What would happen if I posted a Craigslist ad, and went out with the first ten
guys who responded?
It’s easy to get cynical about dating. How many times have you heard a cute, smart, single guy or girl spout some stupid platitude like, “there are no cute, single straight/gay guys/girls in this city?” I’ll be honest — I’ve not just heard it, I’ve said it. And it’s stupid. There are thousands.
So with Valentine’s Day approaching, I decided to suck it up and embrace a more positive dating attitude. What if, instead of bemoaning the state of the world, whining to my friends, and abusing my vibrator, I just went on a bunch of dates?
I decided I’d start with the most vibrant and lively dating hub of them all — Craigslist. There must be some normal, smart, attractive guys using Craigslist to find a nice girl. After all, I’m a normal, smart, attractive girl using Craigslist to find a nice guy. How hard could it be? I decided I would post a personals ad offering a one-hour date with me, put up a real picture, reply to the first normal-seeming men, and go out on some completely blind dates.
If I left my cynicism behind and forced myself to have a drink with ten different guys, I’d surely meet someone. Right?
• Several Craigslist ads, as mine kept getting flagged and removed (why, I still don't know).
• Emergency cab fare.
• One friend on speed-dial, standing by for any emergency calls.
• Pepto-Bismol, for any ailments I might incur while blind-dating.
• Liquor and cigarettes, see above.
I wasn't looking to change my phone number or move after this experiment, so I assumed a worst-case-scenario outlook and created a fake email address and a fake name — Katrina, which ironically a lot of men told was "such a sexy name." Meow. After establishing my alias and having the first real anxiety attack of my adult life, I posted the following ad on a Thursday afternoon, trying to set up dates for that weekend.
As soon as I posted it, the replies started rolling in. And I'll tell you, it felt pretty good to know all these complete strangers found me attractive, especially since at the time I was sitting in my apartment wearing my bathrobe and mismatched socks.
Some of the responses were not exactly what I’d been hoping for:
But overall, it was a success. In less than an hour, I got responses from ten men who followed my rules and didn't seem insane. Then I hit a snag: I realized that all of these guys wanted to casually email for awhile, get to know me, before meeting in person. After trying to keep up with ten different simultaneous conversations with complete strangers, I inevitably started mixing up their dogs and allergies to dogs, so I had to put a stop to it. I turned into that sketch-ball who only wants to talk about when we’re meeting up. I sent cryptic emails like: “Do you have a picture? How’s 7:30 at Bar B?”
The real fun was yet to come though: coordinating ten dates in two days? Who the hell did I think I was, Patti Stanger? I thought about forwarding an email to all my boys with one-hour slots they could sign up for, but in the end I decided it might scare them away. So instead I trudged through it, tearing my hair out and abusively penciling in and whiting-out dates on my day-planner.
Then, the inevitable happened: they started flaking. After a long back-and-forth, one guy wrote me this on the morning of our date, "Well, I have gigs on Long Island Sat. night and Sunday night. You can come down to one of them if you want?" Dear sir, I wouldn't haul my ass to Long Island to see your band if we were engaged.
Another guy told me he had to go to the DMV that day. The DMV! A bunch just didn’t answer. My ego took a hit — just a few hours ago, they’d been so into me. But I sucked it up, cut my losses, and decided to just go on as many dates as I could. It turned out that was only three.
I left work early to meet gentleman A. It was snow-raining and rush hour. Between the slippery streets, crowds of people everywhere, and nerves, I felt mildly nauseous. So I did what anyone would do: I smoked a cigarette, threw up in my mouth a little, and found the bar.
Date A was cute! He actually looked like the photo he sent! He had a neck tattoo! I was feeling this date already. I sat down across from him and unknowingly boarded his own personal rollercoaster.
Now, I'm a woman who talks a lot. And I got in maybe three sentences the entire hour. The rest of my verbal allotment was spent “Mhmm”ing. I learned that he designs leather cuffs and men’s chemical-free fragrances. He’s an artist “of all sorts.” Seriously, I asked him what kind of artist he was twice and that’s all I got. During his lecture on men who keep their word — yeah, it went there — I’m pretty sure he referenced Castro as an idol. I can’t bash this guy too badly, because he was obviously nervous and I appreciated him taking the heat off of me to perform. He also paid for my drink and respected my one-hour time limit on the date. We shook hands, said nice to meet you, and I was off.
Pros: Tattoos, silver tooth (don’t judge me!)
