1

Tinderp Tale #5: Too Dope For Tinder

I don’t know if anyone else does this, but sometimes, I’ll picture a room filled with all the people I’ve been on dates with. I try to imagine who would get along, who would size the others up and feel better or worse about themselves, and most importantly, what sort of conversations they would have about me. (Yes, I am realizing as I’m typing this that it’s a full-fledged exercise in narcissism, but bear with me, please.)

SETTING: a low-key bar in downtown Oakland.

Todd is playing pool, or possibly bocci with Brian. “Learkana was cute, but kind of a bitch,” Todd says rather bluntly. “We made out in my car one time and then I never saw her again.”

“Yeah, I feel you,” Brian agrees. “I wanted to see her again but she didn’t seem to care much, so I ended up dating someone else. Of course that’s when she tried to come back into my life.”

“Yup. Like I said, kind of a bitch,” Todd remarks with a shrug.

Over in the corner, Steven #1 shoots the shit with Rishi over drinks. “She didn’t like me. I’m not sure why.” Steven #1’s brow is furrowed as he sloshes the beer in his glass, all the while shaking his head.

“Wait, who are we talking about?” Rishi asks.

“Learkana, the Asian girl on OKCupid we both met up with on separate occasions,” Steven #1 replies. “And the only reason we’re talking about her is because she’s dictating this completely self-indulgent and imaginary scenario. See? I wouldn’t say any of this stuff in real life.”

“Learkana? Doesn’t ring a bell,” says Rishi with cruel obliviousness. “Gotta go, don’t wanna be late to my anarchist meeting. Catch you later, man. Resist!” He puts up a power fist and strides away.

Meanwhile, a couple of stools over, Steven #2 and Eric are debating who was treated the most like shit by Learkana.

“She immediately lost interest in me because I didn’t know what rape culture was!” Steven #2 tells Eric. “Which is ridiculous, because most people don’t know what that is. Not knowing what rape culture is didn’t keep me from being a Stanford graduate, so how is it a big deal?”

“Oh, she asked me that too,” Eric replies. “She was kind of like a caricature of a feminist, almost. Anyway, at least she didn’t stand you up! We were supposed to meet up at a bar for our second date but she ditched me and claimed she didn’t see me waiting outside for her.”

“Well, at least you made it to a second date!” Steven #2 argues. “She rejected me an hour after meeting me!”

“Oh, Learkana?” says Jack from behind Steven #2, reaching over the pair for his whiskey. “I liked her politics even if she didn’t know what she was talking about half the time. Wasn’t down to fuck though. Her loss.”

“Did anyone have sex with this girl?” inquires Abed. “Just curious, not actually interested.”

“Honestly, I think she might have been a lesbian who wasn’t out of the closet just yet,” offers Sherlock.

“While I feel very indifferent about Learkana and have been happily married for over a year now, I doth protest at the sexist dialogue currently unfolding,” interjects Colin.

Okay, END SCENE before this starts taking a toll on my self-esteem.

tinderp 5.1b

So why have I indulged in weird fantasies like this? I don’t know, probably because I’m pathologically self-conscious to the point where I am always fixated on my self-image and the impression (or lack thereof) I leave on other people–in particular, what impression I leave on strange men I’ve met from the Internet. It was becoming apparent to me that most of the time, I didn’t leave a very good one. I was usually cold and distant, awkward and quiet. I never got to the point where I could be fully comfortable around a guy. By this time (Summer ’15), I had officially been on the online dating scene for 2 years and was still having mild anxiety attacks before each date. I thought dating was supposed to get easier, but that definitely hadn’t been the case.

I decided to take matters into my own hands, which simply meant tweaking my Tinder bio to more accurately reflect my jaded, misanthropic views and introverted lifestyle: Only doing half hour boba dates from now on.

I mean, 30 minutes was sufficient time to make a determination of whether we were interested in each other, right?

