Illustration by sketch wunderkind Kelcey Vossen
The Cross-Cupper (whose nickname will be deciphered towards the end of this pièce de résistance) and I met on The League, a dating app that was originally created to connect cerebrally blessed Ivy League graduates but is now banking on its subscriber roster by allowing regular folks to join at a whoopin $150 a year. (I, however, got in through some beta mode loophole that allowed regular chicks to join for free for a hot second.)
In a digital sea of boring bankers, the Cross-Cupper stood out, as he looked more like a Raya reject with his sexy Jason Statham physique and a Rick Owens-esque vibe that instantly tickled my hipster-loving pickle. Thirty minutes after we matched, I received a message.
“Your blog is hilarious.”
Aw. After the initial moment of feeling flattered, I became confused. This was not an uber-transparent app, which means that users were more or less anonymous. I asked him how he had found me.
“Google Image search, babe. I had to vet you.”
I should have stopped the conversation then and there. In fact, I should have deactivated my League membership and asked my brother to set me up with the last single Russian 30-something-year-old on Brighton. Instead, I ignored the chill that was making its way down my back and asked if his screening process always cleared girls with dating blogs. He sent me a smiley emoji and a link to his Wikipedia page, offering me to vet him back. It featured a detailed month-by-month recap of his career as an artist, which a friend confirmed could only have been written by him.
Undeterred by the blatant display of self-promotion, I agreed to meet him for a drink in Brooklyn later that week. On the morning of our date, he messaged me to explain that he had completely forgotten about another obligation. Would I mind skipping the bar crawl in favor of an indulgent Peking duck for four? Yes, four, as there would now be two other people joining us on our first date. Both were apparently “very famous” – a watch collector and an artist. “Can you handle it?” he asked. Never one to resist a challenge, or prime Chinese, I agreed.
I was instructed to meet my companions at the artist’s Tribeca loft for a pre-dinner apéro. The Cross-Cupper came outside to meet me, looking like a hot serial killer in his all-black gear – ski hat included. As he led me to the back of a gallery and down the stairs, he noted again that the artist I was about to meet was VERY famous. Far more worried about potential brush with murder than with celebrity, I was overjoyed to be greeted by a chic French guy and a tiny Asian man, both seemingly harmless and far more interested in the surrounding art than chopping my body into tiny pieces.
We exchanged small talk and I flaunted my French, before heading out to the restaurant for our long-awaited duck. The tiny artist must have been pretty famous amongst his peeps, because I don’t recall ever experiencing this kind of VIP treatment – or this much food – in my life. As I polished off plates of canard, accompanied with excellent red wine, I started growing very content with my date. Fame bullshit aside, the Cross-Cupper was actually very interesting and superbly well-traveled, not to mention a fellow former expat who had spent ten years living in Asia. After dinner, he drove me home and we stayed parked by my building for an hour discussing his artwork, a topic he was deeply passionate about. “All the galleries are coming this week. This is my big moment!” he excitedly exclaimed, causing the SUV to reverberate. It was a bit maniacal yet also sort of inspiring, like a Ted Talk binge or Adderall in human form. I suddenly envisioned myself becoming quite confident and ambitious under his guidance. Maybe this was the kind of motivation I had been missing all along!
Two days later, he invited me to check out his creative genius in person. I agreed to go to Brooklyn for a “studio visit.” The day of said event, he once again shifted gears by asking me if I wanted to have dinner on the roof instead. Assuming that he meant the roof of his studio, I agreed, which is how I found myself in the lobby of his Dumbo apartment later that evening. Realizing that I had nobody to blame but my inattentive self, I texted my friend the address in case she needed to retrieve my body. The Cross-Cupper came down armed with a big bottle of wine and a teeny takeout bag, which I assumed contained our romantic dinner.
We headed up to the roof, which was actually lovely with the exception of one minor detail – it was still April and not nearly warm enough for open-air hangouts. My teeth chattered but I dared not suggest we go down to his apartment. Sensing that I was barely functioning, he brought me an enormous avantgarde men’s coat that smelled like the eruption of a fig tree and made it impossible for me to eat. Speaking of food, there barely was any. The Cross-Cupper had clearly decided that I had eaten enough at Peking Duck to last me through the week, because he had ordered us a spartan-style mexican dinner that included one guacamole, one salad and a couple of bite-sized tacos. As I watched my precious tortilla chips (which I could count on two hands) get blown a away by the blistering wind, I began realizing that it was time to determine my priorities and save my food. I asked the Cross-Cupper if we could go downstairs, which had presumably been his plan all along.
His apartment almost sent my OCD brain into overdrive. It was a masterpiece really, a work of art that a more descriptive writer could have penned an entire short story about. Every single inch of his sprawling one-bedroom was covered with STUFF. Think books and notebooks, intermingled with clothing, intermingled with dirty plates and empty food containers, intermingled with – I kid you not – various animal fossils that he had picked up during his time living in Asia. It was like that chalkboard scene from A Beautiful Mind, but with a Museum of Natural History flair. Clearly, my visit had been very important to him if such preparation had taken place.
He cleared off some space, which basically meant shoving one mountain of stuff into a corner to join another mountain of stuff. Boxers, laundry, magazines, alligator skulls – everything was going directly into the mosh pit, ruining the remainder of my appetite to the point where I decided to cut my losses and focus on the wine instead. As I drank, the urge to manically clean began leaving my body and I even started to enjoy our conversation which, shocker of shockers, had circled back to his art. He explained again that he was particularly excited by his latest work, as he felt he had really tapped into something very important. He then stood up, raised his glass and proclaimed: “Soon, I will be the most famous artist in the world!”
It was a bit like that photo of Lenin stepping off from the train from Germany, waving, eager to start the detrimental October Revolution. Speaking of which, he may have had Lenin’s INTJ personality thing going, because he then explained that he had done extensive research on the most famous artists in history and had figured out the formula to extreme success, which he was in the process of implementing.
Oh, he was clearly also kick-starting his PR campaign, because he then leaned in, kissed me and whispered: “So, are you going to write about me?”
“Hmmm, I’m not sure if I have material,” I lied through my teeth.
“Of course you do! ‘Then, the brilliant artist kissed me in a messy room full of fossils. Not only was he handsome, but he was a great kisser..””.
He was, quite literally, writing his Dbag Dating story for me! Now this was a first. I realized that the narrative was going to be helpful and made a few mental notes.
He wasn’t done providing me with content. “You smell like tacos,” he whispered, kissing me again. Yup, the man who had fed me ONE sample-sized taco was now bitching that I smelled like a food truck? I almost told him that his apartment smelled like fig trees and fermented fossils, but bit my tongue.
Maybe tacos were his oysters, because he kept on going, pulling me closer and sticking his hands in places they shouldn’t be. Between the crazy talk and the taco talk, I really wasn’t feeling the whole thing. Eager to get out of his grasp, I awkwardly wiggled around in his arms until he finally let go, then slid my body all the way off the couch and made my way to the floor. Since we were now technically at different levels, he couldn’t touch me, right? Wrong. He leaned down and slipped his hands under my shirt, placing his right hand on my left breast and left hand on the right one. And then… Nothing. Not a massage, not an attempt to rouse my own excitement levels, nada. He simply held them there for the longest sixty seconds of my life, as I sat in the midst of the pigsty, wondering if I was ready to take on my 30s as a lesbian.
I dimmed my phone screen and texted my friend that a crazy man was holding my boobs hostage, receiving an “emergency” phone call two minutes later. My friend nicknamed him the Cross-Cupper and declared him an excellent addition to my dating portfolio.
Two weeks later I saw my prize portfolio showpiece again at a party. “So, have you written about me yet?” was the only thing he asked me, before reverting to networking with other (presumably more famous) attendees.
FYI, he smelled like tacos.