Thursday, June 19, 2008

How to Date: The Boys on Your Computer

How to Date:

1. Get on the internet.
2. Type in some stuff.
3. Find a guy.
4. Email him funny things.
5. Go out with him if he isn't nuts.

I hate online dating. Hate it. I'm not talking just a little bit of dislike here, like the way I dislike iceberg lettuce and wearing pantyhose. I'm talking a lot of full-on ketchup levels of hatred. (Yes, I hate ketchup. Shut up! It's my life!) It's that kind of hatred I feel when I take a bite of something and realize that there is, in fact, ketchup on it and know that 1) I'm going to have to spit it out and 2) My sandwich is not salvagable, and now I'm going to be hungry. Because you can scrape and scrape and scrape at that ketchup, but it has sunk into that bun and is there to stay.

I've tried it twice, online dating. Both times, I immediately went home and canceled my account.

The first time, I went through I had just been through a miserable and very long break-up and thought to myself, "Hey! I'm too good to dwell on someone who treated me poorly. I need to get back out there." So I went out with this 35-year-old English teacher who did stand-up on the side. "OH! A comedian! I could use some laughs," I thought to myself. And he was very entertaining. He entertained me the moment I walked in. And entertained. And entertained. And entertained. And when the date was over, I realized I hadn't even said anything. I decided to not see his repeat performance.

The second guy I met through the Onion personals. He had a cat. I have a cat. To him, it was our destiny to meet and talk about what a crazy coincidence that is. He was a comedy writer who dabbled in filmmaking. How creative and interesting, I thought. So after three weeks of exchanging emails, I agreed to meet him. Here is how our conversation unfolded:

Dude: So, we both have cats. How long have you had your cat?

Me: Oh, a few years. Lucy. She's insane. I think she's secretly plotting to kill me.

Dude: How old is she?

Me: Six?

Dude: Oh, Sammy is 19. She's really old.

Me: Yeah, that is old.

Dude: One day, I know she's going to die. And it will be really upsetting. But for now, at least she's with me.

Me:'re making a film? What's it about?

Dude: Two people in love.

Me: Oh? Interesting.

Dude: Yeah, and they make out on New Years.

Me: So, I'm going to get more vodka. Do you want anything?

We went to dinner. After a great deal of sniffing (which I thought clashed well with his chain wallet), he picked out a wine. And drank the entire bottle. The date took a turn for the worst. He launched into a long drunken tirade about the ill effects of Johnny Damon on the Yankees lineup. (Fucking Cubs fan...) I launched my exit strategy.

Booze can be a good thing on a date. It calms your nerves. It eases the flow of conversation. But at the level of an entire bottle of wine and several beers, the effects can be annoying, even disastrous. Drunkeness makes you bolder. It can make you ask someone if they want to make out with you. And when that person says no, you might ask again. You might make that person stand there until she agrees to a second date.

I finally escaped my date by dashing off the subway before the doors closed.

When it comes down to it, what I really hate about online dating are the profiles. Because when you write a profile, you sit there for two hours coming up with the most hilarious and interesting stuff about yourself. "I'm a writer! Who bakes cookies! And reads classic literature!" But it doesn't factor in those times when you go home, watch Law and Order, eat cereal in your underwear, and go to bed at 8:30. That's the stuff that really defines who we are. Not the big, elaborate, "Look how much I can impress you" shit.

And profile pictures! They are, in essence, the best available physical representation of yourself you can offer. But is it really you? Or just that angle and the lighting?

You never get what you expect, and you feel shallow and kind of horrible for not being into it. I think we should just post the most ridiculously boring stuff about ourselves and the worst pictures and let dates be pleasantly surprised. Who's with me?

In my next post on dating, I will be posting my own realistic online dating profile. Stay tuned.


peach said...

oh no. will your realistic online dating profile include mention of your sixth toe? (how about your seventh?)

NefariousNewt said...

I think you have given up too easily, and made it too hard on yourself. Here are the simple rules of on-line dating:

1) Be yourself. It's who you are. Don't waste time making up witty things or trying to tap into your inner sappy-ness in hopes of snagging Captain Romance. One assumes you want to go out with someone who will like you for who you are.

