Monday, July 26, 2010

The Condom Bowl

This blog started as the result of a dating challenge that my friend threw down, The Arch Challenge. The task: seven dates, seven days in a row, seven different men. The reward: a glass bowl for the sake of holding condoms.

This challenge changed my feelings about dating altogether. It made me far more comfortable with dating, especially with first dates and blind dates, thereby making it easier for me to focus on the important aspects of the date. It enabled me to better assess each man and our chemistry, which in turn helped me figure out and fine tune what I'm looking for in a partner. Moreover, this challenge granted me a sense of humor about dating that I think everyone could do with a little more of. For people who can handle the intensity of seven straight nights of dating, I highly recommend this challenge.

There is one remaining Arch date that I never blogged about. It was the only one that was not arranged online; that is, I met him through mutual friends. He was also the only Arch date who wasn't a "first" date. I've been seeing him for the last several months, which is why my stories have petered out. I will be blogging about that date soon.

And now, I present to you la taza del condón.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Duck Penis Followup

In my last post about the evolution of Sperm, I mentioned female ducks evolving to have complicated oviducts to thwart insemination from male ducks who rape them. Here are videos and a picture of the complex duck penis accompanied by further explanation of how duck sex goes down: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2009/12/22/kinkiness-beyond-kinky/.

Hat tip to "Peebs" for sending me this.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Threat of Sperm

I recently listened to an episode of Radio Lab, an NPR radio program, about reproductive physiology and how it's evolved in various animal species. It's a fascinating one-hour episode that you can listen to here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2008/11/21. If you need convincing, here are some highlights/spoilers:
  • Performing DNA tests on bird eggs from the same nest revealed multiple paternity. As a result, further research into the monogamy of female species was done, and it was found that, in fact, the majority of animals are promiscuous.
  • Not only do male animals have to compete with each other in order to copulate with females, but their sperm within the females also needs to compete with other males' sperm within the females. Thus, many species have evolved in ways to better the chances that their sperm will be the winning sperm in inseminating the females.
  • The penis of a dragonfly is covered in backwards-pointing spires. It brushes and collects remnant sperm within the female during mating. Before ejaculating, the male will pull out, shake off all the other male sperm, then reinsert and ejaculate himself within the female.
  • Mating among ducks occurs as rape. So female ducks have evolved to have very complex vaginas. The longer the male penis in a species of duck, the more complex the female vagina. Their vaginas have off-ramps that lead to dead-ends meant to deflect the males from inseminating them. The main path that leads to the uterine tubes ends in a long, corkscrew-like spiral. Should the male make it through to this main path, the female can contract the spiral to keep the sperm out.
  • Human female bodies store sperm for up to a week until the woman ovulates and can make use of the sperm.
  • There are species in which the males have died out, and the women live on. This episode discusses what it would take for human females to dispense with human males.
Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Now for Some Good

Following my post on bad messages received on OkCupid, here are examples of good messages, many of which I responded to. Even when the message is good, though, there are plenty of issues that can arise within the men’s profiles. A great profile can counteract a weak message, but that weak message has to be inoffensive enough for me to click through to the profile.

And with that, here is a representative sample of good messages I received, followed by commentary. Note that most end with the person's actual name, which humanizes the online identity behind the message, and all but one reference something I indicate that I like in my profile. The more integrated or indirect the reference, the more successful the message.
subject: Sure.

You're right: the only way to talk is over a drink.

When you say "stinky cheese", are you only thinking of blues? When I was in Amsterdam a few months ago, it was ok that you can walk into a store and buy pot, but what I really liked was that you can walk into a store and buy raw milk Epoisses.

—Mike
This message grabbed me mainly because of the mention of Epoisses, which is my absolute favorite cheese. Furthermore, it’s an obscure cheese, and he is aware that the sale of raw milk cheeses is heavily restricted in the U.S. These facts tell me that he’s probably somewhat of a foodie, which is a good match for me. He also shows by example, rather than simply stating, that he’s a traveler. This guy turned out to be “The Bone.”
subject: Hello!

Not that I place any real faith in OkCupid's matching system, but finding someone on *any* list here who can carry on an interesting/intelligent conversation has (at least for me) been about as productive as trying to order my lunch by blindly hurling a watermelon at a menu board tacked to the side of a taco truck.
The image conjured of blindly hurling a watermelon at a menu board on a taco truck is too golden to pass up this message.
subject: So, for our fifth date ...

... would you like to join me for a hot chocolate at Bittersweet on Fillmore?

Travis
Short and sweet, and it plays on my love for chocolate, which I mention in my OkC profile. (In regards to the subject, my profile states that I hate first dates and that I’d like to pretend that our first date is actually our fifth date.) This gentleman turned out to be “Bitterbore.”
subject: drink me

Hi,

I moved up to the Mission and there are about a million bars within 5 blocks. Let's go grab a drink some time.

I'll even front you an embarrassing story: when I was 3 I spent all night tying hundreds of ropes all over the kitchen from one side to the other, so no one but little short people like me could weave through the spiderweb. Somehow I flooded the kitchen with two inches of water. My folks found me sitting triumphantly on top of the refrigerator.

-Steve
Horrible subject line. However, I like that he shares a story up front, which shows a willingness to be open and friendly, and the story is pretty adorable. (My profile also mentions that our "fifth" date should be rife with embarrassing stories.)
subject: 4sq [my name, redacted]

Haha no way, are you the same [my name, redacted] that I keep seeing as mayor of places on 4sq?! Off the top of my head I seem to recall places like Philz and Monks Kettle.

The internets, amazing :)

Matt
The internets truly are amazing! It shows some level of insight that he drew a connection between my OkCupid username, my OkC profile, and the places of which I’ve been the FourSquare mayor. All that’s lacking in this message is something actionable, e.g., a question about me or a date request.
subject: Let's insult each other.


PS - Do you respect wood?
The rest of this guy’s message, which I won't waste anyone's time with, is crap. At first glance, the Post Script might also seem crass. However, it is, in fact, a classic Larry David line, and as I mention in my OkC profile, I’m a huge LD fan. It brightened up my day so much just to recollect that episode and to specifically recall LD, in all his glory, asking this question that I overlooked the other crap in this message and clicked through to the guy's profile.

