I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people currently in their twenties and thirties have tried internet dating at least once. And those that say they haven’t? Well, they’re probably lying. At the very least, they’ve crept as far through an online dating website as possible without actually having to make a profile or pay. A variation of getting the cow for free as opposed to buying the milk, I suppose.
Inevitably, whenever I find myself amongst a group of people who fall in this age group, and aren’t overly familiar with one another - like at a house party, or, as was the case tonight, Sunday evening axe throwing league - someone brings up the topic of internet dating to break the ice and get a lively conversation going. It works every time.
This evening being no exception, a group of three of four of us traded stories of the worst dates we’d ever experienced via dating websites while waiting for our turns to throw (axes, that is). There was the guy whose date screamed out “MY FATHER DIED OF AN OVERDOSE” in the middle of the restaurant when he questioned whether or not she had smoked a joint on her way to meet him. This is the same guy who had a girl announce twenty minutes into their first date that she’d just been diagnosed with cancer. Then there was my contribution of the dude who showed up on our first date wearing a sweater vest which, unbenounced to me at the time, concealed a tattoo of a tiny kitten above his left nipple. Of course, I didn’t see that tattoo until several dates later when things started to heat up, at which point I’m not sure if I was more shocked by it or by the proclamation from him that, due to the antidepressants he was on, he typically couldn’t “perform.” Knowing that he couldn’t keep it up, combined with his love of sweater vests and kitten tattoos, I promptly ended my foray into the online dating world.
Back and forth the stories went until eventually it was just me and overdose/cancer date guy chatting, and then things took a turn for the awkward. I’m not entirely sure how the male brain works, and frankly I doubt that I’ll ever completely understand it, but for some reason fifteen minutes of chatter on the subject of dating - where it was revealed that, yes, I was recently single and yes, I had joined the axe throwing league to meet some new people - meant that I was “interested.” Before I knew it, he was asking me if I was hungry; if I wanted to get something to eat once we’d finished up. Entirely caught off guard, and not really wanting to go out for a number of reasons (many of which had nothing to do with this guy, who seemed relatively harmless), the best answer I could come up with was “Oh, I can’t. I have to get right home and feed my cats.”
That’s right, I can’t go out because I have an unspecified number of hungry cats waiting at home for me.
In reality, it’s only two cats. And could they have waited an extra hour or two for their dinner? Probably. But the point is, these words came out of my mouth. I had no time or sense to prepare anything better or, at the very least, less awkward. Then it struck me, this never would have happened if we were in an online dating situation. If this question had been asked over, say, Skype or email, I would have had time to carefully craft a response that was equal parts smart, witty, and cute, while still getting the point across that, no, I don’t really want to go grab anything to eat tonight, but thanks for asking.
So, perhaps I shouldn’t have let a sweater vest, kitten tattoo and impotence completely scare me away from the idea of online dating. After tonight’s debacle, it appears that I might need to ease my way back into the dating world from the comforts of home, where I can take all the time I need to appropriately present myself to potential suitors (from the comfort of bed, surrounded by my cats).