If we count my posts on stalking and pretty girls, then this will be the third post in four that is somehow related to romance/women. The problem is that I haven’t posted in a few weeks and in that period nearly all that I’ve been doing is working and dating, and do you really want a post about the former? “Today I read software license agreements for 6 hours then spent the next 4 writing and re-writing a single paragraph in a professional service contract having to do with the ownership of intellectual property rights for developed works. I also bought a snickers bar from the vending machine on the 32nd floor.” Does that sound interesting to you? Do you want to read more? Or would you rather read about me having awkward conversations with hot women at relatively expensive restaurants? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
The truth is that after my initial grieving period (which lasted for…let’s not say), I ascertained that the only way to exorcise the remnants of the pain my ex caused me from my system and to once again find my happy place was to find a new female obsession. As Dorothy Parker once said, “The best way to get over a man is to get under a new one.” Was that actually Dorothy Parker? Maybe Mae West? I can’t find the correct source on the Google. Well, the same advice essentially applies to getting over women (note: alternative positioning may apply, but that’s a matter of personal preference). In Japan, dating was not really an option for me, due to lack of time and interest in Japanese women. However, a friend did suggest that I join an online dating site while I was in Japan to “plant some seeds” (his words, not mine) with women in SF for when I got home.
And plant I did! Kind of. It wasn’t very effective—I initially joined match.com when I had over 2 months left in Japan, and then my stint got extended an extra month, and believe it or not, a lot of women didn’t want to wait that long to meet me. I’d have a few initial emails back-and-forth with a woman, and then she’d want to know why I hadn’t asked her out on a date yet. “Well actually, I’m in Japan on business right now.” “Oh, well when do you get back?” “In 6 weeks.” And that would be the end of that.
I will admit that this subscription to match.com was not my first foray into the exciting and hilarious world of Internet dating. Initially I was against it. After all, for a long time, there was quite a stigma against using the world wide web to find romance. What man is so pathetic that he can’t meet someone in real life and has to resort to a machine? I’m sure that back when Internet dating first started, these sites were populated with a number of depraved, unattractive 40 year-old virgins who believed that they would score with hot 20-somethings through the power of computers: “If a computer can beat Kasperov in chess, then maybe it’s smart enough to get me laid.”
I believed this for a while, but my views on the whole thing were changed when a fellow English teacher in Japan showed me an autobiographical story she had written about meeting a much older man on the Internet and having a very steamy encounter. This English teacher, by the way, was a total babe. Some creepy old dude had somehow used his computing box to woo her (did I mention that the encounter was totally steamy? I think I did, but it’s worth repeating. “Steamy” is such a great word to describe encounters). I asked her about meeting men online, and she said that in New York it was all the rage; she and all of her hot girlfriends were all about it. This was in 2004, which was a while ago, but bear in mind that New York has always been on the forefront of sweeping cultural phenomena.
My first Internet-related romantic experience did not come from a traditional dating website, but rather from hospitalityclub.org, which is basically the same as couchsurfer.com—if you’re traveling to a foreign city, you can use these sites to find people who will host you for free, take you out, show you around…basically, it’s the best way to travel, period. When I went to Brazil for two months, I used it to meet friends and find free lodging in Sao Paulo, Floripa, Rio (including a free place to stay during Carnival, when hostels were charging $50 a night for a spot in a 12-bed dorm room), and Salvador. When I got to Olinda, I met a girl who lived with her family and couldn’t host me, but wanted to meet for dinner. She had posted a small pic on the site (it’s not an online dating site where you’re trying to advertise your wares) so I didn’t really know what she looked like. I rang the doorbell of her house and a pretty cute girl answered. I was about to introduce myself when she said, “oh, you’re here for my sister.” The sister came out, and I was completely blown away by how smoking hot she was. We went out for sushi and beer. A lot of beer. The next morning I woke up naked in a dirty hotel room with a pounding hangover and an empty wallet (note: not because she had robbed me, but because I had blown a very large stack of Reais at the sushi/beer place). Anyhow, that was my first experience with the amorous power of the Internet. And, for that matter, fake boobs.
My second Internet “dating” experience also did not come from a dating site, but from a wonderful site you may have once frequented called myspace.com. This was really my ultimate fantasy come to life: through myspace, a cute girl found my blog (my Xanga-based Japan page) and fell in love with it, and then wanted to meet me in person. She moved to SF a week before Thanksgiving my 1L year, and when I went home for that holiday we met up. We ended up dating a bit, until, among other things, she realized that my blog persona was way more awesome than the real me. To all of the ladies out there reading this, let the record show that this was 5 years ago, and now the real me has caught up with my blog persona and is a catch. A total catch, according to my sister.