How the Other Half Lives

A lot of men complain that women don’t respond to their messages on OkCupid. I’m going to attempt to explain why that might be the case by showing a representative sample of the messages I received when I was active on the site.

It's important to note that, when I was most active on the site, I was getting an average of seven or more messages a day. (It's hard to be exact because I deleted a lot of messages at the time, so I'm erring on the lower end here.) This doesn't include Instant Messages, Winks, or when people "Favorited" me, which triggers a message. The sheer number of messages I was receiving pushed me to be arbitrarily picky. For example, while in real life, I would date men up to the age of 35, on OkC, my limit was 31 simply in order to pare down the number of men I was talking to. Often, as you'll see, the content of the messages made it easier to filter as well. I tried responding to at least one message every couple of days. During the Arch challenge, I was responding to two or three messages every day.

I’ll limit this post to examples of bad messages that I received, followed by commentary explaining how they went wrong. And remember, while some of these offenses might not seem grave, I was receiving so many messages that even minor issues had to count as dealbreakers as a filtering mechanism. It was a game of numbers. There's a follow-up post to this showing good messages I received.
subject: who killed Gumby

I know you must get a ton of replies so I will keep this brief. I read your profile and I would love to know you better. Please look over my profile and let me know what you think.

A little about me.... I am 40 and I live in San Jose. I am in an open poly marriage. She knows I am writing you. I am 5 ft 9 in, 165 lbs, green eyes, brown hair with some gray on the temples. I have a photo but the site would not let it upload for some reason. I am seeking a lover and friend. I am open to more since I am poly. Please tell me more about you. I am very interested.

JOHNNY
"Open poly marriage" was a bit of a shocker given that I didn't mention being open to it in my profile. It's good that he was up front about it, but the specific way in which he brings it up is creepy; specifically, "She knows I'm writing you," the refusal to show a photo, and "I am seeking a lover and friend. I am open to more because I am poly." WHAT MORE?
subject: HI
...
I am 40 years old but still feel like 30, well most of the time anyway. I like to think that it's because I have always been fit from cycling/racing for the past 25 years and I tend to eat healthy but do enjoy trips to IN&OUT Burger from time to time. If you think that I may be too intense or have a inflated ego because of being a top athlete think again. I have been told by friend and other cyclist some of whom I have coached that they like the way I don't make them feel like less of a rider on or off the bike. I don't have anything to prove, I am just a guy who has been lucky to have faster legs then most at the right time and have a few cool trophies to so for it.
...
This guy is outside the age preference I expressed by nearly a decade, but don't worry: his feelings-age is within bounds. This message proves that he has the very thing he says he doesn't: an "inflated ego." The entire message is about what an amazing "top athlete" he is. He says he doesn't make his friends and other cyclists feel like "less of a rider on or off the bike" ...because he is a better rider than them, on AND off the bike (what does he mean by riding off the bike??), and he's showing me how humble he is despite his (humbly self-asserted) greatness. Even if I could overlook bad spelling and grammar, given that his whole message is about comparing himself to others, it's a little disappointing that he messed up the word "than." He doesn't mention anything we have in common or why we'd be a good match which makes it seem like a form letter that he sends to all the women he's interested in. In the rest of the message, he doesn't ask me any questions and just says to message him back if I'm interested, as though nothing about me matters. Every last morsel of this is so bad, it leaves me wondering if this guy was trolling me.
subject: Hi There

You seem to be very articulate in expressing yourself.
“Cocky and Funny Comment on your profile”
When complimenting a woman on her personality or intellect, evidence should be supplied. Otherwise, it just sounds like a line, and it makes me think, "You don't even know me!" This could have gone over much better if he had said something like, "I love the way you describe first dates in your profile; very articulate and spot on." Also, I can't tell if he's trying to be clever and funny with this, "Cocky and Funny Comment on your profile" part of his message, or if this is a form letter and he forgot to fill in the part where he's supposed to make a cocky albeit funny observation about my profile. Fail.
subject: hey gurl wanna bone

i luv u porfile so holla at me
This kind of message is very common. I'm neither interested in hooking up with random men from the internet, nor is it at all a turn on to be hit on so crudely. Also, the horrific spelling/grammar/English situation is a dealbreaker on its own.
subject: yes yes

It can be like that. I liked your profile but didn't know what to say right off. I still don't. It can be like that. But I do like stinky cheese -- some of it anyway. I once had this cheese, well, I suppose I can't remember the name due to PTSD. I hope forgetting the name doesn't mean that I'm destined to eat it again unawares. But strong flavors suit me just right.

m
This guy sounds insecure. He shouldn't be telling me that he doesn't know what to say to me; or perhaps he should tell me why he doesn't know what to say so that I don't immediately jump to the conclusion that he's insecure or intimidated. This comedy act about the cheese is bad on several levels. One, I don't find him funny. Two, his humor was a bait and switch on how we relate. 'We relate on this one thing! Just kidding...we don't.' That seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how to relate to someone, how to initiate a relationship. If he didn't relate to anything in my profile but still liked it and wanted to chat, he should have expressed why he was drawn in and then shared a little about himself rather than fabricating a connection to the stinky cheese. Three, the cheese story further makes him come off as insecure and weak. He's indirect which makes me wonder if he's confident enough to be direct. He highlights being a little bit forgetful and fretful; even if it is a joke, he's unnecessarily painting a first impression with a flawed brush. At the end, he expands his talk of "stinky cheese" to all "strong" flavors. Since he showed that he doesn't like stinky cheese, is he extending this to say he doesn't like any strong flavors? Is he really alluding to not liking strong personalities? Does he not like strong things because he has a weak constitution? Signing the message "m" also wins him no points. Am I supposed to call him, "m?" He should have either signed the message with his real, full name to humanize himself, or left off a signature altogether. Upon reflection, I wonder if "m" gleaned from my profile that I have a strong personality and messaged me just to let me know that I would give him PTSD.
subject: hi

I am mansour man 37 from Egypt I saw your photo on okcupid and I like you can we talk and chat I am online now my e-mail is

[redacted]@yahoo.com

send your e-mail to chat with you please
His grammar is wretched, which is a turn-off for me, though his revelation that he's Egyptian could mean that his proficiency in writing English isn't great. That said, it's easy enough to use an online translator to work around this. Also, revealing his email address right away appears reckless and desperate and escalates the "relationship" far too quickly. Asking for my email address right away shows he isn't thoughtful about my privacy and boundaries.
subject: this american life

Yes, This American Life is pretty awesome!
Yes, This American Life is, indeed, awesome. You know what else is awesome? Examples. Actionable messages. Complexity. He should have mentioned a story he particularly likes from the podcast. He should have also made an actionable comment in his message such as, "Would you like to go out for a drink sometime?" Or, "How did you first get into This American Life?"

