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Tinderp Tale #7: Feminist By Convenience

It was the start of 2016, and I was still a premature spinster virgin. Some days it was a struggle; other days, a nonchalant passing thought. Love of a romantic or sexual nature was becoming a shrinking possibility in my mind. At this point, I just really hoped I would get laid, preferably before I turned 25 in August. (Being a 24-year-old virgin was bearable in my eyes. Being a 25-year-old virgin, however, was completely intolerable and had to be prevented at all costs.)

I was sporadically using Tinder at this time, but hadn’t been on a date with anyone in months. It seemed to take much more effort than it used to. Where did all the thirsty dudes go? I used to have drawn-out conversations with guys I matched up with that would result in an ask to drinks, but now I was getting a lot of matches who were content with empty chatboxes. Was it because I wasn’t taking Tinder as seriously as when I had first started out? (Which to be honest wasn’t all that seriously, because c’mon, it’s fucking Tinder.) Was it because I was much more cynical and dysfunctional with my dating approach, and it showed? How could that be if these passive motherfuckers weren’t talking to me?

Oh, yeah. It probably had something to do with one of my profile pictures, which was a fairly detailed dating resume I had written after a spontaneous burst of inspiration:

12030307_10206799816330183_1801416795006048513_o

I mean, it’s pretty entertaining, right? Who needs wholesome and well-adjusted when you can get colorful dysfunction in the guise of jokes? Clearly, I’m dating material!

A part of me questioned my unfailing tendency to cultivate a persona of myself as a brutally honest and pessimistic misandrist in my dating profile. Was it a defense mechanism? Against what? What would it hurt to frame myself in an equally entertaining but more positive light? The other parts of me told that part to shut the fuck up, I can do whatever I want.

Anyway, in spite of my strategically interesting profile, dudes weren’t biting, which meant I had to start taking the initiative again. I decided to message one of my most recent matches because he seemed pretty cool (also possibly hot, but his photos were kind of shitty UGH get it together, dudes on the dating interwebz).


You matched with Minh* on 1/14/16

Me

Hey it’s been a week and I figure the sensible thing to do is message you for no apparent reason at 3am when you are probably asleep

*name changed to protect the clueless


Surprisingly enough, he responded the next day.


Minh

Darn you missed it by like 30 mins. I think I slept at 0230. Someone Had a ratchet Friday night?


Me

If by ratchet you mean eating pasta in bed and crying as I’m rewatching the hunger games then yes


Minh

That’s next level ratchet. When a ratchet graduates.


I enjoyed messaging with Minh. He didn’t ask any of the boring questions about where I worked, or what I liked to do for fun. We just said stupid shit to each other and occasionally flirted. He complimented me on my smile. I complimented him on his face.


Minh

My face thanks you

So do you use your online dating experience to fuel your blog? I should add fuel to that creative process.


OH NO.

OH NO NO NO NO NO NO.

HE READ MY BLOG?!

AHHHHHHHHH FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!!!??!!??!!11111

Okay, you’re probably wondering why I would be shocked and horrified by this when my blog is public domain and I’ve purposefully promoted it across multiple social media platforms. It’s my “hiding in plain sight” strategy: I operate under the assumption that most people, especially those who have little to no emotional investment in my creativity, will find my semi-shameless social media plugs annoying and disregard every blog-related post or link I share. I figured random dudes from the Internet in particular would be too lazy and disinterested to look at this blog, which had proven true so far–no one I’ve been on a date with at this point had ever made mention of it.


Me

Oh fuck, you read my blog *smiley emoji with sweatdrop*

Haha well yes I’ve been documenting past online dating experiences but only when things didn’t work out.* Which has been a recurring theme in my dating life *contemplative face emoji*

*To clarify, I’m defining “things didn’t work out” very specifically. Obviously, all connections I make will most likely not work out in a literal sense, unless I end up married to someone until death do us part, which is improbable even for someone way less cynical, less man-hating, and less isolated than me. What I meant is, if I go on a few dates with someone and it goes nowhere, I will write about that. If it ends up becoming a meaningful and ongoing relationship of some kind regardless if it ends after just three months or a year, I won’t write about it. (I mean, I will probably write about that person in some manner, but it won’t take the form of a lengthy and detailed prose narrative accompanied by crudely drawn pictures of stick figures and sperm.)


Minh

Haha you and me both. I haven’t read it, but I inferred it in your dating resume.

