Category Archives: Simply Stan

Today’s Word is… SWIPING

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In a distant (maybe real distant) future, it’s my wedding day. There I stand, hopefully hairline still intact, beside my best man, probably my best friend Shizz, who I’ve known since I was 6. One of us asked the other to play one day and we been friends ever since.  Even as our lives took different paths over the years here we are as men, his hairline not intact. It’s been gone since we were like 20. My brothers would probably complete the roster, what’s a man without his family. Most importantly, they would all know the golden rules, that it’s swing on sight for anyone trying to Dwayne Wayne my wedding. Swing on sight for anyone trying to propose at my wedding. Weddings ain’t cheap, B. Across from me would be her wedding party, her best friend who at this point is more like a sister. Maybe it is her sister. Her homegirls, her council, maybe her line sisters (God if you’re listening, don’t send me no more Greeks). They’ve been there from picking out her first date outfit in the group chat, talking her down when things got tight, and now we all here.  Then comes my beautiful bride to be, who I saw on an app, liked her pictures and swiped right.  That’s just how we do things now.

I’ve spoke before about my dislike of dating apps (then I met someone not on a dating app so maybe this is just part of the process).  More appropriately I’d call them swiping apps with not much dating to be had. It’s a necessary evil because where are the single people? On apps. As of this year, there are 50 million people on Tinder. 50 million people finding love (or otherwise) via swipe, perhaps the most primitive gesture the human body can muster. An endless deck of cards and no matter how unimpressed you are you can’t help but keep swiping because maybe this one is the good one. Whether you swipe left or right, the immediate reward of a new profile releases dopamine and encourages you to keep going through the oddly satisfied pile of potentials waiting for one that actually intrigues you. Nope, okay that one…Nope…hmm this one looks interesti… Nah, never mind. Why does she take pictures so close to the camera, why are hers so blurry, is she black or tanned? Septum piercing? Pass. Don’t I know her? I wonder if she swiped right on me already. (Ok, so this did happen once, I had swiped right we matched but I hadn’t messaged yet.  I get to work the next day and I see her in the cafeteria.  I may or may not had unmatched her after that.  I’ve seen her around since then but we haven’t spoken. It’s a little weird)  And you swipe away without giving much thought to the actual people depicted. Maybe you’d like him if you had met at a concert because 5’9 is taller in person, maybe she’s just bad at pictures. You’re looking to meet someone but just casually rejected 25 people in 2 minutes with a thumb motion so how serious are you really?

No surprise, studies show that swiping apps are incredibly ineffective in finding relationships. 18%, about 1 in 6 people. It’s a slot machine. You won’t get what you’re looking for but the addictive simple nature of the app will keep you engaged, and advertisers just trying to advertise without any regard for your cuffing season dreams.  Hell, they’re incentivized for you not to meet someone. They can see you tend to swipe right on a certain type, so why not spread THOSE ones out and put them behind an ad?  Not much unlike the casino, the game isn’t for you to win, it’s for you to play. Which is why the first thing you see when you open Tinder the first thing you see are not your matches, not even yourself, it’s a new face to swipe on.  Happy swiping.

Not to go all Black Mirror about it, I’m sure with the proper level of expectations, it can be fun.  I think take a flattering photo, I’m quick witted and not a creep… theoretically I should clean up on there.  But I go on for a few days, play the slots, most of the time I’m swiping right on women just to see if it’s a match or not (I attract a type) and then deactivate until the next time I get bored.   I also think that maybe I’m just too old for this shit.  The median age of Tinder and other swiping apps is 26, while the median age of more traditional dating sites like Match is 40+, which leaves me kind of  in the middle too apathetic on swiping and too young to be dating y’all divorced aunties on E Harmony.  Which leaves me, going back to the basics.  Link with the squad, find a wave, and ask the cute girl at the bar what she’s drinking? That looks good.  Or, maybe I’ll just get a puppy.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… VOTE