I was swiping on random dudes everyday. 90% of the time I swiped left. But on occasion, a guy would catch my eye. Sometimes it was a good picture, other times a witty one-liner, but most of the time, it was at least one really good picture and two really promising ones. A guy I will henceforth refer to as Charlie fit the latter profile. The one really good picture was of him twirling on a lamppost while wearing a dress that showed off his tan, muscled arms. A man of color with sexy limbs AND zero fucks about gender norms? Yes please. I swiped right. We matched. Yay!

I immediately messaged him, complimenting him on his choice of apparel. He warmed up to my flattery.

tinderp5.2

We moved from Tinder messaging to texting pretty quickly, so things were getting serious. (Just kidding, I’m a ho when it comes to giving out my phone number so it wasn’t a big deal. Speaking of which, there’s probably 10+ fuckboy numbers I still need to delete from my contacts…) Charlie was being really flirty and I was also trying to be really flirty back except when I was making things awkward for no good reason.  Below is an example of this:

tinderp-5

To clarify, he was actually talking about weed, but you probably already knew that.

Also, if you couldn’t infer from the screenshot, I had asked Charlie out. We had already made plans to meet up at Woods Bar & Brewery in downtown Oakland, which was sadly and obviously not a boba place. I think I chose the bar because I didn’t really know of any quality boba places at the time other than my regular spot, and I didn’t want him to ruin my boba spot if things went poorly–which, statistically speaking, they probably would.

I was intrigued by Charlie because he was in some local pop punk band I had never heard of, and musicians were not a demographic I typically went on dates with. I was curious enough to look up his band on YouTube and watch an amateurish music video they had made a while back. Charlie played guitar, and his vocals were pretty decent. He sounded like that dude from Simple Plan, but less annoying. His voice did sound very juvenile though, which was honestly kind of a turnoff. (I have this thing about voices. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I hate my own voice so I compensate by seeking out dudes with voices I deem attractive. Who needs therapy when I can psychoanalyze myself?)

In person, Charlie was attractive. His voice and the way he talked, however, were worse than I thought. He sounded like a whiny white dude-bro. His life story was interesting enough to somewhat make up for this, though. Charlie was raised by a single mother whom he was pretty close to (an understatement, given that he had a tattoo of a heart with the word “MOM” inked in the middle of it on his arm–a stereotype of a tattoo I didn’t know people in real life actually got done). He was stuck doing some job he didn’t give a fuck about while trying to chase his dreams with his band, had worked as a freelance music critic by setting up his own blog and tricking people into thinking he had important things to say, and smoked a lot of pot because it made him more creative and stuff.  He seemed to have carefully crafted a casual, cocky demeanor for himself–like, he knew he was pretty awesome, but like, whatever, dude. You know?

It occurred to me more than once that I was on a date with a high school girl’s wet dream. The thing was, I wasn’t in high school anymore, so the more he talked, the more I was conflicted about my interest in him. I looked at my phone to see that the timer I had set was now at the thirty-minute mark. (Yes, I was assholish enough to stand by the half-hour rule specified in my bio.)

“So, did I make the cut?” Charlie inquired. He actually looked a little nervous.

God, I felt like such a douchebag. He had been warned ahead of time, but still. “Yes, we can keep talking,” I told him, feeling my insides twist because I wasn’t sure whether I had said yes because I actually wanted to keep talking to him, or because I didn’t want to follow through with being a total asshole. (Probably a little of both.)

He exhaled in relief. “This bar is pretty cool, by the way. How’d you find out about it?”

“Oh. Uh…the answer’s kind of awkward.” I guess I could have lied, but I’ve always been bad at lying and really good at word vomit. (I blame my mom.)

“What’s awkward?” he asked.

“Well, uh, I know about this place because a different guy I went on a date with Yelped it,” I confessed.

Charlie shrugged, unaffected, and resumed talking.

After we were done with our drinks, we walked around downtown. “You know, I don’t know why you’re on Tinder,” Charlie said at one point. “You’re pretty dope.”

