Also why was it okay for Sasha Baron Cohen’s character to have a fake Indian accent?

For the first time in years, I had a date last night. Not one of my friend dates, but a date date. It was swell.

Not to kiss and tell, but it was also one of the first sweet and innocent nice dates I’ve had in ages. We planned on watching a movie. She came over and we chatted for long enough that we realised we hadn’t chosen a movie yet. We worked out our parameters and picked Madagascar, then spoke the whole way through it. It didn’t look like we were missing much. We both had work the next day, so we shared a nice kiss goodnight and promised to do it again soon.

I’m tentative to overuse the word “nice”, because it’s so often a synonym for “boring”, but it really was. We both have other partners, so it’s not like we had anything to prove. It having been a while since I’ve dated, I kind of wanted to move slow anyway and it was fantastic that she picked up on that. We’ve both enjoyed hanging out in group settings, but it was so gosh darn groovy to actually get to know one another outside of fleeting conversations at parties.

It’s easy to forget at times that people contain unspoken multitudes. We get so wrapped up in all the ephemera of our daily lives that connecting to others gets pushed to the side. I can’t believe how many close adult friends I have who I have no idea how they make a living, for instance. Many of whom I’ve shared intimate emotional space with. It’s difficult to make them a priority when I’m under this illusion that I’m always busy. Then I’ll look up and realise I haven’t seen one of my close friends in months. In my early 20s when I was seeing my immediate circle most weeks, this would’ve seemed insane. At times I’m almost cowed by how many incredible, creative people I have a mere message away. Then I’ll share a meal, a drink, or even a lengthy conversation with them and feel almost overwhelmed. People are so often even more impressive than we give them credit for.

It’s something I was angling to access more with my I Have My Dates project, currently on hiatus because, yes I did get very busy for real. Now that I’ve got a big camping trip a mere week and a half away, I’ve got even less spare time. On one hand after re-experiencing unexpected connection, I feel guilty that I’m keeping it at arm’s reach for the next ten days. On the other hand, it’s the sort of experience that I’ll welcome with open arms on the camping trip. If anything, this date was a reminder of the simple joys that come from getting to know someone better.

If that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

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In Brussels do they just call them sprouts?

It’s around 7pm and I’m almost falling asleep. If I don’t do this now, my writing will consist of nothing but “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” as my head thumps down onto the keyboard.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and you know what that means. It’s list-o-mania:

