After a Friday evening HAW date with a very pleasant lady who, despite sharing my interest in several areas, and being cute, just didn’t hit the right nerve with me, I got a hit on OkCupid Locals. Are you familiar with OkCupid Locals? It’s their mobile app’s raison d’être, allowing users to click faces (let’s face it, we all love clicking faces) of allegedly nearby Cupids, indicating that you want to meet up in the very, very near future without fuss or drawn-out written exchanges. Basically, it’s the Lazy Man/Woman’s online dating app. If someone clicks on you and you click back, a match occurs and you can then set up a rendezvous at a local Foursquare-indexed urban venue. (Local takes on a different meaning when you’re in a more remote location. In the Poconos [yes, I turned it on during vacation and damn you for judging] the pickings are slim; you’ll either be selecting between a Dunkin Donuts barista or a free spirited bisexual in rural PA an hour’s drive from your demands for instant first-date gratification.)
The girl who clicked on me seemed smart, grounded, and pleasant-looking, so I went for it. We met up for dim sum and had some interesting conversation. Even when the quick sting of face-to-face disappointment sets in, I can settle into the pleasure of just meeting another human being with a unique background, set of experiences, and outlook on all the interesting things—politics, sex, etc.—that are first date taboos. Sadly the dim sum, like the girl, did not live up to my expectations. When we walked out of the Chinatown dim summery, summer rain, despite the best prognostications, was coming down. I tried to help her find a cab to Williamsburg and, wouldn’t you know it, they all seemed to be somewhere else.
When we finally tracked one down on Bowery, she invited me to share it for the few blocks that would get me closer to home before the taxi turned unto Delancey and the Williamsburg Bridge. She asked him if he could drop me off at Delancey. The cabbie, squinting with a strange intensity, replied, “Why not?” almost throwing up his arms, off the wheel, as if we’d just asked him to jump out of an airplane with us on a whim. OK! I turned back to my date to make some pre-departure small talk.
“You want to jump? Then jump!” the cabbie continued. I looked at him in confusion. He was squinting even more severely than before, and moving his head with uncertainty, his hostile tone not matching the tentative body language.
“Where you going?” he asked.
“I’m going a different way, just let me out on Delancey.”
“Where you going?” he raised his voice, waving me off with the back of his right palm.
“Uh, can you just let me out on Delancey?” I said will less certainty, totally unprepared for this weird challenge.
“You want to get wet, man? Where are you going, tell me!” he howled.
I told him my cross streets, way west of there, and he quieted down with an “Oh.” He knew he couldn’t help me.
“Wow, this guy is really concerned with my dryness,” I quipped to my date. I looked at her face and she was as confused as I was. I was now a little bit suspicious that this guy might be drunk, crazy, or both, but I was also in a hurry to get home.
Attempting to convey my concern and bewilderment with arched eyebrows and a quizzical glance at her, I only seemed to put her off. “I’m just trying to help,” she murmured. We awkwardly asked him to stop at the F train stop on Delancey and he instructed me to make up my mind and be more decisive. I thanked him, hugged the girl, and jumped out of the cab.
I ran down the steps into the subway, wondering if, as a human being I had any moral responsibility to ensure the girl’s survival in this bizarre yellow cab and its officious driver despite having no interest in further interaction with the girl herself. I now also wonder if he wasn’t having a stroke, or at least a transient ischemic attack, when he picked us up. I didn’t even have her number since in this wonderful age of face-clicking catalog dating we set the whole thing up though the App. If I messaged her, she might think it was a casual follow-up perceive it as interest in another date. I might sleep slightly better at night, but now I might have to deal with subsequent exchanges. Calculating the odds of survival based on past cab rides, my conscience chose the “eccentric cabbie” over “Travis Bickle.”
My moral quandary was soon dissolved in a sea of pixels as I started playing Slide Soccer on my iPhone while a guy on the opposite platform catcalled forcefully at a girl on the bench behind me. I lost to the computer on HARD, as usual. I’m sure she made it home safe and dry, fulfilling my parting wish, but I’m a little hesitant checking the local news this morning.