Next up, some of the best messages I've received on OkCupid.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The 4 Shot Plan

I haven't posted in a while, so I thought I'd return on a positive note for the men folk with an oldie but goodie.

A couple years ago, one of my closest friends introduced me to one of his closest childhood friends through Facebook, "Big Brown." It wasn't meant to be a setup, especially since he lived kind of far away from me; we just had a lot of obvious similarities. We ended up becoming great friends over IM, so when I was planning a trip near his home base, we decided to meet up for drinks and dinner. We clearly had a lot of chemistry, so this was shaping up to be a date, which made me slip into nervous mode.

Big Brown knew of my aversion to dates at the time, and so he came up with the brilliant "4S Plan." He arrived at the bar before me and ordered four shots of tequila. When I showed up, we didn't say a single word to each other. We each downed one shot, then a second shot, waited thirty seconds, and only then did he say, "Hi, I'm Big Brown."

To be clear, I'm a petite, 5'2" lightweight who was happily buzzed after two shots. As one can glean from his handle, he probably didn't feel the shots much at all. I didn't mind, though. A toasty me is a comfortable me, and we got along swimmingly.

The rest of the date isn't much of a story, but it's worth noting all of the amazing things he did that made it one of the best dates I've had:
  • We left my car at the bar, and he drove us to dinner, which was on the other side of a rather large town. We had hung out at the bar long enough to sober up quite a bit, so it wasn't just out of practicality that he drove. It was gentlemanly, and he was willing to drive far out of his way back to this bar whenever the evening was over.
  • He knew I loved sushi and Japanese food, so he did his research ahead of time and took me to a Japanese restaurant with the perfect first date ambiance and excellent quality food.
  • Observing my enthusiasm for this type of food and my eagerness to order specific things, he let me order our entire meal for both of us.
  • He stepped out of his comfort zone to taste a few of the food items I ordered, overcoming personal preference in order to explore with me. However, when he still didn't like those items, he was honest about it, which made for a good laugh. He showed that he was adventurous but didn't compromise himself.
  • In the middle of the meal, while I was in the restroom, he gave his credit card to the waitress and instructed her to charge it whenever we asked for the bill. This was genius for several reasons. 1) He eliminated the awkward, "Who pays?" moment at the end. 2) It exemplified security and masculinity. 3) It showed extreme generosity. He didn't know how much the bill would total at the end of the night. I was the one who ordered the food, so he wasn't even in control over the cost. He clearly wanted to treat me, and it made me feel special. It made me feel like I was worth the trouble of a man sneaking his credit card to a waitress because he wanted me to be happy. 4) It showed me that he was enjoying his time with me.
Big Brown and I didn't end up working out as a couple, but we became great friends. This is a clear example that women can and should have standards.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Han Solo

Once I completed the Arch challenge, it was pretty clear to me that I should start enforcing standards. People are always telling me that I'm single because I'm too picky. For those people, this blog is proof that I'm decidedly open-minded in terms of whom I'll grant a first date, and that having standards is categorically different from being picky. Decidedly and categorically. I'm simply not going to have meaningful conversations with someone who has fundamentally different interests. The Hungarian would not have been interested in hearing about the Radio Lab episode on inter-species emoting.

When I recovered enough from the Arch challenge to venture out for another OKCupid first date, I decided to go for someone radically different. Sick of all the impotent types I found myself on dates with, I thought it'd be fun to go on a date with an asshole; an honest-to-goodness asshole who put statements in his profile like, "You should message me if... You probably went/go to a good school. You're literate... you prefer modern art/architecture (Bauhaus = yes, Raphaelesque cherubim = not so much)...You should have your shit together most of the time..." At the very least, I was sure to get a good story out of it. To be clear on just how much of an asshole I expected this guy to be, here are other choice snippets from his profile:

"...sometimes I just sit back and go with the flow (and heckle the idiots who are in charge, when necessary)."

"...I read a lot, a few books a week. Too much to list here... any well-written textbook on any subject... Academic journals..."

"...Do you like picnics with Brillat Savarin and jamon? Foie gras burgers..."

His job category was listed as "Executive/Management." Clearly, I was dealing with a bona fide, egotistical Han Solo.

Outfitted in jeans and a nice top, the SF norm, I made my way to a popular cocktail bar to meet Han "grey pants/jacket + blue shirt" Solo. He was more goofball than asshole, making many quirky faces and kooky gestures perhaps belying nervousness or discomfort. The closest he came to being an asshole was being too conversationally clueless to make me feel listened to. He didn't ask followup questions when he clearly should have. For example, when I told him I'd been spending all of my time reading and writing lately, Han "I read a lot, too much to list here" Solo didn't ask me what I'd been reading or writing.

The more I learned about Han Solo, the more it became obvious that he entirely misrepresented himself in his profile, sometimes ambiguously, other times outright. He states in his profile, under the section asking what he does on a typical Friday night, "I hate being a couch potato, so I do go out quite a bit, even just for casual dinner. Or sometimes I do go find some all-night party in a warehouse/forest and stagger home at sunrise... And that goes for all the other nights of the week as well. Either way, I don't sleep very much." When I asked how often he goes out, he responded, "Once or twice a week." He genuinely felt that this counted as "quite a bit." The closest Han "stagger home at sunrise" Solo came to an all-night rager in the past week was having dinner with his brother.

He displayed more conversational incompetence by creepily demonstrating a depth of knowledge about my identity that I never revealed to him. He admitted to Google stalking me, which would have been fine if he either hadn't mentioned it or if he had used the information as an ice breaker. However, throughout the date, Han "this is why you're" Solo would lean in, make a creepy face reminiscent of the witch offering Snow White a poison apple, and in a lowered voice, state some fact about me like, "You won a Hitachi Scholarship in high school."