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After what has seemingly been the longest 2 years ever, we have arrived at Election Day, Ballotine’s Day, Votesgiving or whatever. Not to sound so unenthused, I’m moreso exhausted. For one, after 2016 I don’t trust white people with anonymous ballots anymore and two, if there’s anything but a big Blue wave, it’s gonna our fault. We didn’t tell Pookie to go vote. We let the ancestors down. We took our asses to Black Panther but didn’t take our asses to the polls. Even as just 12% of the population, elections are won and lost on our backs. Ain’t that America. Black people aren’t allowed the privilege of apathy, we must vote like our lives depends on it, because well, our lives kinda depends on it. Even if it’s for the devil we know. I don’t say that to discourage voting, I vote. I voted for Obama. Twice. Would’ve a third time if I could. (I’m black so it’s funny when I say it). I guess I tire of the only way to try and garner the black vote is to get Obama & Oprah to talk down and guilt us into it as if we aren’t also citizens who have issues and demands. It’s a frustration I touched on last year when discussing buying Jordans; there’s just this assumption that black people simply don’t know better. I become annoyed at chicanery like click bait links and trolls to get people to register, text alerts, and Snapchat filters and maybe I’m just getting old but…speak to me like a constituent.

For example…

However, I do see the other side of it. People literally fought for this right. Beaten, harassed, killed for this right. Just 50 years ago. To stay home because you just really liked Bernie or you just don’t see any difference is an affront. If your vote actually “didn’t matter” like your hotep cousin on Facebook says, there wouldn’t be so many measures to try and suppress it. Reshaping districts, purging voter rolls, new voting ID laws, revoking the voting rights of those with past criminal records, closing voting locations in minority neighborhoods, to say your vote doesn’t matter is simply ignorant. When you see such overt voter suppression it’s hard not to then turn around and look at the apathetic non voter and want to scream at them for not at least doing their part. These people are literally silencing the people and you have the nerve to just not vote because you don’t feel like it? Fuck you, Pookie. You too, Spencer.

To be fair, we are not a monolith. Some people need a foot in their behind, some need their hand held, but most just want to be inspired again. We don’t need people dragging their feet to the polls, they should be marching. There’s less talk about what we’re voting for and more what we’re voting against. Even in my home state of Massachusetts, both Gubernatorial candidates aren’t really, saying anything. I’m more compelled to go to the polls for the ballot questions. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that our parents were very much alive at this time when black people were being terrorized out of their vote, they wasn’t just voting for their right to vote. They were voting to be heard, voting for change, voting to be a part of the solution. As aren’t we, today. There’s more to be done, more to be addressed and I feel like beyond trying to make sure young black people vote, there should be as much effort in making sure their issues are being heard as well. I would hope decades from now, I would be able to try and engage the younger generation to vote by saying this that and the third was done and not, well your ancestors died trying to vote, how could you let that be in vain? They’d be less need for shaming if there was actual results to display. Ultimately, people do what they WANT to do and instead of guilting, maybe the aim should be to make people want to. While Snapchat ads to register to vote is cute, where is the same energy to educate voters, and to make sure candidates know what these newly registered voters want? Fuck Donald Trump is a mood. It’s a good YG song. It’s not a sustainable party platform.

All that to say, take your ass to the polls today.*

*Because you want to because this is your damn country and you’ll be damned if it goes to hell without at least your input

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Today’s Word is… PILLOWTALK

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There’s just some spaces where a black man feels safe to be…vulnerable. There’s the barbershop, the unofficial country club for black men, where on a good day you’ll leave with a fresh cut, about 3 wild stories, and 4 absurd sports hot takes. There’s groupchats, which are essentially the digital barbershop. There’s the basketball court, where the fatigue of a few pick up games will get the teammate you played 4 games with and don’t even know their name will get a text from a girl and be ready to tell you the whole life story. (This has happened on 3 separate occasions). I’m sure plenty of tea is spilled in a smoke session but that’s not really my ministry. And of course, there’s the ultimate tea house…in bed, laid up next to bae. Don’t let there not be a TV in the bedroom. (you get better sleep when there’s no TV in the bedroom #themoreyouknow) So when Pusha T decided to give an interview about an interview about a 5 month old diss song and drop the plot twist that he got the silver bullet from none other than Drake’s best friend, 40 pillow talking some woman it sounded completely plausible. (For what it’s worth, I don’t believe it, that’s TOO convenient)

