So, what’s a girl to do once she’s graduated from her liberal arts women’s college?
- Find a place to live (check.)
- Secure herself a job, even if it’s just temporary (check.)
- Socializing? (check plus.)
- Online dating? (I mean well doesn’t socializing cover that? Because I really don’t think–okay check).
It was summer (last summer, to be exact) and I had high hopes about my future. I was more confident than I had ever been. I was going to get an awesome job, write my screenplay, read books that would inspire me, hang out with friends, and kick ass! I mean, why not also check out the (online) dating scene in addition to my other plans to clearly nail my early 20s? Specifically, why not join OKCupid, “the Google of online dating”? (Well, more like rejoin OKCupid, although I don’t think I want to revisit my first OKC stint, since it involved a kind of weird obsessive and mostly one-sided relationship with a humanoid robot infamously known in my close circle of friends as “Dino Head,” a dynamic which agonizingly and embarrassingly stretched over a much longer duration of time than needed.)
Anyway, I figured, why the hell not? What other opportunities would I have to meet dudes, being an introvert and surrounded by women all the time? After a few days of mulling it over, I went back on and created a new account. It took me forever to craft precisely what I wanted to convey on my profile–I actually spent at least five hours trying to come up with a satisfactory new username. (Yes, seriously, and the end result wasn’t very satisfactory.) Then there was the dilemma of having to fill out the sections in my profile with the right amount of wit and sincerity, having to honestly answer questions to improve my matches (read: get less douchey guys in my newsfeed), uploading pictures that were of a quantity and quality that wasn’t too narcissistic or personal or awkward or unattractive, etc. etc. But even as I was going through this long and tedious process (made much more so by my neurosis and perfectionism), messages from random dudes were already inundating my inbox. Lots of guys with a <60% match with me saying really boring things like “Hey how are you” and “You’re pretty lol.”
Yenno what? Before I continue with this, I think I should inform you of just a few things, dear Reader, so we don’t have (too m)any miscommunications happening here:
- At this point in time, I had never been on a date
- My approach was and still is that honesty is the best policy
- I didn’t know what I was looking for (I still don’t really, but kind of have a better idea now…ish)
- Match percentages are a big deal, <70% and it’s like, bitch why are you even on my OKC radar
- My OKC process: check the match %, skim the profile, look at the pictures, go straight to the unacceptable answers (not necessarily in that order) and if they say they’re cool with racist jokes or that chivalry isn’t dead or that no doesn’t always mean no then, IGNORE
- Nothing I recount of my dating experiences should necessarily be interpreted as me seeing myself in a positive light (read: I iz bitch & I knoes it)
All right, back to the story. After sifting through the muck, there was one guy who was an 85% match with me and had written a message that wasn’t terribly generic or stupid or cheesy. Let’s call him Steven #1. I checked out his profile. His pictures were a series of unnerving close-ups and he had posted a video of himself making a Toastmasters speech. Something was bugging me about his smile that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and his voice drawled in a way that I wasn’t really digging, but he mentioned having overcome personal obstacles in a nonbraggy way and stated that Space Jam was one of his favorite movies, so he seemed like he was a decent guy and was worth some kind of verbal exchange at the very least.
RandomDude1 Jun 26, 2013 – 8:50pm
How did you like college? Is the real world dark and scary? I was a little lost when I first graduated.
stangrlthecat Jun 26, 2013 – 9:30pm
College was cool. The real world is kind of dark and scary but mostly boring and tiring. How did you like college?
RandomDude1 Jun 27, 2013 – 7:44am
It was a lot of fun, especially my last year. I had so much more free time back then, and it was a lot easier for me to meet people and make friends. How is legend of korra? I watched the last airbender and that show was pretty awesome.
stangrlthecat Jun 27, 2013 – 9:15pm
Legend of Korra was awesome too! I like that it has a strong female protagonist. The storyline was really engaging as well. You should watch when you get a chance.
RandomDude1 Jun 28, 2013 – 9:45am
I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it. What’s your name? Would you want to get a drink next week? -Steven
I immediately said yes, fueled by 1) the excitement of a guy actually wanting to meet up, like omg~! and 2) the determination that I was going to go on at least ONE date in my life and prove that it wouldn’t kill me or something. But then the neurosis kind of took over. I started panicking that things were happening too fast. Like, I don’t even know this dude! Where does he get off in presuming that we were qualified to meet each other and have an enjoyable time, gosh! One minute we’re talking about the postcollegiate life and awesome cartoons and next he wants to get me inebriated? Boy please.
So then this exchange, uh, happened:
stangrlthecat Jun 30, 2013 – 9:27pm
Hey, so I’ve been thinking about it and I feel it would be best to postpone meeting up. I mean, I just realized we haven’t even really talked, so I would like to get to know you more before I do anything rash.
