Money Manners


BIO: Despite having lived in Philadelphia for four years playing softball and studying at the University of Pennsylvania, I am a true Kansas Citian. I grew up in Shawnee and now live in a loft in the River Market. My outlook on dating is largely a combination of my Midwest values and my East Coast education -- I'm not looking to get married anytime soon but one day hope to meet Mr. Right.E-MAIL:

Entry 10

It's almost time for a new year, which lends itself well to reflection - on the year passing and on the one coming. New Year's is time for endings as well as for beginnings; for looking behind and looking ahead.

Overall, I'd say that 2005 treated me pretty well. During this year I traveled outside of the country for the first time on a two week backpacking trip through Europe alone. I ran a marathon and got a promotion at work. I survived my first full year in the post-college "real world" and made huge progress in figuring out what really matters in life.

And as this wonderful year comes to an end, so does my Dating Diary. I have to admit that it's a bit bittersweet. I truly am sad that it's over, but in a way, I'm glad to be done.

When I first volunteered to post a weekly account of my life as a single, I didn't anticipate the possible downsides. I didn't realize that my family would be so upset that I referred to myself as a "whore" (albeit an "attention" one), that my friends would misread what I wrote and think that I was implying something about them, or that the guys I dated would find out about my column and take offense to things I did, or more often did not, write about them.

Still, I'm incredibly thankful to have had this opportunity. During the past ten weeks I've been from fast to feast. I've dated a range of guys (including my first 30+ year old) and can credit my column as the source of at least half of the dozen plus guys I've gone out with since it started. In dating, and in writing about these dates, I've had the opportunity to reflect on where I am and what I want. As cliche as it sounds, I've learned a lot about myself.

Before this blog, I considered myself a wannabe writer. Now I can say that I am a writer, or at least that I'm taking steps toward pursuing what I used to refer to as my "secret dream." Having a chance to write for the Star has inspired me to take writing classes, join a writers group, and get involved in the writing community here in Kansas City. I'm not sure what will come from this, but at least I'm starting to put myself out there.

And that's why I want to hear from you, the KC Star readers. So please e-mail me. Let me know what you think - about what I wrote or how I wrote it, about what I've learned or what I'm still oblivious to. Maybe the only people who read my weekly postings are my friends, co-workers and fellow bloggers. Please prove me wrong, and send me your thoughts. And if you fall into one of those three categories, I want to hear from you too! My e-mail address is at the top of the page, and I really would love a response.

Until then, I thank you for sharing with me in this journey. I feel privileged to have had this forum to share my thoughts and feelings and to put my writing out there for the first time.

I have no idea what 2006 has in store, but I look forward to whatever the future may hold. And I wish the best - in life and in love - to all of you as well. Happy dating!

Entry 9

I'm about to move into a new apartment.

While I am excited to finally have a place of my own, I'm not looking forward to the actual move. Moving in itself is never fun. Nobody enjoys packing, loading, lifting, and carrying. But there are a few perks about moving, the best of which is getting a fresh start.

In packing up the contents of my current apartment, I've been given a chance to decide what I really want and need, so that I can get rid of the rest; eliminate the clutter. That way, I get a chance to start over with a clean slate.

I've decided to take this opportunity to do the same with my dating life. Because, let's face it, there's been a lot of clutter recently.

Two months ago, when I began writing my dating diary, I was single - very single. I was just wrapping up a 12-week boy fast (10 weeks my choice, two weeks involuntary). In the past few weeks, I've managed to "collect" (for lack of a better word) more than a dozen different guys.

Some were recycled (guys I had dated or had crushes on before), but most were new. Some I met directly through the column (guys who e-mailed me in response to something I wrote), and others I met indirectly because of it (I never would have tried speed dating if I didn't plan to write about it). And the rest of the guys were friends of friends.

I haven't been leading anyone on, as I genuinely enjoy the company of each of these guys. Plus, I was very honest with each of them; they all knew right upfront that I am dating around. It's been a ton of fun, but it's tough to juggle this kind of schedule. I realized that I wasn't being fair - to the guys or to myself. And so I decided to create a fresh start.