Cons: Wouldn’t shut the fuck up.
Bottom line: Probably wouldn’t see him again, unless I could feed him some Valium.
I stood out front of the next bar, on the phone with a friend and smoking. Time crept by and I realized that this fucking guy was fifteen minutes late. As I pondered what exactly being stood up by a Craigslist blind date would do to my self-esteem, he showed. Actually, he walked up to the door, made eye contact with me, and went inside. I knew it was him, he knew it was me. So we were off to a great start. Like a puppy, I followed him inside and realized, to my horror, that I had forgotten this venue was more of a tiny restaurant than a bar. He disappeared into the bathroom and I sat and ordered myself a giant drink. When he returned, I said “Hi! I’m Katrina."
And the infant took a seat. Now, this guy looked young in the photo he sent me, but he said he was twenty-three. I rarely date boys my age, but I figured in the spirit of openness, I’d throw caution to the wind. The first thing he did was ask “if this place carded.” Apparently, he told me, he’d lost both his ID and passport. And thus began my date with a seventeen-year-old.
He opened with “So….” I smiled. He smiled. Then he started mocking my body language. He put his hand on his chin, like mine, so I smiled and moved my hand to my lap. He smiled and moved his hand to his lap. “What do you do?” I asked. “What do you do?” he retorted, and I fought the urge to punch him in his little, baby face. He told me he was still in school to be a gym teacher. He lived with his parents. And then he asked me if I wanted to see his (first) tattoo that he had gotten done yesterday. I did not.
“Sure,” I said. To my horror, he stood and started to raise his shirt and revealed a tattoo on his ribcage. It said, “Fuck you, love you, love you, fuck you”. It’s how I feel about people, he explained.
The date lasted another minute or two. During the next lull in the conversation, he said, “Um…. Awkward silence number four,” and I was done. He had taken two sips of the beer he tricked the poor bartender into serving him, and I stood up. “I’ve really got to go,” I said.
“Really?” He looked shocked.
“Yup, sorry,” I said and ran-walked for the door.
Pros: I’m getting really good at leaving dates and not feeling bad about it.
Bottom line: I will not see him again, unless his parents pay me to babysit.
At this point, I was dreading the next date. I got to the bar early, as my last date had been cut short. Since my date was running late, I sat alone at the bar for a half-hour and scoped all the cute boys I could have been kissing. I was actually on the verge of going over to say “hi” to one of them when my date arrived. So I introduced myself to him instead.
This guy was cute. He was dark and handsome, kind of Italian-looking. His black T-shirt was rather tight and his snow boots were bizarrely effeminate. We chatted. He was in law school. He ordered a Jim Beam and ginger ale, and I decided I liked him. We had a few laughs (though at this point I was kind of drunk, so I can’t quite remember what they were about). We had another drink. He laughed and said “Two drinks, huh? I must be doing well,” and he was. He was muscular in a lean way and I distinctly remember fantasizing about those strong arms pulling my hair.
I broke my rules and hung out with him for another two hours. I was supposed to be meeting friends later to check in, but I was drunk and forgot to check my phone. Later, I saw the messages, one of which said: “WHERE ARE YOU? THERE ARE CRAIGSLIST KILLERS ON THE LOOSE!” Fortunately, he wasn’t one of them.
Pros: His face, sense of humor, in law school, doesn’t live with parents.
Cons: Weird snow boots.
Bottom line: I would see him again.
Craigslist blind-dating is not for the faint of heart. And I know that, because I kind of was. Between the stress of trying to find guys to date, the scheduling, and the actually meeting complete strangers in person, I think I may have aged ten years in three days. But though all I wanted to do after the first date was curl up with a bottle of wine and watch The In Crowd, I’m glad I pushed ahead.
If nothing else, this experiment reminded me that I’m just not the kind who enjoys dating. In fact, I kind of hate it. I get really nervous, feel faint, and smoke a million cigarettes. Not a good look for a first date. At heart, I think I’d rather meet someone the old-fashioned way: get very drunk, wake up next to them, and assess whether to stick around or sneak out before they wake up.
That said, the hypothesis of the experiment still holds. If you put yourself out there more, you’ll meet some good people. Using Craiglist to date is like using anything else: you just have to sift through a lot of bullshit and weirdos before you meet someone cool. And a one-out-of-three ratio for cool dudes to basket-cases isn’t bad at all. So if you have the balls and some extra time on your hands, go forth! Just make sure you have a high alcohol tolerance and some friends to check in with.