@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
What’s His Name
Sometime early 2016, I went on three dates with a guy and never learned his name.
That sentence is both ridiculous and hilarious, but also, sadly true. Allow me to explain.
We “met” on Bumble. Bumble, for those lucky enough to have never online dated, is your basic swipe left for no, swipe right for yes app, but on Bumble the female has to message first in order for a conversation to occur. The idea is okay, but it’s not really at all great in practice.
As for me, it was relatively rare for me to message anyone. This is because I have canceled at least 70% of all date plans I’ve ever made. This is either because a gig comes up and I’d rather do comedy, or I just decided I didn’t want to be around people and I’d rather be alone. It’s not always easy for me to coerce myself to go out, but sometimes the main reason for going was for a potential new bit. I even used to have a bit about only dating for bits. You can only have so many jokes about going to the movies alone before an audience feels bad for you.
One of the biggest problems with online dating is the shallowness. We’re all pretty shallow in life too, let’s be honest, but with online dating you’re taking all geniality from meeting someone, removed of organic chemistry or even having that spark connection. What else are you to do when merely looking at a photo then go “yeah, I might fuck that.” Pardon me for being curt, but that’s just the truth of it.
Anyway, there’s no point in me changing this guys name for the story since I don’t know it. On his profile it simply said, “H.” Some of you might find that odd, but I respect people’s hesitation to put content on the web and will to be private. If it weren’t for comedy, I would be a ghost with no social media presence. However, for a number of reasons that revolve around ambition and narcissism, this very blog exists, but despite even the personal anecdotes on this here blog, there is much of my life that is private. Many of my best stories are for me.
H. is a cute guy. And he’s a surfer. I message him. I need to see whether or not he texts like a 14 year old girl. It doesn’t matter to me how good-looking or if you’re the sweetest guy on the planet, if you text, “c u l8tr,” or don’t know the difference between they’re, their, and there, I will never have the remote desire to meet you. H. passes the grammar test.
We meet in a coffee shop. I say “meet” because I never consider meeting someone from online for the first time a date. I consider it character analysis. And by character analysis, I mean, is this person going to murder me. I usually have a small knife on me always anyway, just in case. My Dad taught me well (paranoid).
I pre-game before said meeting in my apartment. I never not pre-game in the event of meeting new people, or within the first few dates. I’m not much of a talker which makes for very uncomfortable dates sometimes. Once, a friend set me up to go out with one of her friends. He reported to her that he was convinced I hated him because I spoke so little. So I don’t want to hear this bullshit about men complaining about women talking too much. It’s better if I’m a little buzzed, for everyone.
I’m there first. Because of course I am. I’m notoriously early for everything. Often times I get to gigs an hour before showtime because I get severe anxiety if I think I’m going to be late. I usually just read in my car for a while and wait to go into the club at a more normal call time.
I order a tea, sit at a table and read my book. I’m not sure what I was reading at the time. The Terror, maybe, by Dan Simmons? Might’ve not been, but that’s a great read anyway, I highly recommend it. He comes in, we shake hands (this is best, I hate it when people I don’t know go for hugs, actually, I hate it when most people I do know go for hugs). He sits down and asks me about the book I’m reading. Then, he goes to get a cup of coffee. He asks if I want anything. Lifting up my tea, I say, “I’m good, thanks.”
See, this is the part I’ve replayed in my head. I will admit it’s entirely possible he did say his name. He was very soft spoken and I have the hearing of an elderly woman. So it is possible he said it. His name. But if he did, I have no recollection of it whatsoever.
And here comes one of the reasons I hate dating. Small talk. Neither of us are talkers. This is almost immediately obvious. There’s a lot of dead air, but neither of us seems particularly anxious to say something. Introverts. He had brown hair that was light at the tips (probably from surfing), dark eyes, and didn’t seem either happy or unhappy to be there.
Luckily for us, we both surf. Most of our conversation revolved around surfing. Where we’d surf. Shark sightings and other oceanic stories. He is definitely a better surfer than myself and surfed some really dangerous swells from Hawaii to South America.
As much as I love surfing, there really is only so much you can actually talk about. It’s not like comedy where I talk about it forever, but even that, I only really love talking to other comics about comedy. He knows I’m a comic. It was in my profile. I had figured, even if I never met someone I liked, I might as well pick up some twitter followers from Bumble.
He didn’t say anything dumb like, “tell me a joke!” If you do that all comics hate you. He didn’t ask me what my style was or what I talked about on stage. He did ask me for stand-up recommendations to watch and he said he thinks it’s one of the hardest things people could do. Good job, H.
What he did for work was a bit more complicated. He builds the parts for 3-D printers, and uses and/or tests the 3-D printers, and was basically explaining physics to me and I glazed over. This guy was smart. I mean, really smart. Way smarter than me. He worked in a science lab and does science stuff. I literally had no idea what he was talking about. He could tell. It was weird not being the smart one on a date.
We exchanged numbers and talked about meeting up next week for an actual date now that we’ve both done our character analysis. Upon entering his number in my phone, I realized I did not know what his name was. Embarrassed, I just put “H.” in my phone.
