Written by Lynn Schneider
Have you ever noticed that when your friends are in relationships, they want you to be in a relationship? It’s as if they want to do couple things or be able to compare stats on significant others. Which is sweet … in theory. In practice, I don’t love it.
A few weeks ago my friend—let’s call her Sadie—started dating this guy—and to say they went from zero to 60 in a matter of minutes would not be untruthful. They were dating in a way where I fully expected to be awakened by a midnight phone call with an “OMG! We’re in Vegas and WE GOT MARRIED!”
So, now I needed a significant other.
It’s not as though I had quit dating. No convents would have me, for one, and I still kind of coveted romance, despite my un-romantic history. The way you still think dogs are cute, even after one bites you in the face.
“I’ll set you up!” Sadie said. I must have made a face. “You’re not even trying,” she whined.
“I don’t want to have to try,” I said. “I just want it to happen organically. Like we meet passing each other on the street, or—”
Sadie put her hands on her hips. “So what you’re saying is, you want a meet cute.”
A meet cute is a Hollywood term for the way couples meet in romantic comedies: by virtue of an adorable accident. She was totally right. I didn’t want to have to work for love; I just wanted it to happen.
I agreed with Sadie to be more proactive. I agreed to try online dating.
My mother insisted online dating would make me easy prey for a serial killer. A friend warned me about scams where you got your bank account drained by your prospective dream guy. Sadie was for it, though, and insisted on approving my OkCupid profile.
She took one look and laughed—a lot. I’m not trying to date her, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t the appropriate response.
Like most dating sites, OkCupid asks for a picture, and I picked one of the only photographs I had of myself that I liked: one from a costume party where I was dressed as Iron Man’s Tony Stark.
“You have a goatee,” Sadie said.
“That’s a Van Dyke,” I corrected. It’s important to be precise.
In the “about me” section, I described myself as not looking for a grand romance; instead, I said I wanted, “someone to be in cahoots with. The Butch to my Sundance, the Angel to my Cordelia, the Wallace to my Gromit.”
“You’ve got the geek vote,” Sadie said.
Daters Gonna Date
I’m an equal opportunity dater, and when there’s a clear green flag from a woman, I tend to prefer the ladies. And OkCupid was one step away from those Find your new Russian bride! websites: it was a sea of cute girls. I spent hours crafting sweet, poetic, beautiful messages to send out into the ether.
And I didn’t hear back from any of them.
Even though I was fishing for females, it was the men who seemed to take the bait. My OkCupid inbox was always full of messages, usually one liners like, “Hey beautiful,” or “LOL nice beard.” (They referred, I hope, to the VanDyke.) Even though one man asked something entirely inappropriate, most of the responding men were charming, sweet and intelligent. We had some great conversations over the Internet.
The problem was, I wasn’t really looking for great conversations over the Internet. It seemed so hard to transition into real-life dating from the virtual world. We became so comfortable talking to each other in little boxes, separated by wires and WiFi. None of these men asked me out for an in vivo date … until weeks later when one did.
We had talked only briefly on OkCupid—the usual stuff: our profiles, The Big Lebowski. Other men had been throwing me more game, but none of them walked the walk. This gentleman—let’s call him Steve—Wait! No, that’s my dad’s name … awkward. Let’s call him Robert, instead.
Robert backed up his talk with an invitation: “Hey, do you want to hang out some time? We can go out for a White Russian. Or a few, LOL.” Since I had no other prospects, and Robert seemed relatively harmless, I decided to take him up on his offer.
We met at Social Club on Congress Street. Robert did not look like his photograph on OkCupid, which was fine with me because in real life he looked better. I was starting to have Date Feelings, something that had been absent from my online experience. You can flirt online; you can even talk dirty and have cyber sex. But there’s screen separation and without proximity, there’s no risk of any of those dirty things ever coming to fruition. It’s safe; there’s no way you’re going to get your heart broken by flirting online.
But, isn’t part of the excitement of dating in the risk that you might get your heart broken? Or, that it might just pay off, and you’ll find true love. It’s that gamble that sets your skin tingling and your heart racing, that puts color in your cheeks and a spring in your step.
Alas, my heart did not race, nor did my cheeks blush from the glow of sweet, sweet love. True, Robert was more handsome in person than online, but he wasn’t as interesting. It was as if he were better on paper than in person. Something about our chemistry just didn’t ignite, even with the catalyst of Social Punch added to the mix.
But, a couple of nights after my date with Robert, I got a message in my OkCupid mailbox from one of the ladies I’d tried to woo, thanking me and telling me how flattered she was and how she’d like to get to know me better.
Ah—gamble that paid off.