#Solemate

Between Lindsay Lohan’s freakout over matching with her brother and that amazing Conan O’Brien video with Dave Franco, we know that there are celebrities on Tinder. Even though I live in a pretty star-studded city, it hasn’t been especially common for me to match with anyone famous in their field. The guitarists of a few buzz bands, a moderately successful male model and about a dozen fake Drake accounts are par for the course for any of my friends who’ve been on the app for more than a week. One of my favourite Tinder stories to tell involves my only famous match: A since-traded player on my local NBA team.

At the time, I was living with Harold, and we were doing the typical things that couples do during the slow death of an unhealthy non-monogamous relationship. That night involved coming home after having eaten separately, lying on the bed and spending silent hours on our phones until either bedtime (when we’d each decide if we wanted to have sex), a stream aired a west-coast basketball game or one of us would pick a fight.

I had my Tinder app powered up, swiping right and left based on whatever nonsense criteria were important to me at the time. That was when I saw the profile of a deep bench player (we’re talking three minutes a game, if that). I freaked out, showed Harold and took a screen shot. He didn’t say anything about his occupation or height, but the pictures on his profile included himself dressed for a game in his home jersey. I swiped right. He did not.

I was only a little bummed. My team has a reputation of being a big family-oriented group of dudes who work hard and then go home to their kids, so not matching with one who is publicly married/a dad was fine by me.

The next night, Harold and I were back at it, pretending to be okay with spending time hanging out around each other. I was swiping my life away when another NBA player popped up. This guy was as deep-bench as it gets. Like, 700 twitter followers at the time we matched. I shared the profile again with Harold and we laughed. He had a picture of him holding a fish he’d caught and one of him with his grandmother. I screencapped and swiped right.

It was a match.

“Oh my GOD, T. Can you even IMAGINE having sex with that guy? Like, having him on top of you?” Harold went into more graphic detail than I dared consider without growing really uncomfortable. “Oh my GOD think of the shame-bragging you could do.”

I had no idea what to say to this NBA player. A quick google search showed that he isn’t married or a father, so I felt okay with initiating a conversation.

“Hey,” I started. “What’s up with all these Tinder dudes holding fish? Is it a big inside joke that women aren’t in on?”

“Hey,” He replied, pretty much immediately. “I dunno lol i guess it shows were good providers.”

“Makes sense. Up to anything cool tonight?”

“Naw football in my condo. go *NFL Team* lol”

I quickly asked Harold for some quick facts about his handegg team, and briefly talked out of my element about a recently injured quarterback.

“Oh u like sports?”

“Yeah, I’m a big basketball fan.”

“Me to wish i played more often lol.”

We talked for a little bit about how difficult it can be meeting new people in this city, and I got the sense that he was another self-described lonely dude.

Why anyone would pretend to be this guy over the other more recognizable players is beyond me, but I wanted to make sure he was who he said he was. I invited him to watch a hockey game with me at a very public bar downtown – walking distance from the condos the one year contract players lease near the arena.

He told me that, as there was a noon game the next day, he couldn’t go out drinking. I asked if he wanted to change the plan to grabbing burritos.

“I like burritos :)”

“Me too,” I replied. “Is that a yes?”

To which he replied “If ud like to come and pick some up and eat them up here with me then maybe i could do some eating of my own ;)”

To reiterate: An NBA player asked me to buy him a burrito in exchange for oral sex.

It was almost DEFINITELY the highlight of my tinder experience.

“Tempting!” I replied. And it kind of was? I quickly ran through every possible scenario. What if he wasn’t who he said he was? What if I go over with burritos and things start happening and I freak out? Am I going to be assaulted? What if shit just gets weird? Would this be worth it just to tell the story?

And that was when something clicked for me: Is something worth doing only for the story? The past decade of my life has been defined by that question, and I’ve always taken for granted that an interesting story is worth more than anything else to me.

It’s why I spent my teen years archiving everything that happened. A flurry of coincidences will one day make my life interesting. I think my life is pretty interesting now, but while my current partner and I have told and rehearsed our “how we met” story to near death, it’s weird living your life in hindsight.

And that’s what this NBA player would have been. A tale of groupie conquest (not that there’s anything wrong with that) wherein your Tinderella exchanges a jumbo steak burrito for sloppy bearded oral sex from a man twice my weight and four times my muscle mass. Not even glamourous.

“Well, I have a policy about meeting Tinder suitors in a public place first. For safety reasons.”

“makes sense,” he replied. “another time mabye.”

I didn’t publish the conversation online. He seemed respectful at least of my basic boundaries, though in our second conversation he called back to the possibility of toasted Mexican goodness.

“i just saw the worst movie ever!” He sent me, in response to nothing.

“Oh? I’m curious. What are you up to now?”

“lol im in bed.”

“I’m jealous! I’ve been working for hours!”

“And u still won’t bring me food. should i sweeten the offer?”

“Did you mistake the Tinder app for the Just Eat app? :-P”

“I just love food”

I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to go for it. It started feeling really sad, and Harold was taking entirely too much joy in the thought of his primary partner burrito booty-calling a man who could easily have squatted two of us on each shoulder. I was in a stage where I wanted to do exactly the opposite of what Harold wanted.

