NaNoWriMo Day 21- The Shoes of Baltimore

Jen was spoiled and irrational. A deadly combination. She wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, and she didn’t care how it affected other people. She wanted to satisfy her needs above all else.

When she started dating, it became a problem. You see, she was slightly above average looking. I’m not saying anything shocking here when I saw men and women will date people who are good looking and put up with their crap because they are good looking.

We all have friends or know people who are dating or are married to terrible people. But we justify it by saying that the terrible person is attractive. We get it.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s people who will go to the ends of the earth for an unattractive partner. The unattractive partner is normally nice and has a personality. When we see someone who could seemingly upgrade their partner in the looks department, we say that the person who isn’t the most attractive has a good personality and is kind.

But Jen ‘s problem was she wasn’t a great beauty. She was a dime a dozen, and it didn’t make since for someone to stick around and put up with her crap. The other problem was she didn’t have a unique or caring personality to make up for not being the most attractive person around.

If you dated Jen, you would be dating someone who is average looking, someone who lacks a personality, and someone who isn’t nice.

She doesn’t sound like much of a winner, does she?

Her longest relationship was six months since she was 13 years old. Her parents kept holding out hope that she would have a longer relationship at some point, but they were giving up hope by the time she was 27. And even though Jen had obvious flaws, her parents still had tremendous expectations for anyone who dated her.

Sorry. I should have mentioned this earlier. Jen’s parents were intimidating and overbearing, which was another reason she had a hard time keeping potential suitors around.

Can’t believe I forgot about that. There will be a scene where Jen has dinner with her parents and it’s important to know ahead of time to know more about her parents.

Sorry again.

So here was Jen, with her 28th birthday closing in on her, and she had all these expectations for herself and from her family about getting married and raising a family. Even though it was still technically three years down the road, the walls of 30 started to seem like they were closing in on her.

Jen decided to join a few dating websites to try and speed up the process of finding a husband.

She could easily meet guys at bars, but it never worked out. Most of them were now younger than her and just looking for a one night stand. And the guys she did meet who were younger who did stick around, they weren’t anywhere close to wanting to get married. When Jen would push the topic, that would send the guys fleeing. And it was a shame, because there were actually decent guys in that mix if she hadn’t scared them all away.

But she wasn’t willing to compromise. She would still tell the guys that she wanted to get married. She figured that some of the people she would meet on the dating app were just looking to hookup. But maybe there was a percentage that wanted to get married just like her. Maybe there were guys who were tired of the bar scene and just wanted a relationship and wanted to get married soon. That was how she would pitch herself on her profile. Someone who was tired of the bar scene and looking to make a real connection with someone. There might be some fakers on the site who were just looking to sleep with her, but she would put them through a few tests to see if they were really into her or wanted something else.

She doesn’t sound great so far, does she? The sad thing is we all know someone like Jen. Or Jen’s male counterparts.

Anyways, Jen went out on a few dates from the dating app. However, he profile had attracted some really nice guys. Some of them were a little older, which Jen wasn’t against, but her mom told her that men got lazy as they got older, especially after they had their first kid.

“They let themselves go,” Lauren, Jen’s mom, told her. “They see you during the pregnancy, and they think that means they are free to put on additional weight. Then they say they have too much responsibilities with the child and their careers to go work out. Then you have a tub of lard sitting on the couch watching golf all day. You don’t want that. It’s worse in their mid 30s because their metabolisms are already slowing down. What you really need is a man between 26–27 who has never been married. If you keep a leash on him then and make sure exercise is an important focus in his life, he won’t get sloppy on you. You also want to make sure that he has enough money to support both of you and a child, but not enough money that he gets lazy. You want him to keep striving to make more and more money throughout his life. That means he can’t have hit a plateau of success already, and you also don’t want a wild dreamer who thinks he will write the next greatest novel or a painter who will paint the next best painting. You want money in the bank right now, and you want his earning power to be able to increase. That’s exactly who you need.”

With that prejudice in place, Jen would only go out on one date with anyone who was older than 33. She would also go out on one date if they were still in school and only working part time. Jen would only go on one date if they had been married before. This went on for months.

She felt like this process was hopeless. She might just have to settle.

Jen told her mom it was too hard.

“Nonsense,” she said. “You just aren’t trying hard enough dear. You need to expand your scope.”

“How do I do that?” Jen asked? “I’m already going to the bars at least twice a week and I have all my dating profile set up. What else can I do?”

You need to go to more bars dear and set up more profiles. You catch more fish with a wider net. You simply aren’t doing enough dear.”

With the “advice” from her mother, she set out to make finding the right man to marry her entire job. She worked part time as a receptionist as a law firm, which her mother approved of until she found a husband. If worse comes to worse, Lauren told Jen that she could always marry an older partner at the firm because they were naturally attracted to secretaries as long as they were mildly attractive.

Mildly attractive. See the dig there? From her own mother. What a shame.

But during the large chunk of free time she had, she would book appointments for her nails and hair. She would research the best skincare products. She doubled down on making herself as attractive as possible on the outside to try and land a husband.

During that time, she also tweaked her profiles. It was embarrassing, but her mother insisted on helping. She sat with Jen and went through each line and description get about herself with a fine tooth comb. Lauren’s biggest criticism was that Jen wasn’t being selective enough.

“You need to be more direct dear. You need to lay out the law in terms of who you will accept and who you won’t. You need to be more selective. You need to say that you will not date anyone over 30, you will not date anyone who has ever been married, you will not date anyone who doesn’t consider fitness and nutrition important, you will not date anyone who is an artist, and you will not date anyone who is still trying to ‘find themselves,’ she told Jen.

Jen thought writing that directly was a little harsh, but her mom was normally right about these things. After all, she had married daddy. When she looked at pictures of when they were younger, Jen was still surprised at the discrepancy in their looks. He was still a handsome man, but he looked like a movie star in his younger pictures. In comparison, Lauren looked like she was just a family member in a picture when she was next to Jen’s father, Arnold. If you had passed them on the street together when they were younger, you may have just thought that it was a brother taking a walk with his sister. If you saw them hold hands, you still might have thought that they were family members or maybe just good friends. It didn’t make sense, physically, for them to be together.

But she had caught Arnold, and no one could argue with that after 30 years of marriage and ring on her finger. Lauren knew exactly what she was doing, and Jen hoped it would work for her.

After changing her profiles to be more selective, Jen received fewer messages. In fact, she went from receiving 10 messages a week to a big fat 0.

But just when she thought about changing her profile back, she got a message.

“Hi Jen, Great to talk to you! I have to say, you’re profile is a little intimidating, but I would kick myself if I didn’t talk to you! I think we have so much in common. I’m a cross fitness trainer, so my life is definitely revolved around fitness and eating right. Eventually, I want to have my own infomercials and sell my cross fit workout plans on DVDs. I actually own one gym right now, and I plan on expanding as I build up my client base. I’m also under 30. Just turned 27! I’ve never been married, but I would love to have a family. I’m just kind of over the bar scene, so it’s difficult to meet people who have my same values. But it looks like we have a lot in common! Anyways, I just wanted to send you this message and introduce myself. Hope to hear from you soon! Best wishes, Mickey Jones.”

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