Sometimes I feel like Lawrence Ferlinghetti when he wrote I am Waiting. Although instead of “waiting for a rebirth of wonder,” I am waiting for the tsunami of rudeness and irrational behavior so common in the online dating world to spread to the real world.
What if the social mores of Plenty of Fish, Tinder, and Match became so ingrained that men and women started to behave like their dating profiled selves?
Suspend all notions of the universe for a few moments and enter an alternate reality that hopefully will never come to pass. Your fuel for this journey? A beet bean cheeseburger.
I’m walking down Connecticut Avenue, a major thoroughfare in Washington, D.C., when I stop to peer into the front window of a trendy bar. It’s 5 p.m. and happy hour is in full swing. At the bar, men stand 3 deep – a mug of beer in one hand, a large freshly caught fish in the other. How can this be? No nearby waterways, but perhaps they went fishing in the Potomac? They look eerily like the hundreds of profile photos of men with fish. At least these guys have their shirts on.
I spoke too soon. I’m outside of Union Station and a horde of shirtless men exit from the 8:30 a.m. red line car. They’re walking proudly, cell phones on in selfie position – beer bellies all shined up for the office. Oh, dear, I’m going to be ill.
It’s small business Saturday and I’m in Politics and Prose hoping the Obamas will show up like they did last year. This bookstore is a great venue to try to meet men in the wild. I’m here — why not go for it?
I head to the fiction section and stand next to an attractive man. He picks up a book I just finished reading. “That’s a great book,” I say, “one of my all time favorites.” He looks at me briefly and goes back to browsing. No comment, no smile, no nod. Nothing. I was proactive. I was ignored.
I’m at the newly reopened Renwick Gallery entranced by Leo Villareal’s installation of LED lights suspended from the high ceiling. An attractive man who is also awestruck by this piece strikes up a conversation with me.
We chat for a few minutes and then he asks if I’d like to continue our talk over coffee. “Not just yet,” I say. I reach into my purse and pull out my OkCupid dating questionnaire. “Do you believe this country would be safer if everyone owned a gun?” I ask. He looks at me dumbfounded. “Yes, I guess I do,” he says. “Are you almost always on time?” I query. “Usually,” he says with a strange look in his eyes. “What about bathing and teeth brushing? How often?” I ask. He answers, albeit uncomfortably, and I proceed to ask several more questions.
After a few minutes, I say, “Sorry, I won’t be able to continue our talk. You don’t meet my criteria for an ideal man. Good luck with your search.” I walk away. He’s been rejected.
“What a great party,” I say to the hostess, my good friend Lily. “You invited such an interesting mix of people.” Lily smiles and suggests I go talk to Jack, her old college roommate. I head over to the food table where Jack is filling his plate.
“Hi Jack. I’m Nadia, Lily’s friend from college. We met a couple of years ago. How are you?” I ask. Jack winks. He continues to fill his plate. I try again. “So Jack, I heard you work at NPR now. How do you like it?” Jack looks at me again, smiles, and winks…but doesn’t say a thing. He steps back from the table, pivots, and walks toward the bar. He stops midway, turns around, winks at me again, and continues on to the bar.
I’ve become a recipient or “victim” of the fruitless wink, a wink that doesn’t lead to conversation or even an email. It’s just there. And you never know what it meant.
I’m at a concert this evening. I’ve got my friend posse with me because I expect my ex to be there. We both enjoy the same music so I have to be prepared. Yep- sure enough, there he is. And he’s heading over my way. Come on ladies, crowd around. Yay – he’s been blocked.
After six fantastic dates, I think Max might be “the one.” He calls or texts me every day and we have plans to see a play the next weekend. I decide to shop for a new dress to wear to the theater. As I exit my favorite boutique, I see Max exit the Apple store. I walk quickly over to him. I’m seconds away from giving him a big hug when he turns away and scurries into Macy’s. My mouth drops open. I’ve been ghosted.
Let’s hope these scenarios remain a figment of my imagination. To help ensure that rude and irrational behavior does not transfer from the virtual to the real world, support good dating manners:
- Don’t wink or favorite someone unless you want to correspond with and possibly meet him or her. “Bookmarking” a match for possible future correspondence is not fair to that person. Get a notebook.
- If someone writes you a nice, thoughtful e-mail, don’t ignore it. Reply.
- If you decide you don’t want to date someone, let him or her know. Don’t disappear without a word.
- Be picky about who you date, but don’t go crazy with questions and checklists. A checklist cannot determine chemistry.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating.