Truthbombs: I read this in fear that I would come across a description of myself.
I wish I had gotten to contribute to this list. Here’s a favorite (and somewhat epic) old blog entry from 2k10:
Of all of the things Cupid has been to me, “OK” is not one of them. From the humble beginnings of a love life that was predestined to be tumultuous, gut wrenching, awkward, and often hilarious, to where I sit now, a little weary and worse for the wear, I’ve far from given up. I still believe in fairy tale love, the poetic and deep entwining of two souls who want to share their lives with each other, or at the very least the city equivalent: semi-regular, great sex with someone who has a clean bill of health and won’t fuck your friends. The closest I’ve come was to throwing in the towel on the hunt for a mate was to join an online dating website. Never mind the fact that I’ve had no trouble meeting philanderers, drug addicts, schizophrenics and compulsive liars by other means with much more tactile introductions, one way or another the somewhat web chic explosion of OKcupid amongst my peers intrigued me. I had friends who were on it, who I considered to be normal (within reason) and dateable… so why wouldn’t there be like-minded fellows on there? Maybe I was being a luddite, not utilizing a whole new medium with which to entice someone into buying my proverbial cow.
The night in February that I joined OKcupid, there were 2 feet of snow on the ground, (the news had called it “the snowpocalypse”), and I’d been sitting on a couch with a gay man for seven hours, watching Bravo network television. Half a season of Shear Genius, three episodes into Millionaire Matchmaker, and one extra large meat combo pizza later, I had a revelation. Dying alone in the dead of winter was not at all an attractive prospect. I tentatively broached the subject to Brandon who flicked his wrist at me while still looking at the screen explaining that he loved this part, and then recited the following scene word for word. When the commercial came on and he turned back to me, my mouth was agape in an admittedly judgmental shape, and he replied, “What?! I have DVR.”
“What do you think about OKcupid?” I asked.
“What’s there to think? That’s like, online dating, right?” Brandon closed the pizza box that was littered with abandoned crusts and chili pepper flakes with his big toe.
“What kind of lame retard has to join a site to meet people?”
“What kind of super cool retard knows the entire 3rd season of Shear Genius by heart?”
“I think we’re past the point of being apologetic for real talk.” I replied ruefully.
Minutes later, I had pulled up the main page of the site, tentatively clicking around as if an alarm would sound and a mass email would be sent to everyone I’d ever met informing them of my inherent desperation. Though I initially perused the website as if it were a virtual minefield, it seemed not to be of sinister nature. The user interface was easy to navigate. I liked the cobalt blue background and the testimonials of its hipness and success rates in the sidebar… it didn’t seem so bad. Besides, there was an option in the search feature that allowed me to set a height requirement, and I was excited at the prospect of meeting someone who wouldn’t get emasculated when I felt like wearing heels. So, I bit the bullet, and began filling out my profile. The basics were easy: female, 5’11”, Caucasian, owns cats, some college, drinks often, smokes sometimes, speaks fluent English and some pig latin.
The details took me a little longer—what were you supposed to reveal in these fields with the expectantly blinking cursor to sell yourself to a prospective mate? This is obviously not the place I’d mention that I’d just been laid off (again) and that my snore sounds akin to the death rattle of the Rock Biter from Neverending Story. The music/movie/food interest section is a tricky one, too, because everyone knows how much it matters to at least share some similar predilections to recreational activities with a mate.
After changing my self-summary from the tongue-in-cheek, “I’m spontaneous!!!!! I hate DRAMA!!!!! I love funnnnn!!!!!!!!11” to something a little more accurate (but still quirky), I set to surfing around for potential matches. Within moments of completing my profile, I had received several instant messages, some from underage broheims in New Jersey (actual quote: “dam ur sexy bitch gimme your #”), and one from a Bulgarian bodybuilder in Queens who requested “nudie pix” from me. So far, I wasn’t impressed. Though to be fair, the situation was that I was on a dating website at four in the morning on a Tuesday. The next IM came in from a certain “ColonelMustard”, a 25 year old Brooklynite who had a simple, basic icebreaker by saying “Hi! You seem very nice. I’m Alex.”
