Let’s call Date #14 Arnold Palmer.
As we traded opening messages, he mentioned that he was hosting a house party that weekend. This is when I realized I want Tinder to be college. Run into someone cute or who you vaguely know through friends of friends, get invited to a house party, round up some girl friends, walk into a house full of half-drunk people with someone DJ’ing off their phone, and see what happens. No? That doesn’t sound good to you?
I love a good house party. In theory. I love them more now that it’s been a solid decade since they were regularly a part of my social life.
In practice I’m definitely one of those women who has resting bitch face at parties and keeps vaguely gesturing toward the snacks as I drift away to get out of small talk.
The other day I was hanging out with a friend and ex-boyfriend. My friend described someone as “an Eeyore.”
“Well, every party has its pooper,” I said. “…and it’s usually me.”
Everyone was quiet.
For a while. Like maybe a full minute.
Then my ex-boyfriend goes, “…No?…” in the most dubious voice ever.
He’s known me since I was 18 so I can’t really contest on lack of evidence. It’s good to know where you stand.
The point is, Arnold Palmer didn’t invite me to his house party (strike one); we went to happy hour on a Tuesday night instead. I was his first Tinder date, making him my second first Tinder date. What is this, an epidemic? I thought. Do I have a face that just screams let me introduce you to online dating?
Don’t answer that.
Arnold was very into golf, as you might expect Arnold Palmer to be. He also forgot his wallet, which he was super embarrassed by.
We went on a second date, mostly because he asked and I couldn’t really think of a reason to say no. I was dog-sitting for my parents, so I suggested we take a walk and then head to a bar with a patio so I could bring the dog.
We met up at the park and wandered through the neighborhood. He brought dog treats with him, which was pretty cute. We ended up at the new Rachel’s Ginger Beer, a bar that specializes in Moscow Mules of all flavors. As we said goodnight, he reached down to give the dog a few final pets. “It was nice to meet you,” he said to her.
“Good to see you,” he said to me. The dog wagged her tail and curled up against his legs. I looked at him, trying to figure out what was next. We hadn’t kissed. We hadn’t touched at all, in fact. He turned and waved as he left.
It wasn’t rejection. He texted me the next day asking for a third date.
“I mean, I think I like him? He’s nice. He’s smart. He has a sense of humor. I just can’t tell if there’s any there there?” I texted my friend.
“You might have to kiss him to find out,” she said.
I have this conversation with her about approximately 20% of the guys I go out with. We call it the “slow burn or hard no” test. You get a couple of dates in. You enjoy someone but can’t tell if there’s anything there. It might be a slow burn. It might be a hard no. There’s only one way to find out.
So. When Arnold Palmer and I were texting about our third date and decided to go see the movie Dope, he texted me, “I’m into it but there’s sexuality/nudity and I might get nervous and cry.” This is funny, right? I thought it was funny.
“There goes my plan to make out in the back row…” I texted. Poking the waters to see what kind of ripples would appear.
“oh shit I’m getting nervous now” he texted back.
This is…a theme? Maybe real, and not funny?
“Is this like that movie Never Been Kissed?” I asked.
“Exactly except I’m Drew Barrymore?” he said. Funny, again. I think? Who knows? Maybe he’s never been kissed?
We went out to dinner. We had a good time. We went to the movie. I totally did lead us to the back row because that’s where I prefer to watch movies. I like to see the whole screen with my two eyes, not swivel my head back and forth. It’s a natural result of years of motion sickness. I do better if I can see the outer edges of the screen. Also known as another reason I’m very sexy and fun to watch movies with.
“Oh,” he said, sounding totally unreadable, “we really are sitting in the back row.” The lights dimmed. He leaned over. “So do you want to make out?”
We hadn’t touched once. Not on our previous two dates, not at dinner. I’d drifted close to him on the sidewalk and he’d stepped away from me. He’d opened my car door and kept the door between him and I.
“Um, sure?” I said.
He leaned over and kissed me. His hands stayed on the arms of his chair. I think he may have still been holding onto his soda and popcorn?
He pulled back. Kissed me again for a moment. “Hmm. That was fun,” he said. “I feel like I’m in high school.” Then turned to watch the movie.
Neither a slow burn nor a hard no. Huh. But also: WTF.
If I’m making this sound awkward in retrospect, it’s because it was awkward in retrospect. At the time, I was just mildly puzzled at the lack of organic physical interaction.
Then I told my sister this story and she said, “That sounds so awkward.”
“Oh,” I said. “I guess it was.”
“Incredibly awkward,” she said. “Like, really awkward.” Let’s call it a foul ball. Strike two.
(Sidenote: Dope is a great movie and I highly recommend it. The central friendship between the three main characters is so fun to watch. The whole movie is smart, fun, funny, and just a little bit heartbreaking. Good dialogue, good fashion, good music, amazingly well written teenagers and the way teenagers are always wanting wanting wanting.)
That weekend, the Supreme Court legalized marriage for everyone in the country.
“Are you excited for the gays today?” he texted me.
“I am! I’m excited for humanity today! Also, Pride is going to be nuts and super nude,” I said.
“Is that this weekend? it’s gonna be hot as balls for the gays no pun intended.”
“I’m not sure ‘the gays’ is preferred [terminology],” I texted him.
Also: This is when I realized he’d said the phrase “hot as balls” at least three times on every date we’d been on. I’m not against crude language—some of my best girl friends, just that weekend, were talking about how “swampy” the hot weather was making their thighs & vaginas—but I fault “hot as balls” for its lack of creativity.
“You’re just trying to stifle my creativity,” he texted.
“Nooooope,” I said. Strike three.
(Did you guys hear Donald Trump say recently, “I will be phenomenal to the women“? Nooooope.)
“fun weekend plans maggie tinder? you are in my phone as maggie tinder.”
Nail in the coffin. Now, everyone I know on Tinder has someone—if not many people—in their phone as John Tinder, or Jane Tinder. It’s a natural result of Tinder that you end up with phone numbers before you know last names.
He knew my last name.
Before, I was drifting. I didn’t have a reason to say no to another date. Past date 3, though, I definitely need a reason to say yes. I texted him and told him I was out, see him around sometime? And got a friendly note back thanking me for letting him know. Well, that’s nice and that’s that, I thought.
Then I got another text message saying, “I was just driving and could’ve sworn I thought I saw you in the window of revolver off olive way. either it’s you or someone who looks just like you.”
It was me. I was having drinks with someone else.
JUST ONE FINAL AWKWARD MOMENT BETWEEN ARNOLD PALMER AND I. NBD.