Okay, I'm not crazy. The men I date actually exist. But when you're a small town suburban girl, who is the ugly duckling grasping for her swan, boys around you aren't all that interested. I had a gorgeous best friend who thought my affinity for comic books and video games was cool, but he wasn't all that interested in asking me to school dances or taking me to the corner of the gym where everyone went to kiss.
While playing video games, in the middle of an all time favorite of ours, Zelda, my best friend Chris hipped me to a new site he'd been using.
"It's called Blackplanet. Everyone is using it."
"Not me. My dad has all these controls on my AOL account. It won't let me get on to anything."
He paused the game, "You know your dad's account name and password?"
"We could bypass that. They set those controls, but they never look at them again. You can undo it and he'd never notice."
"I don't know Chris. I'm not trying to get into any trouble."
Chris rolled his eyes at me. He was the fearless type: drove his mother's car once without permission to get his uncle to the hospital, chased down some gang-bangers that harassed his sister, and once even kicked Mr. Palmer's pit bull that everyone was deathly afraid of. He was always doing something dangerous, but always ended up a hero. I envied and admired him, all at once.
Chris got up from his seat and walked over to the family desktop, in our living room, "I'm going to sign in and undo these controls. We're fifteen now. It's time for you to have a life."
I walked over to him and entered the information into the appropriate boxes, we listened to the annoying connectivity sound and witnessed my father's AOL account fly up on to the screen.
Chris changed the settings quickly, signed on to my account, and pulled up Blackplanet.
"You're pretty savvy with this tech stuff. I know your profile is going to be way better than mine. Create one and start talking to some guys. Leave the video games alone for once."
I rolled my eyes and watched him walk back over and start the game back up. I can't lie. I was intrigued. What would it be like to talk to boys, behind a screen, where they were confronted by my inner awesomeness, before my glasses and braces?
When online dating became a 'thing', during college, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Ever since the day Chris introduced me to my first 'social networking' site I'd been meeting interesting guys, from all over the United States. I was a veteran.
LocalHookups, Crushspot, Migente, TheLoop, Talkee, OkCupid, Zoosk, etc.
There was a interesting football player from North Carolina, who was the epitome of fine.
A wanna-be rapper that lived in Miami.
There was also another wanna-be rapper that was a few towns over.
Actually, there were a lot of wanna-be rappers.
I met a guy from Detroit who wrote just as much poetry as I did.
I even met someone who went to the same high school as me, but we didn't see each other often.
Some of these men I spent many nights laughing and comparing worlds with via Yahoo Messenger video chats, emojis, and text conversations. Others I met in person, years later.
When I started to grow into my looks, I didn't even notice the men who were clearly checking me out and interested. Sure, I had a regular life. I had a ton of friends, I went to dances in cohorts, I ran for student council, and I was in several clubs. However, most of my 'love' life was online. Even when I met some of the guys, in person, most of our communication was still digital, because we lived too far away from one another or we were just too comfortable with being behind a screen.
When 'mutual friends' and 'distance apps' started to come out, I was geeked. You could meet the opposite sex and decide who you'd take seriously based on proximity and common comrades thought about them.
My first year out of college my friends started to play matchmaker.
Mira, you should really get out there and start meeting people.
Mira, what about speed dating?
Mira, you've got to meet my cousin.
Meh. I wasn't all that interested. I was focused on getting into grad school, working as a substitute teacher, and writing like crazy. If I needed some male attention, I'd go online and look for some. It usually worked out to a few months of phone calls and texts, some awkward Skyping, and a date or two. However, nothing really serious came out of them.
But online dating did lead to a lot of long term friendships. There were some guys that sparks didn't fly with, but you had a lot in common with them. These men are still my friends to this day and some of their friends are my friends too.
It's how I met my ex-fiance. We met in a writing group that an old online fling put together.
It's how I met the father of my godchildren. He still cracks jokes about the corny girl he knew through a screen and how he can't believe that she's the rock of his family now.
It's also how I met my best female friend. She was dating a guy online at the same time as me. We fought over him and ended up friends. God knows where he is now.
So, like I said, they're not really invisible. However, when you get to an age where children give your womb a jump and wedding dress catalogs glare at you...you'll realize it's time to get serious about face-to-face dating.
So I put it away. I deleted the apps from my phone, deleted my profiles, and stepped into the real world of dating. Should be fun, new, and exciting right?
Um, yeah, it's just as abyss. Just in case you were wondering. I leaned on recommendations from friends, guys I met at networking events, and even a few work crushes.
Would you like to know what they ended in?
Misery, misery, misery.
And so that brings me to my current situation:
It's Melba's birthday. She's my most eccentric friend: always in bright colors, taking on some unique adventure, and extremely outgoing. Naturally, for her 30th birthday we ended up at a skating rink. I don't know when the last time I had skates on was, but I'm absolutely sure I looked way cuter busting my ass.
Out of the seven of us that showed up, only two of us knew how to really skate. The rest of us held on to the side railing, while teenagers zoomed past us laughing. After a few times around the rink, I got off and took a seat.
"I can't believe Melba has us out here looking the fool."
Tea, another best friend sat next to me and giggled, "Girl, you knew she was going to come up with something that made us look like apes and her look amazing."
I pulled out my phone and opened my Instagram, while Melba swooshed past us in her tight overalls and personalized skates she'd brought. Heifer.
Tea added, "She's from Atlanta. You know this is one of their pastimes. I wonder if T.I. is around here somewhere."
I laughed and continued to scroll. I came across a frat boy I'd followed a while back and found incredibly attractive. His smile was killer and he was always debonair. Judging by his captions and his activities, he was quite well rounded too. I liked his photo and continued to scroll.
Tea was leaning over my shoulder, "Isn't that the frat boy you're always swooning over?"
"Yeah. He's such a cutie."
"Why don't you say hi?"
"On IG? That's some creep stuff."
"You follow him on anything else?"
I thought about it, "I think I follow him on Twitter too."
"Send him a DM."
I looked at Tea like she was crazy. This man didn't know me, from a hole in the wall. I didn't just want to slide on into his inbox.
Okay I lied. Avoiding the rink for an hour and after three drinks at the bar, I slid into his inbox. Pause.
So...I've been wondering. Are you single?
He responded immediately: Yes, yes I am.
Oh really now? I just have to say...you're crazy handsome.
Well, thank you. I have to ask. What's the difference between handsome and crazy handsome?
For me...handsome is a combination of the aesthetic and intellect. It seems like you have a plethora of both. That's rare. Crazy rare.
(Can you tell I was pulling things out of my arse? I'm not this smooth.)
Well. I appreciate it. I take more pride in the intellectual aspect. How are you going to make me blush at midnight though?
I'm good at inducing blushing at any time of the day.
(CLEARLY THIS WAS THE ALCOHOL TALKING.)
Well, look who's a confident little somebody over there. Top 5 traits that I look for in a woman.
Oh. Always. Enough humility to astound, enough confidence to fly. So...I want to get to know you, think that's possible?
That may be possible. But I see you're extra smooth with words...I'm going to have to watch you.
I'm a writer. If I wasn't impeccable with vernacular, wouldn't you be worried?
It all makes sense now! & yes, I'd be worried. Glad you're good at what you do. :)
Yeah. You've got to watch me though. I'm prone to heighten interest...rapidly.
Oh. I'm used to being the one who intrigues in a short period of time.
Interesting. I'm Mira. Nice to meet you.
Hi Mira. I'm Matthew.
Well Matthew, no pressure, but if you ever feel inclined to make the acquaintance of a smooth talking writer who kind of fancies you...by all means...917-555-6863.
Three minutes later, I had a text: