Last night I went on a date with a man who instigated a game of ‘Guess Which Song This Darren Hanlon Lyric Comes From’ with me over text. The museum was open late so we ate tacos in Carlton Gardens and then bantered under the bones of dinosaurs.
But that story feels to fresh to tell, it’s still being figured out. But it did prove that cute dorks do exist on Tinder- so to all my Dearest Readers who are also single – it’s just a bloody numbers game. Just keep swiping and having lame online conversations and even lamer real life conversations and every now and then some potentially interesting shit happens. Or maybe it won’t. Who knows. It’s early days and I don’t need to be certain yet. I don’t need to engage in over analysing every single conversation topic, gesture, kissing style etc. What I need is a 2nd date. Which is always exciting!
Look, I know this is teasing, and I’m only a little bit sorry about that, but I’m truly sorry that on top of teasing I’m now asking a favour.
I’m returning to The Moth on Monday night to throw my name in the hat for another chance at telling another story. Last month I spontaneously entered and improvised a story about how I’d been stood up that very night. I’ve got a little bit more time to think about a story this time though. The theme this month is ‘Love Hurts’. I KNOW! THERE COULDN’T BE A MORE APT THEME! I CAN’T DECIDE WHICH STORY TO TELL!
I only have 5 minutes, so I’m keen to edit and rework a story that has appeared here. I’d really bloody appreciate your help deciding which one to work on though! Here’s a bit of a shortlist of stories I think could work well succinctly spoken aloud, but I need some outside eyes/minds/hearts. If you’ve got time to vote for your fave in this poll it’d be super helpful. I’ve included links to them below if you need reminding, and if you’re new – here’s a handy highlights package of the last 5 years! Then you can vote too!
I really hope you’re all having truly excellent weekends. I’m baking my first ever gluten free chocolate cake that appears to actually be rising, whilst sipping some tea made of melaleuca leaves. City living!
Thanks heaps for your help Readers!
With Appreciative Regards,
The Hit List
- Austrian Bricklayers in the Pilbara: the first story I ever told on this here blog about electrifying elbow contact, Pilbara desert dune sunsets and a magic bus (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Terrible Sex in Alice Springs: about another sunset, this time on Anzac Hill, butter chicken cooked from scratch, gold earrings and a motorbike (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Rodeo Romance at Harts Range Station: the true story behind the first erotic bush poem about a psuedo cowboy, a bushdance, a blue dress and a single swag (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Intergenerational Double Date: that time I went on a double date with a dude and his mum at the casino in Alice Springs (here)
- Inner City Speed Dating: begins south of the Yarra and ends up in the newspaper (Part 1 and Part 2)
- The Spirit of Tasmania: I met a handsome writer at a writers festival and tried to woo him on a boat. (Proper links this time to the meeting Part 1, the love letter Part 2, the interstate adventure Part 3 and the farewell Part 4)
- Letterbox Liaisons: in which cute letters are exchanged with the cute boy next door (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)
- Whisky With A Childhood Crush: in which I bump into my babin’ crush from primary school at a cider farm in Tassie and he introduces me to whisky (there was only 1 Part)
THANK YOU THIS IS REALLY REALLY HELPFUL FEEDBACK!
If you find yourself stranded at a bar holding a spare ticket to a show because a man has stood you up for a third date, here are some things you should do:
1. Phone a friend who lives nearby and who will gladly take your spare ticket
2. Go in and get a good seat
3. When the friendly woman next to you strikes up a convo, proceed to tell her the story about how you met this guy and you thought that going to a storytelling gig would be a good third date and how you were both excited about it and how unambiguous and definitely confirmed your plans were but how you’re now here temporarily alone.
4. If that friendly woman tells you to share the story with the rest of the audience, take her advice and put your name in the hat.
5. When your friend arrives take courage and solace from her.
6.When your name gets pulled out of the hat, get up and tell your story. Don’t make it about him. Make it about you and your ambitious search for love. Make it about the friendly woman and the kindness of strangers.
