Though Magic Mike was the first match I received on Tinder when I first downloaded the app almost a year ago, he and I didn’t meet up for several months. He was uncomfortable with my open relationship and our schedules were incompatible – I worked 10-7 every day and he said he was a bartender. He looked like he could be cast as the male lead in a bad teen fashion drama – pretty and mischievous with an alliterative name that lends itself to Teen Choice Award ballots. “I bet you get all the tips,” I texted to him after he sent an “all dressed up for work!” picture. He simply said, “You have no idea.”
We’d send each other workout snapchats and pay hyperbolic compliments to each other’s torsos. Normally I prefer to be stronger than the men I date because feminism but I make exceptions for Worcestershire sauce-coloured curls and people who are genuinely embarrassed of bad tattoos they got in their teens.
After a few weeks of this, he responded to one of my pictures saying “You should get really thick oversized glasses instead of the ones you have.”
I asked if he was negging me.
“No, but it’s funny you know what that is.”
I deleted his number and unmatched with him. Everyone worth snapchatting with appreciates a good pair of FaceAFace frames, right?
Fast forward a few months.
I get a “Hey, what’s up?” text from a number I didn’t know. At that point in my Tinder career, this isn’t a rare occurrence.
“Not much – just getting ready for work.”
I ask for a pic. I recognize those strong, actually-groomed eyebrows as Mike’s right away. Nobody has eyebrow game like that except men who are paid to be pretty.
This time, he and I agree to meet up. The bar we pick is centrally located in a hip area in which neither of us live. It’s off a side street; it’s dark and dirty and the drinks are cheap. There’s a food menu but I’ve never seen anyone ever order the $6 Pad Thai. We hug hello and he seems relieved that he’s taller than I am.
We talk about our childhood and coming from big blended families before it turns to what we do for money. I start talking about glasses, and he says he’d love to be an actor. I ask where he tends bar and he laughs.
“Confession time: I am not a bartender.”
“Oh?” I lift my drink and prepare for the worst. I don’t do well with lies.
“You know *REDACTED*?”
“As in, the men’s strip club? You’re a stripper?” I take a big gulp of Strongbow.
He shrugs and gives me an aw-shucks blush.
“Cool! Can I try to guess your schtick?”
He laughs. “It’s an obvious one.”
“Kinda gross for a 23 year old, eh?”
Once he starts talking about how much he actually enjoys his work, I realize how charming he is. He has no qualms about answering my questions about Channing Tatum’s movie (“It’s maybe a *little* more glamourous than that…”), his clientele (“Older gay men are the kindest! There’s no entitlement there!”) or his coworkers (“We all want to be there, at least where I am.”) He even answered my most pressing question: how do patrons tip since we don’t have $1 bills in Canada? (“We get $5 or $10 tips but we do more for it!” with a wink)
He invited me back to his place, and I was curious to see what kind of condo could be rented with bundles of sweaty Lauriers.
One with a really nice view, it turns out.
His bookshelf was filled with acting guides (and yes, a copy of The Game, which was the only work of fiction I saw).
The kissing was good. The physicality was excellent. I’m still not used to partners who can overpower me but this was nice. He was very preoccupied with making sure I had a good time.
After several hours, he told me he had an audition in the morning and that he’d walk me back to the streetcar. He asked me what I was reading, and had never heard of Foxfire OR Joyce Carol Oates. He told me he didn’t really read much. I know, bro. I know.
We didn’t see each other again, but the post-workout pics still get sent. He’ll see on IG that I’m in a thrift store change room and ask for snaps of the rejected clothing. When he got cast as the shirtless male lead in a music video, I watched it four times (though it was on mute for 3.5 of them).
Recently I decided to get a manicure while waiting for a different Tinder date (no rest for the wicked) and as I was waiting for my fruit punch shellac (very uncharacteristic) to dry, I saw that the salon was playing the Magic Mike dance scene cut on a loop. As soon as I could touch my phone again, I was texting my own personal Channing Tatum. We decided we’d meet up a second time when he finished his trip home. Apparently he quit his job, but as far as Tinder stories go, Magic Mike and his eyebrows and terrible tattoo will live on in infamy. Will he be as much fun without the novelty? I guess we’ll see.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my bunk.