The Awful Truth: Gaming the System

Guest columnist actor Roger Fan and our very own Paul Nakayama weigh the benefits — and costs — of snaring a VGD (that’s “video game dude”).

ISSUE: Spring 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Roger Fan

Roger Says:

Romance does not have to be complicated. If you’re a single lady who is truly ready to embark upon a lifelong journey of happiness and genuine romantic affection with a guy who won’t Tiger Woods you, the answer is simpler than you think — get good at video games. Forget the diet, the tan, the hair extensions, the accent reduction courses, the exotic body glitter, the plastic surgery to get the double eyelids, etc. All that stuff is unnecessary. The only thing you need to do to snare that bloke who will forever treat you like a queen even when your crow’s feet sprout to the size of tree roots, is video game mastery. And don’t worry, you don’t need to get good at all the games. Just pick the top two or three most popular ones (currently “Uncharted 2,” “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” or “Bioshock 2”) and master them. I know this concept may seem rather confusing and perhaps alien. But sometimes a massive paradigm shift is necessary to right Occam’s razor of love and happiness. So grab a joystick ASAP and get ready to have your mind blown. It’s time to vacate any and all traditional hunting grounds of love and head on over to Best Buy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here just yet …

Don’t buy into the hype. I have worked in the entertainment industry for almost 14 years and I can say with clear conviction that my business is single-handedly responsible for creating a completely fictitious and utterly unobtainable idea of love, romance and relationships that most civilized ladies on earth mistaken as personal entitlement. Forget the Mr. Right Checklists. It’s all bunk and bull dookie; lies mistaken for gospel. I know it sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but if your primary checklist has stuff like tall, good-looking, athletic, smart, ambitious, successful, funny, businessman, lawyer, rich, etc., you are basically assembling a cocktail of personal misery mixed with a twist of heartache. Men with those dominant qualities will cheat on you the second you become boring and/or predictable. Here’s the truth — on the surface, true romance and genuine life partnership is rather unimpressive and sedate and more closely resembles the stillness of the American Gothic portrait rather than the vibrant flirtatious noise of a Michael Bublé music video. It’s time to stop being seductively misguided by all the bling and start focusing on the true love and happiness thing. Yes, I meant that to rhyme.

So let’s cut to the chase — get yourself a serious case of VGD. That’s right, a “Video Game Dude” (not some sort of funky medical condition). Cast your net in this pond and you’ll get what you’ve secretly been looking for since the day you first swiped an Oxy pad across your forehead. A VGD, you say? But aren’t they mostly pale, skinny chaps who live at home with moms and drink Grape Crush? Yes, but do not be alarmed. This is just the primary screening tool. Limit the pool to VGDs first, and then you can start sifting for your own personal gold. But why a VGD instead of the prototypical GQ? The answer is simple — Video Game Dudes have spent a life enveloped in a cocoon of social isolation and electronic fantasy, too scared and intimidated to explore and engage the human world. Find a way to connect with a VGD and he will gift you with eternal loyalty and forever worship you even when you mature into a raisin. One word of caution, however: Like any seabird just emerging from the trauma of an oil spill, a VGD may not exactly be impressive to the eye. But do not fret. They will do whatever you say. Style him and ask him to work out. He will not protest. In fact, give him a smile and a moist peck on his cheek and he’ll dive into a nest of hissing cobras without pause just because he loves you (eternally). So where do you find this VGD? Simple. Just go to your local Best Buy and troll around the gaming section. He’ll be that guy busy playing the new hot game at the demo kiosk. Like him? Good. Want to snare him? Be careful. These VGDs are delicate. They know that you’re there and are easily startled. Do not engage a VGD at a gaming kiosk in your traditional girly way. It’ll scare him and cause him to cry and run home to mom. Instead, waltz up to the kiosk, grab the vacant game controller and join in the second his avatar dies. Do not look him in the eye. Just casually say in a slightly commanding register, “Can I play?” He will not say no. Once he lays witness to your impressive gaming ability, even letting out a giggle or two in glee, he’ll strike up a conversation with you and look you in the eye. If that happens, congratulations, your mission is accomplished. The VGD is yours for life, just like when a Na’vi bonds its halu with the banshee for the very first time (that’s an Avatar reference, btw). So go forth now, young butterfly. Go snare yourself a VGD and embrace a life of infinite happiness and eternal love. If you require my further romantic assistance, please feel free to find me at Just know, I too was once a VGD …

Paul Says:

Knowing that Roger was once a VGD gives me great hope because he’s something of an industrial-strength chick magnet and I’m something of a full-power geek. And so it pains me that it’s my duty to provide a counterargument to his proposal, which left alone could convince some of his hot actress friends to go out with me, finally. But I’m a writer first and a lover second (but only because I was told to keep my day job). Truth is, and you’ll likely be really shocked by this, but we VGDs are not the incredible catches Roger makes us out to be.

