…totally not as romantic as it sounds. In fact, not romantic at all, but we’ll get there.
Not too long after Steven #1 (actually, this was probably happening during the Steven #1 thing–hey, don’t hate the playa, hate the game), I got a message in my inbox that was a perfect mix of witty and blunt:
RandomDude2 Jul 8, 2013 – 5:34pm
Hi. You seem interesting and adorably awkward. What are you up to for the summer?
I’m in [location withheld cuz I’m not a total dick] working for the summer and I still don’t know anyone in the area. I would maybe like to hang out. I’m an asshole but not a douchebag; there’s a subtle difference.
I checked out his profile. An 84% match. Not bad. He was younger than me (just by two years), which I felt slightly weird about even though I had jokingly if problematically referred to myself as a theoretical pedophile several times to friends, due to my always mooning over androgynous young lads but not doing anything about it. His–uh let’s call him…Todd–Todd’s pictures were a mixed bag. He looked really weird to me, but also like he could potentially be attractive. Maybe his skin didn’t look that stretched out over his face in real life. I took a look at the unacceptable answers he gave. Apparently he was even more shallow than me: he considered “no physical attraction” worse than “nothing to talk about” and “overweight” people to be unappealing (okay maybe the former is true, but fuck fat shaming).
Anyway, shallowness (mine and his) aside, he did write me an entertaining message. So it wouldn’t hurt to message him back, right? It’s not like I was looking for my soulmate on this loveforsaken site. (I mean, god, I don’t even believe in soulmates!) If he was a bit assholish, that was fine with me for the time being, so as long as he wasn’t boring. So I did it. I wrote that fat-shaming, self-proclaimed asshole back.
stangrlthecat Jul 8, 2013 – 9:42pm
Hi. You seem cocky and aware of it. Pray tell, what is your interpretation of the difference between an asshole and a douchebag? Imo, an asshole is worse.
RandomDude2 Jul 8, 2013 – 9:57pm
Thanks. A douchebag is like an asshole with a thick coating of bro-iness, backwards hats and generally toolbaginess. Assholes are generally more to-the-point about it. Assholes are also generally aware of their actions, where douchebags will vehemently deny being douchebags. Those are my thoughts at least.
stangrlthecat Jul 8, 2013 – 10:02pm
You know what? You make a fair point. I give you kudos.
We went back and forth like that for a while. Eventually he point-blank asked:
RandomDude2 Jul 11, 2013 – 12:14am
So what’ll it take to go on a date with you?
To which I responded with,
stangrlthecat Jul 11, 2013 – 11:53pm
Where would we go?
stangrlthecat Jul 12, 2013 – 12:04am
More importantly, what would we do?
He proposed dinner in SF. Mexican at 6. I accepted. It was on.
The day arrived. I wasn’t feeling all that nervous about it–at first. Mostly because I kept telling myself that he was an asshole, so who cares what happened. But you know, there was a part of me–the egotistical, fragile part of me that relies on what other people think and feel to affirm my self-worth–that was determined to WIN, and winning meant that the date went well, and the date going well meant that he liked me and I didn’t like him.
Evil girly games? Damn straight.
I was interning at a small multicultural women’s publishing press in San Francisco at the time, so at five, I walked out of the office with my fellow intern and friend Laura. I had an hour to kill so she kept me company at a nearby cafe–the restaurant I was going to meet Todd at was just a few blocks further down.
That’s when I started kind of panicking. “Oh God.”
“I really don’t want to go on this date. Why do I do this to myself?”
“It’ll be fine,” Laura reassured me. After thirty minutes of mutual griping about shitty hetero cis dudes, she had to leave. “Have fun! Text me!” she said as she walked away. Then she was gone. And I was on my own.
Another half hour to kill. Ah, fuck it. I had done it before. I arrived at the date-scene early and ordered for myself–and a soda for him, just to be nice. I texted him that I had arrived. He texted he was on BART and was going to be late. He subtexted that it was a statement of fact and not an apology. I texted okay and subtexted that that was not okay (in spite of actually feeling it was totally okay because I have this weird thing of feeling superior when I’m early and someone else is late probably because I’m usually the one who’s late). He finally texted sorry. I texted that it was okay. And resumed happily eating my tacos alone.