I started off with my cell phone. Sometime in mid October, I maxed out my directory (keep in mind that it holds 300 entries). That meant that anytime I wanted to put someone knew in my phone, I had to erase someone old. This one-in-one-out got to be too much. So I decided to look a little more closely at those I had recently entered.

After thinking about it long and hard, I realized that of all the guys I'm currently "seeing" there are really only four that I should continue to date. The rest are guys who I'm setting myself up to be hurt by or who I don't really see as potential boyfriends. And I'm not about wasting time or breaking hearts (especially my own).

So, just as I've made a promise to keep my apartment clean, classy and clutter-free, I promise the same for my dating life as well. From now on, I will be as careful in choosing who I let into my heart and my life as I am in choosing what is allowed into my new apartment.

And, now that I'm down to the "Final Four" I believe that I may be closer to actually finding what I'm looking for. Because I've recently realized, through much reflection, that I am looking for something more than casual dating.


It's that time of year again; time for the holidays. These next six weeks will be filled with shopping, songs, parties, food, lights, cheer and more. I love everything about this season and look forward to it every year. But, let's face it: the holidays can be a difficult time to be single.

Last weekend I attended my family's pre-Thanksgiving celebration. When it came time to take our seats at the various tables (the kiddie table, the young adult table and the grown up table), I realized that my chair was wedged up next to the wall right in front of the corner. I spent a few moments trying to figure out why I got the shaft. I'm not the youngest or the thinnest. I didn't arrive late or have to leave early. Then, it suddenly became clear. My seat was assigned because I was there alone.

I looked around me and felt like I was suddenly in the Twilight Zone. Since when was everyone coupled up? At my table (the young adult one) there were two married couples, plus my sister and her serious boyfriend. That I could deal with. But when I glanced over at the kiddie table and noticed that they too were all paired up, I realized that I was the only person over 12 who didn't have a date. Apparently I missed the small print on the invitation.

It didn't take long for me to start getting questions about my dating life (and a comment or two about this column). A few glasses of wine helped to ease the tension, as did some borrowed (and not entirely true) humor.

"Are you seeing anyone special, Nicki?" I was asked.

"No, but I am seeing a lot of unspecial guys" (line stolen from Miranda on Sex and the City).

Overall, I think I did a pretty good job defending my single status. Not that it needs to be defended.

Still, it's not just the extra family time that makes the holidays tough to face alone. The entire season is conducive to couples. First, there are all of the events that require a date - like holiday parties, work functions and, of course, New Year's Eve celebrations. Then, there's the abundance of holiday stuff that doesn't require a date but seems to be better if you do have a significant other. Like cuddling up next to your sweetheart watching the Plaza lights come on Thanksgiving night. Or ice skating hand-in-hand at the terrace at Crown Center. Or strolling together through the festively decorated streets of Parkville.

Times like these make this independent, intentionally single woman think that maybe I do actually want a boyfriend. Not because I feel like I have to, or because I buy into John Mayer lyrics supporting codependency from now through St Patrick's Day. But because there is something to having a special someone to share this time and create these memories with.

Now, if only I had that special someone...

Still, I think this holiday season I'll spend my time shopping for the perfect gift, rather than the perfect guy. But perhaps now I know what I should ask for from Santa.


I was sitting at work yesterday, enjoying a short break between meetings, when I received an e-mail with an interesting proposition: a speed dating event taking place that same night. I already had plans to hang out with my friend, Traci, but I knew that if anyone would be up for a chance to meet a dozen guys in one sitting, it would be her.

This particular speed dating session was held in Eastern Jackson County, a part of the city that this JoCo-turned-River Market girl seldom visits. Thankfully, Traci is a native and knew exactly where we were going. On our way out there, my mom called to see if I had any plans for the evening. When I told her that I was on my way to a speed dating event, she quickly pointed out a recent "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" episode where a serial rapist, played by Dean Cain, used speed dating to choose his next victims. I took my mom's warning to heart and promised her I would avoid any Superman look-alikes.

I'd never done this sort of thing before, so it was all new and exciting to me. As soon as we got there, we were required to sign a release form (I guess mom wasn't totally off base with her concerns) and were given a number. I was assigned No. 1.

