Archives for category: Fucking Irritating

My dear readers know that I’ve been on a lot of dates. And a lot of really bad dates. But this was, perhaps, the worst date I’ve ever been on. Not because he was mean or anything, but because, from the second I said hi, I wanted to leave.

Instead, I stayed. For two hours.

Let’s back up, here.

This guy messaged me on OKCupid. He was very tall (yes), bearded (yes), and kind of chunky (yes), so obviously I replied.

There were some red flags. He was 49, and I’ve learned that, at that age, there’s usually a reason men are still single. He had never been married, which was good, for me, but also – had to be a reason. But he had no kids, and he owned a brownstone, so he was basically landed gentry in Brooklyn. If we fell in love and got married, I’d basically be a marchioness.

Also, he had three pictures up online. In two of them, he looked attractive, chunky, bearded, normal. In the third he looked really, really awkward, leaning slouchily against a bridge in a pair of sweatpants and an ill-fitting t-shirt. But the other two looked fine, and we were hitting it off so well, that I ignored that flag, too.

We had amazing nonsense banter. I love to be silly and talk about nothing, and we talked about such silly nothingness. Over text, I thought he seemed smart and interesting and down with a kind of bossy woman, so I was really looking forward to our date.

Almost immediately, we connected on how we both liked black licorice. That’s a special connection to share, because not many people understand the nuanced beauty that is a black licorice wheel. It’s one of my favorite things. Licorice is even made with wheat flour, and I love it so much that I pretend it isn’t. And it never makes me sick. Licorice is so magical, that, unlike anything else with flour in it, it doesn’t make me vomit. One bite of crusty bread? Vom-town. Pizza? Puke city. But, out of the power of love and sheer force of will, licorice doesn’t make me sick. I flat out refuse to be allergic to licorice.

But I digress.

I mentioned how hard it was to find good licorice anywhere, and he told me about Economy Candy, an old-fashioned candy store on the Lower East Side. And, of course. If anyone was gonna sell black licorice and cheap candy, obviously it was gonna be a store on the Lower East Side. He suggested we go there on our date, and I immediately agreed.

I was thrilled. What makes for a better first date than a trip to a candy store? Answer: nothing, except for an evening of champagne and oysters, because that trumps everything. He suggested we get breakfast first, in my neighborhood. Lovely. And, because we were going to the LES, I looked up my favorite pickle place, The Pickle Guys, on Grand Street (side note: I discovered The Pickle Guys because they were next door to the Judaica shop where I bought my tallis for my bat mitzvah. That’s how good these pickles are. I’ve remembered and drooled over them since I was twelve). A plan was in place that I felt good about. Breakfast. Then candy. Then good, old-fashioned, kosher full-sours.

I woke up the morning of our date bright and eager to meet the guy I had been texting with. He seemed so smart. So interesting. So, at 9:00, when I realized I wasn’t falling back asleep, I suggested we meet up earlier than planned. He agreed, and we set a revised brunch time of 10:30.

The diner is only a few blocks away from me, but they’re long blocks, and it was chilly and drizzling. I was cranky, but still hopeful. I had a good podcast to listen to. I was meeting a tall, chunky, bearded man. I approached the diner, feeling good.

And then I saw him. And I knew this date was not going to go well.

The guy was wearing a too-tight, pallid yellow polo shirt, and olive green cargo pants made out of windbreaker material. They were also too tight, and about two or three inches too short. What I thought had been lumberjack-scruffy in his profile pictures was really just unkempt.

I had made a mistake I’ve made before: mistaking super awkward and maybe a little autistic for smart and quirky. There’s a thin line that divides the two. It can be hard to determine which side someone stands on, through text and the internet. But it was clear that, this time, I had judged wrong.

I walked up to him with a smile on my face, already dreading what was to come. He went in for a hug, which I hate from even the most attractive, charming stranger. Don’t touch me. You don’t know me. From this gross guy, it was even less palatable.

We walked into the diner and the host led me toward a booth.

“Um,” the guy said to the host, with a really fucking irritating smirk on his face. “Come on!”

