Our parents had love letters and arranged marriages. We have sexting and online dating.
Snacking on a bowl of Corn Pops and playing video games well into three a.m., I thought about the string of guys I’d rejected in the past month alone and started to worry. Not about the cereal and bad sleep schedule, but that I had no one to share it with.
Less than sixty years ago I’d be considered an old maid, a bitter spinster who refuses to marry or is unable to. Today my peers are more forgiving – if not entirely reluctant to the idea of marriage – but to them I’m still one thing. I’m 20 and I’m a virgin who’d rather play video games than date. I can see the frowns of sympathy and confusion dawning on my friends’ faces, “What’s wrong? But you’re so pretty!”
Don’t let the Jonas Brothers fool you—purity rings aren’t cool. Dating isn’t what it used to be. A few generations ago, you’d meet your future spouse at all the usual places my generation finds theirs—school, coffee shops, through friends—but with one exception. These places haven’t worked out for me before, so I entered the final frontier of dating in the name of journalism. I placed an ad on Craigslist, the Internet’s sleazy cousin. I figured it’d be easier to weed the creeps out from the safety of my inbox than stand outside Starbucks, smiling at any 20-something who met the desperation in my smile.
I can burn the hat later
Our grandparents had love letters and arranged marriages. Now we have sexting and online dating. In a matter of hours, I had over 50 awkwardly typed responses all claiming, “Hey babe, this is the first time I’ve responded to a personals ad…” I’m sure. A day later I was sifting through at least 100. It only took a week before I was standing inside Granville Station waiting for the guy whose message creeped me out the least.
I’d been waiting 15 minutes before I finally decided to call him and ask how far he was. He told me he was standing on the street. Oh. I hope it’s not that guy with the goofy hat I saw pass earlier.
Yep, it was the guy with the green bowler hat with feathers sticking out of it. I considered turning on my heel and running for the SkyTrain, but remembered my ongoing status as Old Maid. Grin and bear it. If we go steady, I can burn the hat later.
He was about two feet shorter than his email claimed, not surprising as it’s the second most popular detail men lie about online, age being the first. He looked like a cross between Joe Jonas and Taylor Lautner, an ideal candidate for 14-year-old girls and Twilight Moms (older women who are obsessed with Stephanie Meyer’s vampire series). I was willing to overlook my preference for older men until we finally arrived at the Yaletown restaurant he recommended and he saw the menu.
“Umm…these prices are a bit steep…do you want to go have drinks at the Cambie instead?”
If you’re over the hill and counting the wrinkles on your face, imagine your first date suggesting dining at a steakhouse and he brought you to the local soda shop for root beer floats instead. Unfortunately for Green Bowler Hat, girls still expect a free dinner. No, a $12 pint of cheap beer is not dinner.
Exhibit A: The Psycho Ex
I could have easily overlooked his obvious pride in trying to get the best bang for his buck if he weren’t so pretentious. He’s done some modeling and acting and bragged that producers wanted him to play the hot coveted role of Jacob Black in Twilight, but was told he’d ‘overshadow’ Robert Pattinson. On top of that, he called every girl we encountered endearing, cutesy nicknames like ‘love’ and ‘darling’ and it wouldn’t have sounded more contrived if Joe Jonas said it himself.
When I asked him if we should exchange Facebook names he hesitated. Bear in mind that Facebook politics are important to maintaining real life friendships. They’re tangible proof of who we have relationships with, and defriending someone on Facebook is like officially snipping the red string that keeps us together. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes into the back of my head, an incredible feat considering what he told me next.
“That’s probably not a good idea…my ex-girlfriend will probably message you.”
Oh, we have exhibit A: The Psycho Ex.
“It’s just I’m looking for the right time to take her off and we have all the same friends. Well, they were my friends first…”
I thought I’d heard enough when I heard an even greater voice echoing in the back of my head, “Give him a second chance, you Old Maid.” Okay, maybe I’m being too judgmental. A week later, he texts me to see if I want to go out for drinks Saturday night because Friday was his payday. I told him I had to work, but texted him Sunday morning to ask if he was free that night.
“I shall end up an old maid”
He wrote back: “Sorry love, I spent all my money. Can you think of anything free to do?” I didn’t respond. An hour later he wrote, “Oh, I have free movie tickets. You want to go tonight?” I didn’t respond to that, either. In fact, I never wrote back. The next day he clearly felt the sting of rejection and wrote, “I guess you don’t like the movie idea.” A day later, “I can see I’ve done something wrong, love.”
Let’s see: you live with your grandparents, you said you earn $16 an hour but you’ve spent it all in two days, and on what? You don’t have a car or bills. How expensive was that hat?
The thing is, girls nowadays earn their own wages by the time they’re 16. I have money and I wouldn’t mind paying my share, but if you never even have enough for your share why would I want to date someone who is only interested in reinforcing the hipster derelict stereotype of never paying for anything more expensive than the Dollar Menu?
What did my grandmothers do in this situation? Did they reject their suitors in person or just give them the cold shoulder and hope they eventually go away? In the 21st century we can have instantaneous interactions and connect with everyone at the touch of an iPhone. We can also instantly cut those interactions and disconnect with certain people far easier and with fewer steps than we ever could before.
I ignored him like spam. It sounds harsh, but that’s the world of online dating—making and breaking connections at the palm of your hand. At times like this I remember Elizabeth Bennet’s wise words, “Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony which is why I shall end up an old maid.” If I can avoid more Green Bowler Hats in the future and end up single as a consequence, it’s a risk me and other 20-something spinsters are far more desperate to take.
A few days ago, my friend saw him busking outside Starbucks, singing a Beatles song on his acoustic guitar. Some deal breakers come early.