Episode four preview

 

ISSN 2476 – 1753 (online)

In a city known explicitly for politics, no one was more politically in tune than Francine Donohue. The enterprising wife of a Maryland State Senator was an empty nester, who’d struck gold with a social community website geared toward female movers and shakers called, “The She-ro Club.”

The online club didn’t offer much in financial gains, but it did serve as her virtual handshake with many of the area’s finest influencers, both old and new. And with the next election less than a year away, this type of clandestine schmoozing certainly didn’t hurt.

One day, while surfing the Internet in search of some new recruits, she came across a series of 140 characters—some less—that detailed a young woman’s journey in and about Washington, DC, as she worked to build an independent record label, while also navigating the rather bleak dating scene in the city.

This small bit of information prompted Francine to dig a little deeper. Her research led her to another social media site where she found an ongoing collection of mostly cell phone recorded videos of behind-the-scenes footage of the apparent business of which this same industrious young woman was the owner. Mrs. Donohue was taken aback by the site of the “office”—just a little a room in the basement of a house—and how it functioned well as the headquarters for this growing company.

She continued clicking through video after video. After a while, she almost felt like she knew this kid, who, through these videos, introduced her to a soft-spoken, pious rapper, and a young dude with a guitar perpetually glued to his shoulder, both of whose careers—and in most cases, their lives—the young woman oversaw.

Mrs. Donohue continued digging. She found the company’s website, press releases and news stories about the artists’ work and performances, reviews about the products, which were primarily favorable, and tons of other articles and pictures.

After almost an hour, she had seen enough.

I was sitting in my second office, Bus Boys & Poets, when my phone alerted me of an awaiting 301 caller.

“Ms. Kenya Shaw,” the caller stated after I answered. It wasn’t a question; it was more like a declaration.

“Yeah,” I said, more than happy to admit this. “Who is this?”

“Francine Donohue here, of the Annapolis Donohues,” she said, with far more pride than I’d had confirming my identity. “I’m a huge fan of your work.”

The grimace that covered my face drew the silent inquisition of J sitting across from me. She even mouthed the words, “Who is that?” But I just continued to give my phone conversation my undivided attention.

“I’m still in utter amazement how the World Wide Web has made this planet so much smaller,” she said, which confirmed that she and I were not of the same generation.

As she went on, telling me about something she called, “The She-ro Group,” of which I had never heard, I was busy Googling the Annapolis Donohues.

Despite being a DC girl, I was incredibly ignorant to politics and the players in that game, so I had never heard of Senator Frank Donohue, who apparently almost won the Republican nomination for president some years ago, or Francine, who herself, had built a handsome income selling women’s gloves, hats, and other vital accessories via television-shopping channels. Together, they owned a third of the state of Maryland and much of Frank’s hometown in the Midwest.

I also had no idea how she had gotten my personal cell phone number, but I chose to save that question for another time.

“Kenya,” she said again, in that declaratory way, almost like she was announcing the winner of an election. “I’m having a little holiday soiree here at my home in Annapolis, and I would be delighted if you would make it. You are exactly the kind of young candidate I look for to be a part of The She-ro Club.”

I was in awe now at this surprising conversation, and the change of expression on my face reflected this new emotion, which drew the question in the form of a demanding whisper again from J across from me, “Who the fuck is that?”

I almost laughed at her, but instead answered Mrs. Donohue, “Of course. I’d be delighted.”

“Wonderful!” she said. “I’ll have someone send you the information.”

We exchanged a bit more small talk where she briefly shared the story of how she’d found me on the Internet, and then just as we were about to hang up, she said, “Oh, and by the way, what do you call it? The stories, the videos, the posts… All that stuff. It’s like a documentary. What’s the title of it?”

“What? My tales of music and men?” I asked, with a snicker, half joking because I was still confused. “No, I don’t exactly have a name for it. It’s just random social media posts, I mean—”

“My tales of music and men,” she repeated, ignoring everything else I’d just said. “I like it!” she concluded. “Alright, Kenya. I gotta run. Take care.”

And once again, that contorted grimace I had when she first called me had returned to my face as I was wondering, She likes what?

This again drew the ire of J across from me, who still needed to know, “Who was that?!”

