Talking to Strangers: San Jose, CA

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

by Grace Bello

Thomas, 26

What do you do?
I'm an entrepreneur in home technology.

Does that get you a lot of dates?
I haven't used it to try to get me dates. It definitely doesn't get me dates in the industry, that's for sure. Unfortunately.

Where do you typically meet people to go out with?
At bars in downtown Palo Alto.

How does that work out?
It works out horribly because I never meet anybody! Honestly, I'll meet some girl that I'm interested in pursuing maybe two or three times a year at a bar in downtown Palo Alto.

What have those girls been like?
They've been younger, very sweet, not very interesting. Smart, but... yeah, not interesting. That's an easy way to say it. Actually, there's a better word out there — not engaging. That's the problem, really. I don't meet anyone who's passionate. I meet people who are not interested in something.

What about in San Francisco?
No, it's the same in San Francisco. Palo Alto is just very goal-driven.

What do you think of the girls in San Jose?
Girls in San Jose are party animals. They party all the time. I'm not a very hard partying guy. Not now, in my old age.

What was your last serious relationship?
I met someone in high school, and it went great for two years. And then we broke up at the end of my junior year. That was it. That was my last relationship.

Are you consciously trying to get into a relationship? Or at this point do you not care?
I keep an eye out, and every now and again, I do get entangled with somebody, and I totally wish I hadn't even done it in the first place. It becomes a nasty — not a bad mess — but you know, not something that you want to go back through after six months or so. You finally get clear of it, and you make it a few more years, and then you make a few more rounds, and then you get back in again. And then hopefully someone who's around will be somebody interesting. That's my game plan.

Any nightmare date stories?
Luckily, no. I don't let it get to that. [laughs] I have to at least commend myself on being able to spot the nightmares from across the room.

No blind dates, ever?
Actually, yeah. I had one blind date that was a couple years ago. That was the first time I said, "All right, let's try this dating service thing." I walked in — we met in the entryway of the restaurant. She proposed going somewhere else, a different restaurant. I said, "Yeah, sure." We had to drive there; we had two separate cars. I just lost track of her, and I never saw her. We never made it to the next restaurant! [laughs]

Where was this?
This was in Los Gatos. But I think she was trying to lose me because she was like, "Yeah, you just go down the freeway, two exits, make a right, then your first left, your first right, and it's, like, the third Mexican food place on the left." Ha! She gave me a restaurant name I couldn't remember, you know what I mean? I was like, "Yeah, I'll follow you." And then I'm waiting in the parking lot for five minutes. I obviously wasn't very impressive.

Genevieve, 25

What do you do?
I work as a hostess, and I work for an elderly lady, and I'm trying to be a writer. I'm writing a romance novel.

As a romance writer, what do you think is romantic?
When a guy courts me properly by asking me to go drink wine on the beach with him. I can't really sum it up in one sentence, but taking me out at least once a week and doing fun things with me.

Do you have a type?
I'm typically not attracted to American guys. They usually have to be from another country. I like Persian guys, guys from Iran. I meet a lot of guys from Iran around here. They're intelligent. They drive really fast, fun cars! They just know how to talk to a girl. They know how to romance a girl.

Any specific experiences?
Quite a few. I've become really good friends with a couple of people this year. This is my first time being single for one year. I'm usually in relationships, so it's kind of been an interesting year for romance. But in general, I've been let down. I think things will last longer than they do. I just ended a — not a relationship, but a dating cycle with a guy who I was really kind of falling in love with. And he was romancing me. He was using all the words that I liked. But it turned out, in a lot of ways, to just be talk. It wasn't what I wanted it to be.

Any dealbreakers?
My last one was kind of a dealbreaker, because the last guy — when he spoke to me, it seemed like we were exclusive, and when I asked later on if we were exclusive, he kind of said, "Well, in the beginning, I didn't fully trust you." That was definitely a dealbreaker for me. The way we had been going about our little dating "thing" — I wouldn't call it a relationship. But the way we were going about it, it seemed like we were exclusive, but we weren't.

Any crazy exes?
No. I broke my ex-boyfriend's heart when I broke up with him, but he definitely wasn't crazy afterwards.

Any nightmare dating experiences?
No, never. Actually, I've had really nice romances, just broken hearts. Not excessively broken-hearted, but a broken heart to the extent that it's just disappointment. There's always the utter disappointment in the end.

That's okay. Such is life. That's just a part of dating; you live and you learn. I think that the best thing that a girl can do is not have sex until three months into dating, because I feel like it — it doesn't ruin it, but it just makes it feel like the guy doesn't chase you as much after it happens. That's what I've noticed. They'll be really sweet beforehand, but after it happens, they're not as attentive. Now I'm just trying not to be played.

Eli, 31

What do you do?
A few things. I'm a barista, I'm a graphic designer, and I'm also a co-founder of Zobingo Games, a video-game company.

Does that get you a lot of dates?
I'm married. We met at Starbucks, serendipitously. We had a mutual friend, and she was introduced. That was in 1999. Ten years married, dating for twelve years.

Before that, what was your dating experience like?
Man, that's ancient history! Sporadic. I guess I'd say I didn't really date per se. If someone was cool or interesting, we'd hang out. It all came down to personality. I didn't go after any specific attributes physically, I guess. If someone was interesting, I guess, we would hang out.

Did you have any nightmare dates?
No. I'm the kind of a guy who kept an arm's distance — I guess I played it kind of safe. I never went on any blind dates or anything. But I had plenty of adventures. I almost crashed my date's parents' car; my emergency brake on my 1983 Camaro wasn't working, and her driveway was on an incline, and I was rolling backwards, and I came within an inch of smashing her BMW. That was... fun.

Any dealbreakers?
Girls with psycho ex-boyfriends. Big dealbreaker. That did happen once. It was when I worked at Starbucks. I met this girl after she got off, and as she was getting in my car, her ex-boyfriend pulled up next to me in his car, and she was like, "Just go! Just go!" And I didn't want to cause any more drama. I said, "Well, you know, it looks like you've got something that you need to take care of." Maybe three months later, I saw her again, and I think she "switched teams" after that. No more guys.

Since you're successfully married, do you have any advice for people who are trying to make a long-term relationship last?
Yeah. Just roll with it. Don't try to change other people. The second you try changing someone else, the second they're going to resent you for it. Just let people be themselves, and if you don't like that, move on.

Commentarium (40 Comments)

Dec 15 11 - 4:02am

I totally can agree with Daniel! Being with someone who is so serious about music as I am is important. If you can't talk about the same bands or your partner can't understand music or how important it is and not going to support you, it's never going to work.

Dec 15 11 - 5:01am

God the people in this city sound horrible. I had a long-time flirtation with moving out to Silicon Valley, but I think that has put it to rest.

Dec 15 11 - 6:25am

Jessamin's mom was 14 when she had her? What the fuck?

Dec 15 11 - 12:18pm

It happens.

Dec 15 11 - 2:02pm

Welcome to reality.

Dec 16 11 - 1:28am

shit happens a lot more than you think

Dec 16 11 - 11:48am

Hoochie girl indeed.

Dec 15 11 - 7:12am
Biggie Smalls

Not enough questions about sex.

Dec 15 11 - 9:46am

This was depressing to read... it seems like almost every interview has something sad about it...

Dec 15 11 - 9:40pm
john doe

thats s.j. for u.....

Dec 15 11 - 10:36am

I think Jessamin is lying about her age. She can't be older than 12.

Dec 15 11 - 12:18pm

Yeah, something kind of forlorn about this group

Dec 15 11 - 12:25pm

Lordhamercy that Genevieve is a fox.

Dec 16 11 - 11:55am

Too bad her interview was the worst of a bad crop. "They drive really fast, fun cars!" Red flag! "a guy courts me properly..." Red flag code for "I've got a long list of rules and steps that you must follow intuitively otherwise you prove all men are clueless dogs!" I say ship her off to Iran for a blind date with Ahmadinejad.

