I am Lance Conrad, author of the Historian Tales series. My currently published books, The Price of Creation, The Price of Nobility, and The Weight of Swords are available through Amazon, Dawn Star Press, and other excellent booksellers. Thank you for reading!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lance's Adventures in Dating - Part 3

   Anyone who has read the last two posts on this subject has, by now, been able to determine the common link in all these horrific failures: me.
   Clearly, if I could remove myself from the whole dating process, I think the whole thing would go much more smoothly. (All in favor of going back to arranged marriages, say aye!) So it was, thinking that I might be able to at least approach this idea, I agreed to a blind date, doubling with the couple who set me up.
   Granted, this doesn’t entirely remove me from the picture, but it seemed like a good start. Unfortunately, I realized too late that any date is going to include one particular element that is all but guaranteed to get me into trouble…
   That’s right, boys and girls, no matter how you might try to steer things or fill the time with activities and/or chewing, there’s eventually going to come that moment when they ask you a question that can’t be answered with a nod or grunt.
   With any luck, you’ll be able to give an answer that will make some kind of sense (instead of nonsense), an answer that makes you seem like an interesting person (not a raging moron and/or psychopath), and an answer that will make your date look forward to meeting you again (instead of looking wildly toward the door every few seconds).
   Still, even if you can’t manage all of that (heaven knows I did not…), at the extreme least, you should avoid giving lectures on how lasers are made that start with “Light can act like a particle or a wave…”
   This should be incredibly obvious. Everyone knows that you NEVER go full nerd on a girl, preferably ever, but certainly not on the first date.
   Now, if the girl has not fled by the end of that informative little tirade, she is an incredibly patient human being. This is an admirable trait. You should not abuse this trait. You should absolutely not double down at this point. I guess what I’m saying is that, under no circumstances should your very next topic of conversation be…
   Home surgery.
   I mean, I imagine we all have our little stories. That one time you pulled out your little brother’s tooth with a pair of needle-nose pliers; or that other time you took care of that pesky wart on your finger with a red hot nail wrapped in a sock. These are just the usual hi-jinks everyone falls into, I’m certain. I’m not judging, I’m just saying that these things are NOT suitable anecdotes for a first date.
   Now, I would be thrilled, just bloody ecstatic, if I could say this was a one-time occurrence. Of course, I cannot, at least not with a straight face. Worse, there's no way around the problem. You see, the whole point of conversation is to get to know each other better. For someone with my past, present, and future, having a girl get to know me better is a sure deal-killer. Avoid if at all possible.
   So there you have it, folks, some rock solid dating advice, learned the hard way, as usual. In parting, I’d like to share with you some actual quotes from that evening. And if you’re thinking these probably made more sense in context, you’re wrong…
   “But it was getting really frustrating because I couldn’t see what I was doing because of the blood…”
   “Hey guys! Check this out! It really is a murder room, it’s got a drain in the floor and everything!”
   “I’m liking the shotgun. Much more effective.”
   “And now I will take a turn at Dance Dance Revolution.”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lance's Adventures in Dating - Part 2

  This next story follows closely on the heels of our last story. That Wednesday I decide to go out dancing. Nothing like a little country swing to liven things up. It’s quick, upbeat, and has a rhythm even white people can keep up with.
  Now, I hear some of you saying: “Lance, you had a full-blown fever on Monday, why would you go out dancing just two nights later?”
  Actually, this isn’t all that uncommon. I bounce back from most things surprisingly fast. If I healed any quicker, they’d have to fit me for sideburns and adamantium claws.
  And abs…
  Fine! And abs. Anyway, the point is that by Wednesday night I was fully back on my feet and ready to swing some women off of theirs.
  The night actually goes pretty darn well. I work my way around the room, asking a different girl to dance each time, plucking wallflowers out onto the dancefloor like a jean-clad florist. I sit out the line dances to catch my breath and cool off. Besides, let’s be honest, a big guy like me has a 40% higher chance of looking ridiculous line dancing, and those odds weren’t good to begin with.
  So the time comes when I’m not seeing many new faces left on the dance floor and I’m starting to feel a bit tired. So I decide to ask one particular girl to dance with me a second time for my last dance. She happily obliges as we danced very well together the first time.
   We get out there and I start spinning her around and we are hitting every move in perfect sync like the pistons on a Formula One car. At one point, she does apologize for her hair, which is a little unruly at this point in the evening.
   “Don’t worry about it!” I assure her. “It’s absolutely fine!”
   That’s called foreshadowing, children.
   We’re about two-thirds of the way through the song and we are well past the basic stuff. She is in the air as often as not and we haven’t missed a single beat for all the acrobatics. Then I spin her around, deftly maneuvering my leg around behind her. It looks off balance for only a fraction of a second before I lower her into an enthusiastic yet graceful dip.
   Due to the counterbalance of the leg, I am able to lift my left arm into the classic Man From Snowy River pose. Don’t worry if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you only need to understand that it looks triumphant. It’s a pose that says: “BAM! Ya’ll seein’ this?”
   And then I whip the girl back up into the next spin…
   Or at least that’s what I try to do. Problem is, when her body starts to come back up, her head remains, whipping backwards in some kind of bizarre horizontal clothesline. You see, I had stepped on her hair while she was at the lowest point of the dip.
   Now, I would have told you that such a thing was completely impossible. After all, my foot had to be planted before she even started the dip. Fortunately for the reader and unfortunately for the girl, the laws of physics can’t be bothered when it comes to making hilarious caricatures out of my dating life.
   So it was, with the kind of dark magic level bad luck that only members of my direct bloodline can summon, this poor girl ended up playing the part of the rope in a tug-o-war between my feet and my arms.
   It did not end well for me, the girl, her hair, or anyone unfortunate enough to be watching. Kind of like that falling scene with the girl towards the end of The Amazing Spiderman 2. Thunk. Hard to watch. You just can’t un-see that.
   After helping the girl to the side, out of the way of the maelstrom of dancers, she assured me she was just fine. Her credibility in this claim was a little hampered by the fact that she claimed it while finger-combing copious amounts of blond hair onto the floor.
   Naturally, I expressed my apologies profusely, but she assured me they were unnecessary and that she would even consider dancing with me again. She seemed like a bright enough girl, so I can’t quite believe that she meant that last part. More likely, it was her polite way of saying she wasn’t going to press charges.

