11. Tony Stark

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It has been a while since my last post, so I decided to get the ball rolling on the Top 16 worst experiences (as of the summer when the bracket was compiled). Coming in at number 11 is Mr. Tony Stark.

 

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All things considered, not bad. He clearly put some time and thought into his response. He carefully looked at my own profile and inserted some of my interests into his message. The rocket scientist/ businessman/ soccer star combo felt a bit like he was trying too hard. But, all in all, he seems nice.

Anyone who has done the online dating scene might tell you how easy it is to get lost in the sea of messages and profiles. I do, certainly, every time I foray into the world of online dating. For one reason or another, I chose not to respond to Lkng4MySoulmate. Maybe someone else at the time had caught my eye or perhaps I was already tired of the dating scene. I did not think much beyond reading the message and moving forward. Until…

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Note the time stamp. July 22 to July 30. He copy and pasted his message verbatim. Same cheesy self-deprecating joke. Same attempt to make an activity connection. Same awkward double-spacing between commas. It is not the first time a non-response on my end has resulted in a double text. They are, typically, a lot shorter though. Limited to “hey,” “hello,” and “will you marry me?” I chuckled a bit, but moved forward.

It wasn’t long before…

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Less patience this time around…

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And again…

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Fittingly published in a 1981 Narcotics Anonymous guide, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Five identical messages spaced out over a short couple weeks definitely fits this definition.

It was at this point in my dating ventures where I was just tired of the game. Tired of the antics; tired of trying to make conversation; tired of finding little of interest to me. So, I decided to mix things up. I have reads many Buzzfeed articles of women who started responding to guys using only quotes from a movie or TV show or character. I jumped head first into my 24 hours using only quotes from 10 Things I Hate About You, a 1999 teen rom-com. (The resulting conversations will be featured in a later post). My sassy side just came out.

I finally responded to Mr. Tony Stark quoting the ever-ridiculous Ms. Perky, the guidance counselor.

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He seemed nice enough. But… at some point… you’ve got to cut your losses, bud. In my (sometimes very painful) own experience, no reply is indeed a response. Call it quits and keep fishing. We were, after all, using Plenty of Fish.

I don’t quite see the same charm in Lkng4MySoulmate as is portrayed in the big screen Tony Stark. I am sure it took a lot of persistence and gumption to become a “billionaire, playboy philanthropist” who moonlights as a metal-laden super hero. And trust me, Lking4MySoulmate definitely shared the persistent character trait. All in all, I hope he did find his soulmate–even if it took a few too many tries.

 

 

12. Neville Lyingbottom

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Number 12 is the standard catfish tale. His opening message was kind of cute. My profile often showcases my vast interest in Disney. Specifically, many photos display my love of going to Disneyland.

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So his proposition of going to one of my favorite places was well-played. But what he didn’t realize is that I am also an avid Harry Potter fan. Something about his photo just stood out to me… Like, for instance, that it portrayed one of the famous characters. Neville Longbottom.

It didn’t take long to find the original photo. Just moments and one Google search later, I came across the stolen image.

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All things considered, it was one of my easier detective moments. So, of course, I asked him about it.

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Excuse me?? He has the audacity to use a photo that is not an accurate depiction of himself AND he has no idea of whom the photo is? If you’re going to catfish, I would at least expect someone to choose a photo with little chance of being recognized. This isn’t the first time I have encountered a catfish profile. Many of the others choose to dig deep into the web to find a photo that is both attractive and difficult to uncover. One guy, who is the star of a separate and upcoming top 16 post, used a photo it took some major digging to uncover the true identity. It’s almost like Neville wasn’t even trying. Plus, I’m a little disappointed with his lack of Harry Potter knowledge in general.

He explained himself though.

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I do understand the military claim. But, it never stopped the guys I have met before. “Been down this road before” is putting it gently. It was a “pass” from me and the military-grade catfish. No thanks, Neville. On to the next…

13. Boring Ryan

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Number thirteen…

Let me introduce you to Boring Ryan. There isn’t much to say about him, honestly. We didn’t get much into the “getting to know you phase.”

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Now let me clarify. From a very early age, I was told that “only boring people get bored.” The lady who said that was one of the most inspiring and influential teachers I know. Boredom can be incredibly productive, mind you. Boredom has a purpose. It puts our minds in a state of desire for new stimuli. Initial boredom can propel people to bring out their creativity and imagination. My only qualm is when people perpetually complain about being bored. Where is their drive for adventure? Why must they always look to someone else to fix their boredom? Why is your boredom only fixed through others entertaining you?

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I’m not above playful banter. But I know nothing about Ryan. I’ve never met him and we haven’t had any conversation of substance. He was not a fan of my observation.

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I grabbed the screen shot moments before he “unmatched” with my profile. Had I not been actively on my phone, I would have never seen his response at all. Honestly, his response doesn’t even deserve to be picked apart piece-by-piece. He does not know me well enough to assert I was “looking for something serious.” He never asked. I never said.

This is a subset of current dating culture, though. The kind where any small amount of possible rejection insights an explosive reaction that puts blame on the other party. I’m not sure whether he would have reacted similarly had this interaction been in person. But the fear that it might happen sits in the back of girls minds every time they get hit on in public, or catcalled, or even just approached by a stranger.

I stand by my original statement. He’s boring.

 

14. Bad Teacher

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In fourteenth place… we have the Bad Teacher story brought to you by Andrew. It started as a normal conversation. Certainly nothing to write home about.

 

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Nothing out of the ordinary. Just regular small talk to wade into conversation intended to get to know someone.

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“Thanks.” I acknowledged the compliment. In general, this is something with which I tend to struggle. I don’t know how to take a compliment and in that regard I’ve always felt socially awkward. Perhaps it’s social programming or widely held societal standards or just my inherent awkwardness at times. But it’s there. So, I acknowledged the compliment and tried to move on.

 

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I wasn’t buying his story, but I wasn’t intending to call him out on it. I had barely started talking to the guy. Back then, when I first started the online dating venture, I wasn’t nearly as bold. Before I could even ask him clarifying details about that particularly ambitious line of work, Andrew once again redirected the conversation.

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It was at this point my sassy side started to shine through. In general, I think this type of conversation is frustrating. There are so many implications with the “hot teacher” archetype. Regardless of my students’ assessment of my appearance (by the way, gross and I don’t want to know), they learn. I am just as vivacious with speech in my classroom as I am online. I really don’t accept any nonsense in my class. But the implication that is perpetuated by the “hot teacher” role, especially when used to flirt here, is that a student may have a chance to be with that teacher. Absolutely unacceptable, unprofessional and uncalled-for. And so icky. My profession is my passion and my livelihood. It is not some sick, twisted fantasy.

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And once again here, accept the compliment and move on. My frustration is building, though. I clearly am not engaging in this line of conversation. So, once again I try to pivot to a more appropriate topic.

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Yes! Okay! Now we have something in common. I love Game of Thrones– a show on which I could spend hours discussing. This will be perfect to expand our conversation.

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Annnnnnnd… there it is. Again. I grew up playing baseball (no, not softball–perhaps a rant for a different post). Three strikes and you’re out, buddy. It’s time to shut this down. Clearly he isn’t picking up the fact that this raunchy teacher-talk isn’t going to happen.

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Thanks, Andrew, for the conversation. Hopefully he learned at least one thing from this teacher: pick up better on social cues. On to the next…

 

As Awkward as You Seemed…

The Beginning.

I wasn’t intending on you being that awkward. Sure, you seemed like you were
“playing the game.” Someone must have told you once that responding too quickly meant you had “no chill”, that you would seem too needy and desperate. But there is also a length of time where that response lag is blatantly obvious. And you were blatantly obvious….

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I ought to give some point of reference here… My profile is filled with adjectives. These adjectives on this particular site happen to start with the letter “p.” Passionate, perceptive, etc. His initial interaction was totally fine. Nothing like the communications I’ve received from others. So, I responded. Granted, if you’ll look at the first point of contact, it was almost 2am. That’s ridiculous. Even then… I responded with nothing but favorable reactions to his message and profile. All was going well.

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I even followed up after this message. I did my part and invested into a person that seemed like we had similar values.

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His profile seemed genuine. He seemed sweet, caring and completely open to beginning a relationship. Perhaps too much thought went into his profile for me to really buy-into the idealism he was selling. But, I allowed myself to be hopeful. If I lost my hope, what was the point of searching anyway?

But he waited… five days to be exact.

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I’ll give him credit, he did ask for my phone number. And I gave it to him. I responded within 24 hours and gave him my phone number. How did he proceed? Oh with another app message of course… He definitely didn’t use my phone number. Instead, he used the app to tell me his own. I’m not the most *subtle* so I took some initiative and messaged him first.


The Middle.

Maybe I should have called it quits there… perhaps I should have read the signs that awkwardness was inevitable. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to text anyway. The average time between responses from him was about 36 hours.  Finally, I was able to get him to nail down a time to meet. It would be later at night, at 9:30 pm. It worked out for him because he had athletic activities and it worked for me because I would be leaving out-of-town the next day.

I am obnoxiously time cognizant (a fact I had told him prior to setting this date), and was 15 minutes early to our date at Dave and Busters. He, however, was not as aware of the time. He preempted his late arrival with a text letting me know he was running behind schedule. I waited until 10pm before he showed up…

Alright, he was late. But he had volleyball prior. Perhaps that’s what held him up? Either way, he had promised to make it up to me. Who was I to write him off already before he even had a chance to make good on that promise?

