Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Date Night With The Vampire, or, The Perils of Geek Dating

Disclaimer: The following article is about dating, and some of my experiences with it. Now, as a straight chick, my experiences are pretty much all about dating dudes. I don't want any of my lesbian readers to feel left out, but I also don't want to put my foot in my mouth by talking about something I know nothing about, i.e. the dating experiences of lesbians. So I apologize for this hetero-centric post, though I hope you can get a laugh at my expense anyway.

Dating is hard. It can be especially hard if you're a female of the geeky persuasion. Most geek chicks don't fall into the narrow definition of "attractive," at least the one pressed on us by American media (because, let's be honest, most women in general don't fall into that definition of attractive), and we tend to have interests seen as "weird" by the non-geek population. Face it, there are a lot of guys out there who would probably balk at dating a woman with an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek who spends more of her time on modifying My Little Ponies than her hair or makeup. But those guys are douche canoes and not worth your time anyway because girl, your Spock ponies are the bomb, and don't let anyone tell you different.

Detecting large amounts of Adorable and Win, Captain.

I'm not trying to say that geek chicks shouldn't date non-geeky guys. I know a lot of geek/non-geek couples that get along just fine. But I don't think that we should have to hide our nerdy tendencies or give up our nerdy hobbies just to find a little romance, and if a dude makes fun of your geek pastimes or tries to get you to stop doing them, he's probably not worth your time. Besides, it's nice to have some interests in common with your boyfriend, and shared geekyness can be a good way to start a relationship. Back when I first met Nova I discovered he was into science fiction (by stealthily sitting behind him in history class and listening in on his conversations, occasionally "accidentally" poking him with a pencil so he'd turn around) and used the clever tactic of wearing a Star Wars t-shirt to class the next day to get him to talk to me. Shut up, I was shy. It worked, don't judge.

But I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you ladies that finding a nice geeky guy (and not a Nice geeky guy) can sometimes be a tricky business. For whatever reason, the geek community seems to attract more than its fair share of dudes who have... issues of some sort or another. I think it's fair to surmise that the largely boys-club nature of many geek social circles might attract a misogynist or two, or that fantasy and science fiction might hold special appeal for a guy who is already a little detached from reality. Many others have written far more eloquently than I on why this may be, but for whatever reason, the stereotype of the creepy, weird geek dude persists, and this is one stereotype that I can safely say is at least partially based in reality (though it is unfairly applied to guys who don't deserve it, no doubt). I have run into more than one of these guys myself, and I'm willing to bet cash money that you have, too. These are the guys who are convinced the cute girl at the comic shop is "totally in love with them," and will hover around too close to her, trying to impress her with his oh-so deep comic selection, smelling of unchecked B.O. and untamed lust. They're the guys who go to cons and try to touch the cosplaying chicks inappropriately. They're the reason so many women play male characters in World of Warcraft. They're the ones who get a little too into their fandoms, that one sexy female character from their fandom, and the slightly creepy porno fan fiction they write about her. The internet is littered with examples of these guys, so I won't continue. But I'm positive that every geek chick has a story or two about encountering these sorts of guys, and the horrors that can result.

Yeah, I'll get right on that...

Well ladies, this is one of mine. And this isn't just a story of a brief encounter at a comic book shop or frustration at assholishness over X-Box Live. Because the problem is, it isn't always immediately apparent that a guy you come into contact with is a creepy weirdo. Oh no, some of the most insidious of these guys are the ones who are really good at hiding it, so much so that geeky girls like us are fooled into thinking they're perfectly nice, normal kindred nerd spirits. We might invite them to join our guild, hang out with them, initiate them into our social circles, or even (shudder) date them. Then, as soon as our guard is down, the whackadoo comes out to play. All of a sudden, we have a total creepster in our lives that we just can't seem to get rid of. My story is one of these tales, a tale of youthful stupid and severe squickyness. This is my story about the time I dated a vampire. Think of this as a cautionary tale, ladies. Heed my words well, or this could happen to you.

Many moons ago, I was a starry-eyed 18-year-old, and I'd just watched my high school relationship crash and burn. It had been one of those ill-fated relationships that hopelessly romantic teenagers are wont to get into; we thought our love was enduring and pure and would last forever, and our parents just couldn't understand a love like ours, and we totally believed we'd be getting married right after graduation. Of course, I eventually realized what a horrifically awful idea that was, and our romance of the ages ended, like the Titanic and the Hindenburg rolled into one. There were teary phone calls that ended in screaming, passive aggressive livejournal entries that were addressed to my friends but meant for him to read, and my parents even offering to send me to an out of state college to get away from him before it all died down. It was a messy breakup, is what I'm getting at, and one which left me emotionally raw, lonely, and down on myself.*

This is something I drew during that time, just to give you an idea of the levels of emo I had sunk to.