The host smiled and redirected us to what I soon learned was the guy’s usual booth. Turned out my guy was a “regular” at the diner. And he basked in the imagined glory of that status. He was performatively chummy with the waitstaff, and made a big show of them already knowing his order, and knowing what table he sat at, blah blah fucking ugh.

“They might bring some weird stuff over for us,” he said, smiling a weird, playful, irritating smile.

Sure enough, the waiter brought him a few assorted things – seltzer water with cranberry juice and a lime, and a plate of wheat toast with honey and cinnamon? Each time, he looked at me smugly, as if expecting me to be impressed.

The waiter came back to take our orders. The guy was still kvelling (I wish I could show you how obnoxious that smile was) and said, “the usual,” followed by some apparently special insider code words to clarify his order. The waiter then turned to me, looked back at him, said “She’s so pretty!” and then took my order. I wanted to die. Literal death seemed better than the prospect of sitting through a meal with this man.

I’ve developed a rule that I don’t laugh or smile if I’m not truly amused by something a man says. Just because I’m out with someone doesn’t mean I need play stupid girl and smile and laugh at anything a guy says. Especially if it’s not funny, or just fucking irritating. So I sat through our entire meal barely talking, miserable, trying not to flip the fuck out and be mean to this sad, irritating, awkward man.

After what felt like an eternity, I had picked at my scrambled eggs, he had eaten his broccoli-cheddar omelette and short stack of blueberry-ricotta pancakes (I heard all about them, apparently they were called “Danish” style). He paid. We left.

But the date wasn’t even close to over. We walked to the subway, and I tried to make awkward small talk. Then we got on the subway. I sat next to a man wearing horrible cologne, so I had to get up and move to the other end of the car. That provided a little bit of conversation. For the entire trip, I sat with my arms crossed across my chest, as closed off as possible. When we got to our stop and stepped outside, it was raining.

I am a baby about bad weather. I hate being cold. I hate being wet. And it was wet, and cold. I had to go into a drugstore and buy a $13 shitty umbrella. Then we had to walk ten blocks, in the cold, nasty rain, to the candy store. In near-silence.

And then, one, bright, shining moment, in a cold, rainy, dark, dark day.

Economy Candy.

It. Was. Amazing. A magical Mecca of candy, packed into a little crowded storefront. The owners were not Jewish, as I had expected them to be, but the candy exceeded expectations. I bought four pounds of black licorice wheels, a quarter-pound of Dutch salted licorice, a half-pound of chocolate-covered apricots, a half-pound of mixed loose candies (Mary Janes, Tootsie Rolls, Bit-o-Honey), and a pound of red licorice shoelaces. All in all, I blew $30 on candy. I do not regret it. It was beautiful and inspiring and an experience that I will not forget, for the opposite reason of why the rest of the date is something I will never forget.

We left the store. I knew I couldn’t sustain any more time with him, so I told the guy that I had promised to call my friend after we left the candy store.

“How’s the date going?” my friend asked, when he answered the phone.

“Not well,” I said.

“You ok?”

“No,” I said. “Can I come over?”

He laughed and said yes. I told the guy that I had to go meet my friend. He insisted on walking me to the subway.

I was still basking in the glow of all the black licorice I had just bought. I actually considered going to get pickles. No, I didn’t want one more second of this man’s company, but – I mean, those are some damn good pickles. Ultimately, I decided against it and cut my losses. When we got to the subway, he gave me a hug. I returned the saddest, most anemic hug ever, and pretty much ran away. Over my shoulder, I heard him say, “I hope the debrief with your friend goes well!”

I was free. I ran down the subway stairs in my rainboots in a state of shock and relief.

Ultimately, the day ended well. I met my friend and got out of the rain into a cafe. I had a Perrier with lemon. Then some very good bone broth. My friend and I sat in a park and watched pigeons for an hour. I met a very short old lady who told me all about her labradoodles, Bert and Ernie. Ernie jumped on me and got mud all over my sweater, but he also gave me some kisses, so that was ok. Around 4:30, I headed back to Brooklyn, with six pounds of candy in my tote bag. The day had been salvaged.

