As a broke, 27-year-old graduate student slowly recovering from a messy break up, I posted a profile on OkCupid in hopes of meeting a guy who did his own laundry and didn’t kill animals. Despite my Baptist parents’ and grandparents’ longstanding encouragement to find a God-fearing gentleman, my standard was slightly lower. A man who was more or less moral would do.
After a week of exchanging messages with someone who seemed normal until he called me “yummy,” another who confessed he was 18, and one who wrote 1,300 words describing a dream he had, I was prepared to bail and meet my mate the way most everyone I knew had: without the internet.
When my inbox chimed one final time, I clicked on the message to find strikingly few emoticons. This correspondent used periods, and even some commas. I was impressed. Reviewing his profile, I learned he was a Greek architect with a nice smile.
We chose an Irish pub. I arrived a little early and ordered a beer at the bar while congratulating myself on dating rather than moping in front of my bootleg series of “Sex and the City” with Korean sub-titles.
He walked in wearing plastic-rimmed glasses and Converse, somewhere between a hipster and a brainy seventh grader. We moved to a booth. I noted that he was as cute as his photos. Cuter, even. This was going well.
We chatted about his work, my grad studies, and New York neighborhoods. Then we moved on to my favorite part of the evening with an online date—stories about the nuts we’d encountered! I went first, describing in great detail the man who sent me a questionnaire I was required to complete before he would ask me out.
“I met my last girlfriend online,” he told me when it was his turn.
I was cursing myself for launching the game as he began a tale about said girlfriend. The pair, he said, were walking down the street a year or so earlier when they heard a soft beeping. They traced the sound to an ATM with a debit card sticking out of it. He withdrew $200, on which they enjoyed a three-course dinner at a nearby steakhouse. He seemed so self-satisfied that I wondered if at some point this anecdote had actually charmed a woman. He sipped his Heineken and beamed at me waiting for my response.
I was living on student loans. If someone had ripped me off $200, I might actually have to sell something to make rent. Also, I grew up in a household where “The Simpsons,” forgetting to say “ma’am” or “sir” to an adult, and the word “crap” were prohibited. The only thing I had ever stolen was a book of ghost stories in fourth grade, and I felt so guilty, I burned it. Then I felt guilty about that, because I wasn’t supposed to go near the fire.
Unable to curb my impulse, I scolded him. “That was unethical! How could you!?”
He said nothing, just grabbed the bill.
After he paid—or someone did, God only knows where the cash came from—we parted ways without so much as a hug. Perhaps my parents and grandparents had a point. From now on, I think I’ll stick with guys who are more moral, not less.