Ethan practically came streaking into my life.
It wasn’t so much “streaking” in the sense of head-to-toe nudity, jiggling ass cheeks and a swift gallop. It was more just “streaking” in the sense of being confrontational, in-your-face, surprising and, well, ballsy.
Ethan* recently popped up on my Hinge, a dating app that matches you with people who share mutual Facebook friends and similar social networks. I passed on Ethan without giving it too much thought – it really takes a special something and a twinkle in the eye to get me to “accept” one of these strangers. Once I gave Ethan the axe, I assumed he would vanish into the black abyss that is cyberspace. But the following Sunday, my phone lit up with a Facebook message that went something to the tune of: Knock Knock. Who’s there? Ethan. Ethan who? I know you rejected me but…
“Hey. So I know this is extremely random and takes some courage but I came across you on Hinge and you were one of the more beautiful and normal looking people not to mention we have a bunch of mutual friends. That being said I’d love to talk more and get to know you if you’re up for it. Hope to talk soon.”
I clicked his photo to jog my memory. He looked like Macaulay Culkin. Blonde hair, blue eyes, doughy dimples. A degree in Applied Mathematics and a few mutual friends. The message was unexpected – this kid had sought me out after I blatantly rejected him on the app – but his follow-up note was seemingly genuine. I tucked my phone in my pocket as I walked into Wolf of Wall Street and decided that I’d respond later that week.
In the interim, I found myself out to dinner with friends and over some chicken teriyaki and crappy wine, we began comparing stories about these dating apps that were only on the brink of being socially acceptable. My friend began ranting about some guy who was notorious for battling Hinge rejections in the same way a person might dispute an erroneous credit card charge. When he’d realize that he had been discarded on Hinge, he would send those girls flowery, flattering Facebook messages as if somehow, he may have gotten lost in the mix or fallen error to the app’s algorithm. This sounded oddly familiar. I whipped out my iPhone, popped open my Facebook, and confirmed with my friends: indeed this Jack-of-All-Trades was Ethan. My friend had received the same exact message.
Como se dice…is this kid serious?
What happened next? I sent that Macaulay Culkin doppelgänger Home…Alone:
Are you there, God? It’s Me, Margaret. I just owned this bro. Do not mass-message multiple smart girls the same romantic, Shakespearian BS because we will catch you. And when we do, we will pick you up by your boxers or briefs, give you a nice, deep wedgy, and hang you from a tall, tall flagpole. You will dangle there in embarrassment and we will point, laugh, and then eat you alive. Pass the ketchup.
Before this ever happened and before I even had the app, I was completely skeptical. I thought dating apps were superficial and creepy. But I came across an Aziz Ansari skit on why online/app dating is the best thing since sliced bread – using these apps, he said, is like walking into a bar and putting a filter on all 200 people stumbling around with beers in hand. Remove everyone who is not a member of the opposite sex. Remove everyone who is not between the ages of 24 and 30. Remove everyone who is not living in New York. Remove everyone who is not smart or presentable. Boom! Ten quality people left in this bar – let’s uh, grab a drink?
“Why not?” I thought. “You only Yolo once.” So I downloaded Hinge, and it’s just delightful.
Shawn* really knows the way to a woman’s heart. Check out his saucy profile picture below. This topless hunk left his third nipple out for exhibition and a wad of cash poking out of his waistline. As I examine this iconic photo, I’m less interested in how long it took Scott to grow his meager amount of chest hair and more curious about how long it took him to arrange the dollar bills so perfectly for the camera.
Jared* asked a friend of mine if they could text off Hinge. When she gave him her number, he offered up his social IQ and academic IQ at the first chance he got. What a lovely introduction – based on these stats, Jared seems smart as a squirrel! He then proceeded to nervously babble over text and somewhere mid-asking her on a date, he threw in the word “hepatitis”. Bad move. We could practically hear his soft, nervous giggle through the glossy iPhone screen. Heh. Heh. Heh. Hepatitis. Heh. You sweating yet?
Another friend of mine was “hinging” with two brothers at once, in true Butabi brother fashion. (Shame on you if you’re not familiar with Steve and Doug Butabi) She went to drinks with one, went to dinner with the other. Did I mention that these brothers live together, too? When they eventually realized that they had, through the Transitive Property, swapped spit, they ran home to Mommy and cried. And cried and cried and cried.
A fashion photographer harassed another friend of mine. Took her on a nice date, sent her home in a pricey Uber, and then demanded that she show up at his apartment and hop into his bed:
“Getting in bed to watch a movie. Plenty of room for my blind date. I really did have a good time. Until you ditched me. East 10th Street. ASAP.”
She politely declined, and he then began his glorious soliloquy:
“I respect women more than you’ll ever know. Built a career on it. Watching a movie and chilling is not forward. Would never have sex with you or even try. True story. I’m always honest and always say what I am thinking. I’m not a scumbag – I never hook up with industry people and never pull the ‘I’m a photographer sleep with me and I will help your modeling career’ card. I’m the only good and honest man in fashion and one of the good ones in general. It’s a compliment to you. I never want girls at my place. Can’t stand 99 percent of them.”
Are you finished making love to yourself, sweet Romeo?
But above all, nothing is more breathtaking than these opening lines that my friends and I have received from Hinge suitors:
His Opener: “What’s a girl like you…doing on an app like this?”
Response: “Didn’t Timbaland once sing something like that? Isn’t that plagiarism?”
His Opener: “Oh that’s cute that you’re Jewish…”
Response: “Why do you say that? I’m actually a devout Catholic. I don’t even believe in Evolution.”
His Opener: “How do you know my cousin Katie? Haha”
Response: “Unfortunately, she has slept with six of my friends.”
His Opener: “You seem fun!”
Response: “Wrong. I am completely boring.”
His Opener: “Mmmmmmm”
His Opener: “Are you a beaver?”
Response: “Yes are you?”
His Opener: “Hey! What’s your go to move off the diving board?”
Response: “Free Willy!”
And then there was my friend who had a dog…
His Opener: “What’s your dog’s name? He’s such a cute little muppet. Is that a labradoodle?”
Another Dude: “Hey. Is that your dog in the pic? S/he looks very serious.”
Another Dude: “I think our dogs would be best friends.”
Another Dude: “Is that your childhood dog? Haha, amazing pic of you two!”
Another Dude: “That dog…almost as cute as mine.”
Another Dude: “I love your dog. You’re not bad either though.”
Another Dude: “So elephant in the room…I have a cuter dog. Spinoni.”
Another Dude: “To be honest, I only accepted you so I could date your dog.”
Response: “Tell me something I don’t f-ing know.”
Bottom line is this. These apps have the potential to do great things and to bring great people together. But we all – myself included – need to be mindful that there is a human being on the other end, not a Tamagotchi. The “it” on the receiving end has feelings, opinions and hopefully a sense of humor. So just be genuine. Do less. Act like a human, not like a creep, and save the bad pick-up lines for the bar. As Hamlet once said, “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” Just… be.
To read more of ASL’s musings, check out her site Age. Sex. Location.