Han Solo was so quick to pay the bill, that my offer to pay my share came awkwardly after the fact, and I was unable to insist in order to send him the signal that I wasn't interested. However, I give him huge props for taking care of the bill without second thought and for not making a big deal out of it.

Later that evening, in order to "level the playing field," Han Solo texted me with the URL to his website. The title of the website was, "The Lair of the Motherbrain." It was a "click to enter" style site, and the object one was supposed to click to enter was a throbbing brain. This was the first and last throbbing organ of Han Solo's I would ever choose to see.

Post-mortem for the boys:
  • Ask girls questions about themselves. Almost everyone loves to talk about themselves. Almost everyone loves it when other people show interest in them by asking them questions.
  • Show that you're listening and paying attention. One way of doing this is to try to make a reference or two to something meaningful that a girl said earlier on in the conversation.
  • When you hit the age of, say, 22, and you're serious about finding a girlfriend outside of a Star Wars convention, scrub your websites of nerdy, gamer, Star Trek/Wars/etc. language.
  • If you're doing online dating, make sure you're representing yourself honestly in your profile. Get a few of your friends together. Show them several other men's profiles side by side with your own. Don't tell them which one is yours, and see if they can pick it out.
  • It's not unusual for you to stalk the person you're about to go out on a date with. However, if you're going to do it, there are some rules.
  1. Consider stopping yourself short and not diving in too deep. The more you know, the harder it'll be for you to hide that you've stalked her.
  2. If you fess up to stalking her, be casual about it, and play down the extent to which you stalked her. "Oh, I just searched for you on facebook" is a great one. Admitting that you Googled the person is tougher because often, you'd need to figure out more facts about her before the Google results become meaningful.
  3. Only bring up one or two things you learned about her from the stalking. Any more than that, and you will appear creepy.
  4. If you bring up a thing or two that you learned while stalking her, make it conversational. "Hey, so facebook said you grew up in Southern California. Are you from LA? What was that like?" Just because you feel awkward about it doesn't mean that you should bring it up in an awkward fashion. And for that matter, if you feel so awkward about it, then it's probably a sign that you shouldn't bring it up at all.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mister Homeless

Nobody would classify this story as a date. However, it did take place on a Friday night, and there was a very real and scary threat of a kiss.

A couple years ago, I had a long drive ahead of me and decided to stop in at work for a snack. It was around 11pm on a Friday night. The company I worked for took security very seriously, so I left all of my belongings in my car in a gated, underground garage. I ran upstairs, grabbed some nonfat cottage cheese and mixed in some honey. As expected, the office was deserted this late on a Friday. When I headed towards the stairs to leave, I was obliviously loving life, mind in the clouds, like the woman in the famous "Psycho" shower scene before Norman Bates rips back the shower curtain. A gruff voice behind me said, "Do you cook?" I whipped around to see a frightening homeless man approaching me.

The man was African-American with thick, nappy dreadlocks. His two eyes were different sizes, and both were severely bloodshot with a yellow tinge. His blotchy skin was reminiscent of mold.

Every time I retell this story, this is the part at which I curse myself for still not owning a Taser gun. At the time, I cursed myself for leaving my phone in the car. Unlike the woman in "Psycho," no sound escaped my throat. My initial thought was that, at least all of the hidden security cameras would catch exactly how I was murdered. My next thought was to stay calm, be friendly, and slowly inch my way out of this situation. Because I didn't respond to Mr. Homeless, he repeated his question, louder, "Do you cook?"

I stammered, "I'm sorry, what? Do I cook?"

"Do you cook?"

"Oh, no, I don't cook."

As though he didn't hear me, he pressed on, "What do you cook?" At this point I realized that he was clearly drunk or stoned or both. I thought that he must have sneaked into the building during our TGIF celebrations earlier, boozed up on my company's alcohol, and then kept well hidden.

"I really don't cook. At all. Sorry." During this time, he was slowly advancing towards me, and I was slowly walking backwards towards the stairs. I didn't think I could outrun him, and I wasn't going to risk it.

He kept asking if I cooked and what I cooked, and I kept steady with my answers. Eventually, the line of questioning changed to my favorite food. "Chocolate" wasn't passing muster with him. He insisted that I must love something ethnic from my motherland. I acquiesced to all of his questions like this in the hopes of keeping him mollified. My goal was to keep him calm, and beyond that, I didn't really have a plan.

My work badge with my name on it hung around my neck and fell over my breasts. He started looking at my breast area and asked me my name, at which point I immediately removed my badge and held it out to the side for him to look at. His eyes followed my badge, then he looked at me, gave a guilty giggle and continued to stare at my breasts. To deter him from spending more time doing this, I asked him his name. Mr. Homeless brushed aside his hair and showed me that he, too, had an employee badge pinned to his collar. I couldn't believe that he was an employee at this company, but I was also dying to see his name so that, should I get out of this situation alive, I could get a restraining order, or at least look him up to avoid him effectively. His last name turned out to be a synonym for the word, "Disgusting." Honestly, I cannot make this shit up. I just can't.

His last name caught me unawares such that he was able to take a few quick steps right up to me, put his fingers against my crown of frizzy hair, and say, "Girl, you got some Black in you!"

"Nope, like I said, I'm just Persian."

"Well I could put some in you."

Up until then, I'd tried a few times to say that I needed to leave, but was unable to successfully extract myself from the conversation in those instances. At this comment, I found the strength I needed to truly make my need to leave urgent, and he relented.

But not before pouncing on me with a hug. I seized up like someone getting devirginized in a prison shower. I held my breath and closed my eyes, broke free, and got the fuck out of there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Return of The Bone

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging my Arch dates consecutively. I've skipped dates #2 and #4. They were both good, solid dates, and therefore, far less entertaining. I'll focus this post on Arch date #2.