I stole Brandon away from Bravo to inspect his pictures and profile together. Alex’s photos were cute; he was bespectacled and scruffy, appeared adventurous, maybe a little outdoorsy (not my thing, but I don’t begrudge people their treehuggy moments). His profile claimed he was good at dancing, cooking, massages and sex. Getting dipped, fed, rubbed and loved down didn’t sound so bad… so I messaged him back. Our repartee was witty and we shared similar interests, and he even hearteningly addressed first that he was aware it probably seemed a little off color that he was on OKcupid at dawn. We agreed to meet for happy hour tacos the next day in Greenpoint and then go thrifting at my favorite spot on Manhattan Ave., The Thing.
The next day I primped a little in preparation and headed out to meet my very first online date, and Brandon sent me off with a pat on the back and reassured me that if I was found dead, bludgeoned to death with a candelabra in a thrift store, he’d avenge me. Trudging through the snow up to the taqueria, I recognized him on the sidewalk from his photos, though the proclaimed 6’2” on his profile was more like 5’8”. I’d worn flats, just in case. I wasn’t sure whether to hug or formally introduce myself, so I extended my hand to give a handshake that was a little more limp than I’d have liked due to my buzzing nerves and low blood sugar.
Once seated, we ordered the bargain tacos and engaged in a getting to know you chat where I realized several things. For one, he lived in a “renegade co-op” in Bushwick with [literally] starving artists and musicians who were “Freegans”. (For those unfamiliar, Freegans dumpster dive for trashed produce in the city, in a sort of Robin Hood-y lifestyle that better befits inhabitants of a 3rd world country than trust fund kids squatting in a unzoned commune in Brooklyn.) The questionable stains of unknown origin on his ill fitting Carhardts utility jacket seemed more appropriate, given the new information. Next, I discovered that his only employment was with himself, as he was a weed dealer. Moments later, when the bill was dropped that came to a whopping $5.45, he put down three dollars and excused himself to the restroom.
“He could at least have put a nug down for a tip.” I thought to myself.
The conclusion of my first OKC to IRL meeting analysis was that my taco imbroglio wasn’t a scarring disaster, but it wasn’t exactly impressive or dazzling, either. I was discouraged, but I couldn’t cry over spilt horchata. I chose to approach bachelor number two a little differently. I searched through my “matches” for a while one afternoon and found two I thought were intriguing, and then formulated two thoughtful and and pithy personalized messages to each. Within 24 hours I had a reply from the Joel, the musician from Kensington, which sparked an email correspondence that lasted a week and eased my fear that I may meet him in person and have absolutely nothing in common, as was the case with bachelor number one. He was a lanky young lad in a band that played in a sort of circus folk style and dressed like Oliver Twist, so I opted to take him to my favorite eccentric spot for free music in Williamsburg. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I was about to meet up with the alter ego of the charming gent I’d been writing to: The Blacked Out Drunk Guy.
I beat him to the bar, which was more crowded than usual, so I was trying not to crane my neck around too conspicuously with eyes akimbo in search of my date. This time I didn’t have to worry about how to go about the introduction because as soon as we recognized each other, he had launched himself/fallen into my arms in an embrace that smelled equally of Old Spice and Jameson.
“Pleased to meetchew!” he exclaimed, slurring. “Sorry I got a head start on you… been drinking since 5 when I got off work.”
Less than charmed, I glanced at the coo-coo clock on the wall, which indicated 5 minutes to eleven. The only thing I’d had to drink that evening was Tropicana No Pulp, and my date was lurching side to side like an extra on The Walking Dead. For the first few seconds I’d been pleased that he turned out to be more attractive in person than his photos (which were already pretty handsome), but it was canceled out by the prospect of having to give him a piggyback ride to the subway later. Conversation proved impossible due to his uncontrollable nervous giggling and incessant hiccuping, so I took the liberty of relocating us to the music venue in the back of the bar to take the pressure off, and hopefully deter his garbled chatter. My disaster aversion tactic only worked to a certain degree, as he had become significantly less interested in making conversation, but not necessarily noise. There I was, on a date with an attractive, gainfully employed, talented musician with a suspender collection… who to everyone else in the cramped venue space was just the obnoxious drunk guy in the back making hooting noises and whistling at inappropriate intervals during an emotional singer-songwriter’s set.
When I returned home that night after an equally awkward goodbye, I was irritated, sober, and wielding my pepper spray willy nilly all down Richardson St. thinking to myself how pissed off I’d be if I was jumped again walking back from a date I wish I’d stayed home from. I’m fairly sure an assailant would have come out of a scrape with me that night one nutsack poorer. Back inside my studio, I changed into my flannel cat pajamas and grabbed my Macbook, heading for the stairway of my apartment building, which is the only place where the stolen internet connection comes in. I found myself back on OKcupid, where I had a few new messages; two were from random goober-y dudes wanting to know if Dr. Pepper chapstick really existed and if my carpet matched the drapes, and one from “dotcommiebastard”, who I had written a week before, forgotten about, and never heard back from.