But I really cannot recall a worse date, ever, in all my history of bad dates. It was just so painful. So excruciating. It felt kind of like when I did a sleep study and had to try to sleep with a tube up my nose and electrodes on my head. I was so uncomfortable, but I knew that I couldn’t leave. Up until today, that was the most trapped I had ever felt. This date was, at the very least, a close second.

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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.

 

Boh and I had gotten bored of asking this self-absorbed, narcissistic fuck questions about itself. So we decided to just be fucking weirdos. Shit’s about to get really stupid.

The thing asked me about my favorite bands. I slipped and wrote “Bob Dylan” and “Joni Mitchell,” who I do actually love – and then Boh and I started in with bands I could never possibly love.

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The thing’s response was, “I doubt it, but I don’t really know.”

And then I replied, “Are you not your brother’s keeper? LOL”

Which I thought was fucking hilarious. It was a weird-ass phrase, an awkward reference (and to the Bible, at that), and I ended with net-speak. SO GOOD.

The thing was unfazed. “I get it!” it replied. Then it started talking about how it had been raised Catholic, so had mixed feelings about the Bible, but really liked the book of Revelation (well, it called it “Revelations,” but that’s incorrect, so I’ll be nice and fix it for a friend).

“Oh yeah,” I responded. “I really like the part with the garnets.”

(You don’t even need to know what I’m talking about. I was purposely being dumb and vague, and Satan or someone sits on a garnet throne at some point)

It replied with some statement about the mark of the beast, which I did not respond to. Then, I started in with the best game ever.

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The Horsegirl.

All of my dear readers probably knew, or were, a Horsegirl growing up. Horsegirls read books about horses, and spent their weekends at “The Barn,” picking dirt out of their beloved horse’s hoofs. They talked about horses all the time, and often had really know-it-all facts up their sleeves about their favorite animal.

Basically, the Horsegirl is a perfect nerdy, on-the-spectrum trope. So we went with it. The person messaging with the thing had turned into a character – Erin the Horsegirl.

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I thought this was a nice mirroring to the shark facts. So Boh looked up “Top 40 Horse Facts” online, and I sent a quick series of three.

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Ignore the thing’s input. I did. Instead of acknowledging what it had to say, I just kept naming horse facts.

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Now this girl is seriously crippled, when it comes to social graces. Obviously the thing was kidding. But I kept going. More facts about horses, please.

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My friend the thing was starting to get tired of the horse facts. I can’t imagine why. But I was determined to keep going, perseverating as well as the person with the worst Asperger’s in the world.

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I thought I’d give it a break, because I didn’t want it to lose interest when it (understandably) got tired of its love interest spewing horse facts. I talked about science fiction books a little bit, and let it riff on some dumb idea about Moby Dick in Space.

Then it started talking about how, when it had writer’s block, it came up with bad movie titles. And I was not down with that conversation. So, I said:

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“Nice!” it responded. Then I listed some great horses. Including fictional ones. I had to Google most of them.

 

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“Smarty Jones would be a great name for a band,” it followed up. Then it started talking about how much it loved making up band names, which is so fucking annoying that I had to change the subject back to horses, only with a variation this time – the band the Horsegirl wanted to start, named after a kind of horse (also Googled), and the completely inane and contradictory “sound” she wanted the band to have.

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I listed a purposely nonsensical sound, but, of course, as a band connoisseur, the thing had a band on hand to tell me about. I just went along and pretended I knew what Jesus and the Mary Chain was.

“Yes, exactly,” I said. “Only with less religious overtones.”

“I’ve never gotten religious overtones from Jesus and the Mary Chain,” it said. “But then again I hardly pay attention to their lyrics.”

“They started out as a Christian rock band,” I responded. “Not many people know that.”

Of course, they didn’t. But I thought just straight up lying would be fun. Like, if it called me out, I could insist that it was wrong. If it just knew I was wrong (or knew I was lying), that’s amazing, too. And if it believed me? Well, why not.

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Because that’s nonsense.

