The Last Match Event… Ever

The romance novels told me that it would happen like this:

I’m walking through the woods one day, when suddenly, I’m surrounded by a pack of feral wolves, growling and foaming at the mouth. Out of nowhere, the large, proud alpha appears and his pack stands down. I stumble and fall as I take a step back, and look up to see, not a wolf, but a beautiful naked man in his place.

You really don’t want me to continue. I’d be a horrible erotic romance writer.

Me: “Why do you still have his number? He was a such a dick.”
Gail: “I don’t know. I just never deleted it.”
Me: “We should text him something wildly inappropriate, like… ‘Hey there… copper. Why don’t you haul that big… penis on over here and… put it in my mouth… big boy?’ Wait. I used the word ‘big’ twice. That’s kind of redundant.”


Gail

Alas, Disney lied. More accurately, all media ever lied, along with every single person who’s ever said ‘It’ll happen when you least expect it” or “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.” That works so well with every other aspect of our lives, like our education, careers, and friendships, right? Success takes effort and dating is no different. So, I went to another Match event.

I cannot stress the balls it takes to go to these stupid things. Y’all, I am a pretend extrovert, because my job requires it. Despite my energy and humor in any social setting, unless I’m with a small group of friends or family, I can pretty much promise you that I would much rather be at home reading… in a blanket fort.

SONY DSC

The original plan was to go to the Match event with a friend from high school, who’s kept in touch via Facebook and has also been navigating the harrowing waters of online dating. When that didn’t happen, I decided I’d still go, since I’d gone to another Match event alone and the world didn’t crumble around me. The problem is, I had been looking forward to having a gal pal with me and was having trouble readjusting the plans in my mind for a solo event. I was dreading it. I couldn’t decide whether or not I even wanted to go and wavered all day long. When it was time to leave, all of my clothing turned to ash and I had nothing to wear. When I finally chose an outfit, it ripped as I put it on. Though I was tempted to give up and get out the chairs and linens, I made the repairs and forced myself out the door.

The event was held at a Spanish grill downtown, which I had trouble finding at first. I decided to go to the nearby outdoor supply superstore to use the restroom and fix my makeup before giving the search a second go. I spent a good twenty minutes in the bathroom, trying to come up with an excuse to just browse the guns and go home. Finally I promised myself that, if I was that unhappy after 10 minutes, I’d just leave.

On the way, I tried to figure out why I was so miserable over the idea of going to a bar, when I feel nothing close when meeting someone. I realized that, when you go on a date with someone you’ve met online, you’re only making yourself vulnerable to one person. At a Match event, you’re vulnerable to about 50 people. Not to mention, on a date, you know exactly with whom you’re supposed to be socializing. There is no guess work. Quite the opposite, at this Match event, I sat alone and worked up the nerve to talk to the girls behind me, reminding myself (with the help of Jane by text) that this was not the first day of sixth grade at lunch time. When I introduced myself and was invited to sit with them, I figured if the worst case scenario was engaging in some meaningless girl talk, I’d be okay.

One woman was 24, energetic and friendly, but something she said did rub me the wrong way.

24: “My man’s gotta love Jesus. I mean love Jesus. I don’t like hypocrites, either. You’ve gotta practice what you preach.”

… then…

24: “We met on Christian Cafe.”
Me: “Is that free?”
24: “It is for a little while and then you have to pay. I just kept using new e-mail addresses, though.”

Wait. He’s gotta be a Christian who practices what he preaches, but you’re stealing online Christian dating? I wouldn’t normally nitpick the misuse of a free trial. To each their own. These statements were back to back, though. I told Gail this story at breakfast, wondering if I was being unfair.


She didn’t think so.

Her friend was 26 and we agreed that, although we’re not really in a hurry right now, we probably will be in four years. Still…

Me: “So, how long have you been on Match?”
26: “Two years.”
Me: “Any luck?”
26: “None. But I have really high standards.”

What exactly does “high standards” mean? Do you mean you’re looking for someone who works in education, so he’ll understand your career concerns? Do you really need to be with a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and that’s hard to find in this part of the country? Are you looking for someone with ambition and drive, who has accomplished some of his goals? All of those are completely reasonable, but you have to specify that. Grand generalized statements like “I have really high standards” come off as “No one’s good enough for me”, regardless of gender. I had just finished researching the poor online dating habits of women, so maybe my head was in the wrong space for this, but I can’t stand to see a statement like that on a man’s profile either. It’s a huge turnoff to read that or similar comments like “I know what I want.” Why bother trying if they’re that particular?