Going after a VGD, especially by adopting his world, is a tremendous undertaking and one not to be taken lightly. Jumping in half-assed will result in that cheek getting slapped hard. You see, hot female celebrities recently figured out that playing video games or spouting sci-fi/fantasy trivia was a surefire way to access nerds and geeks, the undiscovered country for rapidly increasing fan base. G4’s Olivia Munn’s entire career is based on this simple tip. I’ll admit that even I googled the crap out of her. But now, every actress or model is trying to be geek chic, and it’s transparent and frankly a turn-off to VGDs everywhere. You will likely be called out on your facade by the denizens of the Web, kind of like how people post photos of bad plastic surgery, but more mortifying. Nobody likes a poser, unless said poser is totally into showing her boobs, in which case she can pose all she wants.

If you take Roger’s advice and truly begin training in video games, there are some physical changes you should come to expect. One, your neck will begin to stretch forward like a chicken as you attempt to focus on the TV screen. Two, you will find yourself involuntarily veering your body left and right as you control your game characters. Three, you will develop odd muscles around your fingers. Finally, you will find your mouth agape on a regular basis; I’d watch for stray insects and pools of collecting drool inside.

Now, if you actually happen to try video games and decide that you like it, I need to include some warnings about dating VGDs, as is my duty for the term of this column. While I simply adore girls that sincerely love video games, I have to say that dating a VGD isn’t as rosy as Roger would lead you to believe. Even as you play together, you should know that video games will be a direct competitor for your attention. A romantic dinner with the bird or playing 20 solid hours of the newly released “Final Fantasy XIII”? Oh, that’s a toughie. VGDs won’t cheat on you with another woman, but we will certainly cheat on you with a game. I’ve been known to sneak out of bed to squeeze in some extra game time. That’s the reason why we VGDs so closely studied Ross’ “hug & roll” technique on Friends.

When I played “Warcraft,” it was all my friends and I talked about during dinner. Now that I don’t mess with that crack, I realize it’s as fun to talk about as calculus. For the newly initiated, general video game talk will have the same effect. It will also likely reduce your libido in the same way anti-depressants work. Of course, once you’re fully converted, you’ll be unable to have normal conversations with non-gamers. You’ll even begin to interject gamer-speak, which is confusing. See how your co-workers react when you say you’re going to “pwn” the competition or if you exclaim “w00t” at the end of a meeting. Of course, the VGDs in your office will probably give you a fist bump and/or flowers.

If, after reading all this and ruling out lesbianism, you’re still interested, by all means seek me and my fellow VGDs out at the local Best Buy, preferably on Tuesdays when all the new stuff is out. We promise a hot evening of a Yelp-approved restaurant, a Twitpic on Twitter as proof of our date, engaging conversation on topics like why Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros. is a bitch, and a guaranteed “Like” on anything you do on Facebook henceforth. We may even go buckwild and hold your hand. It will be magical. Won’t you come and be my Player Two?

The Awful Truth: Going the Distance

Paul Nakayama says long-distance dating can be A-OK. Guest columnist Far East Movement see things a little bit differently.

ISSUE: Summer 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Far East Movement


Whenever I go to karaoke (which is far too often for someone my age) I’m reminded of one of my personal greatest weaknesses — I can’t rap for spit, not even the easy Sesame Street ones meant for toddlers. I was always convinced that if I could just overcome this one hurdle, I would be surrounded by dozens of googly-eyed girlfriend candidates drawn to the masculine rhythms of rap as opposed to my Glee show tunes. And so when I had a chance to hang out with the boys of Far East Movement (FM) and see all the love they got from the ladies, I was surprised to learn that they have love maladies of their own — the issues of dealing with long distances. It’s my job, then, to let them know how good they got it. Long distance is not so bad, and can even be the perfect litmus for a relationship.

If you take a glance at my dating portfolio, you’ll notice a couple of things, besides the fact that it can fit into a fortune cookie. One, my relationships were almost all long term, and two, they almost all transitioned into long-distance relationships. Now, most of you would probably interpret this to mean that my girlfriends were forced to move to another state or country to escape my grasp, and some of you punks might be right. But my interpretation for this trend is that life is short and ever changing, and if you’re like FM, you’ve got to take to the road if you want to realize your ambitions. That means that in any relationship, there is a remarkable possibility of being separated by work or family or crazy 2012 earthquakes. This means, of course, that you either survive the distance or don’t. And me, well, I’m writing a relationship column while being almost monk-like single, so take a guess at my track record.

As painful and frustrating as long-distance relationships can be, I was always subconsciously drawn to them on some molecular level. My former roommate and I would have a running ritual whenever I traveled to another country. He’d say, “Don’t come back with a girlfriend!” I’d promise not to, even pinky swearing despite his homophobic protests, and yet a week later, I’d come home professing that I’d found love. I idealized these girls from Farawaynia, found everything to be marvelous and disregarded anything that resembled straitjackets. I’d fly home, thinking, “For her, I could do the whole long-distance thing.” But truth is, it never lasted very long or went beyond phone calls and IM chats that started and ended with “How was your day?” And why should it last? There was never a real connection strong enough to begin with that could sustain a relationship beyond the superficial.

Despite my failures with long-distance relationships and knowing logically that they’re unlikely to work, I’m still drawn to them … because of the “what ifs.” What if it did work? Would that make her The One? I hate drama as much as I hate mayonnaise or reality TV, but I suspect that I’m constantly finding myself in long-distance relationships because it’s the ultimate test. If you can survive living six hours apart, then you can survive petty arguments, jealousy and probably zombie attacks, because you will trust each other. I guess when I’ve been with a girl for a long time it’s good to know that we can survive anything, if we try. Of course, the problem is, most people I’ve dated didn’t really want to try. Hold on a sec while I wipe my tears with this here fiddle.

Now, the good news is, if the relationship is going to fail anyway, at least with a long-distance relationship you’ve got plenty of free time to do the things you want to do. I went out with my friends if I wanted. I’d spend Friday nights playing hours and hours of video games in my underwear while I stuffed my face full of Red Vines and drank eight liters of Mountain Dew. I’d dance along with America’s Best Dance Crew while eating out of a bucket of fried chicken. I’d choose to watch Bruckheimer over effing Nicholas Sparks. But, if we were living together and the relationship still went sour, well, then I suffered Letters to Juliet for absolutely nothing, and my soul would have a gaping hole in it the shape of a vagina. Yes, I know. Nicholas Sparks brings out the worst in me.

It’s hard being separated and making real relationships work. It takes more energy to send real love when you’re spanning hundreds of miles. But if you can survive it, then that’s good love right there, and that’s not something easily distilled. In my book, long distances aren’t necessarily non-starters for a relationship. Actually, in some ways, it’s a true starter because you have to really want it, and you’re forced to compromise to get the things that matter. And if you mess up, at least you’ve got a head start on running away or the time difference to think of an apology. There are worse things than being in love with someone on the other side of the planet … falling out of love with someone on the other side of the bed, for one. Hearing me rap is another.


Tour life is a dream. You’re so removed from all immediate worries like bills, responsibilities and the general stress of everyday life. No one really knows you when you enter a city, and no one really knows you when you leave the next day. It’s just you and your best friends, going to new places, seeing new things and creating new memories. Life on the road is all we really know so when it comes to romance and relationships, what we know is quick and from a distance. A few of us have had long relationships with girls we might have loved or maybe still do, but keeping those relationships might be harder for us than getting a hit song on the radio.

Over the years we’ve learned good women need good attention, and good intentions don’t take the place of immediate action. We’re going to keep names out of this because we value our privacy, but we can each give examples from our lives for days on end. We’ll tell a few stories, so you know what we’re talking about.

One of us had a girl he wanted to ultimately marry. His mission was to do anything he could to be successful in the music business. He wanted the chance to be able to take care of her for the rest of her life. Extra late nights at the studio, months on tour, and all the hard work were motivated by wanting to take care of this girl and create a family. In the end, however, great intentions don’t make up for being around for things like cooking dinner or the holidays. Slowly that relationship turned to resentment and eventually died. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make up for lost time. Buying a stuffed animal in every city stop or staying faithful through any temptation don’t counter the feelings a girl gets when her man is away.

