I recently got this lovely message on OKCupid.

So obviously I responded with this.

Nice try, bitch. I’m always gonna win.

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I am endlessly fascinated by religion and religious people. Religious orthodoxy of any kind is something I obsess over and research online and watch documentaries about all the time. Heaven’s Gate. Scientology. People who really, really love Jesus.

So, when someone on OKCupid messaged me whose profile said he had spent 6 years living in Israel as an Orthodox Jew before he recently became an atheist, I was fascinated. I obviously had to meet him.

We messaged back and forth for a while. I asked him a thousand questions, all about his life and religion. He was raised secular, and converted to Chasidism in his early 20s. WHAT. AMAZING. When he was in Israel, he had done some sort of Orthodox Jewish matchmaking, in which you basically go on three dates with someone and then decide whether you want to marry them or not. MORE. I asked him why he stopped believing in God. I asked him all sorts of stuff about the nuances of Jewish law that I always wondered about. Everything was going well.

And then I realized that, while I knew all sorts of interesting things about his past, he had never taken a moment of lull in the conversation to ask me a single thing about myself. He didn’t ask me what I did for a living, didn’t ask me what books I liked to read – nothing.

I mentioned that to him.

“You haven’t asked me a single question about myself,” I said.

He didn’t understand why that was relevant. Like, apparently caring one tiny bit about another person wasn’t important, even in a dating setting.

Anyway, it was soon obvious that I wasn’t interested in dating him, but I was still so intrigued by his past that when he asked me out, I told him I’d be happy to hang out as friends. He accepted, and for the next several days we texted intermittently.

One night, we hung out. We talked for a while – more religion, mostly. I asked whether he thought that men raised in Orthodox Judaism were conditioned with such a toxic view of male-female relationships that they could never have healthy relationships with women. Our conversation was pretty insightful and interesting. He seemed thoughtful. Again, he asked me nothing about myself, but I expected it, by that point. He went home, and everything seemed fine.

The next day, he called me at 3 am, obviously drunk. He told me I was fucked up, and no one would ever love me, and all sorts of other nasty shit that I don’t remember. I was horrified and hung up on him. He called back three times and left me a message, which I listened to a few seconds of and then promptly deleted.

Over the course of the next few days, he called me several more times in the middle of the night and left abusive messages. I didn’t listen to them. He sent me dozens of mean messages on OKCupid.

“Did you go on that date? When he finds out who you really are, he’ll run away screaming.”

“You’re too fucked up for anyone to ever love.”

And a few more great gems like that.

Finally, I blocked him.

Not sure what the moral is, here. Don’t trust extremists of any stripe? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just that some men are abusive assholes, no matter how interesting they may seem.

I basically haven’t been able to write anything since the election, which was fine for a few weeks, but now it’s been several months and – it’s time to get my brain together and do some work. So I thought the perfect re-introduction would be the man I spent that fateful election night with.

A few weeks before, I met this man on OKCupid. He seemed perfectly nice and smart, so we met up for drinks. We met at a restaurant in my neighborhood (because, as my readers know, I don’t leave the area for first dates). It was the night of game 7 of the World Series, and we started talking about baseball. He mentioned that he wanted to find a place to watch game 7.

“I actually like baseball,” I said.

“Really?” he asked. “Who’s playing tonight?”

As in, you’re a girl, you can’t possibly like baseball or know what you’re talking about. Prove it.

I called him out, and he said, “Oh, I just wanted to make sure you really were fine going to watch the game.”

I let it go, because we had been having a good time. After all, everyone mansplains sometimes, right? Upon reflection, maybe I need to be more careful about this. I’ve had a lot of mansplaining interactions lately, and really one should probably be unacceptable. I’m nothing if not smart, and any man who talks down to me should get, as my Pop Pop would say, a punch in the nose.

But, smart or not, I let the mansplaining go. We went to get another drink and watch game 7, and then went our separate ways.

A few days later, we went to brunch and had a lovely time. A few days after that, on Election Day, I met up with him after therapy. He had a TV, and I wanted to watch the returns.

“I’m coming from Borough Hall,” I said. “I should be back at Franklin Avenue in 15 minutes.”

“That doesn’t take 15 minutes,” he said.

I was going from my therapist’s office to my home stop. I have made that trip a thousand times. I know exactly how long the trip takes. It’s three stops on the train. But he still felt the need to boss me around.

“I guarantee you it’ll take me 15 minutes. You’re mansplaining.”

“I’m just trainsplaining,” he said, which was kinda funny, if infuriating.

Anyway, I got to where we were supposed to meet exactly on time (in 15 minutes). He wanted to hold hands when I got off the train. We had been on two dates. It was weird and felt like he desperately wanted someone to hold hands with, rather than to hold hands with me. Then he told me boring insider MTA stories for a while, like, about the brakes at different stations.