Sean, 28, was a web designer for a startup in Manhattan and his profile clearly reflected his nerdy nature and sense of humor, but his photos especially piqued me. He had ten (the maximum amount allowed), which red flagged him as a potential egomaniac, but they were all different or unique in some way, most photoshopped in an artsy manner, and universally rendering him ridiculously good looking. Even with a Tom Selleck mustache. His response to my message was cute and quick, as well as engaging. Right as I was about to write back, he IMed me, so we got to chatting and when my battery life started running low and he still hadn’t asked for my number, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
“Would it be terribly presumptuous of me to suggest we meet for a drink this week?” I tapped onto the keys tentatively. I hit enter and bit my lip in anticipation.
His response beeped as it popped up on the screen, “If we’re going to be presumptuous here, I’m going to have to presume that you are one of my friends pulling a prank on me, because I never get messaged by cool, witty, mega babes on this site, and if that’s the case then fuck you, Randal, this isn’t funny!” followed by, “But if you are a real girl, then I’d love to get a drink with you.”
Strategizing my angle for virtual bachelor number three was a little different. First off, I had messaged him, then I asked him out, and now that he had my number, I felt it might be wise to let him move the next pawn. Two or three days went by and I’d not heard from Sean and had figured perhaps he was not that into me, and after attending a dinner party at a friend’s house I found myself the last one standing and curled up on their couch in a snuggie with their 25 lb Persian cat named GusGus and my computer. Boredom and insomnia got the best of me, and when 3 AM rolled around I found myself signing into my slightly shameful secret social network of lonely hearts, and immediately had an IM from Sean wondering why he hadn’t heard from me. I felt mildly incensed. As a postmodernist woman, I don’t mind exploring gender role reversal spooning, but I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about having to woo this guy, who I couldn’t for the life of me understand why he was on a dating website if he could walk into Union Pool on any given weeknight and easily have his pick of the lady litter. We ended up on the phone well into the wee hours, and made plans to meet for drinks at Pete’s in Greenpoint the next evening.
I woke up to this message in my email: “Just in case you were wondering, I am actually not mentally disabled despite they way I just sounded on the phone. Sleep deprivation just seems to have that effect on me occasionally. You however are pretty goddamn charming. I almost feel a little intimidated… which is why I’ve devised a foolproof plan to get completely shit-house drunk right before we meet. I promise it will be one of the top three best OKcupid dates you’ve ever been on.”
I wrote back: “That email made me laugh harder than I did when I woke up on Jen’s couch wearing a zebra print snuggie to GusGus dropping his slobbery fetch toy (a scrunchie, I shit you not) on my face. I swear, that cat looks like an Urban Outfitters ottoman. You sounded just fine, and I’m totally hip to the ways of the folk who live in nearly-perpetual sleep dep. I’m just glad I didn’t sound like a stoned, rambling weirdo! (Or, if I did, at least an entertaining one.) I very much look forward to feeding you vitamin water through an eyedropper and carbs as you drool in my lap, tonight.”
The following evening I became terribly nervous after we exchanged texts throughout the day… I had developed a legitimate, sizeable crush on Sean without actually having met him. What if the tables turned and I ended up being his nightmare OKcupid story? I’d looked at the personality deciphering questions he’d filled out on his profile and one of them indicated he would never date someone who posted intimate details of their life online. When was a good time to drop the TMI blogger bomb on someone? And the Cancer bomb? He was sure to ask what kind of novel I’m writing—it’s not exactly a prudent situation to lie in, and to answer that question vaguely could be so much worse. What if he automatically assumed that I’m writing homoerotic fan fiction based on the Legend of Zelda? Or a young, hip guide to coping with living with herpes? Right as I was about to go cross eyed with irrational pre-date jitters, I beat him to Pete’s by about five minutes (even though I’d been strategically 5 minutes late) and sat fidgeting with the foam head on my pint of Magic Hat while I waited. When he arrived he revealed one of his most fetching traits of all, which was his gorgeous toothy grin, and followed that up with a big, warm hug. I could feel the butterflies moshing in my guts in a flurry of unbridled pheromones as I marveled at his pearly smile and disarming dimples. Maybe Cupid was OK, after all?