Despite the above irksome comments, I had fun getting to know other women who dated online and I really did appreciate them letting me sit at their table. They had some good stories and interesting experiences and we had a nice conversation. Eventually a couple of men came over and struck up some conversation and we started comparing who was worse at deception, men or women. One guy was drunk, but funny and nice. Had he messaged me after the event, I’d likely have responded. He even took my correction of his usage of who/whom in stride. Eventually, though, the older of the two shared a humiliating story about a woman having a breakdown when he refused to come inside after a first date, stating that he was actually still friends with her.

Confused, I asked how they were still close and he said that she’d just been going through a really hard time. I didn’t comment further, but dude, if she’s a friend, it is beyond hateful to tell a humiliating story about her to get a few laughs, especially from a time in her life when she was feeling low. If you come off as a shit friend, I really don’t want to date you.

As the event neared it’s end, I noticed a man I’d been messaging and decided to introduce myself.

Me: “Hi. I’m Belle. We chatted for awhile, not too long ago.”
Producer: “Oh… I don’t remember. If I’ve slept since then, I’ve forgotten.”
Me: “I’m a libarian. My screen name has that in it.”
Producer: “No, I don’t remember.”
Me: “Oh, well then, this is a terrible introduction.” 

We talked for awhile online. I think he did remember me, but felt slighted when I stopped responding, because he never asked to meet. Still, we chatted for a few minutes, until the older man who cruelly mocks his friends came over, stood way too close to me, and obviously interrupted a conversation to ask where my friends went. Curtly answering his question, I told him I hadn’t known them, pointedly only told Producer it was nice meeting him, and left. Still, I got a message from him less than an hour later, saying how nice it was to meet me. I didn’t respond.

So, that was my second Match event. At this point, I’m thinking it’s going to be my last. The perk of online dating is knowing the fundamentals of who a person is before getting to know them. At the last event, I devoted two hours to a man, at a loss for why I’d never messaged him. Finally, I realized it was our different religious beliefs that had turned me off and it was still a valid reason. A Match event is pretty much just going to a bar and trying your luck, hoping someone will even want to talk to you and that you’ll have anything in common if they do. It is literally the face-to-face version of Match. You have to deal with the creepy people and the rude people and the pushy people just the same, only you have to do it in person. No thank you.

The Week of 1004 Dates: The Match Event

I’m still adjusting to my new, somewhat split-shift, work schedule and have (mostly) been enjoying birthday plans. Therefore, it’s been a week of decorating Toms with Gail, cupcakes made by my step-momma not being hurled at my front door, lunch and shopping for Dollar Tree fall decorations with my Gramma, and doing crafts and downing a half-pint of For Realz Moonshine with Niki. It is because of these wonderful events that I haven’t been on any dates since The Week of 1004 Dates. I’ve also delayed the final installment in this series. It’s called suspense. You’re welcome.

The story started on Saturday, with Insurance Salesman, an offensive and unattractive Peter Griffin. Yeah. That’s my point. It continued on Tuesday, with O&G, a kind and chivalrous Bostonian who played lots of tabletop board games, had an extensive knowledge of trivia, and thought it would be wonderful to one day live somewhere that’s not right the fuck here. It was a good date and a good time, but neither of us saw any foundation on which to build a relationship, so we never contacted each other again. All this time, I’ve been clear that it wasn’t really 1004 dates ::gasp!::, declaring that it was “almost” three. How does one have an “almost” date? Why, with a Match Event, of course!

Date 3… Almost – Thursday – The Match Event

In addition to the typical online dating features, match.com offers Stir Events. Before my date with Insurance Salesman, I RSVP’d for one of these face-to-face get-togethers.

Me: “I’ll probably just flake out and skip it at the last minute.”
Gail: ::laughing:: “Uh… yeah. I’m sure you will.”

Despite Gaily’s obvious attempt at reverse psychology…

… on Thursday morning, I still hadn’t made up my mind. I didn’t have to work that evening and I didn’t substitute teach, but I had had relatively regular plans with Niki to watch The Walking Dead and crochet. When she messaged earlier in the week, however, I declined, telling her that I didn’t want to make it quite so easy to ditch the Stir Event. Regardless, the event started at 7:00 and when Gail texted me at 5:30, I still wasn’t sure.

Gail: What are you wearing?
Me: I haven’t decided if I’m going.
Gail: Seriously? Get dressed and go.
Me: But sucking my thumb and reading this trashy romance novel is also nice.
Gail: While sitting on a bench? 

