Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

I’ve dabbled in online dating on and off for the past few years, so it may come to the surprise of many when I admit that it wasn’t until recently that I was actually okay with the idea of actually being with someone from online dating.  It sounds ridiculous, I know.  Why would I waste time, and sometimes money, on these sites if I didn’t actually want to find someone?  There’s no longer a stigma attached to online dating, it’s akin to meeting someone at a club, or at a cafe, but I just couldn’t get over myself and the idea that a computer matching me up with someone would be the basis one of the most important stories of my life.  Unfortunately, now that I’ve come to peace with online dating and that it’s is a fine and exciting way to meet someone, my online dating subscription has expired.

I took my expiring subscription as a cue to take a break from being on the prowl.  So when my friend, Kevin, invited me to go to a secret warehouse concert, it seemed like the perfect reprieve. I was going to see live music with good company, and there’s nothing better than that, in my book.  Kevin, Mark and Robbie picked me up and we headed to Downtown Los Angeles to our “secret” location.  Robbie and Mark took the liberty of drinking during the car ride since Kevin was driving, as they had procured a six pack of Sprite and a bunch of small bottles of liquor to spike said cans of Sprite. I decided that I was going to take things easy and after taking a few wrong turns, we ended up at our desired destination.  Taking a couple of wrongs turns would be an apt metaphor for the night.

While we were trying to show up fashionably late for the show, we actually ended up being the first ones there, so we were there to see how this awkward show/party was going to unfold.  Half the people that walked through the door were in costume, expecting a Halloween party, while the other half (our group included) were in normal everyday civilian attire.  This magnified the awkward vibe of the party, since most patrons were congregating within the groups in which they came, costumed or un-costumed, unaffected by the bad house music being played, much like a middle-school dance in the gym.   Perhaps, the only person who wasn’t affected by the divisions was Mark, who was already noticeably drunk by this point.

I happened to notice couple of cute Asian girls from across the room, but I decided to table the idea of approaching them, especially with the lack of socialization in the warehouse in general.  Finally, our featured performer hit the stage, and I was finally able to lose myself in some good music.  At this point in the night, Mark was randomly attempting to high-five people, including an attempt to get a high-five from the performer on stage, and this is when I realized that the Asian girls from earlier had actually moved across the room and were standing next to me.  When Mark tried to high-five them, I decided to use that as my ice breaker.

“I apologize for my friend.  He’s actually the probably the smartest guy here.”

“He doesn’t seem very smart.” she quickly responded.

“He’s pretty drunk.  He started his drinking in the car.”

And so there we were, chatting it up between songs, finding a couple of things in common, and getting along.  Once the set had ended, I turned to my friends to see what our next move was, and all of a sudden, the girl and her friend were gone.  Admittedly, I was a little bummed that she had disappeared, but at this point in the night, I decided to cut my losses and tried to see if my group wanted to move to a different location.  No one was especially in love with the idea of sticking around this warehouse all night, but we decided to wait around for a half hour to see if things were going to get better.  They didn’t, but somehow we had lost sight of Mark, so we needed to find him before we left.  Mark was bumming a smoke outside, and even though I had re-spotted the girls, leaving outweighed the idea of humiliating myself while trying to pull a number.

Mark was smoking and chatting it up with a guy that he had met at the show.  We told the two we were planning on leaving and that we were planning on finding another destination to drink.  Mark’s pal then offered us bourbon at his place.  We asked where his place was, and he pointed to the warehouse next door to the one that was hosting the party.  Skeptically, we accepted the invitation, not before Robbie could whisper to me “he can’t rape all of us…”

Our new friend was a set designer, and this explained why he lived in a warehouse.  Half of the warehouse was a workspace, the other half was a living area, and since he and his cohorts were all set designers, the living area was actually really nice.  We drank bourbon, marveled at all his set designing tools and had a much more enjoyable time chatting with him, then we did at the show.  We finally hit a point where we decided that we should head out, but he offered to take us to eat some amazing tacos.  None of us were starving, but we decided to take up the invite as a token of appreciation of his hospitality, and we headed back outside.

Before we could even head down the path to acquire some tacos, I spotted the girls outside, walking towards our general direction.  I made eye contact with the one that I talked to, and hoped that she would acknowledge my existence.  Hearing “Hi Ryan.” never sounded so comforting in my life.  What followed was not a declaration of love for me, but a comment directed at Mark, “Hey, I heard you’re really smart.”  My brilliant plan was backfiring on me.

She interrogated Mark and I chatted with her friend.  We talked about the show, where we were from, both of us waiting for the girl for different reasons.  Finally, she was done, but instead of giving me an opening to ask her for her number, she told me that she and her friend were looking for a place to go pee, since the port-a-potties all had massive lines.  I couldn’t offer up my new friend’s warehouse because his roommates were all asleep, so they started to wander into an alley to pee behind a dumpster.  To avoid looking like a creep, I didn’t follow them, but our friend, being a resident of the neighborhood, informed me that there was a homeless man that lived in that alley and that I should warn the girls.  Luckily for me, the girls were still looking for a spot to do their business but before they could begin their business, I arrived to warn them about the homeless man.  They were thankful, and they convinced me to stand guard while they giggled and let nature take its course.  As I walked them back to the warehouse, we were met by our new friend who decided to nip the whole situation in the bud.  “Ryan thinks you’re both cute, and he’s going to stay here with you and dance while we go get some tacos.”  I didn’t want to go back to the warehouse, so I turned to the girl and asked her for her number.  She obliged and I was free to finally leave.

I tried to contact her a couple of days later and she never got back to me.  It’s probably for the best, anyways.  I’m sure she would be upset that my friends have been referring to to her as “dumpster girl” and that this story, while entirely true, does not put her in the best light, as amusing as it is.  Even though I had gotten over myself about online dating, this episode sure puts things in perspective.  How is meeting someone on a dating site all that more embarrassing than pulling the number of someone someone who just finished peeing behind a dumpster?  I’ve always preferred spontaneity, but perhaps I’ve finally found a place, personally, where spontaneity finally crosses the line.