We’re all guilty of pillow talking, yes you too Mr real niggas don’t gossip and ladies y’all talk too gon brush your shoulders off. When you factor in oxytocin, the hormone released during orgasms and most closely related to trust and bonding feelings in the brain, it makes sense that after sex one would find themselves feeling most vulnerable and most willing to talk intimately. (So maybe if they aren’t pillow talking, get your bars up). After (good) sex, your body is literally yearning for some more connection such as well, more sex, cuddling, and of course intimate conversation. Boom. Science. I’m well aware that I’m guilty of it, it’ll start off as just a funny story, and then you’re giving backstory, and then weeks later you’re giving follow ups and next thing you know y’all are at dinner and she just blurts out some shit. (I was dating one girl who couldn’t hold water worth a damn smh). It’s almost like dude at the basketball court, we can be laid up I get a text from a friend and I go from quickly explaining what the text was about to telling the story about that time we almost got arrested.

For actual couples, pillow talking is almost essential to the health of the relationship. Just taking some time out to learn something new about each other, Lord forbid you fall in love with someone and find out they eat candy corn or they never listened to Jay Z. It’s an opportunity to be completely vulnerable with each other and you have actual brain chemistry helping your cause. Pillow talking isn’t talking about what you got to do later, rehashing an old fight she lost 3 nights ago but now her groupchat gave her some new points to make or bringing up how you like them but you still seeing other people (be honest they said, she’d appreciate it they said), the bed should be a safe space. Sex, sleep, secrets. A place where you can gossip about your friends and assume it doesn’t come back and bite you in a diss record.

Yet and still, there’s rules to this shit. Such as, watch what you’re saying; there’s of some things you need to keep to yourself no matter who you’re sleeping with. Deep personal things, illegal activity, anything you absolutely don’t want to come out. Then there’s watch who you’re saying it to; know the difference between a spouse where y’all share everything (seriously, you tell a married friend anything assume its a 2 for 1), a significant other where y’all share a lot, and well, what allegedly happened with 40 and ol girl. If we are to believe Pusher Terrence, 40 was coming off that oxytocin high and just spilling his soul to this woman who wasn’t even feeling him like that. Major violation on his side and hers. He should’ve knew better than to be telling an outsider all his business and while she doesn’t owe him anything, it’s still a shitty thing to do. What happens in bed should stay there anyway. You’d like to think you can trust the person you’re having sex with but in this age, nothing is sacred. At least when I be learning entirely too much about her homegirls and their drama it never leaves the bed. (Even if after we fall out and they friend throwing shots on social media, I could return fire but won’t because God is working on me). What’s shared between us stays between us. I say that even as someone who literally writes about his life fairly often. Pillow talk is still inadmissible. I could only wish for the same in return but for all I know I have an ex talking to some new dude about some shit I told her. This game cold, B.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… TRAVEL

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It was a little while back, I had just got my annual review, there was some stuff about how I need to network and communicate more and yeah yeah, where that bag at?  I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to do with this bonus, I was going to take a trip.  Take my entry level Spanish to Barcelona, maybe go to London and find my future ex wife, go post up in Santorini like Rick Ross (apparently everybody went to Greece this year because there’s so many pictures on social media now), Tokyo always seemed like a cool place to visit, or I can go back to the Motherland…well, I ain’t get THAT much.  (Seriously though, a $1000 flight to Accra is white supremacy).   At this moment, I’m determined to do this and I’m going to go solo, no time like the present and I don’t want to be held back by anyone else.  I look up vacation packages ($250 single surcharge is also white supremacy, because reasons).  I look up flights and tried not to be turned off by the flight times, I’m sure I can find half a xan somewhere.  Then trying to find a hotel and plan an itinerary…I need a vacation from planning a vacation already.  I just started a new project I can’t just leave for a week, and so I delay it a few months…and a few more…that turns into well, let’s see next year but then the reality hit me that, I just don’t really want to.

