My friend Meghan recently started her own blog to document her misadventures with online dating. Reading the few posts she has so far brought me back to fond memories of a time when I dabbled in online dating.
Well, I shouldn’t really say “dabbled”; I spent a good two or three solid years on okcupid. I met some nice people, a few of whom I’m still friends with, but I also met (and didn’t meet) a lot of weirdos. A LOT. Most of them were lonely and bitter and showed their true colors early on in messages (usually via negging or lashing out when you didn’t respond in a timely manner or at all), so it saved me the trouble of actually meeting them and dealing with that whole can of worms. There were a small handful who slipped past the online weirdo filter and made it to a casual date with me, only to send me running for the hills because I feared ending up chopped up in someone’s basement.
I’ll share two such stories with you in this post, because they’re the ones that stand out most vividly to me.
The first guy I’d exchanged a few messages with when we decided to meet up at a local sports bar. His photos online were low resolution but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he looked cute and seemed pretty chill. He’d asked me early on in our messages if I smoke (weed), I said I didn’t, but I didn’t have issue with others who smoke as long as it’s not in my face.
I get to the bar. I’d parked a little to close to the car next to me, just close enough that is was slightly annoying to get out of my car, and I guess he saw me pull up because he stood directly at the end of the space between my car and the next, staring expectantly at me while I wriggled out of my car, trying desperately to not ding the car next to me. I approached, and he didn’t budge, at least not until he enveloped me in an entirely awkward and unwelcome hug. Not for nothing, but when I’m just meeting someone for the first time, I don’t really do physical contact.
So we go inside, and he gets us beers (I was going to get my own, but he insisted). We’d picked a couch at one corner of the bar to sit at (also at his insistence), with a view of a television playing Spongebob Squarepants. Right out of the gate this guy starts talking about weed. How great it is, how much he smokes, how it’s the center of his tiny little universe. I quietly reminded him that I don’t smoke and that I had nothing to contribute to that conversation. He then goes into talking about how he moved around a bit. He was originally from New York, but spent some time in California, and only recently had moved back to New York. He starts going on and on about what an amazing place California is, and how everything there is so much better than in New York… you get the picture. I interject with a comment about how (and this was at the time, several years ago) gay people couldn’t get married in California, so it really wasn’t all that great.
Now, I’ve never felt I gave off the impression that I was conservative, or Republican, or any sort of person who would be against gay rights. In fact, I always try to project the opposite, since I have a lot of friends who fall into the LGBTQ+ category and I want them to have the same rights that I, a straight cisgender person is afforded. But, I digress. After making the low blow at California, this guy makes a comment about how he moved to California right before gay marriage got legalized in New York, and said, I shit you not, “yeah, thank god I got out of here right before those f*gs were able to do their thing.”
I stared incredulously at him. Was this guy for real?
“I have a lot of friends who are gay. I think they deserve the right to get married.” He stopped for a moment, contemplated my words, and then said something to the effect of “oh I have nothing against gay people, but [insert another string of very offensive and derogatory statements here].”
At one point, he went to the bathroom. I contemplated bolting, but I know how little time it takes men to urinate, and I didn’t know if I could make it out of there and be completely gone in the very little time it took for him to leave and come back. (I’m also very terrible at speaking up and telling people that I just have to leave.) When he sat back down next to me, it was practically on my hip and he threw his arm around my shoulder. I bristled, he got the hint, and moved away a bit. At one point I started talking about London, because I’d visited there a few months prior, and how I’d enjoyed my trip. His response? British people are pussies. That whole country is one giant, gaping vagina. Right.
At that point, I shut down. I just let him talk but I wasn’t listening. I’d only drank about half my beer and I wasn’t going to finish it. I entertained him with some “uh huh”s and other such neutral “yeah I’m still listening” responses until the one-sided conversation died down into silence as we watched Spongebob Squarepants. It was quiet for quite a while, before he hit me with this colossal gem:
“So, uh, do you wanna come back to my place and, uh, watch netflix or something?”
