Hi, guys. Here’s an essay I wrote about a guy thinking I was ugly in the middle of an OK Cupid date. Looking for your thoughts as to whether or not you would read a whole book full of funny, semi-advice-giving essays like this IRL and if you would tell your friends about it and if I could get it published and if one day I won’t have student loans anymore. Thanks.
“You don’t have any deformities worth mentioning. I mean, big teeth, but who cares.” - My friend Alan
I had just moved to New York City, and things were going to change for me. I had a fancy new job at a major media company, it looked like my mild-to-moderate adult cystic acne was coming to the end of its two-year residency on my chin and I was generally more excited than I’d ever been in maybe my whole entire life. New York City had been a dream of mine since I could remember, and I was finally leaving Chicago for the bright lights and rich men of the Big Apple.
Maybe I was heading into my fourth consecutive year of being single, but don’t even be sad about that for me. Honestly. I was totally— Listen, it’s not like I couldn’t get a boyfriend. If I wanted a boyfriend, I could get a boyfriend. I just hadn’t found anyone who could guarantee me that several nights out with them would be more entertaining or provide me more orgasms than several nights in with the Internet.
But New York was going to change that. I was determined to aim higher when it came to the dudes I was seeing. If I had anything to say about it, NYC was going to offer me guys with box springs and bed frames, not mattresses on the floor. NYC guys were going to ask me on proper dates over the phone, not send me a text message of a shark emoji and a question mark. In no time I’d be calling my friends back home and sharing my glittery tales of “eating oysters with this jazz musician” or “stopping by a book launch with an independently wealthy man in his 40s.” It was totally going to be like Sex and the City but without that dumb episode when they go to L.A.
Given that I only knew three gays guys through friends of friends when I got to Manhattan, I turned to the Internet, one site in particular, to start my new dating life. That site was OK Cupid. For the uninitiated, OK Cupid is the most popular free dating site on the Internet where some normal people and also some of the worst people on earth can make a profile. While it’s filled with tons of regular people who have very few sociopathic tendencies, it also attracts myriad of cretins from every dark corner of broadband—weirdos, creeps, LARPers, Republicans, foot fetishists… And now, me!
Getting away from my dating past of sad sacks and philosophy majors was my top priority, which is probably why Eddie looked so attractive to me. Even in his photos I could tell he was confident. He was a financial analyst who lived in Midtown and parted his hair to the side. He wore suits to work, and it looked like he could name at least three machines at a gym. He even had one of those fancy, three-part last names so I was sure a trip to the Hamptons was somewhere down the pipeline.
When Eddie messaged me, I liked that he went straight for the date and time of when we were going to meet. There were no off-putting winky faces or uncomfortable innuendos—he was interested in my photos and my profile, and he wanted to get to know me over brunch. Expert execution, date granted.
Other than the fact that I sweat through the dress I was wearing on the subway ride to the restaurant, I was feeling pretty good about our date. I was nervous as hell, as one usually is before meeting someone who could be a serial killer for the first time, but I knew once things got going I’d be fine.
The place Eddie picked was bright and full of people, and I spotted him right away. I walked over to him at the bar where we shook hands and smiled. I didn’t feel any kind of instant, slow-motion, romcom sensations, but other than him being shorter than I imagined, he was still cute and I thought we’d have a civil, possibly even enjoyable time.
We didn’t. Well, we did, no one threw a chair or anything, be he was kind of deplorable. Every other sentence out of his mouth was about bottle service or hot girls or his “buddies.” He also loved chatting about how down-to-earth he was and the shortcomings of his paid-in-full Princeton education, sometimes in the same sentence. The guy was so boring, and I got the impression he was feeling the same way about me.
How, you ask? He took his phone out after about his fifth mimosa and started texting like no one was watching. It’s like someone told him this was the intermission portion of the date. The weirdest part about the whole thing was that he had his phone on the table in plain sight so I could see every message he was sending.
I got my first cell phone, a hand-me-down Motorola Star Tac, when I was a junior in high school. That gives me almost 15 years of cell phone experience. I know the Japanese are doing some really wild things when it comes to technology, but from my understanding, the text messages you send are in one color while the text messages you receive are in another color. Maybe Eddie misread somewhere on my profile that I was colorblind (I am not), because he didn’t seem concerned that I could see the entire back-and-forth conversation with the person he was texting. I was trying to be stealthy with my glances, because I still try to be polite when being nosy, so I could only catch a quick snippet of what Eddie and his friend were chatting about.