A couple of hours into our fun, effortless date, we discovered that we shared several friends in common… one of whom being a bartender I met 4 years ago on my first visit to Brooklyn who I’d gotten to know biblically a handful of times the summer before and then shifted gears back to the Friend Zone. This bartender was Sean’s best friend, and he and his brother had grown up with him since they were toddlers in Arizona. I felt a wave of panic welling up in me, not wanting to have poked holes in the bottom of my dreamboat by suffering a small world dating coincidence, and promptly changed the subject by complimenting him on a ring he was wearing, of the gumball variety. It was slightly chintzy looking and had a Celtic design grooved in the middle, and the edges’ copper stain was rubbing off to reveal the silver metal underneath. He reached out and grabbed my hand, manicured with chipping fuchsia nail polish as per usual, and slid the ring on my finger.
“I want you to have it.” He said. I leaned back, slightly incredulous and now on the verge of a potentially dangerous category five swoon.
“I couldn’t possibly.” My cheeks were getting hot. “Bad form to accept an heirloom on a first date.”
“It’s true, I’ve had it forever, and I wear it every day, but it’s yours now. You just have to promise not to lose it.”
“Promise.” He pulled me closer.
“I promise.” I said, and Sean leaned in and punctuated my vow with a sweet, long kiss that tasted faintly of Pilsner and chapstick. I was completely done for.
“You wanna get outta here?”
“Like the wind,” I said breathily, trying not to reveal how hopelessly twitterpated I’d become. One short walk later, we’d gotten back to my place, and I threw Rufus off the bed who shot me a disgruntled look before slinking off to curl up on a pillow across the room.
The next morning, I woke up not wearing much more than my Cracker Jack prize of runaway romance. Sean hit the snooze button on his Blackberry alarm until he was an hour late for work, kissing me on the forehead while he exclaimed how amazing he’d slept, and that he hadn’t for days. For some reason, this didn’t alarm me in the slightest. He left for work saying he’d text me to make plans for the weekend and I laid there listening to Billie Holiday for about a half hour until my roommate plodded down the stairs into my room. Brandon pulled a chair up to my bed and straddled it, with his twinkling hazel eyes hungry for gossip.
“How was it? Spill.” I flashed him a boob, and we both squealed. “I take it the date went well?”
“Indeed. You missed him by a bee’s ass.”
“Ha! I wasn’t sure, the fish was nowhere to be found.”
Brandon was referring to the “Fuck Fish”, which was a large rubber koi that I’d permanently borrowed from Jay’s mantle in LA on a road trip I took years ago. When we first started sharing the apartment in February we devised a foolproof plan for his covert knowledge of when it was not safe to walk through my room to get to the shower. The fish was our BFF secret handshake of “do not disturb” signs. The Fuck Fish had actually not yet been utilized and in the heat of the moment it hadn’t occurred to me to get up, locate the fish, and attempt to stealthily place it on the stairwell.
“It slipped my mind.”
Maren grunted a knowing harrumph, and I held up my hand, fanning out my spirit fingers like a blushing bride to be.
“Check this out. He put a ring on it.” I grinned like a jack o’lantern.
“I will not.”
“Jesus, this guy is good.” he said, leaning forward to inspect my new jewelry. “Look at you, you’re dicknotized!”
“You’ve got that right, my friend.” I said, collapsing back into a pile of pillows and pulling the covers over my head.
The following morning, Sean texted me, “Hey you. How’s things?” which sent me into a complete frenzy, bouncing up the stairs to Brandon’s room in my pink Ikea slippers to report of the textual healing. I’d been terrified that perhaps I was a little too swift to relinquish the proverbial cookie to Sean, whose I’d nicknamed Frodo because of his bestowing me with the one ring with which to rule my spring fling. I hadn’t taken it off since he’d put it on, and it was starting to turn my finger green in addition to clashing with my outfits, but I didn’t care. I held up the cell phone to Brandon, hopping from foot to foot.
“’Hey you, how’s things’? That’s so… bro-ish.”
“Right? What do I say?”
“Ask him if he has a box of gumball machine rings labeled “For Gullible Hoes” under his bed.”
“Brandon! I’m serious.”
