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Tinderp Tale #6: Accidental White Dude

Over the past few years, I have garnered the reputation of being the anti-white bitch on social media. But let’s be clear: I am anti-whiteness, not anti-white people. I take issue with the oppressive structure that upholds whiteness as the superior racialized social construct, not with individual white people. (Why is this so hard to understand?! Oh wait.) Basically, if white supremacy didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have a problem with white people as a whole. Actually if white supremacy didn’t exist at all, white people wouldn’t exist either, come to think of it, but that’s an underdeveloped train of thought for another time/blog post.

Anyway, ever since my women’s college shook me out of my apolitical stupor and opened my eyes to the necessity of a liberatory social justice praxis, I’ve been doing my best to abide by the feminist mantra of the personal being political, and I decided no exception could be made when it came to dating. Well, I decided that no exception could be made when it came to race within the dating realm, which is a pretty huge factor. White supremacy is everywhere; it didn’t have to get all up in my vagina too. Which basically meant I was reverse racial profiling on Tinder. On occasion, I would stumble across a really cute white guy with a semi-interesting, allegedly progressive profile and be sorely tempted to swipe right. But then I’d do a check-in with myself–Are white supremacy and white privilege over with, Learkana? No? Then swipe the fuck left like the decolonized ho you wanna be–and the moment of temptation would pass.

Racial profiling is pretty hard. I’m not sure how racists do it so effortlessly (well, being ignorant hateful fucks kind of explains it). Whenever a racially ambiguous/maybe just white passing dude popped up on my screen, I had to quickly decide whether or not he was white enough to have unconditional racial privilege, and honestly, I erred more often on the side of caution than not in that split second of determination.

But there was this one dude. Let’s call him Antonio. He looked super white: fair skin, light brown hair, blue/green eyes. But! He didn’t have a typical white boy name! And I think he had international flag emojis in his bio! So maybe he was Latino or something and was just really white passing in which case it wouldn’t be fair to swipe left because he wasn’t necessarily like full-blown white or anything and I mean he is pretty cute and seems nice enough okay damnit I’ll swipe right!


You matched with Antonio on 8/23/15

Antonio

Hey! Good morning!


Me

Good afternoon lol [Was not actually trying to be clever with this comment, I’m just compulsive about taking things literally and by the time I responded it was no longer morning ok]


Antonio

Hehe! How are you? Rough night yesterday?


Me

I’m a little tired but otherwise doing all right. I stayed up late hanging out with friends *beige OK hand sign emoji* how are you?


Antonio

I’m good! Sunday off, sunny day! Took a walk around lake merrit [sic] and done a few other stuff! I’m feeling productive:) haha


 

We made more boring small talk. I learned Antonio was born in Brazil, moved to Italy  with his family when he was young, and came to the U.S. for work, which meant he spoke like 3 languages, which was cool considering I barely spoke 1.5 (I blame Amerikkka). While this conversation was kind of informative, it didn’t really help me figure out whether this dude was white or not, and this became kind of a burning question of sorts for me.

tinderp 6.1

I was pretty well-informed on racial politics in the United States, but shamefully didn’t have much of a clue of how race plays out in other countries and cultures. Well, Antonio was Brazilian, right? I mean I guess he was Italian, but Brazil was his national origin, right? So, Latin American. Right?

“How does race operate in Latin America?” I casually asked my friend Andrea.

“The fucking same,” she replied.

Goddamnit. So I had matched with a white dude. An international, “exotic” brand of white dude, but a white dude nonetheless. Oh well. I wasn’t literally a bigot, so when Antonio asked if I wanted to meet up and get a drink with him, I said yes. He was probably a somewhat decent guy. (Maybe.) When I tested the sociopolitical waters by mentioning to him that I had recently attended a trans rights rally addressing the recent killings of transwomen of color, he took no issue with it and just made a weird joke about transwomen liking karaoke. Maybe his sense of humor didn’t translate very well. (Was that somehow racist? Oh, I give up.)

I remember feeling completely unexcited about this date. The novelty of using Tinder had worn off at this point. I was tired of going on disappointing dates, and my past record was strongly suggesting that this one wasn’t going to be any different. The only thing that stopped me from giving up altogether was this theory my roommate Mackenzie had mentioned to me one night when I was griping to her about my mediocre dating life. “So the theory is, somewhere between the 38th and 100th person you make a connection with will be the one person who is the most suitable for you to end up with.”

“Connection? Like, just messaging with them counts? Or do you have to meet up?” I asked.

“I don’t know, whatever falls under the definition of connection,” she replied, shrugging.

Keep in mind, this was one late night conversation I had a while back, so the details are a bit fuzzy and obviously I just paraphrased what I thought my roommate had said. But my takeaway was that I wasn’t meeting up with enough dudes to find someone to be in mutual like with. It was all just a numbers game. (A point that had been reiterated to me by my former boss–I rant about my mediocre dating life to everyone, okay.) So all I had to do, in spite of my anxiety and impatience and insecurities and uncertainty and judgments, was keep trying. I mean, there are so many fucking assholes in this world who are happily married! Didn’t I deserve the bare minimum of actually dating someone, at the very least?

So far on Tinder, I had met up with 5 dudes. Factoring in my numbers from OKCupid created a combined total of 21 dudes who hadn’t worked out. Which meant I needed to meet up with at least 17 more dudes to hit that window of possibility for meeting Mr. Good Enough. Antonio couldn’t be him, but he was #22 and therefore a necessary stepping stone, which meant I shouldn’t cancel on him even though I was kind of tempted to. (I know, I know, I’m a terrible person. But, like, we’ve already established this! Also Pottermore Sorted me into Slytherin, just FYI.)

Antonio and I met up at Beer Revolution, a divey sort of bar in the Jack London Square neighborhood of Oakland. Damnit. I was less attracted to him in person. He had a really big head on top of a slender body. And unfortunately, his bodily proportions would go on to bother me throughout the rest of the night. “Hi! I’m Antonio,” he said cheerfully. “Is it okay if I kiss you? I’m Italian, it’s how we greet people.”

“Uh–okay,” I said, and let him plant a kiss on each of my cheeks. I didn’t kiss him back. I was wearing lipstick so I didn’t want to leave marks on his face, but even if I wasn’t wearing any lipstick, I wouldn’t have kissed him anyway because ugh, that’s weird. I was even weirded out by him just kissing my cheeks. I hadn’t had a guy’s mouth touch me in over a year because I was too physically awkward for that (among other things).

We sat down, got a couple of beers, and talked. Blah, blah, blah, the usual stuff. He told me he worked at a pizza shop. I tried really hard to remove my internalized classist lens and not make a silent judgment on that, because whatever! It’s not like we were getting married and his income would determine the quality of life for our imaginary children, or something. He also talked about how Bay Area public transit sucked and how Australians were racist (although my guess was that he meant xenophobic in his particular case). I distinctly recall my conversation with him not feeling very datelike. It was almost like we had gone into that bar separately, happened to have sat next to each other, and struck up a conversation just for the hell of it. We were simply two polite, emotionally detached strangers passing time, trying to keep loneliness and awkwardness at bay and failing at it.

After finishing our beers, Antonio asked if I wanted to take a walk. I agreed, mainly because I needed more time to sober up. We left the bar and strolled up and down a few blocks. Some part of me was waiting for him to become attractive to me. Like maybe if the night went on long enough, and he talked long enough, and he smiled and said some of the right things, I would feel something. It never happened. He was still an uninteresting scrawny white dude with a big head to me by the time we called it a night. I wasn’t sure what was going on in his head. He probably felt a similar way, right? Or else he would have made a move by now. Ugh. I hated this so much. The ambiguity and nonchalance, the reification of gender roles. Was this really the only viable channel through which I could get laid? (In my situation, yes.)

tinderp 6.2

Antonio walked me to my car. He respectfully asked to kiss me goodnight. I let his lips touch my cheeks for the last time, got into my car, and drove away feeling empty.

We never hit each other up again. The usual mutual apathy and disinterest, as I suspected.

I inexplicably found myself on a semi-hiatus after this date. I chatted with a few guys, but never met up with any of them. There was one good-looking dude who expressed interest in devirginizing me, but we got into a huge fight about whether or not some John Mayer song was sexist (IT WAS AND IS) and we never talked to each other again. Story of my life. (Much later down the road, I would stumble across his Facebook profile and see a public Valentine’s Day post in which he sweetly referred to his mother as his Valentine and thanked her for raising him. I experienced some weird cognitive dissonance, reading his status. I couldn’t quite reconcile the sentimental mama’s boy on social media with the horny fuckboy who wanted to send me dick pics and got aroused at a picture I sent him of just my bare legs. Yeah I know, people are complex or whatever. But like, do cishet guys not get how hilariously fucked it is to act like fucking saints to the women whose vaginas they exited, then turn around and be fucking dickholes to the women whose vaginas they’re always trying to enter? Like, is this an Oedipal thing where they’re just mad that they can’t return to the safety of the womb because that would mean fucking their mothers and society makes that unacceptable so they displace that pent up sexual frustration and anger onto the hapless women they try to get it in with, whose vaginas don’t and will never compare to their original home? #FREUDIANFUCKBOYTHEORY #LongestParentheticalEver)

Anyway, a few months passed without a single date scheduled in my calendar. I hung out with friends, worked on creative writing endeavors, worried about the state of the world. I holed up in my room, my primary source of freedom and comfort. I went to bed alone, except on the rare occasion when a friend or family member spent the night. Sometimes I’d long for someone to curl up under the covers with. A cuddle buddy who wasn’t my plush Olaf from Frozen. A guy who could just come over on weekend nights and hold me until the ache went away. (You know, like that Sam Smith song, except hopefully like way less needy-sounding.) Why was it so hard to name that desire? To ask for it? To put it out into the universe in some way and wait for someone to answer?

You’re okay, I would tell myself. You are way better at being alone than most people. So what, you might potentially be unlaid and perpetually single for the rest of your life. These aren’t things that take away your self-worth. The ache will come, and it will go. You have learned to live with it. You’re okay. You’re okay. And for the most part, I believed it.

tl;dr Learkana is not racist! Learkana meets up with her first white dude in a while! Learkana survives another cold and bitter virgin winter by hibernating in her premature spinster cave! (Oh, and masturbating)

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Beer Revolution
Rating: **
Review: Too noisy and not enough seating. A good place to kick back with a good friend or two, but definitely not an ideal place to meet up with strange men from Tinder who want to put their penises inside of you.

 

7

OKBye Story #16: Forgetting Learkana Chong

The year 2014 was coming to an end, and so were my hopes of ever being in a romantic relationship of literally any duration or quality. Fifteen guys in, and I was way more cynical and disheartened than when I first came onto the OKC scene a year and a half before then. I had no boyfriend to show for all my efforts, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that I had only gotten worse at dating.

I started fondly reminiscing about my early OKCupid days, when guys actually wanted to kiss me and my ideal date situation wasn’t an interrogation scene with me playing the bad feminist cop (not that there was any correlation between the two…okay, so what if there was, CORRELATION DOES NOT MEAN CAUSATION OK). I mourned the figurative loss of Steven #1, the very first guy I ever went on a date with. What the hell was I thinking, passive-aggressively rejecting him on our second date together? Sure, I hadn’t felt any chemistry or attraction to him, but he was sweet, had a job, wasn’t ugly, and he had a good relationship with his mom! I totally should have gotten with him or at least hooked up with him! Chemistry would have come in due time! Maybe! I don’t know how sexual or romantic chemistry works! I don’t know how love works! I don’t know how anything works! Gah!

If I actually believed in God, I would have ranted and cursed and yelled at Her for not making me a lesbian. But alas, I was a secular humanist who had to suck it up and keep meeting people in hopes that somebody would take a liking to me, and I to him.