There were 12 women and 10 men at the event (normally the numbers are even, but Traci and I must have thrown off the equilibrium). The women get to stay seated, while the men rotate every few minutes. Everyone is given a sheet of paper to write down numbers, names (first only) and comments. At the end of the night everybody circles "HIT" or "MISS" for each person on their sheet, and just a few short hours later, you are e-mailed your results. If you match, they give you each other's e-mail address.

All in all, the night was a success. Of the 10 guys there, I received 10 hits, three matches and one marriage proposal (because I'm Catholic and love the NFL).

For an hour and a half of work, that's not too shabby. And to be honest, I had a blast. I love meeting new people, and the diversity of the crowd was incredible. I met doctors, firefighters, engineers, students, and truck drivers. And they were from all over: Overland Park to Grain Valley, India to Texas. Rob and Linda do a great job with Facilidate, and I would highly recommend it. But in addition to the guidelines they provide you at the beginning of the night, I suggest you follow a few rules of mine:

Don't go with a friend. Since Traci and I share two of our matches (not surprising since we are friends and have similar taste), there's the issue of both of us dating, or at least talking to, the same person. Bad idea. Although I loved her company and having someone to share the experience with, if I did it again, I'd do it alone. You only have four minutes or so with each person, so first impressions are crucial. Have a firm handshake (three of my seven misses were due to the initial handshake - no joke), make eye contact, and smile. If you start off in a hole, it'll be virtually impossible to work your way out of it.

Don't get wasted. One of the guys I talked to could barely keep his eyes open, let alone hold a conversation. I understand that some people may be nervous. So have a couple drinks, but please don't get sloppy.

Don't talk the entire four minutes. Ask something - anything - about the person sitting across from you. To be honest with you, I'm not sure how all ten guys could have marked me as a hit - at least three of them cannot possibly know anything other than my name. Because they didn't even bother to ask.

Have fun. There is no reason to stress. It's all for fun. If you enjoy yourself, others will enjoy being around you. And if the person sitting next to you is totally lame, all you have to do is wait a few minutes, and someone else will come along.


Last night I saw Les Miserables at the Music Hall. It was my final birthday present from one of my best guy friends.

The show was amazing the best performance of Les Mis I've seen. I loved the story, the set, the dancing, the music

But my favorite part (and the favorite part of any girl who saw Joey Potter sing the song for her talent act in the beauty pageant on Dawson's Creek) was the very beginning of Act II.

For those of you who don't know, this is where Eponine, in love with a man who does not love her back, sings "On My Own," the heart wrenching song about clinging onto the hope that Marius will in fact one day love her rather than Cosette.

It is intense, and sad, and touching and a little pathetic.

I mean, she even goes so far as to put herself in harm's way and ultimately die just to be near a man who doesn't really care about her. Who does that?!?

I have to admit, I have.

Okay, so, maybe not to grand extent of putting myself in the midst of a combat zone of a revolution, but to a much smaller degree, I'm guilty. And I'm not alone.

Countless times I have seen my friends and myself love, or at least crush on or pursue, guys who were simply not interested. We put up with their crap, with their "I'm just not ready for a commitment right now", with their stringing us along in order to have someone by their side until someone better comes around.

And, time after time, we women do stick around, making excuses for the men we long for, telling ourselves that we can make them fall for us. We hope that one day, our man will wake up and be ready for a relationship, and that as long as we have ensured that we are the one in closest proximity when this happens, he'll choose us.

Ladies, it doesn't work like that. You can't make someone love you. You can't believe that by being around him long enough, a guy will suddenly realize how fabulous you are. And you can't stick around waiting for a noncommittal guy to suddenly realize he wants a relationship.

The truth, no matter how hard it may be to accept, is that if you were the woman he was looking for, he would commit to you. Period. So I beg you, and myself, to stop wasting time on men who don't deserve us.

Because there are men out there who do.

Like the guy sitting in the seat next to me, who put forth the effort of making sure that I had a wonderful night for my birthday.

