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Tinderp Tale #3: Truth or Drink

What are you looking for?

That’s it. The most important question you can answer as a single navigating the dating scene. The 3 options and their consequences to keep in mind are as follows:

a) If you answer dishonestly, you might hurt someone down the road.

b) If you answer honestly, you might scare or turn someone off.

c) If you skirt around answering or addressing the question, you or whoever’s the most neurotic in the flirtationship will live in an amorphous and complicated state of confusion, anxiety, and stress over where things are going and why.

In my experience, we millennials rely heavily on c), much to my dismay and detriment as a neurotic single. Apparently, direct communication is out of style. Let’s just be chill and not specify what the fuck we’re actually doing!

Back on OKCupid, I was looking for a long-term relationship while also pretending that I wasn’t actually looking for a relationship. (Obviously, this plan was set up to fail and did, in fact, fail.) Now that I was on Tinder, I was unclear of what I was looking for but knew it vaguely had something to do with chemistry, whatever that thing was. Must I resist the urge to throw myself at him in person? Then yes, it’s really a match!

There wasn’t much room to be selective on Tinder, anyway. You judged based on pictures and a brief bio, which may or may not have actual words in it. Which in my case translated to: I forced my Dating Sensei/roommate/friend Sayuri to judge based on pictures and on the bio which should definitely have at least SOMETHING in it, because I’m not that fucking shallow, goddamnit.

One of the matches she obtained for me was a guy I will call Anthony. Anthony was cute. He had high quality photos that included an adorable close-up of him and various action shots that showed he was a fun guy who possessed an actual social life. Also, his bio had words that made sense! (Yes, my standards for dating material had lowered considerably post-OKCupid.)

I was excited and optimistic enough about Anthony to hit him up first and decided to go with a pickup line I would never have the guts to use in real life. (To be fair, it wouldn’t make much sense in real life anyway.)


You matched with Anthony on 6/25/15

Me

What brings your handsome mug to this dating cesspool? 😉


 Anthony

Wow I was about to give up on this whole tinder thing. First time a cute girl actually messages me first


Me

So I win?


Anthony

Yep, I think I owe you a drink or two now


Looking back at this exchange, I must say I’m pretty impressed with my ability to establish flirtatious rapport with a cute guy without fucking it up even once. (It’s the little victories, okay.)

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Anthony and I made plans to meet at Cafe Van Kleef, a divey sort of bar in downtown Oakland with eclectic wall decor. The last time I was there on a date was 2 years ago, but I figured it was unlikely I would run into Steven #1. Anyway, I had given up on making an effort to try new activities or places for first dates and decided recycling through previous bars would suffice. (Lowered standards, check. Brief flirtatious exchange based off little to no information, check. Half-assed planning, check. My transformation into your typical millennial dating app user was complete.)

I think Anthony got there before I did. (I am more often than not shamelessly running late to dates. Time as we know it is a Western bullshit construct anyway! Just kidding. Actually, that might be true. Hmm.) He was sitting at the bar and got up to give me a hug when he saw me. Much to my relief and joy, he looked just as good in person as he did in his pictures! We each ordered a beer and got to talking.

I remember enjoying our conversation and feeling somewhat shy, which tends to happen when I’m around guys I find attractive (and is really fucking annoying to my inner/outer radical feminist). He was a techie college dropout who was completely disconnected to his Latin roots, but he was hot and a good listener. His laugh however was really annoying, to the point where I was inwardly cringing every time he chuckled, but I mean, it would have been stupid of me to make that a dealbreaker, right? (Although the dude waiting in line with me for the unisex bathroom at one point in the night jokingly[?] offered the opinion that I should just run away when I confided in him and another stranger about how my date was going (yenno, because I’m an embarrassingly open book, on- and offline).

I could tell Anthony liked me because whenever the conversation trailed off, he would just stare at me and smile. I would look back at him, but I couldn’t maintain eye contact for too long. He made me nervous. It was too intimate. But it was nice, being looked at by someone who clearly desired me in a consensual, non-creepy way.

This is it, I thought excitedly. This is what they call chemistry! 

