Talking to Strangers: Atlanta, GA
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
What do you do for a living?
I operate a dive bar in Little Five Points.
Does that get you any dates?
No, I don't get laid from my bar.
Are you in a relationship?
What qualities would a potential girlfriend or boyfriend have to have?
A girl would have to be laid back, not needy, and speak Spanish.
Do you speak Spanish?
Yes. I'm from Chamblee. My mother's Mexican and my father's American.
Why is so important that a girl speaks Spanish?
Because I like to speak Spanish, and if she speaks Spanish it's better. We can communicate differently. There are different phrases and a different atmosphere with different languages. Different slang you can use than in English.
What's the biggest turn-off you could see in a girl?
Bad hygiene and poor taste.
What qualifies as poor taste?
Poor taste would be wardrobe, taste in food, and taste in pop culture.
Could you give an extreme example of poor taste in one, wardrobe, two, food, three, pop culture?
Wardrobe: not neat, too eccentric, something to attract attention that's not necessary. I prefer something simple, clean — like a building. You don't want a bunch of flags and whistles. Nothing catchy or trendy, something very classic. Bad food would be eating a lot of fast food; that's poor taste. If you're doing it out of necessity because you're traveling or you're hung over, that's different. Some people have certain remedies. Shitty chain restaurants or a pretentious place that has really bad food. Like Pure Taqueria in this neighborhood. They put a lot of effort into their exoskeleton. Pop culture: bad rock and roll.
Like Incubus or something?
Yeah or anything that's obviously overrated. Justin Beiber for sure. That and romantic comedies that don't have Vince Vaughn.
So you'll watch any romantic comedy with Vince Vaughn?
What do you have to say about your sex life?
I don't have a sex life.
I don't have a girlfriend and I don't have a fuck friend.
I was interviewing a girl earlier tonight who said she had to have sex multiple times a week. So if she's not in a relationship she's going out to see who she can hook up with. Are you beyond that point?
Yeah, I'm beyond that. I'm beyond masturbating too. I don't have to masturbate; I don't have to have sex with a girl. It takes a minute. I enjoy the passion involved with sex. That doesn't exist when you meet somebody and they're either bluffing or flaky. It's based on consistency. So it's a dry well until I find really good water.
Any particular physical characteristics that you look for in a girl?
Yeah, most of them, but it's not like anyone in particular that I favor. I'm a butt guy, I'm a boob guy; I'll take both at once, sure.
Yeah, what's the deal with that? Are some guys boob guys and some guys ass guys?
That's the nineties. I'm both. There's no such thing as either/or. They're both great.
What do you do?
I work at a coffee shop and I'm studying to go to grad school for library science. And I'm an actress. That one doesn't really count because it's so fucking hard to be an actress.
Have you been snowed in with your boyfriend?
Yeah, we were snowed in — it was fun. We went sledding in the park. I have all sorts of bruises from the ironing board we were using as a sled.
You better believe it; it was fast as shit. The legs were originally on it, and we were standing up on it holding the legs, then the legs just busted off. It was a two-person sled. It was awesome. Everyone up on the hill was like, "Ironing board is the jam!" We left here and were piss-ass drunk, scouring the house being like, what can we sled on?
I saw a surf board, boogie board, crib mattress, alligator pool float, and a kayak. Anyway, what's better: life in a relationship or life being single?
I think they're both hard as shit. I happily think of my boyfriend when I'm making plans or somebody asks me to do something, because we have so much fun together. But at the same time that can also be hard. Sometimes it's just a little bit more of a struggle to make both parties happy. When I'm single I still really like and need to have sex several times a week. Whenever I'm first single I try to be good and have time to myself. But I've done ridiculously belligerent things to have a booty call. Half the time the next day I'm like, "What the fuck? That was so stupid. Was it worth it? Because I feel like shit today."
Have you ever looked back on a situation like that and thought, "I actually put myself in danger?"
Yeah. That's like my entire relationship with this bar MJQ. Like, "That was dangerous." I hooked up with this guy who I met at MJQ one time who noticeably had a penis that sort of went like this; it was a little bit of a candy cane. And my friend was like, "Wait a minute. What's his name?" I told her and she was like, "Oh my God, my roommate dated him for three months." Apparently they had met at MJQ, too. He prowls.
You're going to find somebody.
It's the best place to just sloppily make out. It's so dark and seedy, and then they turn the lights on and you're like, "Oh no!"
What do you do for a living?
I work in public health. Particularly in violence prevention, youth suicide prevention.
Has that gotten you any dates?
All the time. It's a good pick-up line. No, I don't mention it too much; it can be a conversation-ender. When I say I work in suicide prevention people are like, "Oh. How's the rest of your life going?" I work for the government too, and go to a lot of conferences, but people are often careful about what they say because they're afraid it will come back to them. It's an interesting topic, but not a great conversation starter. I wouldn't use it if I were you.
If you don't use your job to pick people up, what do you use?
I don't know if I would say I pick people up. Looks are only part of the equation. They're the first chapter of a huge novel. There's also kindness, humor or mirth, the ability to roll with the punches, being willing to laugh at my jokes. It's a bit self-serving but I'll admit it. Even doing something that I have a little bit of interest in helps. I'm not big into the pick-up scene; I've never really done a one-night stand.
So you're looking for something more permanent?
I guess. A certain degree of permanence. I don't go into relationships thinking I'm going to get married. You don't know where that's going to go. You can set yourself up for failure coming in with predetermined expectations. So a certain degree of permanence. I don't take a chance on somebody, thinking it's going to be a couple of days or a night. That can lead to desensitization. I've been trying not to use my emotions as a calling-card or a transaction. I have certain neurotic tendencies and entertain them by feeling out a person, looking at their resume and not just their first day at work.
Thank you. I worked on that for a while.
Are there any sexual experiences that you regret?
I wouldn't say so. I try to be largely in control of what I'm doing. The one time I tried pot I freaked out and never wanted to do it again. I like to be in control of my mental state, and it's the same with relationships. I use sex as a way to illustrate love. I don't think I've ever regretted it. Although, when I lost my virginity I regretted it to an extent, just because I thought I was going to hell. I was baptized Catholic and I was scared for a couple of days after that and leading up to it. I was petrified. And it wasn't exactly enjoyable, because I didn't really know what was happening. But I wouldn't say I regret any of it. Regret can be very damaging, and I think it's better to take experiences and learn from them.
How old were you?
I was pretty old, twenty-three. I sat out in high school. I didn't really find any women attractive because I grew up in a redneck town. And I was afraid to talk to women until I was eighteen or nineteen. I was too intimidated. It's just the way I was. It was kind of late, but whatever.
Where are you from?
How do you find that the dating scene in Atlanta compares to Pennsylvania?
It's hard to say, because I've been a student for much of my life. Dating as a student is much different than dating in the "real world." My first time in the real world was here in Atlanta. It's very different when you're in classes. You're not going to bars to pick people up; you're meeting them in classes and things. For example, I met a girlfriend at a climate-change conference I helped organized.
Climate Change Awareness. She was part of Sierra Club so I joined Sierra Club.
Because you liked her.
Of course. I don't care about the environment. No, I actually do; it just worked out that way. Though I probably wouldn't have been as engaged in the conference had I not been interested in her.