Tag Archives: dating

My First OkCupid Date: It Happens to Everyone.

9 Feb

The most understood fruit...and people

Today, I’d like to take a break from generalizations, labels, and ranting (don’t worry, these being my M.O., we’ll be back to them soon enough) that might paint me as some curmudgeonly misogynist (nothing further from the truth, ladies). Let’s go back to Event Zero: That’s right, my very first OkCupid date. Everyone has one. Hopefully yours was or will be good, but because we live in an unfair world, good judgment, pre-date screening, and your best tingling spider sense for a good match are sometimes not enough.

Months after a long-term relationship, I’d ventured into the online dating realm. It began with jDate (more on this in future post), continued on Match.com, and, after a string of disappointing, go-nowhere dates, emails, starts/stops, a friend finally nudged me toward the free dating world. Used to shelling out something on the order of $39.99/month to access jDate’s repository of Hebraic/Jew-friendly dames (it pains me to write this now), I was understandably skeptical of joining what appeared ostensibly to be a free dating site for hipsters. Paying for a service is usually the best and most basic filter there can be for a dating site. {Hear that, Plentyoffish}? But, like a man on a ledge, with goons in pursuit, I took the leap.

Granted, this was a particularly vulnerable time for me. Having finally overcome the lingering heartbreak of my prior relationship on the strength of a then “life-altering” Birthright trip to Israel, I dove head-first into jDate’s comely profile pics and professions of “being equally comfortable going out and staying in.” The reality of 20-question first-dates and communication games soon sunk in and by the time OkCupid came along I was cynical and somewhat battle-weary. I was Prince Bolkonsky after the Battle of Austerlitz (and jDate was my Austerlitz). I wish I could tell you that my first OkCupid experience was an epiphany or a great and wondrous turning point. No, it was rather the hammer that beat the nail further into my already hardening heart.

The girl was cute enough, a Russian Jew, a free spirit en route to grad school spending the summer taking in New York in Hell’s Kitchen. We’d gone back and forth on our activity and somehow landed on a Michael Jackson tribute in TriBeCa (part of the Film Festival). When we met up, MJ (this was pre-death) was quickly forgotten, becoming a backdrop to a hastily arranged dinner at some lame and overpriced tourist haunt somewhere on the West Side. She opened by bragging how she’d just spent a year abroad in New Zealand, quickly moving into a diatribe about how people misunderstand and underappreciate the “Kiwis.” At the time, the word Kiwi meant little more to me than a potato-looking fruit I didn’t like. Soon, I learned about how awesome they really are. (I love New Zealanders, btw.)

When it came time to order wine, she dismissed the wine list because it didn’t feature any New Zealand Rieslings. I informed her that California produces some solid wines these days (this was 2008 and had long been true), including my beloved German varietal. The girl informed me that while she’d been away and couldn’t say for sure, she highly doubted that America could produce decent wines. She then waxed poetic about her fluency in French and her time there, downgrading the U.S. to some discoloration on the body of the world. Next was what I call education-preening: puffing up the school she went to (I forget), lamenting not getting into Harvard and detailing the reasons why she didn’t, then boasting about the grad school program she got into (Chicago or Northwestern). This would have been forgivable if she hadn’t proceeded to express extreme surprise, bordering on insolence, that I had gone to a relatively esteemed institution myself. (Seriously? Was it my controversial remarks about the quality of U.S. wines that disqualified me from being an academic pimp?)

This was the part where I should have let my pride beat out my fear of social impropriety and let her pay half of the bill. After all, she offered to contribute her share and even mocked me for “having to be a man.” Instead, I played the disenchanted gentleman and agreed to go walk off our meal along the water on the West side. Here she’d remembered that there were two of us on the date (not uncommon on first dates) and proceeded to ask me some obligatory questions about my life. Learning that I worked in marketing (at the time), she immediately slammed this as a job/career choice and informed me that while it may be fun, it’s a total waste of time in her eyes, falling well short of the social value offered by whatever post-modern Ph.D. program she was joining.

Usually comfortable with just about any date and more than willing to squeeze lemonade out of a moldy lemon, I had the very rare urge to just shut down. Lacking the wisdom and cajones to wish her a good night and bolt, I continued to subject myself to her grilling. Figuring that she’d gotten the answers she wanted and would do me the favor of ending it herself, I was pretty surprised when she said,

“Oh, my, God, do you like hookahs? I love hookahs. Let’s go to the village and smoke one right now.”

