In honor of our one year anniversary being this month, I’ve decided to share parts of our love story with you each Friday. It starts today with the most important part: how we met. (Hint: it was online. And yes, our actual profile pictures from this story are included in this post.)
It was spring semester of 2013, and my friends and I were addicted to the show Catfish.
Catfish is a reality show on MTV that features people who have been in an online relationship for a while but have never actually met the person they are in the relationship with. The host of the show, Nev, steps in with all of his glorious chest hair to hook them up in real life and see what happens. Most of the time, one of the two people has been hiding some kind of deal-breaking secret (their weight, appearance, age, sexual orientation, gender…) and chaos ensues. It’s awesome.
Spring 2013 was also the rise in popularity in dating apps: Skout, MeetMe, and a bunch more that I don’t know the names of. The most popular was definitely Tinder. So, in honor of our obsession with Catfish and mainly due to our curiosity, we downloaded the app and began trying to find a match.
On Tinder, if you’re not familiar with it, you choose the geographical radius you want to search for people in and then it shows you a seemingly unending stream of potential dates. You can look at multiple picture; see a person’s interests, age, and mutual friends; and how far away from you they are, and then you swipe right if you’re interested and left if you’re not.
My friends and I hung out all the time, all of us glued to our phones looking at Tinder users. Almost immediately, my friends started getting matches and talking to people. They were practically inches away from getting on Catfish themselves. However, I wasn’t getting any matches. What was wrong with me? Was no one choosing me? I started swiping right on every single person. Eventually someone had to say yes, right? Still, nothing. *
Even though I was skeptical and a little creeped out by dating apps in general, I was kind of jealous of my friends. I wanted to talk to a stranger who could potentially be hiding anything about themselves (obviously I never listened to my parents’ warnings about stranger danger or whatever). So, when Tinder wasn’t helping me, I decided to pull out the big guns and sign up for a real dating website. Since I always read hilarious posts about it on Buzzfeed, I decided to go with OkCupid. Plus, it was free.
At the time, a bunch of people were over at my house simultaneously watching some basketball game that was part of March Madness and swiping left and right on their phones. I pulled out my laptop and began crafting my profile. It took a long time. OkCupid makes you answer all kinds of ridiculous questions to help you match with people. Since it was all pretty much a joke, I filled them out haphazardly, writing things like “I am most often thinking about: my next meal.” Almost everything I put on there had to do with food or playing soccer. (I had just bought FIFA 13 and when I wasn’t getting mad about Tinder, I was nearly always playing it. Also, Real Salt Lake’s season had just started again.) I uploaded a few pictures – myself at a Real game, the Festival of Colors, and a couple others. Finally, I finished my profile and waited.
I half-watched March Madness (not my favorite time of year) until I dared to open my laptop again about half an hour later. I already had messages! I was stoked… until I opened the first one.
soulfulofluv: Hey baby, you’re hot. Do you like firefighters?
I clicked on his name and immediately saw his age: 55. “Ew! Oh my gosh. Ew.” I closed that and looked at my other messages. All of them were just as creepy and weird. One kid said, “I’m not interested in online dating but I live in St. George and I want to meet you in person. What are you doing tomorrow?” Another was like, “Nothing’s hotter than a girl in running shoes who likes to eat!” (I messaged him back for fun and said, “You know it!” but he never replied.) By the end of my inbox I was wishing I had listened to my parents’ advice about online dating and I told myself I would deactivate my profile the next day.
As soon as the basketball game was over, my friends and I watched an episode of Catfish before they left. When I went back into my room, I got out my computer to check Facebook before bed, but when I opened it, my OkCupid inbox was still on the screen and I had a new message. Despite how creeped out I was by that website, I couldn’t resist clicking on it.
colbstuh: festival of colors sweet. RSL… i have season tickets. you love food and soccer. who are you? i bet i could beat you at fifa.
Even though this message made next to no sense, I was intrigued. I went to his profile and read that he was a cook and an avid soccer fan, and also that he had French listed under his languages. I went back to the conversation.
shanndelier: No way you could beat me at FIFA. Yeah RSL is sweet! I just went to colorfest last weekend. I’m Shannon, who are you?
He replied almost immediately.
colbstuh: i’m Colby, nice to meet you! i was going to go to the color festival but i didn’t. where do you live?
shanndelier: I live in Cedar City. You?
colbstuh: lehi but i’m in st george right now with my family
At this point I was really tired so I closed my laptop and went to bed.
I wasn’t really planning on messaging him again, but I woke up thinking about it so I sent him another message before I left for the day… and then downloaded the app in case he replied while I was at school. My phone buzzed during my first class. By the time that class was over, he had asked for my number and we were texting instead of messaging on OkCupid.