*Gasp*

When you’re young, single, childless and have a few extra pennies you’re supposed to travel, broaden your horizons, take in some culture, it’s what makes you a more well rounded individual and makes that “loves to travel” line in your Tinder bio not bullshit.  It’s not that I’m opposed to it completely, I just don’t care that much.  As someone who is very interested in art and history, there’s so much in the world I would love to see. Perhaps I just need a travel agent or about a 30% pay increase because I’m just not disciplined enough to save.  I don’t get up and work every day just to eventually have enough money to walk around Europe for a week.   Shrug life.  However, when you say that out loud it’s like when someone expresses a desire not to get married or have kids; you’re expected to aspire to travel even if you never do.  So even if you end up flying over 2 days, staying in a hostel and only get 27 likes on your picture so now you have to repost 3 more times with the “take me baaaaack” caption because how the hell did your banana bread get more likes than fucking Patong beach, it’s worth it because now you have an anecdote.  It’s become a status symbol; “I don’t spend money on material goods, I pay for experiences” meanwhile you barely left the resort.  Travel is a hobby, either you’re into it or you’re not but some people just need to feel superior.  People stress traveling in your 20s ironically implying that it’s something irresponsible and should be done before you start adulting adulting in your 30s even though you would be more stable and more comfortable then.  I’d much rather travel in the next few years, than have scratched and clawed my way years ago just to say I’ve been.

I have friends who love to travel, they come back and their stories and photos at best make me think about seeing for myself.  It’s hard not to log on social media see your peers “living their best life” all over and feel like you’re slacking.   But I live my best life in my apartment catching up on TV and buying shit I don’t need on Amazon Prime.  I can afford to travel, just not quite on my terms yet so what’s the rush?  (Well who knows with Toupee Fiasco…I might just hurry up and get to Cuba while I still can) Right now, international travel that just feels more trouble than it’s worth.   I’ve probably taken about a dozen smaller, domestic trips in the last year or so because ‘Merica still has plenty of offer. (Well, maybe like 3 more cities than I’m done).  That isn’t to dissuade others, if you have the travel bug by all means scratch it and go as far as your budget allows and make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not the ‘Gram.  We don’t care. I promise.

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… COMMUNITY

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I remember way back in the day, me and my friends were walking home from school and the police roll up on us. They had said something about thefts in the area and needed our information. We were in like 4th grade none of us had IDs. So one of boys immediately lies about his name the officer picked up on it and then demanded we empty our book bags for something with our names on it. An older black woman pulls over and asks what’s going on, the officers explain they are investigating something and she’s like, well I don’t know what’s going on but I was just headed to get them from the bus stop and she tells us to grab our stuff and come on. We’ve seen her around but didn’t know this woman but in the moment we knew exactly what to do,

“Yes, Auntie”.

We grabbed our bags and got our asses in that car. She spoke with the officers a little longer and she drove us around the corner to my house. It’s what my mother would’ve done, what any of my friends mothers’ would’ve done. We all we got.

There’s plenty of things I don’t miss a out living in the “hood”, the aforementioned police harassment being one, but I do miss that particular sense of community that came with it.   The neighbors, the corner store that would let you pay them back on Friday, block parties, basketball tournaments, simply being able to go outside and all my friends were there.  For the reputation Boston had as a racist city, I lived in a bubble.  I didn’t see the 900% income difference in neighboring towns outside of Halloween.  As an adult, I read more about Mandela, Massachusetts; a proposal in the late 70s that would’ve had my neighborhood of Dorchester, as well as the predominantly black nearby areas of Roxbury and Mattapan simply secede from Boston altogether and form it’s own municipality.  The city never came into fruition but existed unofficially, as black people in Boston largely lived in our own bubble until one day, white people realized they were commuting 30+ minutes everyday and we lived 10 minutes from downtown with 2 subway lines.  Fast forward to now, I live 30 minutes away from my childhood home which would cost at least $650,000 if I was ever feeling so nostalgic.  Jesus be a GoFundMe.

I think about all this as I see more and more news stories of ________ while black and having the police called on them.  It’s what happens when there’s no community; Susan and Spencer just moved a few weeks ago and doesn’t get how and why people are just on the stoop all day kicking it, or why it’s 9pm and they’re still barbecuing, or they see me walking home in a hoodie and feel uneasy.  They don’t even attempt to ingratiate themselves into the community they’ve moved into, they try to force into it’s own likeness.   So Fernandez Grocery is turning into a Trader Joes (Full Disclosure, I love Trader Joe’s but that’s not the point).  That Jamaican spot that only has oxtail from 11-2:30 on Wednesdays but you love them anyway…now it’s a coffee shop.  Didn’t that used to be a dollar store? Well now it’s a froyo spot.  And those black people that were on the stoop, well they just keep getting harassed and arrested until they just stop coming around.  Now that 3 bedroom that had a family of 4, now is being rented to 3 rad professionals, that totally like the work hard, play hard.  One guy cycles a lot and another is in a band.  No worries, he doesn’t practice at home.  They come, Thanos snap, turn us to dust and brew cold brew with it.

Then there’s me, middle class? Eh, let’s just go with “mid” class black man who can’t afford to buy, can’t afford to rent but can make just enough to get the hell out of there.  There’s no soil to sow roots, Boston is becoming more and more the city you just spend your mid to late 20s then go.  Racial AND income inequality is a mighty strong cocktail, and so you have a major metropolitan city where the median net worth for a black family is $8.00.  Eight.  Yes, one digit.  Leave or struggle, such a far cry from the city my parents moved to and started a life in in the 80s.  I long for the Dorchester that once was, and the Mandela that could’ve been.  Where I’m not the only black person on my block, where the corner store at least has a cat.  Or maybe we should just all move to a city in Montana and don’t tell *them* about it.  What the weather hitting like over there anyway?

-Stan-

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Today’s Word is… FORGIVE

 

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Adulting trash, B. Ain’t nobody ask to be grown with bills, in the working class no less. The working class?!? You know how damn brilliant I am?!?  I need to see a manager, someone get a sorting hat, reset the game.  I have to get up go to a job where I’m well aware that I’m underpaid just so I can pay other people for survival essentials like food, shelter, and Netflix.  It’s something you can’t possibly understand until you get *there*, especially not as a child. To work all day, come all the way home and the chicken isn’t thawed. To spend your hard earned money on clothes they gonna tear up playing. To pay for them to explore passions and interests and having to be just as supportive when they  end up quitting. Failing a marriage and feeling like they resent you for it. (okay, maybe I don’t want kids, not without like a 100% pay increase, or a wife that makes way more than me.  I’m walking in the spirit of a Stedman.)

So on my birthday last month, I took a vacation. My father called me to wish me a Happy Birthday and we chopped it up for a bit.  He reminisced about where he was when he was my age; Married, working 2 jobs and they just had me even after wanting to stop at 3. (he did have 3 more kids after, and I mean…yikes.). Now that the youngest is grown and he’s nearing retirement he’s finally at a place where he can live his best life and even better he’s happy to see that I am.  After that talk, I decided to go visit.  He usually flies up to see his grandkids but we rarely bother to go see him, especially me. Our dynamic has always been a little strained.  Still a little strained, really.  Not much unlike him and my grandfather.  Even while you “get it” as an adult, you still become indifferent.  Forgiving parents isn’t easy, but sometimes necessary.  They affect our entire lives even subconsciously, the adults we become.  Me and my father are a lot alike; intuitive, reticent, stubborn.   It’s perhaps why we butt heads so much as adults.  We both recognize there’s…something wrong here, while also feeling like it’s the others’ to fix.  He’s not getting any younger, I’m not the one who broke it and so, stalemate.

As I approach the steep hill that is my 30s, part of me worries I’ll be him.  From our eerily similar decor choices, to my approach in relationships.  He’s a lot more expressive and open in his later years but that wasn’t the man I grew up knowing.  His love was assumed, shown through a roof over my head and Jordans every first day of school.  I was too young to really remember my parents in love, but with my step mother it always felt like, service.  They were together for 10 years because they were together for 10 years, in hindsight it mirrored my longest relationship.  We been together this long, why not see this through.  More recently, I had someone I’m with ask me that if a complete stranger was watching us right now, would they think we were in love?  I couldn’t answer.   I did love her, but clearly I sucked at showing it.  It wasn’t being expressed, it was assumed. Damn, I am him.  He lived through the civil rights movement, the military and having a whole ass family in the Reaganomics era, I can’t possibly be this way already.  I won’t allow myself to be.