You never know, this might just happen:
Oh hello there! You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here and soz but there’ll probably be a Part 4 in the next few days. Enjoy! -DD
7. An afternoon drink with a Perfect Match
We had a 96% match on OkCupid. He was a ‘writer’ who liked the theatre and bushwalking. His profile pics included him with a pot plant and in fancy dress. He requested the date be close be to his bike route home from work. On paper – a perfect match. You can read about this bloke here. Spoiler art: he wasn’t a perfect match.
Look, there are a lot of really nice guys in the world and probably a lot of really nice girls who just want really nice guys. I wish them all well. I ain’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wanna date an arsehole! I’m an optimist who believes most people are generally ‘nice’. But if the first thing someone says about you is that you’re ‘really nice’ then you’re probably not one of my friends or family or valued colleagues. They’re all really nice people sure, but that should just be a given – everyone should just be really nice, but then they should some other more interesting shit going on. If anyone comes to my wake and says I was a nice person, please ask them to leave and stop eating all the Jatz and cheese, because clearly we were never close.
8. A gig with a Bundle Of Nerves
I think ‘kind’ is a more admirable quality than ‘nice’ and obvs I try to be kind whenever a date tells me he’s super nervous, or that I’m his second ever date and he’s still getting his confidence up with the online dating thing.
It’s a curious balance with Bundles of Nerves – making them feel comfortable without being disingenuous. Trying to ask enough questions to draw out their story, without making them feel interrogated. Leaving enough silences to give them time to respond or ask a question without making it totally awkward. Again, that balance between tact and honesty and integrity and kindness and courage.
Neither of us contacted the other afterwards. No pash. No second date.
9. Not really proper dates with Flakes
The next morning, two Flakes text and ask to reschedule our pre-arranged dates, without indicating the other day or time. That afternoon I wait 48 minutes for a date to arrive. I kept receiving vague text messages that he was going to be there soon. I felt like the biggest desperate dill for not leaving, also for having a holiday schedule less full than these blokes who had better things to do. Do I want this more? Does that make me a total loser? In addition to being a Flake, the late arrival turned out to be an Orator, who tried to tell me that because he moved share-houses each year he was a nomad. “A nomad of Melbourne’s northern suburbs you mean?” I clarified, resisting the urge to let him know that I was actually the last person in this city that he should be trying to play the nomad card with because I HAVE LITERALLY MOVED INTERSTATE EVERY THREE YEARS TO A DIFFERENT REMOTE LOCATION YOU BERK. Good grief.
After a string of boring dates and a day of reschedules and late arrivals, I woke up one morning and didn’t get out of bed for ages. My mate reckons that “If you’re the kind of person who likes to believe that the world is a fascinating place and that everyone has a story and is inherently interesting, boring dates would really dampen your faith in humanity.” Yep.
Online dating sure is a numbers game, Readers. For every bland man I meet there’s no doubt some other woman who will find them interesting, who will draw out their story and be coaxed to tell theirs. We’re all just trawling through bland dates, scrolling through profiles on apps, trying different banter online until we all hope we strike gold. We make snap decisions and develop our own criteria to increase our chances of getting lucky. People who are happily in couples get curious, asking “Isn’t it a bit superficial, judging people based on their photos?” No more judgemental than what we all do in bars and cafes and trams and offices and classrooms every day.
In my search for less boring dates I matched with a self-professed ‘psychonaut’ who had a bio that read: “communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff.” Turns out all he owns is a feather necklace and a didgeridoo.
I pointed out that he also owned a smartphone, for Tindering purposes. No response. I asked where he learnt to play the didgeridoo. He replied, “In the NT with The Indigenous.” I told him I used to live up north, and again asked where he learnt. No response.
