Cao Fei, Nova
I went on three dates in one night.
I was in Shanghai for New Year’s Eve with a group of friends. I’d decided that I wasn’t going to check the apps while I was there, but a few things happened:
- Toward the end of the trip, people left on different flights until just three of us remained.
- M and B had been checking the apps, and were going on dates that final evening.
- I’d lost my voice the night before, and I was curious to see how far I could get on a date without it.
I sent messages to as many people as I could, explaining that I was leaving tomorrow, I’d lost my voice, and would they be interested in going on a date with someone who couldn’t speak?
This somehow worked way better than whatever my usual approach was (is), and I ended up with three dates for 6:00PM, 7:30PM, and 9:00PM.
My voice actually came back as I was getting ready, but I committed to staying silent. I bought some envelopes and a pen from a 7-11 outside the Shanghai metro. For each date, I would write down anything I failed to convey through lip movements and hand gestures on an envelope, and give it to my date at the end.
It was raining that day.
Some notes from then:
- On the first date we talked about love and spirituality
- About reincarnation, growing things, her friend dying in a car accident
- About creating meaningful experiences
- I learned a new word, and I’ve already forgotten what it was
- I committed to the character and stayed silent the whole date
- When we were done with dinner, I grabbed the bill and my cash but she scanned a QR code on the table before I could do anything
- “You ask difficult questions. Now I know what it’s like to talk to myself.”
- She skipped a dance class for me
She said she’ll visit California this year
- On the second date I met her friends — all in their 30s and 40s leaving me feeling like a sugar baby
- “I told them you lost your voice because you 玩太多了 but it sounds like I said you lost your virginity.”
- We went to one of the fanciest hotel bars I’d ever been to
- We talked about classical music and drugs
- About cocktails and beach clubs
- “We only want it if it’s super expensive or free! Nothing in between.”
- She visits California occasionally and said she would bring her own strawberries if I agree to make her drinks next time
She invited me to her birthday next weekend (in Bali) – I think I’ll go
- On the third date we met in a dead empty bar an hour after we were supposed to meet (100% my fault after letting the first two dates run long)
- She spent a semester in California a couple years ago and traveled to a different American city every weekend
- “God created France to be the most beautiful place on earth, and then He created French people to balance it out.”
- When I finally started talking again she liked my voice a lot
- We walked in the rain for half an hour to her place, which was the second wildest living space I’d ever seen, full of odd furniture, staircases, and doors to nowhere
- We re-enacted the second and third acts of Before Sunset, right down to the plans to meet in Shanghai again one year from today
I traveled across what felt like all of Shanghai that night, but when I was done and texted M it turned out I was an 11 minute walk from where he’d ended his date.
I ended up meeting two of my three dates again.
One in San Francisco, where we grabbed a meal at SFO an hour before her flight out.
Another in that Bali villa for her birthday, then again in Local Edition six months later (a real downgrade, I know).
I haven’t been back to Shanghai since.