Everyone researches their date. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If a real email or last name happens to get dropped in conversation, then yeah, you’ll jump over to Facebook and check the person out. Maybe to see a few more pictures, or find out if you have any friends in common, or make sure they have friends at all. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe you’ll even do a Google search, though I don’t know what a person’s Linked In profile and an article they wrote for their college paper about the delays in renovating the new science wing will really teach you. But whatever you do, don’t tell the person what you found out in your research of them. Because that’s more than a little, well, Ted Bundy-ish. How do I know? Well…
For you who have been reading my riveting prose for weeks now, it will not surprise you to learn that I am a writer. “But what about the typos?” you say. “But what about my fist in your face?” I reply, and it’s clear to you that I mean business. As a writer, you can Google me and probably find more stuff than you would for the average person. But when one young lady, let’s call her Shawna, announced on the phone before meeting me that not only had she Googled me, but found an interview that I forgot even existed, I was perturbed. On the one hand, I was charmed that she was so interested in me (my shrink would have a field day with that one), on the other, I wondered how many pages deep she must have gone in her Google search to find this interview. Turns out…nine. I checked myself and it took NINE pages to get to a seven-year-old interview I did on a friend’s podcast that itself lasted only three episodes and no one ever listened to. That means she waded through pages and pages of things that weren’t even close to being about me just to find this terribly pointless waste of ten minutes. For someone she’d never met before. And then for some reason, told me all about it. And somehow I ended up charmed? I don’t know. Like I said, I have a shrink, we’re working through it.
So I go out with Shawna the night after the big Google admission, and things go pretty well for a time. The banter is lively, she’s actually quite attractive, and seems to be fairly rich – which is good news for Daddy Nobucks over here. She’s a succesful lawyer, why was I so worried about a little Googling – we’ve all Googled, right? Who hasn’t Googled? And then she got up to order food. That’s when the trouble started.
Shawna goes up to the counter at this cute little coffee shop and orders a sandwich, or something equally simple. I realize I have to head out to a birthday party in about an hour, and tell her when she returns. Her face turns almost immediately to disdain. “What?! An hour from NOW?!” she half yells. Honestly not knowing when else it would be an hour from, I nod tentatively. “Well that is outrageous!” she now fully yells. We’ve already been there, mind you, for over an hour and twenty minutes. Ending it an hour from then would put it safely in the two-hour category, which I insist is plenty for a first Internet date. One hour if they’re bad, two hours if they’re good, three hours if, as Vince Vaughn likes to say, you’re gonna make some bad decisions.
“I’m sorry,” I say, even though no one was buying that shit. “I thought two hours would be enough time. How long do your first Match dates usually last?” You’re guessing in your mind what she’s going to say, aren’t you? You think she might say three hours, or she doesn’t have an expected time, or some other answer that is nowhere near as awesome as what she actually said which was…FIVE HOURS. She’s never had a first date of any kind that lasted under five hours. And she had planned this evening accordingly. We were going to have coffee and sandwiches, then go to a movie, then play some pool, then “see what happens.” Except actually she would be the only one who was seeing what happened, as I would have long since hung myself in the bathroom.
“Why didn’t you tell me before I ordered my food?!” she continues to yell with her ever-reddening face. My thought: why didn’t I tell you I would have to leave in an hour before you ordered a turkey sandwich? Because that would be ridiculous. Should I tell you about everything that I’m planning on doing in the next six hours on the off-chance that it conflicts with someone insane plan you’ve concocted? I’m probably gonna take a crap in a little while, wanna know about that? My actual words: “I guess I wasn’t thinking.” That, clearly, was insufficient. “Well, what am I supposed to do, just wolf down my sandwich?!”
I stopped talking at that point, because really, what was the point? Shawna shot up from the table to ask the people at the counter to cancel the sandwich that she couldn’t possibly eat in the next 60 minutes. She came back and sat down and pretended to compose herself for a few minutes then announced, not unexpectedly, that “my time is clearly about to be up, so I think I should just leave now.” Then we had the most awkward walk to the subway in the history of awkward walks to the subway, and I bid her adieu.
The lesson I take from this? When someone tells you they’re crazy, either explicitly or by admitting they Googled you to a ridiculous extent before you even went out, then you should believe them and cancel the date. Learn this lesson, loyal reader. One day I may actually learn it myself. That’s what my shrink says, anyway.
Ok, I’ve read all the posts / tweets up to this point. You’re funny. I like the picture / caption thing.
But when I read this post, I immediately thought that there has to be another side to the story. Like — maybe she felt you were having a bad time and reacted poorly. Like — maybe she was bummed you didn’t invite her to go with you to the birthday party. Like — maybe she’s a slow eater. I have no idea.
All I know is that (as you’ve acknowledged) internet dating is hard, and there are two sides to every story. I can’t feel good laughing *at* someone based on your side of the story. A little (more?) empathy would go a long way toward increasing my enjoyment.
Anyway, just one opinion; feel free to ignore. Keep up the good work!
Point taken, Bryan. Thanks for the criticism, and keep it coming. My response would be that I totally I agree, I’m sure she has her side to the story – as do all the women I’ve been out with. And I imagine you’re right, she probably did think I was trying bail on her and that pissed her off. But do I think her response is reasonable even under those circumstances? No I do not. Believe me, I try to give the people I go out with every benefit of every doubt. But you still need to act like a normal, understanding person, if you’re working with a mindset that is different from mine. Take my having to leave early as a subtle insult, OK. Respond to the subtle insult in a way that’s totally out of scale – not OK.
But your point about empathy is a good one. I will keep that in mind.
and clearly you can see I mean business… gold. pure gold