I’d seen J’s OkCupid profile for quite some time. I had just ended a five-year relationship with someone I met on the site (online dating does work!) but was gun-shy about heading back into the wild.
It was her vintage look that pulled at me. Behind her black-frame, cat-eye glasses was a set of warm eyes. She appeared to have a ’70s sense of thrift-store fashion that complemented her seemingly slender frame. Her fetish for vinyl records ranged from early ragtime blues to rare and obscure rock en español.
No kids! Not allergic to dogs or cats! Born, raised, and still living in Los Angeles! The date gods wanted me to win.
“You’re originally from Echo Park?” I texted her through the site.
“It’s true,” she replied.
I brought up the L.A. Dodgers, and asked if she’d attended any games. (It was also a sly way to see if she was being truthful about her age.)
“Do you remember Fernandomania?”
“I’ve never been to a Dodgers game” she replied. “What’s your age?”
“I’m 45,” I replied.
“Really? You look younger in your photos. Good for you.... Good for me,” she responded. And then volunteered: “I’m 42.”
Should I ask her out? I did not want to screw things up by making a move too soon. Ask her out!
“When is your next day off?”
“Let’s get coffee,” I suggested.
“Really? That sounds nice.”
I suggested we meet up at Zona Rosa in Pasadena.
That’s when she decided to throw me a curveball that Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw would have admired.
“You know, I’m not trying to flip-flop or play games. I’m sorry, but I’m not able to meet up for coffee,” she wrote back.
She went on to explain that she has a difficult time saying “no,” and is working on it. She says she has a hard time interacting with men, and has decided to take an “extended break” from dating. She tells me not to take it personally. And I don’t.
Seems like the old waters I used to tread have changed.
There were fewer dating sites in the early 2000s, when I was first on them. But I seem to recall that the odds of being flaked on were pretty slim considering the online dating populace was slim.
Now, with more people and online sites popping up, this behavior has flourished. In some ways that softens the blow to the self-confidence. (Everyone who does online dating, it seems, has a “flaking” story to tell.) In the online dating world, we also don’t have to “hear” a person’s voice or “see” them reject us. It’s all on a screen.
But that doesn’t lessen the feeling of frustration and disappointment.
I decide to take a break from OkCupid. My fast lasts about a week, and I tell myself that if J’s profile is still active, I will ask her out. Again. I will try to win her over. My gut tells me to. I’m not used to hitting curveballs, though, and I decide to seek the assistance of a seasoned player.
Kasper is a homie of mine. He is also good at witty banter and charm. I askhim to help me pen a response. I knew that was breaking one of the rules of online dating. But my move was not out of desperation but a desire for clarity.
I reach out: “I hope I’m not overstepping my boundaries but I thought I would make the effort because, well, I really dig your style.” (She didn’t need to know that these were actually Kasper’s words.)
It must have worked, because we ended up taking the online chat to the next level: We exchanged phone numbers, and I asked her to give me a call.
Ten minutes into a phone conversation, we were already sharing a good laugh. (She said I sounded like former President Bill Clinton, something I’d never been told before. I responded with my best exaggerated impression.)
By the end of the conversation we agreed to meet up the next morning, although the time and place were still to be determined. After I woke up, showered and shaved, I shot her a text: “Good morning. How are you?”
And then I waited.
Maybe my text didn’t go through?
But wait a second, I’m not going to play that game. So what was going on? A change of heart? Cold feet? Was she the one into playing games? And did it even matter? Was it worth racking my brain to try to find a reason?
I felt foolish. I thought I’d impressed her with my confidence enough that she’d want to meet up after my second attempt. I didn’t regret asking her out again, or asking Kasper for help (thanks homie!).
A week later my phone vibrated with a text.
J was reaching out.
I respond with a question mark.
She admitted to what I already knew: She had flaked on our coffee plans. She apologized and said she didn’t want to hurt my feelings. She said she was in a funk. I told her that my feelings were not hurt but that I was confused as to why she did not want to meet after saying she did.
Because it still feels like I’m going on a date, she replied, and the thought of romance “gives me all kinds of mixed feelings.”
“Romance?” I texted back. I told her that I had no such expectations. All I wanted was to meet up for coffee and just chat. “I’m not a fast driver,” I added.
“I dig,” she replied. “Imma go get ready for work now.”
“Have a good day at work, chat later,” I texted back.
But we don’t. I block her number.
The author works in the restaurant industry, and is on Instagram @10000blackcats.
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