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You Thought You Heard It All About Catcalling. For Good Measure, Let's Hear From A Man, Too.

Women have been trying every way from Sunday to tell the world that a great deal of us find unwanted attention ... well, unwanted. I mean, that should be enough, but because in the world we live in it probably isn't, let's try filtering it through a man who gets it. The following piece is "A Gentleman's Guide to Street Harassment" by Zaron Burnett III from "Human Parts," a collection of writing about the human condition on Medium.

"A Gentleman's Guide to Street Harassment" by Zaron Burnett III


Guys, I’d like you to imagine a single drop of water, clinging to the lip of a faucet. It falls. Plink. It’s just a second in time, a natural moment playing out. Now imagine tying someone to a chair, positioning them under that same faucet, and watching as an endless stream of drops fall against their forehead—some would call that repetition torture. Something as simple as a drop of water can be cruel. Keep that in mind as you consider what it must be like to be harassed on the street.


Like tens of millions of other people, I watched the recent viral video, Ten Hours of Walking In New York City. Created by the Hollaback Project, the video was a demonstration of what it’s like to be a woman in Manhattan who chooses to enter the public space of the sidewalk. In a ten-hour stretch, a young woman by the name of Shoshana Roberts is harassed over 100 times. And that’s just one day of her life in New York. Imagine five days, two weeks, a month of days like that … the constant harassment could drive a woman mad. If not mad, it would certainly change how she interacted with dudes and her environment. How could it not?

This is what a lot of men don’t understand about street harassment. It’s not rare. It’s not harmless. It’s a willful use of social power that reduces women to a form of amusement or objects of sexual gratification. It’s predicated upon the presumption that this is a man’s world. May James Brown forgive me, but that’s just not true. It’s our world. Yours, mine, hers, theirs … it’s everybody’s world. That’s why street harassment is indefensible. It limits one’s freedom. As dudes, we generally dislike it when anyone tells us what to do — imagine if strange men were telling you what they wanted to do to you. Everyday.

If we’re speaking honestly, I saw why the men in that video wanted to say something to Shoshana Roberts. She’s an attractive woman, and I understand the instinct to want to talk to her. But that’s where the thought for me stops, just as it would if she’d walked past me in real life. At no point would I think, “You know what I should do? I should holler at her and let her know I find her aesthetically pleasing. Yeah! She would probably like if I shouted some derogatory shit at her to let her know the sight of her has made my day more pleasant.” No. Nuh-unh. Nyet. Why not?

Because that would make the moment about me. I would be using her to gratify me. I’d be stealing her dignity while disrespecting her mental space. I recognize that Shoshana Roberts is not walking the sidewalk for my pleasure (except maybe in the instance where she’s the subject of a video such as this one, which is a meta question only filmmakers and philosophers should be worried about). The reason she’s on the sidewalk is that, like me, she’s going somewhere. She’s busy. To interrupt her is to say none of that matters — that she is less important than my desire.

Even when women who are harassed on the street adopt protective measures—avoiding eye contact, listening to headphones, sticking to known routes, walking with purpose, and avoiding construction sites like joggers avoid dog shit—many straight men refuse to read their signals. Maybe they’re unaware, or in denial, that these signals exist, because society doesn’t mandate that men be hyper-conscious of their surroundings.

As a black man, I can say that we learn early on in life to be conscious of threatening signals we may send. This is mostly in regards to police. But we don’t extend the same awareness to how we may be threatening to women. That is a common oversight for straight men, regardless of ethnicity. We don’t experience limits on our freedom to move through the world the way women do, and thus, it’s difficult for us to imagine. But when women (thousands, in fact) tell us the measures they have to take to walk outside in attempted peace, the least we can do is believe them.

In reaction to the video, a lot of men have offered apologist rationales for why some of the behavior depicted is evidence of a double standard. Many men have maintained that a number of the one-sided exchanges in the video were not harassment, but simply greetings, pleasantries, a friendly hello. Doubling down, men like Rush Limbaugh blamed feminism for failing to end street harassment, and suggested that, now, radical feminists have upped the ante and are arguing that a man saying hello is street harassment. As usual, the point was missed.