In December of that year, I stumbled across the profile of a guy I had chatted with a while back, before my old OKCupid account had been removed for reasons I still do not know to this day. I recognized the picture of him posing by a nuclear reactor and inwardly rejoiced at finding him again. He was a socially aware engineer, which in my experience was practically an oxymoron. Not only that, he also looked cute, was a man of color, and his profile made him sound charming and interesting instead of boring and lifeless like 99% of all profiles by dudes I’ve ever read on the site!

But what should I write to him? Should I pretend like I had never come across him before and write something flirty and funny, or should I bring up our brief exchange from months ago and sound like a rambling creepy weirdo?

Of course I went with sounding like a rambling creepy weirdo! You know me.

CrumpleHSnorkack Hey, I found you again! (Lol, well that sounded creepy…) I think you messaged me a while back and I responded and we were going to have an actual conversation or something but then my profile was spontaneously deleted and I was like okay fuck you OKC and I swore it off for like a good 2 or 3 months and then I was like okay fine OKC you win and got back on and I wasn’t creepy enough to remember your username or personal details so I was like oh well but then I stumbled onto your profile again and kind of recognized your face and the social justice-ness of your profile so here we are anddddddd wow, I’m going to shut up now and this is going to be even more awkward if you don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 11, 2014

RandomDude16 Lol yeah I’m a bit confused…but whatever!

Hows that nonprofit life treating ya
Sent Dec 14, 2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Okay you don’t remember talking about 100 years of solitude with some Asian girl with much longer hair? Am I imagining this?

It’s all right. It has its ups and downs. Morally rewarding, financially straining work. How’s school?
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 14, 2014

RandomDude16 Oh hmm maybe…lol sorry, I have horrendous memory when it comes to remembering social interactions. Great author tho

School sucks, but now it’s over so I’m pretty content!

What kind of nonprofit work do you do?
Sent Dec 14, 2014

 

rishi1

We chatted back and forth about my current job and his future plans, which led to a discussion of social justice in general. His responses were insightful and engaging, and I could tell he was at least somewhat interested in getting to know me. Eventually he must have grown tired of exchanging greatly detailed messages about systemic racism and radical organizing with me with no end in sight, because he wrote this:

RandomDude16 Anywaays I’m not a huge fan of continuing these kinds of conversations over the Internet– you wanna meet up sometime this week/weekend and kickit? Send me a text at (***) ***-****
Sent Dec 27, 2014

Oh btw my name is Rishi.* lol
Sent Dec 27, 2014 Block them Report

*Name changed to protect the oblivious

As it turned out, we both had travel plans underway: I would be in New York for a week, and Rishi would be in India for an entire month. We decided to meet for drinks and dinner on a date that fell between the time I returned to the west coast and the time he would leave the country.

While I was away in New York, we didn’t really keep up with the textual communication. Rishi texted once, asking me how I was liking New York, and I responded briefly that I was thoroughly enjoying it (while neglecting to mention I was engaging with OKC dudes from the east coast. Shhhh.). I wondered at the time if that was a bad sign, us not incessantly texting each other back and forth like a pair of lovesick, sexually represssed teenagers. But hey, I was traveling and he was probably busy too. And maybe we both had our reservations around emotionally investing in the other person when we hadn’t even met yet. (God knows how often I’ve had to learn that lesson over and over again.)

The night before we were supposed to meet, I warned Rishi through text that my trip to New York had gotten me a little sick. ‘Do you still want to meet up or are you afraid of getting my germs?’ I wrote (something to that effect).

‘Nah let’s meet up,’ he texted back. ‘My immune system is pretty strong.’

Fast forward to the night of our first date: I put on a cute outfit and drove to Jupiter, a beerhouse in Berkeley where I had gone on my disastrous date with Connor (see OKBye Story #12: Bitch in Berkeley). Maybe I had already jinxed by myself by agreeing to meet there, who knows. Rishi had arrived first, letting me know that he had grabbed a table for us on the second floor. I climbed up the stairs of the venue, not knowing what to expect.

I spotted him sitting by the window, all bundled up in a beanie and coat, staring at the world beyond in a brooding sort of way and looking devastatingly handsome as he did so. Oh fuck, I thought. He’s really attractive and deep. Or at least really good at pretending to look deep, but definitely really attractive regardless.

I walked over. “Hey.”

He looked up and smiled. “Hey!”

I remained standing, wondering if I should initiate some kind of physical contact and realizing I’m too awkward for that and great now I look like a total ass just standing here and oh god just sit the fuck down already Learkana, when all of a sudden Rishi sensed my conflicted state and got up. “Guess you want a hug,” he said playfully, brushing off my awkwardness. We quickly embraced and sat down.

Rishi really was handsome, which made me feel shy. His eyelashes were thick and dark and gorgeous, the kind of lashes I could only dream of having (or just purchase at my local drug store along with some lash glue). I thought about complimenting them, but decided against it. I would sound creepy as fuck, probably.

As he was talking, I also observed that his voice was incredibly sexy.

Also, he was super charismatic and smooth and intelligent and just awesome all around, which made me feel super awkward and bumbling and ignorant and just pathetic all around. Even when I asked what had happened with his fingers that had Band-Aids wrapped around them and he responded by awkwardly laughing and saying he was removing the warts he had gotten and what a turn-off, huh, I still thought Rishi was incredibly sexy and super charismatic and smooth and intelligent and just awesome all around.

rishi2

 

At one point, I brought up the topic of feminism. He gave me two thumbs up. It was all the confirmation I needed. He would have had to literally drown a puppy in front of me to make me think anything less of him.

Clearly I was crushing hard. I couldn’t tell whether or not Rishi reciprocated my feelings. He paid for my dinner, but that was just social conditioning, probably. He offered to walk me to my car. Again, social conditioning, I’m sure. He asked if I wanted a tour of the lab where he worked. Hmm. At the very least, this meant he tolerated my company. Right?

The tour was brief. I don’t remember what he showed me. I remember avoiding eye contact every time he looked at me. My heart beating fast. All the cliches.

It was getting late. Rishi walked me out of the lab. “This was fun,” I said. “You’re a cool guy.”

“Well, you’re a cool lady,” he answered.

I blushed. “So…I can’t text you while you’re in India?”

“You could try,” he said. “Probably not though. But you can hit me up when I get back.”

“Okay.” We hugged again. I couldn’t tell what kind of hug it was. Then we said good night and I drove off, still blushing about those eyes gazing into mine.

When I got home, I gushed to my roommate Sayuri about how attractive and socially aware my date was. “He’s a socially aware engineer! I didn’t know that was a category of person that existed! Also he’s hot! Oh, and he showed me his lab, he recently graduated from UC Berkeley and he works there. Ugh, I just wish he wasn’t going to India for a whole month. He’s probably gonna forget about me.”

“Wait a minute…what’s his name?” she asked.

“Rishi,” I said.

Sayuri’s eyes widened. “Dude. I think I know him!” She whipped out her phone and pulled up his Facebook page. “This guy, right?”

I looked through his profile pictures. “Oh my god. That’s him!”

“Dude!” She started jumping up and down. “I totally support you two being together. I’ll be your wingwoman if I have to!”

“This is hella weird…what a small world. How do you know him?”

“I went to school with him. He’s a good guy. Oh my god oh my god oh my god Learkana! I will definitely be your wingwoman and put in a good word for you!”

“Oh god. I don’t know…we’ll see.”

A month passed. I was sick for weeks. Apparently I had gotten some kind of bacterial infection in New York that caused me to cough until my sides ached. From time to time, I thought of Rishi. Even when I exchanged messages with other guys on OKCupid, I guiltily thought of Rishi, even though that was ridiculous because I had only met him once and we were not in any kind of relationship whatsoever. That didn’t stop the embarrassingly G-rated fantasies I had every time I became infatuated with a guy: Rishi meeting my family. Rishi introducing me to his friends. Rishi and I strolling through downtown Oakland, holding hands and ranting about the white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy. Rishi and I curled up with each other on the couch as we actually Netflixed and chilled.

rishi3

Okay I’ll stop before we all start gagging.

Anyway, it was February by this time. I was feeling a lot better, and the countdown to Rishi’s return was theoretically over. Sayuri didn’t miss a beat. “So Rishi’s back in town. Are you gonna text him?”

“I guess I will,” I said, pretending to be less enthused than I was in a shitty attempt to repress my hopes.

I hit him up and tried to sound as casual as possible. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey! Are you back in the Land of White Supremacy?

Him: Yep. Haha I would have gone with the United Snakes of Amerikkka

Me: Lol good one. Would you want to hang out again soon?

Him: Yah sure, what do you want to do?

Ack! I hadn’t thought that far ahead. “What should we do?!” I asked Sayuri, whom I had basically coerced into being my unofficial Dating Sensei.

Sayuri thought for a minute. “You should go to Plank!” she suggested.

“Plank?” I repeated.

Plank, Sayuri explained, was this cool bar/restaurant/bowling alley/video game arcade in Jack London Square. She had never been there, but had heard good things about it. They even had bocce ball courts, which when I think about it isn’t much of a bonus given I don’t give a fuck about bocce but oh well it still sounded cool! Sayuri pulled it up on Google. “The ratings aren’t bad,” she said, scrolling on her phone. “Just people complaining the service is slow, but it just opened. You should check it out with Rishi!”

“Hmm…okay!” I texted Rishi about it. He texted he was down. We made plans to meet there on a Friday night. I was excited. This thing with Rishi seemed promising. Maybe this would be the end of my mediocre OKCupid dating endeavors!

It was, but not in the way I was expecting.

Fast forward to Friday night: I was at Plank, pretty much on time. Rishi texted he was BARTing over and was running a little late. I waited outside for a few minutes, felt kind of awkward standing alone in the dark, and decided to head inside and order a drink without him. Inside was noisy and crowded, with music blaring and neon lights everywhere, which I didn’t mind because I could just be a part of the background.

He texted he had arrived. I texted I was sitting by the bowling alley. I watched him as he walked in my general direction. His beard looked a little different, but he still looked good. I was suddenly struck with the frightening thought that he wouldn’t recognize me with no glasses and my face caked in makeup. But if he noticed any discrepancies between how I looked a month ago and how I looked that night, he made no mention of it. He gave me a hug, sat down next to me, and also got himself a drink.

Things kinda get fuzzy from here. I was a dumbass and had ordered myself a mixed drink, completely disregarding the fact that my biochemical makeup could only handle beers, ciders, or one shot of hard liquor at the most. We talked about our families: he said his father inspired him to pursue engineering, I said my mother was verbally abusive. (Wait, why did I say that?) We talked about online dating: I asked him if he had met up with anyone else and he said, point-blank, “Short Indian guys don’t get messages.” I didn’t know how to respond that, so I changed the subject.

We talked more about social justice: he recommended a book on postcolonialism, and I made a note of it in my iPhone even though I was never going to read it. I asked him to define rape culture–he did a good job I think, and we may have high-fived about it. And so on and so forth until I was feeling too uncomfortable to go along with this freestyle sort of small talk everyone seems so accustomed to doing.

I suggested we play “Never Have I Ever.” Rishi initially declined. He said he was too sober, and that it would be weird with just the two of us. But by the time he was almost done with his beer, he was game. Having already finished my first drink, I was forced to order another one so we could play. Bad decisions were being made, but I was too caught up in displacing my social anxiety to care.

We took turns. I went in with the cheap shots again: “Never have I ever been to a coed college. Never have I ever been Indian. Never have I ever had a beard.”

Rishi was having trouble coming up with anything, which was frustrating him. “Let’s play this a little differently,” he said. “Instead of saying things we have never done, let’s just make a statement about the other person. If it’s true, that person drinks; if not, you drink.”

“Okay,” I agreed.

Soon it was me who was struggling with the game. “The first girl you had a crush on…was white,” I guessed.

