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.

0

Tinderp Tale #4: Rhymes With Beyonce

Using Tinder to meet guys was a lot less stressful than using OKCupid. It wasn’t just the simpler interface and limited access to information that the infamous app provided, it was also my new approach to dating. I stopped worrying about whether or not a prospective date wanted to smash the patriarchy, and focused more on whether or not I wanted him to smash my pussy. I WAS HORNY, OKAY. My sexual awakening had arrived late, but arrive it did in the late fall of 2014, when a trip to Good Vibrations and some encouragement from friends spurred me to explore sexual pleasure on my own. I ended up buying a vibrator that to this day remains one of the best purchases I’ve made. (Fun fact: I named it Harry Styles. Don’t judge me, naming a sex toy is less embarrassing than naming your genitals. But, uh, if you have named your genitals, totally no judgment here. And yes, this entire opening = TMI. I know, I know. Sorry, I’ll rein it in. Ish.)

Anyway, I was a 23-year-old perpetually single virgin at this time, and despite my constant refrains of feminist empowerment and reclamation, this identity was really starting to get on my nerves. I was desperate to have something more tangible than a couple of dates that fizzled into nothing. Why not a two month fling that ended with us as actual friends who could eventually give each other dating advice and support? Why not a six month situation where we really like each other until we get into a huge fight about reproductive rights or some other politically charged issue and I’m like, fuck off #ByeFelipe? Or what about a couple of weeks of fooling around with a sexually experienced, feminist-leaning guy who’s down to help me safely navigate my sexuality, using an X-rated to-do list that I’ve been meaning to compile for a while now? Love wasn’t off the table, but it wasn’t some closeted priority like it was when I was using OKCupid. I just wanted to start off with mutual attraction and interest. Why was that so fucking difficult?

Thank goodness for my Dating Sensei Sayuri. It was a little rocky at first, but she finally got into her groove and matched me up with dudes I was interested in banging. “You’re so good at picking guys for me!” I told her. “I don’t trust my judgment at all anymore. I’m wholly dependent on you, because you know better than I do!”

This was supposed to be a fucking compliment, but Sayuri had a look of alarm on her face. “Uh, that’s not a good thing, Learkana. You shouldn’t rely on me. I think I’m gonna have to stop swiping for you.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” I cried, lapsing into great anguish and emotional turmoil for a few minutes. Then: “Okay whatever, fine. I can’t make you do it.”

tinderp-4-1b

Well, it was nice while it lasted. Now I was left to fend for myself in this murky dating cesspool. Eventually, though, I was able to formulate a stricter set of guidelines for myself that determined who was and who wasn’t right swipe material. (Okay fine, just who wasn’t.)

Learkana’s (In)Eligibility Criteria for Potential Tinder Matches

  1. No white guys. If you are confused or offended by this, you can find a more elaborate explanation here. If you are still confused or offended by this, thank you for reading my blog, now fuck off. 🙂
  2. No ab pics. I am shockingly more interested in what a dude’s face looks like than in how muscled his abdomen area is.
  3. No blank bios. I get it, dudes are on Tinder because they’re DTF and literally that’s it. But I’m still gonna need them to exert some brainpower and write a sentence or two about themselves if they want a shot at getting it in, kthnx.
  4. No boring, generic bios about tech, travel, and the outdoors. Ugh, like 80+% of Tinder’s male demographic is guilty of this.
  5. No bios that consist entirely of emojis. See explanation for #3.
  6. No consistently glaring spelling or grammar errors. I realize this may be classist/racist/ableist, but I’m a low-income person of color who got her degree in English, I’ve devoted my life to the written word, and I constantly proofread my own fucking text messages, I cannot handle communications I personally deem poorly written especially if it’s just some random dude from the Internet I have no emotional or professional stake in, sorry.
  7. No less than 3 quality photos to determine attractiveness of prospective match. Please, dudes, you think just 1 or 2 photos of yourself will suffice? Your mediocre bio says otherwise. Also, grainy photos from 3+ years ago do not count as “quality” photos. Also, neither do photos of you in groups of friends where sometimes I honestly can’t tell which one is you since your social group is so fucking racially homogeneous and that’s not racist, that’s just an inability to differentiate regardless of what race you project because I don’t know or care about your ass yet and your pictures suck balls, also you can forget about photos of you taken 50+ feet away from the camera or at some weird, “artsy” angle that does a shit job at showing your face, you should be ashamed of yourself like seriously. (What the fuck is wrong with dudes on dating apps? Do these motherfuckers actually want to get laid? Then they better start taking some tasteful, hi-res pictures that suggest actual fuckability! If they don’t wanna come off as vain or whatever, then they should get their fucking friends to do it! Being superficial is a two way street, goddamnit. Yes, I have some very strong feelings about this.)

