In the summer of 2006, after having recently endured a breakup, I decided to bite the bullet, finally hopping on the online dating bandwagon. I chose Nerve as the site, and “Sara_B” and “This is really awkward” as my username and headline. Because, well, I am. And because, well, it was. I downloaded this one photo of me in a polka-dot dress and this other one of me in an absurd straw fedora and scoured the internet for someone to date.
I found him the very next day: LuckyJim_28. He had well-groomed facial hair, and those trendy, thick-framed hipster glasses. Nerve asked its members for a list of items they couldn’t live without, and LuckyJim_28 had written Martha Steward pie-crust mold and gun for killing Facebook friends who post about what they had for dinner. I found LuckyJim generally attractive, and the written answers to his profile genuinely amusing, and so I emailed him the following: “Hi there LuckyJim. Thanks for recognizing the level of self-absorption on display when one photographs one’s own food and uploads it on the internet. Also, I think you have nice glasses. – Very best, Sara B.”
His reply — “Well hello sara_b. Glad to meet a kindred spirit” – came later that same night. I liked the brevity of both the email and the response time – neither overly eager nor too hard-to-get – and after more back-and forths, we set up a date at a local bar.
It was only once LuckyJim arrived (20 minutes late and jabbering apologies) that I realized he was a little person.
Whether it was a case of dwarfism or not, I didn’t know. All that registered was his hairline: It had receded significantly since the time of his profile photo. I thought, Well, at least we’ll be sitting down, but as it turned out, no. There weren’t enough seats at the bar, and so LuckyJim – very much the gentleman – offered me the one available stool and volunteered to stand.
“What? Oh, gosh no! You take the stool!” I said.
“What? No! I wouldn’t hear of it!” he said. “You take the stool!”
And so I took the stool. Which, to give you a clear visual, meant my ass was now flush with the top of Jim’s head.
Now here let me say: I know it’s rude to tell people you know what they’re thinking. That said, I do, in this instance, think I know what you’re thinking. I think you’re thinking what I was thinking, which was this: Did LuckyJim_28, in his Nerve profile, include any mention of his stature? As it happened, he had not. I’ll tell you right now that the first thing I did when he went to the bathroom was pull up his profile on my phone to check. And where it asked how tall he was, LuckyJim had left it blank. And, I’ll be honest, I found this behavior problematic. I’ve never understood people who are anything other than forthright in their dating profiles. It’s like, why do that to yourself? Why subject yourself to the shock on someone’s face when he/she realizes that you’re A) 15 years older than you claimed to be, B) 50 pounds heavier than you claimed to be, C) A little person? God knows we don’t all have to show up looking like employable models, but I do, at the very least, think it’s wise to show up looking like you said you would.
Nevertheless, I’d found LuckyJim’s glasses and facial hair attractive. And I like to at least pretend I’m a decent human being, and so during these minutes when he was in the bathroom, I made myself a promise. “Sara,” I said, “You will be open to this experience. You will get to know LuckyJim as a person and see what potential there is for attraction … just as you expect him to see what potential there is toward you, in light of your struggles with adult onset acne and the beginning of female pattern baldness.”
But no good deed goes unpunished, am I right? And in that hour after LuckyJim returned from the bathroom, he proceeded to get so massively, sloppily, embarrassingly drunk, that, honestly, Mother Teresa herself wouldn’t have known what to do. He started asking, “So … how come you’re into little guys?”
It was one of the great challenges of my life, willing myself not to reply, “Well, Jim, I’m actually not. I’m not into little guys. The thing is, though, that you didn’t explain your … whole … height situation in your profile, so I really had no way of knowing. But that doesn’t matter now, does it? If what momentarily works for you is to pretend I have a fetish, fine. Let’s go with that.”
This was part one of LuckyJim’s profound inebriation. Part two involved him drunkenly molesting me. I’d stood up at a certain point so as to stretch my legs, and when I did, Jim aggressively – almost violently – spooned me. It was a vertical spoon that involved his arms wrapped around the highest part of my legs. Which meant, in turn, that his hands rested squarely upon my vagina.
“Um, excuse me. Jim. Your hands are, like, on my vagina,” I said.
I am, in fact, direct when I need to be.
“Don’t tell me you don’t like it,” he said.
“Actually,” I said. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell you in no uncertain terms that I do not like having your hands on my vagina. Remove them immediately.”
Jim did as I asked, which was good. Or rather, it should have been good, except that when he removed his hands from the front of my body, he sort of, like, repositioned himself so as to lean against my backside, so as to use me as for balance.
“Not a bad fit,” he said. “Right?”
I left right after that. I really couldn’t handle the aggressive and presumptuous vertical spoon, of course. But if I’m being really, really honest, I think there was the additional problem of having not made peace with Jim’s height, or rather, the fact that he didn’t disclose it. This made me feel awful and ashamed. And maybe if I hadn’t just spent $80 on my Nerve membership, I would’ve been able to afford a therapist with whom to talk through all the burgeoning self-loathing. Alas. I couldn’t afford one, and so I headed home instead to dull the pain with a bottle of Bailey’s and a jaunt through my inbox. I found nothing but an email from a guy over 60, and another from a guy whose headline read, “I’m CUMing after you!” and decided this online dating thing, frankly, just wasn’t for me.