I kind of go back and forth about the concept of online dating. I’ll give it a shot for a few weeks, then have an epiphany, ask myself what I’m doing and disable my account for three months. But one thing is for sure: I do not believe in dating sites for specific demographics. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about Jewish, Christian, or even farmer dating sites; why, given the great diversity of the human population, would you ever want to pigeonhole yourself into just one type of woman?
So even though there are sites out there that cater to us metalheads, you’ll never find me on one of them. Which means that when I get those occasional urge to put my potential future romance in the hands of the Interwebs, I’m on the general interest sites. And for a metalhead, that can be a little weird…
I’ll start by saying this: I don’t need to date someone who loves metal. In fact, I’d much prefer someone who doesn’t like metal, but who’s open to and supportive of the fact that I do. If someone takes a listen to maybe one or two of the umpteen hundred different tracks I freak out about each month — or better yet, feigns interest in maybe, someday, checking out a show with me — she’s golden in my book. I’m not the type to try and convert my girlfriend into a metalhead — in the same way that I wouldn’t want to be converted into a full-on…I don’t know…yogi. Or book club attendee.
At the same time, I don’t try to hide my interest in metal on any component of my online presence. In my Facebook profile picture, I’m rocking a Death shirt and aviators. My LinkedIn lists Nine Circles as a second job — even though it generates approximately zero dollars in income. So why should OkCupid or Tinder be any different? I tend to list out my metal-related interests front and center, for a couple of reasons: 1) I’m proud of them, and 2) putting them up front is a great way to weed out the closed-minded types who’d be liable to kick a person to the curb over their musical tastes.
…or so I thought. Then I met Kerri. (No, that’s not her real name, because DUH.)
This goes back about…three years now, so well before Horns Up / Nine Circles was even conceived. I don’t remember who messaged whom, but Kerri and I met up, went out and actually had a good time. Music did come up, but not metal specifically; we talked concerts and some of the non-metal bands I was into at the time. (This wasn’t a deliberate move to avoid metal, mind you; the conversation just happened upon some pop artists and we took it and ran.) In fact, metal didn’t even come up on the second or third dates, either. We’d covered dinners, strolls, drinks, more strolls and more drinks, yet no metal.
But date number four happened to occur right after some old college friends and I acquired tickets to go see Opeth and Mastodon on their Heritage Hunter tour up in Boston. I was into both bands, yet hadn’t seen either of them before. I also hadn’t seen these particular college friends in several months. So as you might expect, I was pretty excited. And I decided to let Kerri in on that excitement over our dinner that night and tell her just where it had come from.
“That’s great! I’ve never heard of any of those bands, though. What kind of music do they play?”
“They’re all metal bands.”
It seemed a harmless enough reveal. But then…
You all know that “oh.” That “oh” is one of the maybe five worst things that can happen to a conversation. Exactly what follows it will vary depending on whom you’re engaging, but it’ll almost never be good. In our case, it was a somewhat awkward, 10-second pause that felt like an enormously awkward, five-minute pause.
“What do you like about metal?”
Here it was. This talk. The one that I thought, four dates in, we’d pretty safely dodged. NOPE!
Luckily, I was prepared. I talked to her about the respect I had for the musicianship in metal—how I could never set aside 4-5 hours a day to master the guitar growing up, but basically worshipped the guys that had been able to, and that had developed their shred skills. I talked to her about how I used the aggression in metal to fuel productivity in my life, whether at work, at the gym, or elsewhere. And of course, I talked to her about the metal community, and the general openness with which it accepted fans of all backgrounds and career paths.
I thought I’d made a pretty good case. But apparently none of it really stuck with Kerri, whose next question was:
“But isn’t it all screaming?”
Oh look, my favorite phrase! “All screaming.” That concept can go straight to hell. I love how folks who’ve heard maybe one Lamb of God song in their lifetime think they know all about an entire genre of music. It’s just the best, you guys.
I could feel my patience wearing just a bit, but I kept it together and explained to her politely that, no, there are plenty of metal bands whose singers actually never scream, and that while screaming does play a large role in the genre, it’s not everything it has to offer vocally. (I also didn’t think it was the right moment to point out the differences between screaming versus roaring, versus growling, versus grunting, etc.)
“But don’t they all sing about the devil and stuff?”
Keep that generalization train a-rollin’, Kerri! More explanation — some, yes; all, no. I wanted so badly, in that moment, to take a playful jab at her home state of Texas and ask if, since then-governor Rick Perry was an anti-gay NRA member, did that make all Texans anti-gay NRA members? (It was facetious; Kerri herself was quite liberal.) But again…some, yes; all, no.
“But does that mean you’re going to grow your hair out and get tattoos?”
Okay, JESUS, Kerri. Cool it with the stereotypes here.
As you probably noticed, this marked three “But…” questions from Kerri in a row. It was becoming clear to me that no matter how soundly and vehemently I defended the metal genre, it was never going to be good enough for her. Again, this wasn’t me trying to get her into metal; it was just me discussing a personal interest of my own. One that, try as I might, I couldn’t get her to just be okay with.
I think she could see that things had taken a turn, as she then asked me to play her a metal song from my iPod. Which would have been a nice gesture, had she actually made an effort to focus on the one I chose for her. (The Devin Townsend Project’s “Hyperdrive!” — a pretty accessible metal song, all things considered!) But nope, this “listening” consisted of throwing the earbuds in as a courtesy, and then turning immediately to her BlackBerry, answering some work emails, and then saying “well…it was okay, I guess,” afterward.
The battle lost, I dropped the subject of metal. And not long afterward, I dropped Kerri. Or maybe I’d already technically been dropped, as per my comment earlier? I don’t know. All I know is, after that evening, the fact that I wouldn’t be seeing her again didn’t upset me—so it kind of felt like I’d done the dropping.
I think this is the point in the column where I’m supposed to say something profound about dating, or my romantic interests, or my connection to metal, or…something. Anything. But I don’t know if I’m capable of doing so at this point — 2:00 AM the night before this column’s supposed to run — without it sounding unbearably cheesy. So forget that. Just be open-minded. To the types of people you date. To the types of music you listen to. In every sense. There’s not a devil or screamy music lurking behind every corner in life. Just some of them.
Check back next month for more dealings with the simps, and make sure to share your own with me in the meantime!
Keep it heavy,