   That’s all for now, folks. That brings us up to the present, but we’ll see what the weekend holds… ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lance's Adventures in Dating - Part 1

   Ok, so I noticed some of my Facebook posts were getting a little long. So I decided to just go with it and write some of them up into blog form. This is one I already related, but I present it here again in expanded form.
   For those who don’t know me, I am single. I am, in fact, laughably single. When I moved into my current accommodations a year and a half ago, I put an extra suitcase on a recliner, promising to move it to the closet as soon as I had a visitor show up. The suitcase remains… ;)
   Now, I am not immune to the basic human social tendencies. It is well known that any adult human, being single, seeks to change that status or understand the reasons why. Once the reasons are understood, the next step usually involves ice cream. It’s a wonderful time to be alive, folks.
   Lucky for me, the reasons are not only apparent, they are also pretty entertaining. And so, with an eye to share this personal journey with complete strangers on the internet, I share this little story, with likely a few more to follow as opportunity and wit allow…
   So this story happened a few days ago on a rather lovely Monday evening. I was meeting the girl in question for a first date at a Thai restaurant. She gets the jump on questions and we start by talking about me. With my usual wry sense of humor, I describe myself as a wandering madman, which I still think is a pretty accurate description for what I actually do. Harmless, right?
   She smiles politely at the little joke, but makes no comment and we’re distracted by ordering food and such. A little while later, I start shivering. This has nothing to do with nerves, the food, or the climate. Rather, a fever has struck out of nowhere. This surprise is not really all that surprising given my dating track record.
   It may benefit the story at this juncture to point out that I have famously bad luck. That’s why I don’t believe in luck. It’s a family thing. Our ancestral sword, along with its prophesied protections, was destroyed during the Civil War. Ever since then, members of my family have been able to conjure up circumstances that move down the bad luck spectrum right into: “Kinda hilarious when seen with a sick sense of humor.”
   Anyway, so there I am, trying to enjoy a lovely noodle dish, trembling like an aspen leaf. The girl doesn’t mention anything and my fevered brain manages to hope that I am somehow being discreet, like there’s some way to shiver unobtrusively.
   With some dinner out of the way, I take control of the conversation and direct it in the best way I know how: away from me. I ask her what she does for a living. This one I should have seen coming, honestly. She looks me straight in my bloodshot eyes and says: “I work in a psychiatric hospital.”
   Of course she does.
   The only thing that could have beaten that reveal would have been if she was an undercover narcotics cop. Clearly my best move at this point is to shove noodles in my mouth and think through the rest of the evening. Most notably, was there any point she was on her phone when she could have been calling in professional backup to our date?
   So there I am, mouth full of noodles, shaking like a junkie, and looking around for the men in white coats like a paranoid schizophrenic.
   Why would you bring that up?
   Schizophrenic. You know we don’t like that word.
   I thought it added to the story. Besides, I don’t understand why you’re so sensitive. We’re not schizophrenic.
   I know, I was clerk during the meeting when we decided that. Still, I think one of the voices might be.
   Really? Which one? You know what, never mind. I’m trying to tell a story here.
   Fine, but we’ll talk later.
   Very well, where was I? Right, the psychiatric hospital. I decide to find out a little bit more about what she does. After all, it’s only polite to show interest in your date’s profession (not to mention it might help me calculate the odds of her having anything in her purse that rhymes with hypodermic meedle).
   “I do some administrative stuff, but mostly I do marketing.”
   At this point I’m pretty much out of noodles, which is bad news because I am nowhere near done with awkward pauses. This is one of the worst as my mind starts pitching possible TV and radio spots advertising for a psychiatric hospital…
   Do you feel like the last sane person on Earth? Do people who never age or sleep keep you company? Are you feeling REALLY optimistic about any of the presidential candidates this year? If so, we invite you come visit us at Sunnyside Psychiatric Hospital! Come and enjoy the softest bathrobes in the business; on site animal care for all pets, real and imaginary; and skittles sorted by color and socks by thickness.
   During the closing jingle, I tune back into the date and the awkward silence I left behind. I decide that I need better information and inquire what exactly she does for marketing.
   “Actually, I mostly do internal marketing.”
   Internal marketing. Now, there is an entire host of things that would make complete sense, but my mind reaches for none of those. Instead, only one word comes to mind and in that instant, I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t ask:
   “So… propaganda?”

   Yessiree, folks. That’s how it’s done. 100% lady-proof! Tune in next time to hear how a sweet young blonde gave me a lock of her hair… involuntarily… on the dance floor.