Then there’s the flipside to this in FM. One of us has been able to keep a great relationship going like a Duracell battery. For a relationship to last with careers like ours, it takes two people that understand each other better than they understand the English language. This understanding is what allows for crazy trust, which will get you through the lowest, darkest times. We’re constantly away for months, but as soon as we step off the plane in L.A., she’s there to pick us up. Immediately, they chat like he never left. A relationship like that gives us all hope, but to earn what they have, you’ve got to endure more turbulence than our last flight to Tokyo. It takes a strong man to stay true to his woman at a club across the country or overseas, but it takes a stronger woman to trust that man.

As touring artists, we know the single life oh so well. When we were younger, people would always suggest finding a girl quick. Once our careers took off, it would be impossible to find someone who could understand our schedule without having that history in place. Late-night recording sessions, impromptu meetings, booze-fueled shows at nightclubs, tours that last for months can all spell trouble for a budding relationship. In this lifestyle, you always catch yourself looking out the window of the tour bus for your own Penny Lane, like the character from Almost Famous; someone who enjoys freedom and is willing to accompany you on the road. But most girls that we’re drawn to usually have day jobs or school they can’t leave behind. And, besides, we can’t bring anyone with us on the road, because space is tight and limited only to people who own a meaningful role on the tour. But the single life doesn’t necessarily mean we are lonely when it comes to the ladies. We meet some extraordinary girls that sweep us off our feet. It just means we haven’t been able to build that thing called “love” into a relationship. Maybe the time just isn’t right yet.

We love what we do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Over the next few years, finding a balance between our dreams and our relationships will be essential to keep us inspired and movin’ like a Movement. We have a saying that we, the Far East Movement, are “Free Wired” … and we need girls who are the same. A “Free Wired” girl is supremely comfortable to wild out and just be herself. She’s wired not because she parties all night, but because she’s able to stay connected to us. Her communication skills are off the hook. It’s a free and full exchange in getting to know one another. If you run across one of us someday and want to get to know us, live free and stay wired.

Ask Audrey: Out of Sight …

You’ve got questions — we’ve got answers! Psychotherapist Meme Rhee addresses your most pressing dilemmas, including long distance relationships and Facebook love etiquette. (Got a conundrum? Email us at

Dear Audrey,

I’m in a long-distance relationship with someone from across the world. Recently, I’ve been so busy that I don’t really have the time to think about him or have the motivation to call him. Is it possible to be too busy that you temporarily put him aside or are those signs that I’m losing feelings for him? — Fading Away

Psychotherapist Meme Rhee answers: Healthy relationships require the attention  and effort of each individual. In an ideal partnership, that exchange is balanced. However, to achieve a level of emotional congruency and patience with your partner is not easy, and it’s particularly difficult when you are  geographically challenged. It is possible that you are too busy to think about him, and it’s also possible that it’s too painful to think about him and by “putting him aside” you’ve found a way to manage your feelings without feeling too inconvenienced by them. Because, let’s face it, who wants to pine for someone on the other side of the world?

The Awful Truth| Dates of Glory

DATES OF GLORY: Guest columnist Sarah Gim of the blog The Delicious Life says first dates are all about the food (on your plate and not on you, preferably). If you really want to make an impression, Paul Nakayama offers a fantasy scenario worthy of an SNL skit.

ISSUE: Summer 2011

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Sarah Gim

PHOTO: Audrey Cho

I never understood why there was such a stigma associated with first dates, since it’s always the second date that stresses me out. See, if you’ve gotten to the second date, that means you did well on your first go. Now you’ve set an expectation of some sort. Now you’ve got to live up to that expectation, and the idea of failing — that is stressful. And the third date? The third date, which means you’ve invested something more that just a wink or an email, gives you a lot to lose. Just thinking about third dates gets me so worked up I almost pass out before getting there.

Continue reading

The Awful Truth | Grading the Hall Pass

A week off your relationship? A celebrity one-night stand? A mutually agreed upon hall pass may sound like an easy A, but columnist Paul Nakayama reminds us why that’s just cheating.

ISSUE: Winter 2011-12

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama

Recently, I chatted with my editor at Audrey’s Fashion Night Out. It was nothing too cerebral, since I can’t speak intelligently about politics, the economy, science, literature or really anything besides video games or comic books. (How is a geek like me the relationship columnist, you ask? A steady delivery of cupcakes to a certain office in Gardena helps.) Nonchalantly, she turned to me and asked, “What do you think about hall passes?”

“Do they still use them in school?” I asked.

“No, you know, where you get a week off from marriage and live the single life,” she said.

My jaw dropped. “Your husband is right there!” I gasped. I mean, flattered, but I still gasped.

“What?! No, not with me! I mean as your next topic for the column!” She exclaimed, wide-eyed and likely offended.

I nodded understandingly. Oh. Right. Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking, too. I took the awkward silence as an agreement on our new topic. And so here I am, the single guy talking about the troubles that married couples face.

In the 2011 movie, Hall Pass, by the Farrelly brothers, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are unhappy with their married lives, so their frustrated wives give them a guilt-free week to party like single men. Essentially, they’re authorized to bang anyone if they can pull it off. I don’t know about you, but the premise alone sounds like entrapment. They might as well answer their wives when asked if they look fat. But that’s how the movie goes and, like any predictable comedy, they learn the error of their ways and learn to appreciate their marriages. Of course, in the real world, a story like that can only end in UFC- style beatdowns, dismemberment and the splitting of assets.

But for the sake of adding a few hundred words to the column, let’s explore why a Hall Pass might come to be. I know a lot of married couples and, while they shall remain nameless, the number one complaint I get from the husbands is that sex is all but gone. They say they masturbate more now than when they were single, which means you should never shake hands with a married man. Either you’re too tired, she’s too tired, the kids won’t leave you alone or whatever the reason, sex is rarely as passionate or spontaneous or even available as it used to be. For some men, that’s like being the benchwarmer on a Super Bowl-winning team … they’ll eventually ask themselves, “Why am I wearing this ring?”

That’s not to say that the lack of sex is the biggest issue leading to a Hall Pass-destined marriage – it’s just the most common complaint I’ve heard. I’ve heard it so much that I’m starting to doubt the reasons why married men want man-caves. I’d assumed it was used as a mecca for video games and beer, but the truth might be closer to it being a den of rampant, desperate masturbation.

Part of the draw of the Hall Pass is the fantasy of it all (while the other part is having sex with other people). The grass is greener and all that. Isn’t that why every couple eventually has a what-if talk about their celebrity hall passes? You know, where you each choose five celebrities that you’re allowed to sleep with if the opportunity ever presents itself. But, of course, it’s never supposed to happen. If anything, the celebrity hall pass is a device by which a couple can gauge how much they love each other. For example, let’s just say that Anne Hathaway was all like, “Take me, Paul. I know I’m on your celebrity hall pass list because I read Audrey.” I would have to politely decline and say, “I’m far too happy with my girlfriend to recreate my favorite scenes from Love and Other Drugs with you, Anne.” Because I choose my partner and because I value living.

And vice versa, how would I feel if my girlfriend met Ryan Gosling at a party and he saved a puppy from a burning tent and then asked her, “I need to work on my incredible abs that even men can’t resist. You in?” I mean, at first, yeah, I’d be flattered that Ryan Gosling had the same taste in women as me, but then, I’d be like, “Wait a second ….”

The celebrity hall pass is supposed to be a hypothetical that never comes to be. It’s a game. Otherwise, Hollywood celebs would have celebrity hall passes, too, right? Actually, I just checked TMZ, and I suppose it kind of seems like they do. They call it “dating.” All right, new rule. I’m only talking about us regular folks.

Here’s the thing, though. I know married couples secretly do want a Hall Pass, of some kind anyway. How do I know this? Easy. I’ve been to a little place known as Las Vegas, the Hall Pass Capital of the World. At bachelor and bachelorette parties, do you know the craziest, rowdiest bunch? It ain’t the bride or the groom or the strippers, I’ll tell you that much. It’s the married folks. This is their vacation from marriage. Even if their lives are perfect with a giant home, perfect job, darling little kids, there’s something that becomes pent up inside of every good husband, wife, father and mother. Behind every puking bachelor/ette is a married person that wanted to get their drink on and party like they were single again. I’ve seen it. It’s terrifying.

Now, I’ve given you the reasons why I think Hall Passes could happen, but I should be fair and also give my reasons why, even as a single bachelor trying to live the life, they’re a bad idea. It’s not often that I allow myself to be cheesy in print, but I’m skeptical of Hall Passes because marriage is about building a life together with the things that matter most, and that’s got to be more important than one week of sex with Anne Hathaway. (Maybe … still thinking … no, marriage is more important.) Marriage is one of those promises that take so long to find and so much work to make that breaking it just doesn’t make sense to me. You break the rules once, and you’ll probably break them again. It’s kind of like quitting cigarettes — every now and then you’ll want a stick when drinking. And I want marriage, should I ever find myself in one, to transcend that sort of thing. Unlike comedies, I’m certain that most people can’t recover from a Hall Pass.