“Umm, I’ve got a lot of work to finish for tomorrow,” I lamely replied. At the moment, I hadn’t realized that despite her uncouth manner, this girl was actually into me. I figured she just really wanted me to buy her a session with a water pipe. My pride finally got the better of me and I set us on a subway path. But my Cupid was not satisfied.

“Aren’t you doing anything interesting with your life, at least, writing or something?” some rays of hopefulness cracking through the dark clouds of her pity. So not only was she judgmental, she was also kind of a b—h. I gave a tentative response, ignoring her comments about some author I just had to check out. The post-date hug couldn’t come fast enough. I raced down the steps into a wonderful MTA escape hatch, my wasted night and disappointment anonymized and thrown into a blender with my fellow passengers’ daily anxieties and preoccupations.

The Profile: Who Am I? (Part I)

1 Feb

Love Life, Hate Dating

So, you’ve created a punny username, secured your password, and uploaded some rad photos including your trip to Bali, karaoke night shenanigans, and scuba-diving underwater closeup; or, if you’re a guy, some shirtless hotpics and a shot of you in your striped button-down pounding a Rolling Rock. If you’re on OkCupid, you’re even answered some arbitrary questions about your personality, sex life, and moral judgment. Congratulations! You’re ready to be matched…Not so fast, you’re gonna need a profile. That’s right, that pesky little summary of your entire life encapsulated in a few sentences. This is where so many of you are totally stumped, as we can see from the very first lines of your profile. “Why am I being asked to fill this out?” “This is ridiculous.” “I can’t sum up my life in a few paragraphs.” “I don’t have time for this right now.” These are all reasonable reactions, but, like dishes, it has to be done.

This might be a nice time to take a deep breath, make a cup of tea, and take stock of your life. To me, what’s troubling is not that your life can’t be summed up in an online dating form, but that it can. Seriously, unless you’re thinking about the 75 academic publications you’ve got under your belt, or insist on listing every song in your iTunes library, it’s really not that hard to imagine a summary of your life to this point. For example: “Born, went to school, made friends, left for college, drank a lot, went to grad school, drank some more, graduated, had quarter life crisis, tried community theater, went to some live shows, left corporate law to be a midwife, enjoy yoga, read Murakami (more on this phenomenon in future posts), the end.” Your story may differ somewhat, with fascinating details like the model of your smartphone or your average running distance or your opinions on holistic living and dietary choices, but generally, with the exception of some TRULY quirky outliers, you’re going to occupy one of several social buckets that I will now attempt to “summarize.” (“But how can you summarize my social bucket in just a few sentences, pretentious blogger?” – It can be done.)

Leading off we have the Reluctant Online Dater (ROD). This is the girl (pardon my unisex references but I do speak from the other side of the fence) who will preface everything with a long, defensive explanation about why she’s here. “Long hours at the office,” “tired of the bar scene,” and “just moved here from ______, Not New York” are commonly spotted in these profiles. Unless they are an extreme ROD, they’ll move on to normal prose in the other questions. The extreme ones will vex you with more apologism until you quit on their profile altogether. Then we have the New-to-Towner (NT).  Admittedly, this is one of my favorite groups because these folks tend to friendlier, more curious, and less jaded than more seasoned New Yorkers. Everything is still fresh and new; even a ride on the subway is fun! Central Park at night? 5/$1 dumplings?  Free ferry to Staten Island? All of these will sound like great ideas to the NT. The downside of dating an NT is you can’t always be sure if they want to date you or use you as a city guide. But chances are if you’re down on your own city they might rekindle the fire in your belly that’s yearning for adventure and help you notice places and people again.

Unfortunately online dating gives rise to a subgroup of Cynical Daters (CCD). Here we have guys and dolls who, perhaps setting their expectations too high or not vetting their partners rigorously enough, end up meeting weirdoes, crazies, cheapskates, liars, and stalkers. I would love to solicit stories from guys on some of their strangest dating experiences, but I’ve heard enough from ladies to appreciate that they are very vulnerable to disaster dates. I’m always amazed with the wherewithal and poise of so many ladies when presented with awkward and unwanted situations (“Sorry I didn’t tell you about my paraplegia,” “I can’t wait to finally meet you. What’s your apartment number?” and “Suck me, beautiful” are not unheard of. OK, fine, that last one is from American Pie, but is it so farfetched?). All I can say is, more power to you, ladies. Stay strong. A non-stalking, bill-paying, mostly honest guy is lurking just around the corner. OK, not lurking…waiting in the open.

Check in soon  for Part II of “The Profile: Who Am I?”