Did I mention he was a white dude with dreadlocks? I made some snap judgements, but I wanted my suspicions of cultural appropriation to be proven wrong. I wanted him to tell me someone in his family taught him to play the instrument that he knew the significance of. Yet I assumed his ‘connection’ with Aboriginal culture went about as deep as one weekend up at Rainbow Serpent festival and a tourist shop in Darwin full of cheap imported imitations.
I made all of these assumptions about him, based on a few photos and a brief online interaction. He probably made assumptions about me based on my photos and brief interaction. A few photos and a few words of text on a screen.
It was enough for me.
10. A storytelling show with a Wild Card.
I start to question my strategy of not judging men by their profession. Perhaps the unfortunate stereotype about bankers being boring was unfortunately true. Perhaps education level was also no indicator of conversational competence. I therefore gave my number to a carpenter and convinced him to come to a storytelling show with me that night, instead of going to the Night Markets as he’d planned. You can read about him here.
A carpenter! “Just like Jesus!” said a mate upon finding out he was also aged 33. Just like that German carpenter who instigated this whole blog back in the day. Except he’s nothing like him. And I’m a grown-ass woman now.
These Wild Cards who I didn’t know well, or talk much to online or arranged to meet up with in short time spans were proving to be a winning strategy. Minimal investment = low expectations + high hopes = pleasant surprises. If I’m really looking for someone with whom I can laugh and think and talk shit and talk real with, someone with whom I can feel things and have a connection with – some kind of chemistry, then surely you can’t suss those things out from a few pictures, some text and a bit of online banter. Right?
11. Three evenings of online banter with a Wild Card
Wrong. Of all these potential suitors, the one I’m most excited about is one I haven’t met yet. We moved from talking shit (truly natural and easy and hilarious shit) on Bumble to talking by text message pretty quickly. We got philosophical pretty quickly. Then we got steamy pretty quickly. We both went interstate for Christmas family times but had conversations by text message three times last week, each time for between 1.5 to 3 hours.
I’ve never connected with someone in this way before. I don’t know where it’ll go, but I’m so intrigued it’s ridiculous.
I just want to screenshot our sensational dialogue and publish that shit but suffice to say I’ve saved him in my phone as the fire emoji and whenever I see a text from him I feel it in my whole body.
No pash (in real life) (yet). No date (yet).
G’day! You can read Part 1 here if ya like. Enjoy! – DD
4. Dinner with an Orator.
Look. Every human being on earth has their own unique identity. We’re all a complex combination of skills, values, personality traits, genes, education, environment, family, culture, class, gender, upbringing, occupation and hobbies. To reduce anyone, or any group of people to crude stereotypes would be pointless. Surely. But as old Joseph Campbell realised, sometimes patterns form and behaviours repeat and if you look at similar stories some similar archetypal characters emerge. Once you see these characters they start popping up everywhere and are a bloody useful storytelling device.
You’ve now met two Really Nice Guys. Now meet The Orator. AKA The Monologuer or The Non-Stop Talker. Who knows what inspires these mind numbingly boring soliloquies? Is it nerves? Are they so nervous that they feel they’re wholly responsible for filling all the silences? Is anxiety limiting their capacity to think of anything other than their own internal turmoil? Or is it arrogance? Are they that uninterested in anyone else’s anecdotes that the idea of asking a question is out of the question? Or, perhaps conversation is such a multifarious science, such an enigmatic art, that it needs to be learnt or nurtured. What do they think such speeches will achieve? What’s motivating this filibustering?
Whatever the psychology is behind it, the effect is always the same. It positions me as an audience member with three options:
- I can aggressively assert myself into the conversation and turn it back on myself: Oh you’ve recently purchased a clothes dryer? That reminds me of when I recently purchased some waterproofing oil for my Drizabone that I purchased as a burlesque costume! Something I also recently purchased were pots to put in plants inspired by each place I’ve lived!
