The problem arose with the fact that I had all of this data, this whole article, but no one to take it. Rejection after rejection after no response, it was going nowhere. I'm not sure which came first, the idea that if I went on a date as each of the guys, brought them into real life, played the part, that I would be able to land a home for my story, or if I was asked out to tea, but somehow I ended up making plans and heading down to the Belmont redline stop to meet "K######" ("Laura Goldstein.") I may have been playing the creep, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to look nice while I did it. I tossed on a nice sweater and some slacks, and wandered down.
I don't know what I expected from a girl who A. was going on a date with someone she "met" online and B. was going on a date with some objectively creepy guy she "met" on the internet. But when Laura showed up, she was wearing a worn down long sleeve t-shirt, "Las Vegas" printed across the front. She was shorter than I imagined, looked nothing like her pictures, and had a nasally voice akin to Sarah Silverman on helium. She was also younger than she said she was. Freshly twenty, not twenty-two like her profile had said. There's still something in the back of my mind that says I should have carder her to make sure she was eighteen. "It's just tea, it'll be fine." It will be fine indeed.
During the walk to Argo Tea, we had to make awkward small talk.
"My parents are paying for me to study abroad in China."
"That's very nice of them."
"Yeah, they're, you know, Jewish- Goldstein- Jewish."
"Man, I wish I was Jewish. My parents are Latino, so, you know, we're poor. Obviously."
"Oh. So you're a spic eh? My parents won't like that."
"I mean, we're also Catholic, so I can't bring home a Jewish Princess either. Not that this would even come to that…"
We weren't trying to be funny.
It was one thing to ignore or try to make jokes about the racial slur. But when we got our drinks and sat down to talk, she pulled out her invisible braces, setting them on a napkin, long lines of spit like telephone wires coming from her teeth. She leaned in while she told me about… China? DePaul? The weather? I don’t really know. I was spending more time tearing at my croissant, rolling my tea along its bottom edge, and faking phone calls to step outside and not deal with her. Things weren't going well.
"Can we go back to your house for a bit? I think we should drink something."
"Well, alright. You want to throw down on a jug of wine or something?"
"Oh, I thought you could just get it. Steal it like a good latino."
"Ah. I see. So this is how the Jews keep all their gold. Stingy bastards."
We walked to the store, grabbing the cheapest, largest bottle of wine I could, since I needed a drink to make myself comfortable with the idea that I was ignoring all of the annoyance, all of the racism, all of the grating voices, in an effort to maybe, hopefully, fuck some stupid girl I met on the internet. I hadn’t been the best of people in return, and I had heard online dating stories, so I assumed that everyone is really only in it for the casual sex. The random meet up. That the coffee or tea or drinks in a bar, or any of the pretense, was just that, that the main goal was to get to someone's house and slam up against each other, sweating in the dark, all with the glow of the computer screen in the background.
At my apartment, we sat awkwardly in the two chairs, a La-Z-Boy and an overstuffed armchair, the only two pieces of furniture in the house, me caught between roommates. The chairs were positioned in front of the TV, making conversation difficult. It drifted, from cats to things we had seen on the internet, briefly hitting the "so why are you internet dating?" category, before we awkwardly got quiet, neither of us wanting to confront those particular demons. I had brought my laptop out, setting it far back against the wall on a milk crate, putting on some Black Flag in an effort to drive her away. By this time, I was drunk and just wanted to go to sleep. After Henry Rollins declared that there would be a TV party tonight, alright, Laura turned to me and asked
"Can I put on some porn?"
"There's this Czech guy, and- he's so smooth. He goes around giving women money to show him their tits, then he keeps giving them money until the suck his dick, and eventually he gives them more to fuck them, and occasionally gives enough to get anal."
"Here." And with that, she started surfing the internet, finding her preferred porn site, scrolling through videos giving a "this one is good" or a "this sucks" or a "this girl is so hot" and the whole time I just kept thinking "so this is it. I guess I should grab a condom."
