Friday, April 16, 2010

The NotOKcupid Chronicles



Of all of the things Cupid has been to me, “OK” is not one of them. From the humble beginnings of a love life that was predestined to be tumultuous, gut wrenching, awkward, and often hilarious, to where I sit now, a little weary and worse for the wear, I’ve far from given up. I still believe in fairy tale love, the poetic and deep entwining of two souls who want to share their lives with each other, or at the very least the city equivalent: semi-regular, great sex with someone who has a clean bill of health and won’t fuck your friends. The closest I’ve come was to throwing in the towel on the hunt for a mate was to join an online dating website. Nevermind the fact that I’ve had no trouble meeting philanderers, drug addicts, schizophrenics and compulsive liars by other means with much more tactile introductions, one way or another the somewhat web chic explosion of OKcupid amongst my peers intrigued me. I had friends who were on it, who I considered to be normal (within reason) and dateable… so why wouldn’t there be like-minded fellows on there? Maybe I was being a luddite, not utilizing a whole new medium with which to entice someone into buying my proverbial cow.

The night in February that I joined OKcupid, there were 2 feet of snow on the ground, (the news had called it “the snowpocalypse”), and I’d been sitting on a couch with a gay man for seven hours, watching Bravo network television. Half a season of Shear Genius, three episodes into Millionaire Matchmaker, and one extra large meat combo pizza later, I had a revelation. Dying alone in the dead of winter was not at all an attractive prospect. I tentatively broached the subject to Brandon who flicked his wrist at me while still looking at the screen explaining that he loved this part, and then recited the following scene word for word. When the commercial came on and he turned back to me, my mouth was agape in an admittedly judgmental “o” shape, and he replied, “What?! I have DVR.”

“What do you think about OKcupid?” I asked.

“What’s there to think? That’s like, online dating, right?” Brandon closed the pizza box that was littered with abandoned crusts and chili pepper flakes with his big toe.

“Right.”

“What kind of lame retard has to join a site to meet people?”

“What kind of super cool retard knows the entire 3rd season of Shear Genius by heart?”

“Touché, bitch.”

“I think we’re past the point of being apologetic for real talk.” I replied ruefully.

Minutes later, I had pulled up the main page of the site, tentatively clicking around as if an alarm would sound and a mass email would be sent to everyone I’d ever met informing them of my inherent desperation. Though I initially clicked through the website as if it were a virtual minefield, it seemed not to be of sinister nature. The user interface was easy to navigate. I liked the cobalt blue background and the testimonials of its hipness and success rates in the sidebar… it didn’t seem so bad. Besides, there was an option in the search feature that allowed me to set a height requirement, and I was excited at the prospect of meeting someone who wouldn’t get emasculated when I felt like wearing heels. So, I bit the bullet, and began filling out my profile. The basics were easy: female, 5’10”, Caucasian, owns cats, some college, drinks often, smokes sometimes, speaks fluent English and some pig latin.

The details took me a little longer—what were you supposed to reveal in these fields with the expectantly blinking cursor to sell yourself to a prospective mate? This is obviously not the place I’d mention that I’d just been laid off (again) and that my snore sounds akin to the death rattle of the Rock Biter from Neverending Story. The music/movie/food interest section is a tricky one, too, because everyone knows how much it matters to at least share some similar predilections to recreational activities with a mate. Yet, if I rattle off 20 indie bands who are so far below the radar they don’t even register on it, I sounds like a pretentious record store brat. If I dare tell the truth and list Bright Eyes as one of my all time favorite bands, I sound like a suicidal teenager who is 7 years late to the pity party, and will probably cry about it. I almost closed the window and gave up right there, before I realized that I was taking my social experiment entirely too seriously.

After changing my self-summary from the tongue-in-cheek, “I’m spontaneous!!!!! I hate DRAMA!!!!! I love funnnnn!!!!!!!!11” to something a little more accurate (but still quirky), I set to surfing around for potential matches. Within moments of completing my profile, I had received several instant messages, some from underage broheims in New Jersey (actual quote: “dam ur sexy bitch gimme your #”), and one from a Bulgarian bodybuilder in Queens who requested “nudie pix” from me. So far, I wasn’t impressed. Though to be fair, the situation was that I was on a dating website at four in the morning on a Tuesday. The next IM came in from a certain “ColonelMustard”, a 25 year old Brooklynite who had a simple, basic icebreaker by saying “Hi! You seem very nice. I’m Alex.”

I stole Brendan away from Bravo to inspect his pictures and profile together. Alex’s photos were cute; he was bespectacled and scruffy, appeared adventurous, maybe a little outdoorsy (not my thing, but I don’t begrudge people their treehuggy moments). His profile claimed he was good at dancing, cooking, massages and sex. Getting dipped, fed, rubbed and loved down didn’t sound so bad… so I messaged him back. Our repartee was witty and we shared similar interests, and he even hearteningly addressed first that he was aware it probably seemed a little off color that he was on OKcupid at dawn. We agreed to meet for happy hour tacos the next day in Greenpoint and then go thrifting at my favorite spot on Manhattan Ave., The Thing.

