By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
KENDRA DENNIS, 28, SITS outside Silver Lake's Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters with her best friends, Amanda and Lauren. They're drinking direct-trade coffee sweetened with agave nectar and discussing text messaging, or rather, as Kendra calls it, “textual relations.”
Kendra, a tattooed beauty who lives in Studio City and rode her bike here today, has apparently mastered the art of the perfect text flirt. One might say the former go-go dancer, now a wardrobe stylist, has adapted The Rules to the new form of communication, which has in the last few years become the single man’s favorite and fastest way to “Get Wit U.”
The immediacy of texting, and the unabashed intent of its participants in having sex, has, according to Kendra, eroded the effort men once had to put forth when pursuing a woman, creating confusion and heartache along the way. Devising a counterstrategy is the wisest thing a girl can do.
“I think text messaging is ruining courtship and [male-female] relations. I am texting a man right now,” Kendra says, looking up from her BlackBerry 8800. “Text messaging shouldn’t replace all other communication. It can be in addition to other communication. If text messaging is everything, you’re destined to be misunderstood and have the romance taken out completely.
“First of all,” she explains, “there is no inflection, or tone, in text messages. Unless you write a ‘lol,’ ‘smiley face’ or ‘hahaha.’ Which is gay, but I do this, because I have a twisted sense of humor, very sarcastic, and I feel like oftentimes [men] don’t get the joke — a lot is lost in translation.”
Kendra, despite her sass, says she's a romantic, and misses the dating rituals that just a few years ago were considered the norm. “A guy doesn’t have to pick up the phone anymore. [Texting] has taken the formality out of courtship — can you even call it courtship?” she muses. “It is an immediately casual communication. You can never go backwards.” It’s hard to start taking a textual partner seriously as a boyfriend or girlfriend.
She misses the nervous voice messages guys used to leave asking for a first date — and the calls that came after, the next day, if all went well. You know, the ones that went something like: “I really had a great time, and when can I see you again?” As opposed to “That was fun . . . Get at me when you want to kick it . . . Holla at me later.”
Do not be confused by the slang and ellipsis overuse; the text messages Kendra and her friends refer to were not written by teenagers — they are creations of men in their 30s and 40s. Professional men with formal educations and jobs — jobs like music managers, art directors, movie producers, medical professionals, actors, musicians and professional athletes (though the last three arguably make more sense).
Adults have now incorporated the dialect and typing habits popularized by teens and tweens, who first established texting as a premier way to hook up with someone. Grown men are using the pickup lines of 14-year-olds — if one can even call these lines — and women are having to get wise.
“No one is going to call you every day, but they can text you every day, ’cause they’re like, ‘I’m at coffee. What R U doing?’ ”
Amanda suggests that when a guy texts “Wanna kick it?” a woman could counter, “Why don’t you ask me out on a proper date?”
“I wrote that to someone, and he told me, ‘Why don’t you not tell me what to do?’ Kendra says, laughing. Soon all three friends are cracking up.
“I’m not kidding,” Kendra affirms, looking back down at the BlackBerry as she types.
“If someone is pursuing you by text, they don’t want anything more than a casual encounter,” Lauren insists. “If they want to date you, or have a relationship, they’ll do it in person or with a phone call. No serious person is gonna text, ‘Hey, holler at me if you wanna hook up.’ That is not ever gonna happen.”
But at the same time, Lauren adds, “We keep mistaking it for ‘He really likes me.’ ”
Kendra joins in, so the two now speak in unison: “He’s texting me all the time!!”
“I try to apply The Rules to texting,” says Kendra pragmatically. “I wait until [a] person asks me out in the proper way. I have even pointed them in that direction, saying, ‘Why don’t you call me and we’ll figure it out?’ I am basically telling them I am looking for a phone call. I am looking for advance notice or whatever. And if they can’t meet my criteria, I have two options: either accept what they are giving and be completely frustrated, or just be, like, ‘This isn’t gonna work’ and move on.”
Amanda says she does text her boyfriend, but everyone agrees it is different when you’re in a real relationship. Yet Amanda admits her boyfriend wishes she wouldn’t text so much.
“He is adamant about phone calls. He has actually brought it up a few times, [saying] ‘I would really like to communicate more with voice and not text.’ You get accustomed to this form of communication,” she confesses, “and you’re just as guilty.”