By Chris Slater

I tried to kill myself on my 30th birthday. Well, not really: I ate a Whopperito — a combination Whopper and burrito — from Burger King. That’s pretty much the same thing, right? August 18, 2016 was a rather ho-hum, normal, fairly-boring day. Maybe I was expecting too much. It’s supposed to be a big deal, right?

I thought turning 30 would be a more pivotal moment in my life. Like, I would see some sort of big, bright light and all of the confusion and irresponsibility and bad decision-making skills of my 20’s would suddenly no longer exist. Nope. At 30 and now beyond, I’m the same guy that I was at 29. Another year older and deeper in debt, to quote some country singer I’ve never actually listened to.

[On my 30th birthday, the Page County, Virginia Chamber of Commerce had all of those present sing “Happy Birthday” to me during a “Business After Hours” networking event.]
How did I expect things to change by the time I turned 30? There are two main areas of my life that I figured would be a lot different — money and sex. I assumed I would be having a lot more of both by this point.

For starters, I expected to have a larger bank account by the time my third decade started. That old adage is very true — $1,000 is a lot of money to owe and not a lot of money to have. I’m doing a little better than I used to, at least. When online surveys ask me for my income, I now proudly check the bubble for the second-lowest bracket.

Nobody imagines a sensible future. Ask 8-year-old Chris where he wants to be at 30, and I doubt he would have said “Getting by with enough money to pay the bills and a little extra to save.” But, that’s where I’m at. And, I guess it’s a good spot to be at.

I remember the days of making minimum wage at Pizza Hut and later pretending to be a nice guy so people would give me tips when I waited tables at Outback Steakhouse. So, things could always be worse.

Biggie used to say, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” If that’s true, I will gladly take on a few additional problems. I have enough already; a couple extra won’t change anything.

Speaking of problems… where are the ladies at? People my age are getting married, having kids, in long-term relationships, settling down. I have none of that. Just a few consistent friends with assorted benefits. Do I want all that other stuff? I don’t know, and I don’t think so.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided to cut back on my debauchery and I don’t frequent bars as often as I used to. What I’ve learned is that I don’t know how to meet women at places that aren’t dark, dirty and serve spirits of an imbibing nature. So, maybe that’s a goal for my 30’s — learn how to actually talk to women. Or, maybe start drinking more. The jury is still out on that one.

Maybe I’ll join a gym or pick up a hobby. Women go to the gym and have hobbies, right? Somebody please help me. I’m not good at this.

With that said, let’s take a look at some areas of my life where the expectations of being in my 30’s did not match up to the reality.

Job

Expectation… I thought there would be a lot more responsibility and prestige in my life at this point. People would say, “Ooooooh, there goes Chris Slater!”

Reality… My job is a thing that I do. Nobody aside from my mother seems to be too impressed with anything about it.

Relationship

Expectation… Something stable, perhaps? Something consistent? Holding hands and walking down the street?

Reality… I once had a girl say to me, “Why are you like this? Why are you unable to commit? What went wrong in your life?” What can I say? I’m still trying to figure out the answers to those questions.

Money

Expectation… The phrase “make it rain” comes to mind.

Reality… I once accidentally paid both a doctor bill and dentist bill at the same time, and then I couldn’t eat for a week and a half.

Hobbies

Expectation… Traveling to fun places, hip clubs, exciting group activities that fosters a series of friendships and community.

Reality… I literally spend 85 percent of my free time sleeping. I’m like a raccoon; stays up all night, bags under my eyes, eats trash, hates people.

Kids

Expectation… Never wanted them. I think they’re gross and loud.

Reality… This is one area where I’m doing good. See, life isn’t all horrible.

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Where are some areas of your life that changed when you turned 30? Either for the better, or worse. Was there anything you expected that ultimately didn’t happen? If you’re approaching 30, what are your thoughts on the subject? Let me know in the comments, or throw me a line on the Twitter or the Facebook. You can even hit up chris.slater@wvgazettemail.com if that’s your preferred method.

By Chris Slater

I went out on a date with a local woman recently. We met online and seemed to hit it off. Since moving to Charleston last year, it’s been difficult to meet people my own age with similar interests, so I thought this was going to be a good one. We met at The Red Carpet, a local watering hole, and are having a great time.

I’m in good form; wittier than normal and my charm factor had been turned up to 11. I was having a good hair day and she said she liked my beard. Things were going splendidly.

Then I ran into a friend. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just the other guy in this story. I invited him to hang out with us, and we started conversing. I went to buy the three of us a round of cinnamon-flavored whiskey, and I came back to see everything had changed.

Her body language had shifted. She was now facing him and laughing at all of his comments and asking him follow up questions to his points. And, I was just sitting there awkwardly.

She and I went back to my place, but by that point I knew there was nothing. After regaling her with the funny story about the time I hydroplaned and flipped my car over (it really is funny), I went in for a kiss. She turned her head and I basically rammed my lips into her cheek. I quipped, “It’s cool, I only brought you back here to kiss your cheek.” We both awkwardly laughed.

I dropped her off, and we said goodbye. It was awkward, but we both pretended like it wasn’t. Minutes later, I sent her a long text message about how much it hurt me that she basically stopped our date to hang out with another guy in front of me. I told her that if she wanted to keep talking to him, then she and I shouldn’t talk anymore. Breathing a nervous sigh of relief, I hit send. Her response was almost immediate:

“Okay. Thanks for understanding!”

I don’t know what I was expecting. An apology? Remorse? Something aside from elation? I mean, I certainly wasn’t expecting anything when she came back to my place. I’m not one of those guys.

I was just left with an odd feeling of wondering when did the dating world turn into that? We both swiped right on an app, so we decided to meet at a bar. And, I didn’t even get the courtesy of waiting until the date was over before she could tell me she wasn’t interested.

It seems like the trend is to treat people like they’re not humans with feelings and hearts. They’re just a picture on your phone. And, maybe you like this one. Maybe you like the other one. I’ll talk to this girl. I won’t talk to that guy.

When did the world get, for lack of a better word, so fake?

Usually, when people complain about my generation being on their phones all the time, I roll my eyes and ignore it. But, I feel like it’s turning some of us into numb, emotionless droids. Dating — creating a physical and mental bond with another person — isn’t something to do on a whim. I mean, I’m not a traditionalist by any means. One of my most fulfilling relationships is the polyamorous girl whose boyfriend knows that she sees me. I’m in no way a prude.

We need to distance ourselves from technology sometimes and remember that when we’re in the real world, we’re dealing with real people who have real emotions. I think it would make the world a better place.

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Any suggestions on how to better navigate the online dating world? Have a story of your own to share? Think I need to get over myself and not worry about what happened? Let me know in the comments, send me a tweet or message me on Facebook.