There were a few pleasant moments that made me accept a second date with the second date, whom I'll dub "The Bone," though as a whole, our first date was unremarkable. We had drinks, and he paid when it counted. For our second date, we escalated to dinner. Much like the first date, it was pleasant, a little more comfortable, a little less awkward, but still, unremarkable. The Bone paid for a first round of cocktails which was roughly $20, and we split the dinner bill, which I was fine with since it was a more expensive meal ($200 total bill). That said, given that he made aggressive advances towards me after dinner, I'm surprised that he didn't insist on paying. Don't men have some kind of mantra about picking up the tab if they want to get laid? Regardless, no laying was going to be had. I was fine with ending the date after dinner and would have considered a third date with The Bone. However, he insisted upon going somewhere else for drinks, which I declined multiple times, and then he brought up the fact that I lived nearby. He made some comments to try to seduce me that even I'm embarrassed to repeat. Somewhere in there, The Bone earned his nickname, which was my tangible "cue" to hop in that approaching cab and say goodbye to a third date.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not Worth the Calories

The seventh and final Arch challenge date was another OKCupid find and took place on a Saturday afternoon at a cafe specializing in hot chocolate. Bitterbore was very attractive but surprisingly slow-speaking and mellow. After discussing what we were going to get, I said to the barista, "We're both going to get the salted caramel hot chocolate."

Bitterbore leaned over the counter towards the barista, stuck his arm out and said, "Separate." The barista rung us up separately, $4 each. Had I been Larry David, I would have leaned in with same gesture and said, "Together." From now on, whenever a guy does not pay for me on the first date, I'm going to make it a goal of mine to channel Larry David.

Bitterbore turned out to be unemployed. This isn't necessarily bad; it's simply noteworthy and important for me to understand the circumstances around it. Because he didn't pay for my $4 drink, I wondered whether it was because he couldn't afford it due to his situation.

Bitterbore's slow speaking style became painfully boring pretty quickly. He also didn't listen well. For example, he talked about the company archive.org, so I asked, "Did you meet Brewster? He's an interesting guy." Bitterbore said he hadn't met Brewster, the co-founder, but then he proceeded to explain to me what the company's product, the Wayback Machine, does. Obviously, if I know the co-founder, then I likely know what his company does.

Eventually Bitterbore realized that I have a computer science background, which he took as an invitation to tell me, in excruciating technical detail, about a side project he's working on, which lasted almost ten minutes. During this sob story--for I was bored to tears--he found out that I had coded in Scheme in the past. At that moment, the intense look he gave me was what I would call an "eye boner." He was falling for me hard, and I could see it, creepily, in his eyes.

Later in the date, he found out that I had worked for Google in the past, and this sealed the deal for him. He looked at me like I might just be The One. He asked if I was busy for the rest of the day, and when I said I absolutely was, he responded, "We should definitely hang out again. Soon."

When I got home, he had already gone on OKCupid and 1) favorited my profile 2) gave me an over the top OKCupid award 3) sent me an email asking me out and, when I accepted the award he gave me, 4) sent me another message about the award he gave me.

The award: "The Perfect Mix: [My username, redacted] is veritably attractive on all levels. Cute with gorgeous eyes, direct, curious, intelligent, comfortable, and with a great deal of depth to explore. I do hope I can find out more soon."

The email asking me to a second date: "I really enjoyed getting to know you a bit on Saturday, and I wondered if you'd like to see a movie Wednesday or Thursday..." He suggested a couple movies, and then said, "And by the way, you have gorgeous eyes. I meant to say that earlier, but maybe I was too hypnotized by them at the time."

I kindly turned him down thanking him for his compliments but saying that I "just didn't feel the connection," to which he responded, "Neither did I." Then he still tried convincing me to go out with him. I can't make this shit up.

Post-mortem for the boys:
  • Do not go into excruciating technical detail about things one must have specialized knowledge about in order to understand. This applies to at least the first three dates.
  • Is $4 the price of your balls? Pay the fucking bill on the first few dates. It becomes clearer to me after every guy I talk to that I should have a special post on this topic alone.
  • Don't put yourself in a position where the girl with whom you're on a date is wondering whether you can afford things like a $4 hot chocolate. This line of thinking is akin to questioning your manhood, e.g., "Would I have to support his ass down the line?"
  • If you can't afford to pay the bill somewhere, then don't choose to have the date there. There are plenty of date options that cost no money, like taking a hike or going to a park.
  • You may be wondering how I feel about all the flattery regarding my looks. Often, this early on into meeting someone, it disgusts me, and I know many women who feel the same (also see http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/09/14/online-dating-advice-exactly-what-to-say-in-a-first-message/). However, in this particular case, I found it to be flattering, albeit way over the top. Tread lightly where physical compliments are concerned in the first few dates.
  • Don't act defensively if a girl turns you down. If you're done with her, then simply move on and don't reply. If you want to try harder to get the second date with her, there are better strategies, none of which involve making yourself look scorned and insecure, which is what he did by saying, "Neither did I."

Friday, March 5, 2010

SF: hard for the single ladies

Girl Game
A world-famous pickup artist tried to teach single women to attract decent guys in S.F. It was harder than he thought.
http://www.sfweekly.com/content/printVersion/1885368

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Ninja

I had tickets to a Mariah Carey concert on a Friday night. This fell on Arch date #6. I was planning to fulfill the date by having a quick drink with someone before the concert, but then my concert buddy had to bail, leaving me with a spare ticket. I thought it would be fun to find someone adventurous on OKCupid whom I felt comfortable taking with me. I knew most men wouldn't like Mariah Carey. I figured I'd pose it as a surprise concert where we'd get drunk and have a good time regardless of who was playing. So it was that I found the Ninja.

The Ninja was 25, decent looking, and had a clear love for exploring the new and different, which I could tell based on his profile and photos. He was the first person whom I proactively messaged. Our OKCupid messaging went smoothly so we started IMing and texting each other. He had a decent amount of dating experience and had in the past gone on several OKCupid dates. He worked in a similar field to me, and he acted like the kind of guy who would fit in with my friends. He had a sense of humor, on the goofy side. This upcoming date was looking up.

The plan was for him to show up to my apartment, have a few drinks there, then take BART to the concert. At one point, still in the dark on which artist we were seeing, he texted me, "Here's to not Mariah carrey[sic]."

