In retrospect, it is somewhat strange that we met each other through our two fake profiles on OKCupid, but it always makes a fun story for our fake grandchildren around Christmas time.
We always start by telling them about my fake profile: an OKCupid account that seemed to be a mild, unassuming forty-something from the suburbs who loved movies like The Notebook and Dear John. You know, really sappy stuff that sentimental people curl up on their couches for with their fifteen cats and just eat up. Fake-me was named David Rosenberg and he had a stable job, a good house, decent car, great credit score, and was just an all-around well-balanced individual. No bad habits, no history of drug use, no skeletons in the closet. I threw on a profile picture of some bland white guy in a blue dress shirt, a couple safe musical interests – Coldplay, Shinedown, The Who, U2, Micheal Bubble or whatever his name is – and let him loose upon the world.
Of course, David Rosenberg was a fallacy, an utter fabrication. And he was also a robot. Well, more like a well-optimized script that combed the characteristics and details of the most viewed and messaged profiles and integrated them into itself, like Nicholas Sparks if he were assimilated by the Borg. It also combined the most successful responses to messages on OKCupid, the ones that led to the most repeat customers and the most dates, into one incredibly charming, handsome, cybernetic knight in shining armour. Resistance to its inexorable charm and George Clooney agreeableness was futile. It would take you in, make you a nice latte on that new coffee machine it found at Home Outfitters that it just had to get, put on a great rom-com and lovingly rest its head on your shoulder, nodding and laughing politely at everything you said. Utterly shallow and superfluous – just like its creator.
See, when the women (and sometimes men) desired to get closer to the khaki and polo-shirted siren that was David Rosenberg - under the pretense of trading killer Caesar salad tips - they would find on their first date not the charming facade presented on OKCupid, but instead a misanthropic, bitterly cynical shell of a human being. In a nice pair of slacks.
I wasn’t so much looking for a soulmate or just a quick fling – incidentally, words Rosenbot uses in his profile under “what I’m looking for” – I had long since discarded things like “presenting myself honestly” or “basic human decency”. One day, consumed with boredom and encased in a loneliness like the ice and snow that encased the trees outside, I opened up an OKCupid profile. But like the trees whipped savagely by the bitter winds, my patience cracked under the torrent of Viagra spam messages in my inbox, until finally, I snapped. I resolved then to see this entire twisted system of love and romance crash like a poplar tree onto a suburban street, smashing the neighbour’s new Bentley and preventing everyone from going to work.
So when those disappointed housewives and oft-scorned girlfriends and middle-aged tax accountants met the real me, the awkwardness of our meetings at a local coffee shop coupled with the terrible lies I had told them on the internet stabbed into them like icicles. They soon mumbled a goodbye or a see you round as they fled back to their Caesar salads and tabby cats and T40 forms and resolved never to seek love in this cold, awful world again.
I enjoyed it, watching their dreams get crushed like an ant under a tank tread.
That is, of course, until Rosenbot found a profile looking for someone sharing a sense of “sarcasm, cynicism, and general misanthropy” and stating their love of computers, programming, Star Trek: The Next Generation and obscure New Wave bands and I decided to take closer look at “Cynthia Appleton”, as her profile said. A stunning 1% match - but only with Rosenbot’s bland taste and sensibilities. She was 100% with me, and that awesome dragon tattoo on her neck, obvious good taste in well, everything, and hatred for all that is sacred and pure made me feel something that I couldn’t quite explain in my chest. Though it was probably just arrhythmia from all that Diet Coke I drink.
And then I met her – no tattoo, no knowledge of New Wave bands and only cursory knowledge of Star Trek – she couldn’t even do a proper Vulcan salute because her fingers “didn’t bend that way”. Suffice to say, I had been had. Cynthia, or rather Cynthiabot, had been programmed to seek out the most “vile, obnoxious, bitter and hollow” person on OKCupid, and it must have figured that such a person would do exactly what I did and so Rosenbot promptly got a “hey, what’s up ;)”.
Cynthia, or rather Joyce, laughed as she explained what she did, parting her long brown hair from her eyes. I watched the sunlight filter through her hair, making it glow like a California forest fire viewed from space. For some reason, I laughed too.