I just giggled and avoided delving too deeply into why I found that statement laughable. Mostly it was him talking and me half-listening. He told me none of his relationships had lasted longer than a month, which was a turnoff to me because it signaled emotional immaturity and assholishness in general on his part. (Well, that’s how my cynical ass interpreted it, anyway.) He also talked about growing up multiracial and how the black girls he went to school with used to make fun of him, which was why he wasn’t really interested in dating black girls. This tirade made me pretty uncomfortable because it reeked of borderline misogynoir to me, but at the same time, I didn’t want to invalidate his experience as a mixed-race black guy, so instead I just shut up and felt really weird.

I suggested we take a walk around Lake Merritt instead. He was down. For whatever reason, I drove us there instead of just walking the half mile or so from downtown. I guess it was because I was feeling some combination of lazy and rushed, and was hoping a change of scenery would set the mood better. By this time, it was pretty dark out. Perfect. The shining lake, the dimly lit pathway, the aesthetically pleasing landscape minus the ubiquitous bird shit…a recipe for romance! Or so I thought. I was still nonsensically clinging to the idea of Lake Merritt as a site for igniting sparks, as a catalyst for chemistry. Third Fourth Fifth time’s the charm, right?

We walked for a bit along the lake. Charlie kept rambling on, while I was trying to figure out how to be smooth about holding his hand. I realized this was a pointless endeavor when there was nothing smooth about me (I mean figuratively, ok). “Can I see your hand?” I asked instead, very unromantically.

“Why?”

“Just let me see it,” I said impatiently and even less romantically (if that was even possible, because holy shit none of this was romantic).

He extended his hand towards me. I “looked” at it and held it in mine, feeling triumphant.

“Wow, you could have just asked to hold my hand,” said Charlie, rolling his eyes.

“Whatever.”

A few minutes ticked by. Charlie kept talking, seemingly unaware of how loud and obnoxious his voice sounded against the backdrop of the silent lake and brisk night air. I was trying to pay attention to what he was saying, but was soon overcome with the sinking feeling that my attempt at replicating what I had experienced with Anthony was failing, because holding hands with Charlie sucked balls.

I honestly didn’t even know holding someone’s hand could be so unappealing. His hand felt like it was chafing mine. Also, my arm felt like it was stiffly and awkwardly positioned, rather than dangling free. Was it because his arm was disproportionate to his body? Was my arm disproportionate to my body? Was it a combination of bodily disproportion happening? Was he just a shitty hand-holder? Was that even a thing?

tinderp 5.3

I felt confused and disappointed. Out loud I told Charlie that it was getting late and we should start heading back to my car.

I drove us back to the downtown area, where his car was parked. I had both hands on the steering wheel when he tried to put his hand over my right one. I automatically flinched.

“Oh, sorry. I thought you’d want to hold hands.”

“Not while I’m driving,” I said in what I hope was a lighthearted tone.

I dropped him off and we said our goodbyes. The next day, he texted me, asking me if I wanted to binge watch some show with him. Ugh. That meant going over to his place, and that meant he was planning on having sex with me.

I texted him back, vaguely telling him I wasn’t in the mood to watch that particular show but would maybe be open to watching something else. He never responded. I wondered if he could sense rejection between the words I had sent, or whether I was completely oblivious and really he was the one who had rejected me. For the most part though, I was unbothered by this exchange and devoted my brainpower to fretting over other inconsequential things.

A couple of months passed. In one of my lonely nostalgic spinster moods, I looked Charlie up on Instagram to see what he was up to. A few of his recent pictures featured him and an Asian girl with punk-styled green hair. Ew. I mean, not ew at the girl, but ew at the increased likelihood of this dude having an Asian fetish. (Okay, so maybe I was being paranoid but still, when it comes to the implicit politics of desire…CONSTANT VIGILANCE!) Good thing I never met up with him again, I thought, and proceeded to move on with my life.

A few months after I cyberstalked him, Charlie hit me up on Tinder again.


Charlie

Hey, are you still on this thing?


Weird. It was rare for me to have someone from my flimsy dating past try to reconnect with me. I decided it couldn’t hurt to respond.


Me

Yup, still on here, unfortunately.


Charlie

Wanna get a drink with me sometime?


Me

Uh. This is very unexpected. Why’d you stop talking to me last time?


Charlie

You didn’t seem interested in me, so I went with someone else.


Damn. So guys did know how to read between the lines.


