“Dude, check out this girl!” Jon said as he shoved the screen of his iPhone in my face. A thirty something brunette with glasses, was chugging a High Life.
“Dude! She’s chugging a fucking High Life!” He said, pulling back his arm back to swipe right on his screen.
“I see that,” I said, as I leaned back on the couch judging my best friend of sixteen years, for seeming so desperate, yet enthusiastic, regarding his new found criteria for women he would date.
“Dude check this out.” He said, as he started pacing around the living room, of my one bedroom apartment.
“I just asked her this: If you were a cake, what flavor would you be? Sub question: What flavor icing would you want smeared all over your body?” He laughed maniacally as he hit send.
Jon went back to Chicago a few days later, before he had the chance to meet the woman, who so nonchalantly got the the boys to “swipe right”, based on her commitment to oral and phallic imagery.
Tinder, OkCupid or one of the other online dating sites, worked in Jon’s favor though. He wasn’t home a week before he was showing off his latest match via status updates on Facebook that read things like, “Got into some shenanigans with this girl tonight,” or pictures of them on Instagram, ice skating, with a cute caption that read “couples skate”. It was pretty fucking disgusting.
Overall, I was happy for Jon, and only a little jealous, that he was happier than I was, But honestly, I felt like it was a potential cop-out, of how he came by it.
Now, I like to consider myself old-fashioned, a gentleman of sorts. And online dating had always seemed like a joke to me. It felt like cheating. I prefer to:
- Meet someone by chance.
- Have a nice conversation.
- Ask them for their phone number.
- And then wait 3-5 days to call and ask them out.
You know, the natural progression.
But within a week of seeing Jon re-enacting scenes from the goddamn Notebook on my Facebook feed, I found myself single but not quite ready to get behind the wheel again, so to speak. I was curious though, but I resisted… for a few hours.
After staggering home, from a bourbon-fueled night on Ponce, I laid down on my couch to watch the first episode of True Detective, and proceeded to do what I claimed I never would. I downloaded Tinder.
Having a job where I get paid to manage social media accounts for clients, I naturally played with the settings for a few minutes to get the general feel for how the app was set up. Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, a pessimistic existentialist, was explaining how human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution to his simple-minded partner Marty, played by Woody Harrelson.
As Rust Cohle explained the futility of existence, I uploaded pictures from Facebook, chose my gender preference, and even set the distance for how far away I’d like these women to be that I would choose to talk to.
I took my eyes off the screen of my phone momentarily to catch the end of Cohle’s monologue as he slumped in the passenger side of the Crown Victoria he rode in.
His smooth southern drawl continued to surprise me; he said “Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.”
Cohle’s words blindsided me, as I was about to start side-swiping, women looking for a potential love connection. Too intrigued by McConaughey’s performance to start my journey into the unknown. I sat my phone down, and finished the pilot episode, of my soon to be new favorite TV show.
I woke up the next morning, in need of water, aspirin, coffee, a bloody mary and a Diet Coke. As I sat at Manuel’s Tavern, I recalled the words of Rust Cohle from the previous night, while hydrating my aching body. A chord was struck deep within me, regarding my life and my pursuit of happiness. I had so many questions, but then a line that came straight from McConaughey’s mouth entered my mind…
“Start asking the right fucking questions.”
Now, I don’t know if it was just the hangover, or a slight buzz from drinking on an empty stomach, or if my inner voice, had actually changed to the co-star of Dazed and Confused, but the only words that I uttered, as I sat my empty glass down on the bar, was “Alright, Alright, Alright.”
Something came over me. I felt like a man possessed. Unfortunately, it was by a man who was known for creeping on high school girls and dumb blondes in his earlier roles, but like McConaughey’s transformation into his career saving character, Rust Cohle, I too felt the changing of the tide deep within my soul.
I knew what I had to do. And I knew what questions I had to ask.
With the bar filling up around me, I charismatically reached into my pocket for my phone, and fired up the Tinder app that I had hidden four pages deep, in my downloaded apps. I clicked on the settings of my account, and posted an Oscar Wilde quote I had read a few days earlier, into my bio.
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
I would not use Tinder as John Carroll. What the women of Tinder really wanted, what they really needed, was Matthew McConaughey, and more importantly, Rust Cohle.
In the days that followed, I told myself and my friends that I was purely on Tinder as a social experiment, which meant that by no means would I ever willingly ask for a phone number or ever actually meet up with any potential candidates that fell for the Rust Cohle bit.
I wasn’t on Tinder to get laid, but to find intellectual stimulation and promote existential thought.
So I said.
Being well versed in social media, I deduced that a successful experience on Tinder, was really just a numbers game, so naturally, I swiped right on every female, that crossed my screen, without giving it a second thought.
My first match came within the hour. Honest to God, I don’t recall her name as I’m sure any tortured soul struggling with his existence wouldn’t. I perused her profile. She was cute, liked Skydiving, and had apparently been rescuing children from third world countries for the majority of her adult life, but that’s not what caught my attention.
Her bio. It had a quote from Home Alone. Now if this wasn’t the perfect opportunity to get metaphysical, I don’t know what would be. I sent her a message.
“Do you think that Home Alone was John Hughes’s attempt, to address the decomposing family construct? Sub question: Was Kevin a metaphor for an unwanted pregnancy?”
Her response was sub par, and as I would soon find out, most responses from women on Tinder would be.
Outside of a few conversations regarding shared interests and a soccer mom sexting me pictures of her boobs with my name written across them with a sharpie, I felt like the whole experiment was a complete wash.
Weeks went by, I lost interest, and as True Detective was about to conclude, I felt like my Tinder persona should to.
As I patiently waited for the season finale to begin, I decided to open Tinder one last time. No longer swiping right on every picture, I carefully examined every profile with a fine tooth comb, looking for someone who might just might say something intelligent and entertain my ridiculous thoughts on how meaningless life, and Tinder, really is.
And then I saw her: a wavy haired brunette with a smile that would make even Rust Cohle blush.
Hope rose up within me, but then again this was Tinder. I’m sure we would have nothing in common, and her profile would state that she “loved laughing” and was a big UGA fan.
I scrolled down.
And my hope was not diminished. Not a word regarding a college football team was listed in her profile.
And one of our shared interests? N-P-R.
I sat my phone down. A cold sweat ran down my neck as the theme song of True Detective started playing through my television. Dilapidated images of the Louisiana countryside mirrored my expectations.
After clearing my thoughts and trying my best to let go of said expectations, I courageously picked my phone back up and started typing a message.
“I see that you like NPR, but are you a fan of This American Life?”