My friends worry about me. I know this. I try to be normal around them but, in the end, it always ends with vodka and a critical analysis of Stargate episodes.
There’s a strong contingent that wants to find me a girlfriend, especially now that I’m the last of my group to be single. They don’t want to hear the truth – the fact that I find relationships an inconvenience. At best, boring. (Though, perhaps, they’re correct that I simply haven’t met the right woman.)
Meeting the right woman, though, sort of requires situational responsibility. I’m single now due to my larger life decisions. I live a conservative life. I bore myself. I work six jobs and all but two of them are so boring and unrewarding that they make me want to swallow glass. The two that I do enjoy don’t earn me a living. If that they did…
I live in a boring suburb with boring neighbors and, in what small amount of free time I have, I tend to just sit, breathless, stunned by my workload.
The women I normally meet all spring from this pathetic world I revolve around. I walk the Earth a quiet, unassuming wallflower. A white bread little Miss Manners-follower, stuttering through attempts to criticize a system I’ve wholly embraced.
My goal is to pay off the debt I incurred during the years I was handicapped by pain. I poured all of my money and credit into a publishing company. To me, then, under the thumb of the pain, it was proof of life. I didn’t care about the consequences. It kept me from suicide. Now, three years since The Cure, I still have 15k sitting on my credit cards. A paltry sum to many of my fellow Americans, yes, but it’s not about the amount. It’s about what that money stands for. That’s why I can’t breathe and relax until it’s gone. That 15k is the last reminder of the old days. Paying it off represents a freedom that’s greater and much more complicated than mere finances.
So I hunker down. I live my boring life and try my luck with boring women. When I encounter women who do interest me, I clam up, or fade into the background, or turn into some sort of desperate lunatic. Usually our lives and social circles are so radically different, it’s pointless even trying to make a connection.
My friends, then, encourage me to turn to the internet. To try the online dating sites.
The big issue there is that I refuse to pay for the service. I figure once money goes out, in the dating world, then I had better see a bartender show up with my vodka tonic.
My uncle blames the Scottish blood that runs through our family. Not even 260 years of Americanization and homogenization has managed to water down the basic elements that make us all slightly mad and chronically cheap. Personally, I just demand to see results for every dollar. And, as a friend says, I try to spend every dollar three times. Words meant to apply to marketing in the music (and publishing) industry, but I’ve sort of applied it to everyday life. Which is why I steal everything I can from every workplace.
Or is that more like earn every dollar three times?
The cheap way to go, though, reduces me to the likes of Craigslist and OK Cupid.
As far as I can tell, Craigslist is where email spambots go to hook up for casual sex encounters. Which probably explains why we all get so much spam mail. The emails are written by real people and they’re breeding like rabbits.
The few girls who do emerge on Craigslist are almost purely motivated by some sort of personal social experiment. They turn their dates into blogs and diaries. A vast sub-culture of really annoying, pedantic bitches modeling themselves off of sites like “Date Me, DC.” Their purpose is not to actually go on the date but to collect a story and then rant about it. Some diseased craving for attention, I think. Nice, clean, safe, electronic attention. It’s easier to humiliate guys on Craigslist and have a small cabal of subscribers applaud you than it is to actually try and connect with someone.
To be fair, though, a girl who meets guys on Craigslist, whether looking for love or blog ideas, has something deeply wrong with them in the first place.
OK Cupid is a slight step above Craigslist. At least the majority of girls are real. All 300 pounds of them. Once you sift through the legion of really sad women, you can pick out a few stars. Your favorite profiles folder starts to grow. And that’s where you should stop.
Never trust the packaging. Don’t get sucked in. Great lessons for life, but hard to do on a quiet Friday night as you debate watching Twin Peaks again and drink alone in the dark. Why not take a chance?
I don’t know if women become jaded and suspicious through failed relationships and the ignominy of online dating, or if they’re just born that way. It’s a trait that runs deep in many women, so I suspect it might be the latter. Maybe it’s some primal early warning system. Tuk, don’t trust Og, he after fire. Tuk, don’t get drunk with Og! He bad!
And Tuk’s all, like, that fucking, controlling bitch. I can’t stand her. And Og nods sympathetically as he reaches for his deer shoulder club.
It makes sense to be jaded and suspicious at times, but not if you’ve just dumped your profile online and agreed to meet a total fucking stranger for mind- and mood-altering beverages. Boldly going where angels fear to tread, eh?
The quiet, broken desperation of OK Cupid girls slowly comes out if you go on enough dates. After a few years of internet dating, you start to realize that most women are severely emotionally damaged. Crippled on a level that actually makes truly emotionally damaged people like me feel good about themselves. These are girls who cannot function in the world. It’s all they can do to maintain some sort of illusion of normalcy – some squalid apartment, some unrewarding job, no real hobbies to speak of (hint – if a six year old can perform and enjoy your hobby, then you have problems). The sense of decay and loss that sticks to these women is horrifying at times.
Most of the time, there’s good reason. They’re not just simpletons. They’re intelligent people with potential. But that potential, and any love for the self, has been destroyed by cycles of abuse. Stories that have become so common over the years, I’ve started to doubt that I’ll ever meet a woman who hasn’t been brutalized in some terrible way and now sits and quietly burns up her soul trying to forgive herself and her abuser.
Hey, girls – forgiveness is for the weak. Trust me. Just once, I’d like to go out with a girl who’s seriously planning to kill her rapist. There’s, like, a wall in her apartment with surveillance photos and strings tracing back to daily routines and all that. That would be kind of endearing, actually. Better than some sad sack who talks about it like it’s the fall of some great civilization in the distant past that ruined us all.
My friends think a woman will improve my life but, online, I’m confronted by a legion of mediocre self-loathers. The weak and the damaged, unable to embrace anything. The ones who have let themselves go physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Or maybe I just need to fine-tune my search? What frustrates me is that many of my friends have found amazing women on line. Though, in most cases, it was the pay sites that did the matchmaking. The other side of the cheapskate coin is that, no matter how many times you try to spend a dollar, you will always get what you originally paid for.