“So, you really want to get back into World of Warcraft?” I asked, somewhat taken aback by my friend’s regression into geekdom.
“Absolutely,” Dasad said in between sips of a chestnut praline latte – I swear Starbucks is taking advice from Yankee Candle in their choice of holiday blends. “Look you need something to occupy your free time outside of grading . . . mole tests or whatever the hell you teach in chemistry. MMOs are the perfect outlet.”
I nodded. The last week before my school closed for the Christmas break had proven . . . stressful, so much so that I considered stealing away around noon for a several pints of spiked nog. The mounting terror of children, emails, ungraded labs, January’s midterms, cloying principals, overbearing parents and those last-minute quizzes that you thought would provide an easy grade but . . . ah, the to-do list sought to smother my sanity. Only with three o’clock bell did the anxiety begin to drain away like poison from a wound leaving me exhausted and with a slight migraine.
I had met with Dasad hours later for drinks and coffee, confessing my near panic attack and utter thankfulness for the Christmas season.
“The Warlords of Draenor did just come out,” I said, considering the seriousness of his proposition. As many of you know, revisiting the hordes of Azaroth is tantamount to social suicide. In some families, reestablishing a Blizzard account is met with same gravitas as a drug addiction. Still, I’ve been soloing MMOs for years now; gaming with someone else might prove a nice respite from tackling knights and dragons alone.
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s give it a go.”
“Great,” Dasad smiled, grabbing my cellphone. “So, let’s add that to your profile.”
“Wait! Do we need to?” I hesitate. A 14-year-old sits down next to us gingerly sipping at his mocha latte. “I mean . . . it doesn’t exactly make me more attractive.”
“Are you saying you want me to . . . lie?” Dasad asks. “Poor way to start a budding sex life.”
The preteen sprays hot mocha from his nose. We pause to watch him run to the bathroom before continuing.
“Seriously, how will admitting to playing Warcraft help me date attractive women?”
“Oh, I’m posting Comic Con photos too on your gallery. God, could you wear a smaller t-shirt? You look pregnant.”
“Dude,” I sigh, just as the teenage coffee addict returns to your seat. “This is not going to work. I’m a thirty-year old geek. The only way I could find myself with the hot cheerleader is in a John Hughes movie, which judging from the relative absence of jumpsuits and laugh-tracks this is not.”
For years now, I’ve wavered between signing onto a dating site and simply trusting fate with my love life. Yet fate being a fickle mistress and clearly committed to my loneliness, I finally caved a few weeks ago and created an Eharmony account. The process has proven . . . interesting. I never really considered myself a shallow person but picking girls like cereal in the supermarket feels rather mercenary. And if I’m being honest, the fact that others are judging me as well also contributes to my unease; my stomach once an admirable feature of my frame now seems enormous and ungainly.
“John Hughes never had a laugh track. You’re just being absurd. Here take a look at this questionnaire. Remember, be honest!”
If you decided to stay at home for the evening you would . . .
“How in the world can I answer this?” I sighed. “I give up!”
“How can you get stuck on the first bloody question?” Dasad cried.
“Honestly,” I count out on my fingers, “the answer is social suicide for three reasons: 1) World of Warcraft, 2) reading Batman comics, or 3) watching animated Japanese schoolgirls kill underworld demons. This is a no win situation.”
The preteen kid, fresh from the bathroom, nodded his approval.
“He’s right, man,” the kid squeaked. “Me and my buddy Gerry started this anime club at school and of the two girls who joined, both are thugly and smell like funk . . .”
“Alright,” my friend conceded interrupting mocha-kid’s tirade. “You may have to exaggerate a little. Look, replace WoW with hanging out with friends, Batman with novels, and anime with foreign films. Done. What’s question two?”
If you were taken by a date to a party where you knew no one, how would you respond:
“Ignore everyone and drift towards the punch bowl. Hope it’s spiked.”
“I am serious. That is what I would do,” I say, adding another ‘seriously’ to my one-man audience to nail the point home. “I’m an introvert. Unless they have a game or Big Bang Theory on TV, I’m fading into the wallpaper.”
“So” Dasad sighed – caffeine has a way of heightening aggression – “that you would not introduce yourself to the host or her friends?”
“Well, sure . . .” I shrug, “It would be polite once we get there.”
“Fine then. Write down that you would engage in polite humorous conversation with those in attendance. A little formal perhaps . . . but not – strictly speaking – untrue.”
“Formal and deceptive. Is this how all dates are with you?”
“Shutup. What’s next?”
Your idea of a romantic time would be:
“Umm . . . dinner? Maybe a movie?” I said. “Aquarium or planetarium?”
“That’s . . . not bad. Geeky and a little stereotypical, but not bad. Any other options?”
“A bookstore for coffee and cake afterwards?” I imagined my date and I laughing over tomes of Mark Twain and Douglas Adams. Perhaps reading poetry to one another in some quiet nook between the stacks. And then . . .
“Okay,” Dasad said spying the goofy look on my face. “Let’s keep going before this turns weird.”
How romantic are you?
“I cried during the Lord of the Rings. Does that count?” I asked.
“Which one?” The kid next to us finally spoke again.
“Return of the King. Like a baby every time. Oh and in the Fellowship when Gandalf falls.”
“Totally excusable,” the kid replied. “Your man card is safe with me, dude.”
“Kid, who asked you?” Dasad shooed the twelve-year old away, not before the eavesdropper flips him the middle-finger salute.
“Bastard,” my friend sighed. “How you manage the patience to teach those gremlins every day . . . Heaven only knows. So what are our options?”
“This one’s multiple choice,” I read. “Basically, do I need to be smothered in love or basically ignored.”
Dasad considered this.
“Try one of the middle options. You like romance, but do not require it? Something like that?”
“Done. Okay, last one.”
How many books did you read last year?
“Oh good,” Dasad sighed. “This one’s easy.”
“Do comics count?” I asked.
“Graphic novels or individual issues?”
“Yes,” Dasad said, “but only if they collect more than five issues. Anything less than that, and I’d only count it as half.”
“What about audiobooks?”
“Like I said,” Dasad reminded me. “They’re not looking for an exact figure here. But sure, count ‘em in.”
“Okay, so . . . ‘bout fifty-two? It’s not much, but I am teaching now so . . .”
“Jesus, dude. We need to get you out of your basement. No wonder you’re so anxious. But chin-up, together we crafted a mostly-true profile for you on eHarmony! Be proud of that!”
“That all depends on what type of girl this stupid site hooks me up with,” I said.
“Hook ups are for Tinder,” Dasad corrected. “eHarmony is for life mates and true love.”
“Right. Well, that depends on what matches a 34-year-old geek and Whovian can get,” I sighed.
“Did you put that in your profile?”
“Yeah . . .” I shrugged. “I wanted to be honest. Is that a problem?”
“No . . . no. Probably not. Not too many Whovians are hot . . . from my experience, but that’s not always the case. So no problems, man. Tons of smoking hot girls collect comic books, go on raids in Azeroth, or own sonic screwdrivers. Sure.”
“Thanks man . . .”