  • I thought today about that song “Easy”. You know what? Sunday morning is pretty average. Most of the time it’s a sleep in or hangover drudgery. Either I’ll miss it entirely or it’ll be unremarkable. I guess that is “easy”, but being hungover counts that one out. What I realised is that Sunday afternoons are where it’s at. Either you’re doing errands or vegging out and eating delicious things. You could be hanging out with friends or eating delicious things while running errands. Maybe a little washing or something. Sunday afternoons excel without plans, but plans are fine too. In closing, Sunday afternoons. Good stuff.
  • Our landlord replaced the sump pump (which, for the record, is as fun to type as it is to say) downstairs and the noise is cacophonous. I think it’s from the pump, anyway. Our spare room must be directly above it or something, because while I’m on the computer the churning of the pump (is it evident I don’t know what pumps are yet?) has become our new flavour of white noise. It sounds like an army marching or some kind of production line assembling small robots. Maybe even a steam engine. Whatever it is, I have no idea how our downstairs neighbour sleeps any more. If it’s this noisy on our level, he must be using industrial strength earplugs to get to sleep.
  • I went to a party last night, because I’m that damn popular. Something remarkable happened when it came time to sing Happy Birthday. They handed out cake pops, which they assured us were gluten free. We sang the song, cheered and all chomped down. I don’t think anyone wasn’t surprised. Under that thick chocolate ganache shell were steamed Brussels sprouts. Honestly, I didn’t mind them. I love steamed veggies. Most people got “got” though and put their half eaten pops back on the platter. One of the best executed pranks I’ve seen in ages. Altogether pretty harmless, plus I got to eat tasty Brussels sprouts. Who doesn’t love fiber?
  • This story about a Wellington cat wandering the town may be the most New Zealand story I’ve heard in a while. Apparently it’s just entering people’s homes and businesses of its own volition and hanging out. Seems totally benign and friendly.
  • For maybe the second or third time I introduced myself into a certain woman at a party and she was like “oh we’ve met. We went on a date once.” Same woman, I’m not forgetting scores of women or anything. I simply don’t and didn’t date around that much. She wasn’t angry or anything and we laughed about it afterwards. From what I remember, nobody had a super shit time on the date, we just didn’t have much chemistry. I added her on Facebook a) because she’s friendly and swell but maybe more importantly b) because I’m petrified of forgetting her next time. I’ve heard if you forget someone who you went on a date with at three consecutive parties, Candyman appears to tear out your flaccid, useless heart.
  • Both Verne Troyer and Avicii died in the past week. Troyer was 49 and Avicii was a mere 28 years of age. Not that a stranger’s death is really anything other than surprising, but it’s ever strange to consider just how haphazard death can be. One minute you’re doing Reddit AMAs and the next you’re a decomposing husk of skin, flesh, muscles and bones. #YOLO in whatever manner that represents for you.
  • I found out recently that some venues in Toronto have cheaper tickets in person at their box office than online. The Sony Centre, for instance, waives the Ticketmaster fee. I saved $16 on a St Vincent ticket because I had nothing better to do on my lunch break (and was having issues with the site anyway). Knowledge is power and $16 is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Speaking of “nothing to sneeze at”, I’ve still got this bloody cold I picked up in London. Most of the symptoms have passed, but I’m still flooded with an uncanny quantity of mucus. It’s unreal how much my body contains. No matter how much I fling into tissues, there’s still more. I’ll clear it out in the shower, then by the time I go to towel off, I’ll be congested again. I don’t know how many trees I’ve downed for tissues thus far, but their sacrifice was not in vain. Wait, what am I talking about? Of course it was in vain, I’m still congested. Cuuuurses.

Is perfunctory still my word of the moment? Because that was pure perfunction over perform.

If she didn’t want to go, at least I’d be able to call her a Syphilistine.

The epitome of first world problems is being tired because you ate too many complex carbs. Today that’s me. I’m dat boi. My stomach is full of bread and pasta. I’m fat, happy and mentally null. This one’s gonna be a doozy.

I’m getting a haircut today. I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for the past three years. Vietnamese guy. He’s awesome. I’ll go in with some vague idea of what I want and he’ll tell me what I’m actually looking for. He’ll offer suggestions that make sense with the shape of my head and it’s rare that I come out unhappy. Best of all, he’s cut my hair enough that he knows not to do dumpy stuff like cut straight across my fringe. He follows a more natural hairline in the back. Good gradients, etc etc. I found him by accident and it’s proven to be one of those happy accidents like an unplanned pregnancy that worked out for the best.

I’ve been going there for three years and he still thinks I’m Irish.

Tomorrow night I have a Kpop party coming up. I’ve been prepping for weeks by forcing playlists into my body via IV. Right into my veins. My struggle at the moment is figuring out a neat costume. Some combination of garish colours and horizontal lines? Do I need fluoro hair? Should I ask my hairdresser to merman me up?I’ve got some ridiculous rave leggings. Can I incorporate them somehow? Is this a night where Four Loko needs to make an experience? It’s absurd. I’m heading to London on Sunday and I’ve put more effort into planning this dance party.

Oh, that’s right, I’m heading to London on Sunday.

A good friend is getting married, so my girlfriend and I are going there to join in the fun. Frankly I feel like I just got back from Austin, so I’m still a little muddled. It’s not my first time travelling there, but it will be for my girlfriend. I can’t wait for her to see all the creepy museums with preserved syphilitic penises in jars. I’ll look godly in comparison. As they say, syphilisliness is next to godliness.

