When I get ready to do stand-up, I put my bits (written and rewritten) on cards on the table for review. And I offer myself to the audience. will you laugh with me Do you like me?
In a way, I’ve come to realize that every five-minute set on an open mic isn’t so dissimilar to having that first coffee with a hinge date or anyone else you meet through an app these days.
The moment he walks in you know if the chemistry is right or not. Does he come at you with chunky, rehearsed lines? Or is he real? do you want to see him again Are you lucky enough to peek into a tiny crack that leads to the heart?
The difference is that I’m totally comfortable with an open mic. I don’t care if nobody is listening. I don’t care if nobody likes what I do. I’m just doing my homework. I don’t need nobody’s seal of approval.
Somehow I can’t apply that mindset to my dating life. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but I really want to be liked!
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had a first date that ends with applause. So it’s hard to say.
But Los Angeles is a petri dish full of ghosts, love bombers, attention seekers and narcissists. i am one of them It’s part of our devilish charm as a city of entertainers. At 26, I’ve been on and off in so many relationships that I look at my friends in committed relationships with the awe of a caveman looking at a lightbulb. I want what they have. But how do they do it? Are there really people out there who really want to be with someone else? (And where can I find one?) Are there people who say what they mean and mean what they say?
I saw a psychic in Santa Monica last year. I told him about my weaknesses in love and wondered if I would ever find someone in this town. As many people in the entertainment industry understand, it’s not as easy as we make it seem on a sound stage. He told me to give up because if I want a successful career, one man would only stand in my way.
“You can’t eat at McDonald’s and Wendy’s at the same time. You have to make a choice.”
I wish I would make that up. That was a real thing he said to me. But I digress.
I’ve made up my mind to delete dating apps forever. Why? In December alone I was ghosted three times. Throughout 2021 there were just too many dating blunders to count — including some blatant sexual misadventures that will likely be clinically diagnosed years later as triggering my inevitable descent into insanity.
I deleted the apps and gave myself a pat on the back as I entered the new year. Devon: 1, Technology: 0.
Two days later, I went to where I always go on Sundays — the open mic night at Improv, where I throw my name in a bucket and fight the urge to throw up until I’m called. Then I perform to a crowd so lukewarm I might as well be thrown back to the days of stand-up on Zoom. (As with dating, approaching comedy as a way to seek validation is a one-way ticket to crushing your heart.)
Then the unbelievable happened.
A real human spoke to me. And asked – actually asked – to see me again in a romantic context. He was also there for the open mic and we had struck up a conversation while leaning against the same wall waiting for our names to be called. A few hours later he said: “Am I crazy? Or should we hang out again?” You’re not crazy, I assured him. “Yes, I would like that.”
When I went home that night I couldn’t believe it had really happened. I felt like I was about to strike a new square in an LA bingo game. Now all I have to do is sit through an unsolicited crypto talk from my Uber driver or swipe a parking ticket in front of my house and I win. My friends were also shocked when I told them.
You know, it was the first time I’d been asked out by someone in real life since high school.
It felt like a miracle to be asked by a real human in the physical world.
I strutted into work that Monday with a confidence like never before. My head was in the clouds until reality hit – I didn’t really know anything about the guy other than that he works at Trader Joe’s. I didn’t know his social contacts; I didn’t have a funny dating app bio to obsess over. Worse, I couldn’t show my friends a picture so they could form a quick judgment on him, a crucial element of date verification.
I realized this was a weird new dating problem, one that my 20-something and I usually don’t worry about in a world where dating apps are the norm: how to properly prepare for our first date prepare if I couldn’t cyberstalk? him in advance?
Ignorance about this killed me. How did people endure that in the past?
The first date came and I kind of enjoyed it despite all my previous mental hyperactivity. And I enjoyed learning about this brand new person in the process in person and slowly but surely letting my guard down millimeter by millimeter.
Even better? we are still together
Finding a connection in this city has never been easy, and the pandemic has had the whole world chasing this dragon like crazy for limited and patchy success. But maybe it’s not just about looking for love. Maybe it’s about paying attention to what’s in front of you. And maybe that’s enough for now.
The author is a stand-up comedian based in Los Angeles, on Instagram and Twitter @imkevindane. She does the monthly show “Flambo!” at the Silverlake Lounge.
LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the LA area, and we want to hear your real story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. The submission guidelines can be found here. Past columns can be found here.
The shock of being asked out in person
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