The mirror in my hotel room is strategically positioned to catch my waddle past it toward the bathroom, which makes it a shame that Old Overholt makes me pee so much. When I look at my reflection- hunched over with a beer gut and no pants- I can’t help but wonder what kind of creature would want to date this mess? I’m not particularly charismatic, and even if I was the greatest lay in the world (I’m not) you wouldn’t know it from looking at me. So what the hell, ladies?! What is it you find attractive about me? Are there no other men? Are all the attractive intelligent guys gay?
These are the questions that keep me up nights. How is it that I, a somewhat (read: significantly) unattractive, long-winded, incredibly negative individual, is having success in the dating world? It seems unfathomable. My ex-roommate, a recent female convert to the city, used to say I was like a “bear with an apartment.” I don’t disagree. So why the interest?
Well it turns out there is, in fact, a simple explanation: it’s a numbers game. Where I live there are more women than men. It’s really that simple. According to Trulia Trends, a real estate website, Boston has the third largest female-to-male ratio, with New York City a close fourth.
Now ladies, the news gets worse: while we get Washington D.C., Boston, and New York in our top five, your top five are:
When I recently informed a female colleague of this her reaction was exactly what you would expect, “Is abstinence or lesbianism an option?”
So there you have it, the only reason that I was able to get dates, while still being me, was a direct result of there being, literally, no one else.
Part I: New York Slummin’
After about a year since signing up for OkCupid, I noticed that my dates had been getting progressively less interesting. At first the novelty of an Amazon.com-style approach to dating —rating a person, adding them to your wish list with the intent/hope of putting them in your cart and seeing them within 2-4 days— seemed not only appealing; it was downright phenomenal. To me, their slogan ought to have been, “All the ease and convenience of online shopping, plus the chance to get laid!”
My enthusiasm was, unfortunately, short-lived as date after date started to seem identical to the last. Immediately after the initial few minutes of pleasantries she would undoubtedly ask where I worked and how many siblings I had. Though I would invariably tune out the answer, I would politely reply and ask the standard “and you?” follow ups. I understand that the act of normal human coupling involves minutia (read: life story) but recounting my own stories bores me as much as hearing yours. Sometime around the 10th consecutive date that opened with, “So… what do you do?” I knew I was in trouble.
That was when I stopped trying. Dressing up for dates became a quaint but obsolete convention, while showing up at least partially-drunk became novel. I even went so far as to go for the nuclear option, changing the venue from an uncrowded bar, to a packed Jazz club where conversation was almost impossible, thus eliminating all need for speech, and the opportunity to ask whether or not I had any pets.
Part II: Jazzin’ It Up
So then I met Lucy (name changed). Lucy is from Cleveland. This was before my move to Boston and thus before my apathy when it came to checking a profile prior to asking someone out.
According to Lucy’s “Personality Test”:
I was floored by the fact that she is less love-driven and romantic than I am —How the hell would that even look? Was she going to bring another date on our date?— and agreed to meet her outside the Jazz club.
I showed up half-drunk but early enough to smoke a cigarette (nothing says “please fuck me” quite as much as smelling like a 90’s bowling alley) and open my book in the hopes that she would ask me about what I am reading rather than what I spend the 40-most-soul-sucking-hours-of-my-week doing. Lucy is punctual and overly affectionate, which is out-of-character if her profile is to be believed. She goes right in for a hug (which makes me think she is a smoker) but is awkward and doesn’t quite know where to put her hands. My first take on this aborted hug-maneuver is that she was probably recently told to show more affection, and like a robot running beta software attempted to comply.
The club is loud as usual, and I order myself a scotch. In between songs, she compliments the venue and the view. Unfettered by attempts at casual conversation, my only contribution is to mention that I had previously stolen several light bulbs from the bathroom of this club because my bathroom had similarly odd bulbs that I can’t seem to find in conventional stores.
As the band plays on I periodically catch a glimpse of her looking over at me, puzzled by what is going on. At which point I realize her bewilderment is directed at my body motions. In what must essentially look like a full body dry heave to the rest of the world, I am attempting to drunkenly “bop” my way along to the music.
The band finishes their set, and I ask “Do you want to go to a nearby bar?” she mutters something about having to be up early and we head downstairs to flag her a cab. We both light up a cigarette, and she turns to me and says, “That was really fun, but I could never date someone like you.”
“Like me?” I ask incredulously,
“What the fuck are you wearing?” she replies.
I suddenly am very much aware of the fact that my “Slummin’ it” bravado extends to my clothing. I am wearing a ripped Nirvana T-shirt, baggy stained jeans, and a torn hoodie with some sort of insane print on it. In essence I have regressed to an outfit that even my 10th grade self might scoff at. It had not occurred to me I had sunk that low that fast.
“Shit,” I say, suddenly aware of myself. “Yeah, holy garbage this is bad even for me.”
“You look like shit, and you were boring all night.”
“Yeah, sorry, well at least you got to see Dizzie’s” I reply, opening the door to a cab that just pulled up.
“Well maybe our next date should involve some clothes shopping.” She says before closing the door and driving away.
Our next date? What the hell just happened? Why would we even bother to go out again?
Part III: Negative Nancy
Over the next few weeks Lucy and I would go on several dates. Each time, the date would consist of an activity I had chosen (for which I was sure to be berated,) followed by an evening filled with admittedly creative insults at my expense. They would end with an awkward kiss goodbye and a promise by her to text me the following day to set up the next date.
Her nightly insults included (but were not limited to):
1.) You dress like a hobo.
2.) You drink too much.
3.) You talk too much.
4.) You never pick anything fun, just bars.
5.) Your friends are annoying.
And my all time favorite…
6.) You are hands-down the most annoying person I have ever met.
This may leave you to wonder, why would I go out with her? Well for one thing, she wasn’t wrong, nothing she said (with the exception of the perhaps hyperbolic sixth point) was false. I was/did all of those things. For another we had yet to have sex, and I kept thinking (though I have no idea why) that it was still an option. Mostly though, it wasn’t boring. In five dates I knew nothing of her family, or her life. We had discussed neither her job nor mine and there was no mention of where we went to school or what we studied there. Hell, the only reason I knew she was Jewish was because she was constantly belittling me and telling me I wasn’t good enough for her. It was ideal.
But alas, it did not last. While for me the relationship was enjoyable, if confusing, for her it must have been insanely frustrating. Deep down, she probably thought that reciting my faults night after night would result in a change in my behavior. When it didn’t she just gave up.
Lucy, it appears, came to the conclusion that in a world where the odds are against her, she should grab hold of whatever she can get, and rebuke that thing (read: me) until it looks what she wanted in the first place. What she hadn’t counted on was that sometimes being berated is more fun than being asked, “So, what do you do for work?”