Date #9 of My 12 Dates of Christmas: Jeff

Date #9 was another fella sent to me by my friend Lindsey. It seems to be a general rule that good people know other good people. That was proven true by both of the dates Lindsey set me up on. Jeff and Lindsey used to work together.

12 Dates #9 Jeff

Jeff came to my house to pick me up for our date. This was especially nice of him since I live a good distance from where the rest of our date was taking place. In fact, Lindsey believes my city isn’t real because it’s so far away from where she lives, and my friend Michelle is convinced I really live in Idaho. I say they both just need to discover the wonder that is Davis County.

When Jeff came to the door, I invited him in for a split second while I grabbed my purse and keys, and then we headed on our way. He introduced himself as we were walking to the car and I realized if it hadn’t been him I might have accidentally ended up on a date with someone selling pest control or vacuum cleaners or something. What can I say, I just assume every guy who comes to my door is there to take me on a date.

We went to Fratelli Ristorante for dinner. Since we had to be at our next activity by 6:30, we were catching a 5 o’clock dinner. This meant the restaurant was mostly empty, except for a couple of old people who were presumably finishing their dinner so they could get home to watch an episode of Matlock and go to bed.

Neither of us had ever been to Fratelli before. Let me tell you—Oh. My. It was delicious. I had an internal struggle about what to order and finally landed on the Fratelli Pizza. When a pizza is loaded with mascarpone, gorgonzola, pear, arugula, prosciutto, and a balsamic reduction it’s a recipe for yum. Don’t worry, the arugula was pilled on top like a mini salad, so it’s like I was still true to the weird salad habit I’ve developed lately.

12 Dates #9 Pizza

Jeff, who has been following along with some of the dates on my blog, insisted I take a picture of some of his food as well. This is his tomato something-or-other soup. I didn’t try it, but I’m sure it was great.

12 Dates #9 Jeff Soup

I learned a lot of important things about Jeff over dinner. For example, he’s been booed off the stage at a stand-up comedy open mic night in New York, his apartment is a magnet for Christmas trees (they currently have five of them), and he doesn’t decorate his apartment or “Like” TV shows or music on Facebook because he’s afraid if he commits to one thing it’s unfair to all of the other things that he still likes but hasn’t officially declared his admiration for. So, he doesn’t want to put a poster for a band up because then he’d feel the need to either put a poster up for ALL the bands he likes, just to show impartiality.

So let’s get this straight, a 30-something-year-old with commitment issues? That’s so hard to believe.

However, he is willing to tell you his favorite music and TV shows, he just won’t officially declare his love via social media or any visible or tangible way. I guess that way everything stays off the record. So I guess in translating that to relationships, Jeff would be willing to declare his love, but don’t ever expect a love note or “In a Relationship” status from him.

After dinner we moved on to the part that will probably make some of you jealous. In fact, when I told a friend that this is what we were doing, she flat out told me she hated me. I have very kind and loving friends, in case that wasn’t apparent. Anyway, Jeff works for jetBlue, and that night they were having their Christmas party, which happened to be a private screening of Les Misérables.

12 Dates #9 Les Mis

At some point Jeff asked me if I would be singing along all karaoke style to the movie. I said no, but that’s when he revealed that he might. Apparently he has a penchant for belting the hits. I’m pretty sure I asked him what his favorite songs to sing were, and I’m pretty sure his response was ‘N Sync, with a particular fondness for “Bye, Bye, Bye.” Ok, that may not have been it, but since I can’t quite remember what his response was, that’s what I’m sticking with.

The movie was so good! With the exception of Russell Crowe, who, in my humble opinion, can’t sing worth crap, I thought it was really well cast. Marius and the whole band of revolutionaries and Eponine were definitely my favorites. And what’s not to love about this?

Since the movie doesn’t officially release until tomorrow, here’s a little sneak peak still shot I stole for you from the end of the movie. You’re welcome.

12 Dates #9 Les Miserables

On the drive home we chatted all about New York. Jeff lived there for a couple of years, and I am hoping to make a move out there in February. I learned about some of his favorite restaurants (none of which he “Likes” on social media—surprise, surprise) and other cool things about living in the city. It got me excited about the move. And I guess I’m ready since I passed the “folding my pizza” test at dinner. Phew! Bring it on!

Date #8 of My 12 Dates of Christmas: Frank

I got pretty nervous to call Date #8. You see, Frank is coworkers with Brad (AKA Date #4), and since Brad had been told that I needed help with a “charity project,” I wasn’t sure what Frank may have heard. I was pretty relieved when Frank knew why I was calling and what the 12 Dates was all about—a fact he later attributed to “listening.” Hmmmmm, interesting concept. Tell me more about this listening stuff. How exactly does that work?