2) Grill potential suitors mercilessly. Stick to email at first -- nothing cute, just simple, basic conversation about events of the day, weather, home life. If he can handle that, graduate to phone calls. Talk a lot, months if need be... just make sure you have unlimited local and long distance calling.

3) First date -- keep it simple. Meet for coffee (or tea if coffee is not your thing). Meet at a bookstore. A couple hours, no more. Make sure it's public enough, and be sure to know where all the exits are (two or more are preferable). Bring a large purse or shoulder bag with you and keep an emergency change of clothes and a wig in it, in case you have to use the old identity switch to escape.

4) Date 2 -- another simple one. These should be warm ups.

5) Dates 3+ -- assuming you've made it this far, mix it up on him as much as possible. Suggest outlandish things and see how he reacts. Doesn't mean you'll do them, but its a good gauge of how much he can absorb.

And at any point, if it looks like he's not a winner, feel free to tell him so in excruciating detail.

Rule of thumb: never bring him back to your place, until you are sure he's not the stalky type.

Word of advice: Try LavaLife.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

I have 10 toes total, Peachy. What's your point?

And Nef, just because you are a champion WordTwist player does not mean that you are going to convince me to go back to online dating. I hate it, I tell you. HATE IT. It makes me feel like I'm online shopping for dudes. The thing is, I'm not at a place in my life where I actually want to put myself out there in a "HERE! TAKE ME!" kind of way. I hate the icky desperate way it makes me feel. It's an entirely unnecessary thing that people have made mandatory. So, there.

t.c. said...

I'm with Beth on this one. However, I don't despise ketchup.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

Thank you, T. You and your mutton chops are wise.

Except for that ketchup thing.

lalaland13 said...

Oh Bethers, I hate online dating. My mom once signed me up without telling me, really raised my hackles. Then she'd sent me messages like "Look! He has a cat!" Sigh. Bless her. I finally basically told her I want to die alone and frigid and deal with it.

And I'm in the South in a non-big city. NYC must provide some real stories.

SATC is on right now, and I'm thinking in just about any other place but NYC, this guy Charlotte is dating would so be gay-but he hates mice, so that's close enough. OK.

I don't think people know what dating is anymore. I don't. The internet and random hookups have mucked up the equation too badly.

pamalama said...

yes , I have trouble sleeping, but not because I'm a bad person... I have a lot going on in my head lately. I love boys. Duh. Young ones, old ones, firefighters and firestarters. But I am not ready to believe completely in or against online dating. I am with u on the yucky "I'm putting myself out there and pretending like its bit obvi" feeling, but that happens with me all the time and I have never online dating...aside from facebook flirting. All I am saying is, don't shut the book just because the first two chapters were a little tough to read...see Kite Runner. And don't hate me for being an optimist. I am a Booster personlity with a subcategory of analyst. A not-afraid-2-put-himself-out-there guy taught me that. Xo, p.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

You all bring up excellent points. Rather than respond to all of you in the comments, I will write another post today.

TheGuvnah said...

Oh Beth, I am right there with you. I agree the online shopping for a boyfriend makes me feel pathetic (online dating isn't necessarily pathetic, my sister is amrrying a guy she met online this summer!) but I can't over that feeling.

I finally realized that to me, the in-person chemistry is so freaking important that the weeks of online winking, followed by emails, maybe phone calls, decising where to meet, etc., can all come to a screeching halt in the first 30 second of meeting him in person. Meaning I have wasted so much time on someone that I wouldn't have even looked twice at if I met in person.

It's a cost/benefit analysis that just doesn't work.

Greta said...

"You never get what you expect, and you feel shallow and kind of horrible for not being into it."

Yeah. I feel so miserable after 3 days of internet dating, that I've asked my parents to arrange a marriage for me, preferably with a nice Jewish boy.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

EXACTLY, Guv. When I meet someone in person, I know immediately if there's something there. Physical attraction is extremely important, as much as we like to pretend it isn't. If that isn't there for me, it sucks, but it is a dealbreaker.

jody! said...

ketchup is overrated.
honey mustard is underrated.

online dating is overrated.
and arranged marriages are underrated.

ketchup is to online dating as honey mustard is to arranged marriages.

(this comment was brought to you by kaplan SAT prep course. ("prep smarter, score higher--or your money back!")

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

It's always a party when Jody shows up.