On Friday night, he showed up to my apartment on time, looking like his photos, a decent looking guy, tall. However, the pictures would have been more accurate if he was slightly blurred because this guy was quaking in his boots from minute zero all the way to the crash and burn ending. He was nervous as all hell and had no idea how to hide it. This was my seventh date in eight days; I abandoned anything resembling nerves by date two. He giggled nervously, stumbled over his words, could barely get complete sentences out of his mouth. Every single time he tried to tell a story, he lost his train of thought and prematurely ended the telling by saying, "Nevermind, this story doesn't really have a point." He hunched, fidgeted, and didn't drink a drop of his beer. When I pointed out the fullness of his beer glass to him, he said, "Actually, I don't really like beer. It makes me sleepy." I had offered him the choice of two nice beers, and he chose this one, the Bruery's Saison Rue, which is a "Belgian/French-style farmhouse ale." Never did he mention a distaste for beer.

I asked him if I could get him something else to drink, but I only had wine and gin. He said that he really only drank shots of vodka and tequila, but that he would drink the beer I poured him for the sake of the adventure. Then he chugged my fancy beer.

He suggested we get some coffee on the way to the concert. There's a great coffeehouse near my apartment, Four Barrel Coffee, so we stopped by there. I ordered a latte, and he ordered an espresso. This somewhat made up for the chugging as it takes a coffee connoisseur to appreciate espresso enough to sip it. He threw back the espresso like an actual shot, though, while I sipped my latte. I had been trying to withhold final judgment on him until after seeing how he coped with Mariah Carey, but I could not turn a blind eye to this. I am a sipper, not a chugger, and I cannot envision myself on dates at my favorite haunts -- Philz Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Rye, Bourbon & Branch, Monk's Kettle -- with a chugger.

He exhibited a strange behavior whenever we walked anywhere. This may have been borne of nerves; I'm still not sure. He pretended to be a ninja, occasionally crouching low while walking, karate chopping the air, doing things of this nature. I couldn't wait to get to the concert and to its promise of alcohol in order to chug my way out of the reality of this date.

He was a trooper about the concert. He was determined to make it a fun night for me, refused to let me pay for anything until he ran out of cash, and gave me my space to enjoy the three songs I loved during the concert, which were, incidentally, Always Be My Baby, My All, and Heartbreaker. When Mariah started singing Heartbreaker, I told him that in high school, my best friend and I thought it would have been so cool to be the Heartbreaker. The proper reaction to this would have been, "Why?" A judgmental comment about how I must have been a sadistic, vengeful person would have been acceptable, too. He either didn't hear me or was simply trying too hard to impress me. Everything I said just made him smile fervently and nod eagerly with no response or dialogue. It's one thing to feign some enjoyment for the benefit of your date, as he should have done with the beer I had given him in my apartment; it's an entirely different, and rather annoying, thing to be an ass kissing puppy dog. I'm a cat person.

We walked around the venue a few times during the concert. I kept my hands in my pockets with my elbows locked firmly to my sides the whole time. He kept trying to put his arms around my shoulders and my waist, from which I'd wriggle away, and he kept pounding his fist into mine through my coat. The slicker his moves got, the more I avoided eye contact. At this point in the date, every time I did sneak a peak at his face, I felt a little pang of regret that my concert buddy couldn't make it or that I couldn't be there with "Shakira," a previous date who knew what it was to be a fun person.

Two margaritas and a shot of tequila -- which made me veritably drunk -- couldn't hide some of the shortcomings yet to come on this date. On the crowded post-concert BART platform, waiting for a train, he escalated his aggressiveness and somehow mauled me into a hug. My hands were still planted deep within my coat pockets, now held there by his embrace, so I couldn't push him away. I started twisting left and right to escape this most unwelcome advance, not just avoiding eye contact but fully ducking my head, facing downwards. It was no matter. Nothing could shake the Ninja. He was on a mission to kiss me, and I was threatened. When I sensed his face far closer than it ever should have been to mine, I yelled, "No! You can't kiss me on the first date!" Did I say "yelled?" I meant screamed. Only then did he let me go.

When we got back to my apartment, he kept trying to prolong the date, asking me if I wanted to stop into some of the bars we walked by, then pretending to be too drunk to drive home, then finally asking if he could come upstairs to use the bathroom. I let him use the bathroom, but he took around seven minutes in there. The toilet seat was up, and it didn't smell, so I couldn't help but wonder if he had been snooping. Regardless, when he walked out of the bathroom, I held my door open for him to leave. As he left, he asked me to a second date that upcoming week. I told him I had to check my calendar, to which he sneered, "You use a calendar? Seriously?"

Post-mortem for the boys:
  • Be genuine. No matter how badly you're into the girl, you shouldn't compromise your tastes and interests to be agreeable. You're allowed to like different things. Being too agreeable is off-putting.
  • In the case of the beer, if he disliked the beer so much that he didn't want to drink it, he should've been up front about that before I opened it. We could easily have made other drink arrangements. Once he chose the beer for me to pour for him, he should have just sucked it up and drank it. He didn't have to pretend to love it. The beer was in a nice bottle, and therefore, was clearly something I put some thought into choosing. Sipping a beer is rather trivial and would've been far less rude than to leave a full glass behind, and certainly less rude than treating it like it was a shitty drink and chugging it.
  • You are civilized human beings, not baboons brandishing limbs as wannabe ninjas and chugging every drink put in front of you like it might be taken away from you at any moment.
  • If a girl is avoiding eye contact on the first date, it's probably not wise to try and kiss her. Wait till the second, or sometimes third date.
  • If a girl is avoiding physical contact on the first date, it's probably not wise to try to force it. Wait till the second, or sometimes third date.
  • Not always, but as a general rule, don't ask a girl to the next date while still on the date. It has potential to read too eager. It also doesn't respect the girl's space to reflect upon the date and to decide whether she wants to go on another date. Thus, it encourages the girl to lie.
  • Don't judge how your date organizes her life on the first date. Yes, I seriously use a calendar. Dumbass.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Hungarian

Date #5 in the Arch challenge fell on my birthday. Since I had birthday dinner plans, I needed to find someone who was willing to go out a little later in the evening on a weeknight. So for this date, I cast a wider net and decided to arrange a date based mostly on how interested the guy seemed in me. I would not have otherwise gone on a date with a guy who said in his profile, "I'm not a reader." However, this whole challenge was meant to be a learning experience, and I needed a late night date. The Hungarian may not like to read, but he did like roasting pig fat over a fire, apparently the equivalent of roasting marshmallows among his people. Pig fat was just the silver lining I was looking for.