“Sometime I’ll take you into the control room,” he said.

It was kinda painful. The date was not off to a good start, and it was only 4 pm.

He lived in a really Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. He hadn’t voted yet, so we walked to his polling station and I waited upstairs while he voted. I had a hilarious conversation with an old Jewish man about how the New York Times hated Israel.

“You’re not Jewish,” he said.

“I am,” I said. “But not Orthodox.”

The MTA guy and I met back up after he cast his vote. I insisted we buy wine, although he didn’t really drink. We stopped at the only wine store nearby. There were six shelves of wine from Israel, and a few from France and Spain and Italy. If you were wondering whether you can get a kosher Bordeaux, you can.

Ok, so we went back to his apartment. I drank wine, he had a beer. We talked for a while. The returns hadn’t even started yet. While we still thought Hillary would win, we ordered in Mexican food and, upon my insistence, two more bottles of wine.

“So, when was your last relationship?” I asked him.

“A few months ago,” he said.

I found out that he had a series of year long relationships, all a few months apart. He had gotten married at 22 (I haven’t mentioned that he also had a 5-year-old, but that’s mostly because I tried to forget about it) and had basically been in short-ish long-term relationships since then. Clearly, he was the relationship type – he desperately needed to be with someone. He had met his ex-wife, by the way, on Craigslist.

As we all know too well, the night soon became terrifying, as it seemed less and less likely that there would be a Hillary victory. I got really drunk. Also, I really like politics – I was getting into what was going on, and exclaiming excitedly when something good or bad happened.

He was being more and more standoffish. It was pretty obvious to me that something was wrong; that I was getting on his nerves.

“Listen,” I said. “Are you not having a good time?”

“No, everything’s fine,” he said.

“Seriously, if you’re not having a good time, I can go. Just say something.”

“It’s fine.”

Around midnight, I left so he could go to sleep. He had to work the next day, and I wanted to watch the rest of the votes come in. I went downstairs to wait for an Uber, knowing I’d never hear from him again. He didn’t even have the guts to say, “You know what, it’s true, I’m not really having a good time.” He couldn’t say, “You seem lovely, but I’m not sure this is gonna work out.” Instead, he promised everything was fine.

Which was just the last, annoying straw on top of explaining to me how the Subway worked and a boring day, capped off by a Trump victory. I texted him the next day to say, “So, it happened.” He sent back a sad face, and we never spoke again. As went the fate of America that night, so went the fate of my relationship with the MTA employee. I guess I’ll never get to go on a secret hike on the tracks.

 

This lovely gentleman, who matched with me at 22% on OKCupid, sent me a message saying, “I think we have something in common. Do you know what it is?”

I was pretty sure we had nothing at all in common, so I asked him to elaborate. This was our conversation. Enjoy!

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I connected with the ultimate mansplainer on Tinder and called him out, to which he responded, “But I’m a feminist!” Please, just read this for yourself.img_1638img_1639img_1640img_1642img_1643img_1644img_1645

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And then he blocked me, without understanding AT ALL that a) I wasn’t calling him a rapist, b) I never asked him what he thought about me not wanting to be alone with a stranger, and c) if he was really a feminist, he would know he was mansplaining. #UGHMEN

Come on, dude. We clearly have nothing in common. You can’t even pick out one thing from my profile you liked, when prompted.

So I’ll just be rude and dismissive. And clearly you’ll keep messaging until I stop responding. WHY???

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I’ve taken to unleashing my antagonistic tendencies on people who message me on OKCupid who clearly haven’t read my profile or paid any attention to what I have to say, but just liked my pictures.

It’s infuriating, first of all, because we clearly have nothing in common, based on a quick read. Why waste my time and yours? But also, it’s insulting – come on, I’m a whole person. Don’t you want to know anything about me?

I’ve also found that these people seem to think that any attention is good attention – so, I’m mean to them, and dismissive, and even insulting, and they just keep talking. And then try to make jokes and ask me out. Come on, dude. Have some self-respect.

Anyway, here’s one good example:

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The other day, I got a message from a young man.

“Lush bath bombs?!?!” it said.
At first I had no idea where that even came from. I knew there was no chance I had mentioned a brand in my profile. I knew that I definitely hadn’t mentioned bath bombs, because I hate anything with a scent. Baby everything for me – baby shampoo, baby sunscreen, baby lotion – because it’s usually unscented and hypoallergenic.
And then I realized that the first line of my profile reads, “Writer. Book reader. Dog owner. City girl. Lush.”