Any guesses as to what it could be? You’re right, it was me! (You must have gone somewhere better than Princeton.)
Eddie’s friend: Hey buddy whats good
Eddie: I was going to see how it goes. She’s not that attractive so I’ll meet up with you later
I’m not a huge fan of the universal 1-10 hotness scale all platonic guy friends seem to think is a standard unit of measure, but according to my research (my platonic guy friends), I usually nab a score somewhere within the larger five set of those digits. Not that that means anything real, but after years of coming to terms with what I thought was my median number, I suddenly realized some wires must have gotten crossed along the way. To think, I was walking around all this time thinking I wasn’t a hideous troll.
I realize that Eddie didn’t exactly say I was a hideous troll, but “not that attractive” is still kind of soul-crushing, especially if you could have seen how perfect my eyeliner was that day. The alternative, “not that cute,” is much gentler. But “not that attractive,” specifically when typed by the person you are currently sitting across a table from and supposedly on a date with, reads like, “I’m going to have to set my retinas on fire as soon as I get home.”
When I read the text, Eddie was completely oblivious. He had no idea I’d seen it. A sense of shock surged through my slightly buzzed body. I excused myself to the bathroom where I sat in the stall for a few minutes and thought about how I could crawl out of the window or call in a bomb threat to the restaurant. I thought, “What would Beyonce do?” Then I thought, “Are you kidding me? Jay-Z would never say something like that.” But then I thought again, “What would Beyonce do?” Beyonce would put on her Sasha Fierce hat, go back out there and exit the situation the classiest way she could.
Eddie was paying the check as I returned to my seat. I was still steaming and I wanted to say something so badly, but I wanted it to be perfect. I knew I would have a great GIF reaction, but this wasn’t the Internet! This was a real life date, and I had to use my real life brain.
I didn’t say anything at first. Eddie and I stood up from the table, gave each other a painfully awkward hug on the way out of the restaurant and went our separate ways. While Beyonce probably would have taken the high road and left it alone, dismissing the incident entirely would have made me feel like I was complicit in his behavior. I texted him.
Me: The next time you’re on a date with someone, you might want to keep your phone under the table. I saw the whole conversation.
Eddie: Sorry about that
There were so many things I wanted to text back, like how his teeth looked like Chiclets or how Nsync-era Lance Bass called and wanted his hair back. But I didn’t. What was the point? There was no way in hell I was ever going to see this guy again, and to make sure, I deleted his number on the cab ride home.
It wasn’t so much the fact that Eddie thought I was “not that attractive” that bothered me, because I wouldn’t have accepted his final rose anyway. It was the fact that anyone was allowed to think I wasn’t the most breathtaking woman they’d ever laid eyes on.
Even though your dad insists you’re the most beautiful girl currently walking the planet, this is not an objective fact. (My dad says the same thing so one of them has to be wrong.) The truth is some people might not ever get it up for you, even when you’re wearing your most expensive pair of Spanx. From the time Tom B. tells Carrie M. in seventh grade that he would “never go out with you” to the time some asshole thinks you’re ugly enough to mention in a text message, romantic rejection is always a bitch. And the easiest way to stop feeling sad about it is recognizing that it doesn’t even have much to do with you.
So maybe you’re not someone’s cup of tea. Better to find that out now than six months down the line when they confess they only stuck around because you had a Costco membership. And you know how it goes—it’s not like you’ve never rejected anyone. What about all those guys you’ve flipped off who whistled at you from a car? Of all the bros you’ve given fake numbers to? Or all the dudes you told you had a boyfriend? Or the ones you pretended to be deaf in front of? They were all perfectly nice guys (probably)! Just because you didn’t want any of them to be the father of your children doesn’t mean you put up posters of them around your neighborhood with the words “Look How Ugly This Person Is” printed across the top of their face.
Think about this: How delicious is macaroni and cheese? It’s the greatest thing. But also, how delicious is flourless chocolate cake? So delicious! You could be walking around as the only macaroni and cheese in a bar entirely filled with guys who are obsessed with flourless chocolate cake. Would you ever even compare macaroni and cheese to flourless chocolate cake? Never, eww. They are not substitutes—you have to be in the mood for one or the other. Unfortunately, some people are only ever in the mood for flourless chocolate cake, and they’re never going to want macaroni and cheese.
So fuck ‘em. More macaroni and cheese for everyone else.