Happier to have you alive than dead: “Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date” by Katie Heaney

Here is a good tip I’ve learned: Don’t like anybody who won’t tell you happy birthday on your actual birthday. Someone who likes you, I think, will remember to take the time on the day you were born to say “Hey, happy birthday,” and in so doing, at least be willing to acknowledge that he is happier to have you alive than dead.

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney
272 pages, Grand Central Publishing, January 2014

Sometimes I feel like everyone else in the world totally understands this dating thing, and I’m the only one who finds it completely baffling. I don’t know how to talk to people and I feel like I have to watch other people at the restaurant for social cues as to how a person on this strange thing called a “date” should act. Oh, the napkin goes ON your lap? Oh, you’re supposed to NOT have cocktail sauce all over your face? I’m like Jane Goodall studying the chimps.

Katie Heaney doesn’t get dating, either, which is a relief. There are, apparently, two of us completely baffled about how this works and what we’re supposed to be doing with our hands at any given time. It’s nice not to feel alone, right? Right.

Heaney’s book tracks her dating life from when she started elementary school to the present, covering crushes and near-misses and tragic romantic mishaps. It’s got a blog feel, and in reading her bio, she’s contributed to a number of blogs, so that’s where that came from. (I was actually alerted to this book by reading an exerpt somewhere online, but don’t bother asking me where, because I don’t ever remember things like that. I visit too many sites in one day. My head’s a mess.)

I started out really enjoying this. The humor was right up my alley; I very much enjoy when people can make fun of themselves in an intelligent way. Heaney’s a good writer, too.

But it got tedious, and quickly. What was funny, and self-deprecating, and kind of adorable, at first, starting being whiny and complainy and repetitive. I’m not saying I’m any better at finding someone to go home with at the end of the night…but I don’t whine about it quite so much. Or quite so publicly. Because there’s a fine line between “funny” and “this emo Facebook status was a terrible idea.”

And worst of all: the title’s not true. She HAS a date before the book’s over. (Sorry. That’s a spoiler, I suppose, but not a big one.) So the title really needs to be Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Boyfriend or else it just doesn’t make any sense.

I’m kind of torn, here. It kept me reading, but as it progressed, it annoyed me. So I don’t really know if I liked it overall, or didn’t. I suppose I can split the difference and just say it was middle of the road.

Here’s my thought. I think a lot of bloggers want to write a book. And bloggers are hot right now, especially humor bloggers. So I think there’s a possibily the powers that be over at the publisher jumped on this one without thinking it over too well, and she didn’t have a solid plan about how she was going to finish it. She had a solid beginning, and a so-so middle, and then the end just went downhill.

She’s not a bad writer, though. I think if she wrote about something else, it’d be readable. As it is, with this one, read until she leaves for college, then you’ve got every last permission of mine to put it aside. Just not worth your time. If you want emo, go read the status updates from your younger friends on Facebook. Same thing, only they’ll be briefer, so better for your attention span, you know?



  1. Charleen

    If my life circumstances radically changed for some terrible and unforeseen reason and I suddenly found myself single – let’s go with waking up in an alternate reality, since that seems like the most harmless option that would lead to that result – I’d be lost too. I haven’t been single since I was 17. And I don’t feel like teenage dating (not that I really did that either) is even in the same league as adult dating, so… despite the fact that I made the successful transition, over many years, from crush to boyfriend to fiance all the way to husband, I almost feel like that title could apply to me. In a strictly semantic sense.

    (Of course, we have “date nights.” But going to dinner or a movie with a significant other is also quite different than “dating.”)

    • lucysfootball

      I’ve dated. I’ve even had boyfriends (although it’s so long ago at this point, I barely remember the girl I was when that happened.) Most of these things ended in disaster – I could write my own book about such things, bit it’d be less humor and more “OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS GIRL” but it couldn’t be called “Without a Date.” I guess it could be called “Forever Alone: The Story of a Girl Who Turned Into a Woman Who Fell in Love with Every Unavailable Man in Her Immediate Area, and Some of Them Outside of It.”

      That’d probably be way too long of a title for the NYT Best-Seller list, wouldn’t it? Heh.

      • Charleen

        Maybe, but you could probably get some buzz based on the title alone. Pretty sure there’s a subset of readers who are really into super-long titles. Maybe you could amass a cult following.

  2. Jenn

    I love the excerpt from the book! I truly believe it (does that make me shallow?). Sounds somewhat like an American version of Bridget Jones’ Diary (loved the movie, not so much the book). And btw, I hate dating. I’m more of a relationship type of gal. One of the reasons why I was married (unhappily) for so long. The process of going back “on the market” at a more mature age was humiliating. And I found myself on Match.com?!!! Ugh! I did end up meeting someone through the site, but its far from the perfect relationship (is there such a thing?). But I muddle on so that I don’t have to go through the dating scene again…… Le sigh……

    • lucysfootball

      Doesn’t make you shallow at all. (I used that quote because I totally agreed with it. If they can’t remember your birthday ON your birthday…or can’t be bothered…you’re not a priority to them. That’s all there is.)

      I have a dating story for you but I’m going to email it to you. It’s more of an email story.

      But, yes. I will say: the dating scene is not fun. Like, at all. Even a little tiny bit.

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