My father let me borrow his car to drive to the party, a late model hybrid sedan, “but affordable,” something he insisted that I know. My dad was incredibly frugal, and even the thought of splurging on something like a car, which “depreciates the minute you take ownership of it,” had to make sense to him in ways greater than transportation style. So he took pride in the fact that he could get so many more miles per gallon compared to other vehicles, and still look fancy while driving.

So for the first time, I got to get behind the wheel of this well-crafted, “affordable” American-made automobile; Ty rode shotgun while J was confined to the backseat. Choosing not to bother my father’s radio presets, we cruised along Rt. 50 listening to songs that had come out well before our time, but to which we all somehow knew the words.

“Back in Chicago, we use to do this whenever we heard this song,” J said, as she began demonstrating a collection of chest claps, snaps, and hand-rubs emulating the music of Zapp & Roger’s “Computer Love.”

“That song came out in like ’84,” Ty said. “You weren’t even born then—”

“”It was ’85,” I corrected.

“God, why don’t they make music like this anymore?” Ty asked, rhetorically.

But J still responded sincerely, “Yeah, where is T-Pain at when you need him?”

Again, rhetorical, but warranted a few moments of consideration.

“Alright, enough of this,” J said, as she scooted up for the remote to turn the station.

“Don’t mess up anything. My father is funny about his stations.”

“I need to hear something from this century,” J complained. “Preferably, something lyrically misogynistic over a tight ass beat,” she added without the hint of a joke in her tone.

J was the biggest Hip Hop fan I’d ever met in my life. Forget calling her a “fan;” she was a historian with savant-like ability to remember years and liner notes. To her credit, she had good taste and ingested mostly the really good stuff—the Pac, the Cube, the Nas, the Kendrick… I was the only person to know of her secret crush on Nelly (which also had a little something to do with her secretly liking his music), but because he was not of the same musical pedigree as the aforementioned “MCs” that were among her favorites, I would never sell her out by mentioning this to another soul!

She wasn’t skimming stations randomly; she was searching for something specific, and when she found it, she said, “Here we go.”

She’d settled on an Internet station playing an artist even I’d never heard of. Ty asked her something about a story she was writing and they began to discuss that, but I continued listening to the person talking about the song that was just played and the one he was just about to play.

“So why are we going to Annapolis?” J asked.

“Oh my god. You got into the car and you don’t know why? Who does that?” Ty asked, laughing.

“Mrs. Donohue asked her if she knew any other ‘progressive millennial women’. So she invited me,” Ty said with a smile. “And since I didn’t get you a Christmas present, I invited you,” she added, much to J’s chagrin, as they both shared a laugh.

Out of nowhere, I said, “I’m going to send them Tk’s next album as soon as I get…” but was quickly cut off by Ty.

“Hey, what did we say before we left DC?” she asked, in a condescending motherly tone.

I answered anyway, begrudgingly, “No business talk.”

“That’s right,” she said.

Little did she know, I was still going to think about business.

The houses on this street were afforded a proper amount of elbowroom—enough space between them for privacy, but not enough to feel secluded. And although they were all unique in their own way, they all still fell under the spectrum of Classic Colonial Revival.

We crept onto an estate, also not unlike the others, covered in Christmas decorations that greeted us from the street all the way up to the roundabout driveway and extended onto the house. A young man in a black suit approached the car as I came to a stop, indicating that his job was to do the honor of parking for us. At least, that’s what I hoped as I presumptuously stepped out and allowed him to get in and drive off.

I only thought about the idea of his true identity for a second because Mrs. Donohue, who was standing at the door greeting people as they came in, met me before I could enter and wrapped her arms around me.

“Kenya! Oh my god. I feel like I already know you!” she bellowed.

“Likewise, Mrs. Donohue.” And as we came out of our embrace, I said, “I’d like for you to meet Dr. Tylia Aldridge and J Llaureano, my friends I was telling you about.”

“Yes. It’s a pleasure to meet you young ladies,” she said to them, and greeted them each with warm handshakes.

As we entered, I could hear J whisper, “See? She told her about me too.”

As expected, the Donohue’s house was amazing. The inside maintained the theme that the outside introduced—lights and wreaths and garlands and stockings and figurines, and of course a tree, which was nearly 10 feet tall, complete with gifts at the bottom and a little angel at the top.

Mrs. Donohue commenced showing us the place herself, walking us around and introducing us to the other people there. Besides one of her daughters, who was home for the holidays—a medical student at Penn—we were the only people there under 35.

And not even a full five minutes in, J noticed the depressing lack of men present.