“Wrong. She was Latina.”

“Damnit.” I drank. And drank. And drank. Rishi was unfairly better at making assumptions about me than I was at making them about him.

rishi4

 

“Ugh, I hate this,” I eventually complained. “Can we go back to how we were playing it?”

“It’s the same thing,” he insisted. “It’s about making assumptions. We’re just being straightforward about it.”

I wanted to object, but was too unfocused to articulate that at least with “Never Have I Ever,” you weren’t just sizing up the other person and drawing implicitly judgmental conclusions about them–it was more so centered on your own lack of life experiences. Unfortunately, I just shut up and let the game go too far.

“You…have a low sex drive,” he stated.

Ugh. “Well…what exactly do you mean by that?” I demanded.

“Like not wanting to have sex that often.”

“What about masturbating…once a week?” Although I’m always guilty of spewing unfiltered crap nobody wants to hear, some part of me couldn’t believe we were actually talking about this.

“That’s pretty low,” he said.

I groaned and drank.

Someone came by to let us know that Plank would be closing in fifteen minutes. We decided to head out, closed our individual tabs, and left.

Outside was quiet, still, and bitingly cold. Rishi offered me one of his jackets, since I was only wearing a sweater. I put it on, grateful, as we aimlessly walked by the pier. My face was on fire and everything I was seeing looked surreal. Fuck, I was wasted. On top of that I was feeling incredibly nauseated. We sat down on a bench overlooking the water.

“It’s still your turn,” I said to Rishi. I didn’t really want to resume this reinvented game of assumptions, but at least it would fend off the silence.

He looked at me. “You don’t like cuddling.”

“I’ve never cuddled with anyone,” I told him.

“Okay, let’s try it.” He put his arm around me and I scooted closer, both elated and frightened by his touch. We fell silent again, but the quiet was mediated by the proximity of our bodies.

I thought about resting my head on his shoulder, or putting my arms around him too, to show him how interested and attracted I was to him. But I didn’t. I was frozen by my fear of physical intimacy. This was different from letting some douchey guy stick his tongue in my mouth. This was on an entirely different level that was alien to me. So I sat there with his arm around me, stiff with desire and repression and a sobering self-consciousness. Eventually he pulled his arm away, and I knew I had somehow failed with this one gesture.

We wandered around some more until we stumbled across a diner that was thankfully still open. It was around 2am by this point. We were seated at a booth. There was cool artwork on the walls and the menu would have definitely appealed to a sober version of me. I wasn’t that hungry, but I needed something to ease the nausea. For some reason the thought of drinking water sounded awful to me, so I ordered ice in a glass to crunch, along with a salad I mainly nibbled and picked at. Rishi, on the other hand, ordered actual food he was able to scarf down. He kept trying to talk to me as he ate, which annoyed me, because I was totally fucked up from alcohol and sleep deprivation and wanted to be left alone with my hazy thoughts. Everything was slowing down. His words were taking a while for me to comprehend. I was seeing everything through a sort of fog I couldn’t fight.

“I’m going to throw up now,” I announced after we split the bill.

“Do you need me to go with you?” he asked.

“Nope, you just stay right there.” I got up and walked off, making my way around people, my stride getting quicker as I could feel the vomit rising in me. I finally reached the bathrooms and pulled on the handle for the women’s. FUCK. It was locked! Frantic, I pulled on the men’s. IT WAS ALSO LOCKED!

FUUUUUUUCK WHY THE HELL ARE THESE GODDAMN FUCKING BATHROOMS SINGLE STALL ALSO WHAT’S THE POINT OF GENDERING THEM IF THEY’RE SINGLE STALL FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK–

There was no stopping the waves of puke. I threw up all over the floor. Again. And again.

rishi5

I will be kind for once and spare you the gross details.

My eyes widened in horror at what I had done. Just as I was inwardly freaking out about what to do, the women’s bathroom door opened and someone stepped out. I ran in and locked the door behind me before I could see their shock and disgust at the new condition of the floor.

I threw up some more in the toilet and flushed. Then I rinsed my mouth as well as my shoes, which had also fallen victim to my nausea. I stared at myself in the mirror and put on a big, fake smile. I guessed the possibility of making out was now off the table. I started giggling uncontrollably at this.

Control yourself! The small yet still rational part of my brain commanded. You need to leave. Now.

But what about the vomit?

If I was a decent person, I would have alerted a waiter to my indiscretion. But I wasn’t a decent person. I was too mortified by the prospect of Rishi finding out that I had vomited on the floor, so I went back to the booth where he was still sitting nonchalantly without any idea of how disgusting and offensive I was and told him we should leave. Then I walked as fast as I could out of there.

I can never come to this diner again, I thought. Damnit, I really liked this place.

Just as I was about to exit the door, I looked behind me and saw that Rishi was trailing behind. He was walking over with such a funny, slow gait that I started laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Evidently Rishi was drunk off his ass like I was. Why did we think that drinking would be a good idea?

We staggered over to my car, which I had parked a couple of blocks down.

“Are you okay to drive?” he asked.

“Yes,” I lied, because at some point in the night I must have decided I was going to be a terrible person and really commit to it. To be fair, I was much more sober than before I had puked. But my eyelids were heavy and I really just wanted to sleep.

Rishi gave me his address and I somehow managed to take him home without killing anyone.

“Here’s your jacket,” I said, shrugging it off and handing it over to him as he got out of my car. “Good night.”

“See you,” he said. I drove off and miraculously made it home myself. By the time I crawled into bed, it was 5am. As I drifted off to sleep, his unoriginal parting words to me kept pointlessly playing over in my mind: See you. Did that mean he wanted to see me again, or was he just using the figure of speech?

A few days passed. Other than the obligatory text asking me if I made it home okay, I heard nothing from Rishi. That didn’t stop my crush on him from mutating into full-blown infatuation. My fantasies of being with him became more frequent and creepy: Rishi and I getting married even though I distrusted the institution of marriage and all it stood for. Rishi taking my last name in a radical gesture of gender role subversion. Rishi and I having adorable, socially conscious kids even though I’m like 85% sure I don’t want kids. “Sayuri, I really like him,” I said, repulsed by the intensity of my feelings.

“Ask him out again!” Sayuri urged.

In accordance with Sayuri’s advice, I asked Rishi via text if he would like to hang out again. He said he had gotten sick and would let me know when he felt better.

Another week or so passed. I didn’t hear from him, but even so, I remained obsessed. He began consuming a good chunk of my waking thoughts. I looked for any chance to talk about him, to analyze him and the two dates we had gone on and why the fuck he hadn’t texted me yet. At some point, even Sayuri seemed exasperated over the incessant overanalyzing and fretting and speculating. 

“If you’re still interested in him, reach out to him,” she said patiently.

“But it seems like he isn’t interested in me!” I protested. “He told me he would text me and he hasn’t. The ball is in his court!”

“If you’re still interested in him, reach out to him,” she repeated.

“Ugh okay fine I will.” I texted Rishi to ask how he was doing. He responded that he was well enough to work out. This motherfucker!!!!!!!! I had to remind myself that I actually liked him in order to civilly ask him yet again if he would like to hang out. He texted yes. ‘What did you have in mind?’ he wrote.

I texted, ‘Let’s get boba at Green Bubble.’ This was how I knew that I really, really, really liked Rishi. I had always been of the opinion that you should never, ever take a date out to one of your favorite places in case they ruined it forever, which more so speaks to my own fucked up views on dating and humanity in general but anyway the point is, I saw such potential in Rishi that I was willing to risk him ruining my favorite boba place forever. It was that serious. Furthermore, this would mark the first time a guy had ever made it past the second date with me. That was an even bigger deal. So basically, this impending date with Rishi was a momentous occasion that was breaking all the barriers, and he had no idea about any of it.

I picked him up from BART. I felt that maybe we should have hugged or something, but I was driving and just the thought of doing an awkward car side hug thing with Rishi made me all panicky. We made small talk in the car as I drove. I was bothered by the fact that we were still stuck in the awkward small talk stage, but pushed my worries aside.

We ordered separately at Green Bubble. I suggested we play Ticket to Ride, a board game I had fun playing with my friend Brad. Rishi was willing, so I set it up and told him the rules. We began playing. Within minutes Rishi was better at the game than me, which got me aggravated, being the sore loser that I am. Meanwhile, our conversation jumped around, stilted and erratic. I asked Rishi to define what “cisgender” meant, and asked him how he reconciled Gandhi’s anti-colonialist work with his anti-blackness–subconscious attempts to feel superior and cover up my insecurities, probably. He answered…well, it doesn’t really matter.

For the most part I was quiet and withdrawn, because I still felt awkward and shy around Rishi. Is liking someone supposed to be like this? I thought.

rishi6

After we were done with our boba tea drinks and the game, I took Rishi back to the MacArthur BART station. I watched him exit my car and wondered if I should have gone for the awkward car side hug after all.

I dissected the details of this date with my friends, who all agreed that I should have been more physically and verbally affectionate. “Guys are pretty oblivious,” said my friend Jackee, nodding over at her partner Evin, who added, “More hugs are always good.” So I vowed that no matter how awkward and embarrassing it would be, I would let Rishi know that I liked him-liked him on our fourth date. I even rehearsed my “I like you-like you” speech with my somewhat puzzled friend Laura to prepare for the next time Rishi and I would meet up.

Except there would never be a next time.

As Sayuri had instructed, I took the initiative once again to ask Rishi if he wanted to hang out. He said he was busy with stuff and would let me know when he was free.

A couple of weeks passed. No text from Rishi. I got the hint, but it didn’t stop me from ranting to Sayuri about it. “That fucking asshole! If he didn’t like me, he should have just said so instead of dragging it out and torturing me like this!” I started fixating on where we went wrong: Was it because I was too boring? Too ugly? Was it because I sucked at cuddling? Because I didn’t give him enough hugs? Because he had secretly followed me that one night in the diner and witnessed me puking which had turned him off from me forever? Because I didn’t shower him with praise after reading his article on police brutality that had yielded no revolutionary insights? Because I critiqued Gandhi? It must have been the Gandhi thing. Or the cuddling. Or–

“Why don’t you ask him?” Sayuri suggested. “At least you’ll have closure. Either way, it’s his fucking loss.” She promised (jokingly I’m sure) that she would kick him the next time she saw him.

So I did it. I sent a text. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey. I was wondering why you never followed up with me when you said you would

Him: Hey sorry. I just sort of forgot lol

Ouch.

Learkana Chong, forgettable.

My eyes started watering.

Oh no. Oh no. Was I really gonna cry about this? I blinked as hard and fast as I could to repel the tears.

Me: Can you tell me why things didn’t work out with us?

Him: Honestly, I didn’t think we had any chemistry. So I don’t see us being anything more than friends. :/

Chemistry.

Oh, right. That one thing I had overlooked in favor of my naive high school girl crush on someone I had pretty much put on a pedestal without even really knowing him.

Story of my life.

Was this karma for all the guys I had rejected?

Ingrid Michaelson’s song, “Girls Chase Boys,” suddenly sprang to mind. Would I spend the rest of my life chasing after guys who didn’t want me, and turning away the ones who did? Forever stuck in some twisted loop of unrequited infatuation?

It hit me right then that I really was going to die alone. It was somewhat painful to fully realize in this moment. The tears could not be completely repelled.

Me: Thanks for being honest. Seriously. I really appreciate it.

My heart wasn’t broken, but my ego had been severely bruised.

Some part of me regretted thanking Rishi. It’s not like he was being completely honest, because we weren’t friends. Friends didn’t ignore each other for weeks at a time with no explanation. Friends were two people who were equally invested in each other’s time and attention. Friends in this case was just a figure of speech. What he should have texted was, ‘I don’t see us being anything more than strangers. :/’

I deactivated my OKCupid account and never used it for online dating again. I was emotionally spent. I couldn’t bear the thought of uselessly poring over some dude’s bullshit profile, of going on one more mediocre date, of trying to know one more guy I would never see again, of once again feeling paradoxically desirable and unlovable through the male gaze.