Maybe, it starts with forgiving in the first place.  That’s a journey in itself that I’m still working on.  Without going too deep, there’s a lot about my childhood that I’m still processing but as an adult I at least find myself at a place where I see and empathize with him as a man; imperfect but steadily trying to grow as he prepares to embark on the next phase of his life as just as I’m trying to do with mine.    I usually try to end posts with a pretty little bow but there isn’t one, at least not yet.  All I can do in the interim, is work on improving our relationship and myself to become a more open, vulnerable man that believes in accent colors.  Oh, and no babies til like, 33?  35?  40?  Yeah, maybe 40.

-Stan-

 

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Today’s Word is… INDISTINGUISHABLE

I have a confession to make that may forever change how you look at me or SFW again. I can already sense the judgment, I can audibly hear the “yo, who’s mans is this?”. But it’s time I live my truth; I like turkey bacon. I might even prefer it to real bacon. I know it’s not really bacon, to even name it bacon is appropriation, but give me the choice, I’m possibly going turkey bacon. Bacon ain’t got no meat, especially at restaurants they gonna give you salty bacon shaped crackers. That being said, if someone ordered bacon and got turkey bacon, someone might be attacked and no one will say they were wrong for it. If you ordered bacon you want bacon. If you ordered turkey bacon you want… kinda bacon. It’s one of those cases where unlike New Amsterdam and Ciroc, most white actresses and all these new R&B singers who look like Denise Huxtable and do bad Amy Whinehouse impersonations, some things are truly indistinguishable.

Two things I also thought was indistinguishable, enter two people recently out of relationships but just enough time has passed where they’re supposed to start acting like they want to date again. Both of them probably a little too woke, both incredibly smart and fluent in sarcasm. They have great chemistry and make each other laugh. Both of them kinda hate dating, it’s trash. They like each other so they date, except one person is dating for companionship and the other is dating to be with someone. On the surface it would seem like it’s the same… but it isn’t. Bacon. Turkey bacon.

Dating to date vs dating for purpose; I’ve been on every side of these. Dating aimlessly to purposely, dater to datee. Of all, just dating to date is the simplest. Dating because there ain’t shit else to do, dating because I like you but I kinda suck at relationship stuff so let’s keep it right here in the safe zone, dating because a fly outfit is a terrible thing to waste. Dating is social, dating is networking, it’s troubleshooting. How do you know what you want if you don’t try some shit. other people and feelings involved so being open and honest about intentions or lack thereof is key. Then there’s the fact that people who date to date aren’t completely opposed to something more… Maybe something happens, maybe it doesn’t but ultimately they are in it more for themselves than anything.

Then there’s dating for purpose, where you have or think you have a good idea what you want and now it’s time to just find them. A trap I had fell into jumping from relationship to relationship because that was what I thought I was supposed to do. I look back at my college years and my early 20s and wonder about the people and friendships I’d still have in my life if I didn’t force the issue. “They just wasn’t ready”, I would tell the next one, looking at her with the same level of naiveté and ignorance. The reality was I didn’t even know if that was what I even wanted yet I was just following a recipe without any idea of what I was making.

Two date to date people can get along great, just enjoying each other’s company and most importantly managing expectations. Two date for purpose people will gladly pair off and get out of the wretched dating game. One of each? Well, its bacon and turkey bacon. You have one side ready to cuff up and delete their Tinder while the other just wanting them to enjoy what this is. Maybe one side concedes what they want for a moment, or two, or three but eventually they’ll come back to that fork in the road and someone will have to choose between what and who they want and it doesn’t end well. C’est la vie.

Whether you’re dating casually or really trying to be chose, it’s far easier to just find someone else who is also bout that life rather than trying to tell yourself that turkey bacon is just like the real thing and vice versa. You want what you want…as long as you own it. Like turkey bacon.

-Stan-

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