The last message I ever sent him was when he moved to a different team. I wished him all the luck and more playing time. He never replied.

Almost immediately after that, he started posting pictures on his instagram account of a gorgeous woman using the hashtags #solemate (SIC) and #onewomanman. I believe he is now married and according to all of the groupie forums (yes, those exist and they are a cesspool for self-hating women) they are very happy.

He and I won’t show up on each other’s list of regretful Tinder hookups, but you know my motto – “Je ne regrette rien.”

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I, The North

As the only single woman at work (there are eight employees at my main place of business and four at my second job), I am the one with by far the most active social life. My coworkers ask frequently about the dates I mention and try to set me up with their single friends (no thanks). My queer coworker will take me out to lesbian dance nights and play wingwoman (to moderate success); one met her boyfriend on Tinder and is a hopeless romantic about it; the rest have been in long term relationships since the dawn of time and have forgotten about the beginning stages of modern courtship.

I’d been chatting to a fellow on Tinder about my love of basketball (one of my pictures is of me looking quite buxom in my hometeam jersey) and he invited me to join him for a game a week later. (Note: one upcoming post will be about my experience with NBA players on Tinder. You’ll love it)

Now, a few of my friends have suggested that, since I lost my share in season tickets when Harold and I broke up, that I should get guys from Tinder to take me to as many games as possible. As a girl who always insists on paying her own way, this seemed especially sketchy.

That said, I accepted this dude’s offer because the Tinder banter had been excellent and he said his employer had corporate seats. We picked a game (not against a great team but one with a star point guard, which reveals my preference for three-point shots) and he confirmed the next day that he had acquired a set of tickets. His pictures weren’t especially detailed – a group shot, a low-light guitar pic, a skydiving one – but he gave off cute vibes.

I told my coworkers about my upcoming date and they laughed and cheered me on. It was the day that I confronted Catch, though, so I wasn’t putting too much stock in anything. I certainly wasn’t my usual flirty self. When a customer came in to pick up his usual order (which he does every three months – in my industry, we’d call him a regular) I barely looked at him. He gave me his name (common) and I swiped his card. It was a typical transaction but my mind wasn’t on work.

I check my phone an hour later to find a text message from the guy who was supposed to take me to the game.

“Hey – what are the odds of you working at __________ and cashing me out just now?” I confirmed that it had been me and we briefly discussed the ethics of me going on a date with a client (if I were higher-ranking, I’d excuse myself… but I’m not).

I ran to tell my coworkers, who howled with laughter. This could only happen to me, they said. One coworker exclaimed that he is one of our best-looking customers.

Game Day fast approached and I was super psyched to watch my team play! Oh, and I guess to meet this guy. That was secondary and I felt weird about it. I texted him the day before to ask him about his day and he said he had to bail due to a last-minute work function.

I pouted and was annoyed – I hadn’t bought a ticket for myself and now all the inexpensive ones had been sold. I complained on social media and my friend (the lovely woman with whom I road tripped to Montreal) offered me hers (she’s a season seat holder and her seats are AMAZING). There was a condition (I had to heckle a player whom she knew from university) but I was happy to do it.

I went by myself and had an amazing time. I’d go out on a limb and say it was the best non-playoff game I’d ever seen. Better than any game with Harold; better than any out-of-town game; I felt so liberated because I didn’t have to share it with anyone. I could cheer on my favourite scrub player (he saw a whole minute of play!) I could hyperbolically applaud the dance team, especially the captain who is the number one exception to my “No Moms” rule. I could rap along with the pump up songs and didn’t have to share my Sprite. I had more in common with the strangers in our colour-coordinated promotional tee shirts than I have with anyone I’ve met up with in a long time.

I guess I kind of am taking that game as a metaphor right now. There are a lot of things I used to share with people I’ve dated, but I think right now I’m better off keeping them to myself, at least until I have someone special enough to appreciate it.

It’s not as much fun for my coworkers, but they’ll live.

Irish Toast

When I meet someone off Tinder, it usually happens one of two ways: either we decide to meet up within two days of chatting (see: Catch, BTSK and a few others), or we text forever and meet several months later when we finally have the time (Magic Mike, Gunner and many more).

Irish Toast was the latter. His profile earned a swipe to the right in part due to his dark floppy hair and that he had different facial hair in every picture, but also that his profile bragged about his fobby Dublin accent and his ability to impersonate Lumpy Space Princess.

Discussions turned to politics and Pokemon and we added each other to Facebook before he deleted his Tinder profile. I kinda forgot about him (Oops!) until he invited me to go bike-riding with him. We met up on a Sunday after my morning shift and set off west on the waterfront path.

Oh my gosh, was he funny. And charming. And geeky. He wore a subtle Pokemon t-shirt and I, knowing we’d be cycling, wore a tiny tank top. We reached our destination fairly quickly and exchanged funny, geeky stories for hours. He’s an actor, so I got to share my on-stage and on-screen experiences.

He briefly mentioned that he was moving back to Ireland, but not how soon. He has a girl there, but it’s all pretty new. As in sometime between when he added me on facebook and that day. I counted out the chances of a second