I was done. Premature spinsterhood had never tasted so bitter.

There’s no happy ending here, but you already knew that.

tl;dr Girl messages boy, girl and boy meet up for drinks and dinner, girl becomes smitten, girl and boy meet up again for drinks, girl vomits and remains smitten, girl and boy meet up yet again for boba, girl is even more awkward but is still obsessed, girl wants to meet up with boy to confess her like for him, boy forgets about girl, girl asks what went wrong, boy “friendzones” girl, girl is crushed, girl and boy never see or hear from each other again

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OKBye Story #15: The Fault in Our Date

A year ago, I visited New York and fell in love (with the city, not with an actual person, obviously.)

New York was cold and ableist as fuck, but everything there was invigorating and exciting and things were always happening. Save for the freezing ass weather, it really did feel like a second home to me. I didn’t visit New York for the sole purpose of seeing the east coast, though. I went to visit one of my good friends, Shana, whom I had not seen in a long time.

Being the high-strung individual that I am, I demanded we have planning sessions in advance via Skype in order to map out the logistics of what we would do for the one week that I would be there. She complied.  After careful consideration and some half-assed research, we planned to visit at least one art museum, go to Times Square for New Year’s, eat a New York bagel, check out Chinatown, see an off-Broadway play, and…

“You should go on a date in New York!” Shana exclaimed.

I gave a dismissive laugh or something, then moved on to analyze the best building to get to the top of for that incredible view of the New York skyline.

I thought Shana was joking about going on a New York date, but she wasn’t. A couple of days after I arrived at the Big Apple, she brought it up again.

“Ugh, okay whatever,” I said, and changed the location of my OKCupid account to New York. Within the span of 24 hours, I had received 5-6 messages from a flock of horny East Coast dudes who were drawn to my self-deprecating, cynical slacktivist OKC profile. I skimmed through their messages, most of which were unappealing. But there was one that caught my attention:

RandomDude15 I’m jaded, but I still believe gender and sexuality are constructed, and fuck the police 24/7. Wanna kick it?

This response impressively managed to be informative, succinct, and straightforward all at once, which I greatly appreciated. I showed Shana, who weirdly oscillated between gushing excitement for me and extreme annoyance. “OH MY GOD! This isn’t fair! You’ve been in New York for like two days and you get a guy who actually sounds cool!” She went on to look at his pictures. “AND he’s hot! I hate you! I hate you! Oh my god, you have to meet up with him! And write my OKC profile for me! Oh my god!”

I looked at…uh, Jack’s profile. He was 29 years old and a 90-something percent match. And he was white. He had all the trappings of the kind of guy I was trying to avoid. He was hot though, in a douchey sort of way. I felt a weird mixture of flattery, irritation, intrigue, skepticism, and insecurity at the thought of a conventionally handsome grown man taking an interest in me, a scrawny and rather androgynous-looking 23-year-old Asian chick (still sporting the glasses-and-no-makeup look at the time, plus a super short haircut that was a former pixie awkwardly growing into a bob). “I don’t know…”

jack1

Shana was having a fit. No seriously. She was crying and laughing so hard that our fellow subway passengers were glancing our way. “I’m…I’m flustered,” she gasped out as she wiped away tears of…I don’t know what. (We’ve had many moments together like this, whether it was just one of us or both of us in hysterics, moments I consider to be the highest mark of friendship.)

“Meet up with him!” Shana kept insisting.

I thought about it. What was the point? I was only visiting New York for a week. I would never see this dude again. But then it dawned on me: maybe that was exactly the point. It’s not like I had seen any of the other guys ever again, and they had been local to me. The one-date deal was something I should totally be used to by now. So what could it hurt, having a New York date? It sounded like something a spontaneous and optimistic individual would do, and didn’t I want to pretend to be a spontaneous and optimistic individual?

But what would we do? What activity could we possibly undertake that would be so awesome and kickass that it wouldn’t matter if this guy wasn’t awesome and kickass?

That’s when it hit me.

CrumpleHSnorkack Let’s do karaoke
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 30, 2014

RandomDude15 lol what
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 30, 2014

RandomDude15 How’d you know I love karaoke
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 30, 2014

RandomDude15 Are you free tonight? I just got flaked on by a Tinder date 😀
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 30, 2014

Tonight?! I was thrown off by his genuine spontaneity. (And his blunt admission of trying to hook up with other girls and failing at it, thereby making me his Plan B. In any other instance I would have been turned off, but given the circumstances, I let it pass.)

“He wants to meet up tonight,” I said to Shana, horrified. We were on the subway, having just gotten back from viewing the Statue of Liberty via ferry.

“Ask him if he’s free tomorrow for New Year’s,” Shana suggested. “Maybe he can party with us after midnight.”

He wasn’t free tomorrow.

Goddamnit. So it was now or never. I looked down at my outfit. I was actually being a sensible person for once and had dressed for comfort, not style, which meant a baggy sweater, heavy jacket, jeans, and a pair of childish-looking furry boots. I did not look like date-with-a-29-year-old material. Ugh.

“Could we take the train back to your place so I can change?” I asked hopefully.

Shana shook her head. “It would take too long. We’d miss out on Chinatown and Little Italy.”

I sighed.

Quit being so fixated on your appearance, a voice in my head criticized. Who the hell cares if you’re not dressed up? It’s this dude’s fault for being all spontaneous and last minute and shit. If he wanted you to look good he should have asked you in advance. Also, you are definitely never going to see him again, so dressing to impress is pretty pointless when you guys don’t have a future together. Stop being insecure and superficial, your internalized racism/sexism is showing and I think you–

OK SHUT UP LEARKANA I GOT IT.

So with my zero-fucks-given attitude and Shana as my unwanted cheerleader, I made late night plans to do karaoke with Jack at some lounge Shana had recommended. I wondered if I was going to regret this. I usually did. It’s not about him, I reminded myself. It’s about karaoke. Which was totally going to be awesome.

Although I understood that there was no future with Jack, I still wanted to look somewhat presentable. The headband I had been wearing all day had given me a really bad case of headband hair, which can happen if your hair is as thin and oil-prone as mine.  So when Shana and I ended up at a crowded Chinese restaurant for dinner, I excused myself to use the single stall bathroom, where I immediately began splashing my face and my hair with water. Then, using a travel size brush I had purchased at the convenience store, I attempted to smooth out my wet strands of hair while drying myself off with paper towels.

jack3

This was a rather long process. There was a lot of knocking at the door. Whoever was waiting to use the bathroom was getting really impatient. Ok, ok. I opened the door. The middle-aged Asian man waiting outside found himself staring at an awkwardly smiling, soaking wet prepubescent Asian Daniel Radcliffe who skirted around him to make her way back to the table where her friend was sitting and probably still sulking over the fact that the waiter had given her the “white people” menu.

“Wow, you look like you just showered,” Shana commented.

Success!

-:-

“So, I’ll text you when I’m done?” I asked.

Shana and I were just outside the karaoke lounge, saying our goodbyes-for-now. I suddenly felt awful and antifeminist for leaving her just so I could meet up with some dude. I briefly considered having her be the third wheel, like she had requested of me all those times back in college. Nah, that would be way more awkward. Anyway, this was all Shana’s idea and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be hanging out with this guy for very long.

Shana nodded. “Let me know how it goes!” We then parted ways: she to a random bar, and me up the stairs and into the lounge.

I requested one of the smaller rooms to rent and found myself sitting alone in the semi-darkness. Jack had texted that he was going to be a little late and I didn’t care. Not with a mic, sound system, and thousands of instrumental songs at my disposal.

What should I sing? I went with the obvious choice and tried doing “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. “New Yoooooooooork….yeah, uh huh uh huh uh huh…” God, I sounded terrible. I couldn’t imitate Jay Z’s rap style or hit Alicia Keys’ high notes. Oh well. At least no one was around to witness my fail. Halfway through the song I gave up. That was when Jack showed up.

He was a little bit different from what I expected. Somewhat shorter. Bigger head. A strong accent that was the opposite of sexy. (I wasn’t sure what it was. It sounded like the stereotypical Jersey accent my 8th grade history teacher would put on for cheap laughs.) He was still handsome enough to make me nervous, though. (Picture a less hot version of Adam Levine.)

Jack gave me a hug. “Already getting started?”

“Yeah….I’m gonna do a different song.” I grabbed the…um, karaoke controller to input a favorite, “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj. I’ve done this song a hundred times by now, and it’s consistently been a hit with people, probably because seeing a scrawny Asian girl rapping, “Yes you get slapped if you lookin’ ho” provides some pleasantly surprising entertainment.

Jack was fairly impressed. “Nice.”

“Thanks. What are you thinking of singing?” I asked.

He began rattling off the names of rap songs and artists that I had never heard of in my life. Must be the age difference. I politely smiled and nodded in response. 

We took turns performing. He was actually a pretty good rapper himself. I strained my ears and tried to catch him slipping up and saying the ‘N’ word, but from what I could gather, the slur never left his lips. Okay good.

While Jack kept doing obscure rap music, I kept singing really cheesy pop songs. At some point I became acutely aware of the overtly sexual lyrics of all my song choices. God. Why hadn’t I noticed how sexual they were before? I wondered as I self-consciously sang “Closer” by Tegan and Sara:

All you think of lately is getting underneath me
All I dream of lately is how to get you underneath me…”

Fuck, does he think I’m singing to him? That I picked this song to not-so-subtly let him know that I wanted him underneath me, when in reality I was leaning towards the side of “nope, definitely not”? (His bad breath was cancelling out his fairly good looks.) It’s just a song though! Right?! I was afraid to look at him, and instead kept my eyes trained on the screen.

jack5

I suggested we switch things up and do a song together. He was game. We did an enthusiastic rendition of a Backstreet Boys song. (Probably “I Want It That Way.”) I was totally down to sing 90s pop music all night, but Jack for whatever reason wanted to take a break and have an actual conversation so he could get to know me, or whatever.

I told him I hailed from California and was only visiting New York for the holidays. He seemed to take that news pretty well. He told me there was a small Southeast Asian community in the Bronx, which he knew about because of the immigrant rights group he organized with.

Okay, you’re probably gonna judge me for this next part. I wasn’t totally clear on what he meant by “organize.” (I don’t know all the functions involved with social justice work, okay–I’m just a slacktivist! Leave me alone!)

“What do you mean you’re an ‘organizer’?” I asked.

“You know, I help out with the cause,” he replied very vaguely and unhelpfully.

“Well…what do you organize?”

“Whatever needs to be done. Like putting on events, or promoting stuff.”

“Oh.”

The next half hour or so was spent discussing white privilege. “My people are treacherous,” he kept saying, which I found kind of funny because it brought to mind a mental picture of white people as pirates saying “Arghh!” which, I mean, is probably also historically accurate.

“How do you be an ally without letting your white guilt get in the way?” I inquired.

“I don’t have any guilt,” he answered.

“Do you think it’s racist when white people prefer dating other white people? I had this argument with some other white guy. I think it’s racist.”

“Nah,” he said, annoying me. “If you grow up in an all white community, of course you’re gonna have a preference for white people.”

“But–that’s racist!” I spluttered.

“It’s not something you can control, your dating preference. I have a friend who also does social justice organizing. Said he could never be with anyone other than a white girl. That’s just what he grew up with. What he’s used to. What’s he gonna do, try to find himself a black girl to prove he’s not racist?”

“Hmm.” Jack’s argument was kind of convincing me to see the point that Colin had been trying to make (See OKBye Story #13: When Awkward Met Awkward). In the moment, anyway. I now still think it’s racist to have a racial dating preference, especially if you’re white (exception includes any person of color trying to preserve their cultural heritage).   Race is a social construct, people! No race of people looks one type of way or acts a certain way. No racial group is a monolith, no matter what white people would like you to think. If you find yourself falling for the same race over and over again without consideration of anyone else you better think long and hard about why that is. Just because you can’t really control your racial bias doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. I’m just saying, fall in love with people without bringing your fucked up preconceived ideas of who they are, and what others are not, into it.

Anyway, it was getting kinda late and I didn’t want to be charged for yet another hour for the room if we weren’t going to be singing, so I suggested we head out. We ended up splitting the bill, which was cool. As we left the lounge, I started feeling nervous. As I’ve said before, I think the goodbye is the worst part of any date.

“So…I have to meet up with a friend…” Ugh. It sounded like I was lying, which I was not. Shana was waiting for me who-knows-where and I had to return to her to mitigate the irrational guilt I was feeling. “Where are you headed?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll figure it out.”

“It was nice meeting you,” I said. We were at the curb. I was hoping he would just go away.

“Yeah.” Jack grinned and walked the other way.

Whew. I texted Shana, asking where she was. As I was waiting for her to respond, I saw that Jack was coming back my way again. Goddamnit, the awkward see-you-again-even-though-we-already-said-bye scenario.

jack7

I put on a smile as he got closer.

“Went the wrong way?” I said lightly.

He laughed, then gave me a hug. Like, a forreal hug. He even buried his face into my shoulder. I held still, feeling somewhat weirded out. Then he was gone.

-:-

A few days later, Shana and I were planning an impromptu hotel party/fake wedding to celebrate our homosocial love. I invited 5 different OKCupid dudes in the area who had messaged me and didn’t seem like serial killers, because the more the merrier, right? One of them being Jack. He said he had gotten sick but would try to make it.

On the day of the party, we had a text exchange that went something like this:

Me: Hey are you still down to come to our party? It’s at 7.

Him: Can’t. Too sick. Coughing up phlegm

Me: Ew. Okay well, hope you feel better. It was really nice meeting you! You’re a pretty cool guy.

Him: I thought you didn’t like me lol

Me: Lol I just come off like a bitch when I don’t know people. Didn’t you read my profile?

Him: Thought you were joking. You were a 90 something match and the girls I match up with at 90 have radical politics and are DTF

Wait, WHAT?

DTF? As in Down To Fuck? Was he trying to say he thought I was down to fuck?

Me: Hahaha uh well I don’t think we’d be sexually compatible anyway

Him: Yeah sure lol

Wait a minute.

Was it possible that I could have actually gotten laid that night, had I quit with the resting bitchvibe and had he popped a mint?

Oh, well. I wouldn’t want my first time to be with some smug Adam Levine lookalike I would never see again anyway. Maybe for my fourth or fifth time (provided he brush his teeth), but definitely not my first.

Yeah that’s right, I said my first time.

If you don’t know me very well (or haven’t been keeping up with my blog), you might be gasping: Learkana, you were a 23-year-old virgin at this point in time? 

Oh, shut up.

The party was a blast (except for the part when it ended early because the hotel threatened to call the cops–not that exciting of a story), New York was a blast, and no, I didn’t get laid or fall in love with a tall, dark, and handsome New Yorker. However, I did end up crushing really hard on the short, dark, and handsome Californian I had already scheduled a date with the night after I got back from New York–which is another story for another time.

tl;dr New Yorker boy messages Californian girl who is just visiting, girl and boy meet up to sing karaoke and talk about white privilege, girl is cold and detached as defense mechanism against boy’s good looks and age, girl and boy never see or hear from each other again

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OKBye Story #14: Friends with No Benefits

After the whole fiasco with Colin, I decided I needed to up the levels of sociopolitical awareness in my OKCupid profile so that the sea of blissfully ignorant white boys would stop crashing against my shores and messaging me. Under one of the prompts (probably either “I spend a lot of time thinking about…” or “The most private thing I’m willing to admit”), I wrote a long rambling paragraph about how it would be kind of cool to meet the love of my life or even just like a throwaway boyfriend at a protest but also it would be kind of awkward and inappropriate given the context.

Hmm. I guess I should talk a little bit about the methodology behind my dating profile. You know how the goal is to make yourself sound as appealing and desirable as possible? I do the exact opposite of that. To me, writing a profile is just a creative writing exercise in which I try to display myself not in the best possible light, but in the most interesting possible light. That usually means lots of self-deprecating humor, feminist rants, and an oversharing of personal details.

It kind of works. I get the attention of some dudes. I pique their interest, but there’s no guarantee of sustaining it–especially because they think I’m joking in my profile but no, I really am just a neurotic, awkward individual who talks about boner shrinking topics. Sorry dudes.

Anyway. A dude I shall henceforth call Andy messaged me in response to the above profile update. Our conversation went exactly like this:

RandomDude14 i actually think it’d be awesome to meet someone at a protest. at least you’d have a better chance of having your values aligning if you’re down for the same cause haha. unawkward and romantic ways of meeting people are overrated and idealized anyways
Sent Dec 12, 2014 Block them Report

CrumpleHSnorkack Well it would be awesome BUT then I’d feel super sleazy for hitting on someone when everyone’s main purpose is to fight for justice not dates you know?
Sent from the OkCupid app Dec 12, 2014

RandomDude14 you’re absolutely right, but i don’t [think] it’s too sleazy as long as you remember the main reason why you’re there. as long as those priorities don’t get mixed up. i actually haven’t done this btw if you’re wondering, i’m just open to the idea haha
Sent Dec 12, 2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Hmm maybe, but that’s easier said [than] done. Like if a guy came up to me and started talking to me while we were marching, I’d just think he was being an inappropriate doucheface lol . I guess there’s a certain way it would have to be done, although what way that is I would not know
Sent Dec 12, 2014

RandomDude14 i suppose now really imagining it, it would be pretty difficult. i wouldn’t approach it with the intent of hitting on someone primarily, so much as trying to get to know the people you’re marching with. which is important, because not everyone who joins a protest knows the politics or the issues behind it, even the organizers unfortunately
Sent Dec 13, 2014

CrumpleHSnorkack That’s a good point. I’ve always wondered about all the other individuals I’ve marched with in the past. Demonstrations have always left me with conflicted feelings. While I support the idea of a protest, in execution it sometimes feels like a reinforcement of mob mentality
Sent Dec 13, 2014

RandomDude14 yea, i feel you on that. i went to a protest recently for mike brown and eric garner in oakland, and the group was divided on what the real goal/destination of the march was. you always run into the possbility of having the (most of the time, white) anarchists join your protest, which will fuck up the real intent of your cause because all they want to do is break shit. which is exhausting, because you have white people fucking up something that’s supposed to be in support of the black community, which is caused by white people in the first place. but then again, what else is new
Sent Dec 13, 2014

I liked that Andy was actually demonstrating his sociopolitical awareness to me in our conversation instead of me just scrambling to read between the lines in the answers he gave to profile questions. We were maybe like an 80% match. I checked out his profile. He sounded like he probably wasn’t a sociopath, and he looked cute in his pictures. Plus he was a socially conscious man of color who possessed critical thinking skills and didn’t mind talking about boner shrinking topics with me! This was great!

andy1

But then I noticed that his relationship status read, “In an open relationship.”

Wait, what??? Andy was polyamorous?

Ah, shit.

While I’ve often felt conflicted about my sexual orientation (more in terms of am I heterosexual/demisexual/asexual than anything else), my monogamous nature is something I’ve never really questioned. That’s because I already know I’m petty and possessive and easily jealous and insecure about everything from my female friends to who gets the most “likes” on a shared Facebook article (if I post it first, “like” mine before sharing goddamnit!). So while polyamory makes way more sense to me in theory and sounds a lot better than being stuck with just one person for allegedly the rest of my life, in reality I could never be in a polyamorous relationship without losing my shit. Also, I hate dating enough as it is, why would I want do even more of it, assuming I find a dude who can accept me as the eccentric obnoxious argumentative awkward hardcore intersectional feminist that I am?

But Andy seemed so cool! Damnit. I had never encountered this problem before. Most guys I met on OKC were your standard-issue boring vanilla monogamous types.

Well. It couldn’t hurt to meet up, I reasoned. We had both stated in our profiles that in addition to dating we were looking for friends (although I’ve always thought that was just a bullshit option you chose so you didn’t seem too sleazy or desperate).

So when Andy eventually asked me if I wanted to get drinks with him, I said yes, and proceeded to mentally “friendzone” him. Ugh. Given the sexist origins of this word, maybe I should rephrase…okay, here goes: I said yes to drinks with Andy, and proceeded to mentally friendcast him.

Andy had suggested we meet up in some dive bar in downtown Oakland I had never been to, which was fine with me because dive bars usually meant less people and cheaper drinks. I was horribly late to this “date.” That’s because at the last minute I was still debating whether to BART or to drive my car. I ended up taking BART (which I had to drive to anyway) and forgetting my phone in the car. Fuck. There was no way for me to let Andy know that I was running late. What did people do before cell phones?! I just hoped that he would be understanding. Or maybe he would curse my name and leave before I showed up! That would solve everything, actually.

I arrived, roughly 20-30 minutes late. Shit shit shit. A bouncer at the door told me there was a cover charge for the band playing that night, which I had not known about. What the hell, Andy? I reluctantly gave the bouncer a few bucks and went inside. Spotted someone who vaguely looked like the Andy I had surmised from the handful of pictures in his profile. He looked better in his pictures, I was somewhat disappointed to find out. It only served to solidify his friendcast status with me. (Yes yes I’m shallow you should already know that by now.)

“Hey!” I called out. “I am so so sorry I’m late.”

“Oh, no worries, I was running late too,” he replied, much to my relief. “I wasn’t waiting that long.”

Did we hug? I don’t remember.

We ordered our drinks. The bar was very empty, save for maybe one other person. It was a little weird, not having to shout at him like I was used to doing with other dates. (Maybe I was shouting anyway. According to some people, I talk at a slightly higher volume than the average person.)

We dove into social justice right away. Topics ranged from API identity (he talked about being Filipino) to male privilege (not only did he acknowledge having it, he also provided insightful commentary on how he tried to minimize its harmful effects). Andy was as sweet and thoughtful as his OKC messages had suggested. Talking to him was practically effortless. There was no (sexual/romantic) chemistry as far as I could tell, but I totally wanted to be his friend. I hope that it showed. I was never someone who had been good at making friends easily, but maybe tonight I would finally make a decent first impression. 

andy2

After the appropriate amount of conversation had ensued, Andy suggested we go to a different bar. I told him I had paid the cover fee and hadn’t realized it was optional. Thankfully, he was willing to stick around for the show and paid the bouncer. We moved to the lounge where some kind of punk/screamo duo started playing. They were decent, except they kept making unfunny, shitty jokes in between songs. The main vocalist was really hot, but sadly he had a girlfriend, who was basically the only other person in the audience besides us (and yes, the fact that I was checking out one of the band members while on an alleged date speaks volumes about my interest–or lack thereof–in Andy).

This really isn’t bad at all, I thought. Now that I’ve…friendcasted Andy there’s absolutely no pressure or stress in coming off as sexually/romantically desirable to him, and no reason at all to freak out. I should do this more often!

Over the loud music, I yelled at/asked Andy about his girlfriend, to show him I was totally cool with him having one and that I wasn’t trying to win him over with my imaginary feminine wiles or anything. They had been together for over a year, he told me. She was the one who suggested that they try being in an open relationship. I briefly wondered about this girl I would probably never meet. Was she also a cutesy petite Asian chick? (Although I would like to clarify and say that I’m more of a pseudo-cutesy scrawny Asian chick with a lot of grit and stuff. BIG difference, okay.)

