Sunday, December 27, 2020

I Dated a Disney Channel Star

I'd been swiping on Tinder and Bumble for awhile, meeting men occasionally, but not getting into anything serious. Then I met H.

He was cute with a capital CUTE. His bright, blueish-green eyes and wavy brown hair jumped out at me right away. His profile didn't really say anything of value, but really, he was just too handsome not to try to talk to. So I swiped right, even though he was 12 years my junior. I figured I'd see what might happen. And then, only a few minutes later, he swiped right, too.

Our chatting was innocent and innocuous enough at first. We talked about what we did — he said he was an actor and painter, I told him I was a fashion and beauty writer. (Also, I truly didn't care or ask for more details when he told me his profession, since basically everyone in LA says they're those things.) We talked about what we'd done that day. We quickly moved to texting and chatted on and off for a couple weeks, never really about anything serious, but enough to keep the other interested.

And then, one afternoon, he texted to ask if I "finally wanted to hang out." I knew what those words meant, especially at 3:15 on a Saturday, but I said yes. You only live once, right? So I invited H over, we did in fact "hang out," and had a pretty decent time. So decent, in fact, that we decided to meet up again a few nights later, this time at his apartment, which was about 25 minutes away from mine. But hey, at least I got to pet his cute cats.

At this point, I decided to do my due diligence and look him up on the trusted internet. I can't believe I hadn't done so earlier — especially in the age of looking at someone's Instagram the second you start talking — but I had decided to let the mystery ride for a bit and be more old school with dating.

But I finally looked H up after I got home that night, and fairly immediately, I discovered he was indeed an actor. From the Disney channel. And he was pretty popular.

Well, we started dating. And, a few weeks in, I was sitting with my friend Claire at dinner, telling her about the guy I'd been seeing. "He was the star of a Disney channel show a few years back," I said. "Which one?" she asked. I told her the name of it (I'll leave it redacted but let's just say it was popular with teenagers who liked skateboarding) and she shrieked, "YOU'RE DATING H?!" So apparently he was pretty well known, even among some of my friends.

The months began to tick by, with us getting together at least once a week. Our dates typically consisted of just hanging out at my apartment. Not true dates, I know, but this is also the era of the hangout somehow being the same as a date, so I went with it. We would watch movies, and talk, and just enjoy being together. We did venture out occasionally — the most memorable being a trip to Shake Shack (his first, which I couldn't believe — I made him get the crinkle fries and a milkshake).

While H was still acting occasionally, he was also painting a lot. He was starting to focus on that, especially in day to day life, and his Instagram reflected that as it was full of the paintings he’d done. We'd talk about art in general, what we were each working on, where we found creative inspiration.

After careful consideration, I decided to buy one of his paintings, because I wanted to support his art. Looking back, he probably should have just given it to me if we were dating, right? Also, his "art" is legit finger paintings, none of which take more than 20 minutes. I should not have bought this. But I believe in supporting the people in my life, and I thought it was a nice thing to do.

I gave H $500 for it, which he told me was a REALLY good deal. "I usually charge people $1500 for my paintings, but you're getting the friends and family discount," he said with a wink and his trademark white-toothed smile. He came over one Saturday and hung it in my living room next to my TV. I truly loved it.

And then we came to one pivotal afternoon, four months after we met. H sat across from me on my couch, staring into my eyes with his beautiful blue-green ones. "I'm so happy I met you," he told me earnestly while caressing my cheek. "I really value our relationship and I love spending time with you. I definitely want to keep you in my life for a long time."

 

This is a direct quote. It is seared into my brain forever.

 

I couldn't believe my good luck. I'd been waiting for a guy to say things like this to me FOREVER, and it had finally happened. I was way past Cloud 9 — I was on Cloud 1 Million and 9.

Five days later, we had plans to get together at a coffee shop in Burbank. I'd been out of town visiting family and we wanted to have a little reunion of sorts when I got back to LA.

I have to admit I was a little nervous when we set this up, because of the aforementioned hangouts we typically had. Going to a coffee shop was out of the ordinary for us, and I started feeling like maybe H was going to end things with me. I talked to my therapist about it, who tried to prepare me for that eventuality. I talked to some friends about it, who said they would be there for me if that happened. I tried to brush off this feeling of dread, but this coffee shop meeting just had such a finality to it.

 

Well, I'm sure you can guess what happened.

 

The morning we were supposed to meet, H broke up with me over text. He told me he was glad to have met me, congratulated me on my career (such a weird thing to write in a breakup text), and he hoped I'd have a nice life. Then he immediately blocked my number before I could respond — which I know because when I called, I got a weird robotic out of service message, and my text back asking “What? Are you serious?” went the dreaded green.

I won't lie or sugarcoat the situation. When it first happened, I immediately turned on my shower, laid down on the floor of the tub and cried for an hour. Then I laid on my bed and cried some more. At my cousin Erin's urging, I went to a party with her and her husband that night to get my mind off things. (It didn't succeed, but I appreciated the gesture.) Since H had blocked my phone number, I tried messaging him on Facebook to find out what caused it. (He read it and never responded.) I searched through his Instagram for clues. I didn't find any.

 

It seems that, for this Disney actor at least, the drama was just as fun in real life as it was on set.

 

A day later, seeing that painting hanging on the wall was killing me inside. I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been to buy it. Now he had my money and my heart. I took the painting off the wall and hid it in a closet, and I thought that would be enough. But it was like a ticking time bomb in there.

I wasn't sure what to do with the painting. Burn it? Destroy it? Throw it away? Nothing actually seemed right, and every choice also seemed like I'd be giving H too much power. After much agonizing, Claire had the idea to just leave it on his doorstep. No note, no explanation, nothing. Just the painting, which he had worked on and thought meant so much to me, returned without a second glance.

So, a week later, Claire and I drove to H's apartment. She covertly left the painting on his doorstep while I waited in the car.

I never heard from H again. However, I have moved past it and am healed. I don't need or want H in my life anymore, and I haven't for a long time.

And you know what? I have a much better painting hanging in that spot now. And it was only $25 from Ikea.

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