The next day I primped a little in preparation and headed out to meet my very first online date, and Brendan sent me off with a pat on the back and reassured me that if I was found dead, bludgeoned to death with a candelabra in a thrift store, he’d avenge me. Trudging through the snow up to the taqueria, I recognized him on the sidewalk from his photos, though the proclaimed 6’2” on his profile was more like 5’8”. I’d worn flats, just in case. I wasn’t sure whether to hug or formally introduce myself, so I extended my hand to give a handshake that was a little more limp than I’d have liked due to my buzzing nerves and low blood sugar.

Once seated, we ordered the bargain tacos and engaged in a getting to know you chat where I realized several things. For one, he lived in a “renegade co-op” in Bushwick with [literally] starving artists and musicians who were “Freegans”. (For those unfamiliar, Freegans dumpster dive for trashed produce in the city, in a sort of Robin Hood-y lifestyle that better befits inhabitants of a 3rd world country than trust fund kids squatting in a unzoned commune in Brooklyn.) The questionable stains of unknown origin on his ill fitting Carhardts utility jacket seemed more appropriate, given the new information. Next, I discovered that his only employment was with himself, as he was a weed dealer. Moments later, when the bill was dropped that came to a whopping $5.45, he put down three dollars and excused himself to the restroom.

He could at least have put a nug down for a tip,” I thought to myself.

Portrait of me as portrayed by my baby brother Jack, circa 2006

The conclusion of my first OKC to IRL meeting analysis was that my taco imbroglio wasn’t a scarring disaster, but it wasn’t exactly impressive or dazzling, either. I was discouraged, but I couldn’t cry over spilt Grey Poupon. I chose to approach bachelor number two a little differently. I searched through my “matches” for a while one afternoon and found two I thought were intriguing, and then formulated two thoughtful and and pithy personalized messages to each. Within 24 hours I had a reply from the Joel, the musician from Kensington, which sparked an email correspondence that lasted a week and eased my fear that I may meet him in person and have absolutely nothing in common, as was the case with bachelor number one. He was a lanky young lad in a band that played in a sort of circus folk style and dressed like Oliver Twist, so I opted to take him to my favorite eccentric spot for free music in Williamsburg. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I was about to meet up with the alter ego of the charming gent I’d been writing to: The Blacked Out Drunk Guy.

I beat him to the bar, which was more crowded than usual, so I was trying not to crane my neck around too conspicuously with eyes akimbo in search of my date. This time I didn’t have to worry about how to go about the introduction because as soon as we recognized each other, he had launched himself/fallen into my arms in an embrace that smelled equally of Old Spice and Jameson.

“Pleased to meetchew!” he exclaimed, slurring. “Sorry I got a head start on you… been drinking since 5 when I got off work.”

Less than charmed, I glanced at the coo-coo clock on the wall, which indicated 5 minutes to eleven. The only thing I’d had to drink that evening was Tropicana No Pulp, and my date was lurching side to side like a peg legged zombie adrift on a stormy sea of booze. For the first few seconds I’d been pleased that he turned out to be more attractive in person than his photos (which were already pretty handsome), but it was canceled out by the prospect of having to give him a piggyback ride to the subway later. Conversation proved impossible due to his uncontrollable nervous giggling and intermittent hiccupping, so I took the liberty of relocating us to the music venue in the back of the bar to take the pressure off, and hopefully deter his garbled chatter. My disaster aversion tactic only worked to a certain degree, as he had become significantly less interested in making conversation but not necessarily noise. There I was, on a date with an attractive, gainfully employed, talented musician with a suspender collection… who to everyone else in the cramped venue space was just the obnoxious drunk guy in the back making hooting noises and whistling at inappropriate intervals during an emotional singer-songwriter’s set.

When I returned home that night after an equally awkward goodbye, I was irritated, sober, and wielding my pepper spray willy nilly all down Richardson St. thinking to myself how pissed off I’d be if I was jumped again walking home from a date I wish I’d stayed home from. I’m fairly sure an assailant would have come out of a scrape with me that night one nutsack poorer. Back inside my studio, I changed into my flannel cat pajamas and grabbed my Macbook, heading for the stairway of my apartment building, which is the only place where the stolen internet connection comes in. I found myself back on OKcupid, where I had a few new messages; two were from random goober-y dudes wanting to know if Dr. Pepper chapstick really existed and if my carpet matched the drapes, and one from “dotcommiebastard”, who I had written a week before, forgotten about, and never heard back from.



... to be continued! Part Two: Frodo and His Many Rings.

3 comments:

Nikkers said...

These guys, despite some minor personality flaws, would be the cream on the upper crust of this particular city - Call one of them back. Say yes. Breed.

zoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony Sheedy said...

When I was a kid, I used to go on personal sites to look at insane people and have a good laugh. (I remember one woman who fancied herself a gypsy and wore old timey peasant garb every day of her life) Then, at some point, it seemed like they were completely taken over by the normals, regular folks trying to find someone special. I was discouraged and stopped looking. Turns out, they were just insane people who learned to disguise themselves. I miss the good old days.