He texted that he had finally made it to the restaurant, which was split into two areas: one for ordering and one for eating. We did the awkward thing where he was trying to find me and I was trying to find him so we ended up not finding each other until I stormed back to where I was eating and saw him. He looked better in person, I shallowly noted. I gave him a big smile and stuck out my hand–I had already decided that hugging was too intimate and hand-shaking, however weird and formal, would suffice. “Hi! I’m Learkana!”
He immediately avoided eye-contact and got all awkward. “Hi, I’m Todd.” I remember thinking it was kind of cute, and empowering for me. I had the upper hand, woo hoo!
“Well I already ate, so I’ll just wait for you here,” I said, sitting back down.
“Oh okay.” He abruptly turned and left to get back in line and order.
When he rejoined me at the table, I offered him the extra can of soda, which he accepted with thanks. I was all bubbliness and good cheer, he was reserved in demeanor but open in conversation. I mentioned I had gotten my degree in English. He said his mother also got a degree in English but decided to go into programming after college, and it was she who taught him how to code, which I thought was really awesome. We talked about online dating, and admitted to being each other’s second. “How was the first girl you met?” I asked.
“She was cool.”
“Are you going to see her again?”
He paused. “Yeah, probably.”
Obligatory moment of awkward silence.
“What about the first guy you met?” he asked.
“Oh, he was cool too. It’s just…I wasn’t really clicking with him. I mean it was fun hanging out with him, but…I don’t know. So I’m probably not going to see him again.” Oh god, did I really just bestow this second random dude a rambling, introspective answer about the first random dude I went on a date with? Wtf is wrong with me. “I don’t know what I want,” I half-assedly concluded.
He looked at me. “What do you want?”
“I don’t know!” I exclaimed. “I mean, that’s why I wrote it in my profile.” I changed the subject, and quickly.
We started talking about hobbies. He went on about how he loved playing bocci, and I was like wtf is that, and he explained it and it was only in retrospect did I realize that I did know what the fuck he was talking about given that I had played it once at a bar in downtown Oakland but at the moment I was just like, is that an uppity white sport? And he accepted that socioeconomic description of one of his favorite pastimes, and also awkwardly mentioned that he came from an upper middle class background, to which I wasn’t sure how to respond because I didn’t really feel it was the best thing to be like, “Oh, cool, I’m from a low-class ghetto-food-stamps-4-life kind of background” and I was definitely not going to be like, “Oh cool, you’re rich!” if that was what he was after, cuz to hell with uppity rich boys, including him.
When he was finished eating his burrito, I asked him if he wanted to walk around outside. He said sure. After the awkward ritual of waiting for the other to be done using the restroom, we set off into the gum-spattered, grimy streets of San Francisco.
Todd was from Washington state and wasn’t very familiar with the Bay Area; I had been here for 4 years but as a geographically challenged hermit, so we walked around very aimlessly for a while. In an attempt to be funny (read: attempt), I pointed to buildings and said obvious things like, “This is the movie theater.” “This is a grocery store.” “This is a cafe.”
He nodded and made affirmative noises, so I felt stupid and annoyed he didn’t seem to have caught on to the fact that I was giving a joke tour.
We talked about some other stuff. I asked about his ethnicity, which sounds really assholish and hypocritical of me, but I was really curious! Also, I was running out of things to talk about. Also, it’s not as bad when it’s a fellow Asian asking, right? “So you should totally feel free to not answer this,” I began, “but I was wondering what exactly your ethnic background is?”
He said he was half white, a quarter Japanese, and a quarter black. “Most people don’t think I look Asian or black, though.”
So most people thought he looked white? “Uh, you look really Asian,” I told him.
He was going to MIT, and was only here for the summer. I asked him if he had been to any crazy parties at his school. He said yes. “How about you?”
“Oh yeah, we really partied it up at Mills,” I said. “Arts and crafts nights, you know.”
He made another affirmative noise. I wanted to kill him.
“Did you like Mills?” he asked.
“I loved Mills!” I immediately answered. “It’s just that once you go there, everyone’s douchiness increases tenfold. I can barely tolerate anyone anymore!”
Obligatory moment of awkward silence.