RandomDude1 Jun 30, 2013 – 11:09pm
I can understand that, but I feel that it’s much easier to get to know someone in person. There’s just a lot of things that you won’t know until you meet up you know? Like how your personalities click. Whether or not there’s any chemistry. Whether or not that person is a happy/sad/angry/insecure person. People have conceptions of themselves that they put online, but it doesn’t always jive with who they are in real life.
stangrlthecat Jun 30, 2013 – 11:19pm
Okay. Why do you want to get to know me? Because I have a vagina?
RandomDude1 Jul 1, 2013 – 8:34am
What? I could ask the same thing about you. Is it because I have a penis that you want to get to know me better?
I didn’t mean for my last post to come off as antagonistic, sorry if it did. Your profile seemed really honest, you went to college, you watch some cartoons so you probably don’t take yourself super seriously, you seem attractive, and yes, you have a vagina. I’m looking for someone to date so that is sort of a requirement for me.
I just wanted to give you my perspective on it, I’m really not much of a pen pal
At which point I felt like an ass. But we worked things out, exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up at a bar in downtown Oakland (his recommendation). As the date drew nearer, I started freaking out again. What were we going to talk about? What if he was a creep? What if he thought I was weird and ugly? What if he wanted to kiss me and I didn’t want to kiss him? What if-
The day arrived. I got off work, went home, and changed into a casual dress and heels. I left early, because waiting around felt horrible and I just wanted to get it over with. Also, showing up early meant I could scope the place out and buy my own drink without having to worry about the delicate and awkward dance of will-he-or-won’t-he pay-for-me, which I would rather completely avoid if I could help it.
The bar gave off a hipster vibe. All sorts of weird stuff hanging off the walls. It was pretty empty, which made sense for a Tuesday night. I asked for something sweet and got some kind of cranberry-flavored cocktail, I think. That was when he showed up.
(Crap, I’m trying to think back to how we greeted each other. I think we shook hands. I don’t think we hugged. I’m pretty sure I was freaking out about that too.)
He looked exactly like his pictures. His voice unfortunately also sounded exactly like it did in the video, but that couldn’t be helped.
He ordered something just as the bartender was coming back with my credit card. “Separate or together?” she asked.
Shit. We looked at each other. “Together,” I said. She nodded and left again to swipe my card. Damnit!
He smiled. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” I lied as I stuffed my card back in my pocket. Damnitdamnitdamnit. I didn’t give a shit that he didn’t pay for me, but I didn’t want to pay for him either. Especially knowing that I was working my measly minimum wage temp job while he was a friggin’ Software Engineer. (I mean I’ve heard engineers don’t get paid that much but I’m assuming people who say that are comparing their job salaries up rather than down.) Also, he asked me out!
The date went surprisingly well though. The conversation was fluid and I found myself having fun.
Probably cuz I was tipsy.
We talked about lots of things. Our degrees, our jobs, our interests. Why I should watch the Game of Thrones. My tattoos. Him living with his mom.
“Are you guys close? Do you tell her everything?” I asked.
“What? No,” he said.
He put his hand on my shoulder while he laughed at something I said. He did it again when he excused himself to the restroom. It was intentional. It was weird.
My face felt very warm and flushed. “Um, I’m pretty tipsy right now. I think I have the Asian glow.”
“You do? Well I can’t tell. You’re pretty brown.”
“Well, so are you.”
He laughed and put his arm right next to mine. The third time he had initiated physical contact. Weird, weird, weird.
Being allergic to alcohol, I started feeling pretty nauseous so I ordered two coconut waters. That helped somewhat.
I’m pretty sure I was the one who vaguely mentioned something about having to head out. The bartender came over, wanting to know if I wanted to close my tab.
“Um, I didn’t open a tab,” I said.
“Oh, shit.” Apparently she had accidentally charged someone else’s credit card for my coconut waters. Oops. She mumbled something and left us alone. It sounded to me like she was giving us the okay to leave, so I was about to get up from my stool and walk out. But Steven #1 was staying put and looking at me nervously. “Aren’t you gonna pay?”
Bitch, why don’t you pay, I was tempted to say but didn’t. “Well…she didn’t say anything.”
We waited a little while longer. The bartender didn’t return.
I shrugged, got up and left. Steven #1 followed me outside. We stood outside in the fading light and no it wasn’t particularly romantic.
“Okay, well…good night,” I said with a smile that was equal parts sincerity and obligation. We both went in for a hug. Except he did something with the hug that made it not very platonic. I couldn’t really say exactly what–either he squeezed tighter or wrapped his arms around me in some weird way I wasn’t used to. (I shall henceforth call it the Eager Beaver Hug.) And then we parted ways.
I was left feeling confused. He was a cool guy, and I had fun talking to him, but it really could have mostly been the alcohol, me being allergic and shit. Also I didn’t feel attracted to him, not that he was ugly, but I didn’t have an urge to make out with him, which shouldn’t I have at least at one point felt like that could have been a slight possibility? Also I felt weird when he touched me. Those weren’t signs of falling in love, right? Not that I was expecting to fall in love or anything. It’s just–where the hell was I supposed to go from here? What if he had certain expectations about how this dynamic would go? Anyway, at this point I was still deeply rooted in the dynamic I previously mentioned that I will not mention–you know, the thing with Dino Head (okay fine, I will obliquely mention it from time to time, this cannot be helped). Meaning that my head was kind of preoccupied with another guy at the moment, which I guess just goes to show that I am monogamous by nature.
