Review of Date #12: The Cool, Super Cute Nerd

Let’s be clear. Nerds are hot right now. Sometimes I’m swiping on Tinder and the absolute bro-iest dudes write in their profiles, “Nerd at heart” or “Secretly nerdy” or “Nerdier than you are” or “Nerd out over nerdy things.”

These are men wearing tank tops that are basically a rag—no arm holes to speak of, just gaping voids down the sides of the body—in the gym, freelifting a Prius. Their necks are thicker than my thighs. Both my thighs. Put together. They have a tattoo of a Seahawk whose wings beat when they flex. Their heads are tipped back—because they’re simultaneously chugging two beers while lifting.

Yeah, I don’t know.

Anyway, Date #12 had the trend-aware glasses, and the trend-appropriate button-down, and the no-longer-a-trend-because-the-Internet-is-here-to-stay job in the tech field, and I’m willing to bet he spends more time reading than in the gym but still looks like he knows how to breathe fresh air. Aka, my kind of nerd.

I’m actually still a little baffled by Date #12. He was so cute! Smart! Had a sense of humor! Had lived all over the world!

And then…nothing. We just didn’t care about each other.

Not that we were supposed to “care-care” within 30 seconds of meeting, but we didn’t care. You know that moment when you first meet someone and your little antennas go off—that didn’t happen. Zilch. Nada.

So we had a very nice night exchanging pet stories. I reallydon’t even know how we got on the topic.

That’s a lie. I totally know.

When I went to Colorado, I changed my profile from “Just trying to date one lumberjack before I die” to:

Just trying to date one cowboy before I die.

I didn’t change it back when I returned to Seattle. Because, you know, I was ready for men to apply to be cowboys instead of lumberjacks. You’d be surprised how accommodating they were of both.

Him: How strict is this cowboy rule? I have an uncle with a sheep farm, how close does that get?

Me: Hahaha. Are sheep as dumb as they say?

Him: Oh my god, so f***ing dumb. But their babies are cute as hell.

Me: Right?? I’m with you.

Him: I did have to be around for lambing season, definitely felt pretty cowboy like. Maybe a cowboy horror movie. But certainly rugged.

(Note: I have a friend who quits talking to men if they have comma splices in their replies. I, um, am either more generous or have lower standards. Or my desire to make out with people overcomes the comma splice. Or I’m so aware of the fact that I don’t want to date English teachers that a lil’ comma splice is actually a good thing in my world. Jury’s still out on the exact reasons, but the result is the same: I hang in there.)

When we got to about minute 45, we turned back to the sheep. There’s always a point in a date when you reference either how you met—in real life—or the exchange you had leading up to this point—in online dating. It usually happens right before you start talking about your experiences on Tinder.

Am I starting to sound predictable? Should I mix it up? Every time I vow not to talk about Tinder on a date, whoever I’m with invariably says, “So how’s Tinder treating you?”

“Tell me more about this sheep farm,” I said, genuinely interested.

“Sheep are so dumb they just walk around with their babies falling out of them. Then they keep walking,” he said. “So during lambing season, you have to walk around behind them and pick up all the baby sheep.”

Did you guys know that? Online dating is the best. I learn so much. I’ve learned about online dating algorithms from that guy who worked at a start-up, and I’ve learned about glacial climbing, and about what sort of apartments Amazon refers new recruits to (Belltown or South Lake Union, air conditioning, built-in gyms and parking garages), and that no one can explain the difference between software engineers, coders, and programmers, but everyone thinks there probably is one.

Goldfish, newts, cats, dogs, sheep…car accidents, bathroom accidents, toy accidents, names, obedience school, breeds, tails, ears, two legs, four legs—Date #12 and I covered it all.

Pets are interesting Tinder date fodder. It can get sentimental really quick, or it can be funny. It lets you tell stories about your childhood without being overly personal or revealing or schmaltzy. People’s animals—and how they treat and/or talk about those animals—say a lot about them.

I can be sort of callous about the cats I had as a child, but I tear up when talking about my first dog if I’m being honest. And I talk about the family dog like she’s a person, calling her a “weirdo and a goofball.” This dog also happens to look like a lamb when her fur is clipped short. FULL CIRCLE.

We still had some fries left in the basket, so I started telling my grossest animal stories.

When I was living in San Diego, my best friend came to visit for my birthday one year. We drove up to La Jolla, where there’s a little cove called Children’s Pool Beach. It’s always covered in dozens of harbor seals and sea lions. The website says you’re allowed to swim there, but I’ve never seen anyone in the water.

This time, we noticed there was one seal pretty far up the beach by herself. Maybe she’s dying, we thought. I wandered by a volunteer table and overheard the woman sitting there saying that the lone seal was in labor. “I’m here for eight hours today,” she said. “She’ll probably give birth five minutes after I leave.”

Dying, giving birth. You know. They look awfully alike from a distance.

We hung around for another five minutes, keeping an eye on the uncomfortable mother. She inched forward, and her body grew longer. A smaller, browner version of herself slipped out and she began maneuvering her heavy, muscled body around to clean her pup.

Meanwhile, the seagulls were circling closer and closer.

“What are they going to do?” we wondered. “There’s no way they think they can take off with that baby. It’s got to be a hundred pounds.” (I just looked it up. Newborn seal pups are between 8 and 26 pounds. Same difference to a seagull, I say.)

The mama snapped at the seagulls occasionally, but they were little and quick and there were dozens at them. Down the beach, not one of the hundred other seals moved to help her.

I felt like I was watching the Animal Kingdom episode of the Bystander Effect.

The seagulls moved closer, inching around her back while she was focused on the newborn little one. One distracted her by flapping near her face. Another squawked loudly at her baby.

And a few stuck their sharp little beaks right up into her birth canal and dragged out the afterbirth. Together, they hauled it down the beach to eat.

My other gross animal story also involves seagulls, and it’s much shorter:

When I was in Rome, I saw a seagull eviscerate a live pigeon. The sounds were indescribable.

Rome isn’t even on the sea, so it’s unclear to me why there are even seagulls in that city. Pigeons, of course, are rats with wings, but I’m still not sure it deserved to be disemboweled while it was still alive enough to talk us through the horrible amount of pain it felt while that seagull’s beak penetrated its soft underbelly and hauled its guts out into the street.