We texted for pretty much the whole day. I found out he was 24 and we went to the same high school. He spoke Haitian Creole, not French, but French was the closest option that OkCupid had. We talked about everything from music to education to life goals and we had a ton in common and basically couldn’t stop texting.
(I deleted my OkCupid profile that night without ever looking at Colby’s profile again. The website notifies you every time someone looks at your profile and I didn’t want to seem like a stalker.) The next day we continued texting like crazy.
Colby: Hey can you send me a picture of you for my contacts?
Shannon: Oh, for your contacts huh? That’s what everyone says when they’re too embarrassed to just ask for a picture.
Colby: Haha yeah, you’re right.
Even though I made fun of him, I still spent like 15 minutes trying to take a good selfie. We all know that’s way more difficult than it should be. Colby was conveniently swimming so he couldn’t send me a current picture until after he “got ready,” so he sent me an old one that, looking back, looked nothing like him. Eventually the conversation turned to more alarming subjects.
Colby: So, I hope I am not the only one really enjoying this conversation.
Shannon: No, I definitely am too!
Colby: I really want to meet you.
It was true that I had been loving the conversation and truthfully, kind of starting to like Colby. But I was still nervous to meet him in real life. I had seen enough episodes of Catfish to know that he still might not have been who he said he was. So, to solve this problem, I quickly looked him up on Facebook to see if things matched up, which they did. We were golden. (Side note: I do not recommend actually doing any of the things I did. Just because his Facebook matched his OkCupid profile does not mean we were golden. My middle name should be “totally reckless.”)
Shannon: I want to meet you too.
Colby: Well I am leaving St. George on Saturday… What could we do?
Shannon: Um, well I actually have a job interview tomorrow in Hurricane, which is only like 15 minutes from St. George. I could come down after and meet you somewhere.
Colby: Really? That would work perfectly!
It was a plan. The next day was Friday and I packed a change of clothes for after my interview. I was a nervous wreck on all counts. The interview only lasted 15 minutes and then I texted Colby with shaking hands from a Maverick that I stopped at to change clothes. He told me to start driving to St. George and he would let me know where to meet.
I got to St. George and I still hadn’t heard anything, so I pulled into another gas station to wait. A minute later my phone started ringing. It was Colby. I hesitantly answered. “Hello?” I said nervously. “Hey, I just sent you a text but then I decided it would be better to just call you and tell you so, yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do,” he blurted out. His voice was so different than what I had expected. I don’t know how, and I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised. “Okay, cool,” I said, laughing. “So I was thinking we could meet at Smashburger, is that okay? Do you know where it is?” he asked. “Yeah, sounds good. I’ll find it and see you there in a second.” We hung up.
At this point I was literally having a panic attack. On the short drive to Smashburger I called my roommate.
“Marissa. Just so you know, I’m in St. George right now and I’m meeting Colby, so if you don’t hear from me in like, three hours or something can you like, call the cops or something?” I rushed. “Oh my gosh, Shannon, what are you doing?” She sounded worried. “I don’t know. We’re meeting in a public place so I think it will be fine. I just thought someone should know,” I said. “Okay, good luck!” she replied. I was at Smashburger so I composed myself and started walking inside.
I opened the door and there he was: attractive, smiling, and just as nervous as me. He stood up when I walked in. “Hey,” he said. “Oh good, you’re a real person,” I blurted out without meaning to say it out loud. He laughed. “Yes, I am. Do you like Smashburger?” “Yeah, I love it!” I really was pumped about Smashburger.
We sat down and started talking about everything we already knew about each other, but since we were in person we said it all again. He was so fun and easy to talk to. I remember being so self-conscious because my burger was falling apart like crazy and I probably looked like I didn’t know how to eat food.
After we ate, neither of us really wanted to leave. Colby made up some excuse about needing to get sunglasses from Target and did I want to come? I said yes and we wandered around Target for a while, talking about movies and other random subjects. I remember talking about the movie It and how dumb it was and thinking that Colby probably did not care but I just kept talking.
After Target, we needed another excuse to keep hanging out. Colby suggested frozen custard and of course I agreed. On the way there I asked Colby if he knew that you could get great key lime pie at Dollar Tree and also told a story about when I had to set up a book signing event from an author who wrote young adult explicit romance novels and how awkward and creepy it was. I was on a roll.
Eventually, it had to end. Colby drove me back to my car and we loitered outside for a few minutes, neither of us wanting to leave. I looked up at him and noticed how gorgeous his eyes were: green and blue and orange all at once. We hugged for longer than socially appropriate for a first meeting but still didn’t leave. Finally Colby hurriedly and awkwardly hugged me again and got in his car. I laughed at the fact that he hugged me twice as I drove away, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about how much I actually liked him.
