Talking to Strangers: Brooklyn, NY
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.
by Laura Feinstein
What are you doing tonight?
We're just hanging out, enjoying the weather. I wanted my cat to get some air.
Are you seeing anyone?
No, not really. I've just hung out with someone like, two, maybe a few more times. But nothing serious. I'm not getting my hopes up.
What's the worst date you've ever been on?
It was in Baltimore, where I used to live, not in New York. This guy, first, was wearing flip-flops, second, had a sweating problem, third, we were at a bar and when he went to pay for our drinks like thirty credit cards spilled out. I don't know if any of them were IDs, but if someone has that many credit cards, you know that there are some issues afoot. And he also made terrible faces. He just made the worst smooshy, pouty facial expressions ever. And then I tried to ask him about his job, because he taught music theory, and he told me he wouldn't explain what his curriculum was to me because I wouldn't possibly understand. I left as fast as possible.
Have you had any bad dates in New York?
No, they've all been pretty civil. At least in New York people are generally more interesting and attractive. If you don't get along or hang out again, at least it's more entertaining.
What is a dealbreaker for you?
If their favorite movie is Sideways. It would be over forever.
[Joanna's friend: "I couldn't date someone like Paul Giamatti. That would be a dealbreaker. But also Christians. And people with no sense of humor. God, there are just so many dealbreakers."]
What are the biggest dating faux pas you've noticed in Brooklyn?
People are really bad at communicating. All this text message and emoticon shit. You can't send a text message that's just an emoji. I got one that was just a sparkle. I asked, "Do you want to hang out?" and it was just a sparkle. That's not even a wink face. Everyone has ADD. I blame the internet. How am I supposed to decode a sparkle?
So what brings you to the neighborhood today?
I live around here, so I'm just out doing some errands. I've lived here since 2001, so I guess it's almost eleven years. When I first moved here it was almost completely Polish, but over time it's gotten a little more diverse.
Do you think that the new people in the neighborhood have mixed well? Maybe even some love connections have formed?
I think the Polish people mostly keep to themselves. I mean, you go to a lot of Polish-run stores and they're not always the most friendly. It's just like, "Tell me about all fifty varieties of sausage." I don't think there's ever really been any integration. But that's not really my goal, to go hang out in coffee shops and try to make friends with everyone. I mean, I do know a few Polish people from going to the park. I say hi and stuff, but it's not like I'm having them over for beers and kielbasa.
So what do you do here in the city?
I do graphic design. I work from home though, so I'm in Greenpoint most of the time. I moved here right out of college, when the rent was cheap. That was a big part of the appeal. My place is huge, so it's worked out really well.
So do you live by yourself in your massive pad?
I actually live with my wife and a baby. He's just five months.
How did you meet your wife?
We met in college, in '97, and we dated for like two months. I finished college in Richmond, Virginia three years later, then I moved up here. When I got here I gave her a call. We actually lived a few blocks away from each other, randomly. So we just started seeing each other on the street, and then dating each other again, and now we're married. And now we have a baby!
I'm guessing you aren't too familiar with the bar scene these days then?
Yeah, I don't have too much free time these days. I mostly do a lot of laundry.
Did you go out a lot before you had the baby?
I've always been a homebody. But I used to be a cook, so I had a whole community of friends I'd go out with. When you're a cook you just meet tons of people. You go out a little more. I'm thirty-four now, but I used to go out all the time when I was twenty-four or twenty-eight. But I'm also married now, so that's a whole different scenario. It's not like I'm out cruising for babes.
What brings you to Greenpoint today?
I'm supposed to meet a friend here soon. We're going to take a walk while it's nice out, and spy on the dog park.
Is this just a friend, or a "friend?"
Just a normal friend. She's a total weirdo, actually. But it's completely platonic.
Are you seeing anyone right now?
No, I'm not dating anyone, I don't think.
You don't think?
Well, I went on a date with this guy Tuesday night for pizza. He has a girlfriend. They have a probably very serious relationship, but he has a crush on me. I like him though, he's fun to hang out with.
How did you meet this dubious character?
I met him in law school, actually. But he's not a lawyer now — he does film and produces videos. He's also a comedian. But tonight I'm actually going out with a different guy. I don't know if this is a date or not though.
How did you meet this one?
Also through law school.
Sounds like law school is party central.
Ugh, no. But he's pretty cool. He's an immigration lawyer, like me. I used to see him around the courthouse all the time and thought he was cute. Now we're getting friendlier.
What are your big date plans for this evening?
We're going to go see The Avengers. Afterwards, I'm going to see a Talking Heads cover band and he's more than welcome to come. If he doesn't, he might not be the one.
Besides awesome quasi-dates, have you seen anyone regularly since coming to the city?
Yeah, I was in a relationship for a while with someone who I knew from back home in Texas. We broke up in January though. He had to move out of the country for work, and we tried to keep seeing each other, but it was just too hard. I'm still really into him, but if someone new came along who I liked as much, I'd go for it.
What do you think you're looking for in a potential dude?
I don't think I have anything in mind. I'm pretty open to meeting new people. I went out with my neighbor before he moved — he's a personal trainer. I also went out with my barista. He works at one of the few cute little independent coffee shops in the part of Manhattan near my work. We always talked when I went in there, and recommended movies or music to each other, so he said we should hang out some time. We went to Flatbush Farms and did the whole date thing, but then afterwards I didn't hear from him. Since I go to that coffee shop all the time, next time I asked what was up. He told me he was in a weird place, with his band and his life, and not to take it personal. So I had to send him a link to Monica's "Don't Take It Personal." He didn't even respond. I was like, "If you don't like Monica, you're not even worth it. We're not made for each other."