I stood in the bathroom mirror and swiped a mascara brush across my eyelashes.
At 6 pm I had my first zoom date. It was currently 6:05 p.m. With every step to my bedroom where I’d be holding the date, my anxiety rose. The words of my date (we’ll call him Thompson) from the night before echoed in my head: “I really hate people who are late… It makes me feel like they don’t value my time.”
At 6:10 pm I opened the zoom link. The words “Date with Aya” loomed in front of me. My bedroom had turned into the Jurassic World theme park and I was staring down the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
At 6:12 p.m. Thompson’s face flashed across the screen. We exchanged awkward hellos and he told me I looked beautiful. I blushed and said “aww thank you,” my go-to compliment response. What Thompson didn’t know was that I hadn’t bothered to change out of my pink fleece Captain America printed pajama shorts (ironically, I’m Team Iron Man but that’s beside the point). Compared to his short sleeve button down and belted khakis, I felt underdressed.
We exchanged the typical “how was your days?” and I briefly spoke on the reality tv articles I had written. Before the date started I had reminded myself not to go into a rant about how Kim Kardashian West isn’t a billionaire (despite what Kanye West and his mixed vegetables might say) but apparently the rant in question was unavoidable. Thompson, a political aficionado, was not impressed.
There the conversation verged into tenser territory. He expressed how much he disliked billionaires and entertainers who are able to amass insane amounts of wealth. I understood his point but did share how my life long dream would be to attain an insane amount of wealth. I cushioned the blow by explaining how much of the money would be donated to charities (after I build my 60 million dollar mansion, of course) but the perceived character damage was already done.
There, one of the four horsemen of first dates reared its ugly head: politics.
The lifesize cut-out of Bernie Sanders in his corner gave me an insight into what direction he would go in. From then on, I listened to a ten-minute spiel on why Bernie Sanders would have been the best Democratic primary candidate. I’ll have you know, I did vote for Bernie Sanders, but I began by saying I wasn’t a huge Bernie fan… Just to stir the pot.
I’ll never forget the look of shock and disgust that graced his face. I had just sealed the fate of our date; The grim reaper would soon come and collect the crumpled body of our brief romance.
I considered going to the bathroom and hiding in there until he got the message and hung up. Thankfully I didn’t and after one hour of heated debate, we reached a compromise. Turns out, our views are quite similar, we just approach them in different ways.
This experience taught me a lesson in the value of zoom dating, even after the pandemic ends. Meeting someone over zoom or facetime gives the opportunity to test the waters before having an ‘in person’ date.
In the past, my high levels of anxiety kept me from dating altogether but hopping onto a zoom call date eased my anxiety because I maintained control over my safety and surroundings. And right afterward I can switch to writing an article to avoid the inevitable ‘did that go well??!!’ stress.
Not to mention, if someone thinks the date isn’t going well, they have to tell you they’re ending the call and can’t just disappear into the night. They could always lie and ghost you afterward but it’s at least a little better than being unexpectedly deserted in an unfamiliar location.
All in all, the date went much better than expected. Our comedic disagreements eased the tension and in further discussion, we realized how we’re much more similar than we’d previously thought. For me, zoom dates will be a practice that outlasts the pandemic and my fingers are crossed for a future ‘in person’ date.