Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Brooklyn, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Daniel, 24

What do you do?
I work in a chandelier factory as a project manager. People sell us chandeliers, and then we rebuild them from scratch, with all the parts, like raw metals and glass.

Do you meet a lot of people in your work?
No, not really. I usually meet people more outside of work around where I live in Bushwick. Usually I'm sort of silent and shy and just hope that people come to me.

What's the best date you've been on recently?
I don't really date a ton because it's kind of expensive. I'm also nervous that I just won't have anything to say. I usually just want to hang out, smoke cigarettes and drink beers. But the best, and only, date I've been on recently was at a French place in Park Slope. We had great conversation, and it was cool because she was actually the one who had asked me out. Plus, she brought cheap wine, which was awesome because I didn't have to pretend that I knew anything about wine. We just didn't have any awkward pauses.

That sounds like a good time. Why didn't you go out again?
She canceled on me the next time via text.

Did you guys hook up?
Yeah, before the date, actually. I think she got freaked out on the date because she didn't want a relationship. But I actually didn't want one either.

What's the worst date you've ever been on?
I was with my girlfriend of two years at the time, and it was our Valentine's Day date. We had scheduled it really far in advance and I had gone to the restaurant beforehand trying to be all sweet and had a nice bottle of wine decanting for when she got there. But then she forgot about the date and went to happy hour with her friends after work and eventually showed up late and drunk. I was really pissed off. It was so quiet and awkward the whole time. It was horrible.

Yeah, that's a harsh Valentine's. So what do you look for in a girl now?
It's hard to say. I'm obviously vain and like attractive girls. That's the first thing I notice. I like when a girl is smart, can make good conversation, has a job, and smokes or is cool with smoking. Even though I hate that I smoke, I still don't want someone who's going to judge me for what I do and I don't want to be chastised. I usually date brunettes with sweepy bangs.

Do you have any crazy exes?
Yeah, one of them was really crazy, but luckily she moved to France. She was really mean and manipulative and a total harlot. I'm kind of not immune from being crazy in a relationship myself, though. We just didn't really like each other that much.

So you were just in it for the sex?
Entirely. That, and I feel like we both wanted to win the relationship. It was like a competition. But we sort of just both lost.

There's probably some kind of a lesson in that. What about hookups? Any crazy stories there?
Definitely. This one girl was a hostess at the restaurant I worked at and we exchanged numbers and hung out later that night. I told her I had to go back to my place and feed my fish — which, weirdly, wasn't a line — and we started making out and went to a party on the other end of town. We were outside smoking cigarettes with a bunch of her friends and then she kind of just fell over and knocked her dome on the sidewalk and had a seizure. I was like, "Shit, how am I going to get home?"

That was your first thought? Was she okay?
Well, the ambulance wouldn't let me on, because I'd had a few drinks. I visited her in the hospital the next day though. We hooked up a few times after that, but she started doing things that were really weird. Then I found out from one of her ex-boyfriends that she'd been stalking him and that he actually had a restraining order against her. So, I canceled that. She's actually started sending me nudie pictures of herself recently, even though we haven't talked in a year and a half.

What are the pictures like?
Oh, they're incredible. They're videos with all kinds of angles and stuff. I don't know how she does it one-handed.


Beth, 25

Where do you live and what do you do?
I live in Portland, Oregon. I work in a science museum and I'm a graffiti artist.

Do you meet a lot of guys doing what you do?
Definitely with spray painting. Guys see me hanging my art and they're like, "Oh, this girl does art and she has tattoos. Rad. Maybe I want to talk to her."

How do guys usually approach you?
They use the art thing or my tattoos. They're both pretty easy conversation starters — "I like your tattoos" or "I like your art." Sometimes it works, if the timing's right.

What kind of guys do you usually like?
I like guys who have things going for them. I'm seeing someone right now who works with special-needs kids and he also teaches middle schoolers how to skateboard and he's studying to be a geologist. I'm a big rock nerd. We go rock hunting on the weekends. It's ridiculous. It almost makes me want to puke.

That's a seriously adorable combination. How did you meet him?
I was playing pinball at a bar, and he actually started talking to me about my art.

Have you been hanging out for a long time?
It's been a little over a month. It's going really well. It's actually weirding me out how well it's going.

What's the best thing you guys have done together?
We went camping in the forest for a day and then the next day we went to rock hunting on beach and just drank a ton of beer and whiskey and threw rocks into the ocean. It was so nice to get out of the city and to not have our phones and just actually connect and have real conversation without distraction.

What do you think might happen with you guys next?
I don't know. I'm scared. I really like him. I almost like him more when I'm not with him, if that makes sense. I think about him when I'm not with him, but when I'm with him I'm worrying that I'll pick him apart with all these different things and pre-doom it. We don't see each other too often, which is good because I have a ton going on. I don't want too many distractions.

What was the last guy you dated like?
He was this big, buff MMA guy who taught kids how to fight. He was the total opposite of my type. He was totally tattooed — like, neck and everything. I actually met him in a strip club, if that paints you a picture of that whole thing. He took me to a dive bar and thought it was this really cool date. All these fifty-year-old men were looking at me. I ended up leaving halfway through one of our dates. I wasn't into it.

Who's the weirdest guy you've been out with?
I stopped by this bar on my way home from work, and this guy was talking to me and was asking me my story. We started drinking tequila, and then he wanted to show me his car. I was drunk and didn't really care, but I was thinking, "Okay, I can use this as an excuse to make out with you." So we did make out, and then we exchanged phone numbers, and the next day he was like, "You need to be my girlfriend," and I freaked out. He should've waited for me to call him, first of all. He was so convinced that we needed to be together and tried to convince me for six days in a row, so I just stopped answering his calls. It was too stressful. I hadn't even slept with him!


Abraham, 28

Where do you live and what do you do?
I live in Brooklyn and I'm a music teacher.

Is it hard to meet people since you work with kids all day?
No, a lot of the people I work with are my age or older. But, I meet people mostly through friends and from being alive in New York City.

Have you ever hooked up with a student?
No, definitely not. That's totally off-limits and out of bounds in what I do.

What's the best date you've been on recently?
We went on a walk through Prospect Park and ended up exploring the zoo and the teepee there. It was an adventure. She was pretty cool and into music and art and we had some really interesting conversation.

Was she your usual type?
Yeah. I like girls who are a little creative, and I really like very funny girls. Humor is a big thing.

What's the worst date you've ever been on?
When I was in high school, I took a girl to go see Traffic, which was maybe the worst first date ever. Definitely not romantic. For some reason that one sticks out.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. I think that love is something that takes a long time to nourish. It's based on trust and really strong communication. I think you can be enamored with someone when you first meet them and be really attracted to them, but if you want to have a really strong relationship, it's based on things that take time.

When was your last serious relationship?
Last fall. It ended because I didn't really like her that much.

So you broke up with her?
No, it was actually a mutual decision. We aren't friends anymore.

Not even hookup friends? What went wrong?
Nope, not even hookup friends, which I'd say is unfortunate, but it's probably a good thing. We just really didn't get along after a little while and we sort of drove each other crazy. It stopped being fun to spend time together.

What's the craziest hookup you've ever had?
It was in a church. I invited a girl to hear me play music in an abandoned church, and then I leaned over and asked her if she'd ever had sex in a church and she said, "No, let's do it." We went to the room where they stored all the old crosses, and… yeah, it was pretty wild.

That's pretty good.
Yeah, it's pretty shocking to some people. The church was abandoned, so there weren't a ton of people there or anything and where we were was sort of away from everyone and more private. It was awesome though. Unexpected to say the least.