It soon dawned on me that I was not a cultural fit with Tinder. I was a race-conscious feminist writer who wanted to get laid but still cared about things like compelling biographical narrative in shorthand form and is this guy hot and why can’t I tell immediately? I didn’t give a fuck about your passport adventures, had little to no interest in hiking or other physical endeavors unless I really liked you and in these circumstances that would never be a given, and I basically hated people as a general rule. Why the hell was I on here again?

Because of my vagina, duh. And other things integral to the human condition that I was not immune to (loneliness, desire, blah blah blah). (Ooh! Working title of my future autobiography: My Vagina and Other Things Integral to The Human Condition – y/n?)

Anyway, given that my requirements were reduced to what I didn’t want, as opposed to what I actually wanted (which I still wasn’t too sure of), that left a lot of room for plenty of A-OK dudes to fill up my inbox. One of whom I will refer to as Rhymes With Beyonce. Why? Because his name actually did rhyme with The Queen’s, and this fact (spoiler alert) was literally the only interesting thing about this guy.


You matched with Rhymes with Beyonce on 7/12/15

Rhymes With Beyonce

Hello there. 🙂 My name is [Rhymes with Beyonce] and I currently stay is [sic] San Francisco. I was wondering if you’d like to talk and get to know one another better? :). I’d love to chat.


Me

Sure! I’m Learkana (leer-kaw-nah) and I currently live in Oakland


Rhymes With Beyonce

:). Its nice to meet you Learkana. What do you like to do?


Me

Dancing karaoke writing reading having deep conversations getting boba making awkward videos of myself…you?


Rhymes With Beyonce

I like that a lot. I’m a professional cook so I love to cook, have fun, relax, great conversations, travel and more. :).


We kept going back and forth for a while. His responses were so boring we accidentally had the same conversation twice because I had forgotten his response the first time around. I also couldn’t tell whether his excessive use of smileys was his way of flirting or if that was just his way of textually conveying he was a super duper nice guy, but regardless it was kind of annoying.

tinderp-4-2

At one point he called me “love” and said I was “the most awesome person” he’s met on Tinder, which made no fucking sense to me, because we didn’t actually know each other and had never met in person. Still, I asked him out in an attempt to be optimistic and non-judgmental. Maybe he was more interesting in real life? (Nope.) Maybe we would hit it off. Maybe he’d be the one to devirginize me. Maybe we would eventually marry each other in a surprise twist and he would become the house husband I’ve been harboring as a fantasy ever since I realized I possessed little to no domestic skills and should probably exchange freaky monogamous sex for domestic labor and caregiving provided by a hot dude who could also put up with my eccentric nature and intense personality. (Nope, nope, and nope.)

Rhymes With Beyonce asked for my number and we made plans via text to meet up at Jupiter, a brew house in Berkeley. This would be my third time going there for a date. Considering how poorly the first two times went, I probably shouldn’t have agreed to this location, but I honestly couldn’t have cared less about where we met up at this juncture in my dating exploits, so as long as it was in a public location, in case he turned out to be a murderer or something.