Both of our inflections stayed pretty neutral, the french fries were just okay, and everything felt companionable.

On our walk towards home—I never let dates walk me home, but since Tinder is at least partially geography-based, I often go out with people who live in my neighborhood and in this case, we were headed in the same direction—I asked some more probing questions about what he does and it turned out he owns his own software development company.

Why do people always save interesting pieces of their lives until the end?

Look, first dates are essentially a black hole of 1.5–2 hours you have to fill with conversation. Don’t downplay the fact that you lived in Tokyo. Don’t omit the fact that you started your own company at the age of 25. Don’t assume I don’t want to hear who your favorite philosopher is when I just asked you who your favorite philosopher is. If you have a horrifying emergency room story, let’s hear it. If you met someone famous, tell me everything. If you recently bought an ant farm, tell me all the names of the ants.

Totally forgot that my dad gave me an ant farm for my 8th birthday. Dammit. I could have used that one.

Grade: Neither of us ever texted the other one. 

Review of Date #11

I really have almost nothing to say about Date #11.

He was nice? He was tall? He had a good smile.

Another programmer. He has a family? Friends? He reads books? I think he eats things sometimes, although he was very skinny, so perhaps not.

He told me that glacial climbing is just walking on ice. While this is probably true and I like the humility inherent in this statement, it also stopped a perfectly good conversation in its tracks.

Me: But, like, with clamps and spikes, right?

Him: Yes. Well, sometimes.

We got coffee and watched people flying kites in the park. Two were flying so high they held steady, their tails unfurled, drifting this way and that. Taking care of themselves. Their pilot sat on the ground, relaxed. Two went up, and went down. They popped up into the sky and dropped as quickly. They held, and their pilots turned away, and they dove like they wanted to kiss the ground.

Grade: You guys, I’m supposed to be writing a date review and I’m talking about kites. 

Review of Date #10

I went on a date with an Amazon guy.

Oh man, you guys are thinking, she finally hit an Amazon guy! It was inevitable.

It probably is inevitable in Seattle’s dating scene. I also, however, don’t think it’s nearly the catastrophe that some people have made it out to be. It can’t be worse than dating in Los Angeles, for example, and always dating people who are connected to Hollywood in some form or another. Or dating in New York, and always running into Wall Street brokers. Or dating in the midwest, and being like, another farmer?

Anyway. He told me that he’s going to try specifically to make friends outside of Amazon, because when you work at a giant corporation and only hang out with your coworkers, it’s easy to become an entitled asshole.

Which was a great and funny thing to say.

We went to this cool little bar, and it turned out he’d moved to Seattle just five days ago for his new job. He was from Ghana, by way of Boston and then Chicago. We had a good conversation. He was enthusiastic about a lot of things—the drinks, my writing career, my new job, his new apartment, Seattle, the chance to explore. He quizzed me about my favorite Seattle spots, asked me about all the museums, and had me list restaurants and parks and activities I like.

I love Seattle. I can talk about Seattle for hours. I’m more than happy to play tour guide for new Tinder arrivals.

Whenever I go on dates with transplants, they say, “Wow! A local! I didn’t know you existed.”

And I’m like, “Ummm, I can introduce you to a couple hundred, personally, and we could throw a rock in this bar and hit 10.”

I half-buy into the Seattle Freeze theory on every 5th Leap Year when the groundhog sees his shadow, but the rest of the time—eh. I think it’s hard to meet people everywhere. I think it might be easier to meet people in places in New York because there are so many transplants. Also no one eats dinner at home. Also in the summer it’s unbearably hot in your apartment so you go out and meet people. I bet—since this summer is so hot—Seattle will feel less frozen. People will be driven out of their hot little solitary artsy literary craft brewing habits and into the streets and parks and bars at night. Unless they work at Amazon. Then they’ll have air conditioning.

Partway through the date, we started talking about Tinder. I’m telling you, every Tinder date has a Tinder moment. If you don’t, I really don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. Because it’s never happened to me.

He asked about things you see on Tinder as a woman, and I’d just seen a whole slew of guys who said, “not here for hook-ups,” so I mentioned it. He fell strongly in the camp that feels that’s a line designed to get more action, not less.

It’s just confusing to me, I said. Even if you’re on Tinder for hook-ups, don’t you have to meet and see what you think in person before you can truly decide?

We had a funny little back-and-forth where he managed to delicately say that men always find it a bonus if something happens. But yes, it depends on the people involved and actual human interaction. And if nothing happens, no problem. And somehow he managed to indicate that he knew nothing would happen between us, but make me feel like he really was having a good time—no even thoughs, no anyways, no despite. Just: tonight, this is fun.

It simultaneously let me off the hook—he’d read the situation and knew I wasn’t looking for that sort of interaction—at least not with him and/or not at that moment—and also expressed appreciation of our actual interaction.

It was quite a feat and I wish I could remember exactly how he did it—but it also wasn’t overly complicated. Being kind and generous to people and their varying desires and intentions and limitations is hard sometimes, but it isn’t complicated.

He just looked at me and said something like, “Instead of laying down all these rules about what you want, why not get together? Worst case scenario, you meet people who you never would have met otherwise. And sometimes those people are fun and smart and it’s truly enjoyable, and you’ve made a new friend in a new city.”


Review of Date #9: Archie

Him: I mostly use the Internet so I can buy stuff from targeted advertising based on the “which character are you from (insert popular tv show/movie quizzes).” I’m still paying off my credit card debt from when I bought that crate of Twilight glitter. Seemed like a sound investment at the time.

Me: Pics please!

Him: No such pics exist. Only a shirtless bathroom selfie holding a fish I caught in Machu Picchu while petting a tiger.

Me: You had me at shirtless bathroom selfie holding a fish you caught in Machu Picchu while petting a tiger.

Him: I forgot to mention the bathroom mirror has toothpaste splatter build-up from, like, several months.

Me: Shhh. Don’t ruin it. Quick, ask me out.

Him: Hey, so I was thinking we should go out sometime. Interested?

This is Archie.

Here’s what you need to know about our date: it was a rainy, cold spring night. He showed up wearing a hoodie and cowboy boots. You know how I’ve said that everyone is 20% less hot than in their pictures? And you should only be swiping on people whose pictures you want to make out with, because let’s not pretend this isn’t a dating site. Archie turns out to be 20% hotter.