I’d spent the whole day making new candles from the remnants of my old candles, like a boss, and figured that if the last candle was finished melting in time to go, it was a sign that I should get off my ass and socialize with some real life people. So, I put on the Magic Dress I wore to Grandpa Geff’s funeral. A Magic Dress is one that can be either “good little Catholic girl” or “sex kitten”, depending on accessories. At Grandpa Geff’s funeral, I wore sensible interview heels with my grandmother’s opal and got numerous compliments. To the Stir Event, I wore heeled leather boots with gun-metal jewelry and… got numerous compliments. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The event was at a pub in the city and I was more or less broke, as I’ve been trying to catch up from the time I spent looking for a job this summer. Admission and a single drink were free, however, so all I had to be concerned about was the gas to get from Shetland to the northern part of the metro, about 30 miles away. I have no idea why I was so nervous when I got there, but I felt more jittery than I ever do when I’m just meeting a single person. Maybe it’s because, here in the Midwest, we still attach a lot of stigma to online dating. Despite the fact that everyone is doing it, we’re not allowed to talk about it and entering a Stir Event sounded a little embarrassing. As is usually the case, however, Gail’s voice sounded in my head…

Why do you care what these people think? Even if they do think anything of you going to a match event, which they won’t, because they’re worried about their own crap, big damn deal. Go and talk to people and get your free drink. You won’t be the only one doing so. If it sucks, you’re allowed to leave. 

Then my own voice sounded out loud into the car…

“Suck it the hell up. You can’t afford to waste the kind of gas it took to get here to just turn around and go home.”

I was still looking for reassurance and texted Gail while fixing my makeup:

Me: I can’t do it. I can’t go in there. Maybe next time I’ll make it in the door. This was progress, though. Yay me.
Gail: Ugh. Fine. I guess I’m not really surprised.

Gail misread my sarcasm and search for encouragement as a quest for approval and support for my decision. I rolled my eyes at myself, put on my big girl panties, and headed inside… only panicking a little.

On my way, I heard the bouncers make approving comments about my outfit, and that eased my nerves a bit.

The Stir Event was held in the upstairs bar area, which had been reserved for just this occasion. There was a lady positioned at a podium, who took my name and gave me a slip of paper with a unique characteristic on it. The idea was to encourage conversation, because if you found someone who had lived in another country or was a vegan, you could put your name into some kind of drawing. It was a nice option, though I didn’t really participate.

The first thing I noticed about those in attendance was the ratio of men to women. While I’ve read that speed dating in this area often has higher female participation, there were far more men than women at this event. Match only allows for so many to RSVP and splits it by gender; for example, 30 men and 30 women can plan to attend, including guests. So, basically, women are just flakes. At least I wasn’t alone in that idea. The age range was pretty wide as well, but Match had reported that online, stating it would vary from 21-43. I appreciated the warning and would’ve been uncomfortable with the variation, had I not known what to expect.

I sat at the bar to get my free drink and started talking to Texan Engineer, who was in his late 20s/early 30s and friendly enough. He wasn’t my preferred type physically, but as I’ve stated, I’m trying not to limit my associations with people based on trivial factors. Is it really fair to look at a man and think I wish he were a little bulkier if I don’t want him looking at me and thinking I wish she weren’t quite so bulky?

When I told Texan Engineer that I was a librarian, he said he’d messaged me, as I have the word “librarian” in my screen name. As we chatted, I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I hadn’t messaged him back. I looked at his profile later and realized that a small part of it may have been the fact that he was clearly one of those men who just does not know how to take his own picture. Though he wasn’t a man you’d give a double-take, he wasn’t unattractive. His pictures not only didn’t do him justice, they disgraced the poor guy.

Still nervous, I decided I could go ahead and buy one drink to loosen up. Now, I rarely drink, y’all. It’s expensive and it makes you fat, which may have been part of the reason I was about 100 pounds overweight in my heavier drinking days, which was the apparent sole reason I could handle my drink of choice so well: Long Island Iced Tea. I only had one. I swear.

“Well, it’s funny, because Gail doesn’t even read erotica…”
Geez, Belle. You are not seriously telling this story!
“… and she’d tell me if she did. I mean, we tell each other everything…”
Change the subject! NOW!
“… but one day, we were browsing Amazon together and she had this idea…”
Stop talking. Just stop talking.
“… that we should start a super creepy book club…”
Oh, don’t fucking sugarcoat it.
“… where we read the most disturbing erotica we could find. It was a terrible idea. I recommend you avoid the words ‘dubious consent’ at all cost.”
If the words ‘tailed butt plug’ come out of your mouth, you’re immediately setting yourself on fire.