More importantly, it’ll be the first time we get to take a trip together in ages. We can travel pretty well with one another. We both know how to compromise and value the other getting the experiences they’re looking for. Seeing London with her means I’ll likely see a few more landmarks than I would on my own and she’ll end up spending hours patiently waiting until I find a restaurant that satisfies my exact cravings. The syphilitic penises are where our interests converge.

As always, I prefer trips with company because as great as it is to do exactly what I want all the time, often different people have interesting ideas on other options. They think of stuff I might never consider. Even better, it’s fun to bounce off their energy instead of stewing in my own. You’re creating memories together, which enrich your connection. Weird experiences become stories in retrospect and I’m always ready to add to my archive.

If they were gonna battle, would you call them Beast Wars?

Last night I got to live my dreams. I finally visited the Toronto institution known as “The Beast”.

Bistro 422 is a dive bar that dives deep into its own dive-inity. I’d heard tales of cheap mixed drink pitchers and bar snacks. To be entirely honest, I’m not certain I hadn’t been there before and drank enough to forget. In any case, The Beast (not to be confused with the restaurant that does a gorgeously decadent brunch) delivered in all aspects. It was subterranean and felt like some manner of warren. Tables were small and dinky, with barely enough room for the litre jugs of sloppy cocktails. To be honest, a 4oz drink for $12 isn’t too shabby around here. We got a couple of Long Island iced teas, a Krazy Koolaid (vodka, cranberry and melon liqueur) and a Mojito that tasted like lime spearmint. They went down absurdly easy. We also ordered some sweet potato fries that were both abundant and crunchy. When we got there at 8pm, we were basically the only ones in there aside from the barman. He kind of floated around and would occasionally join in the conversation or laugh at something we’d said. He was eccentric, but friendly enough. The kind of person who makes sense behind the bar. I was surprised to see zero cockroaches during our visit, but they certainly would’ve added to the atmos. In case you think I’m being insincere, that’s not remotely the case. I love a good drinking shithole and The Beast was The Best.

Of course it wouldn’t have been the same without such great company. In a continuation of this I Have My Dates project, it was my bonafide first double date. I was accompanied by a couple, friends of mine I get to see on the regular. My “date” was someone I met through friends. I never get to spend as much time with her as I’d like, but every time I do I question why that is. She’s fucking great. Smart, funny and super perceptive. She got there late (after going to the wrong “The Beast”), but immediately enjoyed our silly jug driven revelry. We all got to know one another a little better and spent time discovering what we all did. For the third time in the same day, I was involved in a discussion about how as transient adults, we so rarely know what our friends do for work. We’ll end up meeting at parties, events, etc. It’s been so long since my job defined who I was that I’ll hardly ever ask about jobs. It seems sort of reductive, ’cause most people are more than how they pay the rent. Then again, there’s nothing more interesting than hearing someone talk on what they’re passionate about. If their passion is their employment, then that becomes fascinating. I love learning more about different industries and after a couple of drinks I can’t ask enough questions. I don’t know if it’s possible to create some kind of drunken interview show, but I think that’s my true calling.

After downing an irresponsible volume of colourful alcohols, we walked down to the new location of Tilt, Toronto’s premiere barcade. It’s always $5 freeplay and the machines are retouched 80s classics. Honestly, we were having such a good time catching up that we didn’t play a ton of games. We did however play the four player Ninja Turtles console from start to end. Wow, were my memories ever different from reality. It’s actually kind of shitty. It’s a side scroller where you can attack, jump and jump attack. There’s also a super move that saps your life. That’s it. It’s super limited and there aren’t even a bunch of cool items to pick up. It’s no Golden Axe and it’s definitely no Aliens Vs Predator. But regardless the place was pumping. We got there after the kitchen had closed, so I didn’t get the corn dogs I was craving so badly. As if to compensate, the beer selection was all kinds of decent. Any place that has a gose on tap is doing something right.

If anyone out there in Toronto is looking for a great night, a recreation of my date would be all kinds of a-ight.

Just make sure you get to the right Beast. Though the wrong one makes a pretty awesome hangover cure the morning after.