The band stopped playing, or maybe we grew tired of hearing them. Either way, we ended up outside.

“You want to walk around or go to another bar?” Andy asked.

“Actually…I’m pretty tired,” I said. “I think I’m gonna take BART home.”

“I can give you a ride,” he offered.

Well, since he’s offering… “Actually…can you drop me off at the Coliseum station? That’s where I parked my car.”

He agreed. We got in his car, talked a little more. Nothing too heavy, since we had gotten most of that out of the way. I started wondering how Andy felt about me. Could he tell I had friendcasted him? Had he friendcasted me too? Or had he found my awkward blabbering somehow charming and sexually appealing and was waiting to make a move?

I found out soon enough after he dropped me off: the answer was none of the above. I was the one who had initiated a hug, thanked him for the ride, and cheerily told him to add me on Facebook. Andy smiled and nodded, but he never did.

I mentally retraced my steps. What had gone wrong? Maybe he wasn’t looking for a friend. Or maybe I wasn’t friendship material to him. But why? I had been way more friendly to him than almost any other dude I had gone on a date with!

Or had I? I thought harder. Okay, so maybe a couple of times throughout that night, Andy had expressed interest in doing other things with me, and in hanging out with me for a longer period of time, and maybe I had politely declined or outright rejected each suggestion he made that would result in us spending even more time together than was necessary, but…did that really make me a disinterested and somewhat tactless bitch?

Well, duh Learkana.

Goddamnit. I had friendzoned Andy, but he had strangerzoned me. And I had wholeheartedly deserved it–confirming that not only was I terrible at dating, I was also still terrible at making friends.

Oh, well. Time to get a cat. (Or five.)

tl;dr Boy messages girl, girl and boy meet up at a bar, girl wants to be friends, boy does not want to be anything, girl and boy never see or hear from each other again

2

OKBye Story #13: When Awkward Met Awkward

Doesn’t dating a white guy mean betraying my sociopolitical values as an intersectional feminist?

A couple of years ago, I posed this question to my ethnic studies professor. She said, “Well, dating men of color isn’t any better. You still have to deal with the gender aspect of it, which is fucked. If you really want to be political about dating, you would only date Asian women.”

“Oh.” I didn’t have the guts to be that radical. I had no burning desire to veer from the boring, normalized path of heterosexuality, so I decided that having a white guy as a boyfriend wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, if it happened.

So when Colin (name changed to protect the oblivious) messaged me on that arbitrary day at the end of last September, I was excited. Sure, his profile was kind of boring in a white dude way (carefully constructed sentences devoid of emotion or personality, painfully specific lists of obscure music and books, shitty “most private thing I’m willing to admit,” etc.), but he looked cute and dressed well and also, we had a high match percentage! (I don’t understand myself. I really don’t.)

And the message itself! A first message meant everything to me. I usually ignored generic greetings (“hey how’s it going”), negging (“you seem like you’re high maintenance”), unoriginal compliments (“I love your smile :)”), long rambling paragraphs that tried too hard to impress (“I noticed in your profile that you blah blah blah which is so cool because I blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”), and of course, downright creepy messages (“I’m stalking you via my astral body” –actual thing written to me). However good a dude may have looked in his pictures, and however witty he may have sounded in his profile, it’s what he wrote to me that was the deciding factor to whether I responded.

Anyway, I’m probably building this up to be way better than it is, but here is Colin’s first message to me:

RandomDude13 Man, the implications of “liking” someone’s profile are a total mystery to me. Actually there is nothing about OKC sociology that I feel I even vaguely understand. That’s why when I read someone’s profile and they seem cool/interesting/reasonable, I immediately message them the first fucking thing that comes into my head before I can start overthinking it.

I don’t get a lot of return responses.

Hi.

Sent 9/27/2014

Colin’s message was honest and endearing–in an awkward, neurotic, self-deprecating sort of way. (Now I’m realizing I liked the message because it reminded me of me. Such a narcissist.) Regardless, I was immediately compelled to respond.

But not before my friend Elizabeth texted me, “Hey! Did RandomDude13 message you on OKC?”

Wait, what the hell? How would my friend in real life know about an online stranger who had just messaged me? Unless she had used her own OKC account to…oh no. Oh no. OH NO.

I texted Elizabeth something to the effect of, “OMG PLEASE TELL ME YOU DID NOT TELL HIM TO MESSAGE ME!!!111”

To which she responded with something like, “I did! He came up in my matches and I thought he would be perfect for you because he has an English degree like you and mentions gender in his profile!”

To which I texted something like, “OMGOMGOMG THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING I HATE YOU WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU SAY TO HIM UGH”

To which she responded: “I just gave him your username and told him to message you, kbye. Talk to him!!”

This bitchhh. What kind of person tries to play matchmaker on a matchmaking site? The kind of person who would do a jogathan with me in high school while asking every boy who overlapped us if he wanted my hand in marriage, that’s who. (Yes, that happened. And obviously, all I got out of that was blank stares and humiliation. Thanks Elizabeth.)

In about an hour or so I got over the weirdness of it all and replied to Colin.

CrumpleHSnorkack Hahaha. Hi! Yeah that’s pretty much my understanding of this site, too. Also my friend is such a busybody lol

Sent 9/27/2014

Okay, not very witty, but probably one of the more friendlier responses I’ve given to a guy.

The conversation continued:

CrumpleHSnorkack Did you get your degree in English or did she just make that up? 

RandomDude13 Yeah that’s the first time someone’s ever messaged me telling me to message someone else. So new experiences I guess.

I did actually get a degree in English, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of what she said was true. Were you an English major also? 

CrumpleHSnorkack All she said was that we would probably get along and have a half-decent conversation, lol. Ah, I see it on  your profile now. Yep, English major too, with a creative writing emphasis. Where’d you go to school? 

RandomDude13 San Jose State University, where I was, er, an English major with a creative writing emphasis. There was no straight creative writing major. You’re not about to tell me you also went to SJSU, right? Because I have a terrible fear of coincidences. 

colin1

The conversation went on. And on. And on. And on. I found myself genuinely enjoying talking to Colin. He was silly and witty and smart, plus he seemed to be aware of his white male privilege (this I noted after some sporadic interrogation). Most importantly, he messaged me just as quickly as I messaged him, which indicated he actually took an interest in getting to know me and what I had to say. I soon got it into my head that having my friend play Cupid on OKCupid was the best idea ever.

Such a naive fool I was.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

At some point, I asked Colin for his number, and we started texting nonstop. We talked about how awkward we were, and left each other awkward voicemails just for the hell of it. (I was amused by how much he sounded like a 1920s newsie.) We talked about gender roles. I suggested we meet up with him wearing a skirt and me wearing a tie, but he declined, not because of some notion of masculinity he personally wanted to uphold, but because he feared being harassed publicly by femmephobic strangers (which was a valid concern). We talked about the highs and lows of our nonprofit administration jobs: he worked at some organization in SF that did stats on workplace safety, and I was pushing paper for the anti-trafficking cause in Oakland. (Still doing that, but whatever.) I started to really like him.

However, I knew that liking him solely based on the text messages we were exchanging was stupid, and unfortunately, I knew this from past experience. So a few weeks into our, uh, textship, I pushed for us to meet in person. He agreed, both of us knowing (and articulating to the other) that we were expecting the worst, but that was okay and also weirdly reassuring.

Colin and I decided to get drinks at a bar in downtown that one of us had stumbled across on Yelp and the other had deemed acceptable. (Clearly, neither of us were Oakland natives, nor people who went out much.)

In person, he not only sounded like a 1920s newsie, he also looked like a 1920s newsie, with his little cap and fancy vest and dress shoes. Not that I minded. I was more bothered by how skinny he was, like I could easily break him if I wanted. (As mentioned in previous stories, I have a thing about guys being just as scrawny/even scrawnier than me. Not a dealbreaker necessarily but definitely a turnoff.) But of course, I wasn’t going to body shame him right then and there, I’m not that much of an asshole, okay. We stiffly hugged each other and went inside.

The bar wasn’t too crowded, which was nice because we didn’t have too much trouble hearing ourselves talk. What wasn’t as nice was the spurts of conversation that would trail off into silence. It was just as we had expected/verbalized to each other: in person interaction was weird and uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. What was once a wavering ellipsis on my iPhone was now a pair of eyes staring intently at me.

colin2

I decided we needed a distraction from ourselves, and suggested we play “Never Have I Ever.”

Colin was down to play. The game ended up running for at least a couple of hours. I don’t remember much of what was said. I vaguely recall starting out with cheap shots: “Never have I ever had a dick. Never have I ever gone to a coed college. Never have I ever had white privilege.”

I was on my third drink and regretting it. The nausea was already kicking in. (Ugh. I’m such a fucking lightweight. Also possibly allergic to alcohol.) I coaxed Colin into drinking some of my beer so it wouldn’t go to waste, but he was a lightweight too and said he couldn’t finish it. One of us suggested we take a walk. One of us said yes. We both got up and left the warmth of the bar for the brisk night air.

We ended up walking along Lake Merritt. In my slightly tipsy state, I felt completely comfortable with Colin. At some point we took a break, sat down and looked at each other.

“This is very awkward,” he said suddenly.

“Really?” I said back. “Why? I feel totally fine.”

“I don’t know.” His brow was crinkled.

I wondered if it was because he was feeling some sexual tension I wasn’t. I decided (in alignment with my better judgment for once) that I wouldn’t bring it up. Instead, I suggested we walk back.

He ended up walking me to my car. I think we probably did the awkward hug thing again. As I got into my car, he bowed and left. I laughed aloud. Did this motherfucker just bow to me? (He mentioned he would do it through text for reasons I can’t remember.)

I drove home, not sure how I felt about him, or how things were unfolding.

We resumed texting and suddenly it felt like nothing had changed from before we met. As if our first date was just a bump in the road and now we were back to cruising along, using our English degrees to crack grammatically correct, rhetorical jokes and texting each other strings of emojis for the other to interpret (of course, I was the one who got him hooked on emojis).

I told him about getting a short story of mine published in an anthology. He actually bought a copy of it and read my story, which I hadn’t anticipated. I texted him that this was awkward. He texted does that mean I didn’t want to know what he thought of it. I texted ugh ok what did you think of it. He texted me the kind of unintentionally condescending review that of course a white dude with an English degree would give. Said he enjoyed it for the most part, appreciated the biblical pastiche, there was just that one thing that was lacking, but there were a few other things that compensated for it, blah blah blah. Something pretentious like that.

Out of pettiness and spite, I demanded to see an excerpt of his writing. He complied and emailed me a few pages of his unpublished superhero novel. It wasn’t very good, I thought with a sort of sick and twisted triumph. It was a bunch of fancy words stacked on top of each other like cardboard boxes with nothing inside them. The characters all had the voice of an old white dude. It was boring. It was mediocre. It was pointless.

I didn’t say any of that. (Again, I’m not a total asshole, just maybe like 3/4ths of an asshole.) I made a few vague, intentionally condescending comments and left it at that.

Well, mostly. This was just one example of what also became of great concern to me: his well-to-do white maleness. (An issue that also came up in OKBye Story #7: He’s All That.)  While I liked talking to Colin, I felt like I could only really show one side of me when I interacted with him: the whitewashed side. The truth was, I didn’t speak in perfect Standard American English all the goddamn time. I wasn’t always pseudo-witty and composed. And I would rather shake my ass to Beyonce in the club than go to the concert of some obscure indie band just to passively nod my head along. More importantly, I couldn’t imagine him meeting my family or me meeting his friends. Wasn’t that a bad sign?

Well, it’s too soon to tell, I rationalized. We had only met up once, after all. So I asked him if he wanted to get boba with me. (In Berkeley. No way was I taking him to my favorite place in Oakland.) Colin said sure, and admitted he had never tried boba before. Big surprise.

We met up at Sweetheart Cafe on a late Saturday afternoon, ordered separately, and sat down at a table together. I watched him very closely as he was about to take a sip of his first ever boba tea drink.

“You seem very intense about this,” he said, raising his eyebrows.

“I am. Drink it,” I ordered.

He took a sip. “This is pretty good.”

I suggested we walk around so we wouldn’t have to sit and stare at each other’s faces. Walking made things a little less awkward, but not really. I couldn’t help but be hyperaware of how we looked: an Asian female with a white male, your typical Berkeley interracial couple. Ugh.

We aimlessly chattered as we walked. Or well, we tried to. More lapses into silence.

colin3

When I pressed him to speak on the subject of racism, he said he would rather not talk about it at the moment.

Damn these dudes and their refusal to talk about social justice issues! I thought, annoyed.

Well, you are on a date, another voice inside my head countered. Social justice is important and all, but you can’t deny it’s a boner shrinking topic.

Okay whatever.

I asked Colin what he had thought about the boba itself. He said it was just okay.

I decided this date was not going well.

To make matters worse, we had somehow veered towards talking about how awkward we were being and how we seemed to have run out of things to say to each other. (Which kind of happened in OKBye Story #12: Bitch in Berkeley, but hey, this time it wasn’t just me. For some reason, I still hadn’t gotten it into my head that being meta was pretty much ruining everything.)

I did try to salvage the situation by going on a tangent about how chemistry wasn’t that important and that it was a gradual process, getting comfortable with someone you didn’t know very well.  He listened and said he agreed. But did he really believe in what I was saying? Did I believe in what I was saying? Looking back, it seemed we were just trying to convince ourselves of something that wasn’t true–a misguided attempt to sidestep the inevitable.

I offered to walk Colin to his car this time. As we waited at the curb for the walk sign to flash, I blurted out, “So…what’s happening? Are we going to never see each other again or…?”

“Is that what you want?” he asked.

“Well, it’s not that.” I backtracked. “It’s just…I’ve never gone on more than two dates with a guy.”

“So history is not on our side.” He considered this. “Well, I’d like to see you again. Because I like you.” He looked straight at me as he said this.

“Oh. Okay,” I mumbled. (Yes, that was my shitty response.)

The walk signal lit up and we crossed the street. When we reached the parking garage where his car was, we did an awkward hug thing again. My face ended up getting crushed into his shoulder.

“Quit being so tall,” I mumbled some more, and left.

At home, I turned his words over in my mind: I like you. He was only the second guy to ever say that to me.  (The first one being some boy in Kentucky who fell in love with the sight of me passed out on his couch at 5am wearing a shirt that read “vagina” across the front. But I digress.)

I like you. It’s kind of a brave thing to say in this fucked up millenial dating world. I admired Colin for saying it. I was flattered that he said it. What I should have said in return was, “I like you too.” But I didn’t say that. Why didn’t I say that?

Because I didn’t really know if I actually liked him. Ugh.

Why was this always happening? I was in a constant state of uncertainty when it came to these dudes. Not once have I ever thought, yes. This is it. This is exactly it. This is what I want. I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me.

The fact that I enjoyed texting Colin much more than I enjoyed his actual company also still bothered me. I suspected it had to do with Colin being more awkward in person than I was, which had never happened to me before–usually I took first place in social ineptitude. I guess I should have empathized, but c’mon! We couldn’t bond over awkwardness forever. Besides, he was older than me! He supposedly had actual romantic and sexual experience! What the hell was he doing, acting all nervous and perplexed and uncomfortable around me?

It’s only been two dates, I reminded myself. Things would get better. I hoped.

We kept texting. Colin invited me to see a play with him. I declined. It didn’t sounded interesting to me, and as shitty as it sounds, I guess I didn’t like him enough to pretend to take interest.

Around this time, a lot of racial unrest was brewing, on- and offline. Of course, racial unrest is always happening, but it seems to hit its peak during the holiday season. There were multiple demonstrations in the streets of Oakland and the larger Bay Area, in protest of police brutality and the systemic killing of black people. (I joined in on one, only to later regret it when I found out it had been organized by a shady cultlike socialist group who had a different agenda in mind. Oops. Social justice faux pas. But I digress.)

The racially charged atmosphere got me thinking about the root cause of it: white supremacy. I felt angry, sad, frustrated, and helpless, trying to figure out what part I could play that would have any meaningful impact on the destruction of racism as a system of oppression. And while it may sound unfair, thinking about these things made me resent Colin and his whiteness. Sure, he acknowledged that racism existed, would never call someone the N word, probably never voted Republican–in other words, met the basic requirements of human decency. And obviously, Colin wasn’t personally at fault for institutional racism. But what was he doing with his white privilege, other than exercising it to his own advantage 24/7?

I bet his best friends were all white. I bet the subject of racism never came up, except at awkward Thanksgiving family dinners when his bigoted uncle or whoever came over and said racist shit and Colin wouldn’t say anything because he’s too passive and non-confrontational. I bet he was going to live all 26 years and counting of his life breezing by on his white privilege, blissfully complicit and only socially aware through a lens of detached self-interest. In the meantime, black people were dying in the streets.

colin4

These internal struggles caused me to bring up a question I had chosen to stifle the first time I looked through his OKC profile. One of the questions he answered concerned race. I think it went something like, “Is it okay to prefer dating your own race?”

He had answered yes, with the explanation that “positive bias” (e.g. “I prefer to date Caucasians [his word choice, not mine]”) is okay, whereas “negative bias” (e.g., “I do not want to date black people”) is not okay.

It sounded a lot like fancy white people talk excusing white people fuckery to me, but I let it slide initially because I figured he was just being an optimist who happened to be white. Now with the threat of white supremacy lingering on my mind, I texted him about the elephant in the iMessage thread: racism.

The conversation did not go very well.

I can’t recall the exact words that were said, but our little chat went something like this:

Me: Hey, this is random but I remember you answering a question about racial dating preferences on OKC. You said positive bias is okay but not negative…idk can you clarify that for me?

Him: Hmm, I don’t remember exactly how I answered but yes, I would say that having a preference isn’t an issue so as long as someone isn’t excluding a particular race.

Me: Uhhh well I would say having a racial preference is racist. Like, I would understand for people of color in terms of wanting to preserve their culture/heritage as racial minorities, but like for white people to prefer other white people…that’s pretty white supremacist

Him: Well, statistically speaking, most people date within their race. I would not assume someone is racist simply because they prefer dating someone within their own race. Often, this isn’t something conscious.  And people usually go with what they are familiar with.

Me: Well it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. People can be racist and also want to date who feels familiar.

Him: I didn’t say it was mutually exclusive.

Me: Well whatever, you implied it. I’m just saying, everyone is racist.

Him: I refuse to automatically assume everyone is racist by default, that is completely ridiculous.

Me: Well that’s easy for you to say, you’re a white dude

Him: I don’t think continuing this discussion is productive. Good night.

I didn’t respond. I was too pissed at his pretentious white pseudo-progressive rebuttals.

A couple of days passed. A week. Several weeks. I didn’t hear from Colin again. I realized after the first week I would never hear from or see him again, and that I was perfectly okay with that.

What a waste of time, I thought. Oh well. At least I got a book sale out of it.

Once unsure, I now knew for certain: Colin was not what I was looking for.

He was an ideal I had clung to in the past: a nerdy white boy I could exchange witty banter and affirm my normalcy with. But Colin was my last straw on the matter: I could never seriously be with a white guy. On a fundamental level, he would never understand me as a woman of color, especially as a socially aware woman of color who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. His privilege would always get in between us.

So fuck what my ethnic studies professor said: I couldn’t stop being straight, but I could certainly stop seeing white dudes. No more white dudes for this raging intersectional feminist of color!

Ah, shit.

My dating pool just got a lot smaller.

tl;dr Boy messages girl because girl’s friend told him to, girl and boy have an incredibly drawn out grammatically correct emoji-filled textship, girl and boy meet and it’s awkward, girl and boy keep texting each other, girl and boy meet again and it’s still awkward, girl gets fed up with white supremacy and takes it out on boy, girl and boy never see or text each other again

2

OKBye Story #12: Bitch in Berkeley

My retelling of previous OKCupid dates might make it sound like I was done with white boys. But I wasn’t done with them just yet.

What’s with this fixation on white boys anyway, you might be wondering. Well, living in a white supremacist world helps a lot, quite frankly.

And to be further honest, I don’t think I cared for white boys much until I got to high school. Probably because I didn’t see very many of them. Once I was a teenager, however, those messages from the media about eurocentric beauty standards started sinking in, reinforced by seeing a plethora of cute white boys at my school. It was ugly and awful internalized racism, of course, but it didn’t really register as such at the time. Ironically, white boys were a foreign species to me. Except for my next door neighbors, I knew little of the ways of my white male peers, except for what I saw on TV. So perhaps that was the appeal for me: a nice and wholesome, good looking white boy whom I could project all my heteronormative, vanilla fantasies onto. (I know, I make myself want to vomit.)

Online dating had unfortunately become an entry point into better understanding the white male as an identity, an identity deeply entrenched in privilege and entitlement. The more I interacted with white dudes, the more I wondered why I was interacting with them to begin with. I guess I didn’t want to come off as “racist.” (Social Justice 101: you cannot be racist against a people who benefit from structural racism, aka white people.) But if a guy was cute, kind, sociopolitically aware, laughed at my jokes and just so happened to be white, would I really hold his race against him?

Well, no, I grudgingly admitted. I just had to really make sure that this elusive white boy was actually sociopolitically aware though.

Which was why when a seemingly cute, kind, sociopolitically aware white boy messaged me, I decided to respond.

connor1

Our conversation went exactly like this:

RandomDude12 Hey, just wanted to say that I found your profile entertaining to read. What do you find fun about writing an OKC profile? Most people seem to hate it. Sent 9/13/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack I think the fun is in being able to create an impression of myself that isn’t totally restricted by standard social norms. I’ve noticed other people (friends included) who treat their profiles like a resume and write to impress, but who am I trying to impress on here, really? I figure if I’m going to go on and on about myself I might as well try to make it kind of entertaining, even if I’m the only one being entertained.

Also I’m a writer and a social media narcissist so the OKC profile is both a good exercise in character development and an excuse to talk about myself without actually talking to anyone about myself.

Do you hate it? Sent from the OkCupid app  9/14/2014

RandomDude12 I don’t hate it. It stresses me out, but it’s an interesting challenge. I tend to post very little on social media, but since OKC doesn’t really work that way, it gives me an opportunity to go out of my comfort zone and try to differentiate myself from the hordes of other users. It’s a balance, I suppose, of writing to impress (shameful, I know), and trying to express the unfiltered me.

I find exchanging messages to be trickier, since I’m not only attempting to express myself, but also trying to emulate conversation in the absence of social cues. So to follow up on that, would you be interested in meeting up and continuing this conversation over coffee, maybe this Thursday? Sent 9/14/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Okay maybe I’m interpreting your invitation too literally, but I don’t drink coffee lol. How bout drinks Sent from the OkCupid app  9/14/2014

RandomDude12 Sounds good! I’m less familiar with drink places in Oakland, how does Jupiter in Berkeley sound? Say at 6:00? Sent 9/14/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Okie dokie. See you then! Sent from the OkCupid app  9/15/2014

RandomDude12 Cool, see you Thursday! I’m Connor*, by the way. Sent 9/15/2014
CrumpleHSnorkack Cool, I’m Learkana. Sent 9/15/2014

*name changed to hide true identity of generic white guy you are unlikely to successfully cyberstalk even if I had revealed his actual name, which is only slightly less generic than “Connor”–presuming you would even care to cyberstalk him, which you probably don’t, so whatever idk

I headed over straight after work. I ended up being kind of late because traffic was a bitch, trying to find parking was a bitch, and trying to find the damn pub was also a bitch (ugh, fuck Berkeley). Connor seemed pretty nonchalant about it however. In person, he was pretty cute. His voice was a little too squeaky, I noted. (I have this thing about voices. Don’t ask.) We briefly hugged, sat down at the table he had secured for us, ordered our drinks, and commenced with the awkward small talk.

