I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am that I am not part of the current dating scene. This is not just because the idea of someone besides my husband seeing my 38 year old naked body immediately sends me into a cold sweat. (Or maybe I’m just pre-menopausal?) No, it’s because dating today involves modern “conveniences” guaranteed to turn what is already an impossible challenge to find everlasting love into a veritable minefield where you must tread carefully in order to avoid miscommunications, bruised egos, and blistered genitalia.
My husband, Bryan, and I met in 1999. That’s right – we started dating right before the turn of the century. We didn’t have cell phones; those were still pretty much reserved for corporate executives and drug dealers. Bryan did carry a pager, though. He’s an engineer, and in the beginning of our relationship he was often “on call” at the manufacturing plant where he worked. On one of our first dates, we were walking through the park when Bryan was paged. We had to stop what we were doing in order to find a pay phone. Suddenly, this guy I was with seemed very important, and I was quite impressed. (It really didn’t take much to impress a girl back in the 90’s. Or maybe it was just me.)
I don’t think young people today can grasp what it was like to not have a phone with you at all times. In my early 20’s, my girlfriends and I would go out to the bar and have a good time, but then what? At the end of the night, if I wanted to see a “special friend”, there was only one option: the pay phone in the bar lobby. Here’s the thing: in my day, if you wanted to make a booty call, it was going to cost you $0.35. You had better think long and hard about whom your first choice was, the chances of him being home, and count up how much spare change you had on you. This couldn’t be a capricious decision. If you reached an answering machine, you weren’t getting your money back. And let’s be honest here – a collect booty call isn’t sexy.
The best thing about not having to deal with cell phones while dating was that I didn’t have to deal with text messages. Text messages! Oh, the humanity! Text messages are destroying us all. “What does he mean by that?” “I texted him, ‘What’s up’ and it’s been 32 minutes and he hasn’t responded. What does that mean?” “OMG, IDK, LOL, CU L8R!” It all makes me head explode. Don’t even get me started on the naked pictures. Are you people fucking crazy? You know that shit is going to end up online, right? In my day, we had Polaroid cameras. To my knowledge, they were invented for the express purpose of taking naked pictures and this was all they were ever used for. You can Google it.
Once you’ve navigated the murky waters of dating via text messaging, don’t forget to update your Facebook status! “We’ve been dating for a month and his Facebook status still says, ‘single’. WTF?” “I see you’ve changed your Facebook status to ‘It’s complicated’ – is there something you want to tell me?” For fuck’s sake. How about if we don’t use a social platform invented by someone with no social skills to communicate our feelings to each other? Or you could follow in the footsteps of the broken-hearted and use Facebook as a means for contacting your old high school girlfriend, relive your nostalgic fantasies and be surprised when your marriage disintegrates. Yay, technology!
As I’ve said before, I’m not a technophobe. I have a smartphone. I haven’t had a landline since 2002. I’m just glad I didn’t have to try and navigate my fragile 20’s or God forbid, my teen years, using one. You know what I feel worst about kids missing out on as they grow up, as far as cell phones are concerned? I think one of the quintessential rites of adulthood is when you get your own apartment for the first time, and the phone book arrives, and you get to look yourself up and see yourself listed. That is one of the first things that made me feel like an adult. Maybe that’s why these little Millennials are having a hard time growing up; they don’t get to have these little experiences.
Well, one thing hasn’t changed since I was young and still dating: you still need to wear a rubber when you carry out that (now free) booty call. So get yourself to the pharmacy, kids. As far as I know, there is NOT an app for that. (Yet.)