror movie. Yup, of course, that's his address. And he shares the home with a roommate, a severely creepy 50-plus-year-old man.

I had no intention of staying in the murder house with the guy that seemed incredibly likely to want a souvenir of my hair, a la:

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Ya. Creepy.

But wait, it gets better. It turns out that we are in fact NOT going out to dinner! No! Zack is going to impress me with his home cooking skills and is making me salmon for dinner.

The problem for Zack? I don't eat salmon. And no, I wasn't saying that to be difficult. I honestly don't care for salmon.

Womp, womp.

The evening continued in a similar vein. The food was fine, considering, but I was doing everything in my power to be polite but distant and vague to avoid any encouragement.

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I also noticed that he was subtly making fun of me or pointing out things he considered flaws in my appearance. He commented on my pointy nose (um, my nose is elegant, thank you!) and my crooked teeth. He was making my decision more manageable by the minute.

Given that he had ceased to be charming, that I was stuck in a house of horrors, and was generally not comfortable in any way, shape, or form, it's not a stretch to say the evening was a waste and I was relieved to call it a night and drive home.

But before I left he expressed his dismay that I wasn't staying over!

Wait, you honestly thought I was going to spend the night?!?!?! Hahahaha. It was adorable how disappointed he was. In a schadenfreude-kind of way.

As I drove home after leaving him disappointed (and likely with blue balls, which was his problem not mine), my brain was racing to try to find a way to get myself out of this. I did not for one second think that I was out of the woods on this because he most likely thought I was playing hard to get.

Yep, it was time to nip this in the bud. But how to do it and avoid any dramatic, weird, crazy situation happening? I decided to wait until I got home to talk with some of my friends about what to do.

The next day, I went out with a few of my friends and dragged my roommate and his boyfriend into the discussion for how best to handle the Crazy Zack situation. The consensus was that this was not going to be an easy fix, but we all agreed that the fastest way to get out of the Crazy Zack scenario was to find a way to make him not like me.

Immature? 100%. Would it work? No idea. But goddammit, I had to try. And besides, we all know that I'm good at getting guys not to like me. So I figure I had a fighting chance on this one.

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The goal was not to encourage him, but also to not be a raging bitch. I didn't need the lousy juju or karma or anything. So I couldn't start blowing up his phone the way he was mine, it would be counter-productive and encourage him to keep the crazy going.

I started drifting. Responding in no sooner than an hour to his text messages. Passive-aggressively responding to phone calls and voicemails with text messages. I was succinct in all communications, and ignored anytime he referenced me with a pet name or a nickname other than "Ash."

Another tack that occurred to me was to make myself into more of a party girl. He was the child of two alcoholics and was not a big drinker, nor did he like to go out excessively. Yeah, he was a bucket of "interesting" life choices, that’s for sure.

I felt that things were going well, my distance was starting to come through to him, and he was getting the hint.

And then, I got this gem in a text message:

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Uh… what?!?! No seriously, what?!

That entire text message felt 100% contrived to me like he keeps that in his wheelhouse to sound romantical and like a character from a romance novel. Gah. It was gag-worthy.

In a funny side note - I crowdsourced his text with my Facebook friends (blocking him from seeing it of course). One of my favorite replies to this was "Never trust a Zack."

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So now, I was in the horns of a dilemma. Because clearly, Zack was not picking up on my subtle cues.

That weekend, he was going home to NorCal for a wedding or to see his family, or something. I honestly don’t remember, and it’s not integral at this point in the story.

So when he was gone, I told him a bunch of stories about how I was out with friends, and someone brought weed with them, so we were enjoying the nightlife drinking and smoking out. (Please note that this was, in fact, a 100% fictional story, potential employers. We all know that I'm not the weed smoking girl. I'm a goody two shoes through and through.)

And all of a sudden, we had an adverse reaction to something that I told him! Eureka!

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Zack: “What do you mean you were smoking weed?”
Ashley: “Someone brought along some weed, so we all partook.”
Z: “I thought you were straight-edge, that you didn’t do things like that. We talked about the drinking.”
A: “And I told you I don’t do it often, but I never said I didn’t do it. And I told you that I am a casual drinker, so I don’t know what the problem is.”
Z: “I just don’t know that I can go out with someone that smokes weed.”
A: “No one’s twisting your arm.”

Seriously - it was a bitch move. But I needed something to get this goiter off of my neck before things got even worse or more creepy.

This conversation happened on Saturday, so I left him alone the rest of the weekend. And I got a “My beautiful darling, I miss you. I’m flying home tonight.” on Sunday. Gag. No, seriously. Gag.

Sidenote: it’s amazing how when you don’t want to hear those words from a person, they become affected and ridiculous. But when someone you’re really into says them, you turn into a puddle of goo. My brain is weird.

Monday rolls around, and I go into the office and fill in some of my co-workers on what happened. Everyone agreed that the tack I decided to take was probably for the best because now I had an out to him along the lines of “I can’t be with someone who holds me back.”

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So I wrote this to him in a text message:

“Hey, so I have been thinking about our conversation on Saturday. And while I think you’re great, and we’ve had a lot of fun, your comments about weed and my drinking just showed me that I need to be with someone who’s a little looser and free-spirited. I wish you nothing but the best. Take care.”

I was very proud of myself. Primarily because that text was a pack of lies, I’m as straight-edge as they come, I’ve smoked weed twice in my life, and the second time I had to google “how to smoke weed” because I was not sure I was doing it right.

Either way, he responded quickly with an “Um, ok. Can we talk about this?”

And I didn’t say anything else; I let my silence do the talking at that point. And immediately deleted my Coffee Meets Bagel account, and removed him as a friend on Facebook.

You can never be too careful when it comes to the crazies.

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Ashley RaglandComment