I dabbled some more in Internet dating when I was in law school. I had already hit somewhat of a dating stride in at the time, possessing a good deal of undeserved confidence from three years of “dating training wheels” with cute Japanese girls. However, meeting women was sometimes difficult in LA, and because I was already spending so much goddamn time in front of my computer, using the Internet to find women seemed like the natural approach to combating the loneliness and emptiness that came with being a law student. Being a poor law student/cheap Jew (am I allowed to say that? I think I’m allowed to say that), I didn’t want to pay money to join a dating site, so I went with the obvious dating site choice for the budget would-be-Romeo: craigslist.com.
I would probably never admit that to anybody, but fortunately this blog is 100% anonymous, and none of my readers know me personally, so I have nothing to fear. Oh, wait. Without giving any details, I will tell you all that I met some very interesting and beautiful young women on craigslist.
People no longer use craigslist for dating, ever since some psychotic asshole discovered that the highly anonymous nature of the site could allow you to meet an innocent and somewhat naïve young woman who has no idea who you are and murder her. I haven’t been on for a while, but I believe they got rid of the “casual encounters” option completely and I don’t think anybody uses the normal dating option anymore. It’s partly because of the murders, but also because of the advent of the greatest dating website ever, okcupid.com (a.k.a. OKC).
If you are single, I highly recommend you join OKC. You can use it free of charge and it has all of these fun surveys and quizzes that are technically for finding compatible partners, but usually have the actual effect of eliciting chortles (and I’ve mentioned before how much I love the eliciting of chortles). Nearly everybody who is on another pay dating website (match, J-date, eHarmony, adultfriendfinder, etc.) is also on OKC, as a sort of backup. After all, there is a reason they call it “sexonthefirstdate.com” (and by “they” I mean “I”). By joining OKC, you’re letting the online date-o-sphere know that you’re not serious enough about finding your soul mate that you’re willing to spend money in the effort, but you are single and ready to mingle (and by “mingle” I mean “make whoopee”). OKC also has a place in my heart because it was created by the guys that do Sparknotes (for whom I did a bit of freelance work in college), and the huge volume of users and statistical information in their online dating behaviors has led to the advent of OKtrends, which I think is the one of the most unique and interesting insights into cultural trends, romance, sexuality, race, and society in general that the Internet has to offer.
But I’m not on OKC. I am, however, on match.com, and I’m super-proud of my utterly brilliant profile page:
Tagline: “We’ll tell my mother we met on J-Date.
About me and what I’m looking for: My earliest memory in life is of my third birthday. There’s a huge present that’s practically bigger than me, and it’s covered in blue wrapping paper with dinosaurs on it. I unwrap the present to reveal a Fisher Price record player and all of the later-era Beatles records (from Revolver to Let it Be). Also, I’m completely naked.
That sort of set the tone for the next 28 years.
I’m Bay Area born and bred but I’ve lived on the east coast, in the middle east, in the far east, and down under. I own a car but I prefer to walk or ride my bike everywhere. I’d describe myself as devastatingly handsome, utterly brilliant, heartwarmingly magnanimous, and above all, unbelievably modest. I am in love with the city of San Francisco and know her and some of her secrets very well–I promise you that no matter how long you have lived here, I can show you something new. On the flip side, this city and the area are constantly evolving and there’s much that I still don’t know, so I’m always happy to learn something new.
My passions in life include music, the environment, charity,* travel, and sarcasm, and I take all of these things very, very seriously. Other interests include ethnic food, math, snowboarding, movies, and irony. I love arguing, but I believe the purpose of this manner of discourse is to educate and, more importantly, to be educated, not to persuade or “win”. I have tattoos. I’m a feminist.** I speak English when I’m sober but become trilingual after a few beers.
I’m looking for a woman who is not boring. Someone who is willing to go slightly out of her comfort zone, and to pull me, kicking and screaming, out of mine. Women who are conservative in politics or in life need not apply (although being financially conservative is acceptable). If you’re passionate about something–anything, that is a huge plus. If we share common interests, that’s good. If we can introduce each other to new interests, that’s great. Also, I have this awesome idea for a date that I really want to try. I call you and tell you to put on your fanciest dress. Then I pick you up at your place, blindfold you, and take you someplace special. This isn’t a first date type of thing, don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you where I end up taking you but you’re gonna totally love it.
