The Fun Committee had convened in the Cafe, along with our part-time 21-year-old intern from NYU, Tara. The Cafe is an empty office that my company had turned into a hodgepodge lounging space complete with a working cappuccino machine and random scarves and pillows strewn everywhere. There is even a colorful collection of plastic tambourines arranged on the desk. I don’t know why.
I pulled out my notebook as Anna finished up making our coffee drinks. “Guys,” I said. “We have a situation.”
“What is it?” asked Emily. “Did the location for Office Happy Hour fall through?”
“No. Something much, much more serious.” I took a deep breath. “OkCupid is not working out.”
Emily’s expression darkened as she fired up her laptop. Tara straightened up and pulled the pen from her make-shift hair bun. She poised it over an empty notebook page. Anna somberly placed a cappuccino in front of me and put a hand on my shoulder. There would be no talk of Amanda Knox on this day.
“Okay,” Emily breathed. “What’s going on with OkCupid?”
“Nothing,” I sighed. “I mean, we all saw how the first date went. And the second date, he just blew me off.”
Tara ran her fingers through her blonde bangs. “What do you mean?”
“We were supposed to get together on Thursday. I confirmed with him a few days before. And then, nothing. I never heard anything again. And overall, I’m just not getting a lot of responses.”
Emily started doing a search on her laptop. “How about Grouper?”
“What’s that?” I asked.
She read from the site, “Grouper is a social club that sets up drinks between two groups of friends: three guys and three girls.”
“We’ll do it with you,” Anna offered, pointing at Emily. Emily looked alarmed. Anna ignored her and pulled up a chair.
“Okay, guys” I sighed again. “That’s sweet but where are we going to find a group of three guys where two of them are in their mid-twenties and just happen to have a friend in their forties?”
“Hmm…,” Tara said.
Anna was now searching on her own laptop. “Hey, look at this. I just got this email other day. Speed-dating.” She turned her screen to us. We leaned in.
“Why are there pictures of shirtless firefighters in this?” I asked.
She blushed. “I don’t know, it all came together in the same offer.”
“What sort of sites are you subscribing to? Geesh.”
She clicked on the speed-dating offer. The age cut-off was 39. I put my head in my hands.
“Don’t worry,” she said reassuringly. “We’ll find you something.”
Their attention moved to their laptops and for a few moments they were silent. And then the chaos began.
“You could do Alumni Events!” exclaimed Tara.
“Take a cooking class!” interjected Emily. “You’ve always said you wanted to learn to cook!”
“Look! More speed-dating! For singles in their 40s!” Anna cried.
“Smile at 10 strangers a day!”
“Go out to eat alone!”
“Join a sports team!”
“Go to a lecture!”
“Here’s a list of hotspots for people in their 40’s!”
“Hang out at a bookstore!”
I could feel the smile begin to freeze on my face. Their enthusiasm was palpable – but not contagious. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful for their dedication and support. I truly was. It’s just that I suddenly felt very depleted. And very sad. The list weighed on me with it’s enormity. Where was I going to find time for all this? And why did I have to? It wasn’t fair. I took a sip of my cappuccino. Mainly to swallow the lump in my throat that was inexplicably forming there.
Anna noticed my rising despair. “Don’t worry,” she said kindly. “We’ll make a spreadsheet for you.”
I nodded and blinked quickly. “Okay, thank you. I think for starters I’m just going to switch to match.com.” I had thought back recently on how when I’d first announced on the blog that I was going on OkCupid, my friend Heidi had hastily messaged me, “NO. Don’t do OkCupid. It’s horrible. Do match.com.” I thought now she could be right.
“That sounds like a good plan. You do that,” said Emily. She turned then to the other girls. “Okay, let’s set a time we can get organized on this. We’ll want to track what action she’s taken, I say one action a week, the outcomes and what the next steps are for each action item. I’ll send an invite. How’s Wednesday at 2:30? ”
I had planned on just copying and pasting my profile from OkCupid onto Match.com. I hadn’t looked at it since I’d originally posted but from what I’d remembered, it was pretty kick-ass.
But when I settled into my desk chair at home that night and began reading the sentences I had crafted with so much thought, so much heart-felt emotion, trying to infuse intense moving and engaging ideas with OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO BORING!!! What was Zeke thinking when he approved this? What was I thinking when I wrote this? Clearly we were two of the most uninteresting people on the planet if we thought at all that this would get any responses.
I had to change this. My fingers hovered over the keyboard. BE FUNNY, I instructed. Nothing came. I began to feel panicked.
I pulled up Facebook and messaged Archie. “I just read my profile. It literally almost bored me into a stupor.”
Twenty seconds later he replied with a link.
It was a video of a woman in her 30’s who had used reverse search data-sourcing to research who the most popular women were on online dating sites. And what she consistently found was the ones who were getting the most responses wrote in a friendly and lighthearted tone, using words like ‘fun’ and ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘spontaneous.’ They made themselves seem approachable and outgoing. You know, like someone you’d want to hang out with. Or maybe even date. Using this information, she had created her own ‘Primo Profile’ and had found her husband.
“Omg, this is incredible!” I wrote to Archie.
“I know!” he replied. “This is what you need to do! Be fun, flirty, show some side shoulder!”
This was also true. They showed some skin. But not in a degrading way – more just demonstrating that they enjoyed dressing up and looking feminine. This was in stark contrast to the profile picture I had of myself wearing a knit hat and turtleneck. Or the other where I was sporting a company jacket zipped up to my chin.
Okay. So this is simple, I thought. Liven it up. I could do this. I made some tea and got to work.
“I am a fun and energetic person!” I wrote with vigor. “I am active and outgoing!” Then I laughed. It seemed so ridiculous. I didn’t talk about myself like this.
But the thing was…this whole process was about selling yourself. And selling anything is about believing in the product. This could be part of the problem, I thought. Maybe it wasn’t just that I didn’t talk about myself as a fun and energetic person – maybe I didn’t believe that either. I sat back and took my hands from the keyboard. I looked down at the chipped nailpolish. The truth is – I think of myself more as the dark, drunk, shadowy figure in the background watching everyone else being fun and energetic. But, I countered, that can’t be true. That can’t be who I am. After all, I am the President of the Fun Committee and if you count talking a lot as being energetic, well then I’m your girl. Not to mention, I am also the newly elected Co-Chair of the Chewing-Gum Culture Task-Force at the office. To others, maybe I came across in another way than I saw myself. I didn’t know.
It was a quick note I sent. To about 20 people. Some who’d known me a long time, some who hadn’t. This is what I said:
“Hi Team – I’ve been struggling with pulling together my dating profile as I feel that maybe the way I see myself, is not the way I present myself. I think this may be detrimental in how I’m writing my personal description.
So I’d like to hear what 5 adjectives you would use to describe me. Just whatever, off the top of your head. It doesn’t need to all be positive – it just needs to be honest. I wish I could somehow do this so the feedback is anonymous but I’m pretty sure I won’t figure out how to do that by the end of the night. Thanks all!”
I was unprepared for their responses. And I was unprepared for how their responses would change everything.