I was excited for take two with Brad and pumped to try out the hip Korean restaurant he picked for our date. For a southern man fresh in the big city, the guy knows how to pick a spot.
As I approached the trendy eatery I spotted him outside wearing the same fleece and hiking boots from our previous date. I looked down at my tiny dress, fur vest, and ridiculous heels. You should never judge a book by its cover, but if you did, you wouldn’t stock me and Brad anywhere near each other in the bookshop.
I went in for my standard hug, double-cheek kiss, hello handshake. (Note to self: To avoid awkwardness, commit to one form of greeting and abandon the rest.) We got seated and started looking over the menus. Brad mentioned that he had spent some time in Korea as he took the reins in ordering, a manly move that I appreciated.
When I asked him about his time there he said, “Yeah, it was cool.” When I pressed for more details he gave me the same distant gaze from our previous date and chose to elaborate by saying, “There was a lot to see. It was fun.”
Okay, I thought, back to me. I began telling him about my afternoon at the Russian baths in the neighborhood, where they have somewhat seedy but relaxing steam rooms, saunas, and gigantic Russian men who will whip you with eucalyptus leaves.
“I spent some time is Russia,” he began, “I actually became really good friends with the head of the Russian mafia in that area.” My eyes lit up. Yes, scandal! I was ready for the juice. “He had a sauna/steam room situation in his house where he’d have parties every Saturday night.”
I nodded encouragingly, awaiting gritty details about prostitutes, drug rings, and pet dragons. “What were the parties like? How crazy did they get?”
He shrugged, “It was pretty chill. We just hung out and steamed and talked.”
I have better Russian mafia stories from Coney Island then he had from the motherland. I chugged on throughout dinner trying to get him to open up. The dinner was delicious and spicy but the conversation was totally bland. He kept dropping bombs of potentially interesting stories but then couldn’t follow through with any real content or enthusiasm.
We paid up and walked out to the street to say our goodbyes. He leaned in, I thought he was going to kiss me, I wouldn’t have stopped him, but he didn’t. He just gave me a big ole bear hug and a pat on the back. I didn’t know if it was the southern gentleman in him or if the connection just wasn’t there, but after I got home he texted to tell me he had a great time and wanted to know when to get together next. More hot water? I think I need a heartier soup.
When I told Granny about Brad, she said, “He didn’t give you soup. He is certainly not soup. Hot water? Maybe. Soup? Nope, no way,.” I gave an affirmative grunt to encourage her on.
“Go on a second date though, ya gotta see if he can bring it to a boil, throw some carrots and noodles in, maybe even a little spice. Ya know?”
I think I know…
When Brad first messaged me last month he had just moved to the city from Georgia. Being that he was a newbie, I figured there was a chance he was an untapped catch. If he had just moved to New York he probably didn’t know anyone and wasn’t on OKCupid because he was socially awkward, pervy, or a player, he was on because he wanted to connect with new people. Who was I to deny him that?
He didn’t send a message with winking smiley faces or misspelled messages like the popular, “wat’s up wit u sweeti?”. He sent a quote by Jonathan Franzen, one of the authors I had listed in my favorites. It was a good way of proving that not only was he literate but we also shared a common interest.
I wanted to meet but our schedules weren’t lining up. A few weeks went by when he wrote, “I guess you grew chicken feet. No biggie, life gives you soup and alley ways, but rarely free beer.” It was a weird message but I like weird. I also like sayings and his soup and beer one was floating well with me.
We set a date the following day to grab a drink at a swanky midtown hotel. When I met him outside I was pleased to see he was even more attractive then his photos let on. He picked the place, so I assumed he knew what the scene was like. However, once we walked into the teeming sea of after work suit-wearing yuppies the Georgian fellow looked as though he felt sourly out of place. “Sixteen dollars for two beers?” he yelled over the loud patrons. He wasn’t trying to be rude or sarcastic like James, he was honestly just mystified by New York prices.