The bartender was profusely apologetic whenever he came over to check on us. In fact, he apologized so much for interrupting to ask if we wanted a second drink that I started to wonder if he was making fun of us, but he didn’t seem to be—I have no idea where it came from or why, but I think he was rooting for the date? He seemed genuinely invested. I’d say he had a bet going with his co-workers, but he would have had no way of verifying the outcome. He looked really happy when Archie ordered a second drink and we stayed a little while longer.

By the end of the date, I wanted to curl up into Archie’s hoodie. I wrote my phone number on a coaster and gave it to him—a ridiculously old-fashioned move but I’ve had whooping cough, so I’m already stuck in the Victorian era, and I’m here to report that it still works.

(It gets bonus points for not involving phones. Here’s the thing with phones: you can’t just give someone your number. You have to either ask for theirs—which is fine, but not what I was trying to accomplish in that moment—or ask them if they want yours, or start reciting your phone number unprompted and hope they catch up real fast to what’s going on. Either way, one of you is going to have your phone out and be awkwardly typing while the other stares. Sure, I could have just waited and sent him my number over Tinder once I got home. But this was much more immediately satisfying, and I can’t quite explain how silly and fun it felt to write my name and number on a coaster. Hey, everyone always says my apartment building looks like the one in Singles. I’m just doing my best to re-enact that movie in real-time and document it here for you. I’m doing this for youI am flirting with handsome, charming men for you.)

Archie and I hugged at the end of the date, and it was the nicest, warmest hug at the end of a first date yet. See: Handsome man. Hoodie. Curl into.

Archie texted me. I texted Archie. Then he didn’t text me for five days.

I was like, “Ok. See you later.” Then I was like, “Oh man, it’s spring. It’s sunny. Reggie isn’t texting me either. Boys are stupid. Too bad they’re so fun. Good thing I have no pride ego and two thumbs which are terrible at playing video games but good at texting.”

I lured him with tacos. Everybody loves tacos, but especially people who say they love tacos in their Tinder profiles.

We went on a second date. Archie’s from Georgia, which in Seattle is basically like being from the dark side of the moon. I realized I was asking him questions just to get him to talk so I could look at listen to him. I’m not someone who’s that interested in hearing men talk just to talk. They do enough of that on their own. I have to a) like you b) find you interesting and c) like the sound of your voice for this to happen.

I traded by telling him about my speech impediment. Think of this as the part of the Bachelor where every contestant comes up with a sob story about a personal journey that resulted in “growth” or a “defining” moment of some kind—and if you don’t have one, the Bachelor says he just doesn’t feel like you’re opening up, you’re not being vulnerable, and you must not want love. Read: you don’t deserve love. So in Bachelor terms, this was episode 6, and our first one-on-one date, and the rose was on the table, and I had to pull out all the stops and go for my most tragic yet simultaneously attractive story. This is crucial. No gory stitches or unladylike food poisoning for your tragic story. No details about mental health struggles. No information about your period.

Pro tip: Save the period talk for date 5.

Preferably you should look beautiful and wear full make-up and a bikini while you tell your story about finding out you had asthma at a young age, which changed your life forever. Definitely don’t talk about how your asthma sometimes makes it sound like you’re a dying whale having sex with a monkey. Just say it’s sad because when you were four you wanted to be a marathon runner. Ignore the fact that people with asthma run marathons every day and that you thought a marathon was something to do with being too busy to help with the dishes (you were right). Your eyes can well with tears but they can’t spill over. But if they do spill over, you’re wearing waterproof mascara.

So I watch the Bachelor every season I’ve seen one or two episodes of the Bachelor, I know what’s up, I’m sitting there and I’m like it’s date 2, which remember in Tinder terms means it’s date 1.5 or 1.75, I’ve got to do it or die alone, it’s either the sinus surgery which made my face hurt so much I threw up, the dog dying of cancer which made me cry so hard I threw up, the whooping cough which made me cough so hard I threw up, the sinus infections for which the antibiotics made me throw up, the allergies which cause vertigo which makes me throw up, the migraines which make me throw up, the mysterious illness which made me unable to drink alcohol and made me feel hungover for two years when I finally stopped throwing up, the fact that I’m a poet which is basically a guaranteed existential crisis every day (gross), or the speech impediment.

I’m really quite healthy. In the grand scheme of things.

Instead of a camera crew, though, at this moment I’m looking at a remarkably short prep cook chopping cilantro for tacos.

But I did have a speech impediment as a child that made me sound like I was from Boston. Really close relatives—like my aunts, my mother’s sisters—would ask my mother if I was from Boston. This despite knowing that I wasn’t adopted and my parents have never lived in Boston. My speech impediment meant I said w’s instead of r’s. R’s at the beginning of words are particularly hard for me.

Things really came to a tongue-twisting climax when I was cast as a lion in the Wizard of Oz. We were quadruple-cast—4 tin men, 4 scarecrows, 4 cowardly lions. Which means it was nothing other than pure evil which made the adults in charge of the summer camp assign me the line “I will roar my terrible roar.”

Better known as: I will woar my tewwible woar.

When the audience roared with laughter, by some miracle of development and self-preservation, I was just enough of a ham to bask in it instead of doing my standard move when things didn’t go well and I perceived myself to have been less than perfect, which was to cry and grind my teeth. People act like adults have it hard, but being a perfectionist as a child, when you’re in even less control of the world and not even in control of your own body (tongue, teeth, mouth), is the worst.

Now I’ve gone and told the whole world my story about overcoming hardship and I have to admit, I’m not wearing any make-up and my sweatpants have a hole in them and my right sinus feels a little congested.

A) I will never find love.

B) I am undeserving of love.

C) My mascara hasn’t been used in so long it probably has bacteria in it.

D) These are only reasons 1–3 of 2,346 (more reasons being added every day) of why I can’t go on the Bachelor, including the fact that there really aren’t 25 people in the world I’m willing to make out with simultaneously.

E) They don’t let Bachelor contestants bring books on the show with them, so that all they have to do all day is drink, work out, and fight.

F) If you’ve ever seen me drink, you know that I would literally die if I had to drink that much, and yes, I know what literally means. See aforementioned mystery illness which appears to have been (and potentially will be again) triggered by alcohol.

G) I’d have to pretend to be one of the religions that doesn’t allow drinking, and we all know that everything that happens on reality TV has to be wholly authentic.

H) Did you see that season with the blogger from Chicago who went on the show and before the first impression rose was given, she was hiding in the bathroom crying, an anxious mess? It’s so easy to wonder what’s wrong with her—she can’t make it one night?—until you stop and put yourself in that situation: Here are your new 24 roommates. Half already hate you. Try to make the one person who’s going to be nice to you fall in love with you while everybody watches. Slow dance on a stage in front of a band playing in an empty theater just for you. That isn’t awkward at all. You’re scared of heights? Here, rappel down the side of the Chrysler building with a man you’ve never met who knows nothing about climbing. Drink. Drink more. Drink again. No books. No phone. No contact with anyone from home. Why don’t you have hair extensions?

I) I’m crying in a ball on my couch just thinking about it.

J) I really need to live-blog this next season of the Bachelor.

K) Did I tell you guys that I ran into Catherine and Sean—I went to school with Catherine—this fall and I have a picture with them?

L) US Weekly contacted me after that blog post, you guys, and asked me for more dirt on Catherine.

M) I didn’t have any.

N) I also saw Catherine at my 10 year high school reunion. She remembered everyone’s names without needing their name tags. Yes, she’s as nice as she seems on TV, which was poet Sharon Olds’s first question.

O) Yes, Sharon Olds watches the Bachelor. But what she’s really into is America’s Next Top Model. Yes, this is what I talked to one of America’s most famous poets about when I had the chance.

P) All of the above.

The point is, clearly my seductive story about humiliating myself as an 8-year-old worked, because Archie kissed me. Attraction is weird.

(I mean, who knows what he would say about why he kissed me—to keep me from throwing him over the rooftop in a reverse axe-murderer online dating twist of fate because I can’t stand a cliche?—but I’m going with the speech impediment story.)

In fact, Archie kissed me on my rooftop overlooking the city. I’m not kidding. I sort of wish I were. I’m what’s known as not a romantic—you can ask my ex-boyfriends, who have had to endure blank looks and vague murmuring noises when I’m presented with romantic gestures.

This is my favorite story about romantics dating non-romantics:

My friend Sally was dating Harry (just go with it). It was their one-year anniversary. Harry handed Sally a card, which surprised her, because she’d forgotten it was their anniversary. She thought they were eating pizza because pizza is delicious, and not because it was the first thing they’d ever eaten together. Sally was wrong, though.

Inside the card was a rock.

Sally: Why are you giving me a rock?

Harry (hurt): It’s from the hike we went on together for our first date.

Sally: You saved this for a year?

Harry: ….

Sally: ….

Harry: It’s romantic.

Sally: It’s a rock.

So you can see how admitting this whole rooftop thing is actually sort of difficult for me. The fact that it was my fault—I mean, it’s my building, he didn’t wander up there on his own—just makes it worst. He had the good grace not to comment on it, which I appreciate it.

Grade: I stopped using the peach emoji to signal a butt and started using it to reference Georgia. I mean, it’s still a butt, too. It will never stop being a butt. Now it just depends on context. 

Review of Date #8: Reggie

I’m going to call this date Reggie after the Archie comic books, which were a formative part of my childhood. I always thought Reggie got kind of a bad rep, but I also wanted to play Captain Hook in Peter Pan (I got cast as Smee), so take it with a grain of salt.

Quick recap:

Archie Andrews: Redhead. Universally adored. Perpetually fought over by Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.

Reggie Mantle: Rival to Archie. Good looking. Drives a cool car. Confident to the point of brash. Particularly interested in Veronica, but also interested in Betty, when she seems to be taken.

Betty Cooper: Blond. Girl next door. Faithful and kind to a fault.

Veronica Lodge: Brunette. Rich. Always gets what she wants—including Archie. Frenemies with Betty.

I don’t know whether I’m Betty or Veronica in this scenario, and besides, binaries that set up the virgin and the vixen to compete are harmful enactments of a patriarchal society that doesn’t know how to allow women to be full characters in fiction and real, complicated people with agency, wants, and desires in real life.

Let’s just focus on what’s important here: the use of known cultural duos, pairings, or rivals as pseudonyms for men I’ve gone on dates with for the purpose of your entertainment.

I met Reggie IRL over the weekend when I was hanging out in the sunshine with my friend Laurel. In real life, you guys! It too could happen to you!

Also, he lives in my building. “Don’t date people who live in your building,” I always say, “unless he lives in the other wing and you’ve both been there for at least a year, yet you’ve never before seen each other in your life, so you’ll likely not ever seen him again if things go south, and he’s rocking that cute thick-plastic-glasses look, in which case, what can one date hurt?”

I have a routine for Tinder dates: I meet them at 8 on a weeknight at a bar up the street from me. It’s strategically chosen: the bar is always busy enough to feel full and offer people watching, never so busy that you can’t find a seat. The drinks are good and if the company isn’t, there’s always the warm fudge brownie topped with ice cream.

But I’m a little more flexible with second dates and with IRL dates. I’ve presumably met the person, so I’ve scoped out their general creepiness from a scale of 1 to 10. I’ve looked them in the eye and generally exchanged at least a few words, which helps me verify whether or not I’m interested in spending an hour or two talking to this person. So Reggie and I were going on an early Friday date. And we didn’t go to my bar of choice—we went to a restaurant across the street and down the block.

I’m a risk-taker, folks. You should know that about me.

Here’s what you need to know about my date with Reggie: we had a long, tipsy dinner. We split a bottle of wine and ate paella while it poured outside. Reggie flirted with me outrageously, to the point where I couldn’t quite get a read on him. Constantly touching my arm, my hand, my hip? Check. Focusing intently on me whenever I talked? Check.

He said he’d guessed I had some native Hawaiian in me and followed it up by saying, “You probably get Jewish a lot. With those curls and voice—very sexy, foxy New York Jewish.”

When was the last time someone guessed at something that happens to you a lot, and called you sexy and foxy in the same sentence?

He also compared shamans to bloggers and called them both useless to society. Now, I’ll give you that bloggers are useless, but shamans are healers and I’m of the mind that Western medicine is a short, small subset of a much longer history of knowledge in the world.

