I don’t want to make this post about changing the date. There is so much out there about the reasons that 26 January can be a horrendous day for our First Peoples that I don’t need to add my not very well-educated opinion to it.
Instead I want to tell you about what I did exactly one year ago. I think it’s probably the worst date I’ve ever been on. But that’s getting ahead of myself.
This time last year I was single, and on a dating site called OkCupid. I was pretty prolific, I would contact a lot of people in the hope of finding someone who would be suitable. I was pretty open minded, I would consider most people who didn’t immediately appear to be a massive dickhead.
I’d been talking to a fellow called Vinny* for a week or so. He was a Business Analyst, he was American, in his late 20s. He had told me in his messages that he did stand-up comedy as a bit of a hobby on the side. There was potential.
Vinny lived in St Kilda, and he insisted that we meet up for a coffee down his way. We met at 10:30am, quite early for a public holiday in my opinion, at a cafe on Fitzroy St. I got there before him, I try to be on time for things, and so when he walked up I saw him coming. He seemed very nervous.
We sat at a table on the street, drank our coffees and chatted and watched the comings and goings around us. For the first part of the date he was very quiet, I did a lot of talking, partly to put him at ease and partly to fill the space.
‘Why do you keep looking around?’ he asked, suddenly.
‘I don’t know, I’m just checking out what’s happening.’ I replied.
This was the first time I started to think that he was a little bit socially awkward. It’s not normal to look at a person’s face for the entire time you’re having a conversation. You look off the the side while recalling a fact, or whatever, and anyway staring at someone 100% of the time is super creepy. A little red flag started to wave, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
About an hour in he starts to relax, and starts telling me a bit more about himself.
‘Do you want me to tell you one of my jokes?’ he said.
‘Sure.’ I was worried by this stage, being a bit of a rabid feminazi I find that many types of stand-up comedy are offensive. I hoped that Vinny was going to be enlightened and not tell a joke that would make me uncomfortable.
Unfortunately the passage of time has erased the exact joke from my mind, only the punch line stays with me, so I’ve reverse engineered something that is similar to what he told me:
‘My ex-girlfriend bought a dog the other day, that bitch was crazy, and the dog was pretty bad too.’ He grins at me, awaiting my laughter and approval. It is not given, I just sit waiting to see what he’ll do to justify what he’s just said.
‘It’s okay, I don’t really think like that, but I play a character on stage, and he does think like that.’
‘Oh, okay. How does the audience know that you’re playing a character? I mean, if it’s just a five minute open mic spot, then won’t they just think you’re being you?’ I was trying not to be judgmental.
We talked about that for a while, but I could see it wasn’t sinking in. By now I’d decided to honour the small red flag from earlier and I wasn’t interested in spending any more time with this guy. I excused myself, saying I had to get to a Hottest 100 party, and I left.
I’d spent about two hours with this guy. As I sat in my car I shook my head and thought, ‘at least I know he’s a dickhead now, and I don’t have to waste any more time on him,’ and went on with my day.
I had a lovely time at the Corner Hotel, I met some cool people, I played giant jenga, I couldn’t really hear the countdown over the hubbub but that was okay. I called it a day about 7pm and went home.
At 9pm I get a text. I still have the texts saved in my phone.
‘Hey Fleur. It was very nice to meet you. Hope you made it home safe.’
‘Hey, yes, I got home alright,’ I sent back.
‘Cool. Would you like to catch up again?’
‘To be honest, it’s not something I’m super keen on.’
‘No problem. Can I give you a very quick call? Promise to keep it short.’
‘I won’t ask for why you aren’t interested. Please. Can I call? Just need to request you for something.’
‘If you can’t ask over text then I don’t want to know.’
I’m getting pretty annoyed by now. I expected that he would just take my no and leave it at that. He asked if I had Skype, and I said no.
Eventually he sends through a text with what he wants.
‘I think you are out of my league and you probably associate with people unlike me. I wanted to ask if you would consider the idea of allowing me to serve you financially by taking you shopping and holding your bags while you ignore me.’
On the surface, this seems like a good arrangement, I get presents and I don’t have to talk to him. But this guy bothers me and to be honest I don’t really want to spend any more time with him. I’m also very suspicious that this is not the only thing he will want from me; he’ll want attention, he’ll want to have access to my time, he’ll probably want to inflict his terrible jokes on me. I’m really not very materialistic, I don’t need stuff, and it doesn’t seem like I’d be getting much out of the deal.
So I say no thank you. He wants to talk about it. I say no. He wants to chat on Facebook, I say no, please stop texting me. He goes back to OkCupid and starts messaging me there. I repeat that I’m not interested. I realised in hindsight I should probably have stopped replying, but I didn’t.
At some point I ask him to stop contacting me. He logs into another OkCupid account and starts to message me from that account. It’s now after 11pm.
‘Please let me call to explain. If you don’t agree I will never contact you again,’ he texts.
I don’t reply. Finally I have gotten to the point where I am not giving him any more space. I’m tired, and I go to have a shower. When I get out, I’m getting ready for bed and my phone rings.
It’s Vinny. I was shocked. I have said over and over I don’t want him to call me, I don’t want to speak with him, I’ve made it clear that I was not interested. I was angry so I answered the phone.
‘What the fuck do you think you’re doing?’ I was speaking in a soft voice because both my housemates were asleep. The soft voice makes my anger seem more sinister.
‘I told you not to call me. I told you to stop texting me. Don’t contact me ever again,’ I said.
He screamed something abusive and there was a sound like he’d thrown his phone against the wall.
I was stunned, but I hoped that that would be the end of it. Then I get two final text messages:
‘Fat slob racist piece of shit. Fuck off!!! Die alone fatso.’
‘You are blocked on OkCupid. Die alone fatso racist loser cunt! :)’
The smiley face really just tops off the creepiness in my opinion. This guy, who seems very shy, who takes a while to come out of his shell and who I had done so much to make him feel comfortable. This guy who then felt he was entitled to my time, even after I asked him repeatedly to stop. This guy who said I was out of his league had flipped, very suddenly and very violently, and told me to die alone. This guy who proved to me that those little red flags that pop up and I sometimes ignore, I need to honour those.
It took me a while to feel comfortable again after that. I took myself off OkCupid and tried Tindr. Even now it’s that flip that gets me. I don’t really know what point I’m trying to make here, except to say that this day last year I had a pretty rough day. I had sort of intended this to be a funny anecdote but it turns out that, a year later, it’s still not funny.
*I haven’t changed this guy’s name, because he doesn’t deserve my protection.