Or the guy out in Colorado who is working late hours to get ready to deploy to Iraq to defend our country, but who still finds time to let me know that he's thinking about me and misses me.

But are they, or any of the other deserving guys I know, the ones I spend my time thinking about?


Instead, I've been spending all of my energy focusing on my newest crush, who I suddenly realized, thanks to Eponine, is simply just not that into me.

Let me make sure that I'm clear here. I'm not looking for a commitment from someone I barely know. I'm not even sure I want to be in a relationship at all. All I want is to know that a guy is interested in me and to see him put forth a little effort. Otherwise, I'm just wasting my time.

Because somewhere out there is a man who will feel about me the way that Marius feels about Cosette. And I refuse to settle for anything less.


Last week I had a birthday, and it got me to thinking a lot about age.

The fact that I am now 24 makes me very happy; partly because I have this theory that even years are better than odd ones, partly because I think 24 is a really hot number, and partly because I couldn't stand being 23 anymore.

23 sucks. For most of us, 23 is the first year in the "real world." You're not in college anymore, which means that it is unacceptable to wear sweatpants everyday and play beer pong every night. At the same time, people still view you as being too young to be taken seriously. Plus, double digit prime numbers weird me out.

Anyway, the point is that I am now 24. And, aside from my silly superstitions about why this will be the best year of my life, this age has a bit of significance. I have now reached the age my mom was when she gave birth to me. That one weirds me out a little. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a mom right now. A wife? Possibly. But a mom? No way. I'm still in the going-out-a-ton-and-having-fun phase.

Then again, moms can have fun. Mine sure did last Friday night. After my G Love adventure on Thursday, I got very little sleep. So when I got back from happy hour Friday I decided to stay in and rest up for a big Saturday (We were going to Lawrence for the KU/MU game). I was sound asleep at 10 when my mom called - no, drunk dialed - me. "Nicki, you have to come out! There is a guy here you have to meet. He's so cute... and he's 24!"

Now, most people would cringe at the thought of their mom setting them up with someone. I, on the other hand, loved the idea. I trust her taste, and she knows what I'm looking for. In fact, I had been begging her to set me up with one of her co-workers for years, but she never would. The fact that she had finally found someone who met her high standards - and the opportunity to hang out with my fun drunk mother - made me get out of bed and drive the thirty minutes to southern Johnson County.

My parents were out at a bar celebrating my mom's boss's 40th birthday. (Apparently a lot of people are born the last week of October.) I was hanging out with people more than a dozen years older than me, but we were having a blast. And then, he arrived - the cute 24 year old. I knew it was him by the look on my mom's face as he approached. I introduced myself and we chatted for a while. He was very nice, but very... 24.

I know what you're thinking - that I'm being hypocritical. After all, I am 24. Still, right now I'm going through this older guy phase. Or maybe it's not a phase but an epiphany. Either way, I think I'm on to something. And I'm enjoying it. Saturday, out in Lawrence, I was surrounded by college kids, but I was hanging out with three guys in their 30s. One I knew before (we worked together at the restaurant), but the other two I met that night for the first time. I'm a big fan of all three of these guys, but one in particular really grabbed my attention. And let's just say that I'm more than a little smitten. He's smart, witty, charming, funny, and most importantly, confident and mature. I guess that comes with 30+ years of life.

Some, like my friend who is dating a 31 year old, say dating someone in their 30s is fine. Others, like my sister's boyfriend, argue that it's too old. But who decides what is "too old"? Is just short of a decade too big of an age gap?

I've decided to stop asking others for their opinion and just go with my gut. I may be a little boy crazy, but it's been a while since I've had a legitimate crush. And the difference is that this time my crush is on a man.


The Boy Fast is officially over! And it ended in a most satisfying way...

Last night my incredibly generous little sister took me out for my birthday. We went to the casino to eat dinner and play cards. Sure, I had a few expectations for the night - most of which revolved around my sister's good luck rubbing off on me so that I could come home with a little cash in my pocket - but I definitely didn't anticipate the evening to transpire the way it did.

