For the first time in my life I did not feel racked with guilt if I didn’t want to respond to someone. And if there was still something in me that felt like I was playing a character — Girl Who Effortlessly Flirts with Other Girls — there was a larger part that wondered if it was supposed to have been this painless all along. Making two dates in the same week was deeply out of character for me, but then, the whole point of all this was to try out for another role. I am pretty sure that all I did that day was get up from my desk to refill my water glass or to sit in the bathroom for as long as I felt I could get away with it without people thinking I was having some kind of gastrointestinal problem. ” And then we did that kind of asexual one arm over, one arm under hug you do with someone you don’t really want to be hugging.
Nor did I feel ruined if she did not respond to me. Four days into my time on gay-girl Ok Cupid, I had two dates lined up one night after another. My first date was on a Monday night with a girl named Lydia, and all day long all I wanted to do was throw up. Toward the end of the day I walked over to our office manager’s desk and quietly asked for some Pepto-Bismol. I got to the bar ten minutes early, like I always do when attempting to get somewhere exactly on time. Would it be obvious that I had never done this before? Later she would tell me she hates hugging anyone she doesn’t know.
Because even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I thought of her, I didn’t want to reject her.
Her bio was brief, but funny, and her pictures made her seem interesting and fun.
But as soon as we sat down I forgot about the other people there. Throughout the date I’d accumulated a dozen texts from Chiara, having a conversation with herself about how the date was going and if it was still going and what I was thinking.
We spread two drinks apiece over four hours of talking, and hugged awkwardly again when we said goodbye. I’d started excitedly and slightly drunkenly responding, in caps and full of typos, as soon as Lydia and I parted ways: I REALLY LIKE GET Never before in my life had I made anything resembling “the first move.” I was always too nervous, I thought, and too afraid of being rejected. I was nervous to text Lydia, and also afraid of being rejected, but my desire to talk to her again, as soon as possible, outweighed those fears.
That was just what dating was; sometimes two people like each other and sometimes it doesn’t line up. I know there are people out there who do this all the time, but for me, whose M. with online dating was to meet approximately one man, one time, once a year, this was, well . It wasn’t the same kind of nausea I’d felt before a date with a guy — the kind I hoped would transform into a bona fide illness so I could cancel with a guilt-free conscience. Sitting under an umbrella on the bar’s garden patio, looking at the straight couples on dates all around me, I wondered what people would think when they saw me sitting with another girl. How does a girl who dates other girls sit on a bench, waiting for one of those girls to arrive? Me too, but what was I supposed to do, shake her hand?
People had been trying to tell me this for years, but it had always felt so much heavier than that. (Hopefully, looking at Instagram and Twitter and pretending to text.)When Lydia got there I stood up and put my arms out to hug her because I didn’t know what else to do. Anyone looking at us would have known immediately: first date, no question.It said: “Are you the same Katie whose articles I’ve read online? She had probably taken a screenshot of my profile and maybe even texted it to one or more of her friends.I am not proud to admit this is where my brain went, but I began to envision a scenario in which my sexuality (and by extension, my character) was called into question by any number of serious young book bloggers.Plus, there just weren’t all that many girls on there.I would swipe through five or eight of them and then the app would tell me there was no one left, at least until tomorrow. At work I complained about my bad luck to my friend Mackenzie, and she said a lesbian friend of hers said that all the gay girls were on Ok Cupid. “Fine.”It was with great trepidation and a little excitement that I created a brand-new Ok Cupid profile.She did not fit the extremely narrow idea I had then about what a queer girl looks like — which is to say, more boyish, or more androgynous — and that, more than anything, made it hard to look away.