Me

Lol okay. Idk honestly I didn’t think we had chemistry


Charlie

Well, you’re really hot so I thought I’d take my chances and ask you out again 😉


I was equal parts amused, flattered, and annoyed by this. When did I become a one-dimensional Hot Girl (TM) to cishet dudes? I wondered. Oh, yeah. When I started wearing makeup and became less modest with my clothing choices. Just a year or two ago, I honestly thought my appeal was rooted solely in my quirky personality and sense of humor. (HA. HA. HA.) Experience was now telling me that nah, my personality’s the boner shrinker, just be hot and literally nothing else.

I made a mental note to never call myself shallow again. Dudes were shallow AF, and shamelessly so. At least I had the conscience/social conditioning to be semi-apologetic about my superficiality, jeez.

Anyway, while I was flattered and stuff by Charlie calling me hot, I was fixated on one thing and one thing alone: chemistry. And I definitely didn’t have it with this dude. So I had to tell him it was a no-go.


 Me

Lol thanks but I would rather be friends


Charlie

Okay. My band has a concert in February. Would you come out and kick it with me?


Me

Sure


He never wrote back after that, and eventually he either deleted his account or unmatched with me. Guess he read between the lines again.

Damn. He should really teach that skill to other dudes.

tl;dr Learkana reflects on her ghosts of OKCupid past! Learkana learns someone can be shitty at handholding! Learkana is really hot!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Woods Bar & Brewery
Rating: *****
Review: Um yes this place is awesome, mainly because their beers actually taste good. The setup is cool too.

2

OKBye Story #9: A Walk to (Not) Remember

Spring of 2014: You know the setup by now.

Nerdy ninety-something percent match white guy messages me and I respond, because he seems cute and nice and liberal-leaning and I hadn’t cut white boys out of my dating life yet. We exchanged several messages discussing our views on social justice, which confirmed to me that he was indeed not a total douchebag. Then he asked if we could meet up, and I said yes.

steven2.1

Then he asked for my number, which I gave to him. Then he called me.

He called me.

He CALLED me.

This bitch called me…TO TALK ABOUT OUR PLANS.

WHAT.

Introverted awkward millenial girl does not compute.

I had only texted or messaged guys so far in my dating ventures. Unless I was actually on my way to meet them and couldn’t locate them or something in which case–for practicality’s sake–I had to suck it up, whip my phone out and cringe-dial them. I thought there was an unspoken, textual communications-only agreement between me and random Internet dudes, but apparently not. Apparently a guy can just call you up out of the blue, like well-adjusted people who don’t have any phobias around talking on the phone.

Suffice it to say, I did not take him calling me very well. The phone conversation went something like this:

Me: “Uh, hello?”

Him: “Hi, is this Learkana?”

Me: “Uh…yeah.”

Him: “Hey, it’s Matt**, from OKCupid?”

Me: “Uh…is there a reason you’re calling me?”

Him: “Yes, you said you wanted to meet up? What do you want to do?”

Me: “Uh….I don’t know.”

Him: “How about a walk around Lake Merritt?”

Me: “Okay sure.”

Him: “Okay, so I’ll see you on Tuesday?”

Me: “Okay sounds good bye” *hangs up*

matt1

**name changed mainly because actual name has been forgotten.

I realized only after I had gotten off the phone that I should have at least pretended to sound like a decent human being. Oh well.

We met up in the evening, after work. I was walking over to the lake when I spotted him. Spotting a date from the Internet has always been a weird phenomenon to me. It’s like seeing an Instagram selfie unfiltered, or if you’re lucky, extra filtered. The person always ends up looking at least a little less or more attractive than what you assumed based on a handful of ill-chosen photos. I sometimes get this fear that I won’t be able to identify the guy, but I always do.

He was pretty much like his pictures except kind of more feminine looking than I was expecting, as per usual. (I know “feminine” isn’t the greatest or most specific term to use, but I can’t really nail down what I mean–CUZ GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT, yeah yeah yeah. I guess what I mean is shorter, thinner, features more refined, other stereotypical characteristics, etc.)

