The ins and outs of internet dating brought to you by our favorite underachievers, Mike and Peter.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
The sun was beating down on the seawall as Mike and Peter sat on a bench, watching the usual parade of joggers, dog walkers and happy couples on a Saturday stroll pass them by. And while Peter was sneaking peeks behind his sunglasses at the girls running by in their sports bras and yoga pants, Mike’s eyes were glued to the screen of his smartphone.
“Slipknot fucking sucks,” said Peter. “Stone Sour was alright.”
Mike was too busy swiping his finger across the screen of his smartphone to actually turn and acknowledge his friend, but he did answer. “You are completely fucked,” he said, crouched over, gazing down at his phone. “That’s the total opposite. Stone Sour sucks. Slipknot was hella sick.”
“Whatever,” said Peter. He took a long sip from his 711 root beer Slurpee and leaned back on the bench. “Those masks are like something out of a child abuse victim’s nightmare…You find one yet?”
“Traveling…” Mike scoffed under his breath.
Peter, whose eyes had been staring at a young sporty read head who was in the midst of picking up her tiny poodle’s poop with a plastic bag, turned to his friend and said, “Huh?”
“Traveling,” Mike repeated. “All these girls on Plenty of Fish, that’s all they like to do. Every single god damn profile. Traveling.” He pointed to his phone with his free hand to reference. “Take this girl—Lindsay…” As he read her profile Mike did his best worst impression of what he thought she might sound like. “Hi, my name’s Lindsay. I really like to travel and explore new places. I’d much rather spend my money on going somewhere exotic than on something like a car.”
Mike swiped again and began to read another profile. Again, he did his best impression of what he imagined she might sound like. “My name’s Sarah. I’m a travel junkie. I love to explore new places with great people who have a real ‘lust for life’. And I hate drama.”
Peter whistled and shook his head with a half-cocked grin. “Girls who say they hate drama usually love drama. That just means some dude stopped calling them—probably for being too dramatic. So what? Girls like to travel. Big deal.”
“I hate traveling,” Mike replied. “Why would I want to go to a place where no one speaks my language? I already live in Vancouver.”
“That’s true,” said Peter. “Why don’t you just find a girl who is into stuff besides traveling?”
“Every moderately attractive girl on Plenty of Fish is into traveling. If not traveling, hiking.”
Peter waved it off. “They just say that to attract guys that are financially stable enough to go on a trip and fit enough to go hiking. Plus, you need a car for all that. None of which you have going for you…plus, you’re bald.”
Mike frowned and ran his palm over his smooth crown. “I know, right? What kind of beautiful girl is going to be on my shit?”
At that moment, a slender young brunette in a sports bra and tights stopped in the midst of her jog, right in front of the boys. She was breathing quick and heavy and had worked up quite a sweat. Beads of perspiration ran down her neck to her collar bone. She bent over to stretch, touching her toes. When she returned upright she took out her earphones and walked over to the boys—more specifically, to Mike.
“Hey,” she said, still trying to catch her breath. “Do you have the time?”
Mike looked down at his phone. “Yeah. It’s three thirty,” he answered.
She giggled, as if embarrassed. “Damn,” she said. “I was supposed to meet someone for a drink at three. Woops. Must have lost track of time.”
“That sucks,” said Mike.
“I know, right?” she replied, now humored by her forgetfulness. “I’m still in the mood for that drink though. God, I’m so stupid.”
Mike was busy with his phone. “Well, good luck,” he answered.
“Yeah, er, okay…” said the girl. “Thanks.”
She smiled and jogged off. When she was gone, Mike sighed and turned to Peter. He pointed down to his phone. “I just know if one of these hot girls gave me a chance I could woo them with my charm. You can’t see charm on these dating apps. People judge you completely on your looks, it’s not fair. They just see an average looking bald dude and nothing deeper. The only messages I get are from fat girls. If not the fatties it’s the girls with no jobs who sit around smoking weed all day.”
“Don’t you sit around smoking weed all day?” asked Peter.
“That’s not the point,” snapped Mike. “I need a girl that’s ambitious. A girl with goals. Someone who will inspire me to be better as a man. At least a girl with a fucking job.” He sighed and sunk on the bench. “Who am I kidding? A girl like that would not be into a guy like me…”
At that moment, they heard the cries of a woman in the distance. “Help!” cried the woman. “Stop him!”
The boys turned their heads and saw a golden retriever barreling down the seawall path, his leash dragging on the pavement behind him. In the distance, the owner, a shorter woman dressed in heels and a business suit, struggled to chase down her runaway pet. Mike hopped off the bench just in time to grab the dragging leash before it was out of reach. The dog yelped as the leash tightened and stopped his momentum. It looked up to Mike and then lowered its head, knowing it was in trouble. The wagging tail was now motionless.
The click-clack of heels on the pavement came to a halt as the woman, now quite out of breath, finally caught up to them. Her face was flush, both from exhaustion and embarrassment. “Thank you so much,” she said. She blew a few renegade blond strands from her face and smiled. “Poor guy’s been cooped up in the condo all day while I was at work. I really should get a dog sitter.”
“No problem,” said Mike.
She took back the leash from Mike and extended her hand. “I’m Riley.”
Mike gently shook her hand. “Mike.”
She sighed, now relaxed. “What a day I’ve had,” she said. “First it was absolute hell at the office all day and now this! I could definitely use a drink.”
Mike smiled. “What a coincidence.”
Her blue eyes widened. “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah,” answered Mike. “There was a girl that was just here that was saying she was in the mood to drink today too!” He shook his head. “It must be something in the air. I guess it’s just one of those days, huh? The bars will be packed tonight!”
Her smile flattened as she nodded, looking somewhat confused. “Okay…well, thanks again.”
As the woman click-clacked away down the pavement, Mike headed back to Peter on the bench. He gave a loud exhale as he sat back down beside his friend. “Why can’t any girls like that respond to my messages?”
“I think you think too much,” said Peter. He was lost, staring across the pathway at beams of light breaking through the branches of a tree.
Mike’s attention turned back to his phone. Minutes went by as he scrolled and swiped through more faces and more profiles. Finally, his head lifted back up. “I think you’re right,” he said to his friend.
“I’m always right,” Peter replied. “…What are we talking about?”
“I shouldn’t be looking for the pretty girl or the successful girl. I should be looking for someone more like me. Like someone who smokes weed and is chill. Someone that likes the stuff I like. Why am I trying to change myself into someone I never even wanted to be?”
Just then a curly-haired girl in a UBC sweatshirt came over to the boys. “Hey,” she said. “Do you guys have a lighter? My joint went out and my lighter is dunst.”
“Like Kirsten,” said Mike.
She laughed a bit. “Yeah, exactly.”
Peter pulled a lighter from his pocket and handed it to the girl. As she was lighting her roach she noticed Mike’s Slipknot T-Shirt. “Cool shirt,” she said. “I fucking love Slipknot.” She took a puff and held it in for a moment. Then she exhaled a long, thin stream of smoke. “Not Stone Sour though,” she added. “That was pussy shit.”
Mike couldn’t believe it. “We were just talking about that,” he said. “I totally agree.”
She gave the roach another haul and, with cloudy exhale, she said, “I’m just hanging out with some friends over there by the grass. You guys are welcome to join.”
Peter didn’t hesitate. “Sure,” he said.
Mike winced, unsure. “I don’t know,” he said to Peter. “I should probably keep a clear head. What if I get a message back? I don’t want to be all baked.”
The curly haired girl shrugged and handed Peter back his lighter. “Okay, well, thanks for the light,” she said. And with that, she headed down the path towards the grassy hill.
Peter turned to his friend. “I hate you…”
“I’m sorry,” Mike replied. “I promise I will meet someone eventually.”