The Garbage Man :: Aalto Lounge

I’m a very public Tinder-er. I Tinder on the bus, I Tinder with my coworkers, I even surrender control of my Tinder over to my father so he can see how difficult it is to find a decent man! I feel like Tinder is the first online dating platform to transcend the stigma surrounding virtual connections. While brainstorming the tone of this review, I realized that I am completely open about my Tinder usage when the date is a crash & burn, but not when it goes well. It is easy to write a scathing review about a stone-cold-sober hipster who lives in a closet than it is to admit I developed legitimate feelings for someone I matched with. Sure, there are the initial “feelings” of excitement when a cute match asks you out for drinks, but there are distinctively different “feelings” after you’ve gone on five separate 8-hour-long dates and you feel comfortable enough mentioning him to your father during your weekly “are you still single?” discussion. The past month of my life has been a Tinder adventure I prefer to never repeat, but let’s start at the beginning…

I’ll admit it was probably an accidental swipe. The Garbage Man wasn’t very attractive in his photos and his bio was vague and dull. However, he did resemble the loveofmylife from home, so perhaps nostalgia kicked in and made me swipe right. We matched. Along the course of the conversation, I asked him what he did for a living. He told me he was a garbage man. Well, I guess someone has to do it. I didn’t want to insult him by questioning the validity of his profession, so I went along with it. I spent an entire shift at work with my coworkers debating the pros and cons of dating a garbage man. Everyone’s gotta make a living! But luckily he turned out to have a boring Mark Zuckerberg-esque desk job as a software engineer. Score.

The Bro Pros
Tall, Dark, and Canadian
Fun tech job downtown
GQ style, albeit repetitive – the same annoying plaid shirt 3 times!
Loves to be active and explore new bars
I love big mouths – he has a beautiful mouth
Best sense of humor I’ve encountered in awhile


Initial red flag – I messaged him first.
Second red flag – I had to volunteer my number to him.
Third red flag – I had to ask him out.

Looking back, I should have given up. I am extremely passionate and excited about everything I do, so connecting with a guy who is so ambivalent and un-proactive is aggravating. But being the desperate, pathetic, optimistic romantic that I am, I stuck around. I suggested we try Aalto Lounge for their $2 happy hour. Fail – he’s already paying, who cares if it is cheap?

Aalto flies under the radar in a good way. No one has ever heard of it, but since discovering it, I’ve seen it slowly increase in popularity. During the week, it is easy to find a table or couch with friends, but when The Garbage Man and I went on a Friday night, it was packed. It took us nearly 10 minutes to even order a drink and we spent the entire time in line being jostled by the steady flow of people pushing their way into the bar. But it was worth it! The happy hour cocktails are delicious. You can choose between three – the Slow Burn, the Belmont Jewel, and the Dandy. They are all so different, yet cohesively enjoyable. I wish they had a discounted price for a flight of all 3. Hint hint?

I was lucky enough to snag an awkward sofa by the kitchen, so we had a place to chat – but even that was a struggle. The (great) music was so loud that we had trouble hearing each other. In addition to the bar, there was also a large lounge room filled with chic sitting-squares. It may have been quieter in there, but the lighting wasn’t as good and every lady knows that good lighting is a MUST for a first date.

The Bar Pros
Amazing $2 happy hour cocktails
Modern, minimalist design with friendly staff
The crowd is great – young, professional, and hip
Not so great for mingling, everyone seemed to be on a date
In the summer, there’s a small outdoor patio
Drunken stumble distance from my apartment!

After spending several hours at Aalto, we wandered over to Sweet Hereafter to enjoy their brand new bonfire. If you haven’t checked it out yet… please don’t. I like having readily available seating as soon as I arrive. I’ve been there 3 times and we were able to find seating around the fire each time. Sometimes it gets a little too hot, but during the Portland cold snap, it was great. The Garbage Man and I spent the rest of the evening there until closing at 2am. We talked about everything and nothing and it was perfect.

Fast forward 2 weeks and 4 dates later (1: Aalto, 2: Dig a Pony, 3: Sampling Lab, 4: Portland International Film Festival) to our 5th and final date: my apartment. I had been growing increasingly frustrated over his general lack of planning (most dates were short-notice) and the largest WHATTHEFUCK of my entire dating career – he hadn’t kissed me, yet. This was our fifth date! I thought a lack of kiss by the end of the second date was a death sentence, but here I was… the fifth date from hell.

I had told him we would go to a bar in my neighborhood, but as the rain pelted on the window and I continued to drink, I knew that was a lie. It was the last night before my new roommate moved in and I wanted to make the most of the privacy (wink? wink.) My apartment is tiny, but we do have a loveseat and a large chair in the living room. Being a total dude, he sat in the middle of the loveseat, leaving no room for me. Whatever, I was still basically sober (lie.) I mixed us up a few drinks (his stronger, duh) and we did what we did best… talk and make fun of each other.

Suddenly it was 1:00 am and I was still four feet away from him. I decided to be a badass alpha bitch and subtly switch over to the loveseat. Over the next four hours (yes, we literally talked until 5:00am) we cuddled closer and closer until our faces were inches apart. I thought, “Yes, this is the moment!” After all, you don’t let someone get close enough to analyze your pores without intending to kiss them. I was wrong.

Every time I remember The Garbage Man, I’ll think of this moment and our electric eye contact. I felt like a teenager again, when your stomach is filled with butterflies so all you can muster is a smile and a smize. I thought his reciprocal giddy gaze meant he felt the same. Arcade Fire had been smoothing the silence when he finally broke our connection and said “Well, I guess I had better be going…” WHAT?

As he opened the Car2Go app and my heart boiled with passion, rage, and annoyance, I smized one last time and said, “You know, you don’t have to go, I want you to stay.” His reply? “I want to… but I need to work out in the morning.” Rather than informing him of how many calories per hour sex burns, I simply said “Okay.”

That night, I chose me. Why bother with someone so obviously conflicted? I know what I want and I need someone who knows he wants me. On his way out, he gave me a hug and an awkward peck on the cheek (progress, but REALLY?) before he walked out onto the porch. He was saying his goodbyes when I decided to YOLO and said, “Wait… I’ve had enough of this…” and then I kissed him. And then I made out with him. And then I said goodbye.

Maybe I am too forgiving, but I thought this might jumpstart his confidence. Guys are cowards and maybe he just needed a little encouragement to get the ball rolling? He continued to text me all day – almost literally. We would start at 5:30am when we woke up for work and end around 11pm. Over the next week, I convinced myself I was wrong about “choosing myself.” I quickly threw my self-respect out the window when he asked me out for Valentine’s Day.

I’m a pretty romantic person, so the idea of having a Valentine’s Day date for the first time made me ecstatic. We were going to get brunch and then drink champagne on the waterfront and then maybe go see 50 Shades of Gray! It would be PERFECT.

And then he cancelled. Well, he tried to cancel, but I am stubborn and wouldn’t let him, so he said… and I quote… “We can still hang out today but I’m not trying to make this into a Valentine’s thing. I’m not really into that sort of thing.”

So after 3 weeks of feeling completely unwanted due to…
1. The complete and utter lack of anything physical (except my self-initiated kiss)
2. Repeatedly asking him out on dates post-kiss and being turned down
3. His constant discussion of how cute and desirable Zooey Deschanel is
4. The percentage of our dates that included his roommates (50%)
… I decided to dump him.

Any logical person would realize I was friend zoned. I possess a fair amount of logic, so as soon as these started happening, I straight up asked him about it. I even used the keyword “friend-zoned.” He denied it and insinuated that I was being too uptight. “Are these things supposed to follow a certain format?” No, but any anotomically-correct male doesn’t go on 5 dates and have a 3 week long ongoing text conversation with a girl without FUCKING GODDAMN KISSING HER.

His lets-cancel-Valentine’s-Day text was the final straw that prompted me to craft this text: “I feel like we are looking for very different things and I don’t want to waste your limited time. I know you’re busy, which is why you obviously want something low maintenance, but I’m unfortunately the opposite. We all have our priorities and sometimes they just don’t mesh. Have fun exploring Portland.”

In true friendzone fashion, he replied: “You don’t want to hang out at all? Just goodbye?” to which I replied, “Well, hanging out is pretty much all we have been doing and clearly it isn’t working for me.”

His final words? “You can never have enough friends or fun.”

True, Garbage Man. That’s very true. Unfortunately having your Tinder heart crushed in the dumpster is the opposite of the Webster Dictionary definition of fun.

Thanks for ruining my Valentine’s Day, asshole.

The Bro: A simultaneous 10/10 would date & 0/10 did not want to date me.
The Bar: 9/10, turn your goddamn music down.

Update: His roommate who tagged along on 50% of our dates texted me 6 days later and asked me out. Life is anything but predictable.

Second update: I texted him. Read about it here.


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