“And the few who are half decent looking seem square as hell,” she whispered to Ty, who shushed her, nervous that someone might hear her.

Seemingly, the entire state of Maryland and even some of DC and Virginia had come to the Donahue’s for baby quiche, mini crab cakes, and wine straight from their cellar. And as the evening went on, we found ourselves in various conversations with some fascinating people, flexing muscles we didn’t always take the time to show off while talking with each other. And yes, I talked lots and lots of business.

“In this area of the country,” Ty explained, “sellers still have the upper hand in most cases.” She was talking to a woman and a man who both had east Indian accents. She went on, “Navigating real estate in an area that’s almost never affected by economic peaks and valleys, as a buyer, can be a bit tricky.”

“I know,” the woman said. “I was outbid by $20 thousand above asking for a condo in Silver Spring.”

Ty leaned in and the couple did the same as she said, “I have some great insight about buying foreclosures for investments that might help you,” Ty said, and smiled as the two of them perked up to hear her.

Across the room, J had found herself in a conversation with one of the few halfway handsome guys there, who worked in the government, but refused to say which department (probably FBI).

“You can’t just pick stocks willy nilly,” she advised. “It’s all about where you are financially. Look, go to the Motley Fool website. When I first got into investing, I learned a lot just reading their articles.”

“Really?” the guy said, finding this information shocking.

“Yes,” J said. “And now, you should see my portfolio.”

“Well you have to share some of your strategies—”

Before he could get any more information from J, a woman appeared from behind and hooked her arm around his.

He quickly said to her, “Sweetie, J here was just telling me about where to get good investment advice.”

The woman avoided looking at J, and simply said to him, “We should get going. It’s late.”

As she gently pulled him away, he managed to get in, “Nice to meet you, J.”

J gave a fake smiled, but as soon as he looked away, that smiled was quickly replaced with an eye-roll, as she knocked back the rest of the drink in her Martini glass.

“Ladies, this is Kenya Shaw,” Mrs. Donohue said, introducing me to a coterie of women previously engaged in a conversation about their support of the National Symphony Orchestra. “She publishes the most fascinating anecdotes online about her life as a record company owner and dating experiences in DC.”

One woman asked, “You actually talk about your life online?”

While another woman added, “You actually own a record company?”

And another woman asked, “You actually find dates in DC?”

That last one made me smile. And I answered the questions in order, “Ah. Yes. Yes. And… occasionally.”

Now, everyone laughed.

“My business life and my personal life often have a recurring theme,” I said. “And I just feel sometimes like I don’t know what I’m doing in either one.”

A voice from nowhere agreed: “You can say that again.”

And again, they all shared a laugh.

I went on, “There’s the professional duty of helping musicians get their music heard by the world. And the personal agenda of trying to figure out how to speak a language that the opposite sex can understand…” And I let out a deep sigh.

“That’s a lot of stress for a young woman,” Francine said jokingly, but probably seriously too.

“I think social media helps,” I said. “And the fact that one of my best friends here is a shrink…” I looked over at Ty and everyone turned to notice her. “It helps me keep some level of sanity.”

Just then, a woman who’d been introduced to me earlier, Mrs. Stee—who made it a priority to inform me that she was turning 80 on Christmas Day—jumped in the conversation: “Well I am just amazed at how you young people have learned to utilize this internet thing for so much. I thought my granddaughter was going away to college. Instead my den now doubles as a classroom.”

She shook her head as if she was really disturbed by this fact, as another woman, middle aged, said facetiously, “Yeah. Before you know it, someone will come up with the crazy idea to find dates using the Internet.”

“Precisely!” Mrs. Stee agreed, unknowingly.

As everyone laughed, Francine said, “She’s toying with you, Mrs. Stee.”

Just then, Liz Blanket, a 42-year-old military general with no kids and no spouse, but a confident disposition to go along with perfect hair, chimed in. “I don’t know about you all, but the internet has been a lifesaver for me in that department.”

And this is when a bunch of other woman, many of whom weren’t even in the conversation in the beginning, decided to jump in, agreeing with her, saying, “Yeah, me too.”

“In my line of work,” Liz continued, “it’s difficult to date the old-fashioned way, but these sites make it so easy.”

“Yes!” said a woman in a beautiful pink hijab. “And some websites even specialize in niches. They have sites dedicated specifically to Muslim singles.”