I had the Hungarian meet me at my favorite beer bar with the high end beer on tap. He was a day laborer who told me exactly what his hourly wage was. To him, this was a mark of pride. I found this behavior to be off-putting. He was interested in, albeit overwhelmed by the beer selection, and mentioned several times that he was only used to drinking "white trash beer." He made sure to make this comment to the bartender as well when asking him for help selecting a beer.

It became clear to me very quickly that the Hungarian was a good person, a hard worker who cared a lot about his family and watched out for the people in his life. I had nothing but respect for this. He was a pure-hearted guy who meant well. He very much embraced his role as a man in life, and to that end, he very adamantly paid for all of our drinks that night. However, the difference in our levels of education a barrier for me. When I talked about how many of the Hispanics in my childhood neighborhood did not attend school, I was about to postulate whether this was attributable to the prevalent underage labor in the Hispanic community due to poverty. Before I could, the Hungarian put his fingers to his mouth, sucked in air quickly, making the gesture of taking a hit, and said, "Because they were all off smoking pot." And then he laughed very hard.

In the end, a kiss was threatened and dodged. Aside from that, the date was pretty much a complete waste of my time, mingled with minor heartbreak. Our bartender that night was someone I'd never seen before, and he was quite charming and attractive. Whenever I ordered or spoke to him about the beer, the connection was immediately apparent, flirting was abundant, and in those few moments, I desperately wished that I had been alone so that I could focus my efforts on him. Alas, I still had two more dates to focus on.

Monday, March 1, 2010

1/7th of a glass condom bowl

The Captain was a professional roleplaying educator of children. He met me at a favorite bar of mine that serves high end beers on tap. One beer on tap that evening was a Kwak, which is served in a round-bottomed glass with a wooden stand. I ordered one of these, and the Captain asked for one of the same. I protested, being opposed to the idea of us both getting the same drink. With so many interesting beers on tap, I would have preferred to get different beers among the two of us and shared. However, he stuck by his decision. "No, I think I'll still get that." He didn't know anything about the beer, what it was, what it tasted like, but he knew he wanted it, apparently. One minute into the date, he was already a touch rude.

I have a super power, and in the moment, I decided to tell the Captain about it. Most people have at least one thing, be it a skill or talent or penchant or what have you, that they excel at uncommonly above and beyond the rest. I have a way with gay men. Most gay men I meet are drawn to me and I to them. We instantly form a bond in a way that usual friendships take over a year to develop. I also told the Captain that if I could change anything about myself, it would be to extend this power to all segments of the population. After taking a moment to think of what he would change about himself, he said, "I wish I had the ability to get better-paying jobs."

I met the Captain through OKCupid. He knew I had just joined a week previously and asked me how many dates I'd been on since I'd joined. The Captain was my fourth OKCupid date and my third consecutive Arch challenge date. Rather than awkwardly tell him I'd been on a date pretty much every day since I joined the online dating service, I decided to tell him about the Arch challenge. I wouldn't have ordinarily told him about the challenge, but given its relevance to his question and how cool I think the challenge and reward are, I decided to fill him in.

This was just the right story to unlock the Captain's insecurities. He was incredibly offended and acted like I had just said, "You are worth 1/7th of a glass condom bowl to me." After digesting my story, he said to me, "A word of advice, don't tell that story on your future dates." How many dates had the Captain been on, total, in over the past year? Four.

After he thought it prudent to give me dating advice, the date deteriorated pretty quickly. It was clear to me that we were not a good match, so I started suggesting to him other ways to meet women. He did not take so kindly to this as well. I realized the Captain had only drank half of his beer this far into the date, and it turned out he did not like it at all. This was a strike against him as well, I must say, since Kwak is a very tasty Belgian brew.

And then the Captain looked at the bill.

The Kwak was $15 per glass. The Captain threw a tantrum. "What? This beer was $15?! Jesus! Beer should not cost this much. If I had known..." I put down cash for my beer and headed for the door.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Punk Rock Punch

This is the story of EVG's worst first date.

EVG sets out to meet an OKCupid girl at a bar. He arrives surprised to see that she has brought an army of friends with her. His surprise is not only due to the lack of intimacy, but more so at the physical appearance of his new friends. The girl and all of her friends are dressed like extreme gothic rockers. Mohawks, black lipstick, ripped clothing, pins and piercings are the fashion among this crew. This sense of style is not apparent from the girl's online dating profile.

Shock notwithstanding, the date ensues. After a while, the girl and her friends depart to the bathroom leaving EVG at the table. They return some ten to fifteen minutes later looking wired, rubbing their noses, ecstatic to move on to another party. The girl asks EVG if he wants to go to a punk rock concert with them, but moreover, if he can handle going to a punk rock concert.

He hesitates, wondering what he's getting himself into with a group of punk rock cokeheads. "Yeah, I think so?"

She punches him hard in the gut. Recall that the "E" in EVG stands for "effeminate." His delicate constitution does not react well to the sucker punch. She yells in his face, "Are you sure? Can you really handle it? Because this is what it's like!" Cue another punch to the gut. "Well? Are you?" And for good measure, she throws in a third.

EVG backs away and says, "OK, I get it! Please! Stop hitting me." They end up moving on to one of their apartments instead. At this point, he knows the date is a throwaway, but why not see it through to its crazy end? He follows them to the apartment. The rockers disappear into a bedroom while he waits for them in the living room. Once more, they return decidedly more upbeat. They all start undressing.

When two of them start having sex on the floor in front of him, he decides that the crazy end has been reached. He rushes out of the apartment, only to be followed by his date who is now barefoot and half-naked, running after him, screaming, "Come back! We started off on the wrong foot!" He manages to catch a bus and escapes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Effeminate Vampire Guy

My first date in my Arch seven was at a pub in the Haight with some nice beers on tap. I met the guy, EVG, through OKCupid. He seemed to have a sense of humor about him because he admitted in his profile, "I have been known to wear girl jeans on occasion. (I have skinny legs, its totally justified!)" This was cause for some concern, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. "It's just a date, and I have a challenge to complete," I thought. The only other thing I knew about him was that he was, at the time, a law student.

We were just supposed to get drinks, but when I met him, he had gotten seated at a food table. Shortly into our conversation, a waitress came by to take our order. It turned out he didn't want food, so the waitress reprimanded us -- rightly so -- for taking up a table when there was plenty of room at the bar. Nevertheless, we continued the date at the table.

I knew within the first 10 minutes that I wasn't interested in him based on his appearance and on the way he talked. He had an effeminate aura about him, pale skin, delicate hands and constitution, a high pitched voice. He also had minor gaps between his teeth that emphasized the sharpness of his teeth. He was willing to jump right into good, meaty, embarrassing stories, so the conversation was enjoyable. He shared with me one of the best first date horror stories I'd ever heard. I reciprocated with the Pizza Guy story. We had chatted for about two hours when I ended the conversation and asked for the bill.

The bill did not have his beer on it, which I pointed out to him. I pulled out my wallet, held it in my hands for a few seconds, then pulled out my credit card, held that in my hands for a few seconds, then put it down on the bill. He put his credit card away. When the waiter came by to take my credit card with the bill, EVG said to the waiter, "Hey, my beer isn't on there." The waiter said he'd take care of it and promptly returned with a credit card slip for me to sign, which now included the cost of EVG's beer. Total cost: $15.13.

Obviously, when he had told the waiter that his beer wasn't on my bill, the waiter was going to charge me for his bill. But what makes this situation even worse is that he genuinely believed that the waiter would bring out a separate bill for him with just his beer on it. When he realized that I was charged for his beer, he freaked out, apologized profusely, and he said to me, "I don't want to be the Pizza Guy! I wish I could pay you for it, but I don't have any cash." If only I owned a Square (https://squareup.com/), I would have charged his credit card for the reimbursement right there.

When we left the pub, I quickly hugged him goodbye to avoid any kiss attempt, and walked towards my bus stop. He meekly followed me to the bus stop and lingered with some awkward conversation before swooping in and trying to kiss me. I parried his move into a hug, at which point he finally walked away.

I decided to take a cab instead of the bus after that debacle. The cab driver who picked me up begged me to date him the whole ride home, turning the meter off halfway en route to my apartment. I looked too good to pay some deadbeat's beer bill that night, and even the cabbie knew it.

The next day, he sent me an email trying to salvage the situation, indicating interest, and apologizing again for the tab. If you let a woman pay the entire bill on your first date, you should also cut your balls off and hand those over with the bill. He lost his chance with me when he handed me the balls in the relationship.

Post-mortem for you men out there:
  • Always take cash with you on dates.
  • Always offer to pay the entire bill on a first date. If you can't afford it, then pick a cheaper date spot.
  • Here are five things that EVG could have done differently with the bill:
  1. He should've offered to pay the whole bill
  2. He should've offered to at least split my bill with me since his beer wasn't on there and he was going to get away scott free
  3. He should've specified to the waiter to bring his beer on a separate bill
  4. When he learned that they charged me for his beer, he should have insisted that they take the bill back and take his beer off of it and charge him instead
  5. If he didn't want to deal with the hassle of reversing the charge, he should've offered to take me out to dessert or somewhere else to make it up to me

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Pizza Guy

A couple years ago, I met a guy, "JR," through some friends. He had a bachelor's and master's degree from prestigious (and expensive) universities. He was, at the time, working as a software engineer for a tech startup that was doing well, earning six figures or close to it. After intense flirting at two parties, I sacked up and asked him out.

We met up at a sports bar in SoMa for some beers. Conversation flowed well until he realized that I worked at Google. At that point, he abruptly shifted gears and asked me, "Did you get in on that Google IPO action?"

I thought it was completely rude to bring up how much money we made on a first date. I started well after the Google IPO, which I told him, but then I quickly tried to talk about something else. Before I could, he interrupted, "But I bet you're making a ton of money."

I awkwardly responded, "Uhh... I'm doing alright for myself, I guess," to which he replied, resentfully, "Better than me."

The conversation rebounded, and aside from that blip, the date went well. The bill came out to under $20, and as one could easily guess, we went dutch. I gave him another shot, and we went on a couple more dates.

His roommate was frequently gifted free tickets to Warriers games, and for what ended up being our third and final date, JR was the beneficiary of a couple of these tickets. JR didn't have a car, so I drove us to Oakland. Parking was $20, and JR didn't move a muscle. Annoyed, I paid for parking, and we proceeded in. We were supposed to get beers and dinner there, so I went off to find us beer while JR had the task of procuring our dinner. I had no trouble getting us giant beers, but none of the food vendors ventured near our seats. In the third quarter, JR stood up and said, "I'm going to go get myself a pizza." Crickets.

This would be a much better story if I could say that, after he left to get his pizza, I left his ass there to find his own way home. Alas, here I cannot tell such a bold lie. I stayed and watched in shock as he devoured most of his pizza without saying a word to me. Only when there were a few bites left at the end did he look at me to say, "You want some?"

The Arch Challenge

Dates are usually a miserable thing. I rarely used to go on them simply to avoid all the awkwardness that comes with first date territory, especially in the case of blind dates. Most of us have experienced, at some time or other, those horrible insecurities over our looks, fear of what the other person will look like, embarrassment after finding food stuck in our teeth or dribbling coffee down our chins, and fumbling over the question of who will pay the bill.

As I was singly approaching my 27th birthday and my mom's anxiety over my spinster status mounted, I decided to make more of an effort to date. Luckily, this happened right around the time that I met a man whom I'll call, "Arch." Arch is a seasoned dater with stories to learn from and advice to give, possessing the ultimate evidence that he's someone I should listen to: he's married to the perfect woman.

To encourage his friends to put themselves "out there," in the dating wild, he has formulated a challenge: if you go on seven unique, consecutive dates, he'll make you a beautiful glass condom-holder bowl. Seven straight days, seven different men (or women, if that's how you roll). He even has a lax definition of a "date:" a situation in which there is the threat of a kiss. Wanting me to succeed, he gave me a leg up and made two important notes. There is no quality standard in this challenge, and I should be prepared for inevitable last-minute cancellations.

I'm competitive by nature, and I really wanted the glass bowl; but my main impetus for taking on this challenge was to become comfortable with dating, to shed my insecurities, to fine tune my process for weeding out men, and to have fun.

And so the fun begins.