The 'Meh' Date
Back in LA I found myself once again contemplating the significance of dating apps in my life. Still unconvinced that they were for me, but succumbing to the pressure to date I continued swiping away mostly on weeknights when I was bored on my couch during a commercial break of “This Is Us.” What is it about that Pearson family that drives me to tears every single episode? And how can I date Milo Ventimigglia and Sterling K. Brown? That’s right, AND. I want to date them both. Sterling’s married? Dammit, all the good ones are taken. But I digress…
I never gave Tinder a shot in America; after all, how would I top the drunk Australian I met in Croatia who told me I was pretty and wanted to meet up again before we all die? So romantic. For me, in Los Angeles, it was Bumble that stuck for whatever reason. The crop of men were of decent quality and though shirtless gym selfies were becoming ubiquitous on Bumble there were still plenty of guys that left their man nipples up to my imagination. So blessed.
Some of my friends don’t like the girl-talks-first approach but I don’t mind it. I like having the ability to screen the matches before any communication is initiated. Once I course corrected my dating strategy after the mistakes made with Saturday night bad-teeth gangly Nick, I could more easily manage the pre-date anxiety and shake off the mediocrity, mostly because my expectations were outrageously low. And so my dating life went for most of 2017. A handful of those dates do not warrant their own posts because they can only be described as meh.
WHAT IS ‘MEH’?
When eagerly asked how a date was by my friends, I often responded tersely with ‘meh’. They’d ask why, and I couldn’t always articulate the reason, it was just a feeling. Eventually I stopped telling friends about forthcoming dates because tbh I hated the post-date interrogation. If it’s worth mentioning I’ll find a way to do so.
I am easily turned off by the slightest transgression and I don’t enjoy having others point out my judgmental ways. “You should be more open-minded.” “You’re so fickle.” “You should give him another chance.” “You shouldn’t make snap judgments based on his shoes/hair part/neighborhood/eating style/vocabulary/emoji use.” YES I SHOULD! IT’S MY RIGHT AS A WOMAN.
Without further ado, here are some of my meh date highlights.
RYAN*, 31, LAWYER
Ryan and I had a mutual friend – my show’s attorney – so going into the date I was prepared to meet a “cool nerd.” At his suggestion we met at the Firestone Walker Brewery in Venice, a solid first date location. It was a hot summer day, sure, but he arrived with frizzy unkempt hair in cargo shorts and sandals. RAINBOWS. I didn’t even know those were still being made. Strike one.
We exchanged stories about where we grew up and I learned he lived abroad for most of high school. He has my attention again.
We bonded over a mutual adoration of New York City and I lit up as I shared tales of my days living in the East Village. He seemed intrigued until he asked just how long I had an NYC address. “Six very cold months,” I replied proudly. He scoffed and said six months doesn’t count. A subjective statement, and considering what was going on in my life at the time – giving up my job and leaving my incipient relationship behind to pursue a bucket list goal to live in New York before I turned 30 – the experience was substantial and impactful to me but he wasn’t impressed. Strike two.
When faced with the do-we-get-another-round-of-drinks-because-this-is-going-ok dance I offered to pay out of sheer politeness since he already closed out his tab. He let me, but only after he ordered fries. Strike three. Another beer and an awkward goodbye hug later and I was on my way. He texted me to have dinner a week later and I offered up some excuse as to why I was busy. Meh. Next.
BUCKY, 26, MEDICAL SALES
This is technically an anonymous blog but my name is as important to this story as his. Hint: it rhymes with “GECKY”. Good, we’re on the same page now. Moving past the less than ideal name situation, this guy was attractive, intelligent, and a surfer. A rare combination that allowed me to overlook the unfortunate name. I also realized that I feel a lot less pressure going into dates with younger guys. It’s likely because I don’t expect anything serious to come out of it but I still pursue them for the potential of a hook up. There was a chance Bucky was going to get lucky. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
We met at Playa Provisions in the dimly lit whiskey bar and we covered all the first date topics including jobs, families, college, and hobbies. He seemed more mature than 26 and every so often he flashed a smile that triggered a feeling of some sort. More of a naked feeling than an emotional feeling, but a feeling nonetheless. That counts for something, right?
This was my first dating app date where I would have let the guy kiss me, but the moment was lost when the valet hovered for a tip and Bucky (ugh, that name) slowly backed away. We exchanged texts for a week but this would ultimately introduce me to what I now like to call “The Fizzle.” More on that later. Meh. Next.
BEN, 32, ???
Oh, Ben. I don’t know how you snuck through the impenetrable fortress that is my dating app screening process (education, job, intact hairline) but there you were, sitting across from me at a cash only dive bar on La Brea on a Wednesday evening, spewing facts about yourself as if I was hearing them for the first time. Which I was.
I learned that Ben worked at Magic Castle, the private club for magicians and magic enthusiasts. Afraid of what the answer might be I didn’t dare ask him what his specific role was at Magic Castle. Interpreting my long pause as an opportunity to explain himself further he went on to describe his musical aspirations and how this job was supplementing his true passion. I wanted him to stop talking but I didn’t have the ability to form words at this time. So he continued.
Ben gleefully told me about his dream of becoming a famous musician, as if I was his naively optimistic mother rooting for him from his small hometown in Indiana, showing off photos of him holding a guitar on Venice Beach trying hard not to try too hard. He informed me that he only picked up a guitar 6 months ago but his friend thought he was “like, such a natural” and encouraged him to pursue country music because “that’s where the money is.” He inferred because of my experience in the entertainment industry that I could “totally relate to a lifestyle of feast or famine.” Oh dear God.
Needless to say it was the best date of my life and I don’t understand why all these bitches be complaining that online dating is tough. But I did learn a valuable lesson: never EVER agree to meet someone for drinks again without knowing the basics. It’s not worth sacrificing a perfectly good evening of take-out Ralph’s sushi on the couch in sweatpants while watching Rachel Maddow and talking to myself about how much of a dick Trump is.
LUKE, 34, MUSICIAN FROM TEXAS
Luke is a bit of a wild card. We met years ago through work and I had developed an innocent crush on him but never thought to make a move. I was at the doctor’s office killing time waiting for my flu results when he popped into my Bumble queue. I panicked, texted a friend “What do I do?!” and swiped right after I was reassured that if he didn’t like me back then he’d never know which way I swiped. It was a match and after some Bumble messages we decided to take the relationship to the next level – texting – which we could have done all along because we already had each others’ numbers. I guess sometimes we just need it spelled out to gain the courage like a 2nd grade note in math class: Do you like me? Circle one: Y or N.
Luke was new to LA, meh, so I chose the place and the time. He grew up in Texas so he said things like ‘ma’am’ and ‘ya’ll’ and though there was a time I found it endearing, on a date it made me feel like a grandma at the rodeo. Then the food came. We ordered some sort of brisket and potatoes dish – his choice. From that moment on, all of his words fell on deaf ears because I couldn’t move past the way he shoveled the food into his mouth like the first pig at a trough for supper time.
At the end of the date I wasn’t really interested in a kiss, I have no idea why, but I smiled when he suggested we hang out again soon. We texted for a week or so but I couldn’t get the trough slop image out of my head. Why couldn’t he just eat like a normal human? Meh. Next.
JOHN, 28, ???
John and I didn’t actually go on a date but thanks to him, I reached an inevitable dating app milestone. We made small talk for a few days until he asked me out for a drink. I showed him off to friends because he was cute, and I already pre-approved his Instagram after doing some research (stalking). Then on a Saturday afternoon he casually texts:
After we grab a drink Thursday may I eat your pussy until you cum in my mouth?
Hmm, didn’t see it taking that turn. I laughed at lists on BuzzFeed and winced at the conversations on Tinder Nighmares, but here it was. My first real life experience with some immature prick who takes amusement out of harassing innocent seekers of love, or something like it. I find the actual remark less repugnant then the realization that these people are mixed in amongst those who might actually be taking this swiping thing seriously. And I’m reminded how difficult it is to determine a person’s character and intent when simply viewing five filtered, cropped photos that could easily be five years old. I responded like the dignified woman that I am:
This says a lot about how you were raised. I wonder what your mother would think? Also, go fuck yourself.
Quick to judge, they say? I don’t see it. I just see a woman who immediately recognizes what she doesn’t want in a dating partner. How do you know when to give it another shot after a meh date and when to move on? I try to look for signs of something worth more exploration but most of the time I can’t be bothered with a second date if the only word I can muster up to friends is ‘meh.’
*I’m using real names now because these guys will never read my blog, although they probably should.