I feel like that sums me up pretty well. The next part of my profile mentions that someone once told me that I’m “the kind of high maintenance that’s worth it,” so I feel like I’ve given full disclosure right up front.
Anyway.
I had figured it out. That was where the “Lush” comment came from.
“No,” I responded. “That shit is nasty. Hate how they smell.”
“Really,” the gentleman sent back. “So which Lush products do you like??”
Punctuation is accurate in each of those messages, by the way. I’ll mention briefly the excessive use of question marks and exclamation points, and then let it go.
So he had brought up Lush products again. Was he joking? Did he really think that I was summing up my personality by citing a company that makes mediocre scented soaps?
“What?” I said. “Are you serious?”
And then he didn’t respond.
I guess I’ll never know if he was trying to flirt by talking about bath bombs, or if he really thought that Lush was so integral to my life that I mentioned it in the first line of my profile.

On Tuesday night, I went to see Nick Kroll and John Mulaney in Oh Hello on Broadway. I had bought tickets intending to go with my dad, but he was busy. Then I invited my best friend Boh, but Boh had to go to LA for work. I tried inviting several more people, but none of them could come.

So I found myself on the 2 train headed toward Times Square, all by myself. At Atlantic Avenue, a bearded man sat down next to me. I didn’t pay much attention beyond just noticing his presence. I was exhausted, so I dozed for most of the trip. Around 14th street, the bearded man turned to me.

“Would you like a mint?” he asked, offering me a box of Altoids.

“No, thanks,” I said. For the record, I don’t really like mints.

“Ok,” he said, with a smile. “If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

I wasn’t interested in him romantically, but I did want company to that play. Why not invite a friendly stranger from the train? What a fun, quirky adventure, right? To spend the night with a potentially unbearable stranger?

“Hey,” I said. “Where are you headed?”

“To dinner,” he said. “At 73rd street. My friend just moved here from Boston, and he’s cooking for me.”

“Bummer,” I said. “I have an extra ticket to this show.”

I told him about Oh Hello. He had heard of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, and we talked about them a little bit.

“I’ve been trying to get out more,” I told him. “I tend to get stuck sitting at home.”

“I know, me too,” he said, smiling. “Man. What time is the show? Maybe I can eat dinner really quickly and then come meet you?”

“8 PM,” I said. “I don’t think that will work. Too bad.”

Then the train stopped at 42nd Street.

“It was nice to meet you,” I said.

“I’m Jake,” he said.

“Eliza.”

“Listen,” he said. “I work at [redacted] in Clinton Hill. You should come by sometime.”

“Great,” I said, and then I got off the train.

I had no intention of visiting this guy. I didn’t even pay attention to what the bar was called. But as soon as the train door closed, the woman who had been sitting across from us called out to me.

“You know you have to go to that bar he works at,” she said. “That was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah.”

I hadn’t even been interested. But she was so interested, on my behalf. And when I thought about it, from her perspective – of course he was flirting, right? And he wasn’t bad looking. Maybe I really had to find this guy. Maybe this was the meet-cute that would lead to my most fulfilling, joyful future.

The woman remembered some rough estimation of the bar’s name. Later that night, I looked it up on my phone, and stalked the right bar (after a lot of work). After the show, I called the bar.

“Do you have a bartender named Jake who works there?” I asked.

“Yeah,” the guy said. He told me he worked weekends.

“Thanks,” I said. And I decided to show up.

The day I had decided to go, I got three hours of sleep. I woke up at 4:44 am, and, by noon, decided it was time to have a martini. I was really, really nervous about what felt like stalking this guy and showing up at his workplace. But the woman had convinced me! I had to go.

By 7 pm, I had a few more martinis. Yes, I was pretty drunk. I hopped in a cab and went to the bar in Clinton Hill.

The guy was behind the bar. I smiled and sat down.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey,” he said. “What’s your name again?”

He didn’t remember my name. After all that build up, and all the encouragement from the stranger on the train. Clearly, he was not interested. And I was mad.

I ordered a Manhattan, to feel out the situation and see if maybe I was wrong. We chatted a little bit. I drank some. It was too sweet.

The conversation was so, so awkward. I didn’t even want to finish any drink, let alone a too-sweet Manhattan. So I asked for my check.

“You’re not even halfway done with your drink!” he said.

Now, for this next part – let’s remember that I was drunk, and had just been rejected by someone I wasn’t even interested in in the first place. And let’s anticipate, as avid readers of this blog, how drunk me would handle this situation.

Now that we’ve made that clear.

“Yeah, this is fucking awkward.” I said, over my drink. “You didn’t even remember my name. You were the one who told me to come by.”

He looked at me and smiled an awkward, self-conscious, horrified smile.

“And this Manhattan is too sweet.” I said. I dropped $15 on the bar (the bad Manhattan had cost $13) and got up and left.

And then the night turned magical.

By which I mean, I was miserable. I called my friend in LA and complained about my disaster of an evening. I wandered around in the rain, trying to find a bar where someone would flirt with me and make me feel better, but there is nothing going on in Clinton Hill. So I hopped in a cab, went home, made myself a martini, and passed out by 10 pm, feeling insecure and rejected.

All over a guy I hadn’t even been interested in, in the first place.