Dec 17 11 - 8:32am
ståndård deviation

she is not a fox. she is a Russian Tëtka in the making

Dec 15 11 - 12:27pm

once you go persian....

Dec 15 11 - 12:31pm

you find a better version?

Dec 15 11 - 6:23pm

there no need for any other version.

Dec 16 11 - 12:09am

It's quite the excursion?

Dec 16 11 - 6:08pm

youre no longer a virgin

Dec 16 11 - 6:41pm

You are a cat.

Jan 21 12 - 6:19pm

you keep the carpet

Dec 15 11 - 12:49pm

LMAO! y'all are dry mofos for riding Jessamin's mom's age. but yeah, on the whole san jose sounds like a snore-a-palooza. and it kinda sucks cos its such a bright sunny place sans the pollution of LA. I"m thinking of doing a talking to strangers from Toronto. by a show of yay or nays, who'd be interested to check out what my beautiful city has to offer?

Dec 15 11 - 12:59pm

Not if you say things like "LMAO" and "snore-a-palooza."

Dec 16 11 - 1:29am

@startmakingsense that was funny

Dec 19 11 - 3:00pm

Yeah - I will give shit to anyone getting pregnant at 14 (or 13?) until the day I die. It is not something to be proud of, nor is it anything a society should ever consider being acceptable. There, I've said it

Dec 15 11 - 12:51pm

This week's TTS competes with 'The Road' as a harrowing portrayal of a post-apocalypse scenario.
Scary stuff.

Dec 15 11 - 1:16pm

Dear Interviewer: More interesting questions.
Dear Interviewees: Be More Interesting.

Dec 15 11 - 5:23pm

Thomas is the guy i've been looking for. Unfortunately I don't live on the same continent.

Dec 15 11 - 6:48pm

Agree with Ali. Thomas is gorgeous. But I, too, don't live on the same continent as him.

Thomas: move to Europe.

Jan 11 12 - 12:38pm

Just wanted to chime in with the pro-Thomas group. I haven't seen someone so attractive on "Talking to Strangers" in a long time. (Genevieve is very cute, too.)

Dec 16 11 - 4:33am

It seems like I always come to the defense of poor San Jose. It's a great city! The food is good! Yeah, it pales in comparison with some of its more eclectic neighbors - Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland. But it's full of a bunch of really laid-back students and professionals. You definitely won't find much crime or craziness, especially by the SJSU campus. There are a LOT of cops, and most are pretty chill. Maybe I just like it because I wasn't punched in the gut by a homeless man (BERKELEY!).

Dec 16 11 - 6:23pm

Here is my blog. I'm from San Jose and this interview was conducted by your stereotypical San Jose'an

Dec 17 11 - 1:18am

Man. That was a perfect representation of what I imagine San Jose to be like. Boring. Soulless. Empty. Dead inside.

Dec 17 11 - 11:37am

My friend often said life is lack of passion till he met a cutest girl Angel on --CasualLoving dot c'0m--. It's where for men and women looking for intimate encounters.
It's a first and safe place for people who wanna to start a short-term relationship....
no bounds or limits in front of true love.

Dec 18 11 - 12:53am

I worked in Palo Alto and found it chilling - like Stepford. Cold, luxe, too clean, undisturbed, creepy and sad. The crisp clean weather only made it more clinical and dry. Run, children, RUN!

Dec 18 11 - 8:30pm

These people are fucking awful.

Dec 19 11 - 3:01pm
What happened?

Sex has been purged from every other corner of Nerve. Is it now gone from here, too?

Dec 20 11 - 1:48am

Some of this people seem like they're really interesting. Too bard the interviewer goes out of his way to keep it boring and bland.

Dec 31 11 - 10:14am

Thomas looks like the basgatd child of Hayden Christiansen & Toby Maguire...just saying