We settled into a couch and began getting to know each other. Or at least I tried. It was pulling teeth to get basic details out of him. He liked travel. Who doesn’t? He was starting a new job. I could have assumed that. Based off his hiking boots and fleece I took him for a tree-hugging, dog-petting, granola-crunching type. It was hard to know for sure, he was a master at the concise answer and the glazed over gaze.
I didn’t know if his dazed out look was from his discomfort in the overly hip environment, his disinterest in me, or some really strong weed. As we finished our beers I assumed he wasn’t feeling me and was ready to cut my losses when he finally decided to speak. He apologized, telling me he had a crazy week at work and was totally exhausted and having trouble focusing. He asked if we could do dinner later in the week.
I thought he might be looking for a way to blow me off, I have definitely used the “let’s catch up next time” excuse before. I was ready to forget him, like he said, “No biggie, life gives you soup and alleyways…” but to my surprise, he messaged an hour after the date to set up plans. Granny says if there’s one thing I like about the guy to give him a second chance. There were potentially many things to like about Brad. He may have given me some soup, but sure, I’ll come back for seconds.
Granny’s main question after I debriefed her on my date with Justin was, “Shots AND a martini?”
“Yeah,” I answered.
“Was the shot vodka too or something else?” she asked suspiciously.
“Probably tequila, why?” I answered, unsure of where her line of questioning was going.
“Oh no, no way. Forget it, no good,” she began, “Never trust a man who mixes his alcohol.”
An ambiguous piece of advice, that although I’m not sure if I agree with or understand, I will try to keep in mind.
Maybe it was his overt display of masculinity. Maybe it was the exercise endorphins my body was releasing. Maybe it was the excitement of something new. Or maybe it was his gym shorts. Whatever it was, it wasn’t there on our second date.
I was excited to see Justin again. We had almost nothing in common which was an intriguing attraction during our rock-climbing outing. Unfortunately on the second date it didn’t get the same juices flowing. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very interesting guy, but I don’t have plans to mount him anymore.
It was 7:00pm, we were one beer in when we fell into a lull of conversation. “Wanna do a shot?” he asked with the enthusiasm of a college sorority girl. I did not want to do a shot. I am no wet noodle, I like to cut loose, but a shot felt like it was forcing the mood. You only begin taking shots at 7:00pm if you are preparing for a rager, getting over a rager, an alcoholic, or in college. I didn’t qualify for any of those things. “I usually don’t drink beer, I prefer dirty martinis, extra dirty,” he said. I laughed thinking he was joking but he stared back dead serious.
He kept the same serious expression when he told me about his hip-hop dance team. He is a tall, white, computer programming, cardigan-wearing, soft-spoken man. When he explained the part of class where they “just groove” I couldn’t help but chuckle. The image of a group of gangly white men “grooving” warrants a laugh. He didn’t find it funny.
We moved to another bar where he ordered the filthy martini he had long been lusting after. In an attempt to spice up the conversation he asked me, “What’s one secret that no one knows about you?”
I considered. Then said, “I killed a hooker in Amsterdam.”
He gave me a look that was equal parts horrified and confused. Having different tastes, styles, and hobbies is not a deal breaker but not being able to share a common sense of humor is. Justin is a fascinating guy but we didn’t laugh together and if I can’t laugh with a man there’s little chance I will “groove” with him.
I like to consider myself a love slave driver, whipping my vibrant Granny into romantic shape. Sadly though, ever since the Thomas debacle of 2011 Granny’s dating spirits have been low. “I’m feelin’ gun shy, kid,” she huffed.
Friends had warned me before we began our online dating journey that there would be tough times and rough patches that would make us want to quit. Luckily we both understand it’s not a race; there are times when you need a break. As her granddaughter, friend, and wingman I’ll grant her some space to cool her dating jets.
“There so much hoopla when we schlep these conversations along, by the time the actual date comes around it’s like, eh I’m tired I wanna sit on my couch and watch Desperate Housewives. It’s a different game at 25 and 75,” she said.
