about internet dating – and the business of it – by emily witt.

I went on a date with a man who turned out to be a hairstylist who had attracted me with his Texas charm: ‘A nod and a bow, Ms Space,’ he had written. He arrived late to our date in Alphabet City, having accommodated some last-minute clients who wanted unscheduled blow-drys for their own dates. On either side of his neck he had tattoos of crossed scimitars. I asked him what the tattoos meant. He said they meant nothing. They were mistakes. He pushed up his sleeves and revealed more mistakes. As a teenager in Dallas he had let his friends use him as a training canvas. To call the tattoos mistakes seemed to be different from regretting them. He didn’t regret them. He said it was just that his 16-year-old self was giving him the finger. ‘You think you’ve changed,’ the 16-year-old version of him was saying through the tattoos: ‘Fuck you, I’m still here.’

OK Cupid had another unintended effect, which was that in posting my profile, however pseudonymously, I had adorned myself with the equivalent of a ‘For Sale’ sign. Those who saw me on OK Cupid whom I knew in real life and who recognised my photo would often contact me: ‘I saw you on OK Cupid and I thought I would write.’ I went for Colombian food in Greenpoint with one of these. When I arrived my date was reading some documents that the National Security Agency had recently declassified to do with John Nash, the schizophrenic genius portrayed in A Beautiful Mind. We ordered arepas and beers. I liked this man. He had a job he loved at a blue-chip art gallery and lived in a spacious, high-ceiling apartment overlooking a tree-filled park with benches that formed a serpentine pattern. We talked about Cascadian black metal bands and the idea of resisting capitalism through unlistenable music and sustainable agriculture. We walked from Cafecito Bogotá back to his impeccable apartment, where he played ambient records and I petted his two cats. We decided to conduct an OK Cupid Locals experiment: he broadcast ‘Let’s lkjdlfjlsjdfijsflsjlj.’ I sat next to him on the couch. I refreshed my phone to see if his broadcast came up. It did. We looked at each other. He walked me to the train.

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