I think most married people forget how much it sucks to be single. They’ll say it every now and then, but it’s not a true recollection of the loneliness and desperation. Masturbating a lot as a married man? Please. That’s because you’re keeping count. Being single means always trying to find someone to share things with, and yes, those things include your penis or vagina. Ironically, despite the complaints about the lack of sex in marriages, the strikingly lonesome thing about being single is not the quest for sex; it’s the hunt for companionship. And that hunt can take years, so why ruin it for a week of fun?


Ask Audrey Staff | How (NOT) to pick up an Asian Girl

Wong Fu’s “This is how we never met”

Lets just make one thing clear: If you’re going to include race when trying to flirt with a girl, you’d better choose your words wisely. Some people have a really strange approach to flirting with Asian women and (trust us) a lot of times this just won’t end in their favor. We’ve come across quite a few no-no’s ourselves and we’re here to share them. Continue reading for a list of things NOT to do to pick up an Asian Girl.

Continue reading

The Awful Truth: The Back-Up Plan

THE BACK-UP PLAN: Grenade, hater, cock-blocker — call it what you will, guest columnist Anastasia Kim filters the losers, while wingman Paul Nakayama just tries not to say too much.

ISSUE: Spring 2011

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Anastasia Kim

PHOTO: Audrey Cho

I really should charge by the hour for my wingwoman services. Actually, wingwoman doesn’t quite describe the role so much as “booty guard.”

I am not a “matchmaking” wingwoman, just so you know; you can sign up with eHarmony for that. I am what embittered folk call a “cock-blocker,” “hater” or, if they deem me unattractive enough, a “grenade.” (Hopefully this isn’t the case.)

Continue reading

The Awful Truth: The Office Grind

Photo by Audrey Cho.

Issue: Fall 2010

Dept: The Awful Truth

The Office Grind by Paul Nakayama and Naomi Fujimoto

Is workplace “commingling” a good idea? Guest columnist Naomi Fujimoto says all’s fair in love and work, but Paul Nakayama wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot laser pointer.


Workplace dating is the stuff of great drama. Glee and Grey’s Anatomy — where would they be without it? And what about The Office — the shrugging, the fumbling, the knowing glances? Even on 24, with the fate of the world in question, they still found time for love. All in a day’s work. But enough about TV. I’m real-life proof that you can get your honey where you get your money.

Whether you’re looking at each other over an operating table or a corporate cube, your co-workers see you at your best and your not so best. You see how they deal with stress and relate to other people. And whether they can follow through. In the workplace, people are themselves. Sober. Decent. Good relationship material. (If you’re just looking for a hookup, stay away from your nine-to-five crowd. Sleeping your way to the middle is a bad idea.)

I’m Japanese and an editor, so it won’t be revealing much to say that I love rules. I love that they help me figure out how people will act at work — and, possibly, outside of work. While I can’t say that every girl wants a hero, I like a guy with good problem-solving skills. Responding to an IT “code
blue,” Sean had a confident walk that made him look like he could handle anything. Including me. I had to find out whether he was a MacGyver or a MacGruber.

Our romance started small, tiny even, as workplace entanglements often do. When he stopped by just to say hi or lingered in the hallway, my office mates noticed. One day we went to lunch (Asian fusion, natch). Soon I saw that he could troubleshoot my Mac and share his fries. This unofficial stuff paved the way for our office courtship. Pre-dating can last weeks (if you’re lucky) or years (if you’re me). With all the visits and lunches and hallway conversations, this face time will further your status more than Facebook. Same with those happy hours, where your guy can put his hand on your back to help you throw darts.

Ah, the happy hour. As long as you’re not a boozer or a bimbo, the happy hour is your friend, the one that encourages you and your work buddy to pair off. Enjoy it! But here’s where I’ll come back to the rules again. Keep it rated PG! When you think “workplace grind,” visualize your efforts on a big project, not on the dance floor. (For real. My friend had to see her co-worker dirty dance at the company party. Ew.) Your office friends will be happy for you, but you don’t need to flaunt how in lust you are. Chances are, they noticed the chemistry before you did. They are, after all, people who see you 40-plus hours a week.