So, during the summer before I started college, I acted on the advice of a well meaning friend and signed up for a dating site, one you've probably heard of, but that I'm not going to name. I figured it was just a lark, and I'd probably never even get any messages from guys, let alone land a  new boyfriend out of it. I wasn't even sure if I wanted one at that time; I put on my profile that I was looking for something casual, someone to be friends with first, someone who would let me take it slow. I had some fun looking at cute guys on the site, but never got up the nerve to message any. I got a couple messages, but the first few were pretty creepy, from men old enough to be my dad, loaded with sexual innuendo, so I never responded. That is, until I got a message from a guy I'm going to call Louie, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Louie was 20 years old, very tall, and very cute, with big green eyes behind wire-framed glasses and a kind face. His eye had been caught by my profile's mentions of my more nerdy interests; my love of fantasy literature, obsession with pirates, and hobby of dressing up in costume to go to the Renaissance Fair. He was into similar things; he loved manga and anime, and especially, he told me, Anne Rice's vampire novels. The message he sent me was polite, not at all perverted, but seemed to convey a great interest in getting to know me. I admit, I was more than a little smitten. We exchanged e-mails, began chatting on instant messenger and, eventually, the phone. My bruised and battered little heart was fluttering like... like some sort of fluttery thing. I couldn't believe my luck. This guy was attractive, had similar interests, and seemed genuinely interested in me as a person, not just pushing me into something I wasn't ready for.

I decided I was ready to meet him. I told Louie he could pick me up from my job at the end of my shift that Saturday. At the time, I still had my horrible high school job, working at Chuck E. Cheese. Yes, it was just as painful as you can possibly imagine, yes, I had to wear the mouse costume a few times, but no, I don't hate children now. Anyway, I figured having him pick me up from work would be a safe way to evaluate him while in a public place, backed up by my co-workers if it turned out he was some scary old man who'd used his grandson's picture to go trolling for girls on the internet. That, and I guess I thought that if he could see me in my stupid "Chuckette" uniform and still find me cute, he'd be a keeper.

That's not me, but that IS the outfit I was forced to wear.
So Saturday came, and I worked my shift with a big ol' lump of nerves rolling around in my stomach. I must have gone to the restroom to check my hair like, 30 times. Finally, the end of my shift drew near, and the young man I recognized from his picture on the dating site walked in the door. It was really him! I quickly clocked out and went to meet him, and he flashed me a smile that made my knees weak. I'm sure my face had turned the enticing shade of a baboon's ass, and my co-workers were grinning like idiots at me from behind the prize counter, elbowing each other and giving me the thumbs up. Louie didn't seem to notice, he was nothing but the perfect gentleman. Leaving the morons I worked with behind, he escorted me to his car.

The date he took me on was right up my alley, no fancy dinner to share awkward silences over, no movie to sit through without even watching because I'm too busy wondering if he's gonna put his arm around me. No, we went to play laser tag. There is just something about running around in the dark and laughing your head off while you shoot twelve-year-olds that takes all the awkwardness out of a situation, and soon my shyness was gone and I was treating him like an old friend. He was funny and smart, a blast to hang out with, and as I mentioned before, very cute. Despite my former instance that I wanted to take things slow, I could feel my resistance falling away, and I knew that, should the topic of kissing come up, I wouldn't be able to say no. And sure enough, I wasn't. We ended the date making out in his car, and by the end of the week, we were officially dating. So much for taking it slow.

So that was the beginning of what I thought was a perfectly normal, casual relationship. I told Louie about my previous failed relationship, and that I was fine with the makin' out and the fun sexytimes, but at this point I was pretty much just wanting to have some fun, go slow, and see where it all went. No pressure. I'd just had some bad experiences with someone who wanted me to make long term commitments I wasn't ready for, and I wasn't in a rush to determine if Louie was my one true love or anything. He assured me he was completely fine with this. And for the first few weeks, it was fine, great even. We went on dates, he met my friends, we hung out at his apartment (omg an *older man* with his *own apartment*), and had further window steaming adventures in his car. I was starting to really like him.

I was full on twitterpated.

I guess he felt the same way, because it was at about that point that Louie let me know that he had a big secret about himself that, because we'd been having such a great time together and grown so close, he now felt trusting enough to let me in on. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you this made me a bit apprehensive. I mean, how often does the "Hey, new girlfriend, I have a deep dark secret, here it is," conversation turn out badly in the movies? For all I knew, he was about to tell me he was in the mob or he'd killed a guy or something. What? I have an active imagination. But I really was not ready for the revelation Louie was about to lay down on me. 

