The Alum pops up on Facebook chat. He wants to know if I have a smartphone with a data plan.
Yes, why? I say.
He wants to share a playlist he made on Rhapsody. It’s an 80’s playlist, an awesome one.
To be polite, I tell him I’d love to hear it – but I don’t have Rhapsody.
A few minutes later, a Rhapsody gift subscription code arrives in my inbox, along with another email containing a link to his playlist.
I’ve done a lot of reading on how you know when men are interested, and here’s one way: they send you a mix tape.
Or, as it happens, a really awesomely long playlist of every song I avoided listening to in high school.
I don’t dig top 40 music – never did. I don’t mind it – I have some Michael Jackson and what have you – but I was always the “obscure English art band” type. I can tell you the names of every band that was on the 4AD label until 1992, without the aid of Google.
You may not be impressed with that and you’re welcome to think my music is pretentious crap – but you should probably know that before you send me the soundtrack to my worst high school nightmare.
I feel guilty and I feel mean. I wish he hadn’t spent the money and I definitely wish he hadn’t created the playlist for me. I tell myself it’s possible he didn’t make it just on my account, but I don’t believe me.
I avoid him for a couple of days, but then he pops up one day, asking what did I think. I’m having some fun with Rhapsody, I tell him in an effort to be positive and yet truthful. I spent a little time building a playlist of current music I like (Gorillaz, Lindsey Stirling), which is kind of fun.
He asks if I like the playlist and I say I lost the link somehow. He resends it.
I see the problem with technology in dating: he cannot hear the guilt and awkwardness in my replies; he cannot read between the lines, though perhaps he just chooses not to. But without the other cues available, working only with pixels on a screen, it’s easy to fall into this trap.
A day or so go by, and he messages me again. He’s added some Bananarama, he says, because he forgot it originally. He’s thorough; he’s included everything.
I want to tell him that Bananarama originally sang backup for a band called Fun Boy Three, and that was a really good band. But he’s not asking for a conversation, nor is he trying to get to know me. He wants a gold star.
But I don’t want to give him one: he submitted a lot of data, but entirely missed the point.