“Oh. Okay. Well it was nice meeting you.” And with that, he abruptly stood up and walked out of the bar. Was that it? I was free? It took me a few moments to gather myself, but I finally did, and cheerfully headed outside only to see him still lurking in the parking lot out of the corner of my eye. I tried to beeline it for my car, but he intercepted me.
“So, uh, do you wanna hang out again sometime?”
I looked idly at my phone. “Well, I’m really busy, so I’ll let you know if I get some free time.”
“Okay.” And then, after EVERYTHING that had transpired earlier in the evening, after all of the swings and misses and awful connections, homeboy goes to make his goodnight move. He leans in for the kiss! Luckily, I see this coming from a mile away and I divert to the side and give him an awkward hug while mumbling something along the lines of “it was nice to meet you, okay bye!” Before he can attempt anything else, I mad dashed to my car, locked the doors as soon as I was inside, and got the fuck out of dodge.
The kicker? Later that evening, he texted me with “I’m sorry you didn’t have fun tonight.” I could’ve been
a dick a normal human being who was terrifically traumatized by this experience and doesn’t owe any explanations to anyone, but I decided to text him back explaining (rather gently, I might add) that he needs to work on his people skills and to learn how to read body language, but that I hope he is successful in finding someone. That someone was NOT me, though.
The other guy was red flags from the get go. He was another one that seemed chill and looked good, so I gave him a chance. At the time, I was living on Long Island. He was in New York City, and we agreed to meet in Brooklyn. We picked a time, and I took the train out. My train had gotten in a little early, so I texted him. No response. I waited about 15 minutes, then called. No answer. In New York City, you often get stuck in tunnels underground, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I waited for about an hour, half of which was spent solidifying other plans while I was in the city. I was about to head into the subway to catch a train into Manhattan when the dude called me back. His phone had apparently died and he begged me to give him a second chance and to meet up with him. In Manhattan. Because his motorcycle ran out of gas. It was a 10 minute subway ride from where I was, so I just went with it. I’m way too lenient with second chances.
I met up with him outside of the 23rd street subway station, where he was walking his motorcycle, and he’d told me all about the woes befallen him earlier that evening. His motorcycle had suffered a gas leak, and he didn’t realize it was out of gas. So he’d gone to a bar to try to charge his phone because it was about to die, and the bartender yelled at him for sleeping on the bar and also not buying anything, and kicked him out. I was starting to feel kind of sorry for this guy until we got to a bar and sat down. I ordered a beer. He ordered water. He started to let on that he had no money, and eventually admitted that he was currently homeless, living on his friend’s couch. He talked extensively about his “crazy” ex, and the way he talked about her, he made it seem like they’d broken up years ago. No, it had been only a week prior, and he even showed me a text conversation where she was being “totally crazy and unreasonable!” (spoiler alert: it was him writing paragraphs about his bipolar feelings for her, both good and bad, and her responding here and there with one or two words). He then started talking about how he used to make money playing poker in illegal underground rings, and sexual things he’s done for money that he’s not proud of.
Towards the end of the night, he tried to talk me into staying out late (I’d told him I had to catch a train at a certain time because I had to be up early the next day), and tried to persuade me into coming back to his friend’s apartment to watch tv. When I finally paid for my drink and we got out of the bar, I had roughly 15 minutes to catch my train, so we hailed a cab for me. He tried to hug me and I yelled “goodnight!” as I ducked out of the hug and into the cab, and slammed the door shut before he could make any further moves.
I ended up missing my train by about 2 minutes, and had to sit in Penn Station for another hour after that, but I much preferred watching the stumbling drunks and drugged up homeless people than spending another minute with that dude.
Granted, not all the dates I went on were as horrifying as those two, but there was a fairly common denominator amongst most (not all) of the guys I went on dates with: desperation and a complete lack of social awareness. They have 0 idea of what’s appropriate conversation and how to carry themselves, and they’re so desperate for a romantic partner that they throw themselves at the unwilling, essentially scaring off everyone they meet.