By Michelle Hulan
We all have those memories that are tied to the beginning of a relationship. Sometimes it’s described as “butterflies.” In movies, it’s usually shown when one character asks their friend, “Who’s that?” For me, it was “does his head look like it’s shaped like a peanut?”
About two years ago, I was taking Adderall pretty frequently to get through my final semester of college and was planning on leaving Brooklyn for South Florida in the following months. I wanted to scope out the dating scene, and met Joel on OkCupid. He had given me four or five stars, and I went to each of my roommates to find out if whether he did in fact suffer from some deformation or if it was just the lenses from his glasses. I carefully reviewed his pictures. In most, he wore a sweater, which told me that he probably lived up in the Northeast, a New York ex-pat I guessed. I learned that he was living in Lake Worth, baking sourdough and teaching middle school Intensive Reading. It turned out that he was into adult indie-ish rock bands… less Of Montreal, more Neko Case and Leonard Cohen. I liked that his responses were not too forced, more conversational, smart. I felt a little intimidated. Knowing the New York dating scene, if he lived there, I wouldn’t make the cut. I’m not a sad-sack. It’s just the growing reality of an ever-increasing pool of single women in New York. It also didn’t help that I’m combative, stubborn, very strange, and intense. These traits alone scared many men away. I visited his profile at least four times before returning the five stars.
It only took me two emails to get his full name, which I googled. Any women who denies they do this is either lying or sane. I eventually found a blog of his that chronicled his relationship with an older woman and his movements across the country. I knew about his sourdough starter named Mortie, learned that he was Jewish and had that guilted neurosis I knew so well from my adolescence in Boca. I read every last bit, and when he sent me the link later on, I pretended I didn’t know it existed. Over the months, we kept up with casual emails that promised we’d eventually meet, and when I finished school, I moved to Florida.
Two months had passed before I got a call. I don’t remember the conversation, but I was in a parking lot on my way to the gym. He was nice, and I felt at ease immediately. It turns out, Joel had a calming voice. He was the treat to my Pomeranian, the muscle relaxer to my tight shoulders…. He almost seemed airy, for lack of a better word. He paused when he felt like it, laughed at my stupid, nervous jokes, and kept the conversation guided and meaningful. It wasn’t too long or too short. I liked him. It was as though everything on his profile was honest, real. This conversation, coupled with my cyber stalking, made me feel as though I knew him.
To make a long story short, we met for ice cream. I quickly determined that his head was in fact normal. We walked to the beach with our cones and sat in the sand for hours. We talked about everything. His reasons for moving around so much, his brief bout in San Francisco, which ended with him having to scream “Hot Snickerdoodles,” his affinity for all things bread, his horrible vision, and much more.
That first date was one of many. He became my best friend. We fucked with each other, summa wrestled with pillows, talked about our future, until over a year later, we got married on that same beach. We now sell his sourdough bread at the local farmers market, and now we’re trying to have a baby together and dreaming about where our lives will take us. I might not be the most eloquent writer, but I hope the message is clear. Online dating works. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but either way, somewhere out there is a possibly peanut-headed man or woman who might change your life, whether it’s for a day or a lifetime.