Attack of the Hidden Dad Bod

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Editor’s Note: This modern-day horror tale is brought to you by Julia Reiss, a Los Angeles-bred writer and humorist with Parisian tendencies, based in New York City. When she’s not writing or overcome with ennui, you can find her flexing her credit limit at any of the city’s retail establishments. For updates in short form, follow her on Twitter and Instagram. And for all other things Julia, stay up to date at

The way I see it, online dating has a deceivingly bad rap. Sure, I had my initial trepidations. But that’s only because, as a child of the 80s, I was taught that the only people you could meet online were the those who weren’t allowed to be within 100 feet of a playground.

Things change.

As a Manhattanite, I order everything online, so why not dates? I have tried all the apps: Tinder, Raya, Bumble, The League, Hinge, you name it. I even slummed it on OkCupid once. And unlike many of my friends, I’ve had almost entirely positive experiences. Maybe it’s because, once you overcome the initial visual barriers, mobile dating is really a writer’s medium. We can impress you with our wit before you notice our character defects, and determine if you can keep up. That, and I can spot a catfish from a mile away.

The last time I went on an online date, I was coming off a breakup, so my standards may have been more relaxed. Actually, I know they were Xanax-level loose, because I agreed to go on a date with a DJ, albeit a seemingly very cute one. George (fake af name) gallantly suggested Caza Mescal, since it was in my neighborhood, and I told him I liked tequila.

As it turned out, my neighborhood was also his neighborhood. So much for gallant. On the upside, I was relieved to discover George also had a real full-time job as a digital designer (phew) and was just as adorable IRL as he was on the 4G, if not more so. He had one of those manicured, GQ-inspired haircuts that probably requires more maintenance than my own personal regimen, but it worked for him. His sense of aesthetics clearly made its way into his wardrobe too, because why else would a man button the top button of a casual Oxford shirt, if not to make a point?

As we chatted, I could tell this was a person to whom looks mattered. First, he commented on my height. I couldn’t tell if he was more upset about me hovering an inch above him (I’m 5’11) or about the fact that I had concealed this valuable data. Whichever the case, George wasn’t thrilled, but he made do. Then, he decided to give me points on my outfit… as if a vintage Dolce blouse needed his approval.

One of the female bartenders approached us and asked if we needed anything. He scoped out her cleavage as he bantered  with her in Spanish. She gave him a coy smile before turning away to tend to other customers, enabling him to tend his eyes to her ass. I sucked down my tequila, and with it my pride.

A couple of margaritas in, the liquor was starting to make up for our lack of chemistry. I should have known better; you should never mix tequila with a breakup. As he was attempting to woo me with examples of his design work, a Bumble message appeared on his phone. He apologized boyishly. Too sauced to care, I shrugged and went home with him. (It really was a terrible breakup.)

I’ll skip the foreplay (there wasn’t much of it anyway) and get to the main dish, which was delivered when George started to disrobe. Given his bravado, I was fully expecting Magic Mike abs. What I got instead was a Michael Moore belly. His magically tailored shirt gave way to a squishy dad bod of Jello-like consistency. The unveiling was not unlike sticking a fork into a molten chocolate cake, except, you know… not as delicious.

I couldn’t get past his hypocrisy. Now, keep in mind that I have glossed over far worse in men, yet somehow my ex’s raging coke addiction felt more forgivable than this. After all, this was the same man who had unapologetically checked out another woman’s assets in front of me, yet had deemed it acceptable to conceal the physique of the Pillsbury Doughboy underneath all those layers of misogyny. Maybe it was also the fact that because women are constantly lambasted for hiding the truth when it comes to our appearance. A little eyebrow pencil here, a little botox there; not matter what, it’s never good enough. Whatever the psychology behind it , for the first time in my life, I found myself judging a man’s body in the same way women’s bodies are judged every day. That right there, was the big fat truth of the matter, and it was grosser than the one on top of me.

Before you write me off as an vapid airhead, I have to tell you how our date ended. The next morning he took me for coffee and croissants. Halfway through our pastries, it happened – he called me by another girl’s name. Isabelle or Eliza, or something. Better over coffee than in bed, but still. It was almost forgivable, until, over the course of our breakfast, I saw not one but two more Bumble messages pop on his phone. I wanted to be upset, but all I could think was that these women had to be warned. They were not getting what they were swiping for!

I guess, ultimately, there was an undeniable connection between the literal wool he pulled over my eyes (and his belly) and the fact this guy couldn’t seem to keep all his online dates in order. Sure, we all do things to hide our insecurities, but at what point does primping become perfidious? For me, it’s the line between straightening my unruly half-Jewish hair and wearing a padded bra. But then again, I have never dated so many people at once as to call one by the wrong name.

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