We met up on a weeknight, as was typical for most dates I’ve been on. Some of my friends think it’s weird, but I think there’s been an unspoken understanding between me and most millennial dudes I connect with, which is the fact that we refuse to waste our weekends on each other when we have better things to do, like hang out with people we actually give a shit about, and laundry (super important).

In hopes of at least getting laid, I put on some sexy underwear and form-fitting clothes, then got into my car and drove over to Jupiter. I got there roughly on time and waited outside for a good 10, 15 minutes. Rhymes With Beyonce didn’t let me know until the last minute that he was running late. Annoyed, I decided I would just chill at the bar until he arrived. I also ordered without him, just to be petty. I ended up sitting next to an ethnically ambiguous guy who was kind of good looking. We started talking. Just when I was seriously and semi-shamelessly wondering if I should get this guy’s number, he ruined the moment by asking me, “Where are you from? I can’t place your accent.”

“IT’S NOT AN ACCENT, IT’S A SPEECH IMPEDIMENT, YOU MICROAGGRESSIVE RACIST ASS MOTHERFUCKER!” was something I was sorely tempted to shout at him. Instead I stiffly replied, “I was born and raised in California. Where are you from?”

He said something I don’t remember because at that point I didn’t give a fuck about what he had to say and only asked so I could sarcastically and obnoxiously interject with, “NO, where are you really from?”

He laughed and I proceeded to ignore him.

Rhymes With Beyonce eventually got his ass to the bar. He was okay-looking in person and definitely not worth the wait. We were seated at a small table. He asked me if I wanted anything. I said no, I had already eaten. He seemed disappointed. I was too irritated to be more accommodating.

So much for my fake optimism. We ended up having the same conversation for the third fucking time, when he asked me what I liked to do for fun. I was pretty sure that having the same conversations over and over again meant that we were not gonna work out in any sense because apparently the things we cared about doing in our spare time weren’t memorable or important enough to be retained in each other’s brains. I humored him by answering though as he nibbled on his pizza and implored me to take a bite. (I think I took one, but definitely no more.) I stared at his goatee and decided I hated it.

tinderp-4-3b

Backdrop is not actually Jupiter. IT’S HARD TO FIND GOOD PICTURES OK

I know, I was being kind of a heartless bitch. Rhymes With Beyonce was a sweet guy. The fact that a former coworker of his came by to enthusiastically say hi, make some brief small talk with him, and sing his praises was further proof that he was a genuinely nice dude. A genuinely nice, boring dude, just like he had conveyed via messaging. The kind of guy I had zero interest in, unfortunately. Not that being nice was a turnoff, but he was so boring! And more importantly, there was no chemistry. My eyes were glazing over. I was itching to get up and leave.

At one point, he asked me how I thought things were going. I was semi-honest. I said I saw us being just friends. Really, I felt that I would be perfectly content to never see him again, but I opted for the friendlier lie. I think he was a little upset, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. After the appropriate amount of time had passed, I called it a night and we said our goodbyes.

I drove home, annoyed at how the date turned out and annoyed at myself for disregarding my gut instinct in favor of pseudo-optimism. Self-aware pessimism was clearly the way to go here. Man, what a waste of sexy underwear, I thought bitterly. I got a text from him when I reached my house. Oh god.

Rhymes With Beyonce: I hope we can be friends. 🙂

Me: Lol no bitch.

Kidding! I just ignored him. Good thing he could take a hint. I never heard from him again.

tl;dr Learkana is horny! Learkana meets up with a nice and boring guy! Learkana does not get laid!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Jupiter
Rating: ***
Review: Eh, nothing special and not really worth the drive from Oakland, so it’s ridiculous I made the trip THREE times just to sample an array of inevitably disappointing dates. This place can get noisy, so if you and your date would like a valid excuse for getting in each other’s faces and shouting, have at it.