Sure, you could meet someone online or in a bar or through a setup. Or you can sit back and see what happens with that guy you always go to lunch with. Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Or maybe it will go somewhere for just a few months, like it did for Sean and me. We broke up recently, and the vibe at lunch has changed. No regrets, though. He was a MacGyver — just not mine.

My awful truth? Workplace dating might seem inexcusable or irresponsible, but it’s also irresistible. If you’re willing to risk a few awkward moments in the elevator, give it a try.


Imagine an adorable bear cub playing with a ball; you can’t help but fawn over it. You approach, unable to stop yourself from petting it. It coos as your hand approaches its face. It is so darn cute! Then suddenly, the cub growls and bares its fangs and mauls your pretty hand into meat strings. You scream and panic, stumbling over your dumb self as you try to escape, but then you realize that you’re locked in a cage. You slap your forehead with what’s left of your hand and curse your own foolishness as that once cuddly bear cub leaps onto your back and takes you down. It’s a horrible tale, I know, and yet so many befall the same fate, except instead of loving a cute but vicious animal,
it’s dating a co-worker.

As my warm little analogy illustrates, dating a co-worker is a dangerous proposition. Think about how many of your exes were brutish, annoying or clingy. You sighed constantly with deep relief when things ended. Now, think about the good ones you’ve had. In an office setting, what are the real odds that you’d meet one of the few good ones and none of the horrible trolls?

Imagine walking to the copy room and running into your ex, the bipolar one who’d refer to himself as “we.” And they’re demanding, “Why did you leave us? Why why why? (And are you done with the copier, skank?)” That would certainly be a good time to run away, but oh, that’s right — you can’t because you work together.

Breakups are manageable when you have space or at least an escape route. Not possible with an office tryst. Or what if it was your heart that was broken? During the Halloween party, you hook up with that longtime crush of yours from accounting, only to discover later he was boofing everyone. Work is miserable enough as it is without having to see some douche bag’s face every five days out of seven. Eventually, you’ll see him hitting on someone new at the office, repeating the same coaxing lines. Your fists will be clenched in anger, and your poor laptop will “accidentally fall down some
stairs.” I can’t even begin to warn you against the dangers of being around the open bar at the company holiday party … you’ll be fondly remembered as the drunken mess that flung cheese at everyone like it was poo, all while sobbing openly like a Bieber groupie.

I get why office romances happen. The fact is, it’s hard meeting people after college, and you spend more time with co-workers than your best friends. Things happen. And there are plenty of examples
of people finding real love in the office. So why not, right? Well, there’s more to lose in an office romance. These things often end poorly, and you’ll only succeed in making your sucky job even suckier. I’ve been in one or two myself that ended in less than desirable ways where the consolation prize is a giant bag of awkward. In this economy, I think it’s better to have a job than a chance at
love, the same chance I could take at my other usual hangouts: the karaoke bar, the 7-Eleven or my parkour club. Because looking for love in the office is a man-eating baby bear that will devour your
heart, and it’s just common sense not to wrestle bears.

The Awful Truth: Dating for Dummies

In honor of the New Year, Paul Nakayama and guest columnist Anastasia Kim swear off mental diarrhea, resolve to get over themselves, and break other bad dating habits.

ISSUE: Winter 2010

DEPT: The Awful Truth

STORY: Paul Nakayama and Anastasia Kim

Dating for Dummies

Last year, I vowed to lose 10 pounds. The following week, I went to an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, making the restaurant regret their business model and upgrading my resolution to 15 pounds. The year before that I lasted about two days before I caved and bought a stack of Blu-rays (and only because the stores were closed on New Year’s).

My previous New Year’s resolutions haven’t gone so well, but that hasn’t stopped me. For 2011, I realized there’s no changing my gluttony or my geeky addictions. Instead, I’ll focus on something new: my weakest, most deficient skill set — ironically, that’d be dating.

I’m 36 and unmarried. Normally, I would emphatically de- fend myself by declaring that it’s by choice. It’s easier to say that I enjoy having the time to write or play video games or re-enact scenes from Lost in my underwear. But I’m more likely single because I sabotaged myself at every turn. It’s not realistic to make huge sweeping changes all at once, so I’ll start with a few simples ones to adopt.

I discovered my joy of writing more than 10 years ago by blogging on and later Livejournal. I didn’t think anyone was reading my stuff so my life sort of became an open book. When social media became mainstream, it was an easy transition to embrace. I was already doing it. Everything I do is transparent: the places I go, what I eat, or what I’m doing. It’s an unfortunate habit. I need to stop publishing every drunken thought, every goofy photo and every lame attempt at humor. So, for Resolution #1, I will filter myself better and curb the mental diarrhea. Yes, it’ll mean fewer comments and “likes” on my Facebook wall, but girls don’t really need or want to know when I’m battling the toilet bowl Hydra.