She’s started a few new conversations with other gentleman but none of them have panned out. “These men, they’re like old tubes of toothpaste, all used up and squeezed out,” she said. Although somewhat pessimistic, I’m happy to see she is directing her poor dating luck at the men and not on herself. Listen: negative nancy
Self-righteous to the core. That’s my Granny. Her proud spirit is contagious. Next to me, she’s her own biggest fan.
The dating junkie scores again. I went for drinks with Robert this weekend. We enjoy a nice lottery ticket giving routine. Well actually, he just gives and I take, but I’m not complaining.
He handed me a cat-themed ticket (a cheeky reminder of his affinity for felines). Although I don’t like cats I do like money, I won twenty dollars this time. A few dates back I would have interpreted this as a sign of romantic luck but we’ve already established that our relationship is purely platonic so all it meant was that I was twenty dollars richer.
We ordered two fancy cocktails then began comparing notes on our dating lives. The junkie was feeling used up and washed out. OKCupid was his bitch. He had slapped it around, tore it apart, and now was left resenting it. “How often are you using?” I asked
“I’m only going on about two new dates a week now,” he said, without an ounce of sarcasm. “In the good days I was doing about five.”
He explained his theories of online girls, messaging techniques, profile quirks, and his overall online method of seduction. He really is a master. On a recent two-day work trip to San Francisco he managed to fit in two dates with two different west coast girls.
Partially grossed out but wholly impressed I suggested that maybe he had gotten all there was to get out of OKCupid, maybe it was time to move on to new pastures. I told him about HowAboutWe. Being that he’s a creative guy I have a feeling he could be a real hit on the site.
I opened the app on my phone and gave him a full on tutorial of the site. We scoffed at many of the recycled, mundane dates that some of the guys suggested. “Howaboutwe… listen to some tunes at mine and see what happens?”, “Howaboutwe… let me treat you like the beautiful lady you are 😉 ?”, “Howaboutwe… drink beer and watch the game?”
As we paid the bill and got ready to leave Robert brainstormed some ideas on me, “Howaboutwe… play with my cats?” I shook my head. Robert wasn’t taking it seriously; he was busy eyeing two cute French girls sitting at the table beside us. He was trying to lock eyes with the brunette. “I know that girl,” he whispered.
“From where?” I whispered back.
“OKCupid,” he said.
I shook my head. Besides the fact that this girl was super hot and super French, I didn’t believe it was possible for him to recognize a girl in real life that easily from her profile, but he insisted.
“She probably never responded because she’s smarter than me and realized that the message you sent is a generic copy and paste,” I suggested.
He pulled up the OKCupid app on his phone and tried to find her on the site to no avail. “Why don’t you just ask her?” I suggested.
He leaned over and said, “Excuse me I think I know you from somewhere?”
The brunette made a confused smile and in an adorable French accent shook her head and asked, “Where?”
“I’ve seen you around… on OKCupid,” he boldly stated. She turned red, I turned red, he may have turned red but it would be hard to tell behind his beard.
The online dating gods smiled down on them. She explained that she has been on the site but got off because she hadn’t met any good guys. Bringing his online confidence into the real world, Robert told her that he was a good guy and would love to take her out. Just like that, they swapped numbers, set up a date and made a connection.
I was impressed not only with his performance and the outcome, but the bizarre quality of the online dating platform and its ability to act as a connecting force in real life. If anyone could pull it off it’s the dating junkie. I was happy to see his dating libido restored.
Regardless of how his French girl date goes, he’s got a reputation and online dating lifestyle to uphold. I expect to see his bearded face around on Howaboutwe suggesting dates like “Howaboutwe… see who can stuff more hotdogs in their mouth at once?” any day now…
As a cocktail waitress I get hit on a lot. That may sound conceited (I’m not denying that I am) but it’s just the way it works. The waitress is an easy target for a man to practice his game on. It’s not just me, I think it’d be fair to say all girls working in nightlife are used to flirtatious men, lewd advances, mastering the “backaway, I’m unapproachable” glare, and saying things like, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend,” when they don’t.
