Yes, the title is ironic.
This week, I’m swapping posts (and dates!) with Muriel from the blog ‘I Wish There Were A Manual For Life’. We went on a date, and then wrote up the same date from our own perspectives. This is her post for my blog, and you can read my post about the date on her blog here…
Muriel: “I first discovered Jon’s blog last week, and quickly read through all of the hilarious crash-and-burn stories. As the author of a very similar blog (shameless plug) I appreciated both the quality of Jon’s writing as well as the storylines described – it was so very reassuring to read about someone else’s dating debacles. Apparently I’m not the only one who will make a mess out of the simple task of asking someone out, having a meal with them and taking them home afterwards. I’ve managed to screw up every step of this, and so has Jon, sometimes spectacularly so.
My blog and my outlook in life are very science based. I’m always trying to explore human interaction and observe my own successes and failures. The obvious research question at hand was how a date between two such challenging and challenged individuals would go. I emailed Jon and he agreed to a meeting.
Click the Read More button to find out how our date went!
We later discussed how this had been an easy choice to make – we had read enough of each other to know we’d probably hear at least some funny anecdotes during the evening, but in the very worst case we’d both get a scathing blog post out of it. After all, as writers we live material.
Either way, we met in the park and shared our favourite dating stories over some ice cream. The mood was good, and we easily established a connection. In many ways, this was the opposite of your usual Internet date.
Normally, you lure people in with a well crafted profile highlighting your unique strengths. An Internet dating profile is a brand advert by another name. You define your niche, get attention for the brand, talk it up and try to sell. This time, we’d basically read the opposite of a sales pitch. Jon got 29 rambly posts detailing how I fail to connect with other people. There are chapters on how I routinely misread body language, how I have problems realising I’m on dates to start with and how bitchy I am about the messages I receive. On the other hand, I went in fully expecting the easy serial killer charm of someone who’d serenade me with a home built ukulele by the end of a mediocre evening, or would greet me in the morning by making all my cuddly toys wear masks to look like himself. All in all: we started at the lowest romantic benchmark there can be. I was expecting someone with decent vocabulary and fun stories to share but not much more.
However, I want to stress that while not as romantic as a fairy tale prince on a white horse, “someone who makes me laugh” is actually a rare enough find on most online dating sites. People who say they have a good sense of humour and like a bit of banter are invariably dull. Similarly, people who describe themselves as random or quirky always turn out to be the most straight-edged Joe Does. This was one observation among many that Jon and I shared during the first part of our date. We easily connected over all the skeletons in our respective closets and it was oddly freeing to know that he’d pretty much seen the worst of me. There was no need to put on a show about how I’d be the most awesomely amazing girlfriend of them all(tm), no use in even pretending that we were two sparkling stars, led together by destiny. Nope, we met through our dating debacle blogs – how very meta.
All this meant I could be myself, boring old me complete with purple tights, stories about the most failful dates of them all and frequent announcements of “I need a snack. Buy me more bubble tea, please?”. This is what a tired rockstar must feel after a day of representing themselves to the press, when a friend comes in and they are finally off the record. The relief of not putting on a show, of being yourself because you’ve blown your cool cover 29 times over was tangible and almost exciting.
The best part of it all: like the oldest of my friends, he seemed completely unfazed by my behaviour. Casual me, a smoking non-smoker who takes 15 minutes to choose an icecream flavour (among a grand choice of 7, no less!), who talks incessantly and laughs at her own jokes was evidently good fun to hang out with.
Between two self-declared entertainers, there wasn’t a dull moment in our afternoon, and it felt natural to invite Jon along to dinner with my friend and later a dance night I was going to. “Natural” is probably the best description of the atmosphere of this entire date. Without our respective mating dance displays, we had time to get to know each other at an easy pace. We knew we couldn’t catch each other out on horrible memories and personal shortcomings, because they were already out there. This lent our conversations a very non-threatening and open air.
In a way, I guess it was a classic case of reverse psychology. We took all expectations of this date to a minimum, and it couldn’t but surpass every single one of them. Jon could not possibly have been worse than the image he creates of himself on here. I probably shouldn’t be giving this away, but he’s perfectly pleasant to be around, quite charming and indeed hilarious. Having him around my friends, at “my” event and in my house all felt perfectly safe and normal (what did I say about the easy serial killer charm?), and so did kissing him. In many ways, we managed to artificially create an intimacy that usually takes a lot longer to grow. I guess the outcome of this experiment is that minus times minus equals plus.
So, enquiring reader, where to from here? Well, I’m going to wait for Jon to screw things up. He does seem to have a knack for it.”