Yea dating is exhausting :/


Me

Lol oh right. Yeah idk why we subject ourselves to this torture

I mean I guess in hopes of falling in love or getting laid or whatever


Minh

I guess it’s nature sprinkled in with some cultural entitlement here and there. [I have no idea what he meant by this]

With that said, I would be grateful to see you’re [sic] sarcasm and quick wit in person 🙂


Me

Lol oh right.

I don’t think my wit is as quick in person lol but yeah, let’s meet up


tinderp 7.1

We made weeknight plans to get coffee at Philz in Berkeley, his home turf. In person, Minh was shorter and stockier than expected, and not as cute as I’d hoped. Still, I was determined to be open-minded. I was excited to learn that he was part Cambodian. “You can call me by my real name, Leh!-keh-nah,” I told him as we walked over to the coffee shop.

“Okay, Lahgena,” he said, completely butchering the actual pronunciation of my name.

I cringed. “Uh. Never mind. Just call me Learkana.” It became even more apparent as we made small talk that he hadn’t been raised Cambodian and spoke zero Khmer, which was somewhat disappointing, but I wasn’t going to count it against him.

After getting our caffeinated drinks, we grabbed a table upstairs. It felt comfortable and easy, conversing with Minh. He chatted about TV shows, working as a nurse at a psych ward, and having an allegedly sarcastic sense of humor (allegedly because I saw no proof of it and at one point wondered if he knew what sarcasm meant). I smiled and nodded and looked at him and tried really hard to find him attractive. It was kind of working. Wasn’t it?

I soon became painfully aware that we were the only ones engaged in animated conversation in the cafe. Everyone else was studying. Minh didn’t seem to notice or care how loud and obnoxious he sounded. His dude-bro voice droned on, penetrating the silence like some oblivious phallic object. I was embarrassed. I also felt old as fuck, sitting in the middle of all these college students. “Can we go somewhere else?” I asked. “This place is too quiet and I feel kinda awkward.”

“Okay, sure,” he said. We left the cafe and walked a few blocks over to a tea house. Minh led me to the patio in the back, where we sat on some steps to talk some more. I don’t quite remember how the patio looked, but it was pretty fancy and almost romantic, except I felt absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, it seemed Minh could tell. He kept making “jokes” about the date going badly and my lack of interest in him, but I would just smile and say nothing in response, and that probably only served to confirm his suspicions. I felt trapped in some ways. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t like him, but I couldn’t bring myself to express interest outside of simply being there with him. I also didn’t know how to flirt in person, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, even if I had known how. At this point I usually would have made up some excuse about being tired and left already. But I didn’t want to call it quits this time. I was sick of giving up so easily. I needed this to work, because I couldn’t bear the thought of this being the first of yet another long and tedious string of first dates with guys I would never see or hear from again.

So the date dragged on. We were running out of things to talk about. At one point, Minh asked me what I was going to write about for this date.

“Oh. I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t really think about it until afterwards.” I didn’t want to tell him that this date was probably going to be pretty boring to write about.

We somehow ended up sitting at a table outside of a restaurant we weren’t planning on entering. Minh was looking at me, trying to engage me in a discussion about past dating experiences. I was avoiding his eyes. I hated this conversation. I hated it because reliving my failures was no longer fun for me and talking to him was no longer comfortable or easy.  I suddenly felt anxious, panicked. I didn’t know what to say to him. We had said all the things that needed to be said. I was so bad at this. “I’m really bad at this,” I said out loud. “Sorry. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m sober. I usually drink on first dates to make things less awkward. I know, it sounds bad.”

“We can go to a bar if you want to,” he said. “I don’t mind.”

“No, that’s okay,” I said quickly. “I don’t want to depend on alcohol.” I was such a dumbass, trying to take the high and sober road. We should have gone straight to the nearest bar to get shitfaced drunk so we could move past the inability to verbally connect and sloppily make out in some corner. Instead we awkwardly sat outside until he suggested we get pho for dinner and I said sure.

He drove us to a cute little Vietnamese place that was mostly empty. “Is this the worst date you’ve been on?” he asked in what I was certain was only a half-joking manner.

“No, I’ve been on worse,” I reassured him. I recounted to him the story of the torturous hike I went on with someone from OKCupid. “He kept making these dumb jokes that weren’t funny at all,” I said. “It was awful.”

“So my jokes are better,” he said lightly.