0

Tinderp Tales: A Probably Unnecessary Prologue

In the spring of 2015, I had sworn off online dating for what I seriously thought would be the final time. Every time a friend asked, “Are you back on OKCupid again?” I vehemently said no, fuck that shit, I was never going back, and I meant it. I hated that after all this time and after all these guys, I still had little to no experience in romance or love. I had been on dates with 16 different dudes, but I had never dated anyone. I’d been “liked” by hundreds of guys, yet no one had ever gotten far enough to actually like me. It was frustrating. It was disappointing. It was downright embarrassing.

All I wanted was…was what? For some reason I couldn’t articulate what I was looking for–not to my dates, not to my friends, not even to myself. I wasn’t really looking for a boyfriend. Not exactly. And not a random hookup.  Something. Anything beyond a few awkward dates that disintegrated into nothingness. One kiss that didn’t make me pull away first. Mutually assured infatuation. A summer fling with someone who wasn’t a fuckboy. Some drawn out, inexplicably intimate thing that slowly and steadily fell into the right place without ever being named.

I think my uncertainty about what I wanted came from the nagging feeling that I was unlovable. I felt like I wasn’t the kind of person who could fall in love, and no one in their right mind would fall in love with me. After the disastrous one-sided entanglement with Rishi, I couldn’t really think of anything I had to offer to someone interested in a relationship, outside of the fact that I was a person who really wanted to be in at least one relationship before she died of boba overdose in her 40s so on some level I was desperate and pliable and those were qualities that hetero cis dudes liked, right?

Anyway.

I had learned the hard way that I was too neurotic to find the emotionally fulfilling romantic relationship I wanted from the constraints of some random guy’s profile, whose answers often suggested he was mediocre at writing about himself anyway, so what was the fucking point? I hated, hated, hated the whole setup:  having to rely on arbitrary algorithms to determine my alleged compatibility with a stranger, having to read one shitty bio after another to parse some potential out of some guy’s bland words, having to meet up with that guy and being forced to make small talk in hopes of forging one small connection, just one spark that could maybe lead to something that felt tangible and real.

prologue1

It was all so contrived and unnatural. Nope, I was better off bitter and alone.

“Well, there are others you can try,” my friends said. “Like Plenty of Fish. Or Coffee Meets Bagel. Or Tinder!”

The thought of trying another dating site/app made me want to throw up. It also seemed like a very pathetic, pitiful thing to do when I had already failed with one medium of online dating. Like, was I that desperate? Couldn’t I just be a charming, sociable and somewhat normal person who made guys fall for her in real life? Well obviously not, but it doesn’t hurt to throw that in as a segue to the fact that meeting guys in real life was not something I knew how to do. I had attended a women’s college. My social circle and professional network were both 95% female (at the very least). I spent most of my time at work, alone in my room, or out with mostly female friends. I was steadily growing out of my partying/going out phase and accepting myself as the unexciting introverted homebody that I was. Where did a guy with romantic potential fit into all of that? Meeting guys in real life sounded complicated and messy anyway. I had once again reached the ultimatum that I would have to a) finally come to terms with being a premature spinster, or b) resume online dating, and I had resigned myself to the former.

But then my friends kept sharing their online dating stories with me, their successes and failures, and hearing about them actually made me miss going on dates myself. Or, well, not so much the dates as the excitement of getting to know someone unfamiliar and attractive and feeling flattered knowing that at some level they felt the same about me. That didn’t even have to be on a date. That could just be a flirtatious exchange with a guy so far removed from me that my anxieties about the aftermath were minimal to none. I guess I just missed being a few clicks and keystrokes away from a random pool of guys who were guaranteed to be interested in me (at least initially). Maybe it was contrived and unnatural, but it was easy. It was convenient. And sadly, it was all I knew.

At this point, it had been a few months since I had last used OKCupid. I knew I was never going to use it again. But not all dating sites were like OKCupid. Maybe I just needed to get back into the game using a slightly different medium of online dating.