I ended up suggesting we play the game “Truth or Drink,” in which we took turns asking each other questions. You had the option of either answering honestly, or passing and taking a drink. Unlike previous times I’ve played this game with other guys from the Internet, this round with Anthony opened up actual dialogue. There were two things of note that were brought up in the game: his ex and my virginity.

I think it started with me asking, “How long was your most serious relationship?”

“Seven years,” he answered.

WHAT. “Wow, that’s a long time,” I said. “What happened?”

“One day she just stopped loving me,” he said with a straight face.

“Uh, okay.” Kind of a grody way to answer, but okay. I wonder if he was still hung up on her. Given the way he phrased it, maybe. Ugh.

“How long was your most serious relationship?” Anthony asked in return.

“Oh. I’ve never been in a relationship,” I replied, feigning casualness.

He was taken aback (as they usually are). “Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Have you ever been with anyone…? Like intimately?”

“Oh, uh…no,” I said quietly. “I’m…a virgin.”

It was uncomfortable to say it out loud. I had never been a proud post-adolescent V-Card holder, honestly. Not that it’s anything to be proud of (boo to implicit slut shaming!).  But to me, being a virgin signaled a lack of worldly life experience. It meant I was sexually naive and immature, and only three-quarters of an actual adult. It wasn’t like I was waiting until marriage, or anything like that. I was simply too awkward and insecure to make it happen, and a real opportunity had never presented itself.

My public confession was made worse by the look on Anthony’s face. I could have been reading too much into it, but he looked like he was the slightest bit dismayed by the news. Like maybe me being a 23-going-on-24-year-old virgin spinster was a total turnoff and dealbreaker. Like maybe he wouldn’t have sex with me because he thought I was an attached bleeder.

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From S1E04 of the HBO show Girls.

I was definitely not looking at him anymore.

“Are you okay?” asked Anthony. “You’ve gone quiet.”

“Oh, yeah…” I mumbled. “I just feel like…it’s weird.” Damn it, I should have drank instead.

“I mean, it’s fine,” he said. “I’m not judging.”

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The subject was changed, and we thankfully moved on. At the end of the night, he walked me to my car. He smiled like he meant it and gave me a hug that told me he wanted to see me again. I drove away, in awe that I had finally met someone I was interested in, who was also interested in me! Maybe this would turn into something real for once. Maybe I wouldn’t be left disappointed.

He texted me a few days later, asking me if I wanted to get dinner.

I said yes. Then, my worst dating nightmare happened: I had an acne breakout.

FUCK. WHY?!

It was one of the worst breakouts I’d gotten in a while. Of course this would happen right when I had made plans with a guy I finally clicked with. Of course.

He thinks you’re cute, I tried to console myself. So what if you have a couple of pimples on your face? You’re still cute. The pimples will pass.

Shut up and crawl under a rock, you ugly fuckface, my inner mean girl voice replied.

I cancelled the date, citing tiredness.

That’s when Anthony invited me over to his place.

Oh. My. God.

This was it. My opportunity to get laid!

Excitement quickly devolved into anxiety and fright. This was a really last minute request. I hadn’t even properly groomed myself (i.e., thoroughly shaved down there). And I still had those fucking gross zits to reckon with. I bravely looked at myself in the mirror. It’s okay. You can do this. You deserve this. You’re beautiful. You’re awesome. You’re–

Nope. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do this. Insecurity took over.

Well, maybe we don’t need to have sex.

Bitch, please. He did not invite you over to play board games. 

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I was disappointed and frustrated with myself. I had spent years trying to unlearn the shame and self-loathing that came with my body and my sexual desires, in a world that taught me both were wrong. It seemed I still had a ways to go.

I let Anthony know I couldn’t make it. He seemed okay with that.

A couple of days later, he texted me with some bad news.

Anthony: Hey I know this is really sudden, but I’m moving to New York next week. My company offered me a promotion and I accepted. I didn’t think it would happen so soon. The timing sucks because you’re the first girl I’ve really liked in a while.