God, what did we talk about? I think we went all over the place. We talked about all the boring stuff: work, family, school, interests. The more alcohol that went in me, the more I was willing to say whatever the fuck came to my mind.

“I really hate awkward pauses,” I told him. “Don’t you hate having pauses in the conversation?”

“I don’t mind them,” Connor said.

“Oh. Well, I just think they’re really awkward.” Thus making it all the more awkward, of course.

I wish I could blame it all on the alcohol, but all I had was a hard cider.

“So…can you define what rape culture is?” I asked. This had been my go-to first date question for a while now. A very straightforward approach to screening dating candidates. A method by which I have separated the decent guys from the rest. A litmus test for sociopolitical awareness and feminism (or a lack thereof).

Which was why I was completely thrown off when Connor pursed his lips and said, “I would rather not.”

“Wait, what?” I said. “Are you serious?”

“I don’t want to talk about rape culture,” he replied.

“But…why?” My mind was spinning. Obviously it’s an awkward subject to bring up on a first date, but it’s totally relevant! And if a guy knows what rape culture is, he’s less likely to be a thoughtless perpetrator of it, right? And if he was a feminist, he would totally be down to talk about it, right? Right??

“I just don’t want to,” he insisted.

I dropped the subject. For now.

We finished our drinks and a waiter came by with the check.

“Wanna split it?” I asked.

He said sure. He put down his card. I pulled out all the cash I had, but was short a couple of bucks. That was when I started counting out change for him.

“You don’t need to do that,” Connor said. “It’s fine.”

Still, I kept pulling out more change from my wallet. For some reason I was fixated on paying him the exact amount I owed him. It took a few minutes of him watching me helplessly as I very meticulously counted out pennies and dimes and nickels before I realized that I was being weird and should stop, immediately. “Uh. I’ll buy you a drink next time if you want,” I said.

He agreed to that. I got up. “I need to use the bathroom,” I announced. “Um. Feel free to leave if you want, I promise I won’t get offended.” Oh my God what the hell was I saying. Truth be told, I was kind of freaking out because this date seemed to be going terribly and I wanted to give him an exit if he needed one.

So I went to the bathroom, came out and couldn’t find him. Oh shit, he really did leave me, I thought. But then I spotted him waiting just outside the venue. Whew.

He asked if I wanted to take a walk and I said sure. We wandered through the streets of downtown Berkeley, talking about dating and relationships. Things quickly went downhill from there–figuratively speaking.connor2

I started ranting about how awful online dating was, and how I would go on dates with guys, make awkward small talk, then never see them again. All my pent up frustrations with being a heteronormative intersectional feminist came pouring out. I told him I was too awkward and neurotic and blunt to be doing this, then apologized for doing this while being awkward and neurotic and blunt. Nothing I said was charming, sweet, or alluring. Everything that came out of my mouth was enough to shrink the boners of the most sexually deviant and easily aroused men, and ward off any guy with even the slightest propensity for romance: just 100% unfiltered, self-sabotaging word vomit.

Connor kept reassuring me that he was having a good time, though, and that he was happy I was being perfectly honest with him. I was not convinced.

“You’re very interesting,” he said.

“Well thank you,” I said, somewhat gratified. “But it’s probably because I’m slightly inebriated right now. Although you did think my profile was interesting and I was sober when I wrote that, so actually I guess I am interesting without alcohol, so thanks.”

I started running out of things to say, so I brought up the subject of rape culture again. “Would you be okay with defining rape culture now?” I asked.

He didn’t seem upset that I asked again, and did a decent job of defining it (uh, don’t remember the decent definition he provided, but I would have definitely remembered if it was shitty).

After walking up and down and around several blocks for the umpteenth time, I offered to walk Connor to his car. On our way there, a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk looked up at us and remarked, “Cute couple.”

Awkwarddddd.

We ended the night with the lighthearted conversation topic of racism (he talked about racist microaggressions experienced by a friend of his). We finally reached the parking garage where his car was. Again, a brief hug. No sparks. My bitter feminist monologue had ensured there was nothing to ignite. Then I walked away as fast as I could before realizing oh fuck I don’t remember where I parked my car fuckkkk.

By the time I got home, it was late and I had already revisited the night a hundred times in my head. Every time I thought back to all the things I said to Connor, I cringed and groaned and facepalmed and probably smacked myself a few times as a reflex. But there was nothing I could do now.

Except apologize, specifically for nagging him about rape culture when he had explicitly stated he didn’t want to talk about it to begin with.

So the next day, I wrote him the following message:

Hey! I just want to apologize for being so pushy about talking about rape culture when you were clearly uncomfortable with it. I can be a pushy person in general but that’s no excuse. I usually bring up the topic as a way of screening out dudes who are ignorant/apathetic/disinterested in feminist issues, but I guess I’ve never really thought about other reasons why someone wouldn’t want to discuss it (aside from general awkwardness). So yeah, sorry for being a jackass.

To my relief, he responded soon after:

Hey, I totally get that if there’s a dealbreaker issue, you’d want to know as soon as possible. Honestly, I found it refreshing to have a completely honest conversation with someone, it made me happy. So you shouldn’t focus on the negative (says the eternal optimist).

Evidently our conversation didn’t make him that happy, because I never heard from him again.

Not that I was surprised or anything.

This may have been one of the worst dates I’ve been on. And the worst part of it is, ~I~ was the reason it was one of the worst dates I’ve been on. I wondered if Connor had secretly thought the same thing.

Then I wondered, is it possible to be even worse at dating than you were to begin with?

tl;dr Boy messages girl, girl and boy meet for drinks, girl word vomits all over boy, girl and boy never see each other again

0

OKBye Story #11: Disinterest Actually

I was getting back into the swing of online dating. It seemed to me that I wasn’t getting as many messages like I had with my older account. I suspected that was because I looked like an Asian prepubescent Daniel Radcliffe with my short hair. This, combined with the white-dudes-suck framing of my profile, probably made me less desirable to the hordes of sexually repressed nerdy white guys who inundated the OKCupid dating cesspool. But maybe it was just my imagination. Either way, the pickings slimmed with each day.

At the start of my new account however, I had several dudes flooding my inbox, one of whom appeared to be fairly nerdy and cute and not white, all very desirable qualities. Plus, we had a high match percentage! (For some reason I was STILL buying into this idea that match percentages actually mattered.) Let’s call this dude… Peter.

peter1

Our conversation went exactly like this:

RandomDude11 What’s your favorite karaoke song?
Sent from the OkCupid app 7/31/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass.” Does this mean you karaoke? 😀
Sent 7/31/2014

RandomDude11 Nice! I’ve been known to rock a karaoke mic every once in a while. Not since I moved to sf though 😦 I can do a mean rendition of bohemian rhapsody tho
Sent from the OkCupid app 7/31/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Coolcoolcool

How long have you been in the Bay?
Sent 7/31/2014

RandomDude11 Just over two months. I just graduated from college in Illinois, and I’ve moved out here for a job. So I guess I’m an adult now?

Are you from the Bay Area originally?
Sent from the OkCupid app 7/31/2014

CrumpleHSnorkack Congrats! How was Illinois?

Nope, I’m from Modesto. It’s in the Central Valley of CA–closer to Stockton and Merced. I moved to the Bay for school and decided to stick around, since Modesto sucks.
Sent 7/31/2014

RandomDude11 I love Illinois! I was also born and raised there (in the central part with all the corn fields) so I might be a bit biased though. I got kind of sick of it towards the end though, so I decided to move as far away as I could.

And thanks for the quick CA geography lesson. I still don’t know anything about this state…

Btw I just noticed your username. Always happy to see an HP reference 😀
Sent from the OkCupid app 7/31/2014

I’ll spare you the rest of the boring details.

After a few more messages were exchanged, Peter surmised we had filled our small talk quota and proceeded to pop the online dating question: “Hey I was wondering if you wanted to grab dinner this Thursday?”

Dinner sounded like a terrible first date idea to me. Sure, I had done a first date dinner before (see OKBye Story #2: Kissing in Cars with Boys), but I was lucky in that the dude had arrived super late, so it wasn’t so much us having dinner than me simply watching him eat a burrito. For whatever reason, I felt extremely self-conscious of eating in front of strangers. I hated navigating the whole eating-while-talking thing. I felt stupid trying to talk with my mouth full. I felt stupid waiting to talk until my mouth was no longer full. It was just anxiety-inducing all around. There was also the fear that I would not like my date at all upon first meeting him. Having a first date dinner would likely require that I suffer an entire meal with someone I already knew from the get-go I wasn’t interested in. It wasn’t like having drinks at a bar, where I could simply chug my beer and make a quick escape. No, having dinner was a legit first date concern.

However, I didn’t want to say all of this to Peter, because I would sound slightly crazy and I knew that I was supposed to postpone revealing my crazy until we met in person (at the very least). So I pretended to be totally down with having dinner on the first date even though in my mind it was probably going to be a disaster.

Due to conflicting schedules, we ended up meeting the following Saturday at a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Oakland. I got there first. I was feeling very cute wearing a turquoise dress with a pair of bold patterned wedges that matched my dangling earrings. I got us a table and stared out the window. A guy was approaching. Oh no. Was that him? He looked way less attractive in person.

Ah, fuck. My petty fears were coming true.

(Yes, I’m shallow. Everyone is shallow, okay?! You think this guy wanted to meet up with me because of my winning personality?? Psh, as if.)

peter2

He joined me at our table. I smiled politely and greeted him, all the while cursing in my head for going against my gut instinct. We hadn’t even ordered yet, and I had already “friendzoned” him.

The “friendzoning” quickly became stranger-zoning after we ordered our food and commenced an especially uncomfortable segment of the evening: making small talk with no food or alcohol to distract us from each other. We jerkily changed topics, trying to think of interesting things to say and ask. As he recited his family and background information, I realized I was nodding and listening to him like he was a lecturing professor whose class I was never actually going to study for.

Our food arrived. I didn’t really care for my entree, but liked it a lot better than the conversation we were having. I was hoping Peter would at least be sociopolitically aware, but after failing to engage him in a discussion of toxic masculinity as presented in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, I mentally checked myself out of the conversation. As assholish as it sounds, he was such a dull person to me and yes, maybe his unattractiveness was skewing how uninteresting I was making him out to be. That couldn’t be helped. Eventually, I was saying things just to say them. To mitigate the insufferable silence. To wait out the insufferable date.

At last we both surrendered and took the remainder of our food to go. The check came. I tried to put down my card, but he insisted on paying, on reinscribing traditional gender roles, affirming his masculinity, and confirming that this was indeed a date. Ugh.

He offered to walk me to my car, which led to another especially uncomfortable segment of a first date: the goodbye. Would it be a kiss, a hug, or a handshake? Would we make plans for next time or make excuses? I didn’t wait to find out. “Nice meeting you!” I said over my shoulder, not even bothering to stop to have an actual face-to-face chat.

“It was nice meeting you too,” he said, standing there and watching me as I immediately got into my car and drove off.

Well, at least he had gotten the hint. There was no follow-up text.

tl;dr Boy messages girl, boy asks girl out to dinner, girl is paranoid about dinner being a terrible first date but ignores her intuition, girl and boy have dinner and it is in fact a terrible first date and girl wishes she hadn’t ignored her intuition, girl and boy never see each other again