I want my next job to be naming IKEA produkts.

In my Friday night Twitch viewing, I’ve found a stream that sounds like it’s gonna be a blast commencing in 15 minutes. So it looks like I need to blitz through this writing and miss only the first 15 minutes.

Let’s get frenetic.

A friend and I went for Korean today at my favourite haunt. As always, I got the gamjatang. As always, zero regrets. An interesting thing happened while we were there. See, I’ve been mainlining Kpop in an attempt to get ready for a Kpop dance party next Friday. I’ve found that since I can’t understand the lyrics, it’s upbeat music that helps me be pretty productive. You also know that something must be pretty goddamn catchy if it’s stuck in your head while being in a language you don’t speak. It’s so slickly produced and takes its musical cues from all different matter of world pop. I think that by this point, I might just be a genuine fan. Usually when I go there to eat I’ll be on my own. I’ll eat my meal and watch Magic draft videos, peaking periodically at the Kpop videos. This time I had my headphones off, since I was with a friend. I noticed that I recognised a notable number of songs. I’d be like wait, is Hellevator on right now? Or is this A.C.E? I think I’ve reached a turning point in my appreciation of the genre. I regaled him with my love of their music videos. The saturated colours, the elaborate sets and dynamic camera work. The complex choreography and almost eerily attractive people. The weird commodification of Western tropes and English sentences. I’ve started to understand that I have a very sincere love of Kpop and this party next week may quite well blow my mind out the back of my head.

Six months ago, I’m not sure that would’ve been a sentence I’d have thought myself capable of writing.

In other news, my girlfriend and I visited IKEA and managed to spend under 20 dollars. Excluding food. I’m not gonna say what amount of our consumption was frozen yoghurt, suffice to say that we bought more cones than the number of us who went. The two of us, that is. IKEA on a Friday night was a good time. It wasn’t super busy and was actually a better date night than we could’ve imagined. We got to play house in all manner of environments. The lighting was perfect, with a pleasant atmosphere. We may not have been entirely sober, which only made it more of a madcap adventure. We lost our way more than once and felt like we were playing in a big maze. They had this novel style of cart which was just a soft canvas style bag with wheels and straps. You could hang it over your shoulder or drag it behind you. I wasn’t paying attention and every so often it’d careen off at an odd angle and gently hit someone else in the legs (was it sentient and trying to bolas them?). Thing is, it was soft enough that it’s not like they could be anything more than mildly miffed. We had fun. Then mid-trip we got to hang out and eat delicious meatballs with a side of soup and lingonberry juice. What could be better?

The excursion really brought home how particular I am about the tactile sensations of my kitchen/tableware. We looked at stacks of bowls trying to decipher what the right combination of depth, material, angles and weight was. We tried holding various forks and spoons, but to no avail. Maybe their tines weren’t long enough or bowls deep enough. They just didn’t feel right. I got full on KonMari and wasn’t feeling it. These items weren’t bringing me joy. So we escaped with a soap dispenser that looks kind of like a garbage bin, a milk frother and… something I can’t remember right now. Hence the sub $20 total purchase. Also food. We spent considerably more on food than we did on home products. Had we been sober, maybe that wouldn’t have been the case. I was eyeing up some balloon lights something fierce for our spare room. Because it’d be kind of neat to have that kind of whimsy a mere light switch away.

We’re adults, right?

Now that’s over with, can I get a redux?

I’ve consumed a lot of coffee today. I can’t give you a good reason as to why. Suffice to say I’m underworked and understimulated and one of these seemed more fun to fix than the other.

The outcome was twofold. Firstly, I listened to a hell of a lot of K-pop. I’ve been joking with a friend of mine about attending a K-pop gig for a while. At some point, it stopped being a joke and became something we decided to commit to. A couple of weeks ago we found a gig and put down money for the tickets. I was talking with a co-worker today about actually learning K-pop music. To date, I’d only really watched a multitude of videos on silent while eating gamjatang. If I was gonna dance to K-pop, the experience would be exponentially more enjoyable with added familiarity. Plus I’m not into half-assing most anything. I found a playlist on Deezer and started listening.

