Volume 3 Number 1 • Spring 2011

Dylan Gilbert

This Online Dating Thing

When I heard we were meeting at City Limits, I got an uneasy feeling. I mean, the guy is talking romance in his profile, but I'm not feeling it at a glorified family diner with a bar frequented by preppy college kids and book club moms. I step in and find the place packed with suburban families. Not my scene. A hint of shame creeps in. Any way I try to paint this getting-dates-on-the-internet thing, it still feels pathetic.

I search for the brown-haired, athletic guy with the green shirt at the bar – can't miss him. Polo shirt, tucked in, jeans up past his belly-button. Short hair, not unattractive, but good Lord, has an ass and hips bigger than mine. That's what you call athletic? I'm tempted to turn around, really, just call and tell him I can't make it, spare both of us the embarrassment. Then he spots me, gets a big grin and says something to the old waitress bringing him a drink. They snigger together and then he waves me over. Fine, I'll give the poor sap a chance.

“You must be Wendy,” he says.

“Hello, Norman.”


“Me too,” I say.

I've done this online date thing a few times before, and there's the same four discussions you always go through: A. How you got to the meeting place. B. What you do for a living C. Where you live and where you're from, and D. Your hobbies and interests. These take twenty to thirty minutes and then the agonizing moment of truth – do you want to see each other again? The easy out is let me think about it, I'll e-mail you and let you know. However, that's a cop-out. You're not going to know anything more about the guy tomorrow. Twenty minutes from now I'm going to tell this guy up front, just like last time.
We go through discussion A: “I took the Bronx River Parkway to get here.”

“Oh, I did too.” Isn't the world full of remarkable coincidences? We both took one of two ways to get here. “Say, where do you live?” Yada, yada, yada. I'm swigging my Corona down so I can make a graceful exit, while he sips on some clear drink, perhaps a Tom Collins, but more likely a Sprite.

We're up to conversation C and the strange thing is, I haven't gotten a single bit of concrete information about him. “What do you do?” I ask.

“I'm in technology.”

“Okay, like computer software of something?”

“No, more related to quality control.”

“Oh.” Everything is in formal generalizations. Even step D. “So, you said in your profile that you love music. What type are you into?” I ask.

“Why, the classics.”

“Oh.” Like, classics what? Classical? Classic Rock? Jazz greats like Parker and Coltrane? You can't just say classics.

We finish step D and I drain what's left of my Corona. I start to tell him I have to be somewhere, but before I get the words out, he asks for the check.

“So, it was a pleasure to meet you,” he says cheerily. “I'd say we're probably not suited for each other, wouldn't you agree?”

Yes, I would agree. I was never planning to see this guy again. But why wouldn't he want to go out with me? “Can I just ask why?”

“Well, certain realizations came to me about differences in our personalities as we spoke.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I think your values are in conflict with mine.”

“How do you even know that?”

“You didn't perceive it?”

I shake his hand and leave.

I hop in my Miata and fly out of there. Who the hell is this guy to reject me? I'm 41, my kids are almost grown, I have a great body – everyone says so. The last guy I met up with told me my ass was so shapely that it should be bronzed and preserved forever. He was a Wall Street banker. He wanted to go out with me again and I rejected him. But this guy with the tugboat ass thinks we're not suited to each other?

I start to question why I'm even doing this online dating crap. I'm putting myself in these unnatural, humiliating situations to feel better, not be reminded yet again I'm worthless – I got enough of that for a lifetime already from my ex.

I pull up at a light and there he is, in a green Subaru Outback, right next to me with that same goofy grin. I hit my horn.

He looks and when he recognizes me he smiles like we're long lost buddies. I don't know why, but this guy just pisses me off. He couldn't even tell me something about himself? I lower my window and as he's lowering his I flip him the bird. "Fuck you, Tugboat Ass!" I scream.

I catch the look of horror on his face as I make a screeching right onto Central Avenue. I feel my lower lip starting to quiver a hint and bite down on it hard and for some reason I think about this time when I was six at my ballet recital and everyone made a huge fuss over me.

Dylan Gilbert spent many years in New York City working as an actor in everything from performance art to Shakespeare. He now lives with his wife and teenage son in New York's Hudson Valley, where he teaches English. His fiction has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Westchester Review, Slow Trains, Red Fez, Spilling Ink Review, and other literary journals. For more information visit his website: