When I first started online dating, I was interested in how my intuition about the person from their profile would match up with what they were like in real life.
One unexpectedly hot Sunday in November, I found myself nervously walking towards the Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. I was overdressed, since I had expected it to be cooler, and dehydrated, and hungover. I was heading to meet Matt, a nice but slightly boring-seeming guy I’d been chatting with online. Our online chat hadn’t been scintillating, but he asked me out and back then I had just moved to NYC and I had a lot of time on my hands, so I figured why not.
I got there, and ordered the only thing I could consider imbibing, which was a ginger tea. Matt arrived, and we sat down at a table.
Me: So, Matt, what is it that you do?
Matt: *mumbles incoherently*
Matt: (almost inaudible) I work as a paralegal at a law firm on Wall Street.
I felt like I was on an episode of Seinfeld with Matt, The Low Talker. He didn’t speak much, and when he did, I could barely hear him. My heart sunk into my stomach, and I just thought, how the hell am I going to get through this?
So I did what only seemed sensible: I performed a one hour long, improvised, one-woman show for this man. Anything he said that reminded me of ANYTHING I’d use that as a jumping off point and I told stories, made jokes, gave him my take on being in graduate school and living in NYC and online dating, and really just ANYTHING ELSE THAT CAME TO MIND.
At the end of what seemed like hours (it was only one) I said: okay well, I have some errands to run now, so I should head out! He replied that he’d had a really great time, and could we do it again? (Uh, of course YOU had a good time, dude.) I said I’d be in touch, and got out of there as fast as I could.
I was drained and angry and frustrated, but I also took something significant away from that experience. I had, I realized, essentially just gone on a date with myself. I had just gone on a date with someone who gave me next to nothing to work with, and I made it work. I could do almost anything. I could go on a date with anyone. No more need to be nervous about dates, I thought. I got this.