Liz turned to me and asked, “Do you do online dating?”

I probably looked like a deer in headlights as the attention had quickly turned back to me. “No,” I said. “I’ve… never even tried—”

“Try it,” Liz insisted (in that staff sergeant tone). “It would at least be great ammo for that website of yours.”

“Well, it’s not a website, it’s just—”

I tried to correct her—that it was just social media—but others started to support her.

“It’s way better than the bar scene,” a Chinese lady said to me, insistently.

“I agree,” Liz said. “For the last 4 years, I’ve only dated people I’ve met online.”

“It’s been two years for me,” the other lady said.

For the next twenty minutes, we listened to stories about women’s digital pursuits to find love.

J, Ty, and I were all on separate sides of the room during this turn of events, but we all made eye contact in that very moment. J never had the need, Ty had been in a marriage up until recently, so she never had the opportunity, and I had just never taken the time to try it. But as we made our way back to the city that night, online dating was the topic of discussion. Were we missing out on a significant segment of the market by ignoring the digital sector?

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I hadn’t forgotten about that Internet station, but all of this talk about online presence prompted me to do some research. I’d planned to carry out an almost entirely digital marketing and sales campaign for Tk’s next project, but when I sat down to look at our past numbers, I got a virtual slap in the face.

Despite having published over 50 more original songs than Lucas, he only had a fraction of the online following and an even smaller percentage of video views. I hadn’t considered this when I came up with the big idea to do virtually everything digital this go around.

“It’s because I sell most of my music and merch at shows or other events, not online,” Tk said in his defense.

“Right,” I agreed looking at the hard numbers in front of me on the screen. “You make 74% of your revenue through physical sales.”

Tk was a different type of 28-year-old. I wished I could’ve used the fact that he was married with a kid as an excuse, but I couldn’t. He just wasn’t into social media.

“It’s because I don’t share anything,” he said. “I know what it takes to get people into you online and it’s just… not really my thing. What can I say? I’m a better in-person person,” he said.

Was this a thing? Were there in-person people and digital people? If so, I had my work cut out for me. With only a few months before the album dropped, I had to find a way to move Tk from offline to online.

While I was trying to get one artist to put himself on the Internet more, the other didn’t seem to have a life outside of it.

Lucas had a scheduled recording session from 8–6. So when I walked up at 8:20 AM and found him sitting outside playing on his phone, needless to say, I was more than a bit confused.

So I stood right in front of him, watching as his thumbs worked overtime, writing something that was apparently very funny, because he chuckled. And then he chuckled a second time, not seeming to notice me at all. Or perhaps, not caring to.

I cleared my throat, which drew his eyes up.

“It’s 20 minutes after 8—”

“Oh, yeah, I don’t think anybody’s here,” he interrupted quickly.

I grimaced, knowing full well that Alana was inside because I had talked to her earlier that morning.

“Did you call up?” I asked him.

He giggled again at something on his phone, not having heard a word I’d just said.

So I stared at him for a moment before saying, “Hello? Anybody home?”

Finally, he looked up and said, “What?”

“I said did you ring the buzzer.”

I pressed the four-digit code on the intercom to ring the suite and Alana picked right up. “Kenya?”

“Yup,” I responded.

And that was that. The buzzer sounded and Lucas stood up and followed me in.

“Hey, is that food for me?” he asked, referring to the bag in my hand.

I glanced back at him, still annoyed with the fact that he sat outside wasting valuable recording time.

And then he spat out a sarcastic, “Sorry. Good morning, Ms. Shaw.”

He followed me as I walked by the elevator and went for the stairs.

“The elevator’s right here. Where are you going?” he complained.

He continued behind me up the three flights to the studio suite. And even as we walked, I glanced back to see that he was still staring at the phone, smiling, and typing what could only be the response to hilarious message.

And so I asked, “What are you doing? Who are you talking to?”

Again, without looking up from the phone, he said, “Well… I was up all night after I searched my name online to see what would come up and found this site, right, with like this shrine or something…”

I shook my head. Yes, I was judging.

“No, but it was really cool,” he said in his defense. “It’s called ‘True Lucas Fans’ and it’s like this fan page. I have fans, can you believe that?! They’re reposting my videos, putting up my lyrics and all kinds of cool shit.”

I smiled now and said, “So you got a little fan club, huh? That’s cute.”

“It’s not little. It’s like… 13 members already,” he said, proud.

