Image via Erin's blog.
The latest so-called “controversy” in Toronto revolves around a 23-year-old girl who is willing to go on a date with practically anyone, in order to score a free grilled octopus at Bar Isabel. Erin is an aspiring actress with a blog comprised of obnoxious selfies and out of focus camera phone food shots, which should be the first sign that she’s not worth paying attention to. But the good people of the internet have gone on to scorn her for her brazen attempt to trade free dinners for heteronormative romance rituals, asking for her to “be sued and banished from all internet dating sites,” and worse, comparing her writing style to Tucker Max.
To this I say meh. Do we really have nothing more interesting going on in Toronto right now? Do I care what one impoverished ACTRA member does in in the privacy of an Edison-bulb lit restaurant in exchange for an a la carte tasting menu? Blogging is free and duping the men of Plenty Of Fish (in her words, “2 &3’s will pay for anything”) into free pork sliders is a woman’s right to choose while they’re still young and self-obsessed. Sure, it’s an antiquated brand of feminism and I still don’t know what a “Chantecler” is, but as the young woman said herself, “haters gonna hate.” End of story, please.
I’ve attempted internet dating in Toronto, so I know what Erin’s going through. I mostly attracted a pool of dudes in Hawaiian shirts, who responded to my carefully-curated profile with comments like “I see you too also enjoy the jazz.” It was easy to dismiss these strangers and make fun of them in my head, because it meant that I didn’t have to wash my hair, change out of my Girl Guides sweatshirt, and try and make a connection. My fear of being vulnerable and alone, mixed with my belief that I couldn’t meet someone in the non-virtual world, turned me into a real bitch. (I’m sorry “GoLeafsGo69” for my rudeness.) The real truth, the one I couldn’t admit to myself, is that I wanted a boyfriend.
At that point, my coping mechanism was condescension towards men who earnestly wanted to spend time with me. It was safer to look at my inbox with scorn and derision. If it makes Erin feel better to use someone, then further humiliate their generosity on her public blog, I understand, but eventually someone will grow weary of her antics. That said, some men don’t know better. Some men want to be used.
Erin’s blog—I won’t dignify it with its real name—is just another example in Toronto’s pathetic attempt to sensationalize our fear of intimacy with so-called “scandal.” Just look at the back page of the The Grid with its terrible (but surely profitable) columns “Dating Diaries” and “The Hookup.” Two mild-mannered people attempt to feign interest in each other while they take a ceramics class or some other dumb shit and then rate each other’s hair with a score of “7.”
I get it. It’s hard to make dating interesting to an audience that has their own romantic problems to deal with. But it’s not impossible to take the treacherous world of trying to get laid through your computer and make it palatable for readers. For example, Christina Walkinshaw, a local comic, runs a dating blog called “My Week On Tinder.” It’s hilarious and she’s amazing.
The underlying truth here is that real attraction and chemistry comes from taking the time to get to know someone. It actually involves an amount of risk in finding someone who likes your particular kind of crazy. God knows Drake isn’t shelling out $90 for the chance to make small talk with a fucking 23-year-old aspiring actress. And neither should you.
I say if Erin has a passion for restaurants, she should be a food critic. BlogTO makes you pay for your own meals but at least you get a byline! That’s a start. She could learn how to cook—or at least work as a hostess at a restaurant, where she could sleep her way through the kitchen line. If none of that is an option, she could try setting up dates with men she might at the very least have something in common with.
Erin’s got a few more years to sift through the painful process of learning who she is, and how she deserves to be treated in a relationship. But it’s a lot harder than posting screencaps of a new immigrant’s text messages and making fun of their syntax, or grimacing through a kiss on the cheek for a $110 dinner from a stranger you’ll gleefully trash on your blog later. I guess what pisses me off is the arrogance of it all and the encouragement she’s receiving from blog-baiting publications like Toronto Life. I don’t think people deserve to be treated like crap because blonde 23-year-olds come at a very high cost—even though Erin says she can be bought for a quick cheeseburger at Burger’s Priest.
I think, as Erin gets older, she’ll learn relationships can’t be qualified into material goods. It’s a lot harder to find someone who returns your fucking text messages and still showers you with kindness, sympathy, and a warm body in bed when you lie, make selfish choices, and fuck up. Someone who loves the ugly parts of you—like your vindictive, shitty blog, and the selfie that says, “I’m worth every ounce of that fried sea bream baby, but you can never touch me.”
Are you worth it Erin? Are you capable of love? What about when you’re 26 and have dandruff and a fat ass and need to take new headshots? Because until then you better learn how to enjoy those chickpeas eaten over your sink. Listening to Tori Amos. Wearing your Girl Guides sweatshirt.
Follow Chandler on Twitter: @clevack
Don't Go on a Date with a Failed Actress, Watch Toronto Episodes of Munchies Instead: