A Lesson in Internet Dating

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Southern Boy (the internet guy who I had good email with and bad phone with for the past week and a half) calls me on the day of our date, telling me that he’s got a goodbye party for a fellow actor friend that night, actually, so would I mind meeting up either before or after that?

As this is his first faux pas, I don’t think much of it and tell him, sure, my sleep schedule is all whacked out anyway from being unemployed so I’m up for a late night. Just please be sure to give me an hour’s notice, I ask, so that I’ll be ready on time.

Southern Boy laughs at this request as if anything else would be ludicrous and says of course; he’ll probably call me around 9:30 then.

That night, the time ticks away…9:45 comes and goes without incident…10:00 follows suit. I hop in the shower, deciding that I’m going out either with or without him, and when I’m drying off, the phone rings.

“Hiiii!” Southern Boy says, a little overeagerly. “So I’m all ready to go….wait, here’s a cab…where do you live again?”

Instantaneously, I feel like a cat that’s being petted the wrong way. “Uh, I’m not going to be ready for at least another half an hour, so…”

His response of “Oh, that sucks” is tinged with resentment.

**cue Wayne’s World music and dissolve screen into dream sequence: Doodle dee do! Doodle dee do! Doodle dee do! **

I think of my friend Jami back in LA, who had a conversation in the health food store aisle (where else in LA?) with a cantankerous yet wise woman who snapped, “Women today need to TRAIN their men! Back in the old days, men wouldn’t DARE to pull the kind of shit they do today. But women today let them get away with anything, so now they’re like little boys running wild, full of bad behavior. And it’s your generation’s fault!”

** Doodle dee do! Doodle dee do! Doodle dee do! **

“So, what happened to the hour’s notice?” I ask, point-blank.

He thinks about it for a moment, realizes that it’s his mistake and not mine, and apologizes three times about it before we get off the phone. OK. Minor snafu, no harm done, and at least things are set straight.

We meet---he’s not as cute as his profile picture, but I’ve already braced myself for it by following some overheard advice about subtracting 3 (ie, if the guy’s picture makes him look like a 9, he’s more likely a 6)---and on the walk over, I tell him I’ve fallen off the smoking wagon recently (which, dammit, I feel awful about) but haven’t updated my profile yet; would that be a dealbreaker if I had a puff?

His face falls, his shoulders slump, and he tells me that his father died last year of lung cancer. Oops.

Fast forward to us sitting across from each other at the beer house (after I told him that beer is my least favorite thing to drink). Southern Boy is going on and on about his job---not his potentially interesting actor job, but his boring-as-watching-paint-dry human resources job---and after I try to engage him unsuccessfully on a few of the details he’s talking about (he’s got a script, dammit, and he’s stickin’ to it!), he then says, “So, tell me about you” and stares at me like an expectant codfish.

Dear God. This date has not only turned into a job interview, but a job interview where I’m being asked the The Worst Interview Question of All Time. Ancient Egyptians hated this question, too, when they were applying for jobs in the salt mines.

I take a long pull on my Chimay and consider telling him the story about when I was about 7 years old, sitting at the family dinner table one night. “I finally got everyone’s attention,” I would say to him, “and when all eyes were on me, I told them a joke I made up on the spot, which was, ‘What did the butter say to the milk?’ and they said, ‘I don’t know’ and I answered, ‘Mmm-mmm-mm-mmm!’ because butter can’t talk, and then I peed myself laughing so much that pee got all over the chair and the kitchen floor and everyone totally freaked out! Tah dah!”

But I don’t. I instead say something inane, finish my beer, and then sheepishly say, “I’m so sorry, but I’m going outside to have a cigarette right now.”

The transformation of man into whiney baby happens instantaneously. “I can’t believe you’re going to interrupt the conversation for a cigarette. I can’t believe I’m competing for your attention with a cigarette. etc. etc.”

When he finally finishes, I say, as non-bitchily as possible, “You know what? I’m going to go outside and have a cigarette, and then I’m going to leave. I am really sorry about your dad, and thanks for the beer, but this just isn’t going to work out.”

He was shocked speechless. I got up, left, and practically strutted down the street, feeling like Xena Warrior Dating Princess.

Well, I’m all dressed up….might as well crash a Swedish guy’s birthday party full of international virile young men.

When I arrive, my girlfriend Melissa is getting chatted up by her crush, so I sidle up to the bar, order a gimlet, and see a solitary tall/dark/handsome man sitting next to me at the bar. I say something to the back of his head, he turns around, smiles, and we end up having the date that I should have been on all along.

Marcos is Spanish (nice), a spoken-word poet (very cool), getting his master’s in creative writing at NYU (yes! arty!), works a lot (ambitious, can be good), lives in Staten Island (ewh) but the bus only takes 20 minutes (still ewh), has grown up and lived in NYC all his life (good), knows every single bartender in the East Village it seems (perks) and has really nice eyes (aah) and a 5 o’clock shadow that serves as a nice backdrop to some very chewy, succulent lips (wonder if I’ll kiss ‘em?).

We exchange numbers at the end of the night and he texts me last night to see if I was up…maybe I’ll have an excuse to squeeze in a few Spanish lessons before I leave on my monthlong trip to Spain next week.

Will let you all know how my progress with the Spanish tongue goes. Winko winko nudgo nudgo.

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