I decided it wouldn’t hurt to hang out with Steven #1 again. Maybe there’d be some kind of unexpected chemistry or something. He had mentioned he rock climbed at a gym near the bar we were chilling at, so I asked via text if I could go rock climbing with him. He said yes.
We met up inside the gym the next week. He paid for my entrance fee and shoe rental, which made me feel more reassured than grateful–like, yeah you better pay, considering last time (yes yes I am the Queen of Pettiness). He explained we were going to be bouldering–which is rock climbing without the harness. “Unless you want to do the harness?” he asked
I glanced over at people scrabbling up walls like monkeys–bouldering. Then I glanced over–and up–at the figures of people bobbing against much higher walls, like Christmas ornaments that were going to fall off and smash into pieces on the floor. “Um no thanks.”
Rock climbing–okay, fine, bouldering–was not very fun. Actually, it was outright embarrassing. Everyone there was at the very least proficient at scaling the walls, Steven #1 included. I was a total n00b. I couldn’t figure out where to put my hands and feet. Steven #1 had to direct me every five seconds. I felt like an idiot, especially when I gave up reaching the top on my second try and landed flat on my ass. Not to mention that everyone at that gym was incredibly good-looking, tan, and fit. (Stupid attractive athletic people.)
“Wanna climb again?” he asked, after we had been sitting on the floor watching other people for a bit.
“No thanks, I’ll just watch you,” I said.
He climbed the walls like Spiderman. I was envious.
“You’re really good,” I said after he almost finished a rather difficult bouldering problem. (Bouldering problems = marked paths on the walls you need to follow in order to complete a climb. Thanks Wikipedia.)
“You sound sarcastic,” he said, returning to the spot on floor next to me.
“No I don’t.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Steven,” I said, putting my hand on his arm and looking directly into his eyes for emphasis, “You’re really good.”
Cue moment of incredibly awkward silence and just…awkwardness.
Sitting on the floor, we didn’t have much to say to one another. I started feeling weird again, and wondering what the hell I was doing there.
He asked me if I had any plans for the weekend. I probably said I was going to visit my family or something. I asked him if he had any plans.
“I’m going back down to Santa Cruz for a friend’s birthday party,” he said.
“Oh, that sounds fun!” I exclaimed in my chipper-small-talk voice. “One of your close friends?”
“Just someone I knew from college. I haven’t seen her in a while. She thought I was dead.”
“Wait, what?” I briefly wondered if he was just trying too hard to be interesting.
“Yeah. She read in the school newspaper that a black guy was on the roof of one of the buildings and fell to his death.”
“Did you tell her she was just being racist?” I asked, offended on his behalf.
“Well, no,” he said. “The guy was a physics major, like me. His name was also Steven.”
More awkward silence.
Eventually I decided I was done with rock climbing and we left.
“Are you hungry?” he asked as we walked to the corner.
“Oh…no.” I really wasn’t, and it would be a waste to spend money on eating out when I wasn’t hungry. I was just being sensible!
“Oh.” He looked disappointed. “Do you want to hang out next week?”
“Oh…I’m gonna be pretty busy next week.” This was also true, all right? “I made plans with some friends and I also need to start applying to jobs…sorry.” Even as I said these things, I was both regretting them and not regretting them. Obviously, I wasn’t a total idiot and knew the subtext we were relaying to each other:
- “Are you hungry?” –> “Do you like me enough to hang out with me a bit longer”
- “Oh…no.” –> “No I don’t like you enough. Go away.”
- “Do you want to hang out next week?” –> “Do you like me enough to hang out with me on a recurring basis?”
- “Oh…I’m gonna be pretty busy…” —> “Bitch no, gtfo my life kthnxbye.”
But I wanted to be honest. And honestly, I was not hungry, I did have plans for next week, and I did think applying to jobs was more important than dating. Also, I still was not really attracted to him and couldn’t bear the idea of having to navigate the murky waters of dating communication. So I left him standing at the corner, waiting for the walk signal to flash on. Or well I tried to leave him, but I had to cross the street perpendicular to him, so we both stood on the same corner facing different directions for a good minute or so.
Nicole says ending things the way I did was no big deal. “His teeth were too small anyway.”
“Oh my God.” My eyes lit up. “That was it!”
His teeth were too small.
tl;dr His teeth were too small.
JUST KIDDING JEEZ
forreal tl;dr Boy messages girl on online dating site and asks her out, girl freaks out but then says yes , girl and boy meet up in hipster bar and rock climb together but not at the same time or place, girl feels weird because she doesn’t know what she wants, girl never speaks to boy again