It’s tough to tell when an internet phenomenon reaches actual meme status. But, in the case of the “creepy finance guy,” I think we can finally call it.
This week saw yet another jaw-dropping tale of Wall Street prattishness, this time in the form of a post-date survey. Yep, a finance dude went on a date with a lady. And then he asked her for constructive feedback.
The culprit in this tale is a 24-year-old “finance guy” in Philadelphia named Mike, according to Deadspin, which doesn’t outline his career much beyond Does Things With Money. (This is the case with a lot of these confessional, finance-date posts.) After going on a handful of dates, the tipster (a woman) says the pair parted ways — at which point she received a “Date Response Form.” It was a post-mortem review sheet, courtesy of Mike.
It included questions like “Mike is very self conscious about his hair. Does he have reason to be?” “Who paid for dinner?” (coupled with “Are you a feminist,” amusingly enough) and “How are Mike’s conversation skills? He didn’t talk about himself the whole night… did he?” Were it not for these tinges of sincere(-sounding) insecurity, you’d easily write off the “Date Response Form” as a big, elaborate prank. It reads like the dialogue from a mediocre, experimental one-act play. But as far as anyone can tell, the questions are deadly serious.
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And this kind of anecdote floats around constantly.
Consider last month’s Spreadsheet Romeo. An idiotic (this time, New York-based) Finance Guy entered each of his Match.com dates into a spreadsheet, meticulously rating each woman he went out with and chronicling every contact he had with them (including text messages). “Dave,” as he’s known, wrote things like “mixed bag of pictures, but great bod” and “OK girl, but very jappy; one and done for me)” for his reviews. It was awful.
In this case, Dave actually forwarded the spreadsheet to one of his dates — who then passed it along to her friends who later passed it along to Jezebel, which published a highly censored version of the document. It’s worth mentioning that more than one person from wildly different sectors of my personal life forwarded the document to me as well. Was an acquaintance of mine on there? No — I have no tight affiliation with the gentlemen of Wall Street. The stupid thing had reached old school meme-itude, that’s all.
As long as we’re on the subject, there’s this post from Gawker that included a hedge funder’s lengthy email to a woman he was dating after being turned down for a second date. (To summarize, its point is why don’t you want me?) And there’s the “Breakup Quiz” (also courtesy of Gawker), which reads like a more hostile version of good ol’ MIke’s “Date Response Form.” In each of these instances, any jerkiness is accompanied by sad insecurity. Why don’t you want me? they all seem to scream.
Why is this happening? Why are these real-life stories published over and over? Are 20-something finance guys really that bad? Or are we just that angry at Wall Street?
It’s hardly any surprise that Gordon Gekko and Patrick Bateman were each conceived within roughly five years of each other. Gekko splashed onto the screen mere months after the late ’80s-early ’90s market crash, while Bateman arose in the pages of Bret Easton Ellis’ famed “American Psycho” toward the tail end of the malaise. These characters encapsulated the collective attitude toward Wall Street’s villains at the time — a mixture of fear and a little amusement. These characters were terrifying, yes. But who doesn’t recite the phrase “greed is good” without a smirk? Who doesn’t reference the infamous business-card standoff without a chuckle? Despite their fictionalized malice, both Bateman and Gekko are borderline campy figures today. Wall Street scared us — now, we laugh at it.
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And it’s with this mix that we approach the “creepy dudes of Wall Street.” Sure, none of these guys are Gekkos. And maybe the flood of “guess what just happened on my date with this trader!” is more a resurgence than anything else. I’m certainly not excusing the arrogant ways of our accidental internet punching bags. But to write off this trend as “all finance guys are assholes” is too flippant. And men in other quote-un-quote prestige fields rarely suffer the same stigma. “Creepy doctor” dates? That’s not really a “thing.” Sure, they happen — but rarely is the phrase “that’s what you get for going out with a doctor!” uttered when someone recounts a terrible date with an MD.
This, of course, would be the optimal time for a writer to recount some simultaneously juicy-yet-unsavory experiences she’s had with the Wall Street set. Some appalling, backhanded compliment at a crowded bar that’s emblematic of A Larger Problem Among Men And Wall Street. But that’s not really the point, is it? I’ve gone on loads of crummy dates, with men of all professional backgrounds. And yet, in the 20-something zeitgeist, the confessional “Once I went on a date with a Wall Street guy” reigns supreme, in social circles and online. Discrimination doesn’t exist just on Wall Street.
In the post-2008 world, we’ve passed fearing the instruments of our economy’s destruction. We’re laughing at them now. And maybe it’s because, on some level, we feel we need to.
Amy Tennery is the Managing Editor of The Jane Dough, which provides news and insight on women in the business world and political arena.
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