This story sounds mean. It’s about a boy judging a girl because she’s a nerd (like so many of us!) that he met on OkCupid. But that’s the point: Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature, and the magic and absurdity of online dating is how immediately and directly it throws that into relief. One person’s Goldeneye is another person’s fingernail biting, and no profile in the world is deep enough to account for that.
Earlier this month, I came home drunk and made an OKCupid profile. What the hell, I thought. I’m busy, I’m single, and everybody’s doing it. Sure, I’d heard horror stories, but what was the worst that could happen?
Two weeks into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had broken me down. It was like the online equivalent to hanging out alone in a dark, date-rapey bar. Every time I signed on, I was hit by a barrage of creepy messages. “Dem dud u so foine, iwud lik veru much for me nd u to be marry n procreate.” Or “your arms do look strong.” So when I saw an IM from a girl saying, “You should go out with me :)” I was relieved. She seemed normal. I gave her my name. “Google away,” I said. Then dinner was ready, and I signed off without remembering to do the same.
We met for a drink later that week. She was thin and tall, dressed in a business casual blouse and skirt with pale skin and pierced ears. We started talking about normal stuff — family, work, college. I told her my sister was a gamer. And then she casually mentioned that she played Goldeneye Wii when she was younger.
“Actually,” she paused. “I’m the world champion.”
I laughed. Oh that’s a funny joke! I thought. This girl is funny! But the earnest look on her face told me he wasn’t kidding.
I gulped my beer and thought about Goldeneye, that first person shooter involving James Bond and Russians and other detailed geekery. A long-forgotten fad, like pogs or something. But before I could dig deeper, we had to go. She had bought us tickets for a one-man show based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s life story. It was not a particularly romantic evening.
The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums! This girl isn’t just some professional who dabbled in video games at a tender age. She’s so widely revered in the game of Goldeneye that she’s been immortalized in her own character model.
Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles? But maybe it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.
At dinner I got straight down to it. Did she still play? “Yes.” Strike one. How often? “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” Strike two. Who did she hang out with? “I’ve met all my best friends through Goldeneye.” Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened.
Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I didn’t know shit about the game. Here was a girl who had dedicated a good chunk of her life to mastering Goldeneye, on a date with a guy who can barely play Mario Brothers. This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile. I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance girl, only to realize she was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.
I later found out that she infiltrated her way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Fathers, warn your sons! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal long-haired girl with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds. Maybe I’m an OKCupid asshole for calling it that way. Maybe I’m shallow for not being able to see past her world title. But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.
So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore. Also, for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Nintendorks and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.