The post-game drink is a tough sell tonight; it’s too cold out.
"I want hot chocolate," says one of our wings, adjusting her scarf. Two others bail, reducing us to three: me, our big, and her.
She’s from Indiana, so when the guy behind the counter at Café on Broadway tells her that it’s “a dollar to try” the lobster bisque, she doesn’t realize he is just messing with her. He smiles and hands her a spoonful to taste. She takes it, looking embarrassed.
"Think I’m gonna go for the salad," says our big. He arrives at the table with a hand-picked twelve-dollar salad and two pink lemonades. I’ve got a bowl of gumbo and an orange juice in front of me.
"Oh my god, you guys are so healthy." (She got the bisque — and cookies — instead of the hot chocolate.)
Our big takes out his phone and shows off a photo of his latest pseudo-prospect on OkCupid. I can’t tell if she’s a redhead or if it’s just the backlighting in the room. The smile, to me, is hard to read.
"What do you do if you’re not interested?" I ask. "Do you write them back?"
"No," he explains, "you just don’t reply. I feel guilty about it, but that’s what you do. Or at least that’s what girls have done to me."
Our wing’s experiment with OkCupid lasted only three days. “It was kind of overwhelming,” she says. “All these questions to answer, things you’re supposed to be checking up on. I was still figuring out how to set up the profile and was already getting some weird people looking at it. I think it just wasn’t for me.”
"I hear about that, the creep factor stuff," notes our big, "but to be honest I’ve never known anyone who’s actually had a bad, real-life, creepy experience. For me it’s been pretty good."
"What about you, 張? Are you on it?"
"No," I say. "But I have friends who’ve had some lousy experiences. Not the creep stalkery thing…more just being unable to find anything beyond a hook-up."
"Yeah, they’re not on it looking for a relationship."
"Hey, I am!" insists our big. "Why do you think I’m spending all this time checking my phone here? This stuff takes work. More work than the actual dating, probably.”
He has fond memories of the circumstances that led to his last OkC-facilitated relationship: the thrill of realizing that his profile was being
stalked checked out multiple times by the same girl over a span of a few days, and then finally reaching out to her with a message. He digs it up and reads part of it to us. The breakup is obviously still fresh.
I’d like to ask him when he’s planning to delete that message, or if he thinks he ever will. Or, he might try to keep it and bury it at the same time — for example, he could take a screenshot and then delete the message from his OkCupid account. Then he could send the screenshot to an ad hoc e-mail address like firstname.lastname@example.org, delete the screenshot from his phone, delete the sent mail with the image attachment, and then change the password of the ad hoc e-mail to something that is easily forgettable. Then the only way to retrieve the message would be to go through a password recovery step — which, given time, might be enough to change his mind about wanting to be reminded of her and whatever salt is left in the wound…
But I’ll save this little self-brainwashing tip for next time, when we have booze on the table instead of soup and salad.