The Tinder Regular :: Hamlet

This fictional scenario has happened more times than I can remember: I’m at the grocery store on an overcast afternoon, just picking up a few ingredients for dinner. The selection of avocados is dismal and I’m in the middle of administering the squeeze test when I notice him bagging mushrooms. He’s familiar. I know him… but I don’t know how I know him. I can’t remember ever talking to him, but I inexplicably know his hometown and alma mater. Is he friends with my roommate? Did I meet him at work? Is he a barista at my favorite cafe? Then it hits me. He’s a dating app regular – one of the people you constantly see across all dating platforms, match with, and then never speak to. I immediately bag 3 underripe avocados and GTFO of the store, hoping he didn’t notice me. In my car, I contemplate a witty tweet about the logical use of dating apps to meet people you eventually avoid, but no one uses Twitter, so I let it go… until next week when I run into a different regular at the laundromat. Rinse and repeat.

The downside of swiping apps like Tinder and Bumble is that everyone seems to cycle through. Even if I have already dismissed a profile, it will inevitably end up in my queue in another month or two. It could be the result of men desperately deleting and reactivating their profiles… or it could be a conscious decision of the app developers to keep the pool of profiles seemingly bottomless. Regardless, it is annoying. Not only do I have to see the same guys recycled on Tinder every couple of months, but I also have to see them on Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, etc. There’s a solid group of 30 men that I see cycle through on a 2-week rotation. Most of them I’ve never spoken to because I’m just not interested, but there are a few I still think are attractive and I always swipe right. Each time, we have a brief interaction that never gets past “How are you?”

As with tradition, when the Tinder Regular popped up on my Tinder queue, I immediately swiped right. A couple minutes later, it was a match and I received a message from him that said, “I’m pretty sure this is the millionth time we matched up on random apps.”

I replied with, “Maybe that means we need to meet up for a drink!” I wasn’t in the mood to have another dead-end conversation. I was still in a depressed “FUCK DATING!” phase which I coped with by going on as many dates as possible. Quantity over quality. There’s logic, right there.

As Aziz Ansari so wisely observed, most matches fizzle out during the planning stage. There’s nothing sexy about comparing schedule. But just look at this exchange…

The Tinder Regular: Alright. Let’s get a drink.
But my guard is up! This isn’t the girl I know
and swipe right at. I was expecting at least
another 4 or 5 match attempts.

Me: Then it’s settled. This must be… fate.

The Tinder Regular: Let’s go on a… date!

Me: When? You’d better not
make me… wait.

The Tinder Regular: I’m free on Thursday
or Saturday at… Eight.

Me: How about after work on Thursday?
Happy hour is pretty… great.

The Tinder Regular: Perhaps 8 was an… overestimate.
What part of town do you… populate?

Me: The east side is definitely
where I like to… hydrate.

The Tinder Regular: Hmm, not many bars with happy hour
that end at 7 unless I… miscalculate.

Me: I usually try to go somewhere new
(author’s note: I DO IT FOR THIS BLOG. FOR YOU!)
that way if it sucks, we can… commiserate.

The Tinder Regular: I’m starting to struggle with
rhymes and writing is hard to… articulate.
You can say… checkmate.

How freaking cute is that? If we had simply planned to meet in a normal manner, I would have been 30% excited to go on this date. After this exchange, I was at a fast 90%. We eventually decided on Hamlet, a newish cocktail bar downtown that focuses on high quality meat.

The Bro Pros
Clearly so witty, intelligent, and engaging
TALL. ~ 6’3″
Half Korean, half white. That beautifully ambiguous genetic mix.
So much confidence and $wagger
Conversation was effortless

We have the same work/life values
Fred Perry shirt. Raw, cuffed denim. Leather shoes. Unf.
Big mouth, puffy lips… yaaaas

I firmly believe that knowledge is power. Why would I waste my time and calories on a date, just to realize he has a kid and smokes a pack a day? So I usually get reconnaissance on anyone I am about to meet. Not having a last name makes it a bit difficult to Facebook stalk, but it’s shocking how useful the Facebook search query “People named [insert name] who went to [insert school] and live in Portland, Oregon” is. Most of us are transplants who went to school elsewhere, so usually there are only a few results. Except… this time there were none. He was a ghost. I tried everything – LinkedIn, Instagram, looking at his photos for shirts with logos that might indicate an employer. EVERYTHING!

That’s why I resorted to plan b… the phone number.

I typically don’t give out my phone number until after a successful first date. That way, if it is horrible, ending communication is as easy as clicking “unmatch.” After the Tinder Regular and I planned our date, I bit the bullet and offered up my number in hopes he would give me his so I could perform the fool-proof Facebook phone number search. He didn’t.

Two days passed and I still hadn’t heard anything. I started to panic. I was excited about meeting him, so the prospect of being cancelled on was a real threat. Our date was in 2 hours, so I sent him a Tinder message saying, “Hey, just checking that we are still on for tonight!” He replied and said, “Yeah! I’ll be there!” But he still didn’t give me his number, so I said, “Great, text me when you’re there!” If all else failed, I could always do a quick Facebook search from my car. (As I’m writing this, I realize how insane it sounds. Even if I found something horrible – like a recently ended relationship with a Sassy’s dancer – I am not cruel enough to bail, so what’s the point? Deep down, I think I like to self-sabotage and look for reasons not to date someone. It’s always THEM, not ME! #honestyhour)

Compulsive stalking aside, this is where the story gets cray. He replied, “I did try texting you a couple days ago and never heard back.” I didn’t receive anything! I apologized profusely and figured it must be something to do with a recent coffee spill incident. He said, “I just sent you another!” …. still nothing. I triple checked my phone number and he verified he had it correct.

On a whim, I checked my list of blocked callers… and there was his number.

I knew we had matched before, but I was fairly certain we had never gone on a date. Even if we exchanged numbers, why would I block it? I rarely block people. Did he do something creepy and I have mentally blocked it out? Maybe it was an old telemarketer number and he recently got a new Portland number and they recycled it? I immediately searched the number he gave me on Facebook and it came up with one result – a profile with no photo and a totally different name. Was I being catfished?!

I was at work when this happened, so I called an emergency meeting and consulted my coworkers. They shrugged it off and said, “Just ask him.” What?! That is way too simple and not nearly dramatic enough, but I didn’t have time for strategic planning. The date was only an hour away. I explained everything to him. He responded with…

“I was pretty serious when I said we matched a million times. We exchanged numbers and after one or two messages, we stopped talking. Feel free to bail. I’m not out to humilate [sic] anybody out. Figured I should take a chance after we matched again.”

I immediately felt horrible. I assured him I had no intention of bailing and said we could get to the bottom of this over a couple drinks. In retrospect, it isn’t really a big deal. I’m sure I’ve matched with most of the Portland metro area, but at the time, it felt pretty cringey and I definitely showed up to the date drunk with humility.

Hamlet is located in that tricky area of the Pearl where it feels like you’re driving through a back alley. There’s absolutely no parking and circling the block takes 50x longer than it should because you constantly have to stop to let fuccboi investment bankers and corporate Nike employees cross the street with their yap dogs. I luckily found a spot directly in front of Hamlet and had a good 20 minutes to pregame. I usually only bring 10oz of wine, but I had a heavy hand and brought a good 15oz. He texted me to say he was running late. Lame, but I don’t have much room to complain. Can you imagine going on a first date with someone who has previously ghosted you? I needed to be on my best behavior. I finished my wine and felt great.

My music was blasting and I was sending out some final Snaps when my phone froze. It’s the type of freeze that only lasts 2 seconds, but you know it’s bad because it always precedes an incoming call. Why was he calling me?! I don’t even call my parents. Calls are my worst nightmare. I briefly considered ignoring it, but that would be even more awkward. I tried to turn my music down, but since my phone connects to my car via bluetooth, it wouldn’t let me. I answered and said “Hi!” (because wtf else do you say?! stop calling me!!) and his voice immediately filled my car because of the goddamn bluetooth. I was so overwhelmed by the loud music and the call and the echo of his voice in my car, I honestly don’t know what he said. I responded with an awkward, “Ahhh.. I’m parked… uhhh.. are you there?!” He said “I’m walking up now! See you soon!”

WHY DID THAT NECESSITATE A CALL?! Men, take note, NEVER CALL A WOMAN unless she is your wife and you are dying and need to tell her you love her one final time. Actually, a hand written note might be better and can easily be scrapbooked for the funeral… SO JUST NEVER CALL.

I walk into the bar and he’s at the counter. Damn. Men always look better in real life and it is just the greatest thing. His outfit was on point. His hair was well styled. He even smelled like the GQ Headquarters lobby (maybe). I was enamored. I spent more time looking at him than checking out the bar!

The Bar Pros
Gorgeous design. Copper tables!
Not at all crowded, only 6 people there
Happy hour until 7pm!
Very romantic atmosphere for a date

The Bar Cons
Tables were very unstable and rickety
Shrubs on the table kept vibrating as the table wobbled…
They not-so-subtly dimmed the lights every 30 minutes
Expensive ass cocktails, so I stuck with beer
Only 4 beer options….
The clientele was mostly middle aged couples 

We grabbed a booth and I could tell he was nervous. He was a little fidgety but he had this shy, coy smile that made my heart melt. We had a bit of typical first date conversation, but it was charming and didn’t feel like the first-date interview. We talked about OkCupid and he remembered my username and all of these bits I had in my profile. I haven’t had an OkCupid in a very long time – at least 8 months, maybe longer, so that’s impressive.

Somehow we ended up on the topic of surgery and he revealed that his roommate just had to have half of his testicle removed so he’s been taking care of him. I said, “Oh wow, I’m sorry! That’s horrible.” He laughed and said, “It’s not like it was cancer or anything. He’s a giant slut and got gonorrhea and then it turned into epididymitis. He deserved it!”

Well, this Tinder Regular certainly isn’t shy about bringing up risky topics. He quickly followed it up by telling me he teaches boxing to underprivileged teens, so a lot of the time, he’s their only source for sex education. He joked and said, “Yeah, we always tease them and give them important life lessons like how you should always jack off before a big date.”