It was my friend Laura who kept bringing up Coffee Meets Bagel. “It was created by women! It’s a women friendly dating app.”

“Okay, I guess I’ll try it,” I said. At the time, I was wary of hookup-happy Tinder and hated the idea of having to swipe on people based on their photos and maybe like one sentence they had written about themselves. So Coffee Meets Bagel it was.

I knew that I needed help, though. There were only three lessons I had learned from my OKCupid dating venture, and they were (embarrassingly/sadly/unfortunately enough) things that other people already instinctively knew without having to suffer through a series of mediocre dates like I had.

 

The Only Three Lessons I Learned From My OKCupid Dating Venture

  1. Don’t talk about rape culture. Or bring up anything remotely related to social justice/feminism. It’s kind of an alienating defense mechanism and while your paranoia about douchebags is valid and you just want to get to the big questions as a preventative measure against falling in love with a sexist/racist/other-ist asshole, this is not the way to go. You’re trying to get laid here. Quit with the boner shrinking topics. Nobody knows what you’re talking about and if they seem like they do, that doesn’t mean there will be chemistry or that they’re good guys.
  2. Don’t make guys feel like they’re pedophiles for wanting to date you. Yes, there are plenty of dudes who are creeps and date girls way younger than them and that’s really gross and really pisses you off (#FuckthePedoPatriarchy), but none of the guys you’ve met up with were all that creepy or that much older. It’s not their fault you look so young. You don’t even look that young, actually. Or do you? Who knows? Dating somewhat older men is probably better anyway, their brains will be developed.
  3. Physically position your hands on non-threatening body parts of dudes to indicate interest in a non-creepy manner. “Well, you don’t have to put it like that,” said my friend Mackenzie.

prologue2

So yes, I needed a lot of help with coming off like a normal person who was dateable. Which was why I enlisted my friend Sayuri to be my official Dating Sensei, because Sayuri is a friendly, socially aware person who had been in actual relationships and had miraculously positive experiences with dating on Tinder. For whatever reason, she agreed to be my Sensei, so I asked her to help me create my Coffee Meets Bagel profile. We sat ourselves down in our living room (she was my roommate at the time) and I pulled out my phone.

“Okay. What should I write?” I asked.

“What do you think are your best qualities?” she said.

“I’m neurotic?” I said.

She tried again. “What are some positive things about yourself that you want people to know about?”

I stared at her blankly. My best qualities? Positive things about myself? I couldn’t think of anything.

“Um…”

I literally couldn’t think of anything. It was kind of embarrassing so I looked away from Sayuri’s perplexed gaze for a little bit. It’s not like I was a deeply insecure person with low self esteem. I mean, I used to be and I can be, but not like how I was five, ten years ago. I had always mustered some level of self-respect and dignity. And I knew I was more confident, sometimes. But truth be told, the current self-love I had cultivated didn’t really stem from saying and fully believing in complimentary things about myself. It came from being tired of hating myself and reclaiming my flaws, in getting really invested in some weirdly, personally idealized fucked up version of myself and trying to give little to no fucks what anyone else thought.

Of course I wasn’t going to say all of that, so instead I just said, “Uh…”

“Why not say that you’re creative? And that you’re a writer?”

I cringed at that. “Um. Let me try writing something and you can give me feedback.”

“Okay.”

This is what I wrote:

I am…

a writer in the loosest sense of the word, feminist as fuck, terrible at describing myself without the use of self-deprecating humor

I like…

intersectionality, karaoke, comedy as a coping mechanism

I appreciate when my date…

is sympathetic to my awkwardness, is honest and direct about his interest (or lack thereof) in me, wants to take down the white capitalist heteropatriarchy with me and piggyback into the sunset (you need to be the bottom tho)

Sayuri just sighed and shook her head at this hopeless case she probably regretted taking on.

prologue3

I wish my actual living room looked this nice.

