My back hurt. I was starving. And my blood alcohol content was getting dangerously low. It was 8 o’clock that Friday night and I was just now getting to the part of actually filling out my profile. This was not going as planned.
I’d already made it through the anxiety-producing process of creating a username. It needed to be fun, flirty and positive without seeming too artsy or naive. It also needed to not sound too desperate, bitter or inadvertently pornstarish. After discarding many choices, I felt I’d come up with something that sounded relatively interesting without seeming as if I was trying too hard to sound relatively interesting. So that was done. The next step was to upload profile pictures.
I am hopeless when it comes to anything technical. In truth, the only reason I was able to even put this blog together was because my co-worker, Lux, tirelessly built it for me and then walked me through each small, painful step to actually utilize it. (Her: “No, stop clicking on the actual site! Click on the Dashboard!” Me: “What’s a Dashboard?!”) I was trying to pull pictures from Facebook but they were all too small. After an hour and a half of exasperation, I put my head on my desk and wished I could just call Lux and have her do it for me. The only problem was that she had a new baby so it seemed totally inappropriate to call her at 8 o’clock on a Friday night with such a ridiculous request. And also, I didn’t have her phone number.
Finally I was able to cobble together a few that were large enough and also where I didn’t look too trashed, as it now was apparent that my friends and I only take pictures when we’re out drinking. Everyone knows you do not put up profile pictures of yourself drinking as that automatically broadcasts to the world you are an alcoholic.
You can’t reach your early 40s and single without having done online dating at some point. From my previous experiences, this is what I’d learned about men in NYC:
1) They all love to travel, have done it extensively, and have all been to the most exotic locales in the world.
2) They all want a woman who is comfortable in jeans but can look good in an evening gown.
3) They all spend their spare time engaging in serious extreme sports such as cliff-climbing, repelling off buildings and hardcore white-water rafting. Shirtless, of course.
4) They all love to laugh.
This last one always confused me. Okay, who doesn’t love to laugh? It was one of those comments that would never fly in real life but people online bandied it back and forth like it was perfectly normal. But who’s ever been at a party and been asked, “So what do you like to do in your spare time?” And they’ve answered, “Me? I looooove to laugh! Look! I’m doing it right now! Hahahaha!!!” What. The. Fuck.
Anyway, the whole thing was disheartening. I didn’t have the money to travel. I didn’t own an evening gown. I have never repelled off of anything. What would I put in this profile? That once I’d put dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher and the whole kitchen had ended up submerged in bubbles like some old Lucille Ball episode? That I secretly really wanted to visit Mount Rushmore? That I love Gordon Lightfoot so much that my old license plate used to be LVN LTFT?
None of that felt right for some reason.
In previous profiles I’d put in my heart and soul and still hadn’t had much luck. So this time I just ended up rushing through the endless boxes and just put whatever came to me. After I got about half-way through, I decided to take a break and post a picture of The Cat on Facebook because she was looking exceptionally cute. Within 30 seconds a message notification flashed up on my screen from Wade. “What did we discuss about this?? No. Aren’t you supposed to be working on an assignment tonight??”
There is an unspoken rule in online dating that you should not be on the sites weekend nights because you are supposed to be out doing extraordinary things like discovering the next awesome authentic hole-in-the-wall Tapas restaurant that soon will be all the rage or seeing eclectic live music/performance artists/plays. But fuck that. I was going to do a search and see who was out there.
I grabbed a Bud Light from the fridge because I wasn’t so sure I could soberly get through this wearisome task. I entered in my search criteria and began clicking through the profiles. After a few minutes, I realized it was true, there were a fair share of men who came across with an acrimonious or demanding tone or just left their profiles blank because they felt the picture of them windsurfing and/or skiing would be intriguing enough to warrant attention but there also were a number who seemed sincere. Like, a pretty high number. Sincere and funny and smart and attractive. And actually in my age-range. These guys had actually taken the time to fill out their profiles with thoughtful and engaging answers. I felt somewhat ashamed of my own half-assed responses.
So I put on my “Feel Good” playlist and began rewriting. I thought about how I saw myself, what type of person I thought would be a good match for me. I thought about what aspects I believed were important for a relationship to work. What it was that I really was looking for.
Once completed, I sat back and read it all over. I was satisfied with what I’d written. I felt that I’d represented myself as honestly as possible and been true to who I was. For the first time since my breakup, I felt hopeful. I felt enthusiastic even.
But something was nagging at me. I knew I could represent myself well in my profile but what about in real life? That was the real question. That was what was important. I signed out of OkCupid and opened my inbox. I took a deep breath. I knew what my next step had to be.