Do not Google “humiliated gif.” Will someone let that poor girl out of the cage?!?!?! Is that a woman on a Lazy Susan?!?!

I blame Gail for ever creating that two-person book club. Still, I eventually texted her to let her know that she was right.

Me: This isn’t so bad.
Gail: ?
Me: I got dressed up. I went out alone. I talked to people. I’m proud of me. I’d never have been able to do this a year ago.
Gail: You went!!
Me: Well, duh. I was kidding about leaving. I’m far too cheap to waste that gas.

Even though I’d confessed to the reading of disturbing porn, Texan Engineer told me all about living in New York during college and how he desperately wanted to leave my home state one day, as he’s only here for the job. Clearly, this was important to him, because he even asked if I’d be willing to leave. In hindsight, I realize that my answer wasn’t as honest as it could have been, since the words “hell no” were not employed. You see, it’s not just that I love my Gramma, Gail, and my daddy. I am a Librarian in two of the few library systems that are not facing budget cuts in this economy. Our primary funding sources are neither state nor federal, but ad valorem taxes in communities where the Libraries are heavily advocated and much-appreciated. I’m not leaving my family. I’m not leaving my calling. I’m. Not. Leaving. I gave Texan Engineer a far less passionate explanation of that and we continued to get to know each other.

As we were talking, Texan Engineer enlightened me to a legitimately shocking trend: apparently… women are bitches. I’m aware that I’m not the best at letting someone down easy or you know, not marking their number as spam after a first date, but I was genuinely surprised by some of the things this man reported women having said to him. We were discussing our online dating experiences and he was telling me what some of the women he’d met had cited as deal-breakers. I was horrified. Even if he were a bag of dicks, I cannot imagine actually telling a man that he’s not stocky enough, let alone grabbing his bicep and saying “you need to put a little more meat on right here.”

Are you fucking kidding me?!?! That is the equivalent of a man grabbing my roll and declaring that I need to tighten things up a little! I’m not a violent person, but if a man did that while touching my body, I would actually slap him. What the hell makes a woman think that this is okay?!?! If he asks why you’re not interested, tell him there’s just no chemistry. Hell, just ignore him like the coward I am. Do not tell him he’s not “man enough” and squeeze the reasons why. Texan Engineer said he understood that this is just the stereotypical ideal for men in this part of the country. I agree. I would be more attracted to a man who made me feel dainty, but ladies, if he can’t have a No Fat Chicks paragraph, you don’t get to have a No Scrawny Guys conversation. Thems the rules!

Even though I was getting along with Texan Engineer, I did feel a little irritated that I’d put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to mingle more, without being rude. I commented on the ratio of men to women and Texan Engineer told me that this is the norm at Stir Events. Woot. We chatted about politics (surprisingly agreeing on our more Libertarian stances) and shared our online dating thoughts. Then, I realized why I’d been ignoring Texan Engineer’s messages. It wasn’t his atrocious photos.

Me: “It drives me crazy when people put ‘I’ll tell you later’. Don’t tell me later. Tell me now. That’s the whole point.”
TE: “Yeah, that’s what I do on religion. I just say that I’m agnostic straight out.”

At this point, I had already mentioned multiple times that I was a practicing Catholic. I realized that the differing religious beliefs was my main reason for ignoring Texan Engineer’s messages from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong here. I have numerous friends with different religious commitments. I don’t care if they’re atheist or agnostic or Jahova’s Witness or what-have-you. That’s their business. I’m also not considering raising children with any of them. I had a coworker once tell me “I could never date a Christian. No offense.” None taken. I think it’s a completely valid point if your religious beliefs are important to you and this girl was a strong athiest, just as I am a strong Catholic. Just like she knows that there is no higher power, I know Christ died for my sins. I have every intention of sending my children to Catholic school. I don’t really want to go to Mass alone every week. I feel it’s just too big of an issue on which to disagree that strongly, so I usually don’t respond to people who who make that stance apparent in their profiles. Texan Engineer and I had been getting along, though. I decided it would be unfair to just write the guy off without giving it a shot.

TE: “I grew up Methodist and I used to believe. Then, I went to college and I just can’t believe in any of it now. I know too much about science. It’s just too ridiculous.”

Did you just call me stupid for believing in Christ?!?!?!?! Also, if all that school made you sooooooo smart, maybe you shouldn’t be declaring yourself an agnostic, or “a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God”*, when you’ve just quoted beliefs that are clearly atheist, or “disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.”* You’re not agnostic. You’re an atheist with commitment issues. I’m not just too busy scratching my head over the conundrum that is science to realize that my religious beliefs are illogical. I believe in spite of that. That’s what makes it faith. I was so taken aback by the implication that I just hadn’t been paying enough attention in college, that I didn’t comment before Texan Engineer elaborated.