Saying hello is like a single drop of water. It’s harmless, it’s natural, it’s inconsequential, and yet it can also be an implement of torture. And certainly, if a man says hello to a woman he fancies even though she’s given no sign of interest, that is a selfish act. It’s an attempt to mask his desire for her attention behind a veil of courtesy. But unless that guy says hello to everyone all the time, like a Midwesterner, it’s not about being friendly.

Another double standard I heard men quick to apply to the Ten Hours video was the Creepy Guy problem. If an attractive man said “hello” to Shoshana Roberts, she would’ve welcomed his attention because he was hot. It was only street harassment because those guys were unattractive and/or creepy. Of course, this also misses the point. The Creepy Guy argument is an oversimplification of women. It assumes all women want male attention. They don’t. First off, lesbian women probably don’t give a shit if a dude looks like Zac Efron, Brad Pitt, or Lil B the Based God. And sexual orientation is only one of a million reasons why a woman might not crave attention from a conventionally attractive man while walking down the street.

As much as men like to pretend otherwise, women are not that simple, or that similar. Women are mind-bogglingly complex and multivalent. And so, individual women will find all sorts of different men attractive—the same way men find different women attractive. (Huh, go figure.) To say “if he was a hot guy, it wouldn’t be street harassment” fails as an argument because it assumes all women are attracted to the same thing, and it conveniently overlooks the nature of harassment. “If it was a hot guy” forgets that women are human beings with shit to do—they aren’t moving through the world with the sole purpose of acquiring random male attention from you or any other dude. In fact, they’re trying to dodge it. And it’s not hard to understand why.

A key point made time and time again by women I spoke with is how they were afraid of angering a man who was harassing them. This is a sort of double imprisonment. First, she gets harassed and demeaned or whathaveyou, and then, she has to manage her harassment so that the man doesn’t get angry and kill her for rejecting him. What? Do you think I exaggerate?

They go under-reported, yet there are countless storiesin the news about women being beaten, set on fire, and murdered by men who either catcalled them or wanted to exert their power over a stranger. Pause. Think about that. In an attempt to free herself from the unwanted attention of a stranger, a woman loses her life because she misjudges the stranger. Yet, you expect her to be flattered by your attention, to welcome you with open arms? Ha! Don’t be ignorant.

Street harassment is so much more than just hollerin’ at a girl, or being nice, or saying hello, or letting a woman know she looks good. It could also be the first words of a death sentence.

You may have expected that I’d guilt you into taking street harassment seriously with that momentarily effective, classic line:

Imagine if she was your daughter, or your sister, your girlfriend, or wife, or mother…

The reason I’d never say that to you: that line of thinking is fucked up. No, it is. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what a woman’s relationship is to you. She deserves respect for being her.

A woman’s value does not rest on the fact she means something to you.

Guys, instead of appealing to your emotions, I’d rather equip you with ways to quit perpetuating street harassment.

1. Don’t dismiss the fears of women

To anyone who thinks it’s ridiculous to tell men to leave women alone in public, and specifically to not start conversations with women, it’s quite simple: that’s not your call to make. Women are speaking up. They’re saying they often feel threatened or intimidated in public spaces. The only way to counter this reasonable fear is to listen to them explain why they feel that way. Why dismiss the fear? Why minimize their experiences and opinions and tell them why they shouldn’t be afraid? And please, we certainly shouldn’t accuse women of being over-dramatic. Imagine if you had Deebo pushing up on you asking how he could get in them jeans. Fear, like pain, is relative.

2. Respect women as individuals (and not as someone who services men)

You can’t tell someone else they shouldn’t hurt that much. You can’t tell someone they should feel safer. Those kind of “shoulds” help no one. Rather than qualify the fear women often feel in the streets, let’s listen to what they’re saying. Then we can engineer new ways to interact so that women don’t have to live in fear of strange men. Every woman has the right to be left alone. She should not expect to be harassed just because she leaves her home. The same is true for every man. Street harassment isn’t about gender. It’s about power.

3. Recognize that all women are different

They will react differently, hold vastly different opinions, and be contradictory of other women, sometimes even themselves. If a woman smiles at a man on the street, it could be construed as an invitation for the man to engage her in conversation, or to flirt. Yet, for another woman, a smile is a social deflection, a way of smoothing the awkwardness of being strangers—in which case, it’s not an invitation to talk to them. How do you know which is which? You can’t know. That’s why it’s best for you to smile and move on. Of course, you’ll wanna avoid any ogling. No long stares. No lecherous grins.

4. Confront the subtle effects of toxic masculinity

One aspect we should consider is how our culture of toxic masculinity leaves men unable to emotionally support one another, to be there for each other, to listen to one another. Consequently, (straight) men typically turn to women for intimacy. Unfortunately, we wrongly presume women should deal with our emotional needs just because they’re women. This imposition and cultural bias motivates some men to speak to women in public. Sexual or not, to ask a stranger to succor you emotionally just because she’s a woman is a selfish act and based on the idea women should happily service men.

5. Don’t initiate conversations with women on the street

For guys who want to argue they should be able to say hello to a woman without being labeled a street harasser, the writer Elon James White invented a new game just for you. It starts with the same rule we’ve already established: when you’re in public, leave women alone.

But he adds an option for those of you who are dying to talk: If you still want to say hello to people, well, greet dudes.

White suggested that men can give their social niceties to other men. Just leave women out of it. Check #dudesgreetingdudes to see a few funny examples.

6. Don’t excuse yourself because you’re white

Returning to the Ten Hours video, the fact that filmmakers edited out the majority of white men who were on camera would suggest that street harassment is a cultural behavior, mainly attributable to men of color. As women have been quick to point out: that’s not true. All men are equal offenders.In fact, women of color report that white men often harass and exoticize them, which adds an extra load of abuse.

If all this leaves you utterly confused about when and how to speak to a woman in public, use this simple guideline:

7. Don’t speak to a woman in public … unless she speaks to you

Otherwise, if you misread her body language, say, misinterpreting a smile for an invitation to speak to her, you run the chance of harassing her by mistake. Even a hello—whether it’s partnered with a sleazy, creepy smile or not — can ruin a woman’s enjoyment of public space and constrain her freedom of movement. And, guys, if you see street harassment, step in and do what you can — this doesn’t mean you need to be violent or threatening, but do something.

We need to update the social code for guys. We’ve outgrown chivalry. We’ve evolved past political correctness. We need to establish a new code of common dignity and gender equality. Remember, it’s not a man’s world. It’s everyone’s. Walking a sidewalk shouldn’t be torturous for anyone, since they’re everyone’s streets. Plus, as it is now, women live longer than men. That means over their lifetime, women will pay more in taxes to maintain those streets. Financially speaking, the streets belong more to women than men. Least we could do is be respectful.





Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

As the saying goes, "You have to kiss a few frogs..."

Dating has certainly evolved over the years—we’ve gone from courtship being purely a financial arrangement (not that this trend has ever truly died) to knights jousting for a lady’s favor, to casual hookups … and now, romance is primarily found through an app more than anything else.

Technology used for meeting that special someone has become so advanced that you can base your search entirely upon specific interests. Like … oddly specific interests. Think a fellow cat person would be the purrfect match? There’s an app for that. Wish to “love long and prosper” with a fellow Trekkie? There’s an app for that too.

No matter the changes, one thing remains the same—dating is awkward. It’s got all the unspoken formalities of a job interview, disguised as innocent fun. The balance between playing it too cool and too eager is hard to find even for the smoothest among us, and usually results in total embarrassment. Even if we aren’t the ones committing those embarrassing acts ourselves, we are often the reluctant witness to them.