After losing at Blackjack, Hold 'Em, AND Let It Ride, I came to the conclusion that I should leave the gambling to the sister who was actually good at it. Which left me searching for something to do. Conveniently enough, one of my favorite musicians was in concert for the grand opening of the Voodoo Lounge. You may recognize G Love as the artist behind such classics as "Cold Beverages" "Booty Call" and my personal favorite, "My Baby's Got Sauce."

I couldn't convince my sis to come along, so I decided to go alone. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty independent person, and there are a lot of places I have no problem going alone: restaurants, coffee shops, the opera, the theater, movies. Going solo to a concert, however, was definitely new territory for me.

Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. Within two minutes of setting foot inside the door, I ran into a friend. After all, this is Kansas City. I never go anywhere without seeing someone I know. But this particular guy, we'll call him Kevin, was an especially pleasant surprise. He and I used to work together, and for a short while I had a very intense crush on him. It was shortly after my ex and I broke up, and Kevin was exactly the distraction I needed. Plus he was completely different from my ex, and therefore not at all my type (in a good way). The crush lasted a few weeks, but nothing ever happened between us.

Kevin is a big music buff so I wasn't at all surprised when, after taking a couple shots and grabbing some beers at the bar, I followed him through the crowd and up to the very front, literally against the stage. We were so close that when G Love played the harmonica, his spit landed on my forehead. I'd never been so close at a concert before. It made for an amazing show - and for some pretty interesting people-watching.

There was a couple to the right of Kevin and his friend. They seemed harmless enough, and I may not have even noticed them. Except right before the concert started, the woman grabbed my butt. "My girl here thinks you have the nicest ass she's ever seen," the guy says to me. "And I agree." They both grinned and giggled. Weird, right? But what's even creepier is that this is not the first time this has happened. I'm not referring to butt-grabbing in general. I'm talking woman grabs butt, husband insinuates something more. (The first time it happened in Waldo. And the woman was holding a switchblade. But that's another story for another time.)

The other interesting duo stood to our left. It was a guy and girl who were a little too touchy-friendly to be brother/sister but a little too look-alike to be dating. Not to mention that midway through the show the girl started grinding up against Kevin.

When I saw the girl start flirting with my former crush, the competitor in me decided to step up to the plate. She was playing her game, so I decided to play mine: cool and aloof, lusting after the surprisingly sexy Philadelphia musician on stage, enjoying the songs he played, and - inspired by the confidence bestowed on me by the crazy couple - strategically leaning so that Kevin could enjoy the occasional view of my backside.

Game on.

How did the night turn out, you ask?

Let's just say... I never lose ;)


The official Boy Fast has been over for two weeks, but I still haven't been out on a date.

Sure, I could blame it on the fact that for days after my marathon I could barely walk, let alone get out and meet someone. Or that for five of the 14 days I've been back on the market I was out of town for business. But I think that the real problem is much more severe: simply put, I jinxed myself.

I've been back in Kansas City for almost a year and half since graduating from college, and in that time I've had no problem meeting guys to date. In fact, if I did have a problem in the dating area, it was that there were too many guys in the picture. I was going out - out to the bars or out on actual dates - five or six nights a week. At one point, I was "seeing" four different guys.

Kansas City: a bad city for dating? Hardly.

I scoffed at those who thought differently and decided that they just weren't looking hard enough, weren't putting themselves out there, weren't trying. I rolled my eyes when I overheard girls using our city as a scapegoat for their single status, and I lectured my dateless friends for being close-minded, picky, and not approachable.

Apparently I had discovered the secret formula for conjuring up dates in this city of horrible dating. What I failed to realize was that I should have shared that formula with the world, written it down somewhere sacred and guarded it with my life. Because now it completely eludes me.

Sure, my dates may not have been all that high quality; hence the fact that I didn't find one guy with whom I hit if off enough to have an actual relationship. But at least they existed.

Now I regret my semi-cocky, nonchalant, ungrateful attitude. I've certainly learned my lesson from all of this. If you find yourself on a hot streak, keep playing. If you've got momentum on your side, run with it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I'm still holding out hope. After all, two dateless weeks is far from a tragedy. I just hope that my fast doesn't turn into a famine. Because that would make for a very boring dating diary...


I am an attention whore.