“Wow,” I replied.

“Don’t tease.”

Still teasing, I said, “I’m not teasing. I’m just like, wow, 13 whole people.” I laughed, but he didn’t find my sarcasm funny.

“All you need is about 7 more,” I said, “and we can sell out your apartment.”

Ignoring me, he went on, “So, I emailed her.”

And right then, the smile slid of my face, and I stopped right there on the stair. “Wait. You emailed who?”

“Rebecca,” he answered. “She’s the one who started the site.”

This was no longer funny. “Lucas, that is not… a good idea—”

Brushing me off and walking pass me, he said, “No, it was cool. She emailed me back.”

Now I was behind him on the staircase. My mind was racing as I followed him, trying to figure out what exactly I might need to do considering I may actually have a real situation on my hands.

“She lives in Miami at school,” he said.

And with that, I finally exhaled.

“But she’s coming to Maryland to visit her grandparents for the holidays.”

And again, my heart rate increased.

Finally, we reached the third floor and went into the studio suite. He was more interested in getting a few bites of the food before recording than he was at trying to reconcile the look of terror that covered my face. He took out the bottle of orange juice, cracked it open, and began drinking, still ignoring my unasked questions.

But he had more to add: “So… we’re gonna meet up when she gets here. This for me too?” he asked, showing me the apple that was in the bag.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to say; it was that I genuinely could not speak at the moment. I’d hoped that I had more time before I would need to deal with things like this—fanatics and groupies. But I guess I’d forgotten that, completely opposite of Taj Kamal, Lucas’ whole existence, which included his fledgling career, took place entirely on the Internet. I was responsible for helping create a world for him online, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by his savvy connection with girls via zeros and ones.

The old proverb goes: live by the sword, die by the sword. For us, we lived by the computer and Internet… One could only hope that was as far as it would go.

Later that afternoon, I met up with Soloman and his business partner, Christian Pete, at Bus Boys & Poets. After the response I’d gotten at Francine’s to the things I was doing online, I requested some of their time to discuss how I might be able to capitalize on this. As partners in a successful software start-up, I figured they would be the perfect people to point me in the right direction.

“So what Pete and I can do,” Soloman, explained, “is optimize it for you. Your company’s website, plus Tk’s and Lucas’—”

“And especially where you host your videos,” Pete chimed in. “SEO is all you’re missing—”

“SEO? What’s SEO?” I asked. “And how much does it cost?”

“Oh, search engine optimization,” Pete explained. And with a smile, he added, “Doesn’t cost you anything. It’s when people go to, say, Google, and they search for, I don’t know, ‘DC music’? You want to be one of those top search results. Basically, we can set up your website to become one of the first options for people looking for info on your topics. More traffic, especially with the videos, and you can start making money with this thing.”

“Wow, so… what do I need to do?” I asked.

“We’ll handle the technical stuff,” Soloman said. “Just keep writing and making videos. And I guess… keep making music and dating.”

As we shared a laugh, the mention of websites and dating made me want a male perspective on the notion. These women had to be meeting someone online…

“Let me ask you guys something: what do you think about online dating?”

Soloman and Pete looked at each other.

“You know me,” Soloman said, “I’m a little more traditional, so it’s not my thing—”

“And how’s that working out for you?” Pete joked.

And Soloman didn’t have an answer, just a smile.

“Well… I met my fiancé online,” Pete revealed.

“Really?!” I asked, shocked by this admission by Christian Pete.

“Yeah,” he confirmed.

“He had profiles everywhere,” Soloman said, laughing.

Pete defended, “Hey, it’s called, diversification…”

My face still hadn’t erased the look of shock. This was coming from Christian Pete who was actually just Peter Methany to most people, but I called him “Christian” Pete because… well, he was Christian. Very, very Christian.

Which he confirmed as he went on: “Yeah. The good Lord blessed me with a woman who shares the same values and outlook on the future. We’ve been blessed to find each other and be together for two years now.”

And still, I couldn’t believe it and my face showed it.

Pete called himself a “hybrid” because he was born in the Philippines to a Black mother and Filipino/Spanish father. Although he and Soloman were cut from the same cloth career-wise, can you believe that he actually looked more stereotypically nerdy? I joked with him that he was a lost cast member of The Big Bang Theory, which he accepted as a compliment.