But as my best friend pointed out later, “On the plus side, you blog. So…you are basically a shaman.”

Have I told you that the best part of dating is talking about it with your friends?

I’d just written about not having a sense of smell and my realization that I’ve perhaps replaced smell with attraction to people’s voices. I told Reggie that I don’t have a very good sense of smell anymore—and he immediately asked how that worked with pheromones. I didn’t answer. Just then our server said something to us that Reggie didn’t hear and I did.

Me: My hearing’s just fine, however.

Reggie: So…how’s my voice?

Me: Excuse me?

Reggie: How’s my voice? If you can’t smell but you can hear…how’s my voice? Is it turning you on?

I stared at him, paranoid that he’d already found and read this blog. Then I lost my goddamn mind. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my bar stool. I’m impressed he asked it with a straight face. When I came up for air he was just sitting there, blinking at me from behind those ubiquitous black plastic-rimmed glasses. I still half-think he was just f***ing with me.

Me: He doesn’t watch TV. He only listens to NPR. And he only shops at the Farmer’s Market.

Mom: Don’t judge, honey, he could be perfectly nice anyway.

When we walked outside into the cold rain, the cocoon from the meal and wine fell away. We walked home and he thanked me for hanging out, then practically ran off and ghosted hard.

Grade: I saw him two weeks later in front of my building and he told me I looked nice and asked if I was going out, so I told him—truthfully—I had a date. The next day I saw him in the laundry room, which means he literally saw my dirty laundry. Three days after that I saw him in the garden when I took my compost out. And the next day. Two days after that.  

My theory that you will never see him again is shot. 

How to behave when you run into a date who chose never to text you again: Like a human being. Say hi. Ask how he is. Look sympathetic when he says he’s exhausted. Stand in the sun for a few minutes. Make conversation. When you mention you went to see that museum he was interested in, and he asks why you didn’t text him to go, stare at him blankly. When this blog comes up and he says, “I can only assume the writing must be of the highest caliber,” say, “thank you,” and mean it. It’s the only proper response to a compliment. Smile. People are mysterious and unknowable.

How men react when they find out about this blog, or: “I’m going to be famous!”

In my last post, I mentioned this guy from college who verified my finding that short men don’t post their height on Tinder and carefully frame their photographs so that you can’t easily compare them to objects with known heights (Shaquille O’Neal, for example, or Yao Ming, or the Space Needle, or a great dane). Since he is also short, and I named the original subject of my height research Michael Dukakis, let’s call this one Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich is the only person I know who I’ve come across on Tinder that I have swiped right to say hi to. I also immediately texted a screenshot to my old college roommate, who almost birthed her second baby right then from laughing so hard.

Have I mentioned that being on Tinder in the city where you grew up, when that city is Seattle, where a lot of people stay forever, is both awesome and terrible? My friends are horrified by it. “I would never Tinder in the city where I grew up! What if you see someone you know? What if you see someone who you have tons of Facebook friends in common with?”

Um. I’m here to tell you that I not only see people I know regularly, I sometimes have entire nights where I have mutual Facebook friends with literally every profile that comes up. I wouldn’t call it ideal but I definitely am still alive.

The mutual Facebook friends thing is tricky. If I don’t like the mutual friend, I might be tempted to swipe left. On the other hand, clearly being Facebook friends with someone isn’t indicative of whether or not *I* actually like that person, and the same might be true for the Tinder profile I’m looking at.

I think there should be an option for this on Tinder. “Yes, I know this person but I dislike them / feel neutrally about them / barely know them / generally don’t want to be judged on association. Swipe right if same.” If someone also clicks that button, then you match. You already have so much in common!

I swiped right, Kucinich swiped right, we matched, and I’m like, “I’M JUST SAYING HI” in a direct way that you might call it unnecessary but I would characterize as very necessary.

And I continued to text with my friend about boys we knew in college and what she’s going to name her baby, who at that time was about to pop out any day (now safely popped).

It was basically the most 2015 late-twenties-something moment possible. My life right now: other people’s babies, boys, Tinder.

So let’s talk about fame, the other Millennial obsession. Kucinich asks if I’m writing, and I send him a link to this blog.

Kucinich: …my ticket to fame!

(Welcome, Kucinich. After 40 years in politics, you’ve finally made it.)

I’ve told several dates about this blog. If they’re savvy enough to say, “Do you write about Tinder?”—not a huge leap—I don’t lie. Then I end up giving them the blog name, because I think maybe it’s less scary once you see that I’m mostly writing about behavioral patterns and Tinder profiles rather than writing date reviews.


Ok. I didn’t write date reviews for a few months. I was trying to figure out if it was something I could do without victimizing my poor, hapless dates. JK, I was more worried about having to reveal personal details of my own life that I don’t want my dentist reading.

But also the thing about respecting other people and their privacy. But what’s the point of writing about something—Tinder—if you’re not going to reveal anything that’s actually happening—my sordid love life? But then…how do I write about dates in an interesting, entertaining way without saying too much about them or myself?

Because: Feelings. Sex. The Internet. Some small measure of privacy. Also my mom reads this blog.

How do I explain that I never want to see someone again without sounding mean? How do I express liking someone who has maybe since proved themselves unworthy of that liking? That is okay in theory but scary in reality (just like dating itself). How do I write about feelings that I haven’t yet or will never choose to express to a person—a person who might read this blog and therefore gain access to feelings I don’t want them to know about?

How do I write honestly about you when you’re reading?

Yes, it’s my life, it’s my truth. But I’ve written this blog for 6 years without losing any friends, and I’d sort of like that to continue. And kind people deserve kindness. I’ve been on dates with kind people.

(Yes: If someone shows up and acts like an asshole…then anything goes.)

I’ve always been interested in art with boundaries. I like writing poems in form. It’s an interesting set of parameters that challenges me and gives me an intellectual problem to solve—which has always been a good way from distracting myself from the emotional vulnerability in which I’m about to engage. This isn’t an original idea. Many writers who work with form use it as a way to create a safety net for risky content or scary territory.

(Look! Keep your focus over here—good. Now solve this math problem while you slowly undress.)

