I’ve sprained my thumb swiping through Tinder looking for you! Was a text message I received late one night from a flirty friend. I could have saved you the trouble, I wrote back. I’m not on Tinder. What? Emma, get with it. I clicked off my phone and stared at the ceiling. Was I majorly missing out on something by refusing online dating? I wondered. My one friend was starting a family with a guy she met on Tinder. My other friend had a beautiful wedding with a guy she met on Match. What was once an inglorious outlet for the socially inept had become commonplace. Popularity trumped taboo. And in a city as big as New York, you could go weeks online and never see someone you knew. Online, the options are endless, I thought. Why was I unwilling?
What ever happened to meeting a guy at Whole Foods or the gym or god forbid, a bar? I asked my best single friend the next night over wine. I like meeting guys at bars! Have a couple cocktails. Bat your eyelashes. I’ve been practicing that shit since I was sixteen and now my arguably best talent is obsolete because rather than scanning the crowd, which is what you are supposed to do at bars, everyone looking down at their phones swiping through Tinder. I took a long sip of Malbec and and sighed. But Emma, if you aren’t on your phone swiping through Tinder, then you are at a disadvantage. Seriously. It’s time to abandon your Sex and the City syndrome and join the masses. There are some good guys on there!
There are some good guys at Crossfit, but I’m not taking up dead lifts and double unders.
A few days later I called a friend who works for the ever-popular match.com, and she offered me a complimentary subscription if I would open my mind. If you always visit the same places with the same types of people, you’ll only meet people in that teeny vicinity, she pleaded. And there are literally millions of men in this city. Millions of men, I repeated. Millions. Get in the game, Emma. So late one Sunday evening, I set up a profile composed of my most conservative photos but cleverest wit.
What the fuck? I called her yelling. How I am supposed to go through all of this? I don’t have time to look at all these profiles. Not that I have to because they are all the same. Same pictures even – one with a kid or a puppy, one at the pyramids or riding an elephant, a skiing or snowboarding photo, and one professional shot of him in a tux. Loves coffee and conversation and the last thing he read was the Wall Street Journal. Who doesn’t love coffee and conversation? I insisted. You need to chill, she said sternly. Don’t worry about messaging them back. You search for and message someone you want to go out with. What? Is that English? I screamed. I’m not asking someone out! I reminded myself to relax my forehead so as not to get online dating-induced wrinkles. It’s easier to navigate that way, she said calmly. Fine. Fine. Fine. And Emma, it doesn’t work if you don’t actually go on a date.
Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I was horrible at online dating. Guys I messaged tried to arrange dates, but I wouldn’t check it for days or never write back or even worse, I would cancel. What seemed like a fun little game for the first week, quickly turned into a sea of messages lacking organization, insight or god forbid romance. Only out of sheer boredom did I manage to go on two unremarkable dates.
The first guy was a faaaaarrrrrrrr cry from 6’0. He wore a pilling cardigan in late August and carried a copy of The New Yorker. He spoke incessantly about a television pilot he made that was never picked up. That’s because it’s sounds horribly boring, I thought. Then he rambled about his midlife crisis while I searched for ways to wrap it up. An entire hour went by. I couldn’t figure out how to look at my phone without seeming rude. How long does one stay on these dates? At a loss, I ordered another martini. Too many martinis and trivial topics later, he grabbed my hand and asked that I not go on any more match.com dates with anyone else. I recoiled. I didn’t care to go on anymore match.com dates period.
Date dos was too unremarkable to write about.
Three seemed like a better number to end on, so I looked through my messages and found the one guy who actually complimented my writing rather than my legs. I skimmed his smart, intentional profile. He would do. Everyone, tonight is final match.com date! I exclaimed to everyone in the backroom of my store. I can’t do it anymore. I happily accept defeat! Throw in the towel! Marcus out! Someone like me is better off sitting at a bar for two hours and batting my eyelashes. But then you actually have to go and sit at a bar for two hours, said my coworker flatly. I love bar sitting! In fact, I am excited about bar sitting…just as soon as I get through this date. So after this you aren’t going on any more online dates? Never, I replied. I’m a dating naturalist. Or just cuckoo, she laughed.
The next morning, I threw a change of clothes and pair of heels into my gym bag. At half past seven, I walked into a dimly lit bar in Tribeca. To my left a man stood up to greet me. He was tall. He was handsome. When he reassuringly smiled, I first felt sick to my stomach followed by an intense desire to make out with him – immediately. I’m not that European at all, but when he greeted me, I kissed his cheek. Not like an air kissy thing but my actual freshly glossed lips on a complete stranger’s face. Like I was finding my way in the dark, I touched his arm and his shoulder and any part of his body I could get away with without being terribly obvious. As he ushered me into my seat, I heard a choir of angels softly singing Alleluia.
Photo gratitude to http://paper-beats-rock.tumblr.com/ via The Classy Issue.