I read his words, feeling kind of sad but not too upset. I didn’t know him well enough for this to have really impacted me, but it was disappointing that the first guy I ever had chemistry with was being snatched out of my hands by the tech industry. I mourned the lost potential. I would never have sex with him now. I mean, I could, but he was leaving for good and having sex with someone in those circumstances would make me feel used. Was this it, then? I realized I still wanted to see him regardless, even if we weren’t gonna bang.

Me: Thanks for telling me. It sucks because I like you too, but I’m happy for you. 🙂 Would you be down to hang out one last time?

Anthony: Lol sure

Per the suggestion of my Dating Sensei, Anthony and I met at Off the Grid in Oakland, a weekly food truck event hosted by the Oakland Museum of California. My breakout had subsided by that time. I was relieved when he did not look at me like I was a fizzling slug. Instead he hugged me and briefly rested his head on mine, a small gesture that made my heart leap with joy.

We ordered food and sat down to watch people dance along to the live band playing salsa music.

“I don’t understand how you’ve stayed single,” he exclaimed at one point. “You’re so cute!”

I gave him a small smile and shrugged. No point in ruining his projected fantasy of me. But it also irked me, to be diminished to this one word: cute. He only liked me because I’m cute? Is that really the only prerequisite for a guy to like a girl? I was more than just cute. Cuteness was only something I had recently made a conscious effort to cultivate. It was mostly aesthetic and superficial, and I had other valuable qualities outside of this flimsy label. Obviously, this train of thought didn’t make for dateable commentary, so I just shut up and took a huge gulp of my Coke.

The event ended close to 9. I asked Anthony if he wanted to walk around Lake Merritt with me. “Is this where you take all your dates?” he joked.

“Haha, no,” I said. (Just some of them, ahem.)

Night had fallen by this time. We walked side by side, under the soft light coming from the lamps strung along the path. I had this strong urge to hold Anthony’s hand, because I had never held hands with a guy before. Yes, this is pitiful, but bear with me. Who knew when I was going to meet a guy with whom I shared mutual attraction to again? The time to lose my handholding virginity was now.

“I….I have a question to ask you,” I mumbled.

“What is it?”

“Um…uh…it’s a really awkward question.”

“Just ask me.”

“Uh…”

This literally went on for 10, 15 minutes and is definitely one of the top 10 Most Embarrassing Date Moments I’ve suffered in my entire anticlimactic dating history.

Eventually I burst out with, “Canweholdhands?”

“Sorry, didn’t hear you,” said Anthony. “What’d you say?”

“UGH! FORGET IT!”

He laughed, came closer, and slipped his hand over mine. It sent thrills through me. I was elated, and also really nauseated by how elated I was by this sappy, innocent gesture. People passed by us. It struck me that to them, we were a couple in love, not two singles going on their final date together before they never saw each other again because why the hell not. It was sad. But also, gross. I had become one of those people who blocked up public pathways with my desire for physical affection.

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We ended up cuddling on a bench overlooking the water. We talked about random shit, but kept returning to the subject of relationships (or the lack thereof).

Anthony elaborated on his 7 year relationship. They started dating when she was a senior in high school and he was in his first year of college. They were even living together, but then she started getting distant. She eventually cheated on him and that was the final straw. They split up.

And apparently, this officially ended like only a month or so ago. He did clarify that the breakdown in the relationship happened long before, but still, COMPLETE turnoff. Part of me was glad he was leaving. But I knew that at this point, I couldn’t really be picky about anyone’s relationship baggage, just because I was some weird anomaly who had none.

“I don’t really like dating,” said Anthony. “I prefer relationships.”

“I don’t know if I could be in a relationship, honestly,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“I like being alone, and being independent. If I were to be in a relationship, I would want some personal space. I wouldn’t want to hang out with someone all the time or feel obligated to text or call someone everyday.” As I was explaining this, I could see disagreement register on Anthony’s face. Hmph. I guess it was a good thing he was leaving after all.

“I still don’t get why those other guys never worked out,” he said.

I took a breath. “Okay. So when I first started doing online dating, I was set on finding someone who had the same sociopolitical beliefs as me, because I don’t want to date someone who’s racist or sexist or whatever. I would ask guys to define rape culture on the first date, and bring up feminism and stuff. But then I realized doing that wasn’t helping me find someone I liked or clicked with. So I stopped.”

“Oh. Well, I consider myself a pretty open-minded guy, so–”

I looked at him. “I think you should stop talking.”

He laughed. We stayed on that bench for a little while longer, trying to savor the moment.

Eventually we made our way back. He walked me to my car and gave me a final hug. “I’m glad I got to see you again,” he said.

“Yeah, me too,” I replied. He was just looking at me and smiling. Anxiety kicked in. Oh god. Were we supposed to kiss? It didn’t seem like he was trying to do that, though, and I didn’t know how to initiate one. I didn’t think I wanted to anyway, because kissing in my experience was shitty and I didn’t want to ruin our farewell with a gross, sloppy tongue dance. Also, we had both eaten garlic shrimp pasta for dinner, so no. Definitely not.

He told me to keep in touch. I was surprised.”Do you mean it?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Yeah. Why not?”

I didn’t keep in touch, and he never reached out to me again either. What was the point? We were on opposite sides of the country. He was looking for love, and I was looking for something that couldn’t be provided to me through a long distance connection.

I think about him from time to time, wistfully wondering what could have been. It’s my default dating mode. I’m always looking back. Pinpointing mistakes. Stuck on what-ifs. Longing for what isn’t. Fantasizing about what could never be. Filled with regret. It’s incredibly lonely when romance and desire are experienced more through retrospect than in the present. But the ache is so familiar, it’s become a part of me.

tl;dr Learkana finally has chemistry with a guy! Learkana freaks out about some zits and her cunt and doesn’t get laid! Learkana engages in some nauseating handholding for the first time, woo hoo!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Cafe Van Kleef
Rating: *****
Review: Well, this is the second time I’ve been here, so obviously I think this place is awesome. Chill vibe, cool decor, nice people. 5/5 would go again (and did *cough*).

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Tinderp Tale #2: I’m An Asshole

My experience with Tinder was vastly different from my foray into OKCupid. For one thing, I had control over who messaged me, which was a huge factor in my preference of Tinder over OKCupid. The downside was that most of the guys I matched with on Tinder seemed way more passive–they were totally okay with saying nothing at all. (Then again, it could have been a racial difference, given that I had instructed my Dating Sensei to only swipe right on dudes of color. Maybe the white boys on OKCupid felt more entitled to my time and attention, because of white supremacy and Orientalism and other complicated shit I don’t feel like getting into right now.)

Suffice it to say, I was forced to take more initiative on Tinder. I started messaging guys first with the hope that they would follow up by asking me out, only to have it not pan out, even if they appeared interested initially. In addition to not striking up conversations, these guys were also completely fine with meaningless small talk that trailed off into silence. It was annoying, to the point where I finally started sympathizing with cishet dudes who adhered to sociocultural expectations of being pursuers and instigators. To put yourself out there, again and again and again, with no results? It’s pretty soul-crushing and demoralizing after a while.

So it was ironically refreshing to return to established gender roles when I eventually stumbled across someone who was proactive in his interest in me. (Let’s call him Ben.) Soon after we matched, Ben sent an incredibly flattering and straightforward message that went something like this:


Ben – Summer 2015

Hey, I want to say that reading your bio was a huge turn-on for me. I’m not too knowledgeable about social justice issues but I do my best to check my male privilege, and I would love to take you out and learn how to please a strong, independent woman such as yourself if you’re willing to give me the chance.


I checked out his profile. Honestly, nothing stood out in particular. I couldn’t really tell if he was physically attractive based on his pictures but I mean, how can I reject a dude who writes a message like that?

(I should probably tell you what exactly in my Tinder bio inspired this message, but the truth is, I’m not really sure. I’ve changed it so often that all the attempted witticisms are just one big blur in my mind. However, I can say with moderate confidence that it very likely involved references to feminism and low-key insulting men.)

So I responded with something very articulate like “Lol oh wow thanks” and then we made plans to meet over dinner.

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This is where my memory gets really fuzzy, but after mulling it over and using a combination of half-assed Yelp research and eye-squinting reasoning skills, I am 70% positive that we met up at Belly, a restaurant in uptown Oakland.