Then I wanted to try to get personal/offensive again. Boh and I tried to brainstorm a question I could ask a genderqueer person that was both offensive and weird. We came up with, “Do you wear women’s underwear?”

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So then we just fucked around a little bit more.

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Blah blah, didn’t care, until –

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Ugh. Thank you, again, for never conserving words and expanding on some dumbass detail about yourself. No one was saying you were a man or a woman. You could clearly understand the fucking question. But, an opportunity for more pontificating? The thing couldn’t pass it up.

After this, I bowed out. It was after 1 am, and I needed to go to sleep. Boh and I rolled over, back to back, and nodded off.

Stay tuned for Part 3, either later tonight or tomorrow, in which the thing falls completely under the control of Erin the Made-up Horsegirl.

I just got back from the Jersey Shore this afternoon. I had an amazing time, got a bunch of freckles, and sunburned my chest, despite constant re-application of SPF 50. My amazing friend Boh came to stay with my family for a few days, too, which was lovely.

While I was at the beach, I got a message from a lovely man on OKCupid.

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That was nice. And, it’s true, I love black licorice. So I checked out his profile, and it was so, so, so obnoxious. I obviously didn’t want to date this person. But a profile that obnoxious required some serious interpersonal contact – for the blog. I showed it to Boh, and Boh agreed.

Here are some highlights of the profile, just so you get some impression of what we were working with before we started messaging.

First of all: gender identity.

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Now, let’s be clear. I don’t give one fuck what gender people identify as. I have tons of trans friends, blah blah blah, that’s a stupid thing to say. But I am totally on board with gender being a spectrum, and being fluid.

What was obnoxious about this was that this human being (who I had been misgendering as a man) couldn’t just say that they were genderfluid, or gender non-conforming, OR non-binary, but had to include all three – plus “other,” because the three other descriptors just weren’t enough. They were just too fucking complex.

It felt like a straight guy trying to appropriate being queer, or some shit like that. Like, someone who needed to demonstrate JUST how queer they were. And desperately.

Secondly:

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We can skip over the fact that this person definitely, definitely speaks, like, six words of Catalan and twelve words of Portuguese, but felt the need to include 5 languages in their profile.

Let’s focus on “Other religion.”

Boh was convinced that this meant that our friend was a witch.

“Every queer person in New York is a witch,” Boh told me. “I’m always going on dates with fucking witches.”

Now, let’s explore “My self-summary.”

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I respect my readers enough to trust them to know exactly what is so fucking irritating about most of this profile. I will, however, point out a few choice things.

First, crypto-fag? What the fuck is a crypto-fag?

And then, “I live life in all caps lock!” Who thinks this is a good thing? Caps lock should never have been invented. Has anyone ever received an email written in all caps and thought, “Hey, this is so cute!”? I certainly have not. Shoot me now.

Ok. NEXT.

“What I’m doing with my life.”

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PROFESSIONAL PUNK ROCKER.

This person is right. All caps are required to interact with them. Because it is impossible to express how appalling this profile is in lowercase letters.

Oh, also – note the second mention of sharks.

And, finally, “I spend a lot of time thinking about.”

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Note a third mention of sharks, and then – phew – we can move on from the profile.

After reading this abhorrent mess, Boh and I decided that we definitely, definitely had to learn more about this queer, sapiosexual, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, non-binary other. Because this person was clearly the fucking worst.

We had no idea what we were getting into.

We decided to start with a series of questions, to see just how horrible any illuminating conversation about the profile could be. I responded to the licorice query with, “I love it!” Then I asked our friend if they could tell us some shark facts.

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How clever. A fact about a fake shark, a fact about a real shark, and a fake shark fact. It’s the sort of thing that’s, like, almost clever? Almost funny? Maybe it could be if done right? But, this way, it just seemed like the person was trying so hard.

So we moved on to our next question.

Boh and I both spent a lot of time in precious, progressive liberal arts schools, so we were familiar with the question, “What’s your PGP?” “PGP” stands for “Preferred gender pronoun,” which is a perfectly fair question and not necessarily obnoxious. But we had already flagged this person as fucking irritating and potentially obsessed with gender to a performative degree, so we wanted to see how obnoxious the gender identity thing was gonna get.

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Jesus Christ.

“It.”

That is so fucked up. Like, what are you, an inanimate object?

At this point, Boh and I started referring to our friend as “it.” Which is fucking absurd. I have enough trouble using “they” in the singular, because it often makes for awkward sentences and just raises a flag in my writer’s brain every time the grammar is incorrect. Generally, with genderfluid or non-binary friends who prefer “they,” I just use their names and avoid pronouns altogether. Saying “it” to refer to a person felt so fucking absurd to Boh and me that we laughed hysterically every time we had to call him/her/them “it.”

Anyway, next question. If you will remember, it had mentioned that it was a “professional punk rocker.” Musicians are almost universally fucking annoying, so we thought it was important to explore this matter further. We asked about our most pressing concern.

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Notice that I did not ask about what being a “professional punk rocker” entailed. But it decided to explain, in detail, what it did when it had been one. Basically: dumb shit, like getting people’s groceries or doing their dishes. Oh, and buying them weed, which it clearly thought was a little racy.

It sent three or four paragraph-long texts about being a PPR (professional punk rocker, obviously), which I chose to ignore. I was beginning to understand that my friend was incredibly self-absorbed and just wanted to talk incessantly about itself.

Also, let’s remember it identified as an “it. We couldn’t get over how dumb that was. So we decided to keep nudging, a little bit, with a more irritating and kind of (well, actually) offensive question.

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DUDE. Come on.

I was sure that this question would ruffle feathers, and that I’d get an answer along the lines of, “No, I’m a person.” But no. Apparently, it sometimes feels like a thing – but not always. So, sometimes they are a person, sometimes it is a person, sometimes it is a thing, and sometimes they are a thing. This is so complicated.

The worst part was – the thing obviously thought it was being intriguing. It considered itself this special enigma that any human being would find fascinating.

I did not. Boh did not. We just hated it even more.

The next question addressed my favorite phrase in the thing’s profile: “crypto-fag.” Boh and I Googled the phrase, and nothing came up. Literally nothing. So we knew we had to find out what obnoxious meaning it had.

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Full. Stop.

As obnoxious as “I like being cryptic” and “I’ve always kinda identified with the term ‘fag'” are, let’s jump straight to the stand-out sentence of this message.

“I like the secretiveness of things sometimes (like, in general).”

What. The fuck. Does that mean.

Nothing. Like, actually nothing.

“I like the secretiveness of things sometimes (like, in general).”

Seriously, if any of my readers have any idea what that’s supposed to mean, please tell me. Or maybe it’s just meant to be cryptic. Such a fucking crypto-fag.

Next, and on our last question, we decided to ask about religion.

At this point, Boh was still convinced our friend the thing was a witch. I thought that it definitely had a special worldview that it had invented all by itself. It didn’t subscribe to any religion – not even a fringe one – instead, it had its own system of spirituality that was just too complex for anyone else to have thought up, or to share.

So I asked.

“What’s the “other” religion in your profile?”

The thing’s answer did not disappoint.

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I win.

Then it turned the conversation to me.

“I have a question for you,” it wrote. “How good is Moby Dick?”

I mention on my OKCupid profile that I thought I’d hate Moby Dick, but it’s actually a masterpiece. So the thing was trying to relate, right? After all, the whole conversation had been about it, and I really hadn’t shared anything about myself, or what I liked, or who I was as a person. So it was reaching out!

Oh, wait. Its “question” was actually a rhetorical one. Basically, it just wanted to talk about itself more, and didn’t really want to know anything about me. It didn’t ask, “What’s your favorite part of Moby Dick?” or, “Why do you think it’s a masterpiece?” No. Just a rhetorical question that would take the conversation nowhere and facilitate more of the thing’s wise and insightful thoughts about the world.

I spent five or ten minutes trying to figure out what to say to move the conversation along, but I couldn’t think of anything. It had brought the conversation to a halt. So I just said, “I love Moby Dick!”

Fortunately, the thing didn’t actually care what I wrote back, because it had more to share about itself.

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How lovely. It reads Moby Dick every August. A special ritual, a delicate homage to a masterpiece that is really, really hard to read and a pretentious book to say is your favorite, anyway. And it had to make sure to brag that it took it longer than usual – a whole two weeks! – to read the tome this year. And it had to make sure to share (entirely unnecessarily, and entirely unprompted) that it had ADHD. This time, after a full fifteen minutes, I had literally zero idea what to say other than, “That’s cool.”

“This is the most unbearable creature in the world,” I said to Boh. “Obviously I have to keep talking to it, but I’m just getting irritated, and it’s not really fun anymore.”

“Why don’t we change gears?” Boh suggested. “Let’s just get weird.”

And thus ends Part 1: The Questioning. Stay tuned for Part 2, in which the messaging turns fun again by taking an absolutely ridiculous, absurd turn.

Earlier today, I got a text from a guy – what I thought was a picture of a white goose.

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I looked up the area code, and it was Northern Virginia. I assumed an old flame from DC had found my number and contacted me, which was great/creepy as hell.

Anyway, as you can see, he had tried to send me a swan. An ugly duckling who turned into a swan, that is.

But here’s the thing, I was sure. Swans don’t look like that.

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That picture was def not a swan. It was a goose.

This is a swan.

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That? Not a swan.

Nice try, dude. As my dad would say, “Close, but no cigar” (anyone know where that phrase comes from? I have no idea).

Later, I found out who it was. Some guy who had given me 50 bucks and waited for a locksmith with me one time at an Exxon in Virginia five years ago, when I locked my keys in my car. So, that wasn’t weird at all, or anything.

Anyway, further research showed me it was a trumpeter swan, which looks different from the mute swan (the kind with the orange face). I was wrong, he was right.

But it was still creepy.

I recently changed my Tinder age range to be ages 28-49. I know. I’m 27. That’s absurd. But we all know I have a major thing for older men, so I thought I’d indulge it.

So when I got a message from a guy who was 46 (yes, that’s 19 years older than me, and 11 years younger than my parents, but who’s counting?), I responded.

My Tinder profile says, “I’ll never turn down an oyster.” Which is true. I love oysters. This guy messaged me saying, “Now you have me wanting oysters. When can we get some?”

If you want to buy me oysters, I am always on board. Plus he was pretty cute. Plus he had a beard. And it was gray. So I was in the bag.

We talked for a while. He seemed into the sassy Jewish American Princess type (aka, my brand). It was going well. But then I ran into an issue.

The number one problem with older men is that they often come along with kids. This guy was no exception.

“You don’t have kids, do you?” I asked.

“I do,” he responded. “One. He’s ten. He’s great. Is that a problem?”

It was a problem. But I didn’t say so. After all, it would be kind of fun to be the obscenely young step-mom that no one wants to mention at Thanksgiving. I could try to get the kid to call me “mom,” and then, one day, his father and I would have our own kids, and he’d feel alienated and like his dad had replaced him for a new, younger family. That sounds pretty fun. So maybe I do want to take on a ten-year-old.

Anyway, the Dad suggested we get oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar (yes, please) and make use of his Yankees season tickets. That sounded like a major time commitment for a first date, but both of those activities were so tempting. I agreed.

And then I had second thoughts.

“How about we do something more casual first?” I suggested. The game wasn’t until Monday, and it was Friday. “I usually take the dog on a walk through the park on Saturdays. How about you join us?”

“Can I bring my camera?” he asked.

I forgot to mention that he was a photographer. Well, a lawyer who primarily identified as a photographer, which is one of my pet peeves – no, you’re not a photographer. You’re a lawyer. Own it. But he had sold photos, and did have a show coming up, which really made him as legitimate a photographer as I am a writer.

I told him he could bring his camera. We made plans to meet at 1 pm the next day.

“This sounds fun,” he said. “I’ll see you then.”

We met up, and he was perfectly good-looking. He was tall, which was a nice surprise – the men of online dating are usually really short. But then he talked, and he had a really annoying voice. I immediately had doubts about our future together.

