No matter how excellent the match, no matter how close the percentage points, no matter how cute that picture of him with a baby Chow Chow was, sometimes the dates are just going to suck.
If I had to make a graph of my online dates, it would look something like this.
Most dates are just a way to spend an evening that isn’t me watching Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt again on Netflix while my rommate and I drink beer shandies. My date and I drink whatever it is we’re drinking, we have casual chats, we’re not interested in each other. Many dates are fun. We share mutual interests, the guy’s cute, maybe there’s some chemistry. Once in a blue moon I get stood up: Paul, an improviser I share 33 mutual friends with, stopped texting me the day of our date only to tweet/write a Facebook post about how he was out with a (cuter? younger? less ginger-y?) different woman that same night.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNEEERRRR!!!
I may still be holding a grudge there.
Anyway, it’s that 9% that really sticks in my mind. During the moment of those terrible dates, I’m stuck. Let’s share some details of a recent date I went on, in scenic Koreatown. I’m sitting there with a horrible man, wondering why exactly he chose to wear toe shoes and mesh shorts to an upscale tofu place, cocking my head with confusion as he claims his father dragged his mother to a cabin in the woods where she had her own trailer and made terrible kimchi which is why he never learned to speak Korean. During the moment I’m uncomfortable because he doesn’t actually like tofu so why did he suggest the place, embarrassed because his voice is an entire decibel field louder than the ambient noise of the restaurant, baffled as he explains to me that he legally changed his name to Toth because he went by Other Tim in taekwondo class and Toth was “a bit of a mashup of that.”
Then the moment is over and I’m in improv class or with my ESL students, and my friends and I are laughing hysterically. Did the waitress really take his egg and fish away because he ordered from the children’s menu?! Yes, she did, and her look of pure disgust made me nearly choke on my kimchi jjigae.
These horrible dates can be gems. The best algorithms and the smartest messages and the best pictures with the best dogs can’t protect us from the reality that humans are strange, mixed-up beings who wear toe shoes and bathing suit bottoms to first dates. This is something I really treasure. We’re no longer a species doomed to meet our lovers at bars or singles clubs, but there is still such an element of chance to walking into a room with someone you only know through 0’s and 1’s.
Far from it being discouraging, these dreadful dates can make the search for love infinitely more interesting. I’d rather have three abominable dates in a row than a month of “eh could woulda maybe if that mustache wasn’t so scraggly” dates. Horrible dates give promise that equal and opposite wonderful dates are to come. Horrible dates are sitcom moments that we can’t escape and force us to be alive and face our fellow weirdo.
Toth, you are a glorious human being. Never change.
Paul, you are a garbage dump of a human. I hope your twitter gets hacked.