Tuesday, November 03, 2009

OkCupid, Draw Back Your Bo-oo-ow

In lieu of having game, I’m trying to be game for things I would normally spout so many excuses to get out of I’d sound like a round of Family Feud: Avoidant Personality Edition.

Case in point: meeting a dude from OkCupid in person, which I did on Sunday night. After a series of good messages and excellent texts (and in the name of “putting myself out there,” a phrase that I hate with every angry molecule of my heart) I agreed to meet this guy for a drink and a Connect-4 showdown.

It didn’t go particularly badly. I had a good time, given my intense fear of awkward pauses in conversation, making small talk in general, even successful small talk, with someone I don’t know, meeting someone who only knows me from photos and text messages, and the loathsome possibility of being attracted to a guy who is not attracted to me because I am convinced that the guy can tell. But I was brave (not, you know, going to war brave, but brave for me). I wore a new dress and I think looked good: a group of drunk middle-aged women stopped me outside the bar and made me take off my iPod to tell me I looked “presh,” to which I responded “What?” and they repeated, “Presh! Precious! Cute! So presh.” I was hit on twice while waiting for the guy (three times if you count the old man who tried to sniff my hair on the way to the shuttle bus near my house). All signs pointed to being at least somewhat alluring to the cosmos at large. And, I’d like to repeat, I had a good time.

This is why it took me a while to figure out why I felt a little bit like crying when I left.

I’ve narrowed it down to three things. Number one, sheer exhaustion. Worrying for three straight days beforehand takes a toll. We parted ways with a one-armed hug and no further plans and, for the degree of nervous I feel before I do something like this, a plain old decent night feels like I failed.

Number two, this particular guy was dreamy. Like, the kind of dreamy guy that I am constantly hoping will get in line behind me at the grocery store so I can stand there and think about striking up a conversation about our shared penchant for the Luscious Lemon flavor of hummus, but not, because, you know, look at him. The kind that I imagine dates suitably dreamy tall girls in high-waisted skirts with long dark brown hair and bangs that lay flat. (I’m not sure how Charlotte Gainsbourg became my mental foil, but she is.) If it wasn’t for the internet acting as a friendly interloper on my behalf, this guy and I would never have spoken. I know I’m good written down. I’m can be awesome via text. But in person, these dreamy guys—well, let’s just say that most of the time it’s easier to watch them from the other end of the bar and imagine magic than try to make it happen.

Magic in general is number three, and that’s the big one. I don’t consider myself to be much of a romantic at all until I try something like meeting someone from the internet, the most logical of all possible interactions, and then spend the night psychically willing fireworks to explode. It’s like doodling hearts and flowers around the Periodic Table of Elements and calling it a valentine. I don’t want a guy to buy my drinks or pay my way into the movies. I can hardly take a compliment. I truly do not want to be dote upon or sweet nothinged. I thought this meant that I was the kind of person who could get into the mathematical matchmaking of online dating, you know, take comfort in algorithms and percentages that reduce the chance that you’ll hate each other.

As it turns out, chance is the one thing I love more than anything about love. I know that I live in a world where less than three signifies affection, not two, and I’m willing to text right along with everyone else into our technologically bizarre future--right up until the point where it takes away the promise that the next train car holds a meeting that can change my life. I’m not gonna give up flirtations I’ve imagined taking place over unripe avocados in the produce aisle, or in elevators descending from a floor high enough to permit conversation and a meaningful exchange of glances.

I guess it just boils down to the fact that I haven't ever done much of the love stuff, and I'm willing to swallow unattended dances and a dateless prom night and a decidedly single four years of college and twenty-six years of valentines from my mom and my friends if I can just not date like I'm taking a standardized test.

And I know, I know, it’s dumb and cheesy and a lot to ask and idiotic to wait around for and I feel like a vagina for even talking about it, but it’s the one stupid thing I want, to be surprised, to come back from the bodega with my two-liter of Diet Coke and a date with a guy I’ll come to find out liked the Smashing Pumpkins back when I liked the Smashing Pumpkins, a fact I’ll learn while drinking a beer together and not because I read it in his likes and dislikes.

And yes, maybe he continues to like Rage Against The Machine, which is a drawback, but means far more than being told we are 4% enemies.
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