Dispatch from Dating Central

Things seem to be picking up for me on the dating front again. I think there must be something to my best friend’s decree that there is a dating season in Ohio (that is, warm = people outside = dates).

Mitt and I still talk on the regular and see each other every now and then, but we both acknowledge that dating isn’t an option for us. He continues to go out on dates with women, I continue to try to go out on dates with men. I don’t know that Mitt and I would have worked long-term anyway… I’m more indoorsy and I love pop culture, whereas Mitt seems to dislike every bit of pop culture I share with him. He isn’t mean about it; he just doesn’t like things like Hamilton or Parks and Rec or Stranger Things. He’ll try it and then say he doesn’t like it. It’s gotten quite disheartening, so I’ve decided I’m just not going to share the pop culture I like anymore. It doesn’t really matter, although I do wish we liked something we could both geek out about. 

A slight tangent: I notice that this happens quite a bit with men and pop culture. I’ll share something I love, have it be disliked by the guy, and that’s it. Whereas I tend to be more open-minded, I guess. Case in point: Rush. Same Dude Different Day likes Rush and back when I was trying to be SDDD’s not-girlfriend-girlfriend, we talked about going to Vegas to see them. Now, do I have any interest in seeing Rush? No. Most of what I know about them comes from the movie I Love You Man. But I was open to going, willing to buy my own ticket, and I downloaded their greatest hits so that I could acquaint myself with their catalog. SDDD went on and on about how they’re the greatest and the drummer’s drum kit, etc. Much later, when the illusion of us being together had faded and I was angry with him, I told him I didn’t like Rush. You might expect him to be hurt, but he didn’t give a shit. Most women don’t like Rush (that’s a thing with the band – they have a lot of male fans). In fact, I don’t even like SDDD’s favorite song of all time – a song by Joan Baez. But I listened to it. I didn’t shit all over it. But if I ask a man to listen to a song I like, and I tell him I really like it, I get “I could only listen to 20 seconds of that before I had to turn it off.” In the case of TV, “are all the shows you suggested going to be like this?” Men’s media is media, whereas women’s media is women’s media. Same message replicated from childhood: Boys are kids and girls are girls. It’s just frustrating, that’s all. End tangent. 

As I mentioned, I am trying to date. My sent messages rarely result in a reply. Sometimes I get a “read.” I’m on three platforms — Match, OKCupid, Tinder. I could add Bumble and Hinge, but I can’t think of a compelling reason. 

That being said, yes, I have had some success as of late. 

First: Samson from Tinder

Samson and I hit it off fairly quickly and exchanged messages at a rapid pace. He was a tall, thin mixed race man who described himself as a “professional weirdo” and “unapologetic liberal.” We flirted and geeked out. He was quite enamored with hair; it turned him on and he mentioned how he wanted to play with my hair and how I should grow it out. He called me – yes, called me – and we spoke on the phone for an hour and a half. A good amount of that time was my saying “pardon” and “what” as I had a difficult time hearing him on speaker phone. 

I knew he lived with his parents. It is, I find, a quite common occurrence for men around here. They’re “saving up” for an apartment or they “don’t see the point” of getting a house on their own. I also knew he was looking for a job. Yes, he was unemployed. 

Those things I was sort of willing to work with. But, as I was at graduation and watching my students cross the stage, I asked him what his major was. That was when Samson informed me that he did not graduate from college. He said he was ashamed of it, but that he “arrogantly decided” at one time that he didn’t need a college degree. He had been out of school for a few years, knew that his college credit could expire, yet he wasn’t really feeling like looking into his options, nor did he want to go into debt. His credit score was very important to him, he said. 

Those three things together – living with parents, no job, no degree – were too many deal breakers. I considered the argument that I could be the catalyst for him to get his shit together… then I decided I didn’t want that role. I don’t want to play project manager to a man in his 30s. 

That being said, I had started to really like Samson. Banter – especially flirting banter – is a definite way to my heart and there was a lot between us. I cancelled our date. 

Second: George from OKCupid

George’s first message to me was about the podcast S-Town. He was amazed that my profile mentioned it and he wanted to talk about it. 

We messaged back-and-forth for about a week about some mundane things. I recommended he read Lies My Teacher Told Me and he actually started to read it. He also said he wanted to read my dissertation, which no one has actually wanted to do before. 

Eventually I asked him what he was on OKCupid for (I’ve learned to never assume that the person is looking for more than just pen pals). He said he was looking for dates and that he was interested in me. 

We set up a date and met on a Sunday morning at a Starbucks located halfway between us. We did some small talk for a bit, mostly consisting of some dating stories. He was very glad I showed up, as I was the first person he met in real life from the Internet. He admitted that he was very nervous. For my part, I was low key about it. I can’t say that I had nerves, but maybe I’m becoming more immune to nerves (granted, I might have had them had I met Samson). 

As George was a fan of board games, I brought a game with me for us to play: Forbidden Island. It is a cooperative game in which you work together to retrieve sculptures and then escape the island, all while the waters are rising. We played three or four rounds, I believe, then we talked more about our experiences with online dating. 

George is a nerdy white guy. He lives with roommates and works in downtown Cleveland. He has a degree. He described himself as a “failure to launch,” noting that his parents moved out of their house before he moved out (it was funny). But he seems to have his shit relatively together. 

Bringing the game was a good choice, as it allowed us to work together on something and not have to force small talk. Our date ended up lasting three hours. 

We exchanged phone numbers at the end, but we didn’t hug, which was fine. I’m open to seeing him again. 

Third: Topher from Match

Topher took a while to reply to my initial message, but he did. He lives in Western Pennsylvania with – you guessed it – his parents. He has a graduate degree and works long hours for the government. He enjoys podcasting a lot – I think he may record some himself. 

I suggested we meet for coffee and we have a date tentatively scheduled at a Panera for May 20. He is going to drive out to Youngstown to meet me. I can hardly believe that except that he doesn’t live in Cleveland or Pittsburgh, which means he apparently isn’t holier-than-thou about location. 

I still don’t know that much about Topher yet. He’s shy. He’s into geeky stuff. 

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So, that’s the latest.

Dating is what it is. I’m practicing ambivalence.