One of our Talking to Strangers interviewers learns a valuable dating lesson the hard way.
It was late. I was desperate. I needed to hand in my Talking to Strangers piece to my editor at Nerve. I'd interviewed people on the Venice Beach boardwalk, just as I'd promised. But as I wrote up the interviews and listened to my tape, I decided something was shady about the last stranger, a drunk frat boy. Remembering his red cup and slanted trucker hat led me to believe that he couldn't have been serious when he said his heart was "ready to open up to that special someone." In retrospect, I was also finding it difficult to believe that parents with the last name "Meoff" would've named their son "Jack."
I didn't want to add him to the lineup and insult the intelligence of Nerve readers, so I did what anyone with a deadline would do. I called my friends. And when they didn't answer, I put myself in my Talking to Strangers piece.
I was determined to make it honest, so I answered all the questions as if a total stranger had found me on the Venice Beach boardwalk and asked me about my sex life. I named myself "Sofia" and opened up about my selective taste in porn and my newly-arrived sex toys. Then I sent the piece through the ether and prayed that my mom wouldn't read about my new vibrator.
My mom did read about my new vibrator. And so did a mysterious reader with a Facebook account. The day my vibrator went public, I got a friend request from a local Venice Beach guy.
"Do I know you?" I asked. In all the time I've had a Facebook account, nobody had ever used it to hit on me. Maybe on Myspace. But never on Facebook. (Let's all switch back to Myspace! You go first.) My friends had gotten creepy messages from randoms who insisted that "your the most butiful girl I ever seen." But I'd never been privy to such a dating underworld. I used my Facebook account to comment on how cute my friends' babies were and to track when ex-boyfriends married.
"I'm so embarrassed," he wrote. "I read your article on Nerve and thought it was funny. That's all. And you look really great too."
"Maybe I'll see you around the hood," I wrote. "And then we'll say, 'Oh, you're that guy/girl from Facebook I don't know.' Can't wait!"
The next day, as I was sitting at a local cafe, wearing sweats and going makeup-free, I saw the mysterious man with the Facebook account. I knew it was him because I had looked at all of his photos the night before. I couldn't believe it.
My mind is that of the average woman. I'm sure there are women who will deny this way of thinking, but I will admit that I believe in signs and that everyone I meet has the potential to be my husband any day now. I'm not even sure if I want to get married. And I'm still on the fence about popping out kids. Yet I tend to believe that because a man wears blue sweaters or likes green, he'd make a great life partner or father. In this case, I was pretty sure the dating universe had landed this man in my path because it meant that he was my perfect future husband.
We made eye contact. I picked a wedding date. He asked me on a first date.
A week later we were on the way to a restaurant up the Pacific Coast Highway. We made flirty jokes and brushed arms. If I were in a commercial for a bad dating site, I would say we had "chemistry." As we sat down to eat, I decided to continue my interviewing. He already knew about my new vibrator, my taste in porn, and my penchant for dating older men. It was only fair that I learn about him through a Nerve-style Talking to Strangers interview. I rolled out the repertoire.
"What do you do for a living?"
"I'm in advertising."
"Does that get you laid?"
He giggled and looked down in embarrassment. I noticed that his flushed cheeks would be a nice addition to our children. (I can't help it. It's a disease.).
"Yes," he finally said. "My job gets me laid."
"I don't know how it happened, but I slept with about four people who worked at my last office."
"Four? At the same time?" I asked.
This was a problem. Future husbands don't dip their quills into four different office inkwells! I imagined him strutting into meetings, the top button of his striped shirt undone, shooting finger guns at four women, knowing he had been inside each and every one.
I didn't want to judge his sexual life, when I'd been all-too-honest in my own interview. That's not fair. But four? In the same office? I'd had an office romance once, but I couldn't imagine four. Did he rotate them in the stairwells?
"I worked there for four years," he said. It was too late. My expression had gone sour. I changed the subject. I twirled my hair. I tried to bring it back, but I couldn't let go of the fact that I was on a date with a guy who'd banged his whole office and then stalked me on social media. Our once-flirty Facebook romance had begun to go the way of Friendster.
As he drove me home past the dark ocean, I realized that whatever his indiscretions, neither this guy nor any other could ever have lived up to the perfect fantasy I'd created. Plus, if he'd caught me back in my heyday, I might have just had sex with four people in the same day. (Not really, Mom. Metaphorically.) No more judging allowed. Nobody will ever be exactly how I hope them to be.
Still, I don't want to know anything about anyone's sexual past on the first date. This is when eye flirts are captivating and mystery is key. I filed it under "lessons," let go of my judgment, and decided to give it another shot. But another shot there wasn't. He dropped me off. No kiss. All the excitement had died in a pile-up of sexual honesty. I didn't hear from him until weeks later when he sexted me a picture of his chest, confirming my suspicion that I'm going to have to find myself a different husband.