True Story: I Briefly Dated a Woman on Netflix’s “Tiger King”
My wife and I just finished watching the addictively bizarre new Netflix docu-series Tiger King. Perhaps more shocking than all the seedy characters and illegal dealings the show follows, however, was seeing an ex-girlfriend in the final episode.
I typically tell people that my wife Katie is the only girl I ever dated. I didn't date in high school or college. I went on dates over the next five years after college, but none of them turned into anything serious. The only girl I dated for an extended period of time I ended up marrying. Technically, though, there was one other romantic relationship I don't usually bring up...
Before meeting my wife Katie and moving to Minnesota to marry her, I spent a year and a half working at a radio station in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma. While there, I developed feelings for a colleague and friend named Shelby. She was several years my younger, but we spent a lot of time together and -- over time -- developed mutual feelings for each other. In retrospect, our relationship was somewhere between romantic and big brother/little sister (not in a gross way, but again -- the age difference was a real thing). After admitting my feelings to her, which she reciprocated, we officially began dating.
We dated for one week.
To be fair, Shelby and I were at different points in life. She was still in college, still figuring out what she wanted to do next and had her own close circle of friends. I was 26, ready to marry and get the heck out of podunk Oklahoma. I should have known things weren't going to work out.
I eventually met my wife Katie and moved to Minnesota. I lost touch with Shelby and -- out of embarrassment, mostly -- didn't make an effort to stay in touch. I saw the occasional social media post from her or heard the occasional small talk about what she was up to. I know she went on to become a personality at a leading television station in Oklahoma, which doesn't surprise me; she always had the personality and ambition for something like that. It came as a shock, still, when she made a brief appearance in the show Tiger King.
My wife Katie and I were watching the final episode of the shockingly true Netflix docu-series the other night. In it, the show's the primary character -- Joe Exotic -- finds himself in legal trouble with the Feds and, ultimately, lands himself in prison.
As scenes of Oklahoma City flash, I point out familiar places to my wife. Suddenly, a news clip is featured of a local reporter at Joe Exotic's former big cat park. The reporter's name flashes across the screen, and my wife and I both shout, "Shelby?!"
Sure enough, the girl I had dated for one week was there on my TV in one of the most-talked about shows on Netflix right now.
The clip was brief, over in seconds really. To anyone else, it was just a news report and some random reporter. But it was such an unexpected moment for me to see someone who had, really, been a significant part of my life for a time there on Netflix! It's probably not unlike running into an ex at a restaurant or movie theater or some other place you least expect to.
If you've watched the show Tiger King, you may have been hoping for something juicier and more dramatic than that. With so many bizarre and unbelievable characters, you may be disappointed that the woman I briefly dated was just a local television reporter. But, that's my story! If you haven't seen Tiger King yet, I highly suggest watching it (maybe after the kids have gone to bed). Oh, and watch for my one-week-girlfriend in the final episode!