This past Sunday I ran my first marathon in Chicago. Whenever anyone I knew found out about my training, I was bombarded with advice. Eat this, drink that, cover yourself in Vaseline before running, submerge yourself in ice afterward, and so on...

However, there was one piece of advice that I took to heart and made all the difference in the world: "Put your name on your t-shirt," someone told me.

It was a brilliant suggestion, and I couldn't have finished the race without it.

The entire four and a half hours I ran, people were lined up on the street screaming my name. And I loved every moment of it. What can I say? I like the attention... while running marathons and from the opposite sex.

I've decided that this is why I don't have a boyfriend. Expecting one person to give me all the attention I require would make me high maintenance. And I refuse to be high maintenance. So I choose to spread it out, and get a little something different from each of the guys I date.

A good friend of mine who now lives in Des Moines told me about a discussion she had with one of her college professors about marriage. Her innocent question about love and how to know you've met "The One" turned into a lecture about his ideas of the evolution of marriage. At one point in time, marriage was a contract; much more about practicality and division of labor than about love. Now, he suggests, people are much too picky.

We expect everything from a spouse: love, passion, intellectual stimulation, romance, comfort, shared interests, common dreams, geographic preferences, support, financial stability, and the list goes on. Her professor told her that finding all of that in one person is too unrealistic. And that is why people stay single and the divorce rate is so high.

I don't disagree; it is hard to find all these qualities in one human being. But the optimist in me believes that one day I will. I hope that one day I do find that one man to satisfy my every need and desire.

In the meantime, I'll get my attention where I can; by dating several guys at once and occasionally running around a big city with my name printed across my chest.

Entry 1

My last date was ten weeks ago. But don't worry; I'm not looking for sympathy. In fact, I can't even really complain, because I did this to myself.

For the past 2 1/2 months, I have been participating in what has come to be known as "The Boy Fast" - no crushes, no kisses, no dates. If you are like most everyone else I tell of this self-imposed dating moratorium, you probably have the same initial reaction: "Why?!?"

For simplicity, let's just say that I needed a break from dating. This summer I was working three jobs, training for a marathon, and going out almost every night. You name the guy, I dated him. Some owned their own houses, others rented messy apartments with fellow ex-frat boys and a few (dare I say) still lived at home with their parents. They were business men, graduate students, factory foremen, aspiring musicians, semi-professional athletes, welders and engineers. I met them at work, at bars, at parties, in my apartment building and through friends. And our dates ranged from expensive dinners to picnics in the park to comedy clubs to poker tournaments.

Dating around was fun, but it was also exhausting and all to no avail. And so August 1st I made a decision: from then until my Oct 9th marathon, I would go on a boy-cott. It would be a way to focus on my training and, more importantly, to return to my independent self - the woman who five years ago went away to college in Philadelphia and who last spring traveled alone through Europe for three weeks.

See, the thing is, I actually like being single. And in Kansas City, this makes me an anomaly. Many people argue that Kansas City is a bad city for dating. I disagree. I think that Kansas City is just fine for dating. But I do think it's a terrible city in which to be single. In many ways, KC is the bastion of co-dependency.

Here in the Heart of America there is an unspoken (or often times loudly spoken - by our parents and grandparents) rule that women are supposed to meet their future husbands in college and then get married shortly after, and that men who are still single by the age of 30 are either gay or freaks. Call it my east coast influence, but I believe that this is simply not true.

There is nothing wrong with being single. In fact, in many ways it is quite fabulous. If your career is important to you, being single allows you more time to delve into your work and put in long hours to get ahead. If work isn't your passion, then being single gives you the opportunity to pursue whatever is - like traveling.

Don't get me wrong; I really do like dating, and I love being in a relationship - if it's the right one. My point is that being happy and being single are not mutually exclusive.

With that being said, I do have to admit that I'm really excited to start dating again. I miss the thrill of meeting new guys, of first dates and first kisses.

When I cross that finish line in Chicago this Sunday, I will have accomplished two great feats: running my first marathon and making it through the boy fast. I can't wait to get back into the dating scene and I'm looking forward to having the KC Star readers along for the ride.