Among the various frustrations that come with becoming a Serial First Dater (a most ignominious title) is the tedium of having to talk about yourself each time. Recently I went on a spur-of-the-moment date via OKCupid locals. (Background: I was lying in a park reading a book. She was lying in a different park reading a different book. We’re both vaguely and indifferently Jewish. She’s from SF, and I operate on the assumption that most girls from SF are awesome.)
We met up and of course she didn’t look at all like her pics. She was also a fake San Franciscan having only lived there through grad school (doesn’t count if you’re going to insert the affiliation into your screen name). Not the point. As a “nice guy” (the bar is low these days, based on what other dudes have reported doing in this situation), even if my date does not look to be the person she portrays in online pictorial spreads, I still follow through and hang out. It seems rude not to, and who knows? This chick seemed sane and had interesting experiences living abroad (Africa include, obviously, as she’s on OkCupid).
After an awkward attempt to pay for her own popsicle on the High Line (come on, ladies, I can afford a popsicle, and I don’t even expect lurid sexual favors in return), she said, “I don’t know anything about you. Tell me something about yourself.”
“What an intimidating request,” I replied. Not because I haven’t had to tell people about myself a million times, which all SFDs are proficient at. But at least let it come out naturally in the course of conversation. Maybe I was being extra reticent on account of my disappointment in her appearance. I don’t know. But suddenly faced with a direct request to summarize/advertise myself, I kind of went blank. I threw out some obligatory facts and mercifully we soon went back to just shooting the shit.
This moment once again conjured up my always dreaded hint of potential SFD burnout: self-description fatigue. We’ve already laid out some details in our profiles. Now, unless broken up by some truly amazing person/experience/conversation thread, an SFD is always at serious risk for falling into run-of-the-mill dates with 20-question safety nets and boilerplate resume recitations. I, for one, bore myself to tears having to hear my own life story dozens of times. To every new girl, I’m a new story, perhaps at times even an interesting one. But to myself I’m a broken record, like that one book a poor peasant reads to his children over and over because it’s all they own.
Even when I try to put new spins on it, twist and turn it every which way, change the wording, bring in new characters, there are only so many times you can tell your life story. The person I “love” most—myself—is also the person I’m most weary of. Such is life. That’s part of why we go out and roam amongst others, that’s why we look for someone else to love, as much as or more than ourselves. So we beat on, and we give our elevator pitch and tell our stories over and over, hoping to find someone whose story we want to hear more than our own, maybe even over and over. And then? We’ll see.