Steely Dan Tribute Band

Steely Dan Tribute Band

I like to think of life this way: if you’re not going to win the race, then you may as well experience all you can. And that’s pretty much how I’ve lived mine. Meandering, yes. Filled with mistakes—you betcha. But certainly chock-full of interesting stories to tell. I’ve worked for the New Jersey Mafia as a secretary; I’ve dressed as a giant Pokémon for convention centers in New York. I’ve waited tables at Waffle House, bought Jack Daniels for MTV roadies as a hotel employee on Thanksgiving, and gotten a graduate degree (somehow), no less. I’ve faked outed wisdom teeth to get out of work at a law firm and I’ve shaken martinis for naked Hasidic Jews at a wet spa. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I also had some pretty crazy dates during my days of living in New York—and if you’re going to have crazy dates, New York is likely the place to have them. This, from a girl whose first kiss was behind a tractor in Arkansas, mind you. Nonetheless, I didn’t “date” per se much as I went from 17 to 30. I fell into a series of monogamous “things” which lasted all of 3 or so years before deflating and the next “thing” took its place. So at 30 in New York, I encountered a different world. Sex and the City—well, maybe. If you take away expensive shoes and glamour and guys who look like Chris Noth. Dating in New York for me was less Carrie Bradshaw and a little more like trying to drive through a traffic pileup on the New Jersey turnpike.

Being reluctant to actually commit to going out regularly to bars and coffee shops or grocery stores (which I’ve never in my mind understood how the hell people make “pickups” in grocery stores anyway), I decided to try internet dating. It’s a hit-and-miss game, as anyone who’s tried it will tell you. In New York, you have to imagine being on an island of 10 million people—and probably two-thirds of them are insane. So I’d guess the odds aren’t great. But I did it. The craziest date was with the Steely-Dan Tribute Band musician.

I emailed the guy a few times on the site—I used nerve.com, because it pooled from such online magazines as The Onion and High Times—so it lent itself to liberal hippie-types with a snark factor akin to my taste. He seemed nice, of course—and at this point I’d gone on dates with a few guys from the site—to no seriously terrible results. I’ve since come to value the little clues one learns regarding photography. “Cut off from the forehead up” means he’s inevitably bald and hiding it. “Strange angle from a profile” can mean all sorts of things. Most of them, not good. Once they break out the Photoshop and start using crazy tints and warped images—it’s just not worth it.

Steely-Dan guy just had a strange profile picture, and in person he looked kinda like a very pock-marked Steve Buscemi. I’d have rather met Steve Buscemi. Steely picked me up in a white van. As if that wouldn’t be enough to worry someone. I noted the lack of child corpses in the back and got in. We drove to a park in Astoria, Queens, where I lived at the time, and got out and walked around the park, chatting, as I tried to unfocus my eyes and pretend I had Photoshop goggles. He told me he was an “energy healer” in addition to his ongoing stint with a “Steely Dan Tribute Band.” Oy. But you know—what are you gonna do—when you’re with a guy in a remote park and the nearest exit is the white mystery van he drove you here in.

Eventually we walked back to the van with me just praying it might be over soon enough—at this point I was pretty sure that I had ended up trapped in an endless hell with Shaggy from Scooby Doo out in the Mystery Machine with no Scooby snacks. Once in the van, though, he suggested he break out his synthesizer and play me some songs.

And that’s how I ended up on the floor of a dirty white van, with a Steely-Dan Tribute Band member serenading me on keyboard with “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and inwardly weeping. I’d like to say that was my last online date, but later, the same night, I went out with a man who epitomized Nathan Lane, wearing an ascot while speaking with a lisp and chatting about Broadway musicals. New York is a tough town. Maybe kissing behind tractors is better. I’m not really sure.

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