We’re all voyeurs. I know why *I* read the Internet. I’m hoping for Seventeen-style most embarrassing sex stories. Yes, even when I’m reading Wired, secretly I’m hoping someone will confess to sleeping with her boyfriend’s twin in a hot tub while his parents were inside ten feet away and pretending she didn’t know the difference, even though she totally did. You are too. Why do you think The New York Times’s Modern Love column is so popular?

I’m still disappointed that my friends aren’t having Seventeen-esque escapades as adults for me to hear about. Step up your game, guys. We all know I won’t do it. Too many germs.

The point is—there is a point—we are deeply into celebrity culture. Our privacy standards have been radically changed by the Internet, and our comfort levels with media have been altered in less than a generation. No one has panicked when I’ve told them that I have a blog, nor when I say that yes, I do write about Tinder. In fact, the typical response is similar to Kucinich’s: “I’m going to be famous!”

And then: “Wait, are you really going to be write about me?”

I can’t tell if this last is said with eagerness, fear, or a thrilling mix of both. Tone is hard to read over text. That’s why we have emojis, but no one’s sent me one so far in this context, fully illuminating the emotional condition of their reaction—because we all know emojis are the eyes of text, and eyes are the window to the soul, and windows can be used when the door is locked and you can’t get in and that’s when God was carrying you down the beach during your journey to womanhood, because a woman is like a [cup of tea emoji].

Grade Kucinich: Fail. He “broke up” with me in college after we’d made out twice—on 4/20—while he was high out of his mind. (I was just going to ghost. No, ghosting wasn’t a term back then, but it’s always been a thing.) I spent the whole time he was talking trying to figure out how to communicate my apathy towards the situation in general and disinterest in the conversation in particular.

Then he asked if he could still come to a house party my roommates were throwing that night. 

Review of Date #6: Dukakis

He liked cats. He was a philosophy major in college. He came from the Midwest. He was short, so let’s call him Michael Dukakis.

We set up a date. Then Dukakis posted a picture of himself on Tinder—let’s pause here while I explain Precious Moments.

Tinder doesn’t allow you to send pictures one-to-one. This is basically how they a) got around being sued for ripping off Grindr and b) pretend that they’re friendly to women: no dick pics, ladies!

(We can get into Tinder’s terrible corporate culture and history later, or not at all, because you can read about it elsewhere and I can feel guilty about using the app anyway on my own time.)

So you can post a picture to Tinder, and it’s called a Moment. It’s their version of Snapchat. It lasts for 24 hours and it goes out to all your matches. Only people you’ve matched with. But all the people you’ve matched with. I haven’t heard of anyone posting a dick pic as a Moment, but I’m sure it does happen. Your matches can then swipe left (dislike) or right (like) on your moments. In keeping with Tinder’s zero-rejection ethos, you don’t get notified for dislikes, and you do get notified for likes.

The men I’ve matched with who use Moments? They post sunsets and pictures of food. There’s one guy who pretty regularly posts pictures of views from his Belltown apartment saying things like, “Home sweet home.” He also posts pictures of his sports injuries: an Ace bandage around a knee. An electrode wire linking up to his thigh. A brace with the caption “Surgery it is.”

Another guy regularly posts pictures of his roommate on his phone with things like, “Just two dudes tindering away.” Once it was a picture of their two dinner plates: “Two lonely dudes with too much broccoli! Come eat with us!” A picture of their trivia scorecard: “Come help us win trivia! We don’t know anything about pop culture!” Their trivia team name: Future DILFs of America.

I call them Precious Moments. I judge people for using them at all. And clearly, while they disappear after 24 hours, they never leave my memory.

I once saw a guy Tindering at Pettirosso during brunch. He was wearing a plaid shirt and a beanie. He had dark hair and a beard. In other words, he looked like 90% of the men in Seattle right now. He didn’t look like someone who I would categorically refuse to date. And he was flipping through his Precious Moments, which were all selfies taken by girls with hair down to their waists, full make-up, duck lips, and giant boobs pushed into the camera.

This is my competition on Tinder, you guys. I don’t stand a chance. Or—alternatively—it’s no wonder none of my dates have completely missed the mark. By the time I go out with someone, we’ve weeded through fields of tall grasses to find each other. We may be in the wrong acre, but we’re not on the wrong farm.

Farms don’t have tall grasses, you’re yelling at me. Hey, man. This is America, the land of the free and mixed metaphors.

Back to Dukakis, who I’ve already made a date with. Dukakis posts a Precious Moment of himself the day before our date holding a baby with the caption: Friend’s new baby. Hold onto your ovaries ladies

Me: Did you really just try to use your friend’s new baby as a move on Tinder?!

Dukakis: Haha, just came from the hospital. Thought it was cute, hold onto your ovaries is funny though, right?

Me: So if I was holding a [football emoji] and I captioned it hold onto your sperm would that be a) cute b) funny c) super weird

Dukakis: Point taken

Dukakis: It was an impulsive decision…So we still on for tomorrow? : )

Me: Damn right we are

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m interested in how men take push-back. You take it well? Game on.

In person, he turned out to be nice, earnest, and generally fine all around. Let’s just say he’s an emoticon sender, not an emoji user.

WHY DO YOU FAIL ME, TINDER… is how some people react to dates they aren’t immediately, crazily attracted to but who otherwise behave in socially acceptable ways. This is not my reaction. My reaction is either a) another pleasant hour spent with a person I would never have otherwise met! or b) I should have ordered french fries.

This date was when I realized that if someone’s height isn’t posted on Tinder, it’s probably because he’s short, and this can be verified if he has avoided standing next to objects in pictures (telephone poles, cars, basketball stars) that might give you an indication of how tall he is.

I’m not super tall, so I don’t care if a guy is short. But if you’re really asking, ok, fine, the shortest guy I’ve ever dated was still 5’10”, a full four inches taller than me, so I’m not exactly pushing social convention here. But it’s still a good finding, later verified by coming across a guy from college who I know for a fact is short. He also did not list his height and he employed similar spatial strategies in his pictures.

Grade Dukakis: I wasn’t as attracted to him as date #1 and I didn’t want to be his friend as much as date #2. : (

Reviews of Dates #3, 4, 5

Let’s write about Dates #3 and #4 together. To be fair, this post is going to be more Dudes #3 and #4, because both of them got second dates. I know.

I really lined up my first four dates very efficiently. Friday, Friday, Sunday, Monday.

Dude #3 was the Sunday. He’s a software engineer who I later found out majored in music (saxophone) and has since switched to playing the keyboard in a low-key way.

Dude #4 is a computer programmer who majored in music (saxophone) and has since switched to playing the keyboard in a more committed way.

Let’s start at the beginning. Dude #3—let’s call him Spiderman—asked me if I was into pinball and I told him I was more of a skee ball girl. Right before I got there, he texted me that there was literally no one at the bar, which I appreciated. I prefer to meet serial killers in not only public but busy places. But I really like skee ball so I stuck with it. And then skee ball was broken.

We ended up playing pool instead. This was a terrible idea. I warned him repeatedly about how long it’s been since I played pool and how awful I am at it.

I was actually decent at playing pool in high school, when a friend’s grandparents had a pool table in their basement in Seattle, and a house in Arizona for the winter, which meant we spent way too many hours playing pool. It being high school, sometimes my friends played strip pool, which meant you could either refuse to play, get really good at pool, or end up in your underwear for about 10 minutes before putting your clothes back on. It was basically the winter version of skinny dipping.

I suddenly got really good at pool. Have I mentioned I’m kind of competitive?

But I haven’t played since then, and I didn’t have as much motivating me for this game. Except, it turns out, ending the game in a reasonable timeframe, because Spiderman did not warn me that he was only marginally better. Nor did he ever acknowledge it, a testament of will that I found very impressive.

Spiderman did admit to working for a dating start-up at one point and I may have grilled him about dating sites. He was the first of, well, basically everybody since then who has been on both OkCupid and Tinder. He also helpfully tipped me off to the fact that Tinder, OkCupid, and Match are all owned by the same company.

Did you know that? If you’re getting high percentages on OkCupid with someone you’ve already matched with on Tinder, it’s not because their dating algorithm works or that you’re good at picking people out. It’s that, you know, computer servers. They talk to each other.

That’s my operating theory, at least.

Spiderman and I parted with an awkward hug.

When I met Dude #4—let’s call him Batman—the next night, I was thoroughly exhausted of small talk and really glad we’d agreed to meet for tacos so that I would at least get tacos out of the deal. We’d had a comically mistaken conversation a few days before wherein he said, “Is it too late to get coffee?” and silly me, seeing as we were on a dating app chat and he’d initiated a conversation with me earlier in the day, I thought that he was asking me out. He wasn’t. The end result was that I offered tacos on a different day instead of coffee, and he agreed because I’m irresistible and also tacos.

This is what you need to know about that date: for some reason I was talking about doing yoga at work, and how yes, it can occasionally feel awkward to stick your butt in your co-worker’s face, but you just sort of have to get over it. And one of the ways I comfort myself is by telling myself that if my boss is doing it, it’s definitely okay for me to be doing it. And then something about wanting the day off.

He suggested that it’s all in how you ask, and perhaps the best chance for securing approval in this case would be to just go ahead and slide under her while she was doing cat/cow—maybe on a flat scooter, such as is used in auto body shops.

I laughed so hard I snorted salsa up my nose and cried.

After I stopped crying, I got an ice cream cone at Dick’s and bought a copy of their 50th Anniversary book, which is filled with awesome/boring/hilariously awful memories people have of Dick’s. People are weirdos and intensely passionate about Dick’s and it’s glorious.


Me: Who is this?

Batman: Shut up, jerk. I want to see you again.

As I was walking home from the date, I looked up and realized one of my Tinder matches was going the other direction in the crosswalk. I looked hard at him. He glanced at me. I looked hard at him. He looked harder at me. He did a bobblehead move after I passed him—a full 180 swivel like a cartoon character. He’s a baker, so let’s call him the Gingerbread Man. I’d talked to this guy on one of my first days on Tinder, and he’d asked me out for pizza. I said sure and then he never messaged me again. He’d picked up the conversation a few weeks later and we’d again ended up at pizza. He again didn’t continue the chat into that whole date-and-time thing which is rather essential for seeing someone.

Gingerbread Man: Did I just pass you on the street?

Me: Ha! Yes.

Gingerbread man: Wow 

Gingerbread man: Here’s my number. Text me sometime.

Me: I’m not going to do that but we can eat pizza!

Gingerbread Man: Ok. When works for you?

Me: *falls over in a dead sarcastic faint from shock but schedules a time anyway*

Batman: I’m here for the jokes


Then I sent him a suicide story told entirely in emojis.

Batman and I went on one more date and then called it. He really loves going to all-night techno parties, which I understand to be raves without the glow sticks, which seem like the best part of a rave to me. Clearly fundamental differences of opinion there.

I think we’re friends? I hope so. We like each other’s jokes, I know that for sure.

Gingerbread Man cancelled our pizza date the day we were supposed to meet. I’m counting this as date #5 anyway, because I went to the pizza bar with a friend and we had a great night and a slow, tipsy walk home.

Spiderman texted me intermittently for the next 6 weeks, super innocuous things that I always eventually responded to. He asked me out again one Friday when I was in a great mood, taking a long weekend, on the ferry with my dog on the way to Lopez. At that point, I’d taken a break from Tinder dating to, you know, do other parts of my life, and was feeling open to reconsidering. We went out for a drink and it sort of felt like being on a first date again, but more comfortable and with someone you’ve already met and hopefully can recognize.

I think Tinder dates—by the way—are more like pre-dates. You haven’t even met yet. For all you know, one of you could be lying about everything—what you look like, what your name is, whether you’re going to show up. I think Tinder dates tend to be called Tinder dates for a reason. It basically translates to “as low of expectations as possible.” You meet somewhere convenient for a drink or two, you generally call it quits after that even if it’s going well. If you’ve met someone in real life and determined they’re someone you might like to go out with, you might commit a little more—a full meal, maybe. Someone might treat instead of splitting the bill. I don’t know. You do what feels right, but—Tinder dates are like 1/2 to 3/4 of a first date. First date vs. pre-date.

Have I mentioned I develop facial blindness syndrome when I’m meeting Tinder dates? No matter how often I look at their picture beforehand, I still walk into a bar and freeze.

So because I’d met Spiderman before, this felt more like a first date. But it had also been over a month, so we were starting at square one and asking some basic questions.

So I’m chatting with Spiderman, and playing pinball, and in walks Batman.

This is what you need to know about that date: right as Spiderman was a) reminding me that he was a software engineer and b) majored in music (saxophone)—facts these two superheros have in common that I must have blocked the first time I met them within 24 hours of each other—Batman walks by and says, “SMELLS LIKE SOUP IN HERE.”

Grade: Dammit, skee ball, I just can’t quit you, but you treat me so badly. Tacos are delicious. You should try the ice cream at Dick’s if you haven’t. I know the milkshakes are great, but try the ice cream. You won’t regret it. That book is the best thing I’ve ever bought for under $7. Pizza makes me think of Rome. Dating is confusing. People are mysterious and unknowable. I still don’t know the difference between a programmer/coder/software engineer. 

Review of Date #2

Date #2 was fine. I mean, it was fun. I liked him. I wanted to be friends with him. I didn’t want to see what smashing our faces together would be like.

I keep trying to tell myself, kiss all the boys! But I just don’t want to.

You know how there’s that thing called pheromones and this plays out in all sorts of ways, but one of the most obvious ones (to us) is whether we’re drawn to or disgusted by someone’s smell? We’re animals.

I don’t have a sense of smell. Or rather, I have a terrible sense of smell. This is from four years ago, 3 months before I had sinus surgery. Note the reference to my aching sinuses. This is from 2 months before. Note the 3 sinus infections, for which I was prescribed the 5 courses of antibiotics.

The point is: I had sinus surgery, and it was awful, and then it was amazing, and then I found out I had allergies. I haven’t had a sinus infection since. I can smell flowers and fresh-baked cookies and garlic and onions and mown grass and dog poop.

I can’t smell people.

Perhaps as compensation, my pheromone-meter appears to run on voices. And just like people’s smells, I can’t quite detail what it is I’m attracted to. There it is.

But I had a lovely night getting to know a person who seemed nice, kind, fun, and interesting.

Grade: …Is it weird that I have a thing against people who live or have lived in co-ops?

Review of Date #1

I went on my first Tinder date very spontaneously. Also I broke my own rule.

He didn’t have anything written in his profile. But I thought he was really cute, proving that we’re all shallow assholes when it comes down to it, and I swiped on him mostly to prove my own theory that someone that hot wouldn’t also swipe right on me, proving we’re all insecure wimps who love rejection. Turns out I was wrong. Then I laughed like Ursula in Little Mermaid.

HAHAHAHAHAH! You’re mine now, you fool!

And then I opened by saying something earnest, like, Hi [redacted]! You have beautiful pictures. Are you a photographer?

And then he said he was in the area and oh hey, if you’re free, we could get a drink tonight / right now? And here’s my last name so you can google me if that helps. So thoughtful! If google returns a bunch of articles about serial killers, I definitely will hide under my bed and research how to best smash the GPS on my phone so he can’t track me that way instead of going.

I asked my sister if she thought he was a serial killer and texted 3 people his picture and then I went. Because I’m practicing saying why notAnd sure, I say it in the same tone of voice that 5-year-olds say, “Broccoli?” but still. Practice!

And no, he wasn’t a photographer, but a cinematographer. I probably haven’t told you guys about my biggest crush of all time, this cinematographer who was a graduate student the year that I did film studies in college, who taught me how to frame a shot (instantly forgotten). We had long conversations about what it means to be an artist (lost with my college email account), and how to tell stories visually and verbally (still practicing), and he told me I could be an artist if I wanted and I believed him in that way that you do when someone who makes beautiful things looks you in the eye and says you can too. And he smoked cigarettes constantly, which was the only time I avoided him, and he stayed away from me like he knew exactly how head-over-heels I was and liked me enough not to make a mistake.

So, yeah: I heard this guy was a cinematographer and, like all people you meet online, he was 20% less hot in person than he was in his pictures, which in his case meant he looked like a very good-looking person and not a YA book cover.

While we had a drink, we talked about our jobs, and being in creative fields. When he heard it was my first Tinder date, he insisted that a true first Tinder date had to involve more than a drink at the bar, and at least must also have a walk around the city. So we went walking. On busy, well-lit streets in a neighborhood I know well (see: serial killer. I didn’t get to page 2 of the google results, and you never know). He asked how I felt about cigarettes—I may have made my broccoli face—but he said he was trying to quit. (You guys at home are like, liar!) We talked about a film festival he’d been in (I’d probably be yelling liar! with you, but remember, I’d googled him), and he made me name journals I’d had poems in and then pretended he’d heard of them. We stopped at another bar and played Pinball and Ms. Pac-Man until we ran out of quarters and then meandered up the street. While he talked about his favorite Robert Frost poem.

If this was meant as a move, it wasn’t particularly effective. Don’t get me wrong, I love Frost, but I’m not particularly attached to talking about him at 11:00 at night with some guy I just met whose opinion on Frost I really couldn’t care less about. And it’s not like Frost is a particularly impressive poet to name. I was more interested in the fact that he asked me if I hated Frost, and so I asked him if he hated Spielberg, and the answer on both sides was no I love him and then we both got to act like excited idiots about idols that are so popular we’re supposed to disdain them as “sell-outs” and instead my heart is singing When I grow up, I want to be famous! I want to be a star! I want to have boobies! 

He swung me around on a quiet street and kissed me under a streetlight.

Then I split off at a random corner because I wasn’t about to let him know where I lived because I want to live to go on another Tinder date, hello. He immediately sent me his phone number over Tinder—so good! I can decide whether to give him mine or just reply without awkwardly refusing as I might have if he’d asked for mine. We exchanged perfect emojis the next day while I was doing laundry and we made a joke together about speed walking.

Frost may not be the road less traveled into my heart, but jokes about speed walking definitely are a footpath.

Beautiful! Cute! Texting perfection! Who cares that he actually lives 40 minutes away and must have fooled Tinder by being in my area temporarily when I swiped on him! Who cares that he smokes and I think smoking is disgusting; he’s trying to quit! That’s always successful, right? Who cares that I just got on Tinder and maybe am interested in going on more than one date before I hang up my Tindering hat; I can keep dating other people for at least a few months while also kissing this one because kissing is fun and that emoji was really well chosen!

When I texted him the next week about getting together again, he gave me a vague “maybe” and I haven’t heard from him since.

Grade: F minus minus. He’s dead to me.