We greeted each other, said some words, went off and…um, well, that was it.

No, really. There is very little I can recall of what transpired on this walk around the lake, which is extremely telling of how the date ended. I know that we walked around the entire lake. I know at some point I remarked that there was a lot of bird shit everywhere. I know that he showed me some capoeira moves because I asked him to, only to regret him complying with my weird and awkward request. I remember thinking, I don’t think my outfit is appropriate for an evening stroll around the lake (I was wearing a blazer and a short, tight skirt). I remember saying, Wow, we’ve gone pretty far, how much further do you think we have left to go? when we were only halfway there. I remember feeling, this is very unromantic and strange and pretty fucking boring and a bad idea. Our small talk was stretched too thin by the distance, the silence between us made deafening by the quiet exuded by the still waters of the wide open lake. It was a disconcerting, almost alienating experience to take a walk with a stranger I had only a few handfuls of words for.

matt3

At the end of it, it seemed to me he wasn’t very interested either. He politely said goodbye, and walked off. I don’t think we even shook hands or hugged. I drove home, getting the sense that I would not be hearing from him again, and being okay with that, even if the petty, narcissistic part of me wanted him to reach out as proof that I had “won” (again with the evil mind games!).

He ended up texting me later on, asking me if I would like to hang out again. (I win!) I responded with “Sure, let me know when you think of something fun.” Then I never heard from him again. (I lost?)

My friend Chelsia suggested that I could have used better wording. “Your response sounded pretty rude,” she told me. “I would have been offended by that.” Ah Chelsia. Keeping it real.

Maybe she was right. Maybe I had sent him running with my vague and apathetic text message. But who really nitpicks about things like that, aside from super uptight, neurotic people uselessly applying their English degrees, a demographic I completely and totally have no relationship to whatsoever? (Cough, cough. Eyes shifting.) Repressing my urge to needlessly overanalyze, I figured it was mostly the fact that we had met up in person and had not been able to connect with each other that had caused the dissipation of our initial mutual interest.

But what exactly went wrong? He was nice. He wasn’t ugly. We were a high match and shared similar beliefs. Why hadn’t I liked this guy? Why hadn’t he liked me? I was seriously starting to rethink my dating strategy at this point. Maybe it didn’t matter whether or not a guy could define rape culture. Maybe it didn’t matter whether he self-identified as a feminist or was aware of the ramifications of white privilege. Maybe what mattered was whether I made him laugh, and whether or not he kissed me, and I let him. Maybe his worldview mirroring mine meant nothing.

But it meant something to me, I argued with myself. Everyone knows me as the annoyingly hardcore intersectional feminist who bombards everyone’s Facebook newsfeed with patriarchy-smashing posts. I eat, sleep, breathe, and shit feminism. Every little thing I hear or see or read is automatically analyzed and deconstructed based on its relationship to race, gender, class, etc. etc. I can’t just let my heteronormativity compromise my values!

And what if my worst fear gets realized? That I take social justice out of the equation and continue seeing guys. Find a guy I click with. We start seeing each other more. Take things slow. Then things get serious. He meets my friends. He meets my family. We move in together. We share the same bed. Then I wake up one day and he leans over, kisses me, and says something just really fucking racist. That’s what I’m afraid of. That I’ll fall in love with someone who was secretly an ignorant asshole all along. That I’ll fuck a racist. Or a sexist. Or whatever. God. Then what? Then I’d have to set my vagina on fire out of shame and disappointment and horror. Okay maybe not that exactly, but you know what I mean.

I had to keep doing what I was doing, I decided. Even if I was rendered a spinster because of it. Because the most important thing was staying true to myself, and that was exactly what I was doing. Right? Right.

But then, inexplicably, my OKCupid account was deleted. One day I tried logging in, and found that no matter how many times I very carefully typed in my username and password, OKC would tell me that there was an error. My account was an error. My dating life was an error. I was an error.

I asked friends who were on OKC to look me up, just to make sure. They tried to search for “stangrlthecat.” Nothing came up. My profile was gone.

I was kind of upset, mainly because I liked my profile, but also because I didn’t get a chance to respond to messages from 2 different guys who actually sounded promising (one who will later show up again, pssst). But now I had no way of ever contacting them again.

I took this as a sign that I wasn’t meant to be doing the online dating thing, and called it quits.

(For a few months. Then got back on again upon realizing that unfortunately I was still a straight girl who had no other way of meeting guys. But that’s another story, for another time–specifically, another blog post for whenever I feel up to regurgitating more cringe-inducing memories of awkward and anticlimactic dates from my brain.)

[Edit: Okay, so it actually only took me a couple of months to return to the online dating cesspool. Guess I was more desperate than I remember, oops. I regret the error–and the fact.]

tl;dr Boy messages girl, boy calls girl, girl freaks out, boy and girl decide to go for a walk around the lake, girl and boy walk around said lake, boy asks girl to hang out again and girl says sure, girl and boy never see or hear from each other again

2

OKBye Story #7: He’s All That

At this point in my online dating shenanigans, I was feeling very cynical and questioning my life decisions. I mean, I’m always cynical and always questioning my life decisions, but having an OKCupid account was really exacerbating my usual existential crisis. Why was I even on here? What was I looking for? Why hadn’t I found it, whatever it was? Why wasn’t I the kind of girl who could have a meet-cute with some guy and live happily ever after? Why did I just inwardly cringe at the idea of having a meet-cute and living happily ever after? If I was so terrible with men, why was I straight? Why did men look so good to me, when dating them was so bad? What was it, exactly, that I wanted???

None of these questions were answered when, uh…Gabriel messaged me. (This was…fuck, almost 2 years ago–December 2013.) Gabriel was yet another nerdy white guy with a 90something match percentage with me. However, he was unusual because 1) he was 7 years older than me, and 2) he wrote in his message the following: “If you’re anything like Hannah, you’ve caught my interest. I actually went to school with her.”

By “Hannah,” he was referring to Hannah Horvath, played by Lena Dunham, who is the main character on the HBO show Girls, which Lena Dunham also writes/directs/created. He wasn’t bringing her up out of nowhere, though–his message was a comment on something I wrote in my OKCupid profile under the section that said “What I’m doing with my life”…which went something like this:

What I’m doing with my life

I’m basically like Hannah Horvath from Girls right now. Except not white. Or middle class. Or getting laid and flashing my modest-sized tits on a periodic basis.

Heh. Honesty is the best policy, right? (Wrong, but it makes for an engaging profile, apparently.)

Anyway, the fact that Gabriel claimed to know Lena Dunham was what intrigued me most about him. (This was back when I liked Lena Dunham in spite of her racist microaggressions and before that weird pedo stuff came out of her memoir.) If he hadn’t mentioned Lena Dunham, I probably wouldn’t have replied. Not that his profile was terrible or anything. It was a very generic dude profile: sparse words that attempted to be witty but mainly revealed he didn’t know how to write about himself, plus an admission of crying at cartoon movies for the section “the most private thing I’m willing to admit,” presented as proof that he wasn’t an embodiment of toxic masculinity. As for his pictures–he seemed kind of cute, if a bit too feminine-looking for my liking.

Then there was the age thing. I was 22 at the time, and I was completely baffled as to why a perfectly reasonable-sounding 29-year-old would message me. I was still feeling like I was a 16-year-old trapped in a little girl’s body at the time, and had only recently landed my first full-time job pushing paper. (Exciting update: I now feel like a 20-year-old trapped in a 16-year-old body, and am still pushing paper at the same job. Woo.)  My adult life had barely begun, and I barely had anything figured out. He was almost 30. I’m sure he had his shit together, his own place, a direction in life, some sense and purpose, was probably looking to settle down, buy a house and have some kids and shit. What was the appeal to him here? He must be kind of a creep, I thought. Oh well! He knows Lena Dunham.

gabriel1

So Gabriel asked me if I wanted to grab a drink with him and I was like okay sure and he proposed some bar in Lakeshore and I was like all right cool and then he gave me his number and that was that. The night of the date, I was feeling a little more nervous than usual, because this was an older dude and I felt/looked like a little girl and I wanted to not look/feel that way but I couldn’t help myself so in the end I was just like, fuck it and drove over there still trying to squash all the worries zipping around in my head. I got to the bar first. Some hipster bar with only a number as a name. It was incredibly loud and crowded. He texted that he was walking over. I waited inside.

