When it comes to most situations in life, I am a firm believer in controlling the course of your destiny. Perhaps, there are some people who have incredible things simply “happen” to them, but I have never been one of them, and so I have learned to seize life by the balls and make cool stuff happen on my own. This has been known to work to my advantage – except when I recently tried to apply said approach to my personal life.
Let me preface this with the fact that dating was not high on my list of priorities this past summer. Blame it on a chaotic work schedule, a 3-week trip to Asia or just pure bullshit fatigue, but I simply didn’t have it in me to pursue any romantic rendezvous. Which was fine until a couple of weekends ago, when my loser-hood hit the fan in the face of an ex-boyfriend encounter. It was a scorching hot day and I was walking around Soho, doing absolutely nothing, when I suddenly felt an urge for a special kind of hipster ice cream called Matcha Cha Cha that I had seen on Instagram. And so I swerved off my route and walked 15 blocks in the 100-degree heat to Nolita, only to be halted by the vision of an ex and his new girlfriend lounging in front of the ice cream place, roadblocking my sugar-laden path to happiness. Although we had broken up light years ago, a scan of my outfit confirmed that facing them in a pair of diaper-inspired Acne shorts and Birkenstocks was a non-option. Hungry and frustrated, I turned around and walked away, feeling like a failure at life.
Said feeling soon transitioned into a strong desire to fix the situation. I was going to transform my reality, and I was going to do so fast! And so, I sat down at La Colombe and decided to make my own love life happen, popping open ‘em dating apps and scrolling through the messages that I had received in the previous few weeks. Thirty minutes later, I had it narrowed down to two contenders: a hot Dane from The League and a Jewish musician from Raya. I started simultaneously chatting with both of them.
The Dane was disqualified rather quickly as a result of the below conversation.
The Jewish guy seemed quite charming and, even more importantly, interested in discussing something other than my preferences in the male anatomy. He also happened to be employed by one of the biggest douchebags on the planet (the same one who made models melt into a grass lawn on Roosevelt Island the other day) but I decided that wasn’t grave enough of a reason to disqualify him. Around 7pm, I had driven the conversation exactly where I needed it to be (what can I say, us women are manipulative creatures), yielding a suggestion to meet up for drinks that very evening.
Triumphant about my progress in redirecting my fate, I headed to meet my date, who had suggested a “conversational spot” called Pardon My French in the East Village. I imagined us hitting it off and having one of those long, winding dates that are later recounted in wedding speeches, generating lots of “awws” in the audience.
I was greeted by a tall, cut guy who looked exactly like he did in his photos – not intimidatingly cute but normal cute, exactly the kind of guy you want to bring home to meet mom and dad. Was this it? Could I have actually struck gold with one flimsy attempt to make my personal life happen?!
We sat down, ordered wine and stared at each other. The speed-texting had done a fine job getting us there, but I didn’t really have much supplementary information besides what I had seen on his Raya profile. And so, I launched into a series of questions about his bio – life – job, all of which he was very happy to answer in extensive detail, as though he was a celebrity and I was a journalist and this was a Vanity Fair profile. At some point he must have realized that he had been speaking sans interruption for about five minutes, because he suddenly stopped himself to apologize.
“You’ll have to excuse me. I have a bit of an encyclopedic brain.”
“You’re so lucky! I have memory lapses every couple of years.” (I wasn’t even trying to be self-deprecating, this may actually be true.)
“Aw. Yeah, I know everything. Just ignore it.”
I waited for the punch line but alas it never came. This guy was actually convinced that he knew everything, a rather strong statement that defied basic laws of neuroscience. Instead of “ignoring” it, I decided to ask him a series of questions about everything in plain sight, from the origins of salt and pepper to the root of the word ‘table’. He probably fibbed his answers but, then again, I may never know.
The conversation drifted over to Raya. He had already skimmed Dbag Dating and I told him, quite honestly, that I frequently use the infamous dating app for “research” but had met some cool people along the way. He decided to be just as honest:
“I like that it weeds out all the simple people.”
I asked him to explain what he meant by ‘simple people’. Turns out, that’s what he called those who did not share his interests for the creative arts and were thus, as far as I understood, inferior to his hyper-elevated self. As a fellow ‘creative’, he expected me to relate. As a person who actually prefers to surround myself with diverse people with interests that trespass skirt lengths and Spotify rankings, I didn’t.
“Who is to say that your life is more interesting than that of a non-creative? Or any better? Or more meaningful?” Angry, I decided to battle it out, a regular Robin Hood for the ‘simple’ folks.
Oops. I had opened up Pandora’s box. Sensing that it would take mucho effort to erase the douchiness of the previous claim, he delved into a long and boring autobiographical recount of his rise to success, which is when I came to discover that he had zero respect for his parents. It turned out that he had always felt like an “outsider” in his “simple household” and, even though he loved them, he “felt sorry” for his parents as they were “messed up people” who had projected the mistakes of their own past onto him. He spoke in a cold and removed tone that sounded like he was talking about strangers rather than the people who had given birth to him, which immediately sent my parent-worshipping Russian blood boiling. I also started detecting some strong sociopathic vibes, the kind that come from fake people with overinflated egos and a palpable lack of human empathy. And yet I decided that perhaps I was just being dramatic and took him up on his offer for a post-drink walk.
We started walking down Avenue B in silence. Having been the one to instigate all the conversations of the evening, I had nothing left in me.
“You know, you could try asking some questions. I can’t be the only one making an effort here.”
His answer was one for the books: “I feel like I know enough.” (What does that even mean?!) Also, I’m wondering if it’s too early to kiss you, because I think you’re really cute.”
Why I let it happen is a separate conversation that I already had with all of my friends, who made me swear that I would stop putting myself in dumb situations. Let’s move on to the kiss, which was as eerie as the date. It wasn’t bad, just creepy, like kissing the spawn of Hannibal Lector.
Biking home, I realized that there is a feeling far more unpleasant than loser-hood, and that is loneliness. Specifically, the loneliness of bad company. That very same feeling that you experience at a party full of fake people, or in an empty and unfulfilling conversation, or during an unnatural kiss with a person you don’t even like. Maybe, had I actually gotten to know Hannibal better before trying to expedite some movie-worthy romance, I would have spared myself from that experience. Even better, I could even have used to that time to read a book, or see a film, or do something else for myself.
Perhaps, patience really should be reintroduced as a much-needed virtue.
Oh, and Hannibal never contacted me again. The End.