This sounds dumb, but talking has never been my forte, unless it’s about video games. But we’re talking about dating here, not chilling with my nephews. I overcompensate and say stupid things to alleviate the pressure of awkward silences. I found that I had better luck “talking” to a girl over an instant messenger. I had time to come up with something marginally witty, and I didn’t pollute the conversation with filler talk about “Street Fighter.” This eventually evolved into sending text messages rather than calling. I mean, there is no awkward silence with text messages, and I love that. But what happens when the girl actually agrees to go out? “Hey, take off your bra, sexy,” I’d sext her. And she’d turn to me and say, “I’m right here, freak.” Resolution #2 is to communicate the old-fashioned way.

Despite all my fumbling, I do manage to go out on dates. Ah, but that’s when I do the real damage, where I’m either a Michael Bay movie of ridiculous disasters or an indie flick where nothing ever happens. Why do I drink too much on dates or inevitably end up in the “friend zone?” Because … I never say what I want. I’m too chicken sh-t to say, “I like you. I think it would be awesome to watch movies together and see each other naked on a regular basis.” Resolution #3 is to say what I want and mean. The worst outcome is getting turned down, to which I’ll just say, “Alrighty then.” Best outcome is regular nudity in real 3-D. That’s what you’d call a good bet.

I realize that my resolutions may not help you. After all, they’re designed around my issues. If you’re lazy, use mine any- way. If you think of your own, great! If you fail, well, I’ll meet you at the Korean BBQ.

I’ve dated all kinds of men: the insecure doormat, the unattainable rebel, the chauvinistic meathead, and even the possessive psycho. For years, I wondered why I couldn’t just snag a normal, great guy. But after the tail end of a series of unfortunate dates whipped me across the face, I realized I had been going about it all wrong. I decided then that I’d make a few dating resolutions for myself to get out of this dating slump, instead of waiting for Mr. Right to somehow magically find me.

As a college student, I plunged into the dating pool, head- first, believing feigned confidence and bravura would surely land me a good man. Once, on a date with Mr. R., I talked about myself so much, I forgot for a second he was even there. Midway through the “so this psycho fell in love with me” story, I realized how self-absorbed and entitled I sounded. At some point, I had to tell myself, “Get over yourself. Seriously.” Talking about how many men wanted me didn’t make me seem any more appealing, and complaining about crazy exes made me look like a psycho-magnet. Stories told for the sake of receiving validation should stay between girlfriends; sharing too much with our date only shows how little we have to lose if things don’t pan out. Let’s date each individual as if that person is our last chance at romance because in the end, isn’t that what most of us are searching for?

When I first started dating Mr. H., I thought he was a sweet, funny guy. After the honeymoon blinders came off, though, I realized he was a jobless, unmotivated slob. Less than a year into our relationship, we were fighting over his “Counter- strike” addiction and his penchant for sitting around in his dirty underwear all the livelong day. Ladies, ever meet a guy who’s great in so many ways, but you can’t help but think, “if only he …”? If only he were more ambitious, fit or understanding? How many of us decide to date these men anyway, hoping that with time, and a little “guidance,” they’ll become the men of our dreams? Sadly, people don’t change very often, and I ended up feeling hopeless. Soon after we broke up, I told myself I should date a person’s now, not their potential. Let’s spare our partners (and ourselves) the disappointment, and avoid getting into a re- lationship with someone who isn’t their potential now.

I’ve always been a rigid list-keeper; as such, I often missed out on meeting potentially wonderful men because in one way or another, they didn’t fit my ideal “type.” But after dating men who seemed like my type, and seeing those relationships fail, I learned to break the “type” in stereotype. Take it from me. A doctor from Harvard won’t always know how to mend a broken heart, and old money won’t always solve new problems. A guy with a Porsche may not always rev up our engine, and an Abercrombie model who does his body good may not necessarily do ours any good. Dating isn’t so much about matching outer desires, but more about fulfilling our inner needs. Let’s meet that need first, and then think about all of the extras. Like chiseled abs.

The best way to achieve dating success is to meet love halfway and modify our expectations. Here’s hoping that in the New Year, we won’t need to make any more dating resolutions!

More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.