Standards Without Borders

Sep 10, 2013 by

          “Oh my God! I hear birds!” I announced to my friends and newfound American drinking buddies. “What time is it?”

          “It’s 5:30 am!” someone yelled back to me.

          “Holy shit!” I shouted. “Punta Cana is” – hold the vowels like a New Yorker – “awwwe-some!”




          On Friday night, three pretty ladies and I disembarked from our plane, excited for the last-minute weekend trip we had booked three days prior. (Life is amazing, and so are our work perks!) Walking into the humid Punta Cana air, I felt the hot mist immediately attack my hair. Ecstatic, I was ready to spend the next few days living the summer that never came to Toronto. (Spoiler alert: It rained the entire weekend, but the trip was still fabulous! We flew to the Dominican one year to the day since I had last been on a plane. I had forgotten the incomparable high that I get from flying. Constant torrential downpours throughout our stay could never bring me down.)

          It was around 10 pm when we arrived at our hotel. Other latecomers might have gone straight to bed. That’s not our style. We checked in, caught the train to the disco, and were dancing to the beat of pina coladas and sangria within the hour. Being the only single lady of the group, I had three wonderful wing girls by my side, one of which was guy scoping on my behalf from the moment we entered the lounge. (These girls always give me shit for not paying attention to guys while I’m out, so they take it upon themselves to do the work for me. I love it!) She quickly pointed out a good looking guy in a suit, and I made a mental note to meet him by the end of the night.

          A few flirtatious smiles, a bit of extended eye contact, and some uncharacteristically rhythmic hip-swaying later, and I had him. (Thanks alcohol! I didn’t know I could dance like that!) From his perspective, he had me. I let him think so. (I’m always amused when guys think they made the first move by approaching me, completely oblivious to the fact that it was I who subtly got things started. Male-female dynamics are so interesting.)

          He opened with, “You’re a good dancer.”

          I laughed under my breath. I’m a good drunk, I thought to myself, as I responded with an energetic, “Thanks!”

          After some dancing, we walked over to the hotel lobby so we could hear each other speak. Although my memory of the exact dialogue is a bit fuzzy (Grand Marnier and amaretto may or may not have been coursing through my bloodstream by this point), his arrogance is still crystal clear. He went on and on about his job, hopelessly boring me. I smiled (probably erroneously causing the guy to think I was engaged by what he was saying) in an attempt to hold back laughter. I’m astonished by guys that think their flashy office jobs are going to wow me. This one in particular managed a team of sales reps. Clap, clap. Been there, done that. I was not impressed. More accurately, I was completely turned off. (It’s mind blowing how a guy can go from attractive to repulsive with mere words.) Due to the fact that I have people management experience that some adults twice my age do not, I’m unfazed by guys that boast their self-proclaimed successful corporate lives and flaunt their incomes. I see their suits, and I challenge them with: “Are you happy?”

          Unless a guy’s job is his passion, I couldn’t care less what he does for a living. Of course, if he genuinely loves what he does to earn his money, I want to hear all about it. Other people’s passions excite me. My favourite conversations are always the ones that allow me to learn what makes people tick, whether it’s job related or not. (Hint: It’s typically not job related, but I sincerely congratulate people who have found a way to make their passions lucrative.) Happiness is what appeals to me. I am attracted to positive, happy people, so I like to know what drives others and I strive to leave people with the encouragement to go after what they want. I feel as though people don’t get enough of that. They’re not typically told to fuck everything for their dream, so I hope that’s the message I deliver.

          This guy was not relaying his passion; he was bragging. (The fact that I let him kiss me may have made him think that he was on the right track. Oops! – In my defense, I was on vacation. All rules were shot to hell. Vacation Maria eats whatever she wants, consumes more alcohol in the span of days than she typically would year-round, and is unobligated to the gym. Although, nowadays, this probably wouldn’t have gone down in Toronto, kissing a random was 100 percent acceptable in a place as far away from relationship potential as it was from sobriety.) Quickly tired of him, I moved the conversation to travel. It was at this point that he asked something that actually intrigued me: “What would you do if you could quit your job tomorrow?”

          I had to stop my mouth from dropping. I ask this question! I use it to uncover people’s interests. I use it to open people up. (Phrased slightly differently, it is actually the tagline for my online dating profiles. No joke!) It’s magical! People light up when I ask it, prompting them to reveal their genuine selves. Though I frequently utilize this question, it’s rare that someone poses it to me.

          My response was instantaneous. I didn’t even have to think about it. “I’d get on the first flight to Europe, and travel the continent from there!” I exclaimed.

          “You’ve already done it. You have all of the money that you need, and you’ve travelled the world. What would you do next?” he inquired further.

          I was absolutely stunned. What a good question! No one had ever asked me this before – and thank God. Prior to The Happiness Experiment, I wouldn’t have had an answer. That night, I responded effortlessly. Not liking this guy, but a sucker for good conversation, I told him about The Happiness Experiment.

          “I’ve already travelled the world?” I clarified.

          He nodded in confirmation.

          “I have a blog named The Happiness Experiment. It’s about making happiness a priority in life. It changed everything for me, so I would keep writing for it,” I said.

          “Wow! So you’ve already discovered that going to university and securing a job afterward is all bullshit?” he asked rhetorically, his overbearing pride seeping through again.

          “Yes,” I said shortly, ready to reunite with my friends.

          Getting cocky for no reason, he asked me to his hotel room. He obviously had not picked up on my cues that I wanted to leave his presence, such as mentioning that I had to go.

          By this point, I couldn’t contain my amusement at this guy’s over-confidence and lack of maturity. (Vacation Maria is not that loose.) “How old are you?” I asked.


          “I’m not interested in 23-year-olds,” I firmly stated.

          “You seem like a girl with a lot of rules,” he observed, nearly throwing me into a messy cognitive dissonance complex, given that The Happiness Experiment is about being free of things like rules and expectations.

          I politely said goodbye, leaving him alone in the lobby.

          As I hurried back to my friends at the disco, I reflected on what this guy had said. I worried that I was still holding myself back. Then, I noted the sour tone in his voice, reminiscent of the bitter attention seeker. He was trying to get me by getting to me. Asshole. Not about to let this tic-tac of a comment bother me more than it already had, I reminded myself of the happy life that I lead. No, I thought, I’m not a girl with a lot of rules; I’m a girl with standards.

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