12 Dates #8 Frank

Things got a little crazy at my house before the date. As I was getting ready I somehow (in a way only I can) hit myself in the mouth and gave myself a fat lip. Who does that?

12 Dates #8 Lip

Not to worry, I figured out a way to hide it. You see, while some girls may prefer to model “duck lips,” my signature look is the pouty lower lip (as modeled below).

12 Dates #8 Fat Lip

This face works well in conversation.

It can show interest. For example, say your date is talking about something, you simply pull the pouty lower lip and say things like, “I see what you mean.”

It can show sympathy in a sad moment. “I can’t believe that happened.”

And it can help you get what you want. “What do you mean I can’t have dessert?”

You get the idea.

Frank and I met up downtown and headed to the Lion House Pantry for lunch. The Lion House Pantry is a downtown classic. If you’ve never been, you should check it out. I mean, Lion House rolls and pie? Come on! Yeah, I didn’t order a salad. (Sorry if that disappoints anyone.)

Lion House Rolls
Just a little postcard I wrote about Lion House rolls when I worked at Deseret Book. Are you hungry yet?

Frank and I actually had a lot in common. For example, we were both Communications majors at BYU. And we’ve both been at BYU recently. Him as a student, and me when I came to his class to talk about one of my clients the class was doing a project for.

Wait, what?

That’s right, he figured out that I had attended one of his classes a year or so ago to give a presentation about TravelWise.

It probably shouldn’t have, but that single realization made me feel ridiculously old.


In addition to helping run the Deseret Book social media accounts, Frank is also a distance runner, just started working out with a trainer, and plays the piano. Plus, as an added bonus, since he’s into marketing, I was able to geek out for a bit and talk shop with him. We also swapped dangerous mission stories we never told our moms. So, Frank’s mom, if you’re reading this, give me a call, I’ve got some stuff to share with you. 🙂

Frank is a super nice guy and it was great getting to know him.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do some research. I’m checking out nursing homes, since I figure it will only be a couple of years before I’m going to need one.

Date #7 of My 12 Dates of Christmas: Josh

After spending the weekend babysitting these cute little people while my sister and her husband were out of town, I headed out for Date #7 with Josh, a good friend of mine.Parker Layni Zach

Josh and I met at the same time as Chad (AKA Date #3) and I. In fact, Chad and Josh go waaaaaay back, and Josh puts forth a lot of effort to teach Chad what it means to have tact. As a result, there are many conversations that start like this, “Chad, what you were supposed to say was . . .”

For example, when I was trying on a sweatshirt and asked Chad how it looked, his response was, “It looks kind of small to me.”

Translation = You look chubby

That’s where Josh stepped in to save the day, or at least Chad. He explained to Chad that what he should have said was something along the lines of, “I think these sweatshirts run small.” So basically, while Chad got shorted in the tact department, Josh seems to have gotten a double helping.

12 Dates #7 Josh

In our group of friends, Josh is known as the chef-y one. He loves to cook and bake and is always trying new concoctions. I learned a trick early on with him. You see, he would post pictures on Facebook (because he chooses to abstain from all other forms of social media—I think he’s mentioned something about Twitter and Instagram being of the devil, or some such sappy sentiment) of food he had made, or status updates about things he was going to make, and I would post some sort of a comment. Then, that very same food would magically appear at my door. It was magical. Sadly, Josh has moved further away, so the magical appearance of food doesn’t happen very often anymore.

So with Josh being his chef-like self, it only makes sense that our date would revolve around food. The night started out with this feast prepared by Josh. And just because he knows me so well, those mashed potatoes? Yeah, they have bacon in them! Yum!

12 Dates #7 Dinner

After dinner we played a game of Diddy. Never heard of Diddy? Well, it’s more commonly known as Farkle, but our friends have renamed it Diddy after me. Diddy is, of course the name I would use if I were a radio DJ. What? You mean to tell me you don’t have your radio DJ name picked out? Anyway, if you think it’s flattering that I have a game named after me, then you clearly don’t know my friends. They named it after me because I lose at it so much. Thanks, guys.

12 Dates #7 Diddy Dice

The surprise of the night came when I not only beat Josh, but I creamed him! The game ends when one player reaches 10,000 points.

Final Score:

Josh = 9,400

Melanie = 12,050

It’s obvious that I am a very humble and gracious winner.

