Down, but not out—Adventures in online dating.
About four years ago my girlfriend and I broke up, and my friends introduced me to the concept of online dating.
I was very hesitant at first. I didn’t know who I was going to find online, or whether it was safe. But I figured: Let’s give it a try and see what happens.
I signed up for this site called OkCupid. It was all the rage in New York. You’re asked to write a self-summary, put up a few pictures and answer a bunch of questions about yourself to create a profile.
The questions can make you stop and think.
Like, “Would you rather have good things happen to you in life or interesting things?”
Or, “If you find out that your partner has slept with 14 or more people, is that too many?”
Then OkCupid matches you your answers. The more similar your mutual answers are, the higher your match score will be.
The first girl was a “90-percent match.”
I reached out to her. She replied. We decided to meet.
The date was a walk in Central Park. It was a really nice spring day. She looked just like she did in her pictures. I was attracted to her, but when we started talking there wasn’t much of a spark. But this story is not about that girl. It’s about the next.
After the first date ended with no chemistry whatsoever I thought, “Hey, I’m not giving up on this. Let me try again.”
The next person I connected with was one of the most beautiful people I’d seen on the site. And what’s more, she reached out to me. Which is not the norm. Kind of refreshing, I thought.
I noticed in one of her pictures that she had a tattoo. A tiger on her arm. I’m not a huge fan of tattoos, but on her it worked. This girl looked like a celebrity. Long wavy hair. Brunette. Tiger tat. Overall she seemed pretty cool.
But relatively early on a few red flags popped up. For one, as we went back and forth, there were some grammatical mistakes in her texts. She’d replace an s with a z. Spell the word has as haz. But I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Eventually we decided to meet up. She lived outside New York City so we arranged to come together at Penn Station on a Saturday night.
As I’m waiting, we touch base on the phone. “I’m at the northwest corner of 34th and 8th,” I tell her. “Oh, I see you,” she says. “I’ll come over.” She taps me on the shoulder and . . . she looks absolutely nothing like her pictures – and not in a good way. The only constant was the tiger tattoo.
I was taken aback for a second. But, whatever. She had taken the train in. Let’s go on with the date.
The plan was to go for drinks nearby. But 30 seconds into the conversation she asks, “Do you want to just go back to your place?”
In my head: A-BORT! A-BORT! A-BORT!
But for some reason I can’t straight up say no, and instead make up the weirdest excuse, “I can’t go back to my apartment because my roommate is very religious and he’s having a church gathering. . . . So we can’t go back to my apartment . . . ever.”
What an idiot. Who would ever say something like that? But I don’t want to just send her back home. She’s going to feel bad if she doesn’t get a date out of it.
Maybe the right answer isn’t to get drinks. Maybe, I’m thinking, it’s to watch a movie instead. You know, in a theater you don’t have to talk so much, and both people feel like they got a date out of it.
So we walk towards a movie theater near Times Square. As we’re walking, she takes this giant mirror from her bag and she starts looking at herself. “Oh, my God,” she says. “I can’t believe my hair is such a mess.” No, it’s not a mess, I tell her. “Yes, it is,” she says as she takes my hand and begins stroking her hair with it . . .
We get to the theater and I text one of my friends who knows what’s going on.
“This is the most hilarious date ever.”
I hope it’s going okay, she texts me back. If not, let me know if you want me to fake an emergency.
The previews haven’t even started in this dark movie theater when the girl muses, “I’ll bet you have really hairy legs.”
I’m a hairy person in general. You can tell that by looking at my face. So it was a reasonable guess. But then she continues, “Can you roll up your pants so I can see your legs?”
So I’m in a dark movie theater with this girl who wants to see my leg hair.
“No,” I tell her, “That’s not going to happen.” I turn to the movie and stop engaging. There’s no popcorn between us. We’re both looking straight ahead at the screen.
“Terrible date,” I text my friend. “I’m going to need a drink afterward.”
My friends are now waiting for me at the apartment with shots in hand.
Midway through the movie, the girl turns to me again hits me with the best line I’ve ever heard from the fairer sex. Really, I can’t make this shit up. Continuing on her follicular tangent, “You have the manliest eyebrows I’ve ever seen. Can I lick them?”
I’m beginning to think she’s into me because she has a hair fetish. And sure I am a hairy guy, but maybe not the best way to a man’s heart.
“That’s not going to happen,” I say as I turn back toward the screen, waiting desperately for the movie to end.
We finish the movie in silence. I’m texting my friends the whole time.
We’re finally making our way from the theater when she casually mentions, “Oh my God, Times Square is the sketchiest place I’ve ever seen. I wish I had brought my gun with me.”
At that point, it’s clear, this needs to end now. I make my move, “I’m gonna drop you off at the train station. It was good meeting you. But I need to get back to my friends.”
We’re sitting on opposite sides of the cab on our way back to Penn. I made it pretty clear that there would be no kiss good night. I didn’t wriggle myself free. I wrenched myself free.
I’m not so sure if this qualifies as a close shave. But I just wanted to make sure that I got through the night with my eyebrows intact.
We reach Penn Station. We say goodbye. No handshake. I don’t even get up. She gets out and closes the door. Maybe that was my bad.
The driver can tell it was a date and he says to me: “Wow, no kiss?”
But all I could feel was relief. Back at the apartment, my friends are waiting for me drinks. I throw a shot down immediately.
But the story doesn’t end there.
She sent me a couple more texts that night…
Hey, I guess you weren’t feeling the vibes.
I responded honestly explaining that she was a nice girl, but I wasn’t feeling any vibes and didn’t think it was going to work out.
A few hours pass before another text comes, at 2AM, bitching me out for my conduct…
When a girl has taken a trip for you and wants to go back to your apartment, you shouldn’t reject her, you should laugh at her jokes, and you shouldn’t text your friends.
Okay, valid. I shouldn’t text my friends on a date. But lets be real, you shouldn’t ask to lick my eyebrows.
Anyway, that was the last I heard from her. Two days later I deleted my OkCupid account. I thought, “I’ll be single for the rest of my life, if that’s the alternative.”
But then I realized something. Despite everything that happened that night, I kept the date going. While my eyebrows are precious to me, I was willing to put them at risk for something greater: the story.
The date proved to me that even if things don’t work out, as long as you come out alive, eyebrows and all, it’s the story that you take with you. The closer the shave, the better the story.
Maybe OkCupid had me right the whole time. After all, when asked “Would you rather have good things happen to you in life or interesting things?” my answer was: Interesting things.