- I can try and steer the conversation towards something more interesting: Oh you’ve rattled off a list of countries you’ve travelled to? But what did you learn in Bali? Oh you hate your job? But what’s the best thing about it? The perks, huh? What are those? Discounted white goods? WHAT’S WITH THE WHITEGOODS PEOPLE? IS THE SAME DRONGO WHO INSTRUCTED MEN TO ‘NEG’ WOMEN IN THEIR PICKUP LINES NOW ADVOCATING DISCUSSIONS OF WHITEGOODS? IS OWNING A BRAND NEW FRIDGE SOME KIND OF STATUS SYMBOL I MISSED THE MEMO ABOUT? WHERE DOES THIS COME FROM??? If you wanna talk about Dyson vacuum cleaners however…
- I can sit back and let ’em go. Nod and smile and try to sneak glimpses of his watch. Focus on mindfully eating the delicious Malaysian cuisine I’m eating for dinner. Start making a mental list of Christmas presents to bake.
I tried Options 1 and 2 on this date. It went for 53 minutes. It was at an incredibly fluro lit Malaysian restaurant in the city. Neither of us got in touch afterwards.
No pash. No second date.
5. Late night drink with a Wild Card
Did I mention that dates 3, 4 and now 5 all happened on the same day? 3 and 4 were pre-arranged and we met through OkCupid, but Number 5 I only arranged through Happn as I walked to the tram from Number 4. We’d had a little bit of banter online and had exchanged numbers. He has a professor and his profile pictures included him sitting near a campfire. Happn has less search criteria or mathematical algorithms based on lengthy surveys, so all you get is a location, an occupation, a few pictures, a few lines of bio, a list of things you mutually ‘like’ on Facebook and if you have any mutual friends. We mutually liked Scott Ludlam, La Mama Theatre and the ‘I Fucking Love Science’ Facebook group. Bodes well.
It was only 9pm when I finished with Number 4, the second Orator of the week, so I texted this Wild Card bloke who I didn’t know that much about and we arranged to meet in 20 minutes at The Standard in Fitzroy. My old housemate used to love this pub for it’s decent food, ambient lighting and lack of douchebags. The fellas behind the bar are also fairly easy on the eye, despite their painfully hip hairstyles. I’ve never found the ironic mullet or ironic bowl cut attractive. I find city irony rules too hard to follow. Don’t ‘ironically’ love the Backstreet Boys and then hate on me for preferring 5ive.
I digress. I got there first (which made me feel smug af), order a neat Jamos (student budget) and find a table in a corner. He arrives wearing a cap and drinks red wine. We talk about theatre and politics and ourselves. He is well travelled, highly educated and if we had done the OkCupid surveys we’d no doubt have a 90+ match percentage. It’s interesting, but not thrilling. He is very cool, not showing much emotion. This calm confidence is attractive, but not as much as the infectious passion of The Conversationalist earlier that day.
We agree to go and see some shows together.
No pash. No second date.
6. ‘Coffee’ with another Orator
I wrote the other week that I could tell within 3 seconds of meeting a first date if chemistry existed. Just as chemistry can grow over the 59.57 minutes of the date if there’s a connection through conversation, charm, confidence, intellect or wit, so to can the initial promise of chemistry plummet.
I was trying not to judge based on occupation, but sought out dates with a similar level of education. So the morning after my 3 dates in one day, I gave another ‘finance industry’ guy a go. This one was a babe, and as he found me in Mr Tulk he flashed an incredibly babin’ smile. First 3 seconds boded well.
Then he opened his mouth to speak. Then he didn’t close it for the remaining 59.57 minutes of the date. Another Orator. At one point I noticed I hadn’t said anything of substance for a while so I stopped even saying “Yeah” at the end of his sentences to see if the lack of noise from my side of the coffee table would prompt him to ask me a question. I waited 17 minutes. He asked me a question, then looked at his watch as I began to reply.