“Haha, yeah,” I lied. We sat down and ordered. He finished his pho in no time; I gulped down a few noodles. I wasn’t really hungry. I agreed to dinner because I didn’t want to be the one to say no. I was playing the waiting game, passively sticking out the date in hopes of one spark. It never happened. Conversation had slowed to an agonizing trickle. Looking back, I’m not sure how I lasted so long in awkward first date limbo.

tinderp 7.2b

The check finally came. I asked the server for a container so I could take my three quarters uneaten pho home. Minh put down his card. “I’ll pay for it.”

“Okay,” I said.

“Oh, you’re not going to offer to pay?” he inquired. “So you’re just a feminist when it’s convenient.”

I looked at him. He was smiling, so he was probably joking. Half-joking. A lot of things flashed through my mind in that moment. The fact that I have never expected, suggested, nor insisted a guy pay for me on a date, in contrast to some of my feminist friends who were still invested in chivalry as a consolation prize for systematic sexism.  The fact that I usually paid for myself on these endless dates that never went anywhere. The fact that free food is a tempting offer regardless of gender politics, because I live paycheck to paycheck and being cared for even in small material ways feels nice. The fact that he and I both live in a white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy that primarily operates through capitalism and refusing his payment for my food wasn’t going to help end it, nor should it be a strike against my feminism when fighting for gender equality goes well beyond who pays for dinner.

I didn’t have the mental capacity, time, energy, or will to articulate any of this in a way that was socially acceptable, so I reached for my bag instead. “You want me to pay? I’ll pay.”

“Oh no, that’s okay,” he said, chastened. “I can afford to.”

After Minh paid the bill, we left the restaurant. I stopped in my tracks. “Fuck. I left my pho in there.”

He shrugged. “Oh well.”

His response made me feel worse. I wasn’t sure why.

We got into his car and he dropped me off at the downtown Berkeley BART station. I thanked him for dinner and we said good night to each other. By the time I got home, I was in low spirits. Why was I still terrible at dating? I had wanted to believe I had changed as a person. That I could be optimistic and carefree and open-minded. But when faced with the opportunity, I shut down. Pessimism, anxiety, and judgment overshadowed all thoughts in my mind. I couldn’t hold them at bay.

I decided that even though I was a failure tonight, the very least I could do was reach out to Minh and apologize for being such a lukewarm date.

Me: Ack sorry if that was weird. I’m terrible at social interaction

Minh: No not at all. I think I overwhelmed you

He overwhelmed me? What a weird, condescending thing to say.

Me: With what? Your Berkeley food recommendations? Lol

He never responded. At first I was upset that he wasn’t willing to put in the effort to see things through. It meant I wasn’t worth his time or interest. But then I realized he was only ending our mutual suffering. We weren’t a match in real life. It was so plainly obvious on that first date. I just didn’t want to let it go because I was sad and tired and lonely and didn’t want to get back out there and meet up with another stranger only to have the same anticlimactic situation repeat itself like it had so many times before. But now I had no choice. I was going to die alone, but at the very least I should go out with a bang. That meant more bad and awkward dates. That meant boring dates and exciting dates and hot dates and ugly dates. That meant dates that left me sad and confused and disappointed and also dates that left me hopeful and giggly and nostalgic. I had to keep trying because failing spectacularly is better than failing timidly. Because sitting across from a guy I will never see again is better than sitting at home and wondering what if. Because feeling lonely with someone is sometimes better than feeling lonely alone.

tl;dr Learkana has a dating resume! Learkana is still really bad at dating, like reeeeeeeally bad, but you already knew that! Learkana refuses to give up!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Philz Coffee
Rating: **
Review: Okay I feel kind of bad because I think the awkwardness had to do with the time and location and not really the coffeehouse chain itself. So I’ve thrown in an additional star out of pity and will also be specific and advise anyone trying to plan for a date to NOT meet up at a cafe in Berkeley on a weeknight that is not in the summer. It will likely to be filled with very studious college students who will incidentally make you feel old as fuck even if you only graduated college like 2 years ago (okay fine 2 and a half)

