Oyster Words: Bad Romance (An Attempt at Online Dating)
"This was never going to be the pseudo-anthropological project my coworkers had hoped for."
Until recently I'd only been on two dates in my entire life. The first was with a guy whose name I can no longer remember. We wanted to watch (500) Days of Summer, but it was sold out so we had to see The September Issue. He enjoyed it, I did not. Afterwards we went to 'get a coffee', but because I don't drink coffee I settled on bruschetta. It was stale.
The second date was with a guy I met at an Oktoberfest celebration. His name was Josh and he resembled a young Robert De Niro. I still can't believe he was real. For our date, at his request, I met him for breakfast at an Indian restaurant on a Tuesday. I don't really eat complicated Asian foods at the best of times (and definitely not for breakfast), so I ordered a can of Coke. The rest of the date included a trip to the shopping centre (in separate cars) to replace my broken phone, a drink at a local pub (he ordered coffee, I ordered wine), and enough neurotic back-and-forth to still make me face-palm as I write this years later.
Maybe it was yet another form of workplace bullying I would have to endure, but upon the suggestion that someone write about online dating for this issue, I seemed to be the obvious choice. I imagined assuming a Kate Hudson–esque persona and going on multiple dates each week. In reality online dating is expensive and I am still the same person who orders Coke at a breakfast date, so this was never going to be the pseudo-anthropological project my coworkers had hoped for.
In preparation I asked my friend Esther to email me the PowerPoint presentation she had created for a recent informal online-dating masterclass that I was lucky enough not to attend. I studied it closely and then enlisted the help of my friend/workmate/bully Ingrid, who insisted my username be summerstunner69. Instead, as she held my hand and fed me wine, I registered an account with RSVP using the name Emilycola1. I used a photo from around 2007 in which I appeared tanned, carefree and agreeable. My byline read, "Carpe diem!!" and the TV/movies section of my profile was by far the most populated.
Then I simply sat back and watched the 'kisses' (similar to Facebook pokes) roll in. In the first three days I'd accrued the attention of no less than 42 prospective dates, including Mrblueeyes1978, bondiguy25, vodkaalert and needsashave. I truly had the pick of the litter.
My smugness soon gave way to a feeling of crippling disappointment — the majority of the kisses were from 55-year-old bald men and bros wearing deep v-neck tees. I clearly needed to take matters into my own hands. I searched for users in my neighbourhood and tried to ascertain from the two-centimetre high thumbnails whether I might be able to stand being in the same vicinity as any of them for longer than five minutes. One night I stumbled across a friend's ex-boyfriend, and in a moment of blind panic and internet fatigue I accidentally sent him a kiss. He ended up kissing me back a few days later but claimed that he didn't recognise me (don't forget I was smiling and tanned in my profile photo, which, seeing as he has met me in person, may have thrown him off).
Undeterred I clicked through profile after profile, drowning in a sea of meaningless exclamations like, "You only live once!" and "The Truth is out there!!" Eventually I managed to find three profiles of interest:
The first was an Italian whose profile included these words: "Throughout my lifetime, I've left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there's almost not enough to stay alive." I reminded myself that he was Italian and probably just born that way. To date we have added each other on Facebook, where it turns out we have two mutual friends.
The second was a New Zealander who worked in film. Neither I nor any of my friends could figure out if his face was handsome or not, so out of curiosity (and because my deadline was fast approaching) I suggested a quick drink after work. When he arrived he was carrying a motorbike helmet and wearing a t-shirt that was far too small for him. Our dynamic was as if he were a stranger my boss had asked me to entertain for ten minutes while she ran an errand. At the end of our beer he said it had been a terrible experience and he was glad to be going home, before adding that he was joking. "Well, you have my number," he said as we bid farewell. "Yep!" I replied. We haven't spoken since.
The third was a Colombian with perfect bone structure who, as it turns out, is a friend of Ingrid, the aforementioned friend/workmate/bully and the person mostly responsible for this online dating experiment. She confirmed his perfect face by showing me his Facebook profile and, as she is prone to do, took the opportunity to imitate his exotic South American accent for the next two hours. At the time of writing the Columbian and I are still at the text message phase of our relationship, but we will probably get married one day.
The Colombian and I aren't married yet. But soon after going to print, we did engage in a very 'romantic', Red Bull and vodka infused DFP [dance floor pash] at a classy little establishment called Club 77 (don't Google it). Since then, there has been numerous moments of awkward miscommunication, both in text messages and IRL. (Awkward and misscommunicative moreso because of my own shortcomings in social norms than English being his second language). He has even called me 'baby' once. Perhaps there is still hope for finding love on the internet.