“What? I’m in front of a computer 12 hours a day, more if you include personal surfing,” he explained. “It’s convenient. It’s practical. It’s cost efficient… You both should give it a try. It’s less pressure, no expectations…”

Soloman and I looked at each other.

And then Soloman said, “Maybe I’ll resort to cyberspace once I’ve exhausted all my options here in the real world.”

“Resort? Dude, almost 1 in 3 relationships start online now,” Pete said.

But Soloman came back with, “But 40% still meet through mutual acquaintance.” Soloman—maybe joking, maybe not—looked at me and asked, “You don’t have any great, single female friends that you could… hook a brother up with, do you?”

Pete rolled his eyes, while smiling and shaking his head.

His question turned from a rhetorical joke to seriously, give me an answer in two seconds. I had never played matchmaker with my friends out of fear that it would backfire and I’d be stuck in the middle.

But as I started to think about whose name I could give him, he noticed this contemplation and lit up at the idea.

Not to disappoint him, I said, “Maybe. I’ll see what I can do.”

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I liked the idea of swiping left or right on pictures… Didn’t really like the idea being swiped left or right based solely on my picture. I wanted to take this seriously, but after researching most of the popular dating apps and sites, I still hadn’t decided where I wanted to start.

While holding the phone, a message with simply the word, “Hey,” popped up with a ding sound.

I realized that it was 9. After texting all week, Derek and I had scheduled our first video chat.

I frantically looked around for something, anything that could give me a clear reflection. Ah, a CD! I grabbed one and quickly took it out of the case, turned it over, and used the back of it as a mirror to primp and pluck out my hair, making sure it looked alright. In fact, I needed to make sure I didn’t unknowingly have anything embarrassing happening on my face before he saw me.

“Still good?” he texted.

“Of course,” I texted back.

With a few more plucks of the hair, the phone was ringing. I chose to use the computer to answer.

“Hi,” I answered with a smile as his face appeared on my screen.

“Hi, he responded back with a smile. “You look busy. Were you busy?”

“No,” I said. “No, I’m just…” I thought better of it, but then I decided to go ahead and tell him what I was doing. “Actually, I’m looking at online dating sites. For research purposes, of course.”

“Research, huh?”

“Yeah. It seems to be the in-thing. So a couple friends and I figured we would try it out,” I said. “Just to see what it’s like.”

“So what are you looking for?” he asked.

“You mean… like on the site?”

“I mean, I’m sure when you start looking at all those profiles, a certain something has to stand out to you in order to… I don’t know, attract you to them,” he said.

I smiled and said, “Mr. St. Cyr, are you trying to get me to divulge my personal screening process?”

And he laughed. “I’d just like to know… what my chances are. That’s all.”

I couldn’t help but look at him looking back at me, waiting for me to answer.

And so I asked, “Your chance for what?”

“My chance to… have more video chats with you at night. Or during the day. Or whenever.”

Just to play along with him, I said, “Okay. I’ll give you one. The rest, you’ll just have to find out over other video chats. Or whenever,” I teased.

“Alright. I’ll take that.”

I looked at the screen for a prototypical “profile question” that I could answer.

“Here we go,” I said. “Smoker or nonsmoker. I look for non. Can’t stand cigarette smoke. On my top 10… that might be number 5.”

“So there’s 4 more important things,” he said, nodding his head. “You’re not going to make it easy for me, are you?”

“That would take all the fun out of it.”

And he agreed, “True. It would.”

“So. Have you ever dated somebody you met online?” I asked him.

And he took a deep breath and considered it for a moment. “No, I haven’t. For the longest time, I had a negative perception of people who did. But a friend of mine has been in a five-year relationship with somebody they met online, so… Maybe I should be more open-minded, I guess.” And then he asked, “What about you? Why’ve you never tried it?”

I took a moment to think about my answer too. I actually didn’t really have a reason for not trying it, I just never did.

So I said, “I’m gonna be honest with you: I attempted to fix my hair before I answered your call. And I’m sure I failed, so… I don’t think I have the most confidence in my online persona.”

“I’m gonna be honest with you,” he said in return. “Your hair looks great. So I don’t think you would have anything to worry about.”

I couldn’t help but blush, and I’m certain he noticed it. So to change the subject, I said, “So, ah… how’s Dallas?”

But he noticed this attempt to change the subject and he just smiled before he proceeded to tell me about his trip home for the holidays.

Derek and I video chatted for the next three hours. I never got around to creating that dating profile.

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