This morning on the train to work, I was absentmindedly finishing a crossword puzzle that a previous commuter had started and then abandoned on the seat, when I happened to glance at the horoscope section. I usually pay no attention to this section, it’s not my cup of tea. I prefer the puzzles. But this one was ironically pertinent to something that’s been on my mind a lot lately: online dating. Once upon a time I was briefly introduced to this bizarre and awkward phenomenon and honestly, I don’t know how people do it. God bless you if you have the patience for it, I gave up after two dates.
Here’s today’s horoscope. File under “Duh.”
I have nothing against online dating, I know several people who’ve had some luck with it, and it was at their suggestion that I eventually decided to give it a shot. A college friend recently became engaged to a wonderful woman he met on a dating site, and my brother found his current partner the same way. And let’s face it, I wasn’t doing all that well going about it the old-fashioned way. I hadn’t had any interest whatsoever in anyone who had asked me out in person in months, except for one, and he had apparently decided I was an unbearable waste of time after one date.
So I decided to give it a shot. College Friend gave me some pointers. “People use old pictures of themselves and exaggerate.” he said. “And sometimes men have a tendency to get nasty and aggressive if you don’t respond to them.” Oh okay, so it’s like real life, I thought. “Oh, and don’t expect to find somebody right away. I literally went on like 40 dates before I met my lady.”
40 dates? I was stunned, this endeavor seemed like it would require more time and effort on my part than any hobby I had ever had. That was a college degree’s amount of time. I asked my brother if this had been his experience. He said no, but there were only a handful of gay guys in his area on the site he had signed up for, and he “just picked the best looking one and ended up lucking out.”
Still, I figured there was no harm in trying. I signed up. I filled out my little profile and uploaded some recent selfies. I had no idea what I was in for. This is in no way designed to discourage anyone from giving it a shot…it might work for you. But it certainly didn’t work for me, and I figure after the nervous tic I’ve developed as a result of the experience, at least maybe someone out there will get a good laugh out of it.
When you first sign up for these things, and you’re a female with all her teeth and no visible oozing boils, you get a lot of responses. Within minutes. The majority of them were standard and boring, probably a generic inquiry that had been copied, pasted and sent to every new woman who popped up on the site. But a couple were downright disturbing. One person sent me a message, asking I was a ‘sub’ or a ‘dom’…and I had to google that because I had no idea what he was talking about. Oh! Excuse my French, but DaFuq you asking me about that for, sir? Was there something about my choice of outfits or hairstyle that made you think I was into such business? I was not happy.
I eventually ended up going out on two dates. I’ll leave out certain identifying details and names because I don’t want to be mean, even though these men will ever see this blog, or know anyone else who will see it.
First date I accepted was a man who appeared pretty normal. He was about my age, attractive, and seemed intelligent. We chatted for a while online and then texted. He said he lived in my town and asked if I’d be interested in meeting up for a drink at one of the local restaurants nearby. I went, we had a few drinks and we were have having a pleasant time, discussing how weird online dating was for a first-timer. He kept saying, “I’m so glad you look like your picture. Oh wow, you look like your pictures. The last couple women I went out with looked nothing like their pictures, they were beasts.”
Of course I look like my pictures. They’re pictures of me, dummy. And you’re starting to sound a bit douchey.
He appeared to be getting a little drunk. Then he said something odd. He asked if I wanted to meet up with a few of his neighbors at a party that was three towns away. Now, I’m obviously not going to get in a car and drive to an undisclosed location with a stranger; I’m not trying to end up hogtied in someone’s trunk. I watch Lifetime, I know what’s up. But it wasn’t the fact that he asked that caught my attention, it was that his neighbors lived three towns away, and he supposedly lived here. “Don’t you live here?” I asked, confused.
You know that look someone gets when they let something slip and have to come up with a quick response to rectify the boo-boo they just made? Except they’ve been drinking and their brain isn’t working correctly?
Him: Errr. I live here sometimes, off and on. I’ve been…umm.. staying with my friend.
Me: Why? I thought you had a house in town.
Him: Well, I’m divorced and my wife is in the house right now.
Me: You’re divorced and you still live with your ex-wife?
Him: Well, we’re technically not divorced, we’re separated but you know how that goes.
I wondered if his wife knew they were separated.
Now, maybe this guy was separated, maybe he was just going through an unfortunate breakup where mutual property had to be divvied up. I don’t know. Anything’s possible. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. As far as I was concerned, he may as well have been wearing a nametag that said, “Hello, I’m a damn duck.”
This man was a little bit younger than I was, but only a couple years. I figured at the very least that meant he wasn’t married. And he was really funny. I like funny. He asked if I wanted to meet up for a drink after work. I said okay.
He seemed to be getting a lot of calls while we were sitting at the bar. I mean, A LOT. He had said he worked in a certain sales profession that I had also worked in, one which requires you to constantly be on the phone if you want to make any money. I assumed that was why, but these calls were coming with an irate Baby-Mama frequency, and he wasn’t answering any of them. “You can answer that,” I said, and I excused myself to go to the bathroom. And kind of took my time lurking around the corner. As soon as I was out of sight, he picked up the 587th call he had received in a two hour period.
“Jesus, Mom. I’m on a date! God! I’ll be home later.”
Well, I guess living with your mom is better than living with your wife, and while there are a few legitimate reasons one might end up temporarily residing with a parent at our age…perhaps they’re ill, or you’re ill, or you move out of one apartment and can’t move into the next one for a month…I know that shit sometimes happens in life, but he had said that he lived alone. I smelled a fibber. This was not starting off well.
He Facebook messaged me about a week later and asked if I wanted to meet him and his friends at some 2$ pitcher night at a dive bar. I thought that was odd because he had my phone number. I said thank you for asking, but I have plans already. He then proceeded to FB message me several times in succession asking if I wanted him to come out and meet me instead, but I would have to call him an Uber because he had gotten really drunk and smashed his phone several nights before. I again said no thank you, I already had plans. About a week later he texted me and said he had finally gotten his phone fixed. How are you in sales, yet you manage to be sans phone for over a week? Quack quack. Quack.
At this point I was done with online dating. Maybe I don’t mind being alone enough to put in the effort, but I just didn’t feel like I had it in me to repeat this 40 times. First dates are awkward enough, they sometimes feel like job interviews. Job interviews you have to do on a Friday night, over and over again. And you don’t even know if you want the job to begin with. Maybe there is no job to be had. Maybe someone else already has the job you’re interviewing for.
College Friend said I gave up too quickly. “You can’t get all bitter and throw in the towel that easily!” he scolded. But the way I look at it, it’s the exact opposite. I’m throwing in the towel so I don’t become bitter.