We walked, we talked. I brought up the full-sour pickles I had been experimenting with for weeks, he mentioned that he really liked pickling okra. It was fine. Whatever. We went into the park. It was a nice day in the shade, although really, really hot in the sun.

Here’s the thing about taking a walk with the dog as a first date. There is literally nothing to do other than talk. Like, not even the quick respite that comes with sipping on your drink, or taking a bite of food, or going to the bathroom. It’s just all talk, all the time.

And he was the worst when he talked.

“I hate when parents reprimand their children in public,” he said.

“Really?” I replied. “So, like, what do you do when your child is kicking an elderly woman on the subway?”

Great, I thought. Another one of those awful parents who doesn’t say no to their child. Or take them out of restaurants when they’re screaming. Lovely. Ten points for this guy.

He insisted on showing me his photographs. Like, over and over and over. And sure, they were fine. A sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge. Some artsy silhouettes of people walking through a tunnel in Central Park.

Throughout our walk (which was a long, long walk, as I got lost in the park), he kept making really, really not-funny jokes. Soon, I wasn’t even trying to laugh, or smile. I just pretended I hadn’t heard him. Because I didn’t know how to respond to his erudite commentary on people who dipped their fries into ketchup instead of putting the ketchup all over them, or people who ate M&Ms one by one instead of by the handful. It was excruciating.

“I like that we can just be here, and be quiet, and not have to talk,” he said, at one point. We had been walking and I had been ignoring him for a while, by then.

“Yeah,” I said. “I like silence.”

I was starving, and getting cranky. Or, as he said several times, “hangry.” Which wasn’t cute or funny the first time he said it. Don’t worry, though. He repeated it at least twice.

So we dropped the dog off at home and went to get food.

Why, you might ask, didn’t I just ditch him and go home by myself?

Fair question. I guess I was hoping to get a free meal out of it. I mean, the date had been so bad, didn’t I deserve some recompense?

As we were walking to get food, it started raining. Not just raining. Monsooning. It was a serious July-in-New-York thunderstorm, and those don’t mess around. By the time we got to the taco place (the closest food I could think of), I was soaked and very, very cranky. I do not like being wet. I do not like being uncomfortable.

I mentioned that to him. He said, “What? I would never have guessed,” with a clever little smile, as if he knew me inside and out and understood all my little quirks. It was annoying. I ignored it.

The only seats were outside – so rain kept blowing under the awning onto me. It took forever for my food to come. And I was already with an incredibly annoying man. I was not happy. Not. Happy. I didn’t even want to drink, and that’s a major, major red flag, for me.

While we were waiting for our food, he told me several times how much he had enjoyed himself that day, how much he liked me, blah blah. He showed me a few more photographs. I tried to smile. It was difficult.

Finally, after we’d eaten, I extricated myself. I gave him a quick awkward hug good-bye. Then I ran to buy cigarettes and go home to my dog, who never, ever says annoying things.

I sent the guy a nice text message:

“Hey,” I said. “It was nice to meet you, but I think I’m gonna cancel on Monday. I wish you the best.”

A minute later, he responded.

“Yeah, it was cool meeting you and the dog, but I didn’t really feel anything.”

Cute defensive text, dude. Especially after you had just spent half an hour telling me how great of a time you’d just had and how much you liked me.

But whatever. If defensive gets him off, that’s fine with me. As long as I didn’t have to sit through oysters and nine (or ten, or twelve, or fourteen) innings of a baseball game with that annoying ass motherfucker. Be well, dude. Be well.

I’m still kind of sad I won’t get to be the shitty stepmom to ruin his ten-year-old’s life, though. But I’m sure another lucky woman will fill the role almost as well.

 

So, I’ve been on Tinder and loving it. This was a nice convo I had with a man who was, obviously, pure class. To start with:

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“Oh, my friend sent that to everyone.” Right. That’s like, when I had a crush on a guy in 7th grade, I’d chat with him on AIM. I’d say “I love you” or “I have a crush on you” and then say, “JK, LOL, Sorry, my brother sent that.”