“Do you have a high alcohol tolerance?” I wanted to know.
“Have you ever blacked out?”
“Yeah. At a New Year’s party.”
“Um. I probably shouldn’t tell you.”
“Tell me!” I demanded. “Did you kill someone?”
“No.” He stopped walking for a moment. “I had sex.”
“What?” I stopped too.
“I had sex,” he repeated. “With my friend’s ex.”
“Um, was your friend cool with it?”
“No. He was pretty mad about it, actually.”
“Oh.” We resumed walking. “Was it consensual?”
“How do you know?” I challenged.
“We both woke up and decided to have sex again.”
I busted out laughing really hard at that.
He started talking about the startup he was working at and how it had something to do with ObamaCare, and blah blah blah. I stopped paying attention. I was very aware that we were walking towards the 24th street BART station, and that was all I could focus on–dropping him off and bailing. I mean, I had a fairly good time, but…god! Two hours spent on some random guy was more than enough for me. I didn’t care to be in his company any longer.
We reached the station. “Well, this is your stop,” I said, putting on a smile in an attempt to soften the bitchiness of my words.
“We could hang out a little longer if you want,” he said.
“Sorry, I should probably get home.” Aghhh the goodbye moment. “Do you want a handshake or a hug?” I asked, feeling only slightly stupid as I said it.
He smiled. “A hug.” We hugged and I left…to go to the BART station on 16th street, specifically to avoid taking the train with him.
I didn’t hear from him for about a week, and so assumed within that time frame that he probably wasn’t interested. I had overanalyzed the goodbye moment with friends, most of whom suggested the crazy idea that I just text him and ask him to hang out again to find out for sure. My friends didn’t seem to get that I wanted their opinion on whether he was interested as confirmation that I had won, not as reassurance so I could sum up the courage to ask him out. Did they not realize how manipulative and unsentimental I was (and am)?
So I figured I had lost this round and would move on to the next one, when all of a sudden Todd texted me as I was out and about somewhere, wanting to know if I was free to hang out with him and some of his friends who were in town. The following thoughts ran in my head, in no particular order: I won! He wants his friends to meet me wth weird. I won! Did he purposely wait a week? I won!
I was busy that day–or pretending to be, I don’t really remember. Either way, putting myself in the vulnerable position of being judged by his friends sounded like a really terrible fucking idea, so I made some (possibly legit) excuse and declined.
A couple of days later, Todd texted he was bored and alone at his aunt’s house. I texted throw a party. He texted he didn’t know anyone. I texted invite random strangers. He texted that wouldn’t be a good idea and what are you up to. I texted that I was stuck at my cousin’s, getting my craptastic car fixed. He texted let’s hang out. I texted does your aunt have a pool. He texted no, but she has a trampoline. I texted is that a euphemism. He texted yes the trampoline is my dick. I texted lmfao. He texted seriously though, let’s hang out. I texted ok but it will have to be at night because I’m still in Sonoma right now and also you should pick me up. He texted ok. I texted him (with mild reservations) my address.
He picked me up around ten thirty. Yeah I know, all bad. (Isn’t booty call time 9pm and after?) Anyway, I was aware of the implications of hanging out with a guy, at night, at his current place of residence, all alone just the two of us. But I trusted myself to be a good judge of character, which meant that I trusted him. Indirectly.
Jeez, this is taking forever. Sorry, lemme speed things up.
Got in the fancy ass car. Talked about cats. Got to his aunt’s bougie ass neighborhood and fancy ass house. Observed the framed pictures of his young cousins in the living room and commented on how ethnically ambiguous they looked (he laughed). Jumped with him on the trampoline. Took turns shooting hoops cuz a basketball hoop for some weirdly awesome reason was attached to the trampoline netting. Started getting too cold and awkward. Went inside and played Dance Central on his cousins’ Xbox 360. Had trouble navigating the motion sensor thingy and felt stupid. Motherfucker kept randomly tickling me until he finally got that I DIDN’T LIKE IT, STOP. Flopped on couch with him next to me. Started getting quiet and awkward. Talked about past dating histories (or lack thereof). Motherfucker “joked” that he was into pasty white girls and laughed at my lack thereof dating history.