Oh, dear readers. The things I do for you. I tasted vaginal dye. I watched a Jenny McCarthy vanity project. And, in my most bizarre sacrifice yet, I intentionally went on a terrible internet date last weekend.
A word of explanation is in order. You know how strong emotions like grief and Kentucky Deluxe can cloud your judgment? Here’s how I was thinking:
“Meg goes on dates and writes about them sometimes. But I don’t. I’m letting her down. I’m letting them all down. I have to contribute. I have to go on a bad date. That’ll show… someone… something.”
So I logged on to my old OkCupid account. I had a few messages, but they were all from normal or borderline people, not the kind of moon-unit freak I needed for this project. I sat back to plan my next move, when I got an instant message that proved that the deus in my machina is Loki, god of tricks and mischief:
DarkVenomKitty91: hey wat’s up boi
TulaneChris69 (to himself): Oh, jackpot.
Over the course of this conversation I learned that DarkVenomKitty91 is a nineteen-year-old art student in Philadelphia. He likes to go to raves (which apparently still happen, how 2002) and experiment with audacious hair and makeup. He finds it offensive that many people assume this his tendency to wear feminine hairstyles, heavy makeup, and women’s clothing leads some people to assume he has some sort of gender issue. He smokes pot and is amazed that I don’t. (It makes me nauseous.) He’s “into Asian culture,” which I read to mean that he likes Pocky and The Grudge. Despite being Pennsylvania born and raised, he refers to Americans as “them” when complaining about Hollywood remakes of Korean movies. He asked if I was “sure” I didn’t smoke pot, and then asked if I wanted to hang out later anyway. For you, dear readers, I accepted.
A word in my own defense: I didn’t embark on this enterprise with the intention of humiliating DarkVenomKitty91. I planned a sort of case study of how awkward internet dating can be, using whatever happened to me as a template. Ideally, I could have written up a formula, something like Greeting; Awkward “So…” Conversation; Silence; Desultory Attempt at Seduction; Departure, peppered with amusing one-liner from my own date. Had it worked well enough, I would have given it to Meg for input and run it as a 2Birds Investigates, but it was not to be. DarkVenomKitty91 had his own ideas.
During the days between our online conversation and out meeting (I refuse to dignify the actual event by calling it a “date”) I got a number of texts. They included:
DarkVenomKitty91: how do u want me to do my makup on saunday
DarkVenomKitty91: i can do liek casual everyday or like full drag queen
DarkVenomKitty91: god my parents driev me crazy
DarkVenomKitty91: can u bring beer when u come
I am 25. I have been abroad. I have a college degree. I am a registered voter. I am not going to be ejected from a freshman art school dormitory for trying to sneak in a six-pack of Keystone Light in my drawers ever again.
Time passed, and eventually it was time to go meet this kid. Before I left, I called Meg to set up an escape call:
Meg: Hey, what’s up?
Me: I may or may not but definitely do need you to call me at four thirty so that if my pseudo-date with a stoned teenage drag queen goes south I can get out of it.
Meg: Okay, cool. I’m at Renfest, so I have to go drink beer out of a big horn, but I’ll call.
So I walked to DarkVenomKitty91’s building and texted him:
Me: Where do I go in?
DarkVenomKitty91: just wait for me in front of the Olive Garden
NO. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. I’m not a person who waits for stoned teenagers in front of the Olive Garden. I can’t be that person or the last quarter-century of reading, writing, and pretending to be able to tell the difference between wines has been for nothing and I might as well redecorate my apartment as a womb and never leave again. So I took the block until he showed up, which turned out to be the right choice since it took him four laps to get down, which would have been a long time in front of the Olive Garden. These things I noticed right away:
1. In some cases, the camera adds ten pounds. In this case, it subtracted seventy.
2. Dreadlocks. They were multicolored and contained much ribbon and lace.
3. Oh, my God, Home Depot pajama pants? What kind of whore do you think I am?
4. Remember the Hellraiser movies with Pinhead? Like that. Piercings a-go-go, with no apparent thought to how they looked, or the eternal dictum “less is more.”
Overall impression: Last piñata on the shelf. Full of sardines and CVS store brand lip liner instead of candy.
So I drew abreast and said “hello,” and he stuck out his paw. Fool that I am, I shook it, only to have him pull his hand away, flap it, and say “No, silly. Your ID. I need it to check you in at the desk.”
So he checked me in at the desk. The look on the security guard’s face was priceless – the poor man was trying to be professional, but had clearly never really gotten used to DarkVenomKitty91. He was nearing retirement age, and I like to think he was working one extra year to give himself and his wife a little comfort in their old age. I want his having to deal with DarkVenomKitty91 to have brought him something positive. I got this blog post; maybe the security guard can take his wife on a cruise.
So, counting meeting me in pajama pants as strike one and pulling his hand away when I shook it as strike two, here’s a strike-by-strike play-by-play:
We got upstairs, and he had a fag hag over. (Strike three, you’re out, the Rangers go to the World Series.) DarkVenomKitty91 and Fag Hag start doing the dishes, having an animated conversation with each other about the dishes and ignoring me. (Strike four.) This goes on for about ten minutes, then linner is served. I had eaten and politely refused, which didn’t stop him from spearing a vegetable on his chopsticks (strike five) and thrusting it into my face (strike six) with a “mischievous” grin on his face, like an eight-year-old has if it tricks a slow kid into eating a bug (strike seven.) I ate it to get it out of my face – never thought I’d say that again, but time is cyclical – and it turned out to be heavily, heavily overcooked asparagus the consistency of old rags. (Strike eight, really, because I love asparagus under normal circumstances and it is incredibly easy to cook.) I’m given a Wendy’s cup full of Diet Coke and Laird’s American vodka (I love this country and it is my home but barring a few local brands we are not a vodka-producing country) and we adjourn into the other room… to watch cartoons. (Strike nine.) There’s nothing inherently wrong with cartoons, but riddle me this: do you want someone’s first impression of you to be “Oh, DarkVenomKitty91. He points out plot holes in SpongeBob Squarepants?” I sat on the bed, and DarkVenomKitty91 braced a pillow against me and leant on it, as though we were at a slumber party in a crowded room and I were a sturdy piece of period furniture. (Oh, strike ten. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not a fucking breakfront.)
Things kept on rolling downhill. Excerpts:
Me: I bought these new shoes and I like them a lot.
DarkVenomKitty91: I hate them. I feel like I want to burn them. They’re not fancy. Fag Hag, show him one of my platforms. With the wallpaper on it. (Strikes eleven and twelve, obvi.)
Me: I’ve never had the money to travel as much as I’d like.
DarkVenomKitty91: Oh, I have a lot of money. (Strike thirteen.) I’ve never been out of the country, though. (Strike fourteen. Canada is like RIGHT THERE.)
DarkVenomKitty91: I’m really mad at my brother.
DarkVenomKitty91: He got a girl pregnant again. I’m going to get back at him though. I’m going to have sex on his bed and come on his pillow and just rub it in. (Strike googol.)
Me: We all got very sick when we returned after the hurricane. There was a lot of mold and such.
DarkVenomKitty91: There was a hurricane?
DarkVenomKitty91: When it rained so much a few weeks ago?
Me: No, the real hurricane. K---ina. I haven’t lived in Philadelphia my whole life.
DarkVenomKitty91: That’s right, you are old. Strike googolplex.
DarkVenomKitty91: Do you have any pot with you?
Me: No, I don’t smoke pot.
DarkVenomKitty91: Really? That’s weird. Will you buy us alcohol later?
Me: Sure! If it gets me out of here I’ll buy you C4 and the plans to Fort Knox.
My phone: And as she walked up to the blackboard I can still recall….
Meg: Hi. We, uh, have a writing emergency. And I need you to get me the McCleary report in an hour or you’re fired, or something. Whatever. Is it going badly?
Me: Yes, you could say that.
Meg: That sucks. I’m ripped on medieval ale! They let me drink out of the horn!
Me, trying to be convincing: So the meeting is Monday? I guess I’ll have to get to work, then.
Meg, drunk: Meeting? We have a meeting?
Me, still trying to be convincing: Yeah, I know Larry is anxious to see our drafts, so I’ll go get the revisions done tonight.
Meg, still drunk: We have a meeting with Larry? What? Are you writing a post tonight? Say “uh-huh” if you are.
Me: Uh-huh. Well, I better go get these revisions done…
Meg: Can you talk? I’m having SO MUCH FUN at Renfest, although I guess I shouldn’t have gone since we apparently have a meeting Monday? Anyway, I got to drink beer out of a horn!
Me: I need to let you go so I can do these revisions…
Meg: What revisions? Are you mad at me?
So I escaped, which was easier than expected. DarkVenomKitty91 had gotten a text he apparently didn’t like and had started sulking, so I had been talking to Fag Hag about New Zealand and World War One propaganda for about fifteen minutes. I made my excuses and left. Over the next few days, this textversation:
DarkVenomKitty91: so that day was a fail
Me: Well, everyone has a bad day.
DarkVenomKitty91: so wat do u think of me now
DarkVenomKitty91: where u able to get ur work done hun
DarkVenomKitty91: hey r we stil talkin or do u want me 2 delete ur number
DarkVenomKitty91: i take that as a no u coulda at least told mec
To be fair, I could have, except that would have required talking to him. You have one shitty hangout with me, and you think that allows you to call me hun? #overfamiliarityfail.
The moral of the story, such as it is, is that I love my friend Butter Legs:
Butter Legs: So how did your investigative reporting date go?
Me: He wore pajama pants and wanted to meet me in front of Olive Garden.
Butter Legs: Oh, he didn’t even get dressed for bottomless breadsticks? That’s disgusting. I hope you hit him with a hammer a number of times.
And now, lest you doubt my love, dear readers, I have to go watch The Human Centipede. For you, dear readers. For you.