The Czech guy had a shaky, crappy video camera, handing some mildly attractive, dark haired, overly painted like a trollop, girl a fist full of koruna. The captions read "here, here! 100 koruna to see your breasts!" before she was quickly convinced. (100 koruna is five American dollars. I knew this from friends who had gone to Prague that summer.) It escalated quickly, and I started wondering what was especially hot about seeing some poor girl sell herself as a prostitute, desperate to get the money, or maybe it was the camera, but lose her dignity no matter what. I felt awkward, as if I was being shown what I was trying to do. Sure, I wasn’t offering her money, but I only had one goal in mind, one mission and I started to feel sick. Not sick enough to be totally distracted when she got behind me and started massaging my shoulders as the porn played in front of us. "Fuck it," I thought, as the man gave the girl another two hundred koruna to fuck her in a bathroom, "I'm getting laid."
She moved from the La-Z-Boy to the armchair, behind me, pressed herself into my back, massaging my chest, breathing heavily on my neck, grinding her hips into my back. Soon she stopped, spinning out and looking at me, saying "lift up your shirt, I need to check your nipples." It was the first time someone had asked that.
"I need to make sure you don't have weird nipples. Let me see them."
"Here." And she pulled up my shirt, inspecting my nipples like a jeweler inspecting a diamond, searching for the smallest flaw. Satisfied, she let my t-shirt fall back, nodding approvingly. I felt my chances of sex growing.
"Well, since you saw mine, I feel like it's only fair that I see yours." I was a sly sonofabitch.
"Alright," she said, pulling her shirt up, then off, taking the bra with it. She stood there, confident, straight, and proud of her breasts. They weren't much, two halved peaches, somehow sagging despite their size and her age, with more or less symmetrical nipples, two short black hairs sticking out of the right one. Under sober circumstances, this would have been the final straw, the work that I had put in (what a disgusting sentence, the work put into trying to have sex.) not worth the pay out, but with half a jug of wine swirling like brandy in my stomach, it seemed like a good time to try and kiss her. I went in slowly, trying to be smooth, but drunk enough that I'm sure I looked terrible. She stopped me, holding a hand between us, offering only "I think I've been giving you mixed signals," before putting on her shirt, and standing up. I stayed in my half seated position, puckered lips sliding back into place slowly, head still cocked to one side. She asked "Well, now what?" And suddenly I felt my testicles resting in their sack. Suddenly I felt all the machismo I had been fronting. Suddenly, the wine gave way to a drunkenness typically fueled by whiskey and I felt sure of myself and not at all misled.
"Maybe you should go."
A few days later and she texted me, asking to meet up for a second date at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I said I would meet her out front, never planning on leaving my house. Had I managed to get any more information, anything useful to use in an article on internet dating? Did women really get desperate enough to ignore red flags? A girl, far too young to be on okcupid.com anyway, wanted to meet for a second time with someone who shared no similar interests, freely used racial slurs, and spent the entire time trying to sleep with her instead of getting to know her. Did any of it really matter anyway?
Online dating seems to be the wave of the future, and for good reason. Instead of heading to bars or clubs, places where at face value there is only one shared interest, or even worse, approaching someone based solely on looks alone, commonalities are displayed right there on the screen, percentages spelled out for seeing before a word is spoken how good of a match you might be. Casual sexual exploits thrive in the bar scene, and sites like Grindr and apps like Break the Ice have the hook up game cornered, leaving sites like ok cupid to flourish in legitimate match making. Typically.
That driving urge to stick it in, or have it stuck in by a pretty face will always exist, and humans, particularly with the anonymity of the internet have no reason not to try, striking out being no more taxing than not being retweeted by a celebrity. It means nothing, with no face lost at all. Will men and women still be creeps, still ignore how crazy a person is while trying to sleep with them? Absolutely. Is it expected? Sure. Should it be? Fuck off, I'm no sociologist or philosopher.
While "researching" this article, I ended up having a message exchange with someone on the "nice guy" profile. Before we met, I told her about the article, the other profiles, etc. We are happily dating. So, you know, there's that.