We went into Dave and Busters after a quick hug. For those that don’t know, Dave and Busters is like an adult arcade. Games, drinks, and prizes galore. He led me to the machines that fill the tokens onto a play card. After a couple of swipes, it was quite obvious the magnetic strip on his card was not being read by the machine. Not a problem. I took my card out and loaded the money he had originally intended to buy onto his play card and we headed to the game floor.

Don’t get me wrong… I have nothing against paying for a date. I am 100% equal opportunity buy-in as far as first dates are concerned. But this interaction just added to the overall awkwardness of the evening.

We played some games. We had a decent time.

I do have some issues with sensory processing, though. Too much light or noise or stimuli will trigger for me the mightiest of migraines. Dave and Busters is like a mini version of Vegas. Step inside and be throttled into an arena of lights, sound and casino-esque adventures. I mentioned a few times that the sounds were too much for me, but he didn’t seem to understand I would have preferred to talk elsewhere. Maybe I was being too sensitive? So I continued on as planned through the date.

We sat down at a trivia machine. My domain. I love trivia. We even found a set of tickets printed and left behind by another trivia player. Unfortunate for them, but definitely our gain. I won several rounds before we decided to move to another location.

Up until this point, each of his shortcomings were not deal breakers in and of themselves. Initially he tried to play it cool with delayed responses. Then he was late to the date. His card wouldn’t work. And his communication skills were less than adequate. All of these small things could be chalked up to circumstance or coincidence.

But then it got awkward…

I followed him towards the back of the building to the prize area. We had plenty of tickets compiled from the games of the evening and we even had the paper tickets left behind at the trivia game. Perfect. We can pick something out to commemorate the evening. But then he stopped. He did not enter the prize room. We just stood on the outside looking in. I was waiting for his cue since we would be using his play card. Though I technically paid for the date, and subsequently the tickets, I didn’t want to presume we would use the tickets. Maybe he saved all of his tickets to get a grand prize. So we waited…

And waited…

Then a girl around the age of 12 walked up to a machine near us to check the balance on her own card. Totally normal. He walked up to the girl and the following interaction took place:

“Hi little girl. Want these?” He then threw the tickets at her and ran away. Literally. He walked faster than he had the entire evening in the opposite direction towards the front of the building.

At this point I could not keep my thoughts to myself.

“That was weird,” I said.

“What?” he replied.

“‘Hi little girl. Want these?’ That was weird.”

He attempted to justify his wording by saying he was a being precise. She is a little girl. To which I informed him that just saying “Hey, want these?” and waiting for a response would have been 100% less awkward. There was no need to address her as “little girl” nor was there a need to throw them at her and run away.

Alas, he conceded. I think they longer he argued the more ridiculous he realized he sounded. Or at least I hope that was the case.


The End.

Quickly he changed the topic to divert from the awkward interaction. Instead he pivoted the conversation towards me. Asking about me was a good strategy: change the subject, focus on her.

I proceeded to tell him about my job. I am a teacher and one of the classes I teach is an inclusion class. This means that half of my students are general education students and half are special education. Each special education student has an Individual Education Plan to help them access the curriculum to the same degree as everyone else. For reference, this class still learns grade-level content. The class is not any slower or lesser than any other general education class. I just have the support of a special education teacher and we co-teach the material.

To further clarify, these students are ones who can access the curriculum when given supports. These are not students who need intensely modified materials or who are not as capable of learning the same amount of material. Students who have higher needs for my content, or academic content in general, would typically be placed in other settings. One such setting is a resource class. This is highly modified material of grade-level standards. In this class, students probably wouldn’t be exposed to the same volume of material either. Another setting is called self-contained. This would be an environment where students are placed for the entire day in all academic areas. These are lower cognitive functioning students than the ones that would be placed in an inclusion classroom.

Nick asked, “Is it difficult teaching retarded students?”

I almost lost my mind. Seriously? Although I explained to him, in-depth, how the classroom works he still had the audacity to use that word. I called him out, of course. But just like defending his use of “little girl” he explained why using “retarded” was appropriate.

All the rationalizing and justifying I had done for him throughout the night was gone. The “maybes” or “buts” or “perhaps” flew right out the window. I looked at my watch and mentioned the time.

“It’s late. It’s already 11 and you have work tomorrow.” I was on break from school and traveling to see a friend. But I made it clear that the date was ending because of him, not for my own personal convenience.

After walking me to my car, he told me that the next date would be on him since I paid for this one. All I had to do was text him when I got back in town if I was still interested in hanging out.


The Epilogue.

Moments after I got in my car I received a picture message from him. It was a photo of the Red Bull he apparently had brought me to “make up for the fact that he was late.” Where he got the idea I like Red Bull is beyond me. Perhaps he got a deal at the gas station on the way to the date, potentially the cause of his late arrival, and decided to give me one. I never did get that Red Bull… And I never messaged him for another date. To his credit, he never messaged me again either.

He really was just as awkward as he seemed.