He sat me down, told me how much he cared about me, how much he wanted me to be a part of his life, and how glad he was that he could now trust me with the knowledge of his true, "secret self." And that secret self... was a demon possessed vampire.

Or, at least, that's what Louie seemed to believe. He told me that he'd always had this "other entity" inside him, a demon called "Jannik", and that he was constantly trying to not allow him control over his body. He wasn't always successful, as I found out later, when "Jannik" came out during a heated moment, growled at me, and gripped me so tight it left marks on my arms. He said that "Jannik" had turned him into a Daywalker, (for the non-vampire aficionados, a vampire that can go out in the day) and that there was a whole community of underground bloodsuckers that he was just dieing to introduce me to.

Then he took me on a piggyback ride through the trees, and after that, he zipped around in a field and sparkled at me. Oh, wait no, that didn't happen.

Why I didn't run right then, I can't rightly say. I think I thought he wasn't serious, that this was some sort of very elaborate live action roleplay, that he couldn't possibly, really believe he was a vampire, right? And, well, as much as I'll probably regret admitting this on a public blog, neck biting is one of my turn-ons. He'd done it before, but after the vampire confession, he started doing it more, and harder, leaving hickeys on my neck that I clumsily lied to my mom had been caused by my buddy Afshan "accidentally hitting me with a lacrosse ball." In the neck, I guess. Multiple times. Yes, I know, you're all shaking your heads right now about how I should have known better, how no one in their right mind would have continued a relationship after that. As I mentioned before, I was young and stupid, and I liked him so much, and I was so reluctant to go back to how lonely I'd felt before, that I guess I thought I could just... learn to deal with it? 

So, I tried. I continued dating Louie, inwardly cringing every time he brought up his "secret other life." Which he did a lot, now that he knew I fully accepted him as an undead fiend of the night. I tried subtly pointing out reasons why he couldn't really be a vampire, hoping that would lead him into admitting it was some sort of game. "Hey Louie, you know, I've seen you eat, like, human food, I even thought I saw you eat a salad once, vampires don't do that, do they?" "Hey, look, I can totally see you in that mirror." But he had an answer for everything. He ate human food because it was part of his "disguise," but it gave him no sustenance. Being visible in mirrors was one of the perks of his Daywalker nature, as was the lack of visible fangs. He said he wasn't harmed by garlic or religious iconography because that "was all a lie put forth by the obviously puny and pitiful Church to make mortals believe they have any power over vampires," while simotaniously blaming "the Church" for suppressing his innate vampire superpowers with, I don't know, magic? It was all very weird, and it kept getting weirder.

"Oh man, I can't wait for you to meet my friends, they throw such fun parties!"

He started telling me more about his "coven," the group of other "vampires" that he hung out with. They were a drama filled group, apparently, only unlike other social circles that might have drama because George broke up with Karen and is now dating Jess (though there was some of that, too; Louie's ex-girlfriend was apparently part of the "coven" and she wasn't, as Louie proclaimed with a great deal of pity, entirely over him), this social circle had drama because they used an Ouija board to summon a ghost and spent the rest of the night arguing about what it's "cryptic and life shattering" messages meant. They spent a lot of time mucking about at night in "the woods" (I live in the Texas Hill Country, an area with an abundance of "woods," which are often filled with oozy cypress trees and poison ivy and thorn-bushes and sometimes snakes and scorpions, so I can only imagine the fun they had), apparently accompanied by an abundance of spirits and demons. The best I could suss from his rambling, epic recounts of their escapades, they'd stomp around in the dark until they found a "power site" and one of them would claim to feel the presence of a spirit. They'd then tell the rest of them the gruesome story about how that person had died nearby ("Oh my god, you guys, this spirit was like, a little kid, right, and he like, totally fell and cracked his head on that rock over there."), or else become "possessed," and start acting nuts. Louie told me that he'd had to let "Jannik" out a few times and "battle" with the demons that took over his friends. No, I don't know for sure what this entailed, but it sounds an awful lot like and excuse for men in their early 20s to have stick fights in the woods.

Come on, guys, seriously, you can just start LARPing if you wanna do that, you'll have more dignity.

