The sight of faded tie-dye, the aroma of stale weed, the sticky and repugnant feeling of vomit and forgotten acid tabs sticking to your feet; one wouldn’t normally associate these specific physical sensations with a dead country, but the situation at hand makes it strangely appropriate.

GratefulDates is one of those sites that just pops up along the side of the ol’ social media road, oversized backpack and sunny disposition in hand as they beg you for a ride to the next town over, while you ponder the likelihood of getting stabbed to death over a good deed. My response to the situation, as it is for most situations, was “sure, let’s see how much fun I can have.”

When it comes to these kinds of situations, like signing up for a dating website designed to specifically gear towards fans of The Grateful Dead, Phish and other miscellaneous jam bands, the best approach is to set a lofty goal and see what kind of mishaps and memorable happenings you can find yourself tangled in along the way. My own personal goal was to A) befriend a drug dealer and B) make as many puns about weed as I could at their expense during our courtship to see how long it would take them to get sick of my ass, but I encourage readers at home hoping to get themselves involved in a similarly bizarre situation, to also consider one of the many viable and meaningful alternatives suited to this very strange manner of wasting time, including:

  • learning about hippie/festival culture
  • upping your hitchhiking game
  • finding actual meaningful conversation with other human beings who share similar interests
  • joining a cult
  • etc.

The site itself is nothing too gorgeous, your usual Web Design 101 setup to make an ugly-yet-functional website usable and presentable enough to not turn away potential users. Sign-up for GratefulDates presents the usual get-to-know-me fodder of age, sex, location, what kind of people you’re hoping to meet, etc. but as this is a site for the aging Deadhead and amateur hippie, the most emphasis during the profile setup was placed on music preference and concert etiquette (obviously important when trying to find a soul mate—how could you live with a person who prefers to stand in the back while you prefer the sweet audio nectar of feedback and hippie screams at front of the stage?) I doubt that preferences like that mean too much to the average person, but I suppose an abnormal concept can only survive under abnormal conditions.

Decked out with a fresh profile, a fresh picture that conveniently makes me look presentable while still hiding most of my face (never CAN be too careful), and a fresh sense of excitement, I took the dive into GratefulDates’ choppy seas with no knowledge of its depth, span, or danger at my disposal, eager in my journey to find excitement and mild amusement. Sadly, however, bemusement was a temptress unfound…

(WRITER’S INPUT: for the layout I’d prefer a changeup in style here, something like an old diary entry)

YEAR: UNKNOWN

DATE: UNKNOWN

LOCATION: GRATEFULDATES

STATUS: LOST AND BEWILDERED

This land, one I expected to be warm and loving and peaceful, has fallen under; it is now home to a sun that never stops baking its land and boiling its seas, to winds that shatter glass through the power of their owning gusting force, and is the residence of not one single living soul. The question arises: has this place been conquered, or abandoned? I have no answer, only a single observed fact: no person remains here in this place. Suited for triumph and leisure rather than adventure and plunder, I drag myself through the muck of hardened mud, against the shrieking winds of the scorched landscape and find myself atop a mountain, within a little cave marked with a sign displaying a single word: Online. Within this cave I can see to other corners of this country and, driven to this option through raw loneliness and desperation, I peer into the void and see a single figure: it is myself. Unwilling to accept this foul, this UNFAIR reality I see through the glazed pupils of my red and agitated eyeballs, I convince myself into an ultimatum: I will remain in this cave for one week and stare into this hellishly black void once a day. I wait… and wait… and wait… and see nothing new besides lines and spots cancerously digging themselves into my face, a freshly-slackened jaw, and a recently-malformed torso and set of limbs that would never so much as catch the eye of a well-aged mortician used to sight of death.

I expected bemusement.

I was promised fun.

END TRANSMISSION.