When I first joined OKCupid, I learned something about romance that many others already knew: straight men constantly talk about Sriracha in their online dating profiles. (If you've been in a relationship for a long time, Sriracha is a type of Asian hot sauce.)
This was back in the simpler time of 2012, when swiping had not yet been invented and I was more engaged in the process of typing messages to strangers wearing chambrays in their profile pictures. But a recent perusal of OkCupid shows that the Sriracha obsession lives on. (I reactivated my account to investigate, so if I fall in love it's your dumb fault for reading this.)
So why does everyone talk about Sriracha? What is it code for? In the examples above, it seems like a culturally agreed upon reference that is a little more interesting than "family" but still far enough within millennial societal norms not to be risky or weird. Basically, it's a boring thing that's spicy.
After wading through a lot of Sriracha dissertations, I went on my first OKCupid date with a guy named something that every guy in their twenties is named. It's not even worth making up a fake name for this article. You can probably just guess what it is. He was an indie music publicist, which was such a movie character job, which I told him, which was a test, which he passed (by laughing). He messaged me and asked if I wanted to see a comedy show. Part of me didn't, because my motivation for trying online dating was to stop entering toxic dynamics with people I met through comedy. But part of me did, because when I repeat the same mistakes they feel familiar.
On our great and kind of awkward first date, we got drinks and walked around the East Village and kissed outside a subway stop. We ended up continuing to see each other for a couple months, but decrease some of how long you think that is because it was during the holidays and a rare city hurricane. He had been to my apartment a few times, but I had never been to his. There were a lot of reasons why. He had roommates he wasn't friendly with. He lived in a different part of Brooklyn and always offered to take the long subway ride to my neighborhood. Eventually, he admitted he was embarrassed that he had a twin bed. And if you carefully examine the subtext of our text messages, there was another reason too:
What do you think he was getting at here?
Finally, one weekend, we did go to his apartment. Yes, he had a twin bed, which he had warned me about. What he hadn't told me was that it was a glorified mattress on the floor. And something else was on the floor too: furniture. No, just kidding, there was no other furniture.
There was a bottle of Sriracha.
A bottle of Sriracha stood alone in its own spot on the floor. Why was it there? Was it carefully placed to signify that he's interesting but not weird? Did he need to keep it close to where he sleeps because it really was one of the six things he couldn't do without? Did he have to last-minute eat some emergency pho right before he left? Did he really not even put away open food containers even though he knew I was coming over? Is it just one of those mysteries of love? I guess we'll never know the answer, since that was the last time I saw him.