Z’s message on OKC was the first I received that I was actually excited about. It was the perfect mixture of witty and thoughtful, and his profile contained absolutely no red flags–he was a nice, all-American Jew (is there such a thing?) who liked college sports and nerdy conversation. His picture showed a guy with bright eyes and a nice smile. Sure, his face seemed a little chubby and he only had one picture, but I figured he was just new to the site and not too obsessed with his looks, which I respected. I replied to his questions, asked a few of my own, and we went back and forth for awhile.
We went back and forth for so long, in fact, without him so much as SUGGESTING we ever meet in person, that I began to wonder if he was in a wheelchair or had some other massive physical secret that he was hiding. I actually started to refer to him as “wheelchair” to my friends and colleagues. As in, “Oh my god! Wheelchair wrote me another 500 word long essay last night! When is he going to ask me out?” After literally 12 exchanges, I finally was like, “So, we should hang.” He wrote back almost immediately and suggested a time and place (he probably wants something ADA accessible, I assumed). And we were on! And, after enlisting several people to scour his profile for clues that he could use his legs, I became more and more confident that wheelchair was not in a wheelchair and perhaps, just perhaps, this would be a good date.
The night of our date, I was running late, so I texted Z to let him know. He replied, “OK, I am at a table in the back.” But when I arrived at the bar, the only guy I saw sitting alone was completely bald, and, honestly, a dead ringer for George Constanza. This could not be my date, who had a pretty full head of hair in his picture. But, as I scanned the bar, I realized that it had to be him.
Now, I had a few choices.
1) I could run. And, I assure you, the level of picture fraud committed may have given me grounds to run. But, I had said I was on my way and honestly, I am not about to go down in Z’s memory as the wimpy B who ditched our date.
2) I could say, “I am so sorry, but are you Z?” And when he said yes, I could say, in a stern voice, “You have committed serious pictoral fraud and I am afraid I have to go.” But, I actually think that’s meaner and worse than Option 1.
3) I could be open-minded, sit down, and stick it out. I mean, who knows? Perhaps we’d hit it off, and a few months from now the FDA would approve a side-effect-less drug for hair regrowth and I would get him into the clinical trial and…
I am getting ahead of myself. I’ll sit down now.
So I said hi and sat down and ordered a beer. And, it wasn’t the best date I’ve had, but it wasn’t the worst. He had some pros–smart and witty and a healthy appetite, and some cons–made fun of my job, talked too long about his boring job, etc. Honestly, I spent most of my time half-listening. Why? Because I wanted to ask him about his photo to try to ascertain the rationale behind the fraudulence. Did he go bald recently (after he joined the site?) Did he photoshop his photo to add realistic hair? Did he use a photo from high school?
You guys, I am not as superficial as I sound. In fact, there is a 40% chance I would have agreed to go out with him anyway if he had posted an accurate picture, in the spirit of experimentation and reserving judgement till I meet people. But I freaking hate surprises, and this guy had flat out bamboozled me!!
I understand that people put their best face forward on a profile photo. Although, when I first joined OKC, I wanted to take an approach to my profile pictures called “worst case scenario,” where I intentionally posted hideous photos of me doing hideous things. Displaying these pics, I hoped, would lower expectations so significantly that men would show up to the date expecting this…
And when average looking little ole me showed up, they’d be so relieved they’d feel like they were getting this…
S talked me out of “worst case scenario,” by explaining that to GET the date people have to like your photo first. (But I’m not gonna lie, I still toy with the idea from time to time.)
Anyway…back to the date. As soon as we walked out of the restaurant, I gave him an awkward side hug and rushed off to the metro. And I didn’t hear from him again for a couple of days, which prompted a lot of silent (and not so silent) brooding–“I can’t believe this guy’s not contacting me! I did NOT submit a fraudulent photo! I ate three pizzas of pizza like a graceful delicate flower! Why does he not want to go out with me again?” But then, the next week, I got a really nice text from Z asking me out again. I took a pass on this one, but not without a few regrets. I think Z will make a great date for somebody someday, provided she has either an affinity for bald 20 somethings or enjoys showing up to dates with a completely different person than she saw online.
Date rating 5/10: He kept the conversation and the beer flowing, but the deck was stacked against him from minute 1. Which brings me to…
Lesson Learned: Three words. Multiple profile photos. If people don’t have them, they are hiding something, and their secret might be a heck of a lot worse than baldness.