Then he asked me what I was up to. Followed by:

 

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I KNOW I shouldn’t entertain these people. But I just get such a kick out of it.

Also, does “DTF?” actually work for people? I’m all for casual sex, but at least approach me like a human being. Like, maybe say hi first?

There are a few things you don’t discuss in a bar after midnight. Politics is one of them.

I didn’t think I even needed to say that, until the other night.

I started talking to a very good-looking Eastern European man. His name was something like Yitzchak, but that wasn’t it. I don’t remember what it actually was.

We chatted about nice things, appropriate for a bar on a Saturday night, and then things turned to the 2016 election.

It’s hard to avoid talking politics in an election year. I’m from DC. I’m used to that conversation. And in this absurd election, it’s even harder to stay away from discussing Hillary v. Trump (and maybe Bernie) than usual. But it’s really not appropriate casual convo, drunk, with strangers.

“I wish I could just vote for nobody,” the attractive man said. “Have nobody run the country.”

Hold up.

Tangent.

The man who sells me cigarettes at the bodega on my corner is from Yemen. Recently, his kids and his wife came to New York.

“That must have been a huge culture shock,” I said to him, when he told me they were in New York. “How are the kids taking it?”

“They’re so happy,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about being killed.”

And that was a major “check your privilege” moment for me.

I hate that phrase. I think it’s usually used by thoughtless progressives to dismiss dissenting thoughts and opinions without even trying to educate the dissenter about why they’re wrong or ignorant. But in this case – I had been thinking about how these kids were from some third world environment and suddenly transplanted into New York City. I was thinking about the fact that they were thrown into New York public school without knowing a word of English.

I wasn’t thinking about how they were, for the first time in their young lives, actually safe from violence and bombs. How they actually had the chance to sleep through the night or go to school without worrying about these things. When my bodega friend mentioned that his kids were just happy to be fundamentally, physically safe, I couldn’t believe how much I took for granted.

And that was what I thought about when this man told me that he wished that nobody ran America.

“Really?” I said. “I mean, I think we often forget just how safe and stable we are in this country. No one running the country would be a disaster.”

“America has already been at war since World War II,” he said.

“Whoa,” I said. “I don’t agree with that. But let’s just agree to disagree.”

And then his tone shifted from friendly to aggressive.

“There’s nothing to disagree about,” the man said. “This is a fact. Google it.”

“Like I said,” I repeated, “I’d really rather not discuss this.”

“Just Google it,” the man said again.

I’d like to take the space to mention, here, that men not respecting boundaries always makes me feel a little bit unsafe. Even if I’m just saying, “Listen, let’s not talk about that,” being bullied into talking about things I don’t want to talk about isn’t that far away from pressuring me into taking my clothes off when I don’t want to get naked. Maybe that’s just my baggage; my vulnerabilities based on my past. But I think too many men dismiss boundaries that women set by refusing to take no for an answer, and that always feels dangerous to me.

“I’m not going to discuss this any further,” I said, one more time.

“Get out of your coddled little bubble,” the man said, practically spitting his words at me. “Experience the real world.”

“Whoa, dude,” I said. “Don’t start with me. You have no idea what I’ve been through.”

And it was true. Without getting into details, I’m fairly confident that beautiful blond man had not been through nearly as much as I have experienced. I’ve seen a lot. My readers know that. My friends know that even better.

And maybe this is unfair. But he’s a white man. I’m gonna assume he hasn’t. Maybe I’m doing the same thing he was – assuming that another person has never experienced the world as I have. But, at the very least, he shouldn’t have assumed as much about me.

Anyway, that was enough for me. I stood up, told him to go fuck himself, and walked out of the bar.

“Have a good night, sweetheart,” he said, as I walked out.

And he laughed. Because, of course, I had no idea what I was talking about. Obviously. I’m just an ignorant little girl who has spent too much time in my own little bubble.

So, friends, if you’re wondering whether the US has been at war since 1939? Just Google it. It’s a fact.


Either I’m humorless, or he’s an asshole?