13 Jun

“So, what do you do?”

We’d met at a coffee bar called MoJoe  in the Short North. The Short North was her decision, not mine. I couldn’t afford to pay five bucks for a coffee, but I knew someone who worked at the bar. He’d get me my drinks for free, and I’d offer to pay for nothing. Buying people non-alcoholic drinks is a fool’s game.

Missy, apparently, worked as a flight attendant. It seemed plausible. Flight attendants are one of those professions that breed stereotypes; I’d always thought of them as being vaguely hot. Missy was vaguely hot.

She had wavy brown hair, a high forehead, and long, long legs. She also had greasy skin and unkissable, lipless lips that reminded me of Kenneth Branagh. Much later, I’d also discover she had a really awful habit of starting sentences with the phrase “I don’t want to sound racist, but.” These seven words are magical. They make anything said after them sound infinitely more racist than it otherwise would, and this property extends to otherwise innocuous utterances. “I don’t want to sound racist, but I really prefer Coke to Pepsi,” etc. She didn’t say anything violently horrible; it was the genteel racism of the lately suburban. She and her doughy, awkwardly bearded roommate lived together in a barren neighborhood near the Arena District. No one else lived near her apartment.

I coughed. Usually the employment question isn’t the first question, but it’s an early one. I wasn’t prepared for it. I should have been. Literally every other woman I’d dated had asked me at some point. Another rule of internet dating is to learn from your past mistakes, but I wasn’t particularly interested in learning right now. She wore a one-piece grey dress with a deeply scooped neck, so mostly I was interested in her cleavage. I remembered she’d asked me something.

“I’m a writer,” I said, and prayed she didn’t ask me where I’d been published. Strictly speaking, what I’d told her wasn’t untrue. I did know how to write, and I had a short story stashed away that could corroborate my claims. I just hadn’t written anything in a while, and I’d never made any money from what I’d written. I noticed a tattoo on her foot and steered the conversation in that direction.

Her foot bore a stylized bee with a dot trail behind it, and she talked about but did not show me her butterfly tramp stamp. (I’d see it later, after we shirtlessly dry-humped on her sofa. It looked like a butterfly). Previously, I’d considered tattoos to be nearly universally hot. However, the tattoos I’d thought were hot were also not boring. (Another, perhaps less-universal rule of internet dating is do not date people with tramp stamps. I don’t advise this because tramp stamps are demonstrably awful; rather, it’s because people who are physical advertisements for their own bad judgment should be avoided).

The conversation persisted for hours. I’ve no memory of how that happened or what we talked about. She wasn’t particularly fascinating. Neither was I, but we didn’t horrify each other, and that was something. She invited me back to her apartment, casually mentioning that she waited a long time to sleep with someone new because she easily became emotionally involved.

Here is another rule of internet dating: Listen carefully to what people tell you about themselves.


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