*I’m not just saying this to get laid.
**Not this either.
For Fun: Many of my favorite activities involve music: going to live jazz shows in what would probably be smokey bars (but for the CA smoking laws, which I support), dancing (albeit badly), karaoke, making mix tapes (er, CDs), singing in the shower, etc.
Favorite Hot Spots: I’ve traveled all over the world, and Brazil is my favorite country. In SF, my favorite bar is Dada on 2nd, my favorite restaurant is either Kokkari or Metro Caffe, and my favorite secret spots will remain secrets until you ask very nicely.
Favorite Things (note: this is the one I’m most proud of): Perfume and stockings and sweet tattooed ladies, Simpsons and Star Wars and hits from the eighties, Giants and Niners with championship rings, these are a few of my favorite things.
Admit it, you totally want to date me. As my female friend pointed out (you’d better believe I had several female friends review my profile before posting), it’s good for filtering out dumb girls. It also gives women who want to message me many “hooks” for something to write about—I’ve received messages referring to sarcasm, feminism, charity, tattoos, and the desire to know of my SF secrets. Here’s one for all of you loyal readers: Kingdom of Dumpling on 27th and Taraval. Just go there. Trust me.
Unfortunately, men are expected to be the initiators in the match.com world (at least in SF…from what I understand, it’s different in NY), so having a brilliant profile don’t mean jack diddly squat if you can’t write a decent opening message. In her first week on match.com, a woman’s thumbnail (yes, you browse through thumbnails) has a “NEW!” legend on it. If she’s moderately attractive, she’ll receive between 100 and 300 messages (literally triple that in NY), so yours has to stand out or she’ll never reply. I will now tell you my tried and true tips for getting women to respond.
Tip 1: come up with a witty subject line—not just “hello” or “hey”
Tip 2: don’t use the same cut and pasted message for each woman to whom you write
Tip 3: use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation
Tip 4: actually read her profile and comment on aspects of it you find interesting. If you don’t find anything in her profile interesting, don’t write to her. Even if she’s really hot.
Tip 5: Ask questions to give her something to write about. I end most of my opening messages with these three:
1. What’s the last concert you attended?
2. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
3. Whom would you rather do: Indiana Jones or Han Solo?
Number 1 and number 2 are sort of space fillers; number 3 is the important one. The correct answer is Han Solo, because I find myself to resemble him more than Indy. Sadly, very few women get this question right. Many say, “Indiana Jones, because intelligence is soooo sexy!” However, saying this just displays one’s ignorance. Yes, Indiana Jones was a bad-ass with a whip and also was a distinguished professor, but are we forgetting that before he was a smuggler, Han Solo graduated at the top of his class from the Imperial Academy (the West Point of the far, far away galaxy) and was slated to be some kind of high-up admiral, but then saw how the Empire was destroying the Wookie population on Kashyyyk, refused to kill and rescued Chewie, and was kicked out of the Imperial Navy and forced into exile? (Note: I learned this important tidbit of information from the Star Wars Encyclopedia, which I read cover to cover many, many times). Han Solo is brilliant, brave, and noble—anybody who’s anybody knows that. Admit it, you totally want to date me.
Let me say one thing about Internet dating, to debunk a popular myth: nearly every woman I have met through the Internet has been more physically attractive in real life than in her pictures. Yes, you read that correctly. There has been more than one occasion when my jaw dropped slightly when I first met a woman, thinking “whoah whoah whoah, you are way too hot, why the hell did you post those crappy pics?” It occurs to me that I might simply not like the way women look in photographs. I’ve felt that nearly every woman I’ve dated has been uncommonly non-photogenic—maybe it’s just me.
