I’d like to say the first thing that attracted me to Rob was his personality and sense of humor, but I met him online, where all I had to go on was his photo. He was hot. I was superficial, so I contacted him right away.
While his good looks and perfect skin drew me to him, as I got to know him I found that he was smart and well traveled. And most important, he knew my friend Stephanie. This made him more than just some random on a dating site. Now he was a friend of a friend, who, when I asked her, said she would have set me up with him anyway.
Rob and I planned to meet at my favorite bar in the West Village, Automatic Slim’s. I’d been going there for such a long time I knew the entire staff. This made it a safe meeting place where, if it got weird, I’d have backup.
I forget whether I was early or he was late, but I found myself sitting at the bar for quite a while with my bartender friend, drinking up a storm. I’m known to do that when I’m nervous. Finally, a very handsome, perfect-skinned man walked in, looking around like he was lost.
“Rob?” I asked.
“Yep,” he said.
“I’m Cooper. Sit down, let’s have a drink.”
So, Rob sat with me at the bar, where he, the bartender and I started doing shots, laughing and talking like we’d all known one another for years. Every story started with, “One time I…” which became a race to see who shared that same experience. Nobody got too personal — just the kind of stuff you’d say at a bar among people you’ve just met. Drinking stories, celebrity sightings and quoting movies were as deep as we got.
When I felt I’d had enough, I switched to water and waited for a good time to suggest leaving. Rob insisted I come to his place to have one last drink on his balcony. I was young and impulsive, and he was hot with that perfect skin, so I went.
He lived in a spectacular luxury high rise on Central Park West with floor to ceiling windows. The grand staircase leading to the next level made it look more like a mansion in the suburbs than an apartment in New York City. I had never seen anything like that before. He led me to the balcony and said, “Hang here, I’ll get us some wine.”
The view was magnificent. I couldn’t believe I was in my own city yet seeing it for the first time. I had never dated a guy for his money, nor would I, but I understood immediately in this moment why women do.
I entertained the idea for a split second that Rob and I would fall madly in love and I would live this kind of life in the city I loved — a life where I didn’t have to struggle or wonder if I’d have to move out to Queens when the rent got too high. No, a life with Rob meant those days would be over and would be someone else’s worries for a change. Then I went back to taking in the view. It was a vantage point of the park I had only seen in photographs.
As I was contemplating this unthinkable future, I realized a significant amount of time had passed and wondered if Rob had fallen asleep. Or maybe he had gotten lost in his obscenely large apartment.
I started to walk toward the bedrooms, calling out his name, but no answer. I began to open doors, “Rob?” then again, “Rob?” until I finally found him. He was in a back room with no clothes on, watching porn. While I’m not against porn or nudity, finding him like that after he was supposed to be getting us a bottle of wine was beyond disturbing.
I stupidly said, “What the F are you doing?” — even though I knew exactly what he was doing. I was just shocked that he was doing it, so I yelled, “I’m outta here.” I ran out so fast I didn’t even wait for the overpaid concierge to get me a cab. I grabbed the first one I could find and got the heck out.
The next day I woke up to am email from Rob, apologizing… for standing me up.
It seems that “Rob” was a common name among hot men in New York back then. I didn’t actually go home with my online date and friend of Stephanie. I went home with a complete stranger.
The experience kinda soured online dating for me after that.