Next were the picture negotiations. To my dismay, Sayuri rejected all selfies in which I was making weird faces or crude bodily gestures, selfies I thought were cute and quirky but she seemed to think were sloppy and weird. “Oh! This one is good,” she said, selecting a full body shot of me wearing a short white dress and a shit ton of makeup.

“But…I don’t look like that all the time!” I spluttered.

“It’s a nice picture. It shows off your makeup skills,” she said.

As if hetero cis men knew or cared anything about makeup skills. I grudgingly conceded to her photo choices though. I knew she was only trying to help, and only because I had asked.

So, with my profile finally written up and my pictures uploaded at last, the game could now begin.

Or not. I soon realized Coffee Meets Bagel would force me to make snap judgments on random guys, which made it just as bad as Tinder, except Tinder was still worse because of swiping. (What do you have against swiping, you might be wondering. My issue with it is that it’s just way too impersonal and superficial, even for the likes of me. Swiping is literally a dick move. Just one motion of your phallic finger and you’ve decided whether someone is worthy of further attention, or just a crusty ass booger to be flicked away and forgotten within milliseconds. Distill all the things wrong with millennial dating and Internet culture into one gesture and you’ve got yourself the conceptually douchey act of swiping.)

Coffee Meets Bagel was also boring to me. From what I could recall, I could only look at one guy (excuse me, bagel) per day. I mean, I am monogamous, but not when it comes to eye-fucking, jeez. I think there was extra stuff I could do to get more bagels, but it seemed like such a hassle. After a few days of dead end conversations and awkward silences, I ended up matching with one guy who asked me out. Like, this guy actually asked me out. Like, he actually wrote to me, “Would you like to go out on a date?” Millennial guy says what now? What twenty-something Bay Area single uses the loaded D word with another person with no trace of irony?? He then went on to ask me what I was looking for, and casually mentioned he wanted to be in a long term relationship.

prologue4

His honesty and sincerity and keen interest in me and totally valid questions were freaking me the fuck out. I hadn’t even met the guy yet and this bitch was talking about long term relationships. He didn’t know me! He had no right to be considering me for any kind of long term relationship regardless of how hypothetical and slight in possibility it was! I wasn’t even sure if he was attractive! I stared harder and harder at his pictures, and his handful of words, and felt more and more repelled by him. I didn’t know what to do. I had already matched with him, had already grudgingly admitted that I was open to being in a relationship. There was no way to backtrack.

So I deleted my account. Like a fucking coward.

Whatever, this coffee didn’t pair well with those bagels anyway.

“I’m going on Tinder,” I announced to my friends. “It’s fine. Sayuri dates people on Tinder. It’s not just for fucking.” It was true that some part of me was morally against swiping, but I had pretty much done the slow-paced equivalent of it on Coffee Meets Bagel and had survived, mostly unscathed. I figured that Coffee Meets Bagel was just a gateway dating app to the cyber cesspool I was meant to stew in all along.

That’s when the real game began.

tl;dr Learkana bitches about OKCupid! Learkana tries and fails at Coffee Meets Bagel! Learkana finally moves on to Tinder!

0

OKBye Stories: The Mixtape

EDIT: How could I forget “Girls Chase Boys”?! Added now.

A playlist to accompany my OKCupid blog posts.

  1. Ellie Goulding – “Anything Can Happen”
  2. Ariel Pink – “Put Your Number in My Phone”
  3. Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
  4. Haim – “The Wire”
  5. Taylor Swift – “Enchanted”
  6. Fall Out Boy – “Hum Hallelujah”
  7. The Weepies – “They’re In Love, Where Am I?”
  8. Best Coast – “Feeling OK”
  9. Carly Rae Jepsen – “I Really Like You”
  10. Allison Weiss – “Making It Up”
  11. Tegan & Sara – “How Come You Don’t Want Me”
  12. Sigma – “Nobody to Love”
  13. Ingrid Michaelson – “Girls Chase Boys”
  14. Matt & Kim – “Lessons Learned”
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

0

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

0

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