But I digress. A buddy of mine once said that on match.com, you may not find the love of your life, but at least you’ll get a great story or two. As much as I love great stories, I’d be much more honored to be part of somebody else’s tale of Internet romance hilarity. Here’s the story of my first match.com date, from the woman’s point of view:
“I met J at a café in the lower Haight near his apartment. I immediately noticed that he was devastatingly handsome. I’m talking hot. His good looks more than made up for the fact that he had spent the past month correcting all of my grammatical mistakes and typos in our email correspondence. Anywho [note: this woman did actually use the word ‘anywho’ in emails], we ordered our drinks, and the barrista said to J, “oh my, she is so beautiful—is she your girlfriend?” to which he replied, “I wish! I just met her—this is our first date. Match.com—whoulda thunk?” Who the hell says that to a barrista? There was a loud jazz band in the café, so J suggested we go for a walk to the park nearby. That was cool with me—I like parks. It ends up that the park J had in mind was a GIANT HILL. Don’t got me wrong, I’m in shape—I do yoga and spinning 4 days a week, but I was wearing my flip-flops and jeans and not ready for hardcore exercise on a first date. So he made me walk up this hill, in this “park”, where the only other people were homeless people, dirty hippies, and dirty homeless hippies, and by the time we finally got to the top and I was drenched in sweat, which he probably thought was hilarious. Some guy was there with a beautiful greyhound, and J didn’t seem too excited, which was lame because he had said he loved dogs (and yes, I do say “must love dogs” on my profile). We talked up at the top for a bit, and then J took me down probably the steepest route (hell on my knees—and did I mention that I was wearing flip-flops?). As we were near the park exit, we walked through a clearing and J tugged at my arm and pointed to a couple he saw where the girl was going down on the guy in the middle of the freaking park! Thanks J, I really needed to see that! We finally got back to the car and he wanted to give me a hug, even though I was covered in sweat. Who the hell is this guy? I definitely will not be seeing him again.”
I hope she’s doing well; she was a sweet girl.
While I admit that the Internet is not the best place to find love, the truth is that, with the amount I work, it’s really hard to meet women. I don’t have time to do regular activities and I don’t go to synagogue. What are the other options?
- Getting set up by friends. A few of my friends have offered to set me up with their friends, but the truth is that this can create a very high-pressure, uncomfortable situation. What if the date doesn’t go well? Then it will just be awkward when you all hang out together. I did go on one friend-of-a-friend date. I am not that close to the mutual friend, and she lives far away anyway, so I didn’t fear any post-date awkwardness. This friend doesn’t know me all too well, and I think her logic was “you’re a Jewish lawyer, my friend is a Jewish lawyer, clearly you two were made for each other!” On the date, I asked the woman what she liked to do when she wasn’t lawyering. She answered, “lately, I’ve been really into going to my friend’s weddings!” Then she told me about said weddings. For an hour. I’m fairly convinced that the second she saw me (this was a true blind date), she decided that she wasn’t attracted to me, and was doing everything in her power to prevent a second date.
- Getting set up by family. I have a ton of extended family in the Bay Area, and they all recognize that I am truly the most eligible bachelor in San Francisco. Unfortunately, very few of my family members have any idea about what I’m looking for in a woman, and most of them don’t actually know anything about the women with whom they want to set me up. Case in point: my aunt found a woman she said was perfect for me. As it turns out, said woman is a lesbian. So almost perfect, but not quite.
- Meeting in bars. I actually have a couple of friends who have met their spouses in bars, and that’s awesome. Other than the occasional (very rare) one-night stand, I was never good at meeting women in bars. In all of my experiences trying to meet women in bars (and I have an embarrassingly high number of such experiences, considering my actual success), there was only one time I met a woman of quality in a bar whom I ended up dating for more than a night. Of course, I met her in a gay bar. So maybe I should start going to more gay bars?
- Meeting at parties. Parties are great places to meet women, because you automatically have an ice breaker: “How do you know [host of party]?” I’ve actually had some decent success in the past with meeting women at parties. Unfortunately, these days I rarely get invited to parties. I can’t imagine why.
I’ve been on a fairly high number of dates the past two months, and I won’t say that all of my dating experiences in that time have been misadventures. I do, in fact, have at least one or two stories worth writing home about. Unfortunately for you, “home” is not the general world at large, so such stories are not going to be shared on this blog. I will say that, after a two month dating bonanza, I think I can chill out a bit. I’m beginning to understand that the Dorothy Parker/Mae West quote (which, by the way, I think may not have actually been penned by either of those women) is malarchy for men (and probably/hopefully for women). I don’t need a woman in my life to achieve happiness, and I’m getting sick of the stress and temporal/monetary expenditure of trying so aggressively to find one. What I’d really like to focus on these days is doing the things that I love, like writing this blog. I’ve also recently had some inspiration for a couple of other creative endeavors that may or may not come into fruition (stay tuned…or not), and I can’t let obsessive dating get in the way of my genius.
Of course, that having been said, if you’re a brilliant, beautiful, interesting, kind-hearted woman who recognizes that Han Solo is way more doable than Indiana Jones, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. I realize now that I didn’t actually write about having awkward conversations with hot women at expensive restaurants. Oh well. It happened.