Quite the cast of characters
Initially, I had uploaded a photo of Belle from Beauty and the Beast as my profile picture, but I realized that if I was going to score a date, I’d have to keep it real. So I went through some of my suggested matches’ pics to see what played well with Disney fans. Almost inevitably, every guy had one or, more often than not, multiple pictures at a theme park. And if they were over 25, I couldn’t help but find that more than mildly disconcerting. Considering I haven’t been to Disneyland (unironically) since I was 8, I had to settle on a picture of just my face.
Apparently, that was enough. Mouse Mingle doesn’t require a mutual liking for someone to initiate a conversation, so I got lots of messages from a bunch of different guys. Most of them were perfectly nice and asked me non-sexual questions: honestly, a refreshing change of pace from other online dating experiences I’ve had. Many were aspiring entertainers of some kind. There were definitely a few odd balls lacking in social skills in the mix, like this message I got from a young man in Indiana: “If you are not interested be mature enough to say, ‘not interested.’ And if you can do me a favor will you please tell me why and what i can do to improve.”
I was already on assignment, so that seemed like a little too much work.
Here's winking at you, kid
If you like to play it coy, Mouse Mingle allows you to “wink” at a potential match before you chat to gauge their interest. Think of it like a Facebook poke with all the same creepy connotations. Winking (and winking back) is free, but chatting will cost you. To engage in any sort of conversation, you have to upgrade your account to the tune of $12.55 per month or $120 per year. To get around that, many Mouse Minglers include an email address on their profiles.
Part of their world
I started chatting with a guy from Yonkers who makes balloon animals for a living. I realize that sounds like a job a sex offender would have, but being on deadline forced me to be less judgmental. I gave him my number (a burner, because I am as paranoid as I am committed to my craft) and we texted back and forth. He asked me if I watched Breaking Bad, which somehow, strangely led me to assume he was normal enough to meet in person.
He suggested we meet at Barcade, causing me a moment of panic as I considered I may have just stumbled upon a Disney-crazed lunatic AND a gamer. Thankfully, the location proved more a matter of convenience than anything else. I got there a little later than him, bought myself a glass of wine, and tried to remember all the details of my fictitious Disney fandom.
Surprisingly (and thankfully), our Disney-related conversation was mostly confined to him recounting his experience as a tram operator at Walt Disney World in Florida. These days, he’s been trying to get into the acting game. We spent the better part of the date talking about him and his career. So I guess you could say that ultimately, the experience wasn’t much different than any other bad date in New York City.