I browse Craigslist for the usual stuff: bikes, cats, roommates, missed connections, butcher table. Never dates. I have friends who browse Casual Encounters and that’s cool, but guys, we’re young and attractive — go to a bar and meet someone who’s less likely to kill you. But I digress. I was in the market for a boy’s road bike, something lightweight that I could lug up three flights of stairs, and nothing overtly feminine that I’d be embarrassed to ride around. And in early fall, I found it: a small, black bike owned by a guy in Greenpoint.
So I did the whole charade: email the guy, assent to the price, tell him the times I’m free, leave my phone number after my signature so he knows I’m serious business. We arranged a time when we could meet, which was a few days later. At that point, I was doing a billion things a day every day and my free time permitted only showering and sleeping. I packed snacks in my bag so I could eat. But I could only think about the benefits of riding home after a show and feeling the breeze on my scalp through the helmet holes. I Facebooked the guy beforehand and the only Brooklyn, NY result was a thirty-something guy wearing glasses.
On the day of our appointment, I walked to his apartment and texted him when I got there. (Incidentally, he lives two blocks away from my best friends.) The Facebook nerd, wearing an orange windbreaker and Grateful Dead shirt, rode up on his bike. There were weird vibes from the start: he invited me inside, which I declined. This was a Craigslist transaction: Hey, I’m Grace, is this the bike, can I ride it first, cool, it’s great, here’s the money, bye. I rode to my friend’s show feeling strange. Then a text affirmed my suspicions:
Hey, I thought you were cute, let me know if you ever wanna get ice cream or go for a bike ride.
Hm. I mean, he wasn’t ugly (I know). I was going through a dry spell and although I wasn’t rabid yet, I was reaching the I-need-it threshold. So I told him, after consulting my iCal, that I was free Tuesday or Wednesday the following week.
We made a plan: he invited me over for a ‘snack’ Tuesday night. Everyday prior, he texted me, How are you doing? Have you been riding that bike? What do you do? What are you studying? I entertained his questions and read our conversations out loud to my friends. When I said that his enthusiasm reeked of desperation and that his constant texting was symptomatic of a clinger, they said I was being too harsh. Although I was wary of meeting someone off the Internet for something other than buying a chair, I had nothing else going on.
On the night of our date, I brought a bottle of wine and quickly surveyed the place for guns, knives, and S&M gear, but it was a normal 30-something guy apartment: bikes, antiques, speakers. He didn’t drink (migraines) but there was no way that I was not going to (normalcy.) The ‘snack’ could be best described as pizza mush. Since I was polite and tipsy, I ate it. He asked me more inane questions, If you could follow any band in any era, who would it be? When you’re in the office, how do you decide what music to play? When I said I was crazy busy and wouldn’t have a day off until the next month, he responded, I work a ton everyday and into most evenings, with several days out of town, and I hardly see anyone unless it’s work-related or I force myself to make time. I was enraged. The implication that this joker was making was that I was exaggerating or complaining about my busy schedule. I did not have a second to fart around. While I ate almonds out of a baggie on the train and frenetically tried to schedule hour-long hangouts, I daydreamed about waking up without an alarm and figuring out the perfect ketchup: Sriracha ratio. (I’m pretty simple.)
When he asked if he could kiss me, the answer was an eye-roll. He tried to hold my hand; I jerked my hand away. Although my dry spell had spawned over months of no-nothing, thinking about touching him gave me the creeps. I had drunk all the wine and alcohol had cemented my ass on his couch, yet I was sober enough to know that I didn’t like him. I was under a drunk delusion that since my friends lived close by, I was safe. His frames didn’t suit his turnip face and he didn’t have books. He fixed bikes and he and his parents ran a museum where they archived non-astronaut’s attempts to go to space (I wish this was a fictional detail.) He was totally harmless and I could’ve thugged him / effed him / loved him / left him (because I don’t effing need him.) However, when guys say they dislike animals because they are dirty or don’t want tattoos because they are too permanent, these qualify as dealbreakers for friends.
I was trapped, not only because I was drunk but he was baking an apple crisp. Evidently he had a sweet tooth and I do not unless it’s gummy and/or sour. But he was intent on me eating it, so I ate a sliver and inhaled a gallon of water. I hastily hugged him goodbye and when I got home, my friend, who was staying with me, was already asleep in my bed. It was 1 AM. I had been at this guy’s apartment for five hours.
Summarily, he wanted a girlfriend to fawn over his bad cooking and mediocre haircut. As far as seduction methods go, forcing your interests down someone’s throat when they adamantly say that they are NOT a dessert person, pants will not drop. I’d rather have a second entree than eat dessert. He wasn’t going to ensnare me with cutesy Brooklyn romance, with its crafternoon bike rides and vegan cookies in the park. The way to my heart is garlicky, spicy foods and letting me breathe, like wine.
A couple of days later, when he told me that his friend just joined a [blog-rock band] and asked if I wanted to ride bikes if it wasn’t raining, I didn’t respond. No, thank you.