1,001 Nights with Laken: Creepy Zoosk Date

Laken Howard, Columnist

Back in the days before I discovered OkCupid, I experimented a little with a website called Zoosk. Because I was not yet trained in the art of online dating, I made a few mistakes. In general, I just wasn’t as skilled at recognizing red flags and had no intention of really going out with anyone at first. Eventually though, I talked to one guy — we’ll call him Josh — and decided to give it a whirl. This is the tale of the one and only Zoosk date I ever went on.

A few things to note before we begin: Josh’s profile listed him as 25 years old and living in Chicago. Zoosk profiles are not as detailed as they are on OkCupid, so what little I knew I learned from instant messaging him. Zoosk also has a video calling feature, which we did a couple of times before our date. I should have realized this early on: Josh was a total creep.

Like I said, I wasn’t as good at reading the signs of his insincerity. This was a while ago so I don’t remember much, but I do remember him playing guitar for me over video chat and then sending me a link to a “deep” and “thought-provoking” video he claimed made him cry. This, I now realize, was a classic case of a douche trying to win the trust of an 18-year-old girl. Also, I noticed sometime after we had planned our date but before our date happened, his age had magically changed from 25 to 28. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually age three years in one birthday. I also don’t even think he had had a birthday in that time period. He was lying about his age to begin with, which should have definitely alerted me to some sketchiness.

Even though I was unsure of things, I still decided there was no harm in going out with him. He decided to take me to an Asian barbecue place downtown, so I took the train and met him there. He was 10 minutes late. Not that I’m a huge stickler for punctuality, but that makes a horrible first impression. Then he confirmed my suspicion that he was a total asshole by ordering for me, since I clearly don’t know what I like to eat. I thought that was something that only happened in bad rom-coms, but I was wrong. It happened to me, and it was outrageously offensive and strange.

But again, I was naive. After the awkward dinner was over (during which he made a number of condescending comments about my age and other things), for some reason I decided he deserved more of my time, so we went to see a movie. Unfortunately for me, he was also the kind of creep who thought movie theaters were for groping rather than movie-watching. He insinuated that we should leave the movie and go somewhere else, to which I said, “Hell no.”

By that point I was thoroughly creeped out, so I headed home. After a few days of creepy texts, Josh eventually fell off the face of the earth like so many of my suitors have. The moral of this story: Trust your gut. If someone seems weird online, they are not likely to be less weird in person. And if you’re in an uncomfortable situation, don’t feel bad about simply leaving and never looking back.