Swipe Right

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This story starts with a phone call from my good friend Luke.

“What are you doing tonight?” he asked. “Please say you’re not busy…” Luke doesn’t say this to me very often, but when he does, it means one of two things: either he’s desperate for someone to cover his shift, or he’s doing something really fun and wants to include me. Normally I’d tell Luke that I wasn’t sure what my plans were for the evening – “There’s a few moving parts and I’m not exactly sure what my evening looks like,” I would say. I do this so in case he asks me to do something I don’t want to do, I have an out. But I was feeling rather optimistic in that moment, so I responded: “I’m free, dude. What’s up?”

Worst mistake ever.

“I’m going on a date with this girl. She’s gorgeous, man. I need you to come with me.”

“I don’t think that’s how a date works, Luke.”

I could almost hear Luke’s eyes rolling at my smartass remark. “Here’s the thing,” he started, “I met her on Tinder. We started chatting a bit here and there and I asked her out on a date. She wants to go, obviously, but she said she doesn’t know how comfortable she is meeting up with a guy that she just met on Tinder.”

“Then why does she have a Tinder account in the first place?”

“That’s not important, Blake.”

I completely disagreed, but I humored him. “Then what’re you asking me here?”

“I need to go on a date tonight but she insists that we each bring a friend – you know, make it a double date just so she feels more comfortable. That’s why I called you. Be my wingman?”

To be fair, it sounded fun. I like dates. Who doesn’t? Plus, I was flattered that Luke wanted me of all people to be his wingman. Good wingmen are hard to come by, I know this first-hand. So I agreed to Goose his Maverick and wingman the shit out of him that night. He thanked me, gave me the details on where to meet, and left me with these words: “I owe you one, dude.” If I had known how the night was going to turn out, I would’ve told him that he owed me like 5 or 6.

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The evening rolled around and I began my pre-shower poop. In the spirit of the night, I decided to go on Tinder.  For those of you unfamiliar with how this “gem” of an app works, Marie Claire describes it pretty well.

First girl came up and I swiped LEFT. Second came around, I swiped LEFT. The third, fourth, and fifth came up – and to all, I swiped LEFT. I’m very picky when it comes to Tinder because I can afford to be. People don’t know if I’m swiping them left, so why settle?

Girl doing some sorority pose: meh, swipe LEFT. Girl on horseback: really beautiful horse, but I dated an equestrian once and that’s when I found out I was allergic to horses, but that’s a story for another time – swipe LEFT. Girl in a sundress: whoa. Gorgeous. I looked at her other pictures to confirm. Yep. She’s stunning. Smile, hair, and a memorable tagline – she’s got it all and I’m into it. Swipe RIGHT – a match! I smiled. I decided to stop there and end on a good note. I’ll come back to you later, sundress woman…

I arrive at the sushi restaurant feeling pretty excited about the night. I was excited about the date, sure, but I was more excited by the fact that I didn’t have to sit at home all night. Had it not been for a last-minute wingman call, I would have probably ended up at home watching Netflix sharing a six-pack with myself.

I spot Luke standing with two girls outside the restaurant. He’s dressed well, clean-shaven, and I can smell his cologne from a few feet away. He must really be into this girl. “There you are!” Luke turns to greet me and then immediately introduces me to the girls. He calls over his date: “Amanda, come meet Blake.” And she turns around to shake my hand when I notice her smile… fuck. It’s the girl in the sundress.

She shakes my hand, and I try to play it off like we didn’t get a match a few hours ago. “I’m Amanda,” she says. And I wonder if she recognizes me. I can’t tell – she’s acting so naturally. Or is she acting at all? When was the last time she went on Tinder? Does she know that we’re a match? Does she even remember swiping RIGHT on me? Jesus Christ this is uncomfortable. “And this is my friend, Danielle.”   She introduces me to her friend – cute in her own way but far from my type. I smile pleasantly at her as she shakes my hand. She doesn’t seem all that excited to be here. In fact she looks like a deer in headlights – like she was scared of me or something. I ignore it.

The night goes on and, I have to admit, everything went surprisingly well. The sushi was great, the sake bombs were better, and Luke seemed to be having the time of his life. I was happy for him – Amanda seemed to be having a great time too. But I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that something was off with Danielle. I tried making small talk with her, and she seemed frustrated by it. She seemed shy and a little guarded, so I decided to do most of the talking. I didn’t mind, because I can talk about anything and everything, especially after a few drinks, but Danielle just kept averting her attention away from me. She would avoid eye-contact, fiddle with her drink, and continually try to weasel her way into Luke and Amanda’s conversation – something that I could tell was frustrating Luke. I decide that now is a good time to be a wingman: “Danielle, come to the bar with me. Let’s get a drink.” Danielle looks to Amanda for verification, and Amanda nods: green light.