“You’re useless. Dead to me.” I said, stretching out on his yoga mat in the sun, still clutching my clunky flip phone for dear life, which is how I would remain for good portions of the following three weeks. We’d made solid plans to hang out Saturday evening, and I spent half of Saturday afternoon in the shower shaving my entire body like an Olympic swimmer, exfoliating, and trying to make my winter-gnarled feet less frightening. I changed my outfit no less than ten times, accessorized with the ring, did my makeup perfectly, and curled my hair. I looked and felt amazing, filled with the burgeoning hope of the first blush of flirtation.
And then, he stood me up.
Sunday morning came and I trudged to the bathroom to grudgingly wash the makeup off that I’d been too miserable to bother with the night before and the Fuck Fish sat atop the toilet tank, mocking my pain.
“What are you looking at?” I growled, fully realizing that I was talking to a rubber toy and not caring, as I knocked it onto the tile floor vengefully with the back of my hand, hearing Brandon’s telltale gait down the stairs.
“What, no fish?” He called through the room.
“Yeah. No date, no fish.” I said, sitting back down on my bed.
“Wait, what happened?”
“A whole lotta nothing. He hadn’t called by ten, so I did, and there was no answer.”
“And still no word?”
“Nope.” I glanced woefully at my dormant phone.
“Baby, I’m sorry. Please tell me you’re not still wearing the ring.” I sat on my hand.
“God, no.” I lied.
Later that night Frodo surfaced and apologized profusely, promising to make it up to me, having excused his completely wack behavior by trying to convince me that he had accidentally slept for over 24 hours and hadn’t heard his phone. I thought it was a little weird, and potentially a total load of bullshit, but I really wanted to get to know him, and thought it’d be too hasty to kick him to the curb over one mistake, especially after the long lonely winter I’d just endured in a serious relationship with a heated blanket and Netflix streaming.
Joking graciously about the time released roofie I’d slipped him at Pete’s, I opted to give him another chance, and we met up later that night at our favorite bar and debuted our courtship where our mutual friend pours drinks. I finally triumphantly cast the fish out my front door for Brandon. But a few days later, we’d made plans to meet up in Williamsburg in the early evening, and Frodo did not contact me to tell me the location until 4 in the morning. I was exceedingly nonplussed and considering sending him a bill for a can of Skintimate and a very fancy loofah. I decided (stupidly, I might add) to give him one more shot after our mutual friend assured me that I had hit the jackpot with Frodo, and he not only gave his blessing but insisted that I “couldn’t possibly find a better guy”. The third time he stood me up in a span of three weeks, I was distinctly hoping that said claim held no bearing. Another night was spent waiting for a phone call dressed for a black tie affair donning my finest tranny lashes, watching Glee with my roommate and his boyfriend. I was right back where I started. His excuse, which came some time around what would have been last call, was another epic nap, and Brandon and I theorized he was either secretly married or a pill popper, and my last text to my own personal Van Winkle read, “Wow. Lame. Spare me the sorry this time, and lose my number.”
Two weeks passed and I was a little bummed that my spring fling hadn’t sprung very far, but I pressed on in my online dating field research. I met another OKcupid guy who was an independent filmmaker who made a very strong point of telling me he had a car, (an ’89 Hyundai) because his friend had told him girls would think it was sexy. Aside from mentioning his ex five times in the first five minutes, he ended up boring me to the brink of tears, as he detailed his current project, a musical short film that he described as “Requiem For a Dream meets The Little Mermaid”, and showed me several photos on his iPhone of the set design comprised of day-glo, blacklit paper mache forests of coral. I furtively eyeballed his bald spot, gleaming under the lamplight, which had been undetectable in any of his photos on his profile as I weighed my options for a swift escape. There was no second date, despite that he texted me after claiming to have had “so much fun”.
The night baseball season began was Easter Sunday, and I ended up at a sports bar with some friends after a day of lounging in the park and eating my weight in marshmallow peeps. Right as we walked in I ran into Frodo, sipping a PBR in a cozy with his knit cap pulled too far down his forehead, nearly causing his blonde curls to completely obstruct his vision. I braced myself for the crash dummy impact of awkwardness and eked out a forced smile and a greeting. There was no toothy grin or warm hug, this time, and he asked some obligatory socially graceful questions; how I’d been, if I was liking my new job, and whether or not I was rooting for the Yankees. As I looked down to grab my wallet from my purse to get a drink, a glimmer of metal caught my eye. Frodo was wearing a ring almost identical to the one that he had given me on our first date.
“Hey,” I said, gesturing to his pointer finger, “You got another ring…”
“Oh, yeah.” He said, shrugging nonchalantly. “They’re only a quarter.”