okcupid

Okay, Cupid: a story in three parts.

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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. Three AmigosFriends 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.

So. Anyway.

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.

 

Earth. Female.

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.

* Results not typical.

If Jenny Craig and L.A. Weight Loss can have a disclaimer under all their happy customers, why on Earth shouldn't online dating services? Not that I get my hopes up — if anything, I have manage my expectations far below normal levels in all situations — but I'm sure there are some people who put all their rotting, lovelorn eggs in that sad, soggy online-dating basket.
The ads for eHarmony and Match.com make me want to throw things. With eHarmony, it's middle-aged, multiethnic Christian couples dancing around and smooching to old Natalie Cole songs; on Match.com, it's confident, attractive single people vamping in an empty room for a black-and-white camera. Whispering, "Date me, you equally sexy beast" through pouty lips.
I'm here to tell you: It isn't like that.

CrazyBlindDate.com in no way tries to pass itself off as a legitimate dating site with a proven track record for love connections. It's more of a beta test for brave — or bored — souls in major metropolitan areas who are comfortable letting computers match them up nearly randomly with other similarly brave/bored souls.
On a sort of "Twitter dare" from a high school friend last week, I thought, "Hey! I'm both brave and bored. This sounds fun," and signed up for an account. Two days later, I got an e-mail "offering" me a date the following week.
All I got was a name, age, vague body-type description and a few lines he'd written about himself. No photo — nothing else. I wouldn't be allowed to contact him until 30 minutes before the date, and even then it would be only through CBD's double-blind text messaging system.
Shrug.
Fast-forward to tonight. At 7 p.m. on the dot, I got a text message from George, 28, self-described average body, essentially downplayed his personality and everything about himself. "Tall w lite beard," he said in his description, and wearing a black sweater and jeans. We would meet in Wicker Park for a drink, and that would be that. A crazy blind date.
Except that when I arrived at the restaurant, the space was dark. A closer inspection of the establishment's hours showed it had closed two and a half hours earlier. Strike one, CBD.
"Paige?"
"Yep."
"George."
Pointing, "Closed."
"Uhhh."
"Fucked, right?" (I'm charming.) "Where to next?"
We walked half a block south to one of my favorite restaurants and had a glass of wine. Conversation was easy; he was a gentleman. We shared the cursory small talk and even feigned vulnerability about our dating pasts. I was a real gem and revealed practically nothing about myself. This was a first date first. Though part of me wonders if I would have given away more if I hadn't been so busy learning about his Serbian family or the road trip he took earlier this year with his godfather's son-in-law to Billings, Montana.
No matter.
The unkempt receding hairline, penchant for action movies, vague homophobia, excessive walleye consumption and total ignorance of all things social media–related — he hadn't even heard of Twitter, for Christ's sake — were instantly forgiven when he paid for my brownie sundae. I even let him tease me for leaving one single bite on the plate.
I was FULL!
The population of the friend zone grew by two when we parted ways with a mutual handshake. Mine was all business.
I hastily flagged down a cab and headed home for a photo shoot in my new sailor-stripe dress. It's a little silly.

The evening wasn't crazy. In fact, it really wasn't even a date, unless any situation financed by a man is a date.
But then again, I wasn't looking for much. Gossip Girl was a rerun anyway.
Results: pretty typical.