My OKCupid profile is older than all of my friends’ children. It would be starting first grade this September, eagerly trundling off to school to show its friends carefully-curated pictures of me and tell them what my favorite movies and bands are. I’ve branched out to other dating apps over the years – Tinder, Hinge, CoffeeMeetsBagel, Happn – but OKCupid is always the one I come back to. The site forces users to write about themselves at length, which helps me find women with snarky, wittily written profiles that suggest they might be receptive to my brand of bullshit. The fact that I’m still doing this after six years suggests that my method isn’t working.
Trawling the site’s ocean of profiles in search of new matches, I see some of the same faces again and again. There’s apple102, a quick-witted and attractive graphic designer who has silently rejected my messages in 2012, 2014 and 2015. There’s GloryHoleGirl, whose profile includes some faceless shots of her gym-toned body and a succinct rundown of her deal: She wants men to come to her apartment and anonymously have sex with her through a glory hole she's drilled into one of the walls, but only if they can provide lab test results showing that they don’t have STDs. (OKCupid’s algorithm says we’re a 92% match.) And then there’s a girl whose screenname I don’t remember whose profile picture is just a shot of the word ‘CUNT’ shaved into the short hair on the back of her head. If we’re going to keep going with the fishing analogy, these women are the dolphins who get caught in my net when I’m looking for fish.
Gryffindor1991 was one such fish – short, snarky and extremely cute, with pictures that indicated a preference for Disneyland and visits to Israel. We arranged to meet up at a coffee shop in my neighborhood. I got there a little early, and was immediately disappointed to find out that they were apparently hosting an open mic night. Never in my life have I walked into a bar or coffee shop and thought, Oh, awesome, live music!, and tonight was no exception – particularly because the girl at the mic was warbling through some badly off-key Norah Jones covers.
“FYI,” I texted Gryffindor. “The worst singer in the world is doing a concert at this place.”
When she walked into the coffee shop a minute later, Gryffindor shared my assessment, wrinkling her nose and wincing at the sound of the singer’s voice. “Wow,” she said. “That girl is really awful.”
“I know, right?” We put in our orders for coffee and pie and tried to find a seat that was out of earshot of the stage.
“It’s like she’s strangling a cat. She’s so terrible.”
“Yeah,” I said, not wanting to belabor the point.
“Why did she even come? Does she not know how bad she sucks?” Gryffindor’s voice was getting a little loud, and nearby a couple of people who had clearly come out to support the singer turned and gave us the side-eye. I opted to try and move her toward a more positive topic.
But as I came to find out over the next hour, Gryffindor1991 had a sullen, “been there, done that” disdain for pretty much every person, place or thing I tried to talk to her about. She hated her job, didn’t particularly like anything on TV, and had nothing to say about Israel. (“It was whatever. I only went because I got a free trip from Birthright.”)
Grasping at straws, I finally said, “So, what neighborhood are you in? Do you like your place?”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t ask me that.”
“That’s not the sort of thing you’re supposed to ask on a first date.”
I threw up my hands. “Okay. What do you want me to talk to you about?”
She shrugged listlessly. “I don’t know. Stuff that helps you learn what kind of person I am.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do!”
“You’re just asking me about, like, my job and what you saw on my profile.”
“But… I… Okay, what kind of person are you?”
Another eyeroll. “Can’t you guess?”
And somehow, we sat there for another 45 minutes. She took some pleasure in asking me questions so she could put me down based on my answers (“What do you think of that painting? Oh? So I guess you could do a better one, huh? Probably draw a bunch of beautiful stick figures, right?”) and I took some pleasure in sitting there and gamely going along with it. Because by then I knew what sort of person she was: a really insecure one who substitutes sarcasm and “I’m only kidding”-style taunts for a personality. I was bored, and more than anything I wanted to go home, smoke a bunch of weed, and play Fallout 4. But if I just abruptly left in the middle of this, she’d take it as a badge of honor to be bragged about to all of her friends. “I totally offended this creepy guy from OKCupid the other night. He literally walked out on me! I guess his precious little feelings couldn’t take my sense of humor. His loss, right?” “Yass, Gryffindor1991, you are so bad!” So I rode it out, laughing at her as necessary.
When we finally left I walked her to her car, because even though I despised this woman and everything she represented about my generation, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her on the mean streets of the North Hollywood Arts District. Naturally, she’d forgotten where she parked, and the next ten minutes consisted of the Gryffindor1991 Roadshow, featuring disdainful commentary on passing cars, graffiti and nearby homeless peoples’ fashion sense.
“Oh, I think that’s it.” She finally said, pointing to a car on the other side of an apartment-lined sidestreet.
“Great!” I said, swiftly side-hugging her. “Well, it was cool meeting you…” I waited for her to walk over to her car, but she didn’t. She just stood there looking up at me, without anything to say for once.
I waited for two long seconds. She pursed her lips.
“Okay, have a good one!” I said, turning and setting off up the street at a brisk pace.
“Uh- Oh- Yeah, bye…” I heard her stammering.
I turned the corner and headed for the subway. It occurred to me that she’d wanted me to kiss her then. After everything, she was just a 26-year-old girl on the playground, kicking the boys she liked in the shins, and I had passed her test by not kicking back or running off.
I got a text from her:
“Hahaha yeah oops turns out this isnt my car”
She wasn’t more than a block away – I could be back there in less than a minute. I pocketed my phone without responding and jogged across the street, down into the subway station.
The biggest thing standing between me and the carnal glories of Hookup Culture is that I dislike spending time around irritating people more than I like sex. A one-night stand sounds nice when you’re thinking about the main event, but as the name suggests, you’ve usually got to spend a whole night with somebody just to get to it. It might make me an oddity among men, but I’m not willing to invest that kind of time to go to bed with a woman who's unbearable – especially one with such a proclivity for criticism. (“Oh, missionary? Wow, you’re just so creative, aren’t you?”)
Maybe this is the scene in the romantic comedy where I realize that GloryHoleGirl was the one I wanted all along – a 92% match who doesn’t even want me in the same room as her. I picture myself running to her apartment in the rain, arriving breathless at her doorstop, pushing the results of a blood test under the door and awaiting her approval.