I have to admit, the title of this post is almost enough to scare me into not writing it. An extended title could be: P.J. Tries Online Dating in an Attempt to Find Love, or at the Very Least Sex, Instead Discovers Academic Interest in Anthropology. But, alas, I, Persephone Fitzgerald, at age 21, have joined the online dating scene, and I feel that you, my followers, will benefit, in one way or another, from hearing about these trials and tribulations.
Let me tell you how this all happened. I was facing a new state of loneliness in my off-campus dwelling. Feeling a little sorry for myself, I remembered an article I had read about a new app for college students called “Friendsy.” (God-awful name, but hey, the kids are digging it…well, kind of.) Shamelessly, I signed up. I chose a picture that was four-years outdated, in which my skin is perfect, my hair all done up for my family’s holiday photo, and I’m in a stunning black dress. What, you ask, you don’t look like that every day? Nope, my profile picture is a total scheme, but I had a date within twelve hours. Success? Not really. read on:
We met at a coffee shop, and he very politely paid for my drink (I could go on for days about how much I like this. No, it’s not some statement about how chivalry needs to be revived, but rather a different kind of statement, the kind that comes from my bank once a month telling me you’re poor, girl). He dropped some line about how he believes in destiny or serendipity or some bullshit, to which I let out a sigh, gazed out the window and dreamed of being Meg Ryan in [insert rom-com title here]. But all I saw was a brick wall, which was a pretty good metaphor for the success of this particular date. We parted ways, and I never saw Chris? Alex? Steve? …anyway, we didn’t contact one another after that. I wish I could say I had some profound epiphany about this whole shebang right up front, but lucky for you, I trekked into the great unknown in an attempt to learn more. And possibly get more free coffee, maybe some booze? (spoiler alert: I did not attain as many free drinks as I would have liked during, what I’ve begun to call, and would like for everyone else to call, “my serial dating phase.”)
Why is it so weird? I think there are several answers. As my friends have pointed out, it is a self-selecting group that decides to use online dating sites. Either, these people are so weird that their friends have trouble setting them up, they’re too weird for friends, or they’re creepy serial daters. A fourth group, the one to which I might belong, might be those people who are looking to date and meet people, but whose friend groups are just too small to achieve anything resembling “success” (a term which can be defined in many, many ways, hence the quotation marks). After a few stale dates with ****** undergrads, I decided to up the ante a little and look for a site that would have a wider range of prospects. Skeptical of some of these sites, such as HowAboutWe, Zoosk, Chemistry.com, and, my possible favorite, DateHookup.com (seriously?!), I landed myself a “winner” with OKCupid. One friend, and many friends-of-friends, had used it, and I could pretty easily filter out weirdos–though man, are guys creeps–so I stuck around.
Online dating does not often yield spontaneous mutual attraction. My sample size is about 20 first dates, and it’s extremely biased. I’ve done no interviews or outside research. But hey, if you want a true anthropological discussion based on data, don’t go to a blog. I digress. If someone asked me to compare meeting strangers from the internet to driving a car, I would say that it is like driving a 1989 Honda Civic with a 2-cylinder engine up a hill, probably in the winter. It is clunky and awkward, at best. But, I gave it a shot and here’s what came down the pipes:
A date with a french guy who I could not understand. A law student who used the word “dichotomy” too many times to count. A rower who was about a foot and a half taller than me. A vegan hippie who took me out for tempeh (mmmm….soy). A guy who liked to talk about the drugs he did “in his youth” (he was 23, give or take). A really energetic guy who I think might’ve been on at least one of the drugs listed by the former guy. A guy who insisted on going to this bar nearly 2 miles from my house at 10:00 because “he had tennis practice” beforehand. After about 30 minutes of small talk in a very loud, crowded bar, he told me, “Well, I’m going to get wicked drunk with my friends, nice meeting you.” I guess he knew pretty quickly that I wasn’t his type? Worse things have happened. Like the next guy I saw.
We met at this kind of dive-bar for hipsters; coffee-shop by day, real bar by night kind of deal. The barista wore yellow-tinted sunglasses inside and a fro-pick in his short (but kind of sexy) afro. It’s that kind of place. My date seemed great; he was of an average height, his face was somewhat symmetrical, and he listed The Beatles as one of his favorite bands. (At this point in my month of serial-dating, it’s important to note that my standards had all but disappeared). We ordered coffee and sat down at one of the communal tables; a couple of dudes next to us discussed some new kind of yoga that incorporates both paint and hip-hop dancing…? I went along with it. But not for much longer. Ten minutes into our conversation, the Beatles fan paused and took out a spiral-bound notebook, clad in a few faded, indecipherable bumper stickers. He then established very intense, direct eye contact, and said, “I like to sketch every girl I date,” placing one hand on top of another on top of the notebook. “May I draw a picture of you?” Though I appreciated the grammatical correctness of this sentence, I noticed that his eyes didn’t look nice and symmetrical anymore. They looked like black and a little devilish. My mind flashed to the “College Safety 101” book my mother gave me freshman year, and to numerous Dateline specials reporting on mysterious disappearances of girls that look too much like me. I looked at the guy across the table, looked at his sketch book, looked at his hands, which were trembling, if only slightly. An image popped into my head of hundreds of these “sketches” hung up on his bedroom wall, the corpses of his past OKCupid dates tied to chairs in some kind of satanical panel where they all agreed on one thing: But he looked so normal! So symmetrical! I didn’t even give myself time to fake an important text or an instant-onset case of food poisoning. I ran, leaving him and his sketchy sketchbook to pay for my macchiato. I wasn’t killed that day, and I got at least three sips of foam. Success.