Afterwards he sent me an “I had a really great time today” message and I replied 12 hours later with a thumbs up emoji. Look I know it’s a limited sample size but so far the data points towards a correlation between the finance industry and Orators. So, sashay away ‘finance industry’ dudes.
No pash. No second date.
Before Christmas I went on 14 dates in 13 days. I didn’t set out with a specific goal in mind, honestly. I do know online dating is a numbers game though. Surely it’s a mix of chance/fate/luck and deliberate investments of time/energy/headspace and then persevering through enough bad dates that you strike gold with a few good ones. Surely.
I went through phases of being interested in online dating this year, but mostly I was either focusing on my health, focusing on my studies at uni, or focusing on babes at uni. (More on that later.) (NOT!) (Look, sure, I pashed a babe once or twice but if it had worked out I wouldn’t be on these dates would I? We are now good friends and it’s fine I’M FINE. So cool your jets! Sheesh!) (Srsly I am fine, see below – now feeling very ace! There were a rocky few moments but now I’m ready to open up this old heart of mine again.)
I have to go back to uni on January 9th. Landing a man (Jeez, who am I? Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice?) by 9.1.18 wasn’t a realistic KPI for this project but I at least wanted to feel like I’d put a bit of effort into my love life this year. After finishing uni for the year in October and working in Canberra for all of November, the Melbourne summer sun was beckoning and I had the luxury of some unfilled days. I was also feeling physically and mentally pretty ace. As Jermaine would say – conditions were perfect.
I’m not sure why I’m justifying this to y’all. Perhaps I’m insecure about being perceived as either desperate or heartlessly pragmatic or more of a writer than a romantic- numbering dates and reporting to an audience about them. Surely it’s fine to know what you want and work hard to get it, right? Surely it’s ok to apply the same organisational principles to your love life as you do to your work or study, right? Surely by now y’all know by now that I’d much rather a good date than a good story, right? I want nothing more than to kill this blog off and be like “soz guys, been on 7 dates with one bloke and it’s going so well that I have no more shitty dating stories to share rn. In a year we’ll probably move in together and co-parent some pot plants kthxbye.”
Whatever, I did it anyway so I should just own that shit and be cool about it, right?
Right. Onwards. So here for your reading pleasure the next couple of posts will be some of the best/worst/blandest. I hope y’all had the merriest of Christmases and are getting some kind of break over this summer. I have spent today in my PJs alternating between reading on the couch and writing this to youse. #bliss. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed crafting something out of these moments for you.
1. Lunch with a Really Nice Guy.
We had a 96% match on OKCupid. During pre-date banter phase, he offered to send me a cup of chamomile tea in an Uber. It’s the most pragmatic/romantic offer I’ve ever received online.
We sat on stools with backs near a bar at the window at the Moroccan Deli-cacy, both facing outwards to the street, avoiding the awkward ‘avoiding eye-contact forced staring at each other across a table’ situation. I’m a massive advocate for both parties facing the same direction while conversing. Try it! To improve conversation with your younger brother, try watching telly together and talking in the ads! To improve conversations with teenagers you’re trying to mentor, try driving them somewhere and yarning in the car!
Back to the Deli, where our initially polite conversation deteriorates into a detailed account of his recent purchase of a washing machine. I begin to question the reasons people decide to tell certain stories in these circumstances – when you’re trying to impress or connect with someone who you might want to later pash or date or sleep with or enter a partnership with or eventually move in with and co-parent some pot plants with. This will become a recurring theme. More on monologues later.
The food is delicious. I spill it on myself. Three times. He doesn’t mention it. He seems like a Really Nice Guy. He won’t end up being my boyfriend but perhaps a RNG was exactly what I needed after a long time between online dating drinks.
