If Mike were telling the story, it’d go a little something like this: “I was riding my motorcycle through the West Village one evening, when I pulled up to a stop sign and saw a cute girl with pink hair and tattoos standing on the corner. I said, ‘Hey babe, get on my bike,’ she said, ‘Okay,’ and away we went.” But that’s not what really happened. The reality is not quite so fairytale, but equally cinematic. Blogger, self-help guru and international playgirl Gala Darling was sitting at home at 11:00pm one Friday night in 2008 about to go to a concert, when she received a message on OKCupid (one of the world’s largest online dating sites). It was from Mike. He wrote, “Hey, you look really cute and it seems like we have a bunch of stuff in common, why don’t we hang out?” Gala took a look through his profile and saw photos of him walking his pit bull and racing his motorcycle and thought to herself, ‘He does look pretty awesome,’ so she replied: “Yeah, that sounds good, what are you doing right now?” He wrote back, saying he was free, so she sent him another message and said, “Alright, well, let’s go out for a drink then.”
He got on his motorcycle and met her on the corner outside her West Village apartment, and they rode to a bar nearby. Her initial impression was that he was really cute, well dressed but casual, and didn’t look like he was trying too hard. The date went well – they went from bar to bar and walked the streets until the sun rose. At her front door when he was saying bye, Gala made the first move, and asked if she could kiss him. It was a very good first kiss.
After the date, Mike did what any normal person would do when they’ve just met a girl off the internet – he googled her, and found that Gala had a rather large online presence. One of his discoveries, though, was not to his liking. Unbeknownst to him, Gala was supposed to have been in Minneapolis for a hip hop festival on the night of their first date, and at some stage while they were together, had tweeted, “I wish I was at Soundset with Jake and Leif.” He wasn’t impressed – firstly, because she wished she was somewhere else that wasn’t their date, and secondly, because she wished she was with two other guys who weren’t him.
Because of this, there was very nearly not a second date, but his friend told him he was overreacting and that he should give her a second chance. On their second date, Gala told him she wanted to meet his dog Hank, so they took him for a walk, then went for dinner. At the time, Gala was not yet legally allowed to live permanently in the States, so she was coming back and forth every three months, and on the third date, Gala asked him if she could leave her suitcase at his apartment while she was in Toronto renewing her visa. He told her she could use his storage unit, so they went out to drop off her stuff.
Gala stayed with a male blog-friend she’d never met before in Toronto, and while she was with him, he offered to pay her money to be his live-in girlfriend. It was a creepy proposition, things deteriorated very quickly, she told Mike, and he advised her to get on a bus immediately and come back down to New York. When she arrived he said she could stay with him, and so, just a couple of weeks after they met, they moved in together. They’ve lived together happily ever since, and got married last year.
When Gala was coming to meet me to talk about their relationship, she said that Mike had cautioned her to use judgment in her telling – and by this she presumed he meant that she should tell his stranger-on-a-motorcycle version rather than the real OKCupid story. But she was determined to recount it honestly in the hope that it would give other people hope in online dating sites.
So… did anybody else just sign up for an account?
*This Modern Love is a new segment I’m debuting on my blog today, where I’ll write a couple’s relationship story. It’ll appear once a week on Thursdays.
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