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Dating Cheat Sheet

Smile.
Express your distaste of a remark with a pointed question
instead of a side-eye and a string of profanity.
Be sympathetic. Be kind.
Remind yourself that he does not represent his entire gender.
Remind yourself that cracking unfunny jokes isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker.
(On second thought, it is.)
Administer physical affection as needed.
No, seriously. Lightly touch that arm.
Do it.
Do iiit.
Ugh, never mind. You’re a lost cause.
At least maintain eye contact.
Fuck, you’re just too tired to care.
Refrain from ranting about the white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy.
Refrain from disclosing all your baggage except the cute stuff like “I’m so awkward lol” and “I’m an introvert haha”
Refrain from letting slip that you’re a 25-year-old mess who doesn’t have her shit together and is not sure she ever will
Too late
Damn
On to the next one

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

0

Things I Find Awkward

  1. Working on the 12th floor of a building and having to ride the elevator allllllllllllll the way up in miserable silence with strangers
  2. Running into people I’ve just said goodbye to
  3. Passing by the same people over and over again because okay I was going to leave but then I realized I forgot something and now I have to go back and then leave again but then I realized I was going the wrong way to begin with so I have to pass by them again and it’s like ughhhhh why is my incompetency so glaringly obvious even to random passersby
  4. Recognizing an acquaintance from a distance who is walking from the opposite direction of me but pretending not to recognize them and waiting the appropriate amount of time until I can attempt to nonawkwardly and noncreepily acknowledge them at the precise moment we pass each other (give or take a few seconds)
  5. Recognizing an acquaintance from a distance who is walking from the opposite direction of me and one of us giving a sign of recognition WAY too early so there’s this agonizing stretch of silence as we both are forced to wait until we are within hearing distance of each other to make forced small talk which wouldn’t have been necessary if we had both followed our social cues to begin with
  6. Saying hi to someone who doesn’t see me
  7. Saying hi to someone I thought was saying hi to me but in fact they were saying it to the person(s) behind me, like why did I even think I deserved a friendly gesture of recognition, I’m such an idiot
  8. Meeting a sort-of friend and wondering whether I should hug them or not
  9. Meeting a date for the first time and wondering whether I should hug them or not
  10. Having to partake in saying affirmative things on a co-worker’s birthday even though I don’t really know them so I start worrying about what to say and also worrying about not knowing what to say when it comes time for so-and-so’s birthday year after year after year of still not knowing them and then confronting the very real possibility of having to make myself get to know people just so I can say informative friendly things on their birthdays oh god
  11.  Eye contact
  12. Wondering if I have a period stain and trying to figure out a way to discreetly check out my ass
  13. People I don’t particularly like appearing to like me for some reason
  14. Not being sure of whether someone likes me (platonically OR romantically)
  15. Small talk
  16. Not hearing what someone says the 3rd or 4th time they repeat it so just nodding and smiling like I heard
  17. Coming out of the bathroom and seeing that my date has been waiting right outside the door for me and it’s like ackk I just peed and now I’m seeing you
  18. Going on a date and establishing the payment procedure (it’s like ahhh is he going to insist on paying and am I going to have to insist on saying no and of course I don’t think he should be obligated to pay for me because I’m a girl screw chivalry/benevolent sexism but well he was the one who asked me out technically and I know this mothafucker has more money than me but if I asked you out well I wouldn’t want to pay for you tbh so let’s just pay separately but how do I bring that up without sounding like an asshole just that whole conversation is erghhughhhaghh)
  19. People on BART who get out of their seats way too fucking early and try to bump me aside when it’s like bitch I’m getting off at the same stop as you calm your ass down
  20. Crying in front of people/in public places and knowing it’s awkward but crying anyway cuz the feels
  21. Sexile
  22. When I’m trying to make a joke and end up sounding more aggressive or serious than I intended because I’m just that intense sometimes and everyone just looks at me weird
  23. Realizing that I no longer have someone as a Facebook friend and not being sure of whether I deleted them or they deleted me
  24. Mentioning to the barista of the coffee shop I go to regularly that I’m interested in watching this one movie, later finding out the barista watched it before I got a chance to, then realizing when I finally get around to watching it that the movie is ripe with freaky sexual stuff that will be absolutely uncomfortable small talk the next time he casually asks whether I’ve watched the “weird” movie I unintentionally recommended
  25. Being around strangers who are singing/rapping along to music only they can hear
  26. Getting caught singing/rapping along to music only I can hear
  27. Having to introduce myself to someone by shaking their hand when my hands are wet because I just got done washing them so they probably think I’m gross
  28. Farting around people who aren’t my immediate family
  29. Taking a shit in public restrooms (I just can’t)
