The Internet Date, Dissected

by The Hairpin

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Midge: SO. Ken, we met on an internet dating site. We liked each other’s profiles, exchanged a couple messages, and then met up … the next day? Later that same day? I don’t remember, but I do remember remembering that a friend had told me online dating only works when the people meet up right away, presumably to avoid creating email-driven (and therefore inaccurate) ideas of the other person. Anyway, so we met up at that outside bar/restaurant place. Does this match up with how you remember it?

Ken: Definitely the same day. I remember because it was one of those hungover Sundays, and I woke up and was scrolling around on the site. You sometimes get a bunch of messages on Sundays because people get home from bars on Saturday nights and immediately go online. I think somewhere deep in the site’s mainframe there’s a line graph that shows a comically dramatic spike at like, 3:30 a.m. every Saturday night.

Anyway. Yeah, I remember we talked enough to establish that neither one of us was insane, and then we met up. And you were very mildly late because you had just stopped at friend’s house to [activity redacted].

Midge: Ahhh! Right, I apologized for being late, and instead of stopping there, I was somehow instantly comfortable enough to let you know that I was late because I had been [activity redacted]. Oh man. I’m sorry about that. That was actually the only time I’ve ever done that. Basically.

If I recall, we had a couple glasses of wine in the afternoon (except you were having … whiskey and soda, because you’re allergic to wine and beer), and got along well. And then I suggested we go to a different place, and get food. Right? And you were driving a moped.

Ken: No apology necessary! It was kind of good. It like, quickly widened the borders of acceptable discussion.

Whiskey soda, yeah, I can’t believe you remember that. We walked (rather than drove) to the other place, which was probably good, because I think I immediately spilled a glass of water all over the table. Not a little spill. And I remember it seemed really important to establish that that was because I was generally clumsy and not drunk. And we talked a lot, and that was good. Like about families, and young-person-with-writerly-ambition stuff. You had a bunch of really good general conversation-prompting questions.

Midge: Oh I’m really glad to hear that! And yes, I remember you spilling your drink, but you didn’t seem drunk at all. Things do get a little blurry there, though, and I can’t remember if we actually ended up eating or not (?).

But yeah, I remember it as a good conversation, too. Was it then that I recommended that book to you? We had just one drink, I think, and then you got back on your moped and I felt really worried that you were going to die from having drinks with a stranger and getting in a Vespa crash. I was envisioning the police being like, “He died from online dating, and it was alll …” [and here they’d do some Vanilla Sky internet profile-wrangling] “HER fault,” and they’d bring my profile up on their police screen. I was so worried about you. But then you texted like 2.5 minutes later to say you’d gotten home. Thank you for that.

Ken: No problem! I’m also not sure if we ate or not. At some point my memory just cuts to a montage scene from a movie where people are having a good conversation in a bar.

But I’m pretty sure that book was a later thing, further along in our process of transitioning from algorithmically matched strangers to casual friends in real life.

Anyway, that night, yeah, I got home and managed to not die at all. That would’ve been awful and made this a really morbid cautionary tale. Instead, I asked you out again a couple days later, and you turned me down in truly the nicest, most straightforward way I’ve ever seen. The short paraphrase version was that you’d had a good time, but It just wasn’t there. That paraphrase doesn’t really do it justice, but just trust me that it was very nice.

So then I asked you if we could still hang out as friends, because we’d hit it off really well, which sort of feels mortifying to write! But in context it was normal. (Right? RIGHT?!) And you said yes. And we did. And now, months later, here we are — seasoned date recappers.

Jesus, Midge, the internet is so weird.

Midge: I know, right? Now I don’t really know what to say! Although I am glad to hear you say that. I do sort of remember myself saying I thought you were too young for me, which is maybe a stupid thing to say/hear. But isn’t it so much easier when people are honest with one another? I’d so much prefer, “Midge, I had a nice time with you, but I’m not really feeling it” than “Yeahhhh let’s hang out next week?” and then they just sort of fall off the planet by degrees.

Have you gone on any successful internet dates recently? Can I ask that? (I have not, although I recently signed back on to That Site We Were Using.)

Ken: [30 minutes of email silence]

Midge: Now I feel weird, am I making this weird? You’re probably just on the train or something.

Ken: No you’re not. I’m slow because I’m trying to cut down the thing I was writing back because it felt tortured and too long and I feel self-conscious about it. I don’t know how to hit the right tone for this.

Midge: No, I’M worried about striking the right tone — your tone is perfect.

Ken: Okay, then, yes, it’s so, so much better (to be honest). But also hard. In December I was talking to a friend about a guy she’d been seeing who had just acted more and more lukewarm before mysteriously disappearing, and as I was commiserating I realized that it was entirely possibly that somewhere in Brooklyn someone was having the same conversation about me. “What’s his deal, anyway? Why can’t he just be honest?” So my New Year’s Resolution is to not be that guy. Also to exercise more.

I’ve been on a few more internet dates, but none of them were too great. They either end a hook-up like the ones that more normal, extroverted people have with people they meet in bars, or else we get along but don’t really have too much chemistry. Nobody’s been that bad, though. Well, there was one girl who worked in reality TV, and someone on her show had committed suicide, and she was talking about how it was good for ratings. But even she was actually smart and nice, and self-aware about the weirdness of that. We play Words with Friends now, she beats the crap out of me.

Midge: Hah! Well, you’re actually the only person I’ve been out with from the internet. Is that sad? Probably, for the amount of time I spend on it. Anyway, let’s end this with a bonus round: what was I wearing on our date? If I recall correctly, you were wearing a long white robe with a silk sash around the waist, and two more silk sashes wrapped around your feet instead of shoes. Am I close?

Ken: No! Not sad at all. It’s probably just evidence that my online dating profile is a shimmering beacon of greatness. Also, laced with pungent e-phermones. And I’m so flattered that you remember my clothes. You, of course, looked chaste and stunning in a full body Victorian bathing garment and one of those rat cage helmets from 1984. Unless I’m mixing you up with some other internet date, which would be really embarrassing.

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