12 Dates #7 Diddy

It’s a good thing I won, because the next activity was something I do NOT excel at—making caramel (Pronounced “Carmel” because only a crazy person actually enunciates that a in the middle). A couple of months ago Josh hosted a dinner party and I needed caramel sauce for the dessert I was bringing. I didn’t have any and it was Sunday, so I attempted to make it myself.

Epic Fail.

Let me give you a little tip, when it turns back into sugar, you’re doing it wrong.

So I think the caramel making activity was Josh’s tactful way of showing me I was an idiot for screwing it up before. Even so, I was happy to learn. After we were done, Josh realized he forgot to add the cream. Ha! I guess I’m not the only one who makes mistakes with caramel. Unfortunately they still turned out great, so my gloating was very short-lived.

12 Dates #7 Caramel

If you think the caramels were our dessert, think again! Josh had made two mini cheesecakes—a cherry almond one, and a cinnamon cranberry one. Seriously, now you see why I stay friends with him, right? But before we could eat them, we had to whip up some fresh cranberry glaze to top it off. Because, why wouldn’t we?

I’m not going to lie, they were delicious! Totally worth eating salads on all those other dates just to be able to enjoy these.

12 Dates #7 Cheesecakes

And not to take away from their deliciousness, but let’s be honest, if something has sugar in it, I’m into it. Or better yet, if something IS sugar, I’m into it.

Luckily for me, Josh understands this. That’s why before we started cooking he gave me a handful of this raw sugar. You know, to give me more energy to get me through the grueling cooking process.

12 Dates #7 Raw Sugar

Now I know they say the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same path for me too. The good food and quality time with a good friend definitely made for a great Date #7.

Date #6 of My 12 Dates of Christmas: John

John and I kicked around in the same singles wards for several years before we both *ahem* were “asked” to leave due to our advancing years. In other words, we both got old. Since then, we still run into each other every now and then, and occasionally trade snarky remarks via social media.

12 Dates #6 John

When I told the Facebook world I was doing the 12 Dates of Christmas and needed some volunteers, John’s comment was, “This sounds fraught with peril.” The next day he chatted with me on Facebook and asked all sorts of questions about the logistics of my project. After I had explained my game plan, or pretty much my lack thereof, he said he was up for joining the ranks.

Wise choice, John. Wise choice.

We decided to lace up our bowling shoes and hit the lanes for our date.

12 Dates #6 Orchard Lanes

What I didn’t know when we were planning was that John actually has HIS OWN bowling shoes and ball. True story. He is hard core.

12 Dates Bowling Shoes

Not only does he come with his own gear, but he totally broke 100 in all three games we played. I, on the other hand, did not. I think it’s due to the fact that the bowling alley employee input my name as “Mello.” How are you supposed to have a good game when your name is Mello? It’s a wonder my ball even knocked down ANY pins.

John tried really hard to make me feel better about my low scores. I believe his exact words were, “Eh, I’ve seen worse.” Comforting.

12 Dates #6 Bowling Scores

Here are the top three things I learned about bowling while on our date:

  1. Apparently bowling is a sport fraught with peril and injuries. Enough so that they have to put a warning screen up that you agree to before starting your game.
  2. My bowling game improves significantly when a Justin Bieber is playing over the bowling alley stereo.
  3. John’s bowling game improves significantly when a Justin Bieber stops playing over the bowling alley stereo.

Of course, a good game of bowling (or in my case, a bad game of bowling) really works up your appetite. Despite the bowling alley’s constant promotion of their newest burger, which can only be described as an instant heart attack, we opted to go to Nielsen’s and get some frozen custard.

For those of you unfamiliar with the DC (Davis County, that is), Nielsen’s is a staple in Bountiful. Because I’m a DC transplant, I’ve only been there a couple of times—stop judging me—but I’m never one to pass on sugary treats. In this case, I’m really glad I didn’t, because that’s where John revealed the secret to a long and healthy life.

There are two secrets to a long life:

1.) Never eat food off the streets in Mexico;

2.) Never eat bowling alley food.

And since it was impossible to know what to talk about after wisdom like that has been revealed, we called it a night.

Even though we’ve known each other for years, it was fun getting to know John better. And now I kind of want my own bowling ball and shoes. Is that weird?

Date #5 of My 12 Dates of Christmas: Bart

My introduction to Date #5, Bart, started with a miscommunication. I guess I wasn’t as clear as I should have been about what I needed, so our mutual friend, Janet, thought I was looking for someone to guest post on my blog and talk about their dating experiences.