On my way back to Cedar City I called Marissa again to let her know I was alive. She asked me how the whole thing had went and I heard the surprise in my own voice when I said, “It was awesome. He is actually really cool… yeah, it was sweet.” I guess Colby was thinking the same thing because two weeks later we were officially dating and a month after that he was living in St. George permanently. The rest is history!
*In case you’re wondering: a week or two after I gave up on Tinder, I got close to 50 matches all at once. I guess the universe (or the programmer of that app) knew I needed it to hold out on me! My phone blew up with notifications and I promptly deleted Tinder.
One sad, sad month in my life, I joined OkCupid. My so-called love life was stalling, and by stalling I mean it was severely lacking. I may or may not have joined other dating websites as well… but that’s beside the point. After about a week (or maybe a month) of failed attempts to hold normal conversations with people I had met online, I decided this entire “online dating” thing was not for me. So I gave the apps on my phone little attention from then on, besides laughing at the occasional single moms asking how old I was.
At that point in time I was living in Lehi, Utah, but wanted a break from my work so I decided to drive down to visit my parents in their new home in St. George. When I arrived, my phone started to go crazy with random messages from girls in St. George. I wasn’t really interested since I did not live there, so I opened my OkCupid app to delete the entire thing and save myself from more awkward messages. However, when I opened the app the first picture I say was this really cute, normal-looking girl who lived in Cedar City. I was curious so I decided to read her profile and found that she liked Réal Salt Lake, played FIFA, and loved food. Like, really loved food. The entire profile was devoted to food jokes or how to acquire some sort of food. Being an avid soccer fan and a professional cook, I was intrigued to say the least.
I decided to send “shanndelier” a message about how we were so similar and we would be perfect for each other. Just kidding, I have no idea what I even said in that message. It probably made no sense whatsoever, but somehow she managed to see past my weakness in writing and messaged me back. I found out her name was Shannon Doty (not dotty) and that she went to Southern Utah University and that she was super fun and easy to talk to. Everyone always says that phrase – “easy to talk to” – but the I say that, I mean that Shannon and I could talk as if we already knew each other. After messaging back and forth for a little while, I got her number and we kept talking most of the second day. Believe me when I say that I was glued to my phone. It was a really strange feeling when I had just met some random person over the internet.
I came to find out that she grew up in the same area I did, in Sandy. I am just a few years older than her so that is why I never knew her. I remember a particularly embarrassing moment when we were texting when I asked Shannon if I could have a picture of her “for my contacts.” Her response was typical Shannon: “Your contacts, huh?” She still gives me sass about that from time to time. Obviously the picture was to somehow gain proof she was not 400 pounds or a dude. When I got the cutest picture ever I knew I was in trouble. She was really cute. And I met her online. Weird.
We decided we should meet. I only had a few more days left in St. George and she had a job interview in Hurricane (near St. George), so that day was our only chance. On my way to meet Shannon, I started to get insanely nervous. Normally, I am a pretty confident person around girls, but man was I nervous to meet a girl I had never met. It just felt like a lot of pressure. The plan was to eat at Smashburger and then get ice cream if she was actually a real person. I got to Smashburger a little bit before Shannon so I took a seat and waited for her to get there. The second she walked into the restaurant I thought to myself, “Wow, she is really pretty… and she is actually who she said she was. Unbelievable.” The first thing Shannon said when she walked in was, “Wow, you are a real person,” so I guess I passed the test as well. We spent the entire time eating burgers and reviewing all the things we had already talked about online and over text, as if to double check if it was a fraud or not. I just knew that I would need to come up with some excuse to keep her around longer. I thought she was cute.
After we ate, I made up the excuse that I needed to go to Target and buy some sunglasses, which was my way of saying she had passed the test to extend this lunch date. She said yes and I am positive she was just happy I did not turn out to be a serial killer. As we walked around Target, Shannon talked about the movie “It” (which made me a little nervous) and I told a story about my friend who jumped into a giant basket of toys. I bought the sunglasses and realized, once again, that I needed to stall longer. I asked her if she wanted to get some Neilson’s Frozen Custard and of course she said yes. What woman says no to free ice cream?
I vividly remember we were sitting in a 50’s diner booth and I was listening to Shannon tell a story about one of her worst dates (she has many). She was talking about being stuck in the back of a truck with a kid clearly looking to get some, and as she was laughing, I thought to myself, “Um, I like this girl. What? Why?” It was a problematic thought, since I did not live in southern Utah, so I ignored it and ate more ice cream.
Unfortunately, ice cream only lasts so long, so I drove her back to her car and got out to hug her goodbye. I gave her a hug but decided I needed to stall just a little longer. She couldn’t go yet. We talked about our plans for the weekend and said goodbye one more time… and then I hugged her again. I just wanted to and wasn’t trying to be awkward, but after she got in her car to drive off and then left, I sat in my car saying out loud, “You hugged her twice? What the!”