When I was in middle school my older sister worked in an ice cream shop. I was overcome with jealousy, she could eat as much chocolate chip cookie dough as her heart desired. After a few months at the shop I remember her telling me, “I like ice cream, but when you’re around it all the time you just don’t feel like eating it. It’s too much, the smell of it is unappetizing.”
I essentially work in a man shop. I get how my sister felt about ice cream. Typically I don’t get butterflies for men I meet in the nightclub setting but I also typically don’t meet men like Nate.
Nate, an Australian rugby player with looks that could inspire a Disney prince character (Nate, if you are reading this… I’m exaggerating. I think you’re just okay looking…) approached me last week at work.
He is 6’6, count it out, that is seventy-eight inches of man. He was hard to miss standing at the bar but I usually don’t go for men who are better looking than me or that I meet at work so I didn’t pay him any attention. Throughout the night I kept running into him as I scrambled through the room with drinks and bottles. I thought it was just coincidence until he stuck his head in the server station and asked, “When are you going to talk me?”
Nate was adorable, charming, and funny regaling me with boyhood tales and obscure facts. I suspected he might be drunk, it was late in the night, he was being outrageous and silly but I had just met him so I let myself believe it was his free spirit.
When he was leaving we swapped numbers. “When are you going to call me?” he asked.
“After you call me,” I said coyly. He called my number and hung up.
“Okay, I just called you. You have to call me next,” he said, then planted a kiss on me and wandered out the door.
A few days went by before I texted Nate. I wasn’t sure if I should get in touch with him, if he could be a real prospect, or if I should just write it off as a fun flirt. Then I figured, if I’m messaging with all sorts of men online who are strangers why not go for one that I met and already know I have some chemistry with.
I went for it. He texted back. (Gasp.) He didn’t know who I was. (Sigh.) Oh, Nate. Oh, my ego.
I reminded him of my first name, it still didn’t ring any bells. He apologized, said he was drunk that night and suggested I friend him on Facebook. I declined and didn’t text back.
A few days went by before he texted again. He told me he had read this blog and wanted to take me out. It was strange to me that Nate went from not knowing my name to finding online info about me, but it turns out Nate is also an expert google stalker. 2011, technology, oh man!
As far as my ego was concerned I know it probably wasn’t the best move to go out with a guy that didn’t even remember meeting or kissing me but at the same time I was curious about going on a date with a 6’6 Australian I met offline and I didn’t want to discount the possibility that he may suffer from temporary amnesia.
I can’t remember the last time a man asked me on a date in real life. Does that even happen anymore? There are hook-ups and casual hangouts…but a date? I was too intrigued to pass it up.
I went into it with low expectations. I imagined him to be an obnoxious jock or brain-dead pretty boy, but he wasn’t at all. He was smart, driven, entertaining, and annoyingly charming. I had a lovely night with him. Our date was great for lifting my spirits on the real life dating game and reminding me that there is something to be said for recognizing real life chemistry.
Nate had to leave the country to renew his visa (as I type this sentence, it is dawning on me that he could have made that up… It would be an incredibly tactful way to cut me off) but when he comes back, if he still remembers who I am, I hope to go out with him again.
I want to bitch slap an old man. Granny and me, both undeniable cynics, were actually excited for her date with Thomas. I imagined there’d be a dramatic embrace, maybe even some watering of the eyes, possibly a slight tap on the behind and a cheeky wink… But no, Thomas didn’t even sit down for a cup of coffee.
As Granny walked into the café she recognized him as the man in the stained hoodie and Bermuda shorts. She told me, “The other guys I’ve been going out with at least appeared like they wanted to look good, they missed by a mile but they gave it a shot. This one didn’t give a shit from the get go.”
In her reenactment of the meeting, she approached with a coy smile, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You must be Thomas.” He then looked at her, slightly bewildered and explained that he had an appointment he was late for then skedaddled out the door. He didn’t even give her five minutes.
Poor Granny was left at the café without a coffee, date, or clue on the WTF this bastard’s problem was. She called me from the parking lot to debrief:
PHONE CALL LISTEN: The Wimp
Rejection sucks at every age but as an older woman I think the sting can feel harsher. Putting yourself out there in the online world can be ego crushing to begin with, but someone blowing you off online is incomparable to the blow of a face-to-face dismissal.
Granny is a tough cookie, I know she’ll bounce back but the experience really deterred her enthusiasm. We went through possible scenarios to explain Thomas’ behavior: Maybe her beauty intimidated him (I’ve seen his picture, she is way out of his league). Maybe the realness of the online dating world became too much to handle. Maybe he was really bad at making schedules. Maybe he was afraid of having his heartbroken. Maybe all he really wanted was a phone companion. Whatever the reason, we’ll never know. All we know is that he’s a wimp and I hope he breaks out in a bad case of hives.
Below is a response Granny received from a gentleman she messaged on Match for a drink:
I am old, and after having been faithly married for 45 years, I want to end this life as a playboy. I want to get as much mileage out of this old body as I can while everything is still working. I think you are probably looking for someone for a committed relationship! I am looking for a woman for hanky panky until exhaustion sets in!
We cracked up reading Greg’s hornball declaration. “He’s being too obvious to be interesting,” she huffed. “He betta put his pants back on before he hurts himself.”
“HowAboutWe… go rock climbing at the Chelsea Piers?” was the date Justin suggested on the new dating website I’ve been checking out. Sweat, muscles, and a harness… yes, please. Although I love a cocktail, I was ready for a break from the routine bar date.
Justin stated that he was 6’3 in his profile. At this point I think it’s safe to assume that everyone’s height is minus two inches from what their profile states. I figured that if he was at least 6’1 there was a chance I’d want to climb up his limbs.
In his profile he wrote, “I’m quiet but not shy,” I pondered this a bit. I read it to Granny who kindly said, “You’re a loud mouth, you’re whatever the opposite of quiet is.”
We planned to rendezvous across the street from the piers. As I approached I spotted a tall figure standing in the shadows of the meeting spot that looked as though he might actually be 6’3. I did a tiny excited fist pump.
After getting suited up in some snazzy rock-climbing sneaks we took a quick class with a group of other novice climbers. Sometimes men can look awkward in gym shorts, Justin definitely did not look awkward in his.
In the lulls between taking turns to climb with the other people in our group we had time to chat. I got what he meant by “quiet but not shy”. He was cerebral, very intelligent, mellow, not a loud overly chatty type.
We talked about music, art, and theater. His tastes were more refined and specific than mine. He likes obscure artists from World War II, bands I’ve never heard of, and shows I’ve never seen. When we talked about Halloween weekend he told me about going to the opera and I told him about dressing up as Robyn the Swedish pop star.
We’re very different but at the same time we were able to relate to each other. His chilled out vibes were contagious. I felt laid back and totally engaged by him. So laid back that when the combination of the harness and climbing maneuvers contorted my spandex into a severe camel toe I only turned a rosy shade of pink rather than a deep beet-red.
It’s hard to look sexy when you’re straddling a rock wall, scraping your limbs, slipping off and then colliding back into the wall, but I tried my best. Being that he was so tall, Justin was the star climber of the group. Watching him climb gave me great insight to his strength, dexterity, and sweat levels. The other climbers in the class watched him with envy; I proudly shot back a look that said, “Back off babes, he’s with me.”
He walked me to the train, we hugged, then made plans to get drinks next week. If things go well maybe we’ll be mounting more than just rock walls. (Kidding. Not kidding. Kidding…)
I might need to call the police. Granny left me a message that makes me think there’s a good chance she’s been kidnapped by Match.com and forced to endorse their services.
She sounds equal parts confused and delighted by her phone call with Thomas. I’ve rarely heard such a charmed and open-minded tone in her voice. She said, “I had nothing in common with him, but yet I did.”
I know I should maintain low expectations but I’m already picturing them in matching pastel colored sweat-suits strolling down the beach sipping on bay breezes and shooting the shit.