He was very tall in person. I was disappointed to find that I did not care much for his face. Obviously, this is a shitty reason to bail on someone, so the date continued. He paid for dinner, and was really smooth about it, too. (I don’t expect guys to pay but it’s nice when you’re a broke motherfucker–or any motherfucker really.) We sat at a little table by the window and ate. I had ordered a salad. He had ordered something that definitely was not a salad. We talked. Well, he talked a lot and I half-listened, tired and semi-disinterested.

I don’t remember much of what was said. It probably mirrored most first date conversations I’ve had with other guys. It starts feeling like a script after a while. Where I’m from. Why I moved here. Where I went to school. What I do for fun. The music I listen to, the shows I watch. Where I work. My family. Your entire being gets distilled into a handful of small talk, your complexity and nuance flattened and hidden behind your reserved persona and a wall of carefully chosen words, barriers put in place for a whole slew of reasons that include social anxiety and a general mistrust of men. You recite the same lines and hope you get a slightly different reaction you can work off of. You’re always gauging interest–yours and theirs. You gauge, and gauge, and after all the mental gymnastics you go through you are only rewarded with uncertainty that eats away at you to the point where you are just tired and going through the motions of someone on a date and wondering why you even bothered in the first place. Or, you know, maybe that’s just me.

When we finished with dinner, Ben asked if I wanted to grab a drink at a bar nearby. OKC Learkana would have made a shitty excuse and gone home. Tinder Learkana went along with it, because she was trying to be open-minded and easygoing for once. We walked a few blocks down to Woods Bar & Brewery, a pub Ben had stumbled across on Yelp. We got our drinks and sat down at a high table along the wall. The atmosphere was intimate. The beer was surprisingly good. (Woo, house brews!)

“Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah,” chattered Ben.

“Blah blah,” I replied.

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Not a picture of the actual bar, the first page result of a Google search has failed me.

(Yes my memory is too hazy and I’m too lazy to seriously try reconstructing our conversation. But I’m pretty sure my estimate of the blah blah ratio between us is spot on.)

We ended up lapsing into a lot of long conversational pauses that made me squirm in discomfort. “Don’t you hate awkward silences?” I blurted out (yes I know, really not helping matters at all).

“Nope,” he said. “I enjoy them. I like sitting here and looking at you. You have pretty eyes.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know what to say to that. No one had ever said anything remotely like that about my eyes. Except my friend Elizabeth who I’m pretty sure had a weird Asian fetish thing. But Ben was Asian and probably didn’t have a weird Asian fetish thing, so I decided it was a valid compliment, which in and of itself was still bewildering, because the guys I went on dates with didn’t usually compliment me.

Ben soon launched into a lengthy monologue about dropping acid in college and how everyone should drop acid at least once in their life because it’s really awesome and will expand your mind, to which I tried to respond in as pleasant and neutral a manner as possible in a poor attempt to disguise the fact that I had the drug history of a straitlaced prepubescent schoolgirl and wasn’t planning on changing that anytime soon. (This also, embarrassingly enough, was my first inkling that experimenting with drugs other than weed was a normal pastime for a lot of seemingly well-adjusted people my age. Yes, it’s possible to be a sheltered girl from the wrong side of the tracks.)

I was somewhat buzzed. I felt warm and relaxed. As Ben rambled on, I thought, This isn’t so bad. He talks a lot but I don’t really feel like talking anyway. He’s nice. I can just sit here and kind of listen.

Eventually though, we left the bar. He wished me good night and said, rather bluntly, “I’d like to go on another date with you.”

Who was this guy? His honesty and unabashed interest in me were terrifying and awkward as hell. “Um. So I think you’re really cool but…I would rather be friends,” I said slowly.

He took it well, thankfully. “I’m fine with that.”

We hugged and parted ways.

By the time I was fully sober and had gotten some sleep, I regretted my choice of words. The more I thought back to that night, the more I realized I did not want to be friends with Ben. He was nice, sure, but he talked way too much about himself and if I was being honest, I had mainly found it tolerable due to sleep deprivation and intoxication. Anyway, let’s be real, I wasn’t looking for friends on Tinder. I was looking for someone I liked and wanted to do sexual things with, and it wasn’t going to be him.

