Like millions of other American online daters and every third Brooklynite, I use OkCupid as my primary means of receiving "hey gurl, ur sexy" notes from potential paramours and reminders that my father was probably right when he said that the key to a happy love life is learning how to settle. While the vast majority of the messages I receive make me want to start hoarding cats in preparation for dying alone, the actual dates I've gone on have been mostly fine; a few even turned into multi-month dating situations. Now OKC's launched a new blind dating app.
It's called "Crazy Blind Date," and it works like this: You pick a day and then you select a place from a list of local spots on Foursquare. The app matches you with someone to meet. Alternately, you can browse potential dates — you get a name, an age, a place and time, and a scrambled photo so you can't actually tell what the person looks like. Then you sign up for a date with them.
Which I initially swore up and down I would not be doing, mostly because I didn't want to die. Then BuzzFeed offered to pay me, and a girl's gotta eat.
So I signed up for Crazy Blind Date. Potential dates would know my name is Jill and I'm 29. From the scrambled photo they could probably tell that I have brown hair, a mouth, at least one eye and once wore a coral-colored dress. I scrolled through the handful of dates with men in New York, looking for the right combination of a bar close to my apartment and a man with minimal unfortunate facial hair.
The location, by the way, can be anywhere listed on Foursquare. Which could very well be someone's home, since lots of people list their personal abodes on Foursquare under creative monikers, and "Patrick Bateman's Watering Hole" may sound like an interesting West Village bar you've never visited. And lo and behold, there were a few Crazy Blind Daters who listed date locations that were simply addresses — perhaps their apartment, perhaps an abandoned warehouse, perhaps the end of a long dark alley. I didn't feel the need to explore a mystery location. I found a date at a bar a few blocks from my apartment with a scrambled face that didn't look too offensive, and clicked "Set us up!"
A few hours later, I got an alert that my date couldn't make it — apparently my scrambled photo was inadequately attractive, and I was rejected. On to the next.
I set up another date at the same location for 7:30. Unsure of what one should wear on a date where one will inevitably be face-to-face with one of the most socially awkward human beings on the planet for upwards of an hour and where one may get killed, I opted for flats (easier to run away), black jeans (won't show when I urinate myself in fear) and an oversize brown-and-maroon blouse (hides both blood stains and cleavage). I showed up five minutes early to make sure I could get a seat next to the door, asked the one lone dude at the bar if he was Mike (no), ordered a glass of wine, and waited.
Mike never showed. Around 7:50 I checked the app and had a message from him saying his tenant had a leak and so he couldn't make it. Rejected again! Unwilling to let my evening of blind dating and my perfect getaway outfit go to waste, I tried to schedule another one, but the app wouldn't let me. In what is clearly a major design flaw, it had no option for "I just got stood up, please find me another date right now" and wouldn't allow me to schedule a new date until the next day.
With the rest of my week booked up but wanting to get this over with, I pushed back a real date with a confirmed non–serial killer the next day to fit in an early "crazy blind" one. We met at a cafe in my neighborhood at 7:30. To my surprise, he was cute. I ordered a glass of wine, and even though I didn't get a "most definitely a murderer" vibe from him, I felt slightly odd when he chose tea — was he staying sober so that he'd have more of an advantage when he inevitably hacked up my body with a butcher knife?
"This is the first time I've done this," he said. I told him I was in the same boat, and I asked why he was using a blind date app. He was tired of OkCupid. He'd gone on some regular online dates and nothing had come of it, and this was new, so he decided to give it a try.
Online dating does take some of the serendipity out of meeting a potential partner. And the smorgasbord effect can certainly lead to scenarios where, no matter how good the early stages of a relationship started by an online date, there's a perpetual sense that something better might be out there (for what it's worth, a few months on OkCupid have disabused me of that notion, but it still seems to be a thing for plenty of folks). But OkCupid in its present form gives you informational tools to avoid the myriad weirdos that lurk everywhere in life, online and off. Most of us wouldn't go on a date with someone selected at random from the population on the A train on a given Tuesday morning — you might get the monk, the lady who takes up the seat next to her with her giant Louis Vuitton bag, the mouth-breather reading Ann Coulter's latest, or the old dude clipping his toenails. So why go on the internet equivalent of a person plucked at random from the subway?
As it turns out, he actually was a person I could have plucked randomly from the subway — in the course of our conversation, I realized that he had gone on a date a few months earlier with a very close friend of mine. He met her on the 6 train.
As is apparent from the fact that I'm writing this article, he didn't kill or even maim me. He was perfectly nice, although we clearly both found each other slightly boring. We said good-bye, I had a good anecdote for my later date, and the next day I received a 150-word text message about how we obviously are not soul mates but it was nice chatting — something I normally would have found pretty weird (150 is a lot of words for a text message), but this time around actually appreciated, probably because I was still coming down from the high of not being the inspiration for a Lifetime movie about the perils of online dating.
The next day, OKC asked me to review the date, which I said was fine. Then it asked me if I wanted to give him "kudos" — 100 kudos for $2.99, 10 kudos for $.99 or 0 kudos for $0. What? I have to pay OKCupid to tell someone "That was fun"?
He received zero kudos.
Would I do it again? Absolutely not. I see no reason to tempt fate. You're already on an internet dating site. If you really want to find a date for a random Wednesday, and you don't care who it is or what they look like or what their interests are, you don't need an app; just ask out a bunch of randoms on the site and see who bites.
Personally, I appreciate the weeding-out mechanisms that traditional online dating offers. When I'm scrolling through OkCupid photos, there are maybe one in 50 that catch my eye. I suspect other users are similarly discerning. And we should be. Dating, after all, is about multiple levels of attraction. You shouldn't waste time with someone who will never be a good fit for you. Reading through entire profiles and looking at photos is tedious, but also a necessary part of the game. And while a dating profile won't alert you to all of a person's potential issues, it can raise some red flags that will help you avoid a real creep. Going on a Crazy Blind Date offers none of that.
But perhaps you're the daring type who hangs out at truck stops at 4 a.m. and went sky-diving for your 12th birthday. Perhaps you truly do not give a damn about a person's body or mind, and you love going out with people who similarly do not care about their date's interests, hobbies, values, or physical appearance. Then try this app! If you make it out alive, let me know how it was.