It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Life has been a whirlwind and I recently took a brief hiatus from dating. It felt good to be out of the game. I spent the weekends with friends, not worrying about dates. I spent my evenings cooking and reading, not furiously responding to matches. It was a great refresher!
But now I’m back.
One of my first matches when I logged back into Bumble was The Bro Next Door. First of all – what’s Bumble? It’s a similar swiping app to Tinder, but the only difference is that the women must message the men first! Its marketed for “independent women” but guys love it because they get to be lazy – they can endlessly swipe right and have all of their matches do the hard job of sending the first message. I’ve had it for awhile, but I never used it as much as Tinder. I found the men to be unresponsive and the user interface is very glitchy. But, it is a great alternative for when you run out of swipes on Tinder.
It was one of my first nights back in the game when I came across him. I’ll admit, his default photo was good. The kind that makes you actually stop to read his bio. The Bro Next Door (TBND) was a rare mix of Middle Eastern hipster and bro. Typically most men are easy to categorize and nickname, but he was different. He didn’t have any strange qualities to easily make a nickname out of. He was average, but he did possess a genuine charm. He was a sweetheart. The kind of guy you’d live next to your entire life and never notice until your best friend pointed out how cute he was.
His first photo was a professional portrait of him smiling outside with the standard Portland uniform of a button down, thick glasses, and beard. I don’t normally go for beards (I have enough razor burn already, thanks) but his was very well groomed and suited him. I was into it.
I swiped over to his second photo and… whoa. Was this the same person? Sometimes friends have joint accounts for threesomes, is that what’s happening? My sweet Whole Foods Hipster had transformed into a tank top wearing, iron pumping, selfie taking Gym Bro. Better yet, this photo had a Snapchat caption plastered across it – “Sunday Fun Run.” It had all the douchey aspects and none of the guilty pleasures (read: sweaty man bod in clingy gym clothes) since it was only a selfie. So strange. So bro.
There was one final photo – a group shot of him and a buddy standing in the street during a night out. He was wearing all black so it didn’t give a good indication of fashion sense. He was definitely cuter than his friend (maybe that’s the point?) but it didn’t really sway my opinion one way or the other. His bio was average. It had a quick quip about Parks and Rec and then listed all of the average interests (movies, podcasts, alcohol, friends.) Nothing really motivated me to talk to this guy, but my dating resolution was to be more open minded, so unless he was married or into weird sex stuff, I was going to swipe right.
We matched and I sent a quick message about us both being from the midwest/east coast. He replied. I took a day to reply. He took a day to reply. I forgot to reply. He messaged me again. Our boring 10 message exchange took a week. Each time I checked Bumble, I would have to take another peek at his profile to remind myself who I was talking to. Long story short: I wasn’t into The Bro Next Door. Our conversation was boring.
But then, he asked me out. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I agreed.
And then it got weird.
He asked if Saturday worked, but I had made tentative plans with my friends (who always flake, anyway) so I explained this and included the flirty “I might be able to change my plans if you give a convincing argument!” His reply? “Depends on how much fun you want to have.” Criiiiiiiinge. I realized he was more Bro than Hipster and I had made a terrible mistake. I decided to see how deep the rabbit hole would go.
We agreed on drinks at Americano on Saturday at … 9pm!? I hit the brakes. I explained how that time + his previous comment were pretty suggestive and I didn’t want him to have the wrong idea about this date. Instead of the typical bro move where he shifts the blame to me i.e. “Clearly you’re the only one thinking about sex here HAHA” or “Whoa whoa, calm down you’re too uptight, bae,” he respectfully acknowledged how it could seem suggestive and then explained what he actually meant like a true gentleman. It immediately cleared everything up and we planned to meet at Americano at 9pm. Is this what it feels like to be an adult?
Americano was recently rated one of the best new bars in Portland. It is in the new Burnside 26 building – yeah, that one. Once you get over the hate-mongering that surrounds all new-builds, the spot is actually pretty cool. It functions as a cafe during the day and a bar at night. It has big windows and there always seems to be people walking in and out. I’ve driven by it a million times and never had a chance to go (well, except for that failed date with the PokemonBro.) I was excited to finally check it out.
On Saturday, I met some friends for errands and then came home and napped. I woke up at 8pm and immediately wanted to cancel. It was dark and cold outside and I had no motivation to get dressed and meet someone for an hour of forced conversation. We had barely talked. Nothing about it was interesting. He wasn’t even my type (tall, Jewish, big mouth – you know the drill.) But I’m no flake, so I threw together a dismal outfit and chalked on some makeup. I remember looking in the mirror and realizing my eyebrows were too dark and my lipstick was the wrong shade. I didn’t care. I had no one to impress. I headed out the door.
I approached Americano at 9:00 and could tell he wasn’t inside (finally, a use for floor to ceiling windows!) so I waited outside the door. I saw TBND approaching from a distance. He was cuter than his photos! He wasn’t very tall, though. Maybe around 5’10”. He had a confident walk and quickly said, “Hi! Are you Ms. BrosandBooze?” (not really, he used my name, but that nickname would be great and I encourage all of my readers to address me by that title). We hugged. He didn’t smell like anything. I always judge a guy by his scent and I was at a loss. Was he clean? Dirty? Old Spice? Armani? I had nothing to judge!
It was a typical greeting with no red flags or disappointment… but one thing stood out that sealed his fate: he wore short shorts.
Some people like feet. Some people like dressing up like babies. I like thighs. I sometimes regret not living in a coastal college town where, each spring, frat bros shed their winter layers and flaunt their Chubbies. Short shorts combined with Manspreading is basically my wet dream. To each her own.
The Bro Pros
Handsome – SO handsome!
Confident, but not arrogant. A subtle self-awareness
Well dressed, thighs on display
No awkward silences, always has something to contribute
Hates to bike just like me!
Well educated, ambitious
Nerdy enough to be on reddit
Cool enough to like frat rap
Sophisticated enough to have an iPhone
KNOWS HOODIE ALLEN MUSIC
He has roots and I have an interest in the Middle East
Already has a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card – impressed I noticed
Lives in a nearby neighborhood, values the area
Has the same workout schedule
Meal preps on Sundays just like me!
Didn’t ask me to repeat myself constantly (apparently my voice is a difficult octave to hear – my fault, I guess)
We grabbed seats at the bar and I surveyed the room. It was dimly lit and the interior was modern, but comfortable. There were several traditional tables around the perimeter and a small lounge section with a couch. He ordered a red wine and I tried to order a white that was described as tasting like the “mountain breeze” but they were out. So I chose a sparkling white. The bartender was a little gruff and all but mocked us for not pronouncing them correctly. We bonded in feeling like idiots.
Our conversation flowed easily and we were quickly talking about the basics: our jobs, travels, hobbies. No red flags yet! We ordered another round. I noticed how intense his gaze was. I like to think that I can hold pretty steady eye contact, but he put me to shame. I felt like he was peering into my soul… and I liked it.
As he talked about his life, I felt inspired. He does so much! He has an amazing job, works out every day, builds apps on the side just for fun, and now he’s taking a comedy class! The final exam is doing stand up in front of a real audience. Coming from someone who prefers to make her jokes anonymously behind a keyboard after hours of editing – I find that terrifying! Instead of feeling annoyed that I am no where near as cool as this guy, I felt inspired. I shared my secret “30×30” list of the 30 things I want to accomplish by the time I’m 30. He’s already done half of them and he’s only a year older.
He asked if I wanted to grab another drink at a bar down the street called Angel Face. I agreed and our bill came. I pulled out my wallet and…. he didn’t stop me. We split it down the middle like an old married couple from the Netherlands.
The Bar Pros
Great location on Burnside
Awesome interior decor – very modern and trendy
Perfect music volume for conversation
There were other customers, but plenty of room so no one could eavesdrop
Long wine and cocktail menu!
The Bar Cons
Not-so-friendly bartender who, undoubtedly, was listening to our date
Street parking which is tough during peak hours
A little too empty, could be a better happy hour bar
Has the same “fake” feeling as hotel bars
Every ounce as pretentious as Burnside 26 building
We walked to Angel Face and he didn’t reach for my hand. In fact, he hadn’t even touched me yet. No arm grazing or knee caressing. Was he just shy? Nervous? He came off as so confident. He had to be interested, right? I did appreciate how respectful he was. Some guys assume they can grope you after one drink!
We ordered at Angel Face. It was quite loud and there was a rowdy group nearby, so we quickly drank and asked for the bill. Again… I pulled out my wallet… and he said nothing. Down the middle it went. As we were getting ready to go, he was fidgeting. I could tell he was nervously about to ask me something. “Hey, so I know we had that whole conversation about tonight not being suggestive, but I’m really enjoying talking to you. I live nearby, do you want to come by and just hang out?”
I was having some serious inner turmoil. Going home with a guy means one thing. I’ve never heard a story that goes: “We headed back to his place and one thing led to another… and we ended up making a great Tombstone pizza and looking at funny memes! Best date ever!” We all speak English, we can all read between the lines. I didn’t want to say yes, end up at his place, and then have to say no. That’s awkward and pretty dangerous. But I honestly was having one of the best dates of my life and I didn’t want it to end.
This mental debate took about .00004 seconds before I said, “Yeah, that sounds great! Do you have a cat?” (The answer was no.)
We held hands as we walked back to his apartment. He truly was The Bro Next Door. Not only did it feel like I had known him for years, but we lived one neighborhood away from each other! Even though he’s around my same height, he has a fit build and strong hands. Holding hands was nice, but his apartment was nicer. It has a FIRE PIT!
We sat on the couch and drank wine and listened to music. We talked about our families, our routines, and our favorite weekend recipes. I secretly enjoyed observing the slow transformation of our seating positions. First, we were about a foot away from each other. Then he leaned his knee against mine. Then I readjusted and scooted closer with my arm against his. Then he stretched and put his arm around me. I don’t remember what he said or what song was playing, but he leaned over and kissed me. I do remember being shocked how soft his beard was. Not prickly at all! It was great. That man uses some prime grooming products. He did say, “So, absolutely no pressure, but we could move upstairs if you want.” I declined and he didn’t try to convince me or guilt me into it. He simply said, “Okay, that’s fine. This is perfect anyway,” as he snuggled me closer. Swoon.
The only uh-oh moment came when he repeatedly brought up past relationships and online dating. I didn’t ask a single question about them, but he provided the information that he was in a long term relationship in college. She was supposed to move to Portland with him and then bailed. He was also in a relationship with a woman several years older and that didn’t work out for obvious reasons. He also talked about other Tinder/Okcupid/Bumble dates that he had EARLIER THAT WEEK. He was sure to say that I was the best date he’s had in awhile, but I took that with a grain of salt.
The Bro Cons
DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THAT MEN SHOULD PAY!
A couple minutes late to the date
(later reveled it was because he was walking on the sidewalk
as I got out of my car, so he stopped so he wouldn’t be walking
directly behind me!)
Talked about previous relationships and dates – duh, that’s a no-no
Clearly heavy in the dating scene. Multiple sites, multiple dates/week
Does Crossfit… likes to talk about it
His apartment was nice, but not tidy. Food boxes on the counter, dust, etc.
Not the best at texting. Takes a couple hours to get a reply – and he has read receipts on?
Talks about how busy he is and has no time for his hobbies. How are you going to date someone, then?!
After a couple hours and several kisses later, we were cuddling and he said, “Oh no. Don’t look at the time.” “Why, is it like 3am?” “Try 4:30.”
We had stayed up until 4:30am just talking and making out on the couch (with one brief interruption when his roommate came home. Throwback to feelings of getting caught by parents) and it was the best date ever. He walked me to my car and I drove home.
I always feel ecstatic after dates. Unless something horrific happened, I always think they went well. I blame alcohol for the euphoria. It isn’t until the next morning when I realize we didn’t actually have much in common and he spent a third of the date on his phone. Then the excitement fades and we mutually ghost. But on Sunday morning, I woke up with just as many butterflies as when I went to bed. He texted me later that day reaffirming that he felt the same way. We don’t yet have a second date lined up, but it’s in the works.
I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again. Expectations kill dates faster than any personality flaw. If you expect your date to have graduated from Harvard but he only went to Princeton, you’ll be crushed. But if you expect to meet a truck stop creeper and have a great story to tell your friends at brunch, you’ll be thrilled he went to an Ivy. It’s all about perspective.
Sometimes you have to dim the lights in order to see the flame.
(Holy shit, that’s good, can I trademark that?)
The Bro: 9/10. I can live with going dutch, I can live with a dirty apartment, but STFU about your dating life and let me think I’m the only one!
The Bar: 7/10. The vibe was good for a date, but the drinks were pricey and service was snobby.
Update: I went on a second date with The Bro Next Door! Read about it here!