I fucking loved it. The ballads are kind of boring, but the more danceable stuff is a glorious fusion of world musics, brought together under a catchy mantle. I’m getting irrationally excited for this gig, but that may just be the unhealthy amount of coffee speaking.

I did say twofold, didn’t I? The other fold was as thus. As a kind of book-end to my online dating experiences, I wrote the following post for my Facebook friends:

 

After deciding to leave online dating, I had a thought last night.

I miss the experience of dating, of creating new/deepening emotional connections with people. Also being Toronto, I have a myriad of friends I don’t get to see enough.

In an intentional manner, I’d like to both recreate the experience of dating and further casual non-sexual intimacy with the people I love in my life: My friends.

I want to start going on “dates” with friends. I want to have new experiences and dig deep into all those squishy feelings I have for so many of you. I want to do stuff, but with the conceit that “this is a date”. Let’s play with the set-up that we’re trying to bring the best out in one another and grow closer as a result. Let’s learn more about each other and connect on an emotionally intimate level. To be honest, I think this is most of what I’d be looking for out of internet dating, but the fun part is getting to do it with people I already know I like.

Let’s go to concerts, events, active excursions, personal scavenger hunts, play 21 questions or spend a day doing our best Green Card re-enactment.

If this is something you think would be fun, let me know. The next time I’m itching for a date, I’ll reach out. If you have no plans one evening and want a date, message me.

It should go without saying that gender couldn’t be more irrelevant. In case it hasn’t, dudes, very much get at me too.

 

I hope this has given you whatever closure you were seeking. My life may be an open book, but that doesn’t mean it’s without chapters.

Am I the only one who remembers “Honey to the B” era Billie Piper?

I quit Bumble.

Not only that, I deleted the app and closed my account. I think I might be done with online dating.

I used Bumble for under a week. I was excited by the prospect of a woman making the first move. During those six days I swiped through literally thousands of women. On average, I’d guess that I swiped right once every 20-30 women. If you don’t speak Bumble, right-swipers are people you’re interested in chatting with. Alternatively, far-right swipers are far less desirable. Why did so few women meet my criteria? Why am I such a prize that I can be so selective? Let’s get some stuff out of the way first. I went through this when I first installed the app, but just in case, here’s a shortlist:

  • Most profiles only have photos. If you can’t write a bio, then I know nothing about you.
  • Your Instagram and Spotify say some stuff about you, sure. However, if you still can’t put the effort into writing anything about yourself, how could I see you as someone who’d put effort into a relationship?
  • If people did write profiles, they were often homogeneous. A yogi looking for a partner in life who loves to laugh/is funny, enjoys tacos, the Leafs, travel, craft beer, has a dog, is tall, wants something meaningful and doesn’t play games. Or they’d use an obviously copy/pasted quote. Or endless emojis. If this app is anything to go by, women on the whole are honestly, Basic. I’m sure dudes are too.
  • Of course attraction comes into play. If someone met my criteria but I didn’t find them cute, they’d get the swipe left too. I don’t think that differs from real life.

So, thousands of women. Let’s say 2000 as a ballpark figure. It’s probably not far off. If I’m matching one out of every 20-30, let’s round it up to about 100 right swipes. Keep in mind, those are right swipes that (in my very selective criteria) have been screened for resonant personalities and/or interests. Not only people that I liked, but people who I thought may have reflexively been interested in me. So of 100 right swipes, how many matches did I get?

Zero. Not one. No interest in me whatsoever.