Danielle and I get to the bar and I order us some drinks. We were only coming up on maybe our third or fourth round, but for whatever reason, I felt like I was approaching the back nine. “They seem to be having a pretty good time, don’t they?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“I don’t know about Amanda but Luke’s pretty smitten. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him like this.”

“Yeah, Amanda seems happy to be here.” She seemed to be implying something with her tone. It was the way she said her name – “Amanda.” The gears in my head started turning. Maybe Amanda did remember me from Tinder. And maybe she told Danielle about how me and her were a match and now Danielle feels left out. She’s not having a good time. I can tell.  And now I’m gonna look like the asshole in this situation because I’m Danielle’s date and I’m supposed to make sure she has a good time. God this shit is exhausting.

I go for the empathetic approach: “Hey, you and me are in the same boat. I know you probably got roped into this date thing against your will. I did too.” That’ll get her to open up. And it did, but not in the way that I had hoped.

“You don’t recognize me at all, do you…?” I froze. I shot my sake. I ordered another.

“I don’t think so.”

“God, all you guys are the same. You’re all so superficial.”

Now I’m offended. Who does this Danielle chick think she is anyway? First she’s gonna be a negative-Nancy humdrum piece of shit date, and now she’s going to blame the “bad night” on me? Oh hell no. “Well that’s a little rude, Danielle.”

“No, you’re the rude one. How could you not remember me? We were a Tinder match in November and I started a chat with you but you didn’t reply.”

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I’ll be honest, I thought she was bluffing. There’s no way she could remember some Tinder match from four months ago, by that point I had already forgot the first sushi roll I ordered. I was cornered. I had to say something, but nothing felt like the right thing to say. “I’m sorry,” I said. Pathetic.

“No you’re not,” she replied. “All you guys do is just look at our pictures and judge us by our looks. And you might think we’re attractive for a second, but the moment a more attractive girl rolls around, we become nothing. Forgettable. You’re so shallow.”

I couldn’t help but giggle at the irony of her little schpiel. And for a moment, it reminded me of that story about the two fat ladies who sued McDonald’s for making them fat. “You can’t eat Big Macs every day and then get mad at McDonald’s for making you fat.”

“Are you calling me fat?”

“No. It was an analogy. Also, I think I’m drunk.”

“Are you serious? You’ve had like 3 drinks.”

She was right, it wasn’t much, but I still felt like I was going to throw up. “Excuse me, Nancy.” I said. I don’t know why I called her Nancy.

I made it to bathroom just in time to yak, but not in time to get it in the toilet. I puked in the urinal. It wasn’t my proudest moment. I felt so ashamed. I locked eyes with the powder-blue urinal cake which was now covered in pieces of a rainbow roll. Some of the once-drank sake had made it onto my shirt and there was regurgitated soy sauce everywhere – I had turned that urinal into a Jackson Pollack painting. It was maybe one of the lowest moments of my adult life, and it was still better than talking to Danielle.

After throwing up, I felt better… but only for a moment. Suddenly I felt sick again, but this time, I wasn’t sure whether to kneel before the throne or sit on it. I wasn’t drunk, I had food poisoning. So by this point, I’m on the toilet for the second time that day and it’s much less pleasant this time. Luke comes into the bathroom: “You okay, dude?”

“Nope. Take me home, I’m Jackson Pollack.”

Luke stifled a snicker because he thought I was hammered. “Sure thing, buddy. I’ll be waiting in the car outside. Hang in there.”

God, he’s such a good wingman.

In the final moments of my diarrheic episode, I did the one thing I knew would temporarily ease the pain: I pulled out my phone and opened up Tinder. But this time, I didn’t swipe LEFT or RIGHT – I deleted the app. Tinder ruined my life. I hated it. And I hated Danielle too.

There was too much drama – too much assuming and unassuming and not enough organic interaction. The only reason I made it to that sushi place was because a photo of some girl stimulated Luke’s libido. And the only reason I made it out of that sushi place was because I managed to stop puking and shitting for like 3 minutes and make it outside to the car.

It was a really bad drive home. I made an ass out of myself in front of the cute sundress girl, I pissed off Danielle, I was a horrible wingman to Luke, and my iPod died so I had to listen to the radio. Nothing went according to plan. “I’m sorry for ruining your night with Amanda,” I said.

“I should be thanking you. She was so boring, man. Not an interesting thing about her aside from her smile.”

I chuckled. He could’ve just been saying that to not hurt my feelings, but Luke’s too honest. He meant it. I guessed we all learned something that night.

I never found out what happened to Amanda or Danielle or the unfortunate soul who had to clean the bathroom of that god-forsaken sushi restaurant, but I did learn a valuable lesson: in real life, you can’t swipe left.

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