Louie really wanted me to meet his friends, and be "initiated into the coven," and he said they had something "special" planned for me during the next months' full moon, which would be the only time, as he told me, that he would have enough "power." It was about this time that he started to change from "Yeah, I'm totally cool with a casual relationship," into "I LOVE YOU LIKE I LOVE THE MOON, YOU ARE MY ETERNAL PRINCESS, PLEASE MOVE INTO MY SMALL STUDIO APARTMENT WITH ME RIGHT NOW." At the very most, I believe we had been dating at this point for just barely a month. It was also about then that "Jannik" started making his unwelcome appearances in our makeouts, and Louie would become much more forceful, and a little violent. He'd hold me down a little too long after I asked to be let up, looking at me with what he must have thought was a frighteningly seductive "demonic" face. Mostly it was just nostril flaring. The biting increased, and passed the point where something stops being fun, sexy pain and into the realm of oh my god ow, I want this to stop right now pain. The times when he'd pull back and growl at me with that stupid look on his face, his fingers digging into my arms, I was never sure if he was going to let me go if I asked him to. It occurred to me that "Jannik" could be the perfect excuse for a guy who gets off on the fear, or at least the profound uncomfortable-ness, of women. Whenever he hurt me or held me down, it wasn't him, it was the demon inside him, making him do it. And then he could play the strong, tortured man, the good guy vampire archetype in so many stories, who struggled so hard against the evil inside him, all for me, all to keep me safe. But the way he talked about it carried the implied assumption that, someday, he might not be able to contain the beast, and then, well, whatever happened wouldn't be his fault.

I guess by that point I had gotten a little less young and a little less stupid, because it had now become painfully clear that this was all way more crazy than I had signed on board for, and I was starting to literally worry about my safety in the company of this man. And I really, REALLY did not want to meet his friends, or go anywhere near the woods with him. So I wrote him an e-mail, because I was pretty much terrified of doing this in person, and told him it was over. Even then I tried to let him down gently, and didn't even mention the vampire thing. I told him that the whole thing was moving way too fast for me, and I wasn't ready for the level of commitment he wanted from me after knowing me such a short time, and that I thought, maybe, it would be best to be single for a while. The e-mail he sent back was pretty wordy, an ode to his pain and feelings of betrayal, and he called me on the phone to beg for me back a few times, but I had just gone through this sort of thing before, with my much less crazy highschool sweetheart. It taught me how to hold firm, because that breakup was a lot harder than this one, despite my lingering nervousness of perhaps being abducted in the night (this is about the time I started keeping the sword from my pirate costume near my bed).

This is not what I wanted to wake up to.

Eventually, Louie stopped calling. The last time I heard from him was almost a year later, when he drunk dialed me in the middle of the night while I was at a party. He was obviously really hammered (on...blood?) and blearily regaled me with how much his life had sucked since I left him, how much he missed me, and how much he wanted me back. I don't even remember what I said in response, though it was obviously some from of "No."

So there it is, my babies, my tale of geek dating gone wrong. Let this be a lesson to all of you; though Twilight may tell you different, vampires make horrible boyfriends. Oh, wait, that is what Twilight tells you. Fuck. Well, it stands. Don't date vampires. I'm pretty sure that was my point with this article.

Sunny out!

*I feel the need to make clear that I do not harbor any ill feelings towards my high school boyfriend anymore. We had fun while we were together, and though the breakup was rocky and both of us said and did some pretty mean things, I think both of us have matured a lot. We catch up with each other  on Facebook every once in a while; he's a sweet guy, and I know that he sometimes reads my blog. Hi James! :p


  1. Ohmygawd. I just died laughing. That was the best story in the entire world. And I believe every word of it because some geeky guys are just plain out creepy.
    I used to date a geek. He played DnD every Sunday. And did the 'woe is me' thing when we broke up. Haha. He was also my high school sweetheart, and the whole shebang as you described above (except his parents really did think we'd get married since THEY did, even though his dad cheated on his mom like 267438 times).
    But I can so totally relate to all the creepiness that comes from dating creepy geeky guys.

    And you said 'twitterpated' lol

    AND that Spock pony is amazingly adorable. I want one. Lol.

    You totally just made my day!!

  2. I'm attempting to formulate an intelligent comment, but my brain's too high on laughter.

    First, thanks for the link to the Nice Guys blog. Adding it to my "necessary reads for everyone" list.

    Also, what a terrifying experience, & a real-life example of why the public consumption of Twilight disturbs my fantasy/sci-fi-loving heart.

  3. this just made my entire day! I know that must have sucked but it was incredibly funny.

  4. OH MY has been made.
    I just started dating a guy who's a little geeky, and we've only known each other for a semester or so, but thankfully he hates vampires.... >__>

  5. I just wanna say that I love all of you and every time ya'll comment I become so happy I start excreting rainbows. That was... kinda gross, but totally, totally true.