Sorry, Bart, you’re not TALKING about your experiences, you ARE the experience. But like many of the candidates before and after, he couldn’t resist being a part of the project. At least that’s what I tell myself about all of these guys. 🙂

12 Dates #5 Bart

Bart made keeping “Rule #1 of the 12 Dates of Christmas: No Facebook stalking before the date” vkirtually impossible. He started things out with several Facebook emails back and forth, then called to officially ask me out (a nice gesture), then commented on my Facebook status, then commented on my friend’s Facebook status, then texted, then called, texted again, called again, commented on my blog post, and sent a few more texts. Oh, and somewhere in that mix we also became Facebook friends.

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that I wasn’t going into this date as blindly as I had hoped and planned.

The day of our date I was going to be hanging out in Utah County for business, so I said I would meet up with Bart there, and he decided his office at Boostability would be a good place. The date started with a tour, which was briefly halted when the company president started giving me an informal job interview in the hallway and laying out a case for why working for a company is better than being self-employed, then it was on to the rest of the night’s activities.

Bart had clearly spent a lot of time planning out our first activity. Wait, did I say a lot? I meant A TON.

When he was about to tell me what we were doing, he said he was, “excited and nervous all at the same time for what was about to come.” And with that introduction, he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out this:

12 Dates Memory Game

What’s that? Oh, just a Disney Princess Memory game with pictures from my Facebook page, blog, and website taped over the heads of the princesses on the box. NBD. (NBD=No Big Deal, you know, for those of you who aren’t hip to jive with the slang these days.)

You want to know what’s inside the box? Oh, just a memory matching game with pictures from my Facebook page, blog, and website creatively taped over the heads of the princesses on ALL of the pieces.

12 Dates Memory Game Pics

Well, maybe not ALL of the pieces. There was this one piece that had a picture of the ottoman I made for my office.

12 Dates Ottoman

And this one that had a picture of my friend Christin’s eye. How dare she invade MY game like that! So rude.

12 Dates Christin's Eye

After playing one round of the game,

::ahem::  I won  ::ahem::

we decided to play best two out of three.

12 Dates Game 1

Really, that meant we only played two games because I happened to win again.

::ahem::  it wasn’t even close  ::ahem::

I discovered the secret to winning was to get Bart talking. The more he carried on a conversation, the less he remembered where the pieces were.

12 Dates Game 2

Benefit of Being a Woman # 7,523: The ability to multitask

To be perfectly fair, it was a game with MY face on the box and pieces, so I don’t know how anyone else would ever stand a chance at winning. Ever.

By now it was starting to get later and stomachs were growling. I mean, figuratively speaking. My stomach wasn’t actually growling, of course, because that would be totally unladylike. Obviously. So we jumped in the car and headed to Malawi’s Pizza. I’d only been there once before, but I knew it was delicious, so I was looking forward to it. If you’re wondering what I ordered (like I know you always are) it was a salad. Sheesh, I’m becoming so predictable these days. I did steal a slice of the berries and cream dessert pizza though. Sweet, sweet decadence.

After dinner we hit the road again and headed to CLAS Ropes Course for a late night Christmas cruise on the Provo River. I’ve heard a lot about the seasonal cruises CLAS Ropes puts on, so I was excited to see what all the hubbub was about. By now it was nine at night, so it was dark, cold, and getting late-ish. We met up with our sea-faring captain (or Cap’n, as I prefer to call him) and the rest of the crew (ok, so there wasn’t a crew) and climbed aboard the sturdy vessel for our three hour tour (3 hours, 30 minutes, it’s practically the same thing).

The cruise consisted of a trip up and down a short stretch of the river. There were lights on the shoreline and criss crossing above the water, so it made for a peaceful little trip. But the best part was when Santa showed up on a canoe.

12 Dates Santa Provo River Cruise


When the cruise wrapped up, we headed back to the car where the heated seats awaited my arrival.

It was on the drive back to my car that Bart started making excuses for his poor showing at the memory game. While he tried to ask for a rematch, I showed no mercy and held fast to my victory. Hey, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that you should quit while you’re ahead, and at that point, I was ahead. Thus, no mercy.

On the drive back I also learned that Bart gets his date on to the tune of 2-4 dates a week. That’s a lot of dates! But I was relieved to know that he doesn’t have a stack of Disney Princess Memory games that he pulls out and slaps pictures of girls on. Nope, that was just for me.

Bart dropped me off at my car and we called it a night. He was very thoughtful, and clearly put a lot of time into planning and executing the date.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I got to keep the game. So let me know if you want to come over and play a round of “find Melanie’s face.” It’s quite fun, and I’m not sure why, but I can’t stop staring at it.