Soon enough some guy was headed my way, a look of recognition in his eyes. Ah, shit. It was him. Gabriel. And he was hot. WHAT. He was a hot bearded dude, goddamn him. I tried to keep calm and composed. We greeted each other, hugged (I’m fairly certain, cuz hot dude), and sat down at the bar. He ordered a cocktail; I already had a beer in hand. It was trivia night, but we couldn’t hear the questions over the cacophony of drunk people having a good time.

It took a minute to adjust to his hotness. In person, he looked a lot like a brunette version of Brian, the dude from OKBye Story #4. But wait…”I thought you had blonde hair,” I said stupidly.

“Nope, brown.”

“But it looked blonde in your pictures!” But then I realized I had barely scrutinized his profile.

“It might have been the sun,” he offered (to be kind, I’m sure).

His hotness was making me uncomfortable. Obviously, the appropriate thing to do was to make him uncomfortable as well. I very pointedly asked him about his age, and commented on how surprised I was that he would message me. (I know, I know…it gets worse.)

I asked him how he knew Lena Dunham. He said he had a class with her back in college. So he didn’t really know her. I was somewhat disappointed. What else did we talk about?  I remember furiously trying to fill in the gaps of our conversation, trying to prove to him that I was quirky and cute and witty, when I was not really feeling any of those things. Because sitting there with him, listening to him talk about how he was the chief creative officer of some company whose objective I pretended to understand, made me feel like a stupid, naive young girl who was way in over her head.

gabriel3

Obviously, the appropriate thing to do was to attempt to undermine him. “Can you define rape culture?” I asked.

He gave an answer that I don’t remember at all, except for it being adequate in the moment.

“Do you know anything about white privilege?” I challenged.

“Know? I live it,” he said.

“How do you mitigate the effects of having white privilege?” I asked.

He talked about getting acquainted with his neighbors, and blah blah blah. He asked me if I knew about environmental racism. I admitted I did not. He took care to elaborate without being condescending.

I had not prepared myself for his thoughtful responses. If he had been an ignorant, colorblind bigot, I could have snarkily argued with him and stormed off. But how to have a dialogue about white privilege with a white person who is already aware of it? I realized I was ill equipped to facilitate any kind of discussion on the matter and regretted asking. The subject was changed to something trivial instead.

I had had only one drink, but being the lightweight that I am, it was hitting me hard. “I think…I think I need to walk off the alcohol,” I said.

“Okay.”

I went outside; he followed. “I’m just gonna walk around the lake,” I told him. “Feel free to leave,” I added, unsure of how the date was going. “I promise I won’t get offended.”

“I’ll walk with you,” he said. And off we went, with only the glowing lamps to light our way. I felt nervous from walking alongside a hot bearded dude who had his shit together, and giddy from the one beer. “I’ll race you,” I said suddenly.

“Um,” he said.

“One two three go!” We started running. I was amused to see that I, a short and scrawny Asian chick, was faster than this tall white dude. Then I felt bad. Maybe he thought I was trying to emasculate him or something–although if he did think that, he wasn’t the kind of guy I should be into, right? I stopped running and let him catch up. He admitted he wasn’t the most athletic. We resumed walking instead, side by side.

This is supposed to be romantic, I thought. Why isn’t this romantic? I brought up more random things to converse about. Whether or not guys exaggerated their height on dating profiles. Introversion versus extroversion. What, exactly, are the differences between gender and race. I don’t even know why I bothered to mention the last one, given that he was a cis hetero white dude, which is pretty much the last identity on Earth I should have struck up that conversation with. But I guess I was still trying to impress him with my pseudo-intellect. I don’t know. He considered the question I posed, and admitted he had no answers. He seemed very introspective, quiet, soft-spoken. I had no idea what he was thinking, except maybe that I was an idiot little girl he pitied.

We had come full circle around Lake Merritt, and still, there were no sparks I could discern. Sure, he was physically attractive and sociopolitically aware, but could I see myself in a relationship with him? I tried to imagine him meeting my no-fucks-given, brutally honest and broke ass dysfunctional family in the crappy apartment I grew up in. His well-to-do-white-maleness got in the way. I tried imagining hooking up with him instead, like Hannah Horvath probably would if she were in my shoes. Was that even a possibility? I wasn’t a sexually empowered chubby white woman though. I was a sexually repressed thin-privileged Asian chick. Why did I make that comparison again? I felt confused. And maybe a little buzzed, but not really.

gabriel4

He walked me to my car. I smiled. He smiled back. “Well…it was nice meeting you.” I tried to say this as sincerely as possible while very slowly motioning my hands into what I thought looked like a request to hug him.

He smiled back and reached out his hands accordingly. We ended up doing a weird kind of hand-embrace thing.

“Oh! Uh…sorry, I was trying to hug you,” I said stupidly. “Unless…you want a high five?” Ugh. I should have shut the fuck up.

“We can hug,” he assured me. We gently embraced and said good night. I left feeling like I maybe had a fighting chance to…to what? I didn’t know.

I gave the details to my roommates at the time. They thought it sounded like an awkwardly sweet first date, which made me more hopeful that I hadn’t totally ruined it with all my word vomit. A few days passed. I didn’t hear from him. I grew kind of worried. My roommates suggested I just text him if I wanted to see him again. “But I don’t know if I do!” I protested. Conflicted feelings aside, I was still stuck in this mindset of winning. Winning meant he proactively expressed interest by asking me out again. But he wasn’t doing that. I caved and ended up texting him first.

Me: ‘Hey! Would you like to hang out again sometime?’

Gabriel: ‘Hey. I’m in Pennsylvania visiting family right now. Afterwards I have a business trip and will be out of town again for 1-2 days. Maybe when I get back we can meet up, race each other, and talk about gender again? :)’

I was at a New Year’s party when this texting exchange occurred. Maybe this is dumb, but it was the smiley face that did it for me. He didn’t HAVE to add the smiley face, right? He included an emoticon because he LIKED me, right? So I win! Right?! I showed my friend Elizabeth. “He likes you!” she shouted/confirmed over the loud, pounding music. I texted him back, feeling elated.

Me: ‘Sounds great! Just let me know when you’re back in town and available to hang out. How’s the east coast?’

Gabriel: ‘Good. Talk to you later.’

I was taken aback by him ending the conversation so abruptly. My roommates pointed out that maybe he was just busy and wanted to focus on spending time with family. I conceded to their point and mostly let it go. A few days passed. I didn’t hear from him. A couple of weeks passed. Nothing. He was supposed to have let me know by now, if my estimated timeline of his schedule was right. But all I got was silence.

I agonized over this to my trusty, solid roommates, who patiently said I should just text him. “No!” I was adamant about this. “I told him to text me when he was available. It’s on him to hit me up!”

He could have just forgot, they reasoned. Or maybe he was really busy? “Then that means he wasn’t interested, in which case why did he even bother saying he wanted to hang out?!” I exclaimed in frustration.

“It wouldn’t hurt to reach out to him again if you really want to see him,” one of them said. Except that it would hurt. My pride. And in spite of all my agonizing, I still wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to see him again. I mean, that badly. For the umpteenth time, it was about winning. Why couldn’t anyone understand that? Why wasn’t anyone I talked to as irrational and calculating as I was?

Days turned into weeks turned into months. He never texted me again. I never texted him again. A good while after, I pored over the details of what had unfolded, trying to figure out what happened. I realized it was what didn’t happen that mattered. I should have gotten over my ego and just texted the damn guy. At least I would have had more confirmation that he definitely wasn’t interested, or something.

Whatever, I thought. He was too well-adjusted for me anyway.

tl;dr Boy messages girl, girl and boy meet up at bar, girl spews word vomit, girl and boy take a walk and girl spews more word vomit, girl asks boy to meet up again, boy says yes, girl never hears from boy again