Tag Archives: jdate

Throwing Caution to the Wind: A Glutton Punished

26 Mar

Watch what you eat

I can no longer recall if it was a jDate or a Match.com hookup, but I do remember that it was a date, with a girl, and she was kind of cute. I was 27 or 28 at the time and she was 22, but she seemed a mature 22 so I took the plunge. We made plans to meet at the Park Bar, a loud but kind of homey after-work watering hole near Union Square. And there we were, sipping glasses of delicious wine and chatting about our respective lives. What could possibly go wrong.

6 hours earlier…

A work potluck can be really fun. It gives you a chance to show off your skills in the kitchen and easily and superficially impress your coworkers. If you’re on the lazy side, it gives you a chance to sample all of your really meticulous coworkers’  detailed preparations. At that point, I’d already cemented by reputation as an office glutton. Our receptionist/office manager routinely alerted me to meeting leftovers and various treats that were brought in, even as he mocked me for my indiscriminate consumption of anything and everything that was free.

This particular potluck, I really went balls out. Sampling fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, beans and rice, and various ethnic preparations, I gorged myself with absolutely no regard to dietary sanity or human decency. And, when my stomach could take no more, I went back in for dessert.

6 hours later…
The girl wasn’t the problem. The problem reared its ugly head a few minutes into our date, when I realized that the air surrounding me was fragrant not with romance or the scent of spring, but my post-potluck flatus. I panicked. I only half-heard everything the girl said from that point on, and since she was pretty happy to talk about herself my distraction was somewhat accommodated. Yet I kept looking at her, wondering if she could smell it too. What is she thinking? Is this over before it began? Will she say something?

The small room was packed and I was barely able to snag a seat at the bar. There was no way I could move us somewhere else. The room was a fishbowl, slowly filling up with nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and methane expelled by yours truly. There was no mistaking it. I knew my own fart. Irrationally, I feared going to the bathroom would immediately trigger/confirm her suspicions and seal my fate. For some reason I had to stay at the bar and suffer through this charade. Just as my anxiety was quieting, some dude walked over to order a drink and wasted no time commenting, his armpit flailing over our heads, “Man, it smells like ass here! Wooh!” Asshole!!!

I kept looking at my date but she was shockingly unmoved—either she was too polite or her septal deviation was even worse than mine, blocking all olfactory sensors. After about an hour, the flatulent menace penetrated my nasal passages and put a squeeze on my mind, pulsating like the beating heart from Poe’s famous story. I could take no more and declared that it was “getting late” (it was 9 pm on a school night) and I had to go home. At this the girl seemed genuinely shocked and taken aback. Could it be she was actually having a good time despite my awful wind-breaking? It didn’t matter—whatever she might have thought before, she was now sure that I was peacing out. We walked to the train stop quietly, commenting on the weather and TV shows. We hugged and never saw each other again. I’ve farted many times since then, but never with such devastating effect.

Who Doesn’t Like to Have a Good Time?

4 Mar

Everyone deserves a good time

At the time, I was working for a media company that put our travel/lifestyle magazines, and as a result, often had access to event tickets, including Broadway and off-Broadway previews. This job coincided with my reentry into the dating market (JDate) after a Jew-high-inducing Birthright pilgrimage to Israel. Suddenly I was armed with a supply of cool things to do on a first date. Despite the seemingly high proportion of beautiful, intelligent, and successful women, I didn’t seem to be attracting the type of women who I’m likelier to have a connection with: fun, interesting, somewhat upbeat, but still cute enough to arouse my curiosity in a kiss. When I chatted with many of these ladies, they came off as bland, J.A.P.py, and impersonal. So I looked for those few chicks who were “cool” but still ventured into the JDate world of young urban professionals whose dates often included comparing Birthright organizers, temples, and grad schools.

