A little while ago, I blogged about my forays into the world of online dating. One of the things that struck me in those early, halcyon days was how wrong I’d been about this new way of meeting people, how I’d had plenty of messages from decent young men and hardly anything from creepy, inappropriate weirdoes. All the horror stories I’d heard? Why, they were as real as those urban legends you used to hear at school! Online dating wasn’t a minefield, it was a lush meadow populated with polite and interesting gentlemen who were happy to converse about books, films, and comics.
Hollow laughter doesn’t come across very well when typed, so just imagine some here. Or, if you prefer, a Mrs Krabappel-style “Hah!”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are still plenty of the aforementioned polite and interesting gentlemen floating around online. Unfortunately, they seem to have stopped messaging me. (Maybe they’re all off reading exciting books. Or working on fascinating projects. Or drying out to less than 3% water and then reanimating decades later. Oh no, hang on, that’s tardigrades. They’re pretty interesting too, though).
I’m still getting plenty of messages, but there has been a distinct dip in quality. ‘Hi’ doesn’t really give me much to work with. ‘Hot’, even less so. (Are you talking about me? The weather? The cup of coffee you just tipped into your lap?)
And those are the better examples. Not so long ago, one man (who had evidently interpreted ‘avid reader’ as ‘50 Shades fan’) sent me a message leading with ‘Do you like to be dominated?’ Well, total stranger, that’s really none of your business. Even if I did, I would want some kind of preamble, boundary-setting and, I don’t know, a conversation, before going down that route (something people who are in that particular scene have told me is of essential importance).
Most of the time, I delete messages like these. Occasionally, the user in question interprets a delete as “Chase me, you big strong stallion!”, so I end up having to block him. The other day, though, I was bored and having a quiet afternoon. So, when an inappropriate message came in, I decided to have a bit of fun.
One user – whose avatar was a burly arm worthy of Trogdor – had sent me a first message that genuinely read ‘What kind of panties you wearing???’ (Has that ever worked for getting a date, by the way? Enquiring minds would like to know. Same for catcalling in the street and beeping women as you drive by).
I replied with a link to this image:
Then I sat back and waited for the response.
I was hoping for a ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’, so that I could point out the irony of such a question. But it got better.
‘Can’t see the pic babes? What’s it of?’
(Note: if you want to impress me, calling me ‘babes’ is not the way to do it).
‘Sorry!’ I said. ‘I thought you’d be able to see the link. Try this one’.
Surely, I thought, this would get the reaction I wanted.
‘Does your bum look nice in them???’ asked Trogdor.
I underestimated the Internet. As it turns out, some people are truly untrollable.
It was time to bring out the big guns. I’d been updating my friends on the situation via my Facebook, and one friend had posted an image that he thought I might be able to use.
I’m not going to link the image here. This blog is PG, after all. (Well, sort of). But it featured a rather sweaty, hairy man in extremely small underpants.
‘I’m not sure,’ I told my admirer. ‘You can’t see my bum in this picture’. Well, it wasn’t a lie.
There was no response this time. Instead, Trogdor deleted the entire thread. I have a feeling I might have made him a little uncomfortable. Funny, that. It’s almost as if it’s not very nice having a total stranger completely disrespect your boundaries.
This hasn’t put me off online dating. In fact, it’s made it even more fun. After all, it’s not a real adventure if you don’t have to slay a few dragons.