I am usually not a very open person. Growing up in a conservative family in the south, I learned that talking about sex is not very couth. On any other date, I would have giggled while thinking, “what the fuck?” and then quickly changed the subject, but I was comfortable with my Tinder Regular. We bantered back and forth and I don’t think there was a single awkward moment.

We ordered another round and he revealed he had been drinking with his coworkers before he came. Makes sense! His texting typos were not the result of laziness. He actually made a pretty big deal about his prior plans – “I was drinking with some buddies, so if you canceled, it would have been fine! It’s not like my night would have been ruined. I wasn’t totally counting on coming.” Weird thing to say, buddy.

I gave him a hard time about calling me and he revealed he HATES technology. He barely uses Facebook, he never texts, and generally tries to spend as little time on his phone as possible. Admirable, I guess? He said he talks to his parents on the phone all the time. I revealed that I email my dad, but haven’t talked to him on the phone in over a year. He was floored. I said my dad left me a voicemail the other night because he was bored and lonely on a business trip and I had forgotten to respond to it. We were both pretty tipsy, so he challenged me to call my dad back… immediately. “I wanna talk to your pops!” he said.  I called, but there was no answer. I left a very awkward voicemail and the Regular chimed in a couple of times. Afterward, he said “I bet you made his night! I’m really proud of you for doing that.” First date and he’s already making me a better person.

He mentioned that he is working full time as an accountant for a pretty big company and is also in school for his MBA and wants to become a CPA. While I do have passionate associations about certain careers (UI developer? Software engineer? Jewish preschool teacher? Yes, please. B2B Sales? Investment banker? Anything artistic? Get outta here!) I don’t have any guttural reaction to accountants.

We started talking about taxes and saving money and he said, “I just don’t know how people don’t have money management skills.” I said, “I know! Almost everyone I know is living month to month and I could never.” He paused and said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I can’t imagine only having enough money to get me through until next month. What if something happens?” He started to backpedal and said, “Well, I mean… if my roommate couldn’t make rent, I could always pay a month ahead, but other than that… I don’t have a giant savings. I just know how to allocate my money each month. A certain amount goes to rent, school, fun, and that’s it. I don’t have all this extra to throw around. I guess I do live month to month, then.”

I know I joke around about money a lot, but financial responsibility is one of my biggest values. I’ve worked hard to build a fairly substantial savings and I contribute to my 401k and IRA monthly. I know I will never need to depend on someone else financially, but I also don’t want someone to depend on me. I’m not attracted to wealth insomuch as I am attracted to the responsibility and hard work that it took to accrue it. Maybe that makes me a gold digger, maybe not. All I’m saying is that I don’t want no scrubs.

The Bro Cons
Lives in outer SE – month to month
Has two douchebag roommates
Answered a phone call from roommate DURING the date
Really into knee squeezes. Not the most natural gesture.
Seems to have a very busy schedule with work, school, and boxing
Who doesn’t use social media?!?

I tried to ease his discomfort and joked, “Clearly you’re doing fine if you can afford to binge drink on a Thursday night!” He perked up and said, “I want to hear more about your trip to Korea!” Then, in a moment I can only explain as pure Alpha dominance, he stood up and moved to my side of the table and sat down on the booth next to me. “Is this weird?” he asked. I smiled and said, “no, this is great because you smell incredible!” He laughed and put his arm around me.

He mentioned having to wake up early and I said, “I bet I have you beat!” and showed him my alarm for 5:45am. He told me he wakes up at 5:00 to go to the gym to train boxing before work… and then goes back after work to teach the kids. I have only seen his body clothed, but let me say, boxing agrees with him. Damn.

The check came and I reached for my wallet in my purse. Nothing. I pulled it out and unzipped it. Nothing. I slid my card out. Nothing. The waitress came and asked, “How do you want it split?” and he said, “By what we ordered, please.” Really??

I think the overarching theme of this blog is my disappointment when men don’t pay for my drinks.

He walked me to my car and we made out in the street. There’s nothing that makes me feel younger than making out in the street. It’s so reckless and fun and Hollywood. I highly recommend it.

The only issue?

It wasn’t a very good kiss. It’s pretty impossible to describe what makes a good or bad kiss. It all depends on the chemistry and how you play off of each other. It wasn’t BAD, but it wasn’t amazing. He was preeeetty drunk, so I figured that must be it. Everything else was on key – hand placement, not falling over, duration. Great date, mediocre make out… still a win.

We had joked earlier about going to a karaoke night that my friends were planning. After I left, he sent me a text saying, “I had fun tonight. Let’s hang out again. We can be horrible karaoke’rs.” We immediately set a date for Saturday… a mere 48 hours later.

But that’s a blog for next time. In the mean time, go talk to that guy from the produce section. He swiped right for a reason.

The Bro: 8/10. Docked two points for the meh make out and not paying.
The Bar: 7/10. Go for a happy hour date. Don’t expect great beer. Classy AF.

Update: He asked me out for a second date! Read the post here.

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