In Jane Dates, our undercover dater reports back from the front lines of the online dating world. All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the lecherous.
Sometimes, a good kiss can change an entire evening.
It can also torpedo one in mere seconds. Ever woken up with bruises on your mouth? I have. Ones that stayed there for a week. This little tale could also be subtitled, “You’re 42 years old, figure out how to kiss already.”
I should have seen it coming when his profile included a link to his Wikipedia page. Were one being generous, you could call him a ‘local celebrity,’ but you’d have to be in a really good mood with a drink in your hand. Tony, as we’ll call him, had been in a documentary, or something, and was a comedian, or performer, or somesuch. I don’t know. It doesn’t take long to tire of the egos you encounter in online dating, and I’m sure they’d say the same about me. You have to possess a certain amount of nerve to convince strangers in writing that you’re freaking awesome and must be wooed immediately. Layer a healthy dose of self-esteem on top of that to get you through the rejections, and you have a lot of one-sided conversations.
Anyway, back to Tony the Tongue. It’s mean of me to call him that, I know, and a friend still thinks I should tell him what went wrong. She’s concerned that poor Tony is wandering through life, unaware of his sub-par skills, unable to figure out why second dates never materialize. But I’m not running a clinic here! (That theme will come up again in future columns.) Tony’s got to arrive at some conclusions himself.
Despite the self-promotion on his part, his personality seemed unusual (I like weirdos), and we engaged in some witty banter on the site and off. I also have to admit that the fact he’d merited his own Wikipedia page intrigued me. Really, how many people can boast that? Fine, probably a lot but very few in the world of online dating.
So we meet for drinks one night and he’s very sweet and complimentary. The conversation doesn’t flow like water, but I’ve had worse. It’s clear right away that he’s more interested in me than I am in him. This is a power dynamic that appears on almost every date, in my experience: one person wants it more, and the other sits back and lets them chase. He had that wide-eyed look on his face of, “I can’t believe you’re talking to me,” which is flattering, I’m not going to lie. We haven’t been talking more than 30 minutes when he asks, “So have I earned a second date? Because I was all-in the minute I saw you.” I can hear you awwww-ing (or, if you’re more like me, ewww-ing). Sweet and flattering, yes. But slow down a bit, buddy.
He was interesting enough to see how it played out, though. He made me laugh, which counts for a lot, and he was sweet and polite and considerate. And if I remember correctly, my dance card was kind of empty at the time. So I stumbled through an awkward “YeahIthinkprobablyso” and the evening continued on. After another hour, I cited work the next day and asked him to walk me to my car.
Here’s where I need to tell you all about this catfish muppet on Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas. Catfish is a member of the back-up band and “often backs up his cohorts' ill-tempered antics by spitting water in someone's face.” Kissing poor Tony the tongue was what I imagine kissing Catfish would be like: a giant mouth devoured my face while I held on for dear life. It was overwhelming and messy and drooly and I had a moment of panic—alone, on a dark side street, with a guy I didn’t know who was currently eating my face like a cheeseburger. I was just positioning my knee for a violent thrust when he got the hint, perhaps sensing my lack of enthusiasm through my attempt to clench my jaws to protect my battered tongue, and backed off. I said goodbye as quickly as possible and tore off down the street.
The next morning I woke up with dark purple bruises on both sides of my bottom lip that stuck around for a solid week. I alternated between looking goth-y vampirish and like someone who needed a makeup lesson. My purple lipstick was in heavy rotation.
I’m not one to let a little inadvertent mouth assault get me down. After the bruises healed, I was back on the horse, setting up dates. Because, of course, you really can’t suss out the good or bad kissers until the deed is actually done. What you can do, though, is tell use this story as warm up conversation with every guy you date subsequently, as a not-so-thinly veiled warning to watch it with the kissing. Poor Tony the Tongue is a local celebrity in entirely new ways now.
Thankfully, my online dating adventures are not, I’m happy to say, all spitting muppets. One of the best kisses I’ve ever had was on another first OKCupid date, standing on a busy street on a beautiful summer night as cars whizzed by: soft, decadent, romantic, sexy. He and I never completely clicked and gave up after three dates, but that kiss... For every mouth-raping moment, for every time you get kissed like you are a cheeseburger, there are the times when you walk away with a goofy grin and forget how to start your car.