Terrible dates might not always be fun in the moment, but they can be just as important as the good ones. They can teach us a lot about ourselves and what qualities we want in a partner. And at the very least, they can teach us to embrace social clumsiness with a sense of humor.

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share a “funny or embarrassing first date story” for his ever popular #Hashtags segment. The best part—some of these awful first dates ended in marriage. There’s hope for us all.

Below, find 15 stories that are truly the best of the worst. How do some of your first dates compare?

1. "After a nice dinner, she invited me to her house. On the way up, inside the elevator, I decided to push the button to stop between floors and give her a kiss... She had a phobia of closed spaces and she smacked my face as a reflex, two punches after we were kissing and laughing.” – @PanqueAlgarvio

2. “His jeans were so tight he couldn’t sit down. Stood at a bar stool the whole time.” – @onlyintheozarks

3. “Waiting 4 my date when an older couple asked me for a ride. my date came up and said sure! We drove them home & they asked us to come in. Date said “sure”. I pulled him back & asked why he wanted to hang w/strangers. He said ‘sh@t! YOU DON'T KNOW THEM!?’ We bolted!” – @natashaham75

facebook dating

Talk about a fashion faux pas.

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4. “Before the date, we had been chatting about books we liked and I talked about a great book I just read. We went on the date. I loaned her the book. She ghosted me.” – @thenextbarstool

5. “The worst first date I ever had was when my date locked his keys in the car and I had a curfew so he had to break his car window out to get me home on time. Didn’t think I’d ever see him again but we wound up married.” – @csleblan

6. “First date movie ‘Basic Instinct’ not realizing how suggestive it was. We just thought it was a mystery thriller! We left the movie discussing how each character could have actually murdered someone. We're married now.” – @Southrnbell_Amy

black people meet

There are worse first date movies tbh.

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7. “First date with my ex husband was a double date with his parents. The preview for ‘Speed Racer’ came on, and she leaned over me to say to her son, ‘You know what your dad's nickname in the bedroom is?’" – @theostoria

8. “A friend asked me on a double date as a blind date with his date's friend. I went to the bathroom and came back just in time to hear my date say to her friend, ‘why do I get the ugly one?’ I said good night to all three and headed home, leaving her w/the bill.” – @StevenTrustum

9. “He loved cheese. I was subjected to a 2 hour conversation/lecture about cheese, and why cottage cheese is not cheese!” – @Optimist_Eeyore

bumble

I'd like to see this two-hour cheese lecture.

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10. “He took me to an Asian fish market. We walked around looking at live & dead fish for a while. I don’t like seeing dead animals & I don’t eat seafood. Then we sat on a curb & he pulled out a ziplock bag of pineapple for us to share. I don’t like pineapple.” – @markayhali

11. “My cousin set up a first date for me with a family friend. During a break from dinner, Mr. Man follows me into the ladies’ room, comes up close and says in a low voice, ‘I shave my butt.’ Can’t remember what I said in response but the evening ended abruptly.” – @carli_zarzana

12. “I once took out my high school crush to a sports bar and ordered the spiciest wings there in an attempt to impress her. Not only was she not impressed. The next morning I woke up with heartburn.” –@Dmonster38

tindr conversation starters

Talk about a hot date.

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13. “My date showed up with his bestie and girlfriend, and they talked through dinner about people I don’t know. Walking to the car, he gave me a wedgie because he thought he hadn’t been paying enough attention to me.” – @surrealDazey


14. “I was taking my date home and was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the cop came to my car, she jumped out and told him she had to get home. She walked home and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure who's #WorstFirstDate it was mine or hers!” – @eastriverbear

15. “After an evening of dancing with a first date, leaving the dance hall, I had to take a quick pee break. Rushing out to the parking lot, I see a lady, I grab her and swoop her around, and plant a big wet kiss on the lips. She was another guy's wife. Oops!” – @seadogskamore

date you

Only Gomez could have gotten away with it.

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