(Originally published on Man Repeller June 2016)

Hello, [applicant’s name]!

Thank you for your interest in a position with L.E. Hook, LLC.* While not expressly hiring at the moment, we are always on the lookout for qualified applicants. (If you do not work out we will reference the above disclaimer with a kind but clear “I’m just not really looking for a relationship right now, ya know?”)

Congratulations on making it to the initial interview stage. This means you are handsome, have a 30 Rock quote in your profile, or, if the CEO was three beers deep and letting her friends swipe, seem like you “might be a great guy!” The board welcomes you.

A little about our ideal candidate:

YOU: know how to properly load a dishwasher (the CEO does not).
YOU: have a working knowledge of first aid care
YOU: are in favor of nine-hour Netflix marathons and snacks that mean business
YOU: are Greg Olsen, but in an old-timey lumberjack outfit

Here’s some information about the CEO the board thinks you will find helpful:

Her biggest pet peeve is when people say they love Harry Potter but have not read the books. She is, as we speak, contemplating a third day of dry shampoo instead of a shower. The CEO will, without question, spill coffee on your carpet.

She loves talking politics, even if you are diametrically opposed. A spirited debate gets the CEO razzed like a vodka Redbull (which, by the way, you should not let her order). She vacillates between party girl and bookish introvert — a Biden/Obama situation, if you will. Her heart seems crusty on the outside, but is surprisingly gooey on the inside, like a Peep found three months after Easter.

A word of advice from the board:

Due to a deep-seated insecurity and fear of rejection, the CEO will not make it totally clear that you are her candidate of choice for this position. It is up to you, the applicant, to make your willingness to accept clear, but not, like, stage-five clinger clear, as this will make the CEO immediately claustrophobic and terminate the interview.

The board has tried to reason with the CEO that this method is grossly ambiguous and harmful to long-term profits. All of the board’s efforts thus far have failed, and you are as likely to be axed for one wink emoji as you are for never texting in the first place.

Now, you might be thinking, “Who is in charge here? Head? Heart? Stomach?” or “Is this one of those trendy startups where napping is encouraged?” (Yes.). The board knows this is a complicated business model, but really, the CEO wants what everyone wants: to see, be seen, and be held close during Game of Thrones.

Please don’t read our reviews on Glassdoor.

*We are not actually an LLC. The CEO picked at her split ends and took Buzzfeed quizzes during her college finance courses. If you must know, we are more like a shell corporation for a shady but mostly legal overseas venture.



(Originally published on Man Repeller June 2015)

The best meal I ever had
wasn’t a meal
it was a Bloody Mary
every morning the summer of 2013, to be exact.
A mason jar full of vodka and heart-friendly polyphenols
with my best friend in the heart of our college town;
High July in Alabama and as at home as anyone can ever be.
I had a crush on every bartender in the restaurant.

The best meal I ever had
was spaghetti
sprinkled with inexplicable bits of bone
under a metal awning on a hillside in Greece.
(It was the best meal ever
because my grandfather,
with crinkly, mischievous eyes,
told my brother he ordered him beef
and later revealed it to be lamb genitalia.)

The best meal I ever had
was a bowl of ramen in Paris
with a new friend, in a city I had run to
to soothe the wound of being a post-grad.
The broth was mainly butter, bad for your heart but good for your soul.
We both woke at 4 a.m. with a stranded-in-the-desert thirst,
and yet, every Sunday, a text: “Ramen?”

The best meal I ever had
was the morning after New Year’s Eve
back in our hometown during our first year of college
at our favorite high school restaurant.
We began 2011 in giddy, morning-drunk laughter
because under my bootcut gray sweatpants I was wearing the only shoes I had:
glittering, black, pointy-toed stilettos.

The best meal I ever had
has happened many times.
It happens whenever my dad lowers his crab cages
into the murky Severn river
and we drink cheap beer and get Old Bay in our eyes
and I marvel at his picking skills, and feel grateful that he taught me.

You see, I could rhapsodize for days
about burrata, mille-feuille and tender medallions of ostrich,
crunchy golden beets, smoked bacon with caramelized bourbon sauce
and really anything in the sandwich family.
But ambience is nothing without conversation
and appetizers fall flat without affection
and after 23 years of loving food,
there’s one thing I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt:
It ain’t what you’re eating,
it’s who you’re eating it with.