Mr. Popularity – The Early Years

Mr. Popularity – The Early Years

This is my high school senior yearbook photo. I know what you’re thinking: Tim, you look so cool – not the least bit nerdy.

This is my high school senior yearbook photo. I know what you’re thinking: Tim, you look so cool – not the least bit nerdy.

I am often asked, “Tim, were you always so popular and beloved by all who know you?” Admittedly this question is usually posed during a recurring dream in which Scarlett Johansson presents me with the Pulitzer Prize for Bad Humor Writing. You may find this hard to imagine, but in my younger days, I was not nearly so popular with the girls or envied by the guys; nor was I as comfortable making verifiably false claims as I am today.

The truth is, before college, where I assumed a totally new identity and back story, I was rather shy and nervous – especially around the fairer sex. I blame this on attending the Albany Academy, an all-boys’ school, for twelve years and being a late bloomer (I expect to start blooming any day now).

In addition to these impediments, I was one of the lucky teens who wore braces, was afflicted by acne, and was slightly overweight. I also lived nowhere near any of the other kids in my school, so getting together with them was a no go. Then sprinkle in a large dollop of parental disapproval from an extremely strict father who perpetually described me as “a disappointment,” and you have the perfect recipe for an awkward young man not exactly brimming with self-confidence.

At the Academy, a private military school, there were the usual cliques – the cool kids, jocks, theater guys, and stoners. I belonged to a very small and eclectic group consisting of one member: me. I was the pleasant enough but somewhat serious “straight arrow” who was considered too much of a bookworm to invite to parties. On most Saturday nights, while the majority of my class was getting drunk at Woody’s house or Hayward’s or Robb’s, I was typically at home, falling asleep watching Mannix at 10:00 on CBS. 

Truth be told, I didn’t really care that I missed all the parties, in part because I did not drink (still don’t), and also, I just was not into that scene. I found meaning in studying – all the time. There’s a word for someone like me who routinely got good grades and devoutly completed all homework before allowing himself to play: A Nerd.

I guess, if I’m being honest with myself (something I try to avoid as much as possible), I was a little behind the curve in a few areas – like what to say on a date… or what to wear on a date… or how to get a date. Continue reading “Mr. Popularity – The Early Years” »

My Fifty First Dates

My Fifty First Dates

first-date-young-manWhen I look back at my youth, I sometimes cringe about all those first dates and how awkward I was. A lot of men worry about making a bad first impression, fearing they might do something stupid like forget to bring their wallet or accidentally show their date pictures of their wife and kids. Bad form.

I’ve been out of the dating scene for a few decades, but I doubt it’s changed much. The last time I asked out a woman other than my wife, Margaret Thatcher was the newly elected prime minister of Great Britain, Christopher Cross had just topped the music charts with Sailing, and a surefire way to pick up chicks was to impress them by riding the bar’s mechanical bull. Um, okay, maybe things have changed a bit since I was making my moves.

I’ve had lots of experience with first dates – and even a few isolated experiences with second dates. I won’t sit here and brag that I’m God’s gift to women – and I’m pretty confident neither would any of my first dates. But I can vividly recall how some of those entrées into the dating world went. I’d like to share my wisdom around this important mating ritual, in the hopes it may help some of you single guys out there have a better chance at a second date. (I swear I’m not making up any of the following examples).

If you’re in say, middle school, and you’re on the very first date of your life, don’t put your arm around the girl during the movie unless you pick up clear signals she’s into you. Subtle signs she may not be into you include:

  • She stares at the screen the entire time, refusing to make eye contact with you
  • After five minutes, she discreetly removes your arm from her shoulder – and does it again five minutes later
  • When your older brother picks you up after the movie, she asks you to sit in the front seat instead of the back seat with her
  • When you attempt to walk her to her door (as your father told you was the gentlemanly thing to do), she sprints

These all happened to me on my very first date. I felt so crushed that I briefly considered the merits of changing my sexual orientation.

Continue reading “My Fifty First Dates” »

My true story of the greatest prom night of all time

My true story of the greatest prom night of all time

[Note from the staff of VFTB: This week Tim Jones waxes nostalgic with fond memories of his high school senior prom. However, in the interest of editorial integrity, the staff felt obligated to set the record straight where Tim’s memory veers slightly from how the evening’s events actually transpired. – VFTB Staff]

It’s high school prom season. I am always cheered to see so many handsome young men dressed to the nines in their formal tuxedo and cummerbund with matching Nirvana t-shirt, high top sneakers and untied laces, escorting their lovely female companions to the big dance. It brings back memories of my own high school prom, one of the most magical evenings of my life.

I attended an all-boys’ private military academy. The prom tradition at our school was preceded by a formal military parade and competition, pitting drill teams from five companies in our school’s battalion against each other to see which company could create and execute the most original precision drill team performance without accidently shooting any of the guests.

I was Captain of Company B. My company only took out one onlooker but he didn’t actually have tickets to the competition, so it was partially his own fault. [Staff: Turned out to be Tim’s grandfather. He was old anyway.] The drill competition went off without a hitch, with almost no popular students impaled by a rifle bayonet.

Continue reading “My true story of the greatest prom night of all time” »