I thought about it. I was constantly updating my profile. As I flicked through more profiles, I learned more about common structure. I changed certain aspects to be tighter, wittier. I added or dropped aspects that seemed unnecessary or unappealing. I caved and mentioned that I was from New Zealand (something I know people enjoy, but doesn’t feel like success on my own merits), just to see if it would attract more attention. The big caveat that I refused to budge on was announcing right at the top of my profile that I was poly. Available, but partnered. If that was gonna be a dealbreaker for someone, I wanted them to know right away so I wouldn’t waste a minute of their time. No part of my excursion into dating apps was with the intention of misleading a single soul. I knew this would be an issue for a bunch of people. Maybe that was why I wasn’t getting much interaction. I’d scared people off by being poly?

I suspected there was more to it.

As an aside, it was both neat and weird seeing people on there that I knew in real life. If it was a friend, that was cute. It was interesting seeing how they presented themselves in a dating format. In virtually every single case of finding a friend’s profile, my brain said they’re funnier, smarter and prettier than that offline. I guess I’m not the only one who sucks at summarising themselves into a digestible soundbite. It’s hard to be 3D in Flatland. Occasionally I’d see people from my workplace and that felt invasive. I didn’t like it one iota. These women had a right to privacy and I felt like I’d unintentionally broken that. I know I hadn’t done anything wrong, but it didn’t feel that way. I can’t imagine what it’d be like using a location-tracking app like Happn in a large corporation. I’d rather not think about it.

Anyway, this morning I found myself looking at a familiar profile. It was someone I briefly dated before realising we had better chemistry as pals. I knew for a fact that she’d been with her beau for some time now. I was also pretty sure she’d left most of her dating apps. I messaged her:

Me: “Hey hey. You just came up on my Bumble. So now I’m wondering, just how many dead profiles have I been swiping on?”
Her: ELL OH ELL.
Her: My past lives on in the Matrix!

I thought back to all my friends and co-workers I’d seen. One of my old physiotherapists, even. None of the pictures were fresh. The profiles seemed a tad stale. Had I been upturning a tomb of dead profiles? Users who’d deleted the app, but not their profile? A lot of people had complained about bots on the service, fake profiles. Were they just remnants of those who’d been and gone? Was I merely causing a ruckus in an echo chamber? What was the point?

I chatted with my friend and the more we talked, the more I realised that the service really wasn’t suited to me. There was no matching algorithm to ensure that those who you swiped through suited you in some fashion. Bumble was just throwing everyone in their Rolodex at you so you’d be overwhelmed by the illusion of options. I thought back to my days using OkCupid seriously. It’d be pretty rare for me to look at profiles below a 92% match. I was pretty picky in that top 8% too. Why waste your time with an unsuitable match? Why settle and go through the motions with someone who was just “fine”? Dating someone wasn’t important enough to me that I wanted it to be a chore. Things would happen organically, right?

Today I thought back to my years using online dating. At a guess, I’ve maybe sent out something in the realms of 800+ messages. Every single message I sent out was unique. The thought of delivering a canned line felt abhorrent and a terrible way to start a connection. I probably got about 40 back, most of those being thanks but no thanks (which I always appreciated. At least I could move on instead of wondering what if). I had one or two relationships. I met a couple of long-lasting friends. The bulk of my time, however, was sending effort, intention and emotions out into the aether and getting nothing back.

Like all my friends I saw on Bumble, I don’t come across well online. I’m either too goofy and childish or pretentious and cold. Thing is, I’m all of those things in different contexts. As everyone is, I’m well-rounded and nuanced. I’m three dimensional. In person I’m charismatic and self-confident. I can read social cues and shape the conversation around them. I understand the implication of tone and the weight of words. I can be charming face to face because that’s the world I understand. I’m a social guy and I don’t take a lack of interest personally. If getting more familiar with someone is the worst that can happen, that’s a pretty high floor.

So I think that’s where I am. For the time being, my online persona can take a knee. I miss the energy and excitement of dating, but frankly I’m pretty fucking chuffed with my girlfriend. I’m in no rush or hurry to meet others. If it happens organically (or good friends wanna try their hand at some old fashioned knitting circle matchmaking…), that’d slot into my life a lot more cleanly. If it doesn’t, I’m very far from being unhappy.

And in a week, maybe my thumbs will be strong enough again for a quality thumbs up.