I’m not looking for a sugar daddy or a man to support me in any financial way (although I am accepting presents and if you want to pay off my college loans I won’t stop you).
Thrifty is one thing, cheap is another. I love a deal. I’m a total bargain hunter. $2 tacos, happy hours, second hand stores, Living Social, are all things I can get down with. Cheap men are not.
I went on a date last night with James. He chose a bar in the West Village, a bar that he found using Yelp. James has lived in the city for close to ten years so it seemed a little odd that he needed to use Yelp to find a bar but I decided to consider it thoughtful that he was doing some research.
Cocktails were around $14, that’s definitely expensive but in New York it’s not uncommon. Being that James looked up the establishment online I assumed he had a good idea of how much the drinks cost.
Throughout our conversation James brought up more than once that he often eats cereal for dinner. He’s eight years out of college; I should have read this as a warning sign. When the check came the bill was $29. He looked at like it was a speeding ticket and our waitress (who had been incredibly friendly and accommodating) like she was the offending officer.
When I offered to pay for my drink his voice shifted into a deep macho tone and he insisted on paying. He handed the waitress two twenties. She came back with two fives and a one, $11. James made a snide laugh when he saw the change, “Look, look what this waitress is trying to tell me.”
I looked at the money, failing to see any cryptic message. “She brought back two fives and a one because she’s saying the tip should be five dollars. No way,” he said grabbing the two fives and leaving our poor waitress a one dollar tip.
I’ve worked in the service industry for too long to stand for such shitty behavior. I might be a little jaded, I cocktail at a nightclub where bottles of alcohol are wildly expensive and tip is automatically included. Servers don’t make a salary; tips are how they pay their bills. $1 can’t even buy you a pack of gum in the city.
I gave him a disapproving look as I reached for my wallet to put my own money in. “It’s cool, let me pay for my drink,” I insisted.
“No,” he said defensively, “tell me what you would do.”
“Drop the cash,” I instructed. Then I snatched the one and the five up and handed it back to him, leaving five dollars on the table. “That’s 20%, this is New York, that’s what you do.”
“But then the waitress’ plan worked,” he said like a child defeated in a game.
“I’m pretty sure there was no plan on her part. She was just doing her job,” I said.
Needless to say, it was an awkward end to the date. Knowing how much Granny hates a tightwad, I thought she’d be more on board with me when I told her about the interaction.
Over the summer she called me to complain about a cheap date. First he didn’t want to pick her up because of the price of gas. Then he wanted her to meet him at quarter to six so they could make the early bird special (Granny is definitely not an early bird kind of bird). At dinner when she ordered a second glass of wine he asked her, “Are you sure?”
“I’m positive,” she said. Then never went out with him again.
She agreed I shouldn’t see James again but told me, “Don’t criticize kid, no one likes to be criticized. He’d get the message just as easily if ya never went out with him again.”
Urgh, I guess she’s right. I didn’t mean to be rude, I just thought for the better good of every server in the city that James comes across on Yelp, he needed someone to break it down for him. Hopefully we both learned our lesson.
I was blown off. Twice. By one man.
I can understand needing to reschedule once but flaking two times in a row does not bode well for me (or Granny). His username has the adjective “charming” in it. I don’t feel charmed.
Obviously he has never met me so he doesn’t realize what he’s missing out on, but come on. I’m a busy gal, my time is valuable. It’s rude to cancel hours before a date.
Granny’s fired up feelings on the situation: he’s history
As I suspected, Granny doesn’t want me to be so fast to turn away the plain turkey. Below is our conversation where she urges me to go on a second date, “Have dinner, sit down and chat, talk, whatever you call it. What do you call it when you’re 24?”
I don’t want to discount Granny’s wisdom or experience but at the same time I feel like life is too short and OKCupid men are too plentiful to spend another evening of my life with someone I don’t connect with. That’s the beauty of online dating; the grab bag of men is infinite. When I go to Baskin Robbins I wouldn’t just settle on the vanilla, I have to try everything.
I’m not sure what’s up with me and the food analogies this week…