Online

My OkCupid Affair With A World Champion Magic: The Gathering Player

This story sounds mean. It’s about a girl judging a boy because he’s a nerd (like so many of us!) that she met on OkCupid. But that’s the point: Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature, and the magic and absurdity of online dating is how immediately and directly it throws that into relief. One person’s Magic is another person’s fingernail biting, and no profile in the world is deep enough to account for that.

Australian Editor’s Note: We disagree with the US author of this post, more: Alyssa Bereznak Just Reminded Us That Women Can Be Predators Online Too

Earlier this month, I came home drunk and made an OKCupid profile. What the hell, I thought. I’m busy, I’m single, and everybody’s doing it. Sure, I’d heard horror stories, but what was the worst that could happen?

Two weeks into my online dating experiment, OKCupid had broken me down. It was like the online equivalent to hanging out alone in a dark, date-rapey bar. Every time I signed on, I was hit by a barrage of creepy messages. “Dem gurl u so foine, iwud lik veru much for me nd u to be marry n procreate.” Or “your legs do look strong.” So when I saw an IM from a guy saying, “You should go out with me :)” I was relieved. He seemed normal. I gave him my name. “Google away,” I said. Then dinner was ready, and I signed off without remembering to do the same.

We met for a drink later that week. He was thin and tall, dressed in a hedge fund uniform with pale skin and pierced ears. We started talking about normal stuff — family, work, college. I told him my brother was a gamer. And then he casually mentioned that he played Magic: The Gathering when he was younger.

“Actually,” he paused. “I’m the world champion.”

I laughed. Oh that’s a funny joke! I thought. This guy is funny! But the earnest look on his face told me he wasn’t kidding.

I gulped my beer and thought about Magic, that strategic collectible card game involving wizards and spells and other detailed geekery. A long-forgotten fad, like pogs or something. But before I could dig deeper, we had to go. He had bought us tickets for a one-man show based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s life story. It was not a particularly romantic evening.

The next day I Googled my date and a wealth of information flowed into my browser. A Wikipedia page! Competition videos! Fanboy forums! This guy isn’t just some professional who dabbled in card games at a tender age. He’s widely revered in the game of Magic that he’s been immortalised in his own playing card.

Just like you’re obligated to mention you’re divorced or have a kid in your online profile, shouldn’t someone also be required to disclose any indisputably geeky world championship titles? But maybe it was a long time ago? We met for round two later that week.

At dinner I got straight down to it. Did he still play? “Yes.” Strike one. How often? “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” Strike two. Who did he hang out with? “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” Strike three. I smiled and nodded and listened. Eventually I even felt a little bit bad that I didn’t know shit about the game. Here was a guy who had dedicated a good chunk of his life to mastering Magic, on a date with a girl who can barely play Solitaire. This is what happens, I thought, when you lie in your online profile. I was lured on a date thinking I’d met a normal finance guy, only to realise he was a champion dweeb in hedge funder’s clothing.

I later found out that he infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people I sort of know, including one of my co-workers. Mothers, warn your daughters! This could happen to you. You’ll think you’ve found a normal bearded guy with a job, only to end up sharing goat cheese with a world champion of nerds. Maybe I’m an OKCupid arsehole for calling it that way. Maybe I’m shallow for not being able to see past his world title. But if everyone stopped lying in their profiles, maybe there also wouldn’t be quite as many OKCupid horror stories to tell.

So what did I learn? Google the shit out of your next online date. Like, hardcore. Also, for all you world famous nerds out there: Don’t go after two Gawker Media employees and not expect to have a post written about you. We live for this kind of stuff.

Australian Editor’s Note: We disagree with the US author of this post, more: Alyssa Bereznak Just Reminded Us That Women Can Be Predators Online Too