I passed by him on the street on the way to the bar where we were set to meet. I looked at him, made eye contact, and continued walking completely unaware that the tiny man who brushed passed me was the same one I had been messaging with. I sat down at the bar and ordered a drink, I checked my phone, and began to anxiously slurp down my beer. When I saw him walk towards me again, I thought seriously about pretending I didn’t speak English. Unfortunately, I am defined by my basic whiteness and couldn’t fake another language if my life depended on it. So instead I stood up from the bar stool and said hello. He pressed my face unapologetically into his small, bony chest. He smelled so strongly of stale cigarettes that I gagged a little.
He didn’t look much like his pictures. He was much smaller and worn looking and if there was ever any light behind his deep brown eyes, it was gone now. He stumbled a bit before he sat down and explained that he had, had a few beers before leaving his apartment. It was 5:00PM. I had always heard that Australians drink to excess but it was clear by his fifth vodka tonic that he had a real problem. He kept the bartender close, snapping at her and demanding service every time she tried to stray from his eye site. He became increasingly loud and brash as he gulped drink after drink–grabbing my inner thighs, making fun of homeless people sleeping in subway cars, and proudly telling stories of how he almost died three times but always came back. I wondered if he had left the bridge he was guarding in order to go out with me that night. He was so crude and unwashed that he could have been a character from a Brother’s Grimm fable.
At one point he alerted me that he needed to “drop a load” and I thanked God silently as I finally had time to escape. “You should really get out of here. He’s getting pretty aggressive.” The bartender looked at me seriously. “Did you meet on Tinder? I’ve seen this a lot. It’s not going to get better from here.” I nodded, jumped off of my stool, and ran out onto the street. Even after he informed me that his goal in life was to be able to sit on his ass all day and drink and asked me if I like giving blow jobs in the same breath, I still needed reassurance from a stranger to be able to get up and run for my life. I swear, my midwestern politeness will absolutely be my downfall.
Later that week he texted me. “What happened? I really liked you, I thought things were going well.” At first, I thought he was the med student I went out with a week earlier. I walked out on him too, shortly after he ordered me a vodka Redbull and pulled up pornographic images on his phone and slid them across the table for me to see. Okay, bro you might as well have just put roofies in my drink too. I felt genuinely sorry for Aussie but at the same time I knew that anyone who would seriously suggest feeding LSD to homeless people for sport was not the sort of person who warranted my sympathy.
I didn’t think about him again until he was standing over me, ready to take my order. My friend was in town and her, my roommate, and I all traveled into the city for a day of brunch and museums. We stopped off at a beautiful restaurant close to our destination. Excited to be out of the cold we all shuffled into a booth and dusted the fallen snow from our hats and shoulders. “Hi, welcome. Can I get you ladies something to drink?” Oh fuck. He didn’t recognize me at first, and I wondered if he would at all considering how completely belligerent he was throughout our date. He took our drink order and left the table.
“No, oh my God, no. We are in New York City. There are MILLIONS of people in this city…how is this happening?” My friends looked up at me, alarmed. “That’s him…that’s the guy I went out with.” Neither of them could believe it. Honestly, neither could I. You could really see how filthy he was in the light of day and it made my stomach sink and my skin crawl.
He finally recognized me when he placed my mimosa in front of me. His face became bright red and he walked straight into the kitchen without dropping the rest of our drinks. Needless to say, the service wasn’t very good after that. Some poor, half asleep bus boy was forced to bring us our food and refill our coffees. It didn’t occur to me until after I finished my $17.00 meal that he could have easily spit on it without me noticing. Welcome to my dating life, even in the most amazing city on earth, it is still so awkward and pathetic.
We begged the bus boy to bring us our bill but my Tinder date had already grabbed it and was moving from table to table with it in his pocket, making us wait 30 minutes before finally dropping it. He was helping the table next to us when he tried to nonchalantly hand it to me without making eye contact. He sort of handed to us behind his back while still chatting with the other table and spilled my roommates mimosa all over her in the process.
The entire meal, much like our three hour date was painful. It was like watching a car crash. You squirm and turn in your seat and hold your breath until it’s over. We walked out onto 6th avenue and continued our journey to the Upper West Side. I vowed I would never log onto Tinder or another dating app again as long as I lived, and I didn’t–for an entire two weeks.