Loyal readers may remember Max, a man who caused quite a stir some months with a story about standing up his date. You should read the piece here, because it’s awesome, but the long and the short of it is: Max discovered his date was far heavier than she claimed on her profile, so he stood her up. Skipped the date. No text, no nothing. You folks, as a whole, were not pleased. But that’s not where the story ended…
I got back in touch with Max recently as I was putting together my book, to see if he had any new adventures to offer. Unfortunately they didn’t make into the book (Not a Match: My True Tales of Online Dating Disasters, available in January for Kindles and Ipads! Plug Plug Plug Plug!), so I wanted to share them with you here. Because again, they’re amazing.
There was a time when I thought of Max as my alter-ego. We have the same powers, but I use mine for good, while he uses his for evil. He’s basically the Lex Luthor to my Superman, only I look terrible in tights and he’s not bald. But still–we have a similar approach. We both use first email templates, devote a lot of thought to finding the perfect first date bar, and accept that Internet dating is simply a numbers game. But, there are differences. Max charts his dating successes on a spreadsheet. He actively tries to get his dates drunk. And he is always prepared to sleep with a woman after the first date. Here’s what Max told me about his strategy for a first encounter:
For me, 3/4 of the battle [of every first date] is logistics. The one advantage that [men] have is that we can plan everything. So I do. EVERYTHING. You know that feeling that you’re just hitting it off and everything seems so perfect? Because I made it that way. Every date I take you on is designed to move you around and get you drunk, and trust me, the planning can get elaborate. Why move [to different locations]? To make it seem like more time has passed than really has. If we go to 5 or 6 places on our first date it feels more like our 5th or 6th date and thus I’m way less of a stranger– [so] you should probably sleep with me. I detail my apartment before I leave too, completely prepping it should I return with my date. I go so far as to unscrew certain light bulbs to create a ramp of mood lighting from my front door to my room. I have a playlist for whatever music you like ready to go, only it starts out lively and ramps as well to shape a mood. I have crepe batter or something ready to go in case I promised you food to get you here. At this point I know what to say and do that victory is eminent.
OK, I’m guessing at this point you hate him. The phrase “victory is eminent,” is tough to get behind, I agree. But here’s my question: is this actually sleazy? Is it Lex Luthor’s Guide to Romance and Intercourse, or does Max simply care a great deal about his date going well? Many women agonize over countless details: the right outfit, the proper earrings, the perfect amount of “Kiss Me Damn It” attitude–is Max really any different? I mean, I’ve had ladies email me pictures, asking which hairstyle tells a guy, “I want you, but maybe not until the second date.” (My answer every time: A mullett.) They comes off as sweet, if a little deranged, so could Max be in the same category?
Here’s how he begins the courting:
My first move is before we ever meet. I know you’re not a fan of IM, but I use it if I don’t yet have a phone number for texting. What I do is propose a game. When she asks what, fully expecting it to be some super cheesy line, I send her a Youtube link to a music video and say, “you find the next one.” Then I’d just DJ with her for a half hour or so. Often I’d be playing with multiple ladies at once and would just send their links to each other. It’s an easy game, gives you stuff to talk about, ladies seem to love it, and it can make a girl meet you for the first time with a totally different attitude.
I gotta say, that’s pretty clever. What would you rather do: explain to someone exactly what your job in Human Relations and Data Resources entails, or find a funny John Cougar Mellencamp video to forward? Max’s DJ move breaks a conversation out of tedious small talk, and makes him memorable. The whole thing sounds pretty damn charming, if he weren’t resending the videos to other women he was simultaneously wooing in this theoretically spontaneous fashion. Scoundrel or simply resourceful? I still can’t decide.
Let’s see how Max handles the most romantic of all endeavors, the first kiss:
I only had one venue for first dates, and it was chosen for the stairs. I’ll explain. On a first date, I’m looking to get the first kiss over with as soon as possible which is quite challenging. Conventional wisdom would have you kiss her at the door right before you leave, but that’s [not for me]. So these stairs are significant because they are a chance to shatter the physical barrier. I realize how stupid that sounds, but I swear by it. I would always wait outside the bar and would leave the “I’m here” texting to her. When I greeted her I’d always opt for the hug, then right after the hug we’d tackle the stairs, which didn’t have a railing and so were a tactical device for holding her hand thinly veiled in chivalry. I’m now 10 seconds into my date and look at all I’ve accomplished. I’m now a 10% ABV pint and a story about robots or something away from a mid-date first kiss.
I’m sure you women out there are shocked and awed, yelling, “See! This is why guys are the worst!” And we are. If we’d just walked through the Sahara desert and had the choice of either drinking a bottle of water or getting a framed photograph of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs, we’d go JLH all the way. But ladies, you find the first date kiss to be frequently awkward and hard to negotiate too, right? So what’s wrong with taking the work out of things for everyone? I know Max’s Dirty Little Staircase of Love feels awful, but what’s really wrong with it, other than a Rain Manian attention to detail?
I think it’s important to keep moving on a first date. 5 or 6 venues in a single date seems like much more time has gone by that actually has. It’s like 5 or 6 dates worth of memories all in the matter of a few hours. So after the first pint, I’d propose we go somewhere else, which in Milwaukee is code for chug your super alcoholic beer and let’s go do the stairs again. Without wasting any time I’d make my move right at the bottom of the stairs. With that out of the way dates feel more like dates and less like play dates. From there I just keep switching venues and let things progress naturally. All the important barriers have been broken and the way is clear for escalating into a romantic relationship.
And there you have it. The summation of Max’s itinerary for the perfect first date. Get a girl drunk, knock out a few light bulbs, push her down a staircase, then make her some crepes the next morning. Is it evil, or is it organization? Scumbag or sweetheart? OK, sweetheart might be pushing it. But I will submit, although it does make me a little jumbly inside, that I find nothing Max is doing to be wrong or immoral. You could call it manipulative, but I argue it’s just good planning. He’s not tricking a woman into anything, or forcing them into a bad situation, he’s simply doing everything he can to ensure a date succeeds. What bothers me the most is the effort to get his date drunk. It feels dirty, but then again, a sober date is almost never a fun date–so perhaps there is some benevolence even in that? I think what essentially makes this feels slimy is that Max has planned it all out, but lots of people have plan things. Accountants. Travel agents. Mailmen. They’re not dirty. Alright, maybe mailmen are a little dirty. But I think Max’s heart is in the right place, even if is mind is maybe working a bit too hard. What do you think? Is a hero or a villain?
But before you answer, let me say this. Max just let me know that this fall he met a woman online, using these very techniques, and they went crazy for each other. Things got serious fast, and now they live together. With brightly lit, totally stable staircases everywhere. Does that change your mind?