One time, I went on a blind date that was live-streamed for all of my friends, his friends, and anyone else on the Internet. The date was a stunt for the relationship site HowAboutWe, and a week before the event, they sent out my profile and my date’s to their entire listserv with an invitation to join and comment on our experience.
My friends were beside themselves at the idea of seeing me interact with a member of the opposite sex. How many weird things could I possibly say in one evening? What would be my idea of flirting? They scheduled viewing parties in cities around the world and invented a drinking game with an accompanying Facebook event (rules included: “Drink when: Malia does awkward fingers/creepy faces, Malia is funnier than her date but still thinks he’s funny. Take a shot when: Malia makes a pun”). My date, Andrew, and I met at an East Village bar. I was clued in to certain facts about him from his profile: he liked girls with thick, natural hair – the thicker the better (“Drink when: Malia touches her thick, natural hair”), claimed energy was his “jam,” and said he “fell in love quite easily."
The site set us up in front of a laptop, but the screen was darkened so we couldn’t see the viewer chat room, which had around 100 people in it. Yes, 100 people watched me date. We fumbled through conversation. I found out he grew up on a farm. He loved Phish, wore cargo shorts and tried to feed me a slice of quesadilla when I just requested he pass a piece. Our friends grew rowdier, more demanding, and at points, they’d ask the HowAboutWe date moderators to intervene and make us play Jenga or get Iced. Andrew and I took turns "confessing” to the camera while we each used the bathroom (HowAboutWe did not ask us to do this; it just felt right). In the stall, my friends texted encouraging messages like, “HE TOTES LOVES YOU <333.” They were getting drunker and drunker off my date. I joked our couple name should be Drewlia, which HowAboutWe then adopted into a helpful hashtag. At some point, I asked Andrew if he wanted to touch my thick, natural hair, and he did, declaring it very thick and very natural.
And then Andrew leaned in. A strand of his straw-colored ponytail brushed my shoulder. He whispered: “What do you say we end this, head to the bar, and be real people?”
The chat room exploded. "WHAT IS HE SAYING?“ "HE’S WHISPERING SECRETS.” “HE LOVES HER!!1”
I did not want to go be “real people” with Andrew. I did not want to do anything with Andrew.
“That’s ok,” I said, making a face (oops…drink!).
HowAboutWe sensed the date coming to a close and wrapped it up. After, Andrew re-stated his interest in getting to know me. One of my friends (thoughtfully) texted to say, “Need me to get you out of a weird situation right about now?” then called me. I pretended I urgently needed to take the call and rushed out of the bar.
I haven’t spoken to Andrew since, though his number remains in the muddled archive of my phone. HowAboutWe posted a recap, where they bluntly summed up the event: “Malia revealed that the chances of a second date were about 50/50, though Andrew was completely willing.”
Alas, #Drewlia was not meant to be. But I can imagine a not-so-distant future where you’ll be able to tune in to all of your friends’ romantic encounters and rate them and drink the night away. We’re basically there, right?
Welcome to gin + platonic. I’m your host, Malia. I bring you live-streamed dates, racist OkCupid pick-up lines, and general musings on dating, which I don’t do all that often but really often enough.