Saturday, April 18, 2015

Laura, The Giraffe Queen: MRH Does Dating, Part Two.

Once upon a time (in February) I wrote a blog post as a new soldier in the war of online/app dating. During those early experiences, I was young, I was naïve, and I was hopeful. My cyber suitors and I were all comrades, fighting the same battle: everyone’s here to try to meet nice, normal people to watch Netflix and get take out with! Each initial interaction on these apps would fill me with excitement-the potential! The possibility! I was Trying, and I was Putting Myself Out There. These apps didn’t seem so bad-maybe they really were how People Meet People, and this type of dating would be fairly comparable to the real world.

Now, in April, I’m coming to you as a combat-battered general with the update on what has easily become the most entertaining activity I have ever tried. Through app dating, there has been laughter, there have been tears (and by tears I mean cringing), and best of all, there have been stories. 

So. Many. Stories.

There was the guy who looked absolutely NOTHING like his pictures when we met, to the point where when he greeted and hugged me, I seriously had to question if I had met him previously, or if this was, in fact, my date. As the night progressed, he seemed to have some sort of third-life (you know, instead of a quarter-life or mid-life) crisis, even though he was only in his very early thirties. One of our first discussions consisted of what certain songs made us think of (example: me-riding around in my friend’s car in high school, him-starting graduate school), which sent him into a melancholic funk, one that caused him to mumble repeatedly, “I’m so old” into the bottom of his drink. I tried to change the subject/deflect/order us another round, but we never really recovered.

There was the brave gentleman who sent this pick-up line across the Internet waves: “If I was a giraffe, I would slap my neck against a thousand giraffes to exert my dominance over the herd and make you my giraffe queen”. No comment.

There was the time when I received, as a potential match, a goat. Literally, just a picture of a goat. No other description. Are you seriously telling me that I’ve exhausted my options of men, and now you’re moving me on to livestock?

There was the guy who spent an uncomfortable amount of time on our first date showing me baby pictures of himself and his siblings. When you’re in the middle of the bar with a stranger and you have to increase the brightness on your phone to point out the dimples you share with your brother, we may need to reevaluate our choices.

There was the simple fact that my dating app just up and temporarily stopped sending me any matches, which I am fairly certain is code for “We give up. Good luck and Godspeed”. Kthankbye.

There are definitely pros to app dating, ones I appreciate now as a more seasoned veteran. If you aren’t interested in someone, it is much easier to escape their advances, versus having to hide in a corner of the bar for the rest of the night if you had met in person. There is also definitely a greater sense of control: here are pictures of me, but only in my best lighting and cutest ouftits! Finally, and most importantly, there is the factor of convenience. The irony of writing things like: “I love exploring the city and doing new things!” while sitting on my couch in sweatpants and marinating in an unshowered state is not lost on me.

There are also definite cons. You have to boil yourself down into an enticing introductory paragraph, depending on the words to sell you, versus having the potential foundation of some natural chemistry in person. Fun fact: you’ve never known less about yourself until you actually have to describe who you are. “Write a 3-sentence summary of what makes you you!” Umm, can I instead staple water to a tree? Because that would definitely be easier. Plus, can you imagine the real world equivalent of having to do this? Picture it: your eyes slide towards that gorgeous specimen across the bar, and you are now at attention. You down your drink, glide over, and with the suave extension of your hand, you blurt out, “HI MY NAME IS MARK AND I AM A FAMILY-CENTERED ENGINEER WITH A PASSION FOR COOKING, GOOD WINE, AND THE RANGERS. I’M JUST LOOKING FOR A PRINCESS TO SHARE MY LIFE WITH. GIRLS WHO ARE INTO DRAMA SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE”. Good God-at least alcohol sales would skyrocket.

No matter what happens with these apps (I meet someone, I don’t meet someone, I become a hermit, all of these apps are found to cause Ebola, etc.), I view this as a learning experience, which is sort of a great way to approach life in general. I have amassed a considerable database of information, the likes of which I will impart onto you, my young grasshoppers.

Lesson One: Sometimes even the most insignificant of things bind us together on a grand scale. Example: 78%* of the men I have encountered on these apps love Game of Thrones. So much so, in fact, that they MUST list it within the confines of their profile, or predominantly feature a picture of themselves sitting regally atop an Iron Throne replica. *(Note: this is not an actual scientific study)

Lesson Two: Avoiding clichés really will set you apart (wait, was that cliché to say?) Example: In the (seemingly) thousands of profiles I have read, when asked to describe themselves, people tend to use the same euphemisms: “I’m not really good at describing myself”. “Family is the most important thing to me!” “I just want to find my Goddess” (I’ve seen that one at least 4 times. Admirable, good sirs).  “Just looking for my partner in crime” (My question: if you’re planning on committing a crime, should you announce it on the internet?). Personally, my attention has been best held by the people who write something really witty, or different, or daring. You know, just like how it works in the real world.

Lesson Three: There are lazy people, idiots, and generally rude people no matter where you go. Example: I received a message starting with “Hi Laura, allow me to introduce myself…” He then quickly backtracked with another message, trying to convince me that he did not in fact just copy and paste a set template from girl to girl. Dude, I applaud your ability to multitask, but get it together. Also, there was the guy who said that one of my pictures (one of just my face, smiling) “offended” him. SORRY THAT MY ORTHODONTIA DIDN’T PAN OUT AS WELL AS I WANTED IT TO, BUDDY. I GUESS WE’RE BOTH EQUALLY DISAPPOINTED HERE.

Lesson Four: In some ways, we as a society are still stuck in the original era of the AOL IM Username, a time of no shame when it came to the username game. Example: Grown-ass men with jobs and 401k’s and the desire to have their own children using names like: “cutetush”. “yourprincecharming102”. “justwanttocuddle”. “yourmomwillloveme”.  That’s a story I can’t wait to pass on to my friends. “Well, this guy with the username ‘CharmYourPantsOff23’ messaged me, and really, after that, the rest was history!”

I’d like to end this blog post with some sort of sage advice, but if I actually knew what I was doing, I don’t think I’d be writing this post in general. SO, I will simply say that if you are in any way trying to meet people, ether via an app, in person, smoke signals, carrier pigeons, Civil War Reenactments, etc., stay strong. It really is overwhelming how many people are just trying to find others to connect with, and in that similar overarching desire, there is comfort. You just have to find the right one. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

127 Hours: MRH Does Dating.

Once upon a time (this past December), my very sweet and well-intentioned roommate/best friend decided to take matters into her own hands regarding my social life, and downloaded (for my use) a phone app named Hinge. Then, when I was perhaps a little less than sober (meaning not as uptight and reserved as I usually am), she had me log into this app with my Facebook account.
It was then in the wee hours of a Saturday night, with only a few finger swipes and even fewer cheers, that my Hinge profile was born.
For those of you who don't know what Hinge is (I sure as hell didn't), Hinge is sort of Tinder's well-intentioned cousin. They still belong to the same family/have the shared genetics of being phone apps that you select potential mates (yes, I said mates) by judging pictures and swiping in a certain direction, but Hinge operates under the sweeter (but perhaps naive) belief that because they're pairing you with people you have shared connections with (Facebook friends), there's less of a chance you'll be meeting up with a sociopath.
Or something.
I was initially resistant to Hinge. Something about meeting people through an app seemed inorganic and cheap. It felt as if I was ordering an interaction with people through Amazon Prime, the 2 day delivery guaranteed. I am a romantic at heart (although also admittedly semi-cynical), and I want to make friendships and relationships through adorable meet-cutes in coffee shops and friends of friends and Central Park. However, as it was often explained to me, this is New York. You are young. This is how people meet people. This is normal. You are being ridiculous. You are also growing couch sores from being a hermit. Go out and be social. 
So out to be social I went. 
The Hinge interactions all start the same way. You match with someone who approves you, and vice versa. You then exchange small talk via a messenger system (usually about your jobs and weekend plans), and then someone inevitably brings up drinks. You set a plan, wear a cute outfit, and see what happens.
Some of the guys I've met through Hinge were extremely sweet, and proof that good guys, even guys that weren't necessarily meant to be mine, exist. We found some good bars and some delicious food, and it was fun to pretend every so often that I was a glamorous New Yorker who frequently goes out after work (even though 9 times out of 10, I was just feral-cat hungry and generally rumpled/frizzy after a 13-hour shift). Although the nights usually ended with both of us uttering one of the most favorite of lies shared between humans ("We should definitely do this again soon!"), I came home feeling as if I had tried, and had at least put myself out there. Although, I do genuinely hope to see some of those guys again, even if it's just in a friendship capacity.
Of course, there are also the horror stories. There are three of note, the types that help allow me to have a blog named "The Awkward Times of MRH".
1) The First Hinge date. It started out innocently enough, but unraveled quickly. He tried to make out with me/physically pushed my face closer to his after whispering the line, "Maggie Gyllenhaal is ugly". Men, a dating tip for you-insulting random celebrities is not considered a normal aphrodisiac.
2) The Alpha Dog Hinge Date. This guy had potential-we had a lot of shared interests (such as loving delicious tzatziki sauce, exploring the city, and the brief flirtation of attending medical school). Before meeting up, we had discussed books, movies, and medical research, and I was comforted that at least we'd have some stuff to talk about on our date. He showed up, and the night started out well enough. Then he got more and more drunk, and became more and more of what I believe scientists officially have classified as a "douche canoe". He bragged about how he cheated on ex-girlfriends, helped ex-girlfriends cheat on their new boyfriends (there is something oddly poetic about that), called all women 'bitches', and best of all, purposefully tried to pay a cheaper check (belonging to another table) that the waitress had mistakenly brought us. When she did bring us the correct (and more expensive) check, he tipped less than 10%. Of course, there is also the piece de resistance-this guy looked me straight in the eye and told me, with increasing vigor and total seriousness: I AM the alpha dog, I am THE alpha dog, I am the ALPHA DOG. Let's just say that I suddenly understood the plot of 127 Hours, and being willing to chop off your own arm to get the hell out of dodge.
3) The Great Hinge Date. The night after meeting Alpha Dog, my less-than-enthusiastic self met up with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. We met at a cute little bar, and I was so nervous around him that I stuttered for the first 10 minutes and spilled my cranberry vodka down my white shirt. (Just your normal male-heart-snaring moves). The rest of the night was a Great Date. We had a lot of chemistry, we had fun, and he made definitive plans for the next time we would see each other. Most importantly, he mentioned the five words that make my knees weak and my heart beat dangerously fast: "Chicago-style deep dish pizza". 
Fast forward a week, aka 7 days I spent checking my phone obsessively and ping-ponging my way a few thousand times through the "I wish he would just text me. Maybe I should text him?" and "I'm a strong independent woman. He can try to woo ME" states of mind. I admittedly broke my resolve the following weekend, and texted him first. He in turn asked for plans for the upcoming week. After another conversation several days later, we planned for dinner and drinks Saturday, and he asked if he could come meet me out in my part of the city. I was equal parts nauseous and excited (and eating a giant breakfast of shrimp and grits Saturday morning didn't help things either). 
Before my gluttonous brunch on Saturday, I texted him to confirm our plans. And then didn't hear anything back for roughly 8 hours. A lot of things could happen in 8 hours, the conscious part of my mind reminded me. He could be taking a coma nap in preparation for tonight. He could have lost his phone. He could have been kidnapped. He could be running a marathon, in New York in January when the streets aren't plowed and the temperatures are frigid. Just your normal run of the mill excuses....everything is fine! And then, a couple hours before we would have met, I received The Text (and I quote): "I'm starting to get serious with someone I've met. Sorry for the shitty timing!". 
Ummmmmmmm, okayyyyyyy. 
Look, I get it. Dealing with people outside of friendship can be messy. While my ego is bruised and my pride feels like it received a couple of well-placed bee stings, he wasn't interested (or at least not interested enough), and it's not going to work out. I'm a big girl, and I'll cope via stress eating, just like I always have.
But what I cannot forgive is the damn deceit. What makes this man (and all others like him) into a goddamn monster is giving the sweet, sweet promise of deep dish pizza, and then quickly ripping that promise from my yearning taste buds. What circle of hell must you have climbed out of to promise a girl the world's most amazing fusion of carbs, tomato, and cheese, and then renege on the deal? HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN WHO IS FOOD-SCORNED, GENTLEMAN. TAKE NOTE AND TAKE CARE. Wars have been fought over less.
All in all, this past month has taught me several lessons: First, your normal sushi place (which you have believed you are single-handedly supporting through your weekly delivery orders) will survive without you (also, you shouldn't be single-handedly supporting a restaurant). Secondly, putting yourself out there, while not always successful, still puts you in the running for SOMETHING. Your chances for anything (the discovery of a great bar, a good meal, a new friend in the city, or a character trait in someone else that makes your fingers absolutely itch for the pepper spray) go up from 0 to 100% once you go out and DO and TRY. Third, when it comes to good, authentic deep dish pizza, get that name and address down on lock, at the cost of all else. 
Oh, and one more thing. Don't give up.