He pays for lunch. I always offer to split bills but hey, I’m a student so I’m not gunna fight antiquated chivalry too hard. Even when I graduate I never have and never will earn as much as these blokes do. Gender pay gap aside, I’m a bloody teacher/artist, they’re a bloody dentist/Department of Immigration employee/IT contractor in the finance industry. Side note: if you’re that ashamed of working for a bank that you consistently refer to your place of work as ‘the finance industry’ and refuse to say the word ‘bank,’ maybe you shouldn’t be working for a bank? More on devastating career choices later.
We wander down the road to look at some indoor pot plants. It feels too soon, like the equivalent of watching ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ or going to a pet shop. Neither of us buy anything. He texts me later, not to suggest another date but to say thanks, which I find very classy and reciprocate.
No pash. No second date.
2. A contemporary dance show with another Really Nice Guy (RNG)
Another OkCupid over 90% matcher, who I’d been in vaguely in touch with for a few months. Facebook friends (feel free to become one here!) will have got the scoop on this already, so skip ahead if you cbf re-living the magic. Ha.
I had a nice enough time watching and then discussing the show over a glass of champagne. I decided pretty early on that I didn’t want to take things further and began to dread the inevitable moment when next steps were discussed. Do you want to go for a walk? Which really means: do you want to spend more time with me now? Which really means: are you attracted to me? All of these were asked with the extension of a hand, an open palm, that after trying to laugh off I took in mine.
The whole time we walked along that somewhat romantic St Kilda Pier I was furious with myself. I didn’t want to be walking along that pier. I didn’t want to be holding that man’s hand. So why the hell was I? Was it that I didn’t want to be rude, or didn’t know how to be honest and respectful at the same time? I’d just spent a month working with teenage girls, talking about being strong independent women. What a hypocrite! I couldn’t even tell a polite man I didn’t want to hold his hand.
People often comment on the bravery of online dating. Of putting yourself out there, assuming the act of asking is the courageous part. When perhaps the bit that takes the most guts is looking someone in the eye when you’re asked the question and saying no. Knowing how to pick up on the signals your body is giving you, those gut feelings. Knowing how to listen to your instincts. Having the courage to be honest and real, but with kindness and grace, acknowledging that being vulnerable and strong is hard for both of us.
He texted afterwards to invite me to another show. I said I’d be glad of a show buddy but didn’t feel anything more towards him. I tried to push the chorus of ‘Nice Guys Finish Last‘ out of my head. Then wondered which dating apps the punks used. The hippies. The artists. The bushwalkers. The birdwatchers. The poets. Anyone but the Really Nice Guys.
No pash. No second date.
3. Afternoon drink with a Conversationalist
Another OKCupid high percentage match, who I’d bantered with a bit earlier in the year. He texts me 15 minutes early and I reply I’m running 5 mins late. I’m perpetually late so early people make me feel guilty. This doesn’t bode well, but when I arrive I can’t find him. Then he arrives with shopping bags in hand – excellent! Instead of sitting around fuming he amused himself! He gleefully shows me his purchases – we’re back on track.
That track runs smoothly and joyfully for a good hour and a half. I’m not sure if I was just excited that good banter with babes does still exist, or if I just have always found conversational competence an extremely attractive quality. But man alive did it feel good! I was asked questions about myself! My jokes were laughed at! His stories made me want to know more!
I have never had a bad first date at the Kent St bar on Smith Street in Fitzroy and this was no exception. The tunes there are consistently good, the decor is old in a good way and the bar staff remain friendly even when they twig that you’re obviously on a first date.
When farewelling him I said “Hey, I’d really like to see you again. Whaddayareckon?” A second date was mutually accepted as a good idea but no solid plans made.
No pash. Second date has yet to occur, despite my not very subtle prompting texts.
PS: The good thing about playing the numbers game, is you can never get too excited or depressed about any one date or person, because you’ve got plenty more lined up in the wings. Before I went to sleep the day I dated that Conversationalist, I went on two more dates, not with RNGS but with a Wild Card and an Orator. More on those tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow! – DD