Before I had even an inkling that I'd ever meet men on the Internet, I joined a once-pointless site called OKCupid. This must have been in high school. The entire site was built on personality quizzes you could then post on your blog or e-mail to your friends, who could take the quizzes themselves. Friends would (supposedly) share their answers; giggling hysteria ensued.
There was a question from one of those quizzes that has stuck in my mind all these years later, a two-parter:
"Do you have crusty bangs?" "Are you a crusty bang?"
I had no idea what either of these meant. Still don't, come to think of it. But I'm pretty sure I answered no to both. Giggling hysteria ensued.
Years later, after two failed stints on Match.com — I barely recouped my membership fees, which is kind of the point anyway, isn't it? — I was living in Queens, bored with my social life, and resurrected my profile.
I met an opera singer, and I fell hard. He had an exotic name and shiny, curly black hair. He had a big apartment in Sunnyside, and the ringtone on his flip phone was the Looney Tunes theme song. He sang so loudly in the shower that the one time I did spend the night with him, I couldn't fall back asleep when he got up early to get ready for an audition.
Just before I left for Christmas at home, we stayed up all night drinking wine with his friends at a holiday party. We got lost navigating the side streets to LaGuardia, and I was out of breath and still a little drunk when I found my seat on the airplane just before takeoff.
I was in heaven.
Then, one night shortly after New Year's, after a Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers concert in the Village, he broke up with me as we drove across the bridge back to Queens.
It had been only a few weeks, and I wasn't ready to sleep with him.
Teary hysteria ensued.
The few friends I have left in New York spot him in a concert program or around the city every so often and have threatened to do terrible things to him on my behalf. Which makes me smile.
But I swore off online dating.
(Unless you count Yelp as a dating service. But that, of course, is another story for another day.)
And then. Far too shortly after the Knight and I split for the last time, mostly to pass the time, I created a new account on OKCupid and perfunctorily built my profile. I think I copied my interests from Facebook — I've carefully curated them over the past five years — and entered the bare minimum of characters for each field. Wrote something snarky about requiring a tall man who knows how to write a sentence, then uploaded some photos knowing it's all anyone looks at there anyway.
Then I closed the window and waited. Because I'm not about to go trolling for men on a website. I'll let the trolls come to me, I thought, I'm a magnet for them anyway. (Trolls, y'all. Not men. Come on.)
But OKCupid has my e-mail address, and they use it often. Every couple of days, I get a message with my "quiver matches," three guys the site thinks I'll like based on the questions I've answered. I have to wonder what types of men I'd be matched with based on my answers to the crusty bangs questions. And whether my answers would change now.
The quiver: Late last week, a mildly foxy man caught my eye. (Be still my heart, only 34!) But then I saw the first sentences of his profile:
Greetings Earth Female,
Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead I feel it's safe to enter the world of online dating again.
I called the intern over to read the rest of the profile with me (yes, I do appropriate things at work) and prepared to mock this man mercilessly until something better came along.
And mock I did — the first words of his self-description are featherless and bipedal — until I realized my laughter was suddenly tinged less with derision and more with something akin to fondness. As I read, I was simultaneously interested, terrified and more enthusiastic at the prospect of getting back into dating than ever before.
On paper, he is hilarious and frighteningly smart and a little pretentious, but on our "IM date" (gag) Friday night it was pretty easy to see the layers of insecurity just below the smartass veneer
Every profile ends with "You should message me if…" Mine ends with predictable snark. His ends with "…you like the zoo."
How nice. I thought to myself, I've never been to the zoo here.
Tonight, I have a date. The first date I've had with a stranger since the breakup. We're not going to the zoo; we're having drinks. I recognize the possibility that he could be horrific. I have had awful dates before with men I've met online.
If that's the case, I will have no less than a fantastic story for my blog, which I will from here on out attempt to censor far less. Because I don't care anymore. (I miss ranting. [And if you're thinking, Dear god, this is censored?, you should probably just leave.])
But if he's not horrific, maybe I'll find out whether there are giraffes in Chicago. Or tigers.
More giggling hysteria in store? Stay tuned.