I contemplated my actions on the subway ride home. Should I have just asked him his name right then? Did he mention his name when he came in? Should I not drink before dates? If he asked me “what’s your name again?” I would have been pissed and gave him the wrong number. We’re all hypocrites, I guess. But if he did forget my name he could just look at my profile. Not only was my name there, but so was my twitter handle. Which was connected to my Facebook, website, and this very blog. Not only would it be impossible for him to not know my name, if he did even a little bit of research, he could find out a lot of about my life.*
*Side dating story: I once went on a first and last date with a guy who DID look me up, watched stand-up clips, scrolled through twitter, read several of my blogs, and he told me that I shouldn’t be so personal and write that much about myself on the internet. This is the only time I can remember being furious on a date. My instinct was to throw water in his face and leave, very dramatically. But I reminded myself that’s what crazy people do. I was pissed off at this guy because he assumed he knew me. This has happened to me before (specifically with some creepy online stalkers). Trust me on this, I’m not thinking what you think I think. You don’t know me if you’ve merely read my content. Content is two dimensional, I am three. If you fill in the blanks without ever getting to know me, I am a cartoon. I am a fictional character you made up. As my favorite author David Sedaris said, “Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it’s just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.” If you’ve never seen me laugh so hard I’m gasping for air, you don’t know me. If you’ve never seen me dodge your gaze because I’m hiding pain in my eyes and I hate being vulnerable, you don’t know me. If you’ve never looked me and we both smile at the same time because we’re thinking the same sarcastic comment about something ridiculous happening, you don’t know me. If you’ve never told me to speak the fuck up because I have a bad mumbling habit, you don’t know me. If you’re not one of the people I actually do love to embrace when I see you, you don’t know me. If you don’t know one of the stories that I don’t write about, you don’t know me. Still, I was being unfair. He was entitled to his opinion. So I let the moment pass. I let the anger go right through me, because why hold it? I would never see this man again.
Back to no name. The following week we went to a restaurant that had live music which he claimed was very good. I was happy about this for two reasons: First, I am very bad at making decisions on where to go or what to eat. Often times, even alone in my apartment, it can take me two hours to order food because I can’t make up my mind. Mostly, I was happy there was going to be live music. I love live music! Unless it sucks! Also, given our quiet dispositions, it was best we didn’t have to be continuously talking.
He was right. The musician was an older, hippie looking guy with long grey hair and he was an excellent guitarist with soothing vocals as well. We ate and enjoyed this hippie’s art form. I wondered if my date would pay with a credit card. Not because I wanted or expected him to pay (actually, I’m quite animate about splitting checks), but if I saw his credit card I could find out his name! Finding out his name was my sole mission of this date (without outright asking him, of course). Sometimes everyone’s life is a Seinfeld episode.
After we ate and the musician’s set was over, we had some drinks. H. used to be an artist himself. He originally went to college for art and he showed me some of his paintings on his phone (quite talented). His mom is an artist. He had a very unusual childhood, raised by his single and unstable mother, with a rotating door of father figures. He revealed quite a lot about his upbringing, and if I’ve learned anything in psychology, a man’s relationship with his mom is going to spill over to his relationships with all women. I won’t go into details, because, even though I don’t even know his name, I still would find it unfair to disclose personal and bizarre memories of his childhood that he confided in me even though he didn’t really know me at all. H. was a bit of a punk in his teen years, but grew out of it and focused on building computers, hacking, and science. H. might be a genius. He was batty, as most geniuses are. I’m not suggesting he was batty. Those were his words: “I am batty.” That’s what he said about himself.
Now, I don’t mind people who are batty. I prefer people who are batty, actually. People are easily fooled into desiring magazine pretty people, but it’s always those a little off, the weird ones, who are far better between the sheets and more interesting in general. It was a mild red flag that he already disclosed much about his life to me, but it wasn’t because I was silent and he needed to fill the air by talking. He was smarter than me. I genuinely think he was testing me to see how I would react. Emotional baggage is this guys opener? Hmmm… I would like to try this strategy sometime. He wasn’t not interesting, I’ll give him that, but he was very, very serious. I think I only got him to crack a smile twice (this bothered me). I couldn’t be with someone this serious. Also, I couldn’t be with someone if I still didn’t know what their goddamn name was.
The following day at work I told one of my co-workers I had been out with a guy twice and I didn’t know his name. “Are you fucking retarded?” She said. I showed her his profile. “Does his first name start with H or his last name?”
I don’t know. But I do know a lot about his bi-polar mom. Then it occurred to me, maybe this guy was going to murder me? After all, his identity was anonymous. He was clearly smarter than me. I have always prided myself in reading people, especially people who might murder me. Considering I haven’t been murdered yet, I would say I’m doing a pretty good job of not getting murdered. Then again, I would be an alarmingly easy person to murder for reasons I won’t go into in case someone is actually planning on murdering me. So what do you do if you suspect the person you just went out with might murder you?
Go out for a third time.
This time was to the movies. We had exchanged a few text messages and I said I was going to see the movie “The Shallows” and he was welcomed to join (I would have gone with or without him). “The Shallows” is a garbage shark/horror movie that Blake Lively looks smoking hot in the entire time. Besides the surf scenes in the beginning, the movie was pretty terrible. I expected it to be, but I’m a horror nerd so I like seeing that shit anyway. But really, it’s a waste of time, just watch Jaws again. No other shark movie touches Jaws.
I’m there first, because of course I am. I get two tickets and wait in the corner reading something on my phone. He enters the theater and doesn’t see me, and walks right by me to buy a ticket. I go to call for him, but then I remember, I don’t know his name, so I just say, “Hey! I got the tickets already.”
This movie is so bad it’s laughable. I’m cracking up at parts of the movie because it just tickles me how silly and over the top it is. H. never laughs. He’s so serious. Sometime in the middle of that movie when I was laughing at how ridiculous it was, I knew I would never go out or talk to this guy again. There was no point in being around someone who takes life so seriously. Life is absurd. If nothing else, I am an absurdist, and laughing is my favorite.
And that’s where the story ends. Not very climatic, I’ll admit. Not sexy. Nor were there any character arcs. Nor did I ever learn his name.
But I guess what we all can take away from this story is that he didn’t murder me.