  30. Knowing that the person in the stall next to me is taking a shit
  31. Friends talking about doing something I’m not invited to
  32. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I don’t think I have the jurisdiction to invite them)
  33. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I don’t think it makes sense to invite them because they’re not really a part of the social circle involved)
  34. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I didn’t invite them because I knew they’d be too busy/wouldn’t be interested, but couldn’t be bothered to invite them as an empty gesture of courtesy)
  35. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I just plain don’t think they should be invited, period)
  36. Leaving voicemails through which I end up rambling on and on like a dumbass
  37. Talking to hot people I don’t really know
  38. Talking to hot people I don’t really know AND they’re being nice to me
  39. When people start complimenting me out of nowhere
  40. Talking aloud to myself and making weird gestures as I articulate my thought process as per usual and realizing other people can probably hear/see me
  41. Saying something that wasn’t really funny or clever but the other person didn’t hear me the first time so I have to repeat it and this time it’s definitely not funny or clever at all
  42. Saying something that was pretty funny or clever but someone in the group didn’t hear me the first time so I have to repeat it but this time it’s not funny or clever and wow, did I really just butcher the delivery of my own witty remark
  43. Being the only person of color in a room
  44. Being the only Asian in a room
  45. A stranger with a really thick accent asking me for help and I really want to understand them and help them out and I definitely don’t want to come off as some racist/xenophobic asshole but for god’s sake what are they saying someone please help
  46. When a dude hits on me and I’m not interested but I can’t outright reject him because my friend is snuggling up to his friend and now I’m like obligated to hang out with this douche
  47. When a dude hits on me and I’m not interested but I can’t outright reject him because he’s a regular at the bar I kind of want to be a regular at, too
  48. When a random dude on the street says something demeaning and I don’t say anything back because I feel scared and powerless and ashamed
  49. When a random dude on the street exercises what he feels is his right to have a one-sided conversation involving me (“Hi cutie what’s your name cutie can I have your number okay then bye cutie”)
  50. When a friend who is nearly flawless complains about the one pimple on her chin and I’m like, bitch, that’s me on a good day
  51. When I accidentally find myself following someone out in public because I just so happen to be going in their direction and now I feel like a creepy stalker, so much so that I take some random roundabout way just to avoid seeming/feeling like one
  52. When I spot someone I kind of know and take some random roundabout way just to avoid having to interact with them
  53. Seeing someone I know strictly in a professional setting (like a teacher) in a public setting (like a nightclub or a grocery store) oh god
  54. The time I told a gay friend I had “2 gay things” to tell her and then I was like well shit that came out wrong and felt like the dumbest straight person ever
  55. When I’m talking about oppression against a particular marginalized identity that I don’t have, to someone who does have that identity, and I feel really self-conscious because I’m trying to be a supportive ally and not some kind of appropriating/colonizing expert and I’m just hoping that my well-meaning intentions come across
  56. When someone with more privileges than me in society demands that I explain to him why he has privilege because he certainly doesn’t feel like he has any
  57. When a white dude points to dictionary.com’s definition of racism as proof that he has experienced racism
  58. When a white dude says he doesn’t have any privilege because he doesn’t own any slaves
  59. When a white dude has to racially code my attractiveness
  60. When a dude asks if I have any hot Asian friends who are single because I am evidently not attractive enough to merit existence in any of those categories, thanks a lot
  61. Misaligned high-fives
  62. Trying to high-five someone who just leaves me hanging like a doucheface
  63. Misaligned hugs
  64. Trying to hug someone who just leaves me hanging like a doucheface
  65. Trying to hug someone who very reluctantly reciprocates and I’m just like fuck why did I initiate that shit for
  66. Hugs in general tbh
  67. Making out
  68. PDA
  69. People who don’t know they’re being awkward
  70. Me
  71. People sneezing and me having to resist the urge to say “Bless you” in case people interpret it religiously or when people don’t say “thank you” in response which is not to say I want gratitude but more like wth they’re leaving me hanging better just avoid it altogether
  72. Having people say “Bless you” when I sneeze and then maybe 2 more times before giving up because when I sneeze I fucking sneeze a lot
  73. Jokes that are so unfunny and stupid that I end up laughing at how unfunny and stupid they are but the person who made them thinks I’m laughing because I think he’s being clever and funny
  74. People who think they can say homophobic shit around me because I’m straight
  75. People who think they can say anti-black/racist shit around me because I’m not black
  76. Sit-down dinners with people who would be somewhere further down my completely speculative list of people I would save from a hypothetically burning building