One such girl, whose handle was a reference to Atlas Shrugged, seemed to merit a try. She was quirky, liberal, a bit hipsterish without being a total hipster, and liked cool books (I had more reverence for Ayn Rand at the time). The only superficial issue I had with her at the time was her hair. It kind of looked like Betty’s hair on Flinstones: flat on top and geometrical but ungroomed bangs up front. She had a sweet face but this hair was totally unflattering. I invited her to see Fuerza Bruta, the interactive show that takes place above your head and features water, burlesque, and various performance art and dance pieces. Now, as I soon realized, inviting someone to the theater on a first date was a risky proposition: some girls, thinking that I was going out and buying them expensive orchestra seats just to impress them, hesitated. In some cases, I would explain that the thickets were comp, which of course took some of the luster out of such invitations. But this girl was pretty casual about it. The show itself was pretty awesome and my date thanked me profusely afterward  for taking her there. But before “curtains,” I took her to Heartland Brewery in Union Square for drinks, bites, and get-to-know-you conversation.

As soon as I saw her in person, the attraction switch was immediately turned off. There was nothing wrong with her, but she wasn’t my type. For all I know, I wasn’t hers either. And the awful haircut didn’t help at all. It was one of the few times in my dating life when I wanted to and give someone a bit of rude, impolite, but hard and necessary truth. Someone had to. I can only hope that her friends and family have since intervened and set her straight. But I digress. She was a perfectly nice urban planner who was working in sustainability, yahti yahta. Yet when there’s no chemistry, even alcoholic lubricant can’t properly oil the wheels of social interaction.

We traded lame interview questions, both soon realizing that we couldn’t wait until the lights went down and the show started, so we could be immersed in an experience that didn’t include the two of us. So once we got past the questions urban Caucasians ask each other (what do you do/where do you live/where’d you go to school), moved on to the ancillary questions (where are you from/whom do you live with/what do you eat/drink) and moved into the likes/hobbies arena, we were both exhausted. A stranger passing by our table would probably ask themselves why we were torturing each other by perpetuating this rigmarole. It wasn’t even awkward. It was just…kind of pointless. So there we were, sheepishly grinning at each other, both counting the minute until we could pay the check and rush to the show when suddenly a thought cloud went up over her head and her face lit up ever so slightly.

“So, what do you like to do for fun?” she asked, with the desperate exuberance exhibited when you’re blanking on a test question and suddenly have the slightest glimmer of a thought.

By my look she could tell that this question, while innocuous, was pretty much the nail in the coffin of our schmoozing. Any chance we had of rescuing this evening and reigniting this underdog of a missed connection was now gone. Anytime I eavesdrop on a first date and hear the conversation get into namedropping and lists, I can pretty much tell it’s over. And so can you. With the last shred of energy I tried to think of a suitable answer, but my languid brain had shut down. I looked back at her and, with moronic confidence, replied:

“I like to have a good time!” putting an emphasis on the last syllable.

Shockingly, this idiotic comment, which embarrassingly enough had just confirmed its presence in my mind by escaping from its dark neural prison, seemed to enliven her.

“Nice! Me too!” she declared.

We finally had a strong shared passion: both of us enjoyed having a good time. While moments ago we were resigned to a forgettable evening of platonic boredom, it now seemed conceivable that we’d put down our buffalo burgers and Farmer John Oatmeal Stouts, strip our clothes off, and bone right there on that table, across from the Union Square Farmer’s Market and the crackheads of Union Square Park. But the moment passed. We paid the bill and hurried to Fuerza Bruta.

I never saw her again, but a new meme was born. For a good 6 months or more, whenever my friends and I went out, especially to the cheesy Murray Hill/Turtle Bay bars we semi-ironically frequented in those days, we would get a few drinks into our systems, then, acquiring a target (a gaggle of girls such as a bachelorette party was the ideal mark), we would strike.

“You ladies like to have a good time?” one of us would cry out. What happened next was a fascinating survey in social behavior. The  more rational, respectable, and sometimes less inebriated girls would respond with, “That’s the most retarded thing I’ve ever heard. Who doesn’t like to have a good time.” But the party girls, the ladies out to paint the town red (or vomit-color) reliably responded with a “Whooooo!” or a “Yeeeah!” In fact, this absolutely preposterous questions kicked several parties into high gear, resulting in memorable raging for our group. I don’t think I could ever ask this of a girl I seriously like, but I think back fondly on my chance discovery. The unlikely social force of this absolutely ridiculous and empty proclamation still impresses.

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.