TE: “I even went out with this girl once and we seemed to get along great. We talked for like two hours and then she just kind of stopped talking to me. So when I asked why, she said it was because I wasn’t a Christian. I mean, she really doesn’t want to be with me over that? That’s just stupid. She was an engineer too, so I didn’t even get how she could believe.”

She was an engineer, too?!?!? So, what? Obviously you guys are supposed to be the same level of so fucking brilliant that you know the secrets of the universe and all the little morons of the world are still fumbling around in the dark, worshiping Santa Claus?!?!? She can’t have faith and work in the sciences, because being intelligent and believing in God are mutually exclusive? You’re not only intolerant, but an elitist as well? Dude…. fuck off. The fact that you can even say it’s stupid is exactly the reason she doesn’t want to date you. You don’t get the importance of those beliefs and that’s the whole friggin’ problem. Maybe some atheists out there could understand how passionate those beliefs are, but I imagine that would be because they passionately disagree… and that’s okay. They’re still probably not the best matches for devout Christians. I’m not even comfortable being friends with someone who thinks I just haven’t opened my eyes to atheism, because I’m not that bright. In fact, If that’s how he feels, he should probably clearly state a “non-Christians” preference on his own profile. You can’t ask that someone respect your lack of faith if you’re going to imply mine is the product of stupidity. Dick.

I felt really uncomfortable at this point and didn’t talk a whole lot more. Texan Engineer had just put me in a really awkward place by stating that I’d be closed-minded not to want to date him for his religious beliefs. It really wasn’t even that he didn’t believe. At the first mention of the word “agnostic”, I was still interested in talking to him. I’ve never actually dated someone with completely different thoughts on the subject, so I might as well give it a go if we were getting along. After hearing his explanation that he was surprised an engineer was stupid enough for prayer? No. Just no. I was polite to Texan Engineer and wasn’t sure how to express my disinterest, so I went ahead and gave him my number before leaving about fifteen minutes later. The next day, when he texted though, I sent him the following:

I really enjoyed talking to you and getting to know you last night, but I don’t think I could have a relationship with someone with such different religious beliefs. Good luck with Match.

I should’ve just used the word “intolerance”, since that was the real issue. After I sent that message, I spammed his number. I’d already heard plenty of what he had to say. I wasn’t sure if he was going to be a dick or not, but I didn’t want to deal with that, knowing his opinion on a woman not wanting to date him for the same reason.  It’s a shame that this will encourage him to think women are being closed-minded about his thoughts rather than being insulted by them. Oddly enough, before the Stir Event, my profile already said:

“I try to go to Mass every week. I’m realizing that, while meeting someone Catholic would be great, the only deal breaker is a non-Christian. I respect your beliefs as a person, but ‘the family that prays together…’ and all that jazz.”

Texan Engineer just chose to either not read that, or ignore it before liking several photos, messaging me, and winking at me. Once I looked at his profile and realized who he was, I remembered that I’d been seconds from sending him a message that stated I wasn’t interested, because I didn’t think two people could have a successful relationship with such different faiths. I actually decided not to, because I wanted to give the guy a chance if we met at the event.

So, for date number three… almost, I tried my very first Stir Event and realized that it was quite similar to just being at a bar with guaranteed single people. I recognized the importance of mingling from the start and learned that one LIT has me telling masturbation stories. I found out that I’m not nearly as bitchy, when it comes to dating, as I thought… at least not by comparison. I gave a guy a chance, despite my theory that religious beliefs are too important for debate… and that opinion was validated. I decided I would still talk to a guy who told me he was agnostic, in the future… especially if he knew what agnostic meant. On the way home, I stopped by a gas station and the man told me how nice I looked. Yay for the Magic Dress.

In one week, I went out and talked to people and put some real effort into the dating world. It was exhausting and I don’t know that I’d do two dates and a match event in a week in the near future, but I feel like I’m putting in some real effort and learning things about myself. Go me.

Last week, I was searching PoF for old classmates and stumbled on my adored Facebook friend/high school acquaintance, Catherine. Oddly enough, we were best friends in daycare, when we were four. I messaged her:

So… I did something creepy and found your PoF account. Have you ever tried Match? 

It looks like I might have a new online dating gal pal and an accomplice for the next Stir Event. Go me.

http://www.google.com/#q=define+agnostic&safe=images

http://www.google.com/#q=define%20atheism&safe=images