It’s not like he was straight-up ugly or anything! (Ugliness is a social construct, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, blah blah blah.) I personally just didn’t find him attractive. If someone didn’t find me attractive, I certainly wouldn’t want them to continue seeing me in spite of my looks. I mean, how insulting is that? So really I was doing him a favor that he didn’t know about, right?

I really hoped he wouldn’t hit me up again. I mean, why would he? He wasn’t looking for friends either, right? And I had made it very clear we would not be fucking, right? Unless he thought hanging out would eventually lead to me fucking him, right? Ugh.

A few weeks passed. Radio silence from him. I exhaled in relief and moved on with my life.

Then…a couple of months later, I got a text from him. It went something like this:

Ben: Hey! Sorry I took so long to contact you again. I’ve been really busy but now that I’m free, when are you available to hang out? Mondays, Wednesdays, and weekends are good for me.

Godfuckingdamnit.

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I didn’t know what to say.

‘Hey sorry, I changed my mind about wanting to be your friend. After sobering up, I realized you’re boring and not worth my time lol.’

Or what about…

‘Hey sorry, I don’t wanna be friends cuz I already have enough friends plus you talk too much and it’s actually kinda annoying now that I think about it. :(‘

Or how about the classic, ‘New phone. Who dis’?

“Don’t say anything,”my friend Chelsia advised. “Just ignore him. He’ll get the hint and move on.”

“But–but isn’t that fucked up?!” I cried.

She shrugged. “What can you say? Just say nothing. Nothing is better.”

So I did it. “It” being nothing.

I also unmatched with him on Tinder. You know, just to shove the knife a little deeper into his chest. For funsies. (Okay really it was because I started freaking out about the possibility he would hit me up on Tinder again and demand explanations for my assholish behavior.)

Poor, oblivious Ben. I felt guilty as hell.

It’s official, I thought. I’m an asshole, just like Rishi and all the other guys I never heard from again.

Oh, whatever, shot back my inner voice that just so happened to be manifesting as a bitter premature spinster. He’s gonna marry some nice, cute, well-adjusted Asian girl who will totally think he’s hot and totally drop acid with him. And I might as well come to terms with being a full-fledged asshole now, it’s not like online dating is going to get any less ruthless.

The cynic has spoken! On to the next one.

tl;dr Learkana messages passive guys who don’t give a fuck! Learkana finally gets asked out by a refreshingly forward dude! Learkana meets said dude in person and realizes he’s not cute and actually kinda boring IRL and she feels really bad about ghosting on him but it’s her life, her choice!

With that said, it’s now time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Belly
Rating: ***
Review: I mean I suppose it’s not totally fair to rate this venue given that I’m only 70% sure that it was the actual venue of my first and only date with Ben. But I swear the setup of the restaurant looks A LOT like what I remembered! And it was also definitely in uptown! And it’s MY blog and through MY lens, SO THERE. Anyway, the food was good from what I recall, but I did feel the minimal seating made for an awkward first date arrangement. My philosophy is: the more randos around you to provide a moderate amount of background noise, the less uncomfortable it is for you and your date when you two inevitably lapse into awkward silence!

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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.

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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!

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

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OKBye Story #14: Friends with No Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

andy1

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

Wait, what??? Andy was polyamorous?

Ah, shit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did we hug? I don’t remember.

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

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

andy2

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I can give you a ride,” he offered.

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

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

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

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

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

Well, duh Learkana.

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

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

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

2

OKBye Story #13: When Awkward Met Awkward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t get a lot of return responses.

Hi.

Sent 9/27/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sent 9/27/2014

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

The conversation continued:

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

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

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

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

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

colin1

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

Such a naive fool I was.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

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

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

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

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

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

colin2

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

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

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

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

“This is very awkward,” he said suddenly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am. Drink it,” I ordered.

He took a sip. “This is pretty good.”

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

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

colin3

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

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

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

Okay whatever.

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

I decided this date was not going well.

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

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

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

“Is that what you want?” he asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

colin4

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

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

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

The conversation did not go very well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah, shit.

My dating pool just got a lot smaller.

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