With a profile that included the term “anarcho-primitivism” I felt safe assuming it was a joke…
The story of my first experience with Tinder obviously started before the date. According to the internet, I swiped “like a girl,” which is to say, very selectively. Now, I don’t know about where you’re from, but I feel safe in assuming that there are people everywhere who try to have as broad and neutral an appeal as possible. Those folks don’t cut it for me. I tried something different: I went for people who seemed crazy in their funny.
And that’s how things really got started for me.
But like all things, this was a learning experience. So here’s lesson one:
One of the first things she asked me after we had already agreed to meet was if I was over 21. I was 24 at the time. I remember tilting my head at my phone as I responded, as though that would somehow be conveyed. Yes, I was, 24. Her response was that she was only getting used to being actually 21 and not having to be cautious about where she went to get a drink anymore. It was all so new to her, seeing as it had been 3 months, max, since she became “legal.”
After that conversation, which was taking place after the time we had originally designated to meet, I remember immediately going into the settings section and changing my age range to 23+ to create a safe buffer from what craziness I could. That was my first lesson.
We had agreed to meet only a few blocks from where I was staying, so I wasn’t particularly upset by the change in plans. I spent the rest of the day reading in a park with a fountain while she and I intermittently hashed out plans to salvage the day and go out in the evening instead. Looking back, lesson two maybe should have been “don’t schedule to meet strangers mid-day, because you’ll feel like it’s harder to leave whenever you want” but I didn’t learn that lesson til my next Tinder experience.
The park was great. In fact, the best moment of that day was before the date even happened, when I sat listening to the best street preacher I had ever met.
He was recounting the biblical tale of Naomi. But he wasn’t just reading the scripture into a megaphone, no. He was paraphrasing, with commentary. It was inspiring.
He said things like “So, uhh. So Naomi is with– shes this lady and she’s with her husband Elime– Emil– Emmie– I’m not gonna even try to pronounce that, sorry guys. Shes’s with her husband and then God gets mad or something and…”
He trailed off into an interesting tangent. “You know, these copies, of the bible,” he starts, waving his copy from what he said was 1976 Library of Congress press “These copies are hard to find. In fact, the government doesn’t want to let me have them, but there’s a lot of things they don’t want. They don’t want me spreading the word either. They send drones after me all the time, but nothing works, because every time they send a drone, God kills the pilot.”
There’s a pause as he looks over his irreverent flock of park-goers. “So anyway, God kills Naomi’s whole family. Wow, that’s just…” He turns his megaphone directly on the crowd and solemnly says, “has anybody out there ever experienced loss?”
So, logically, he screams into the microphone full force for maybe 1.5 seconds and then says “I just wanted to give you a taste of what it’s like.”
His biblical tale continues. “So anyway, God kills Naomi’s whole family… Why would you do that God? Why God?… He trails off once more. “Why dad?”
By now, my date arrives, and I, perhaps rudely, hush her as she approaches, pointing to the preacher, and I whisper about how amazing he is. His last line before we depart is “I bet by now y’all have figured out who I am, huh?”
And it’s all downhill from there.
The date starts off fine enough. I didn’t really know what to expect and she seemed like a nice enough person from the, admittedly limited, chatting we had done prior. We go to a nearby bookstore cafe, which it turns out is a restaurant with full meals and wine and all, and not a cafe. She orders a glass of wine, I abstain. Before the glass arrives, we talk about all sorts of things: her major, what my major was, hobbies, nihilism, usual fare, I thought. Once the glass is on the table, she thanks the waiter.
Once he’s gone, she goes “ugh, I really need to stop threatening to kill myself when I drink.”
I look at her, and then to the glass now on the table, and then back to her, and then to the glass again.
She notices what I’m doing and responds:
“oh, no no, one glass won’t do it. Sorry, I bet that was a weird thing to say.”
To normal people, this exchange would be a major red flag, but I’m the idiot who thought her profile mentioning folk music and Wicca practices under candle light and an anarcho-primitivist commune sounded hilarious, so… (To my credit: a friend of mine did confirm there was no way that wasn’t a joke)
Things proceed without much more cause for concern after that though, so I excuse it. I don’t mind if someone’s a bit moody or nervously saying weird stuff, so I thought I’d give her full benefit of the doubt– and seeing as conversation returned to being normal soon after, I felt sure it was just a weird blip.
Eventually we make the plan to go back to her house because she has a patio and I’ve already made it clear that I don’t have an appetite or anything, so loitering at the cafe that was actually a restaurant felt a tad uncomfortable.
We take a Lyft, and she warns me that if they have to cross any bridges, she might have a mini freak out. Again, that’s fine. Lots of people get weird nerves about things and suppressing the hell out of them doesn’t help if you’re already tense and with a new person.
Before the Lyft arrives, however, she goes to a liquor store and buys a bottle of wine. I didn’t think about the implications of that, as it happened.
She tells me a few stories about her time on a commune, like when they had a sheep that kept eating the crop of some nearby farm, so they had to put it down, and her job in all of this, as resident passionate vegetarian was to skin it.
There’s very little worth mentioning about our time on her patio. We mostly listened to music and didn’t talk, aside from her getting drunker and occasionally veering towards those token lines of “yeah, idk maybe I should just end it all” and me being like “how about you don’t, huh?”
Eventually, I leave. She walks me to the front of the house and tries to give me a kiss and it’s something I can’t really avoid. I do, however, manage to dodge her question about seeing each-other again.
But that isn’t the end of the story.
Her and I never really talk again, save an awkward text conversation that lays out how she won’t be seeing me around and she should stop being so hard on herself, if she can.
The story continues with me walking home. At some point I see a woman on the other side of the street as I’m walking. It’s around midnight but she’s got her phone out and I assumed had just called in an Uber or something. I pass a man on my side of the street, carrying a small folded sign. Eventually I get a few blocks down and forget if I’m supposed to turn left or right.
That’s when the woman from before shows up out of nowhere. She asks if I’m lost, tells me that there’s a lot of cool stuff down the left, where she also happens to be going and is elated when I tell her that’s the way I also meant to go. As we’re walking, she says she’s glad caught up because she couldn’t get an Uber or a cab and didn’t feel safe walking alone. She mentions the man I passed earlier “with the weird gait.” I ask why she didn’t get an Uber, where she was coming from, normal things.
She responds, saying, “I was at this taco place up pretty far away. My mom always checks my bank statements and sees that I go to bars and stuff and she gets really mad if she doesn’t see an Uber charge right after.”
She then clarifies that shes’ been in the city for 3 months and is 23.
So we talk as we walk and when we get to the front of her home, she gives me her number (and puts her full name in my phone like a sociopath) and tells me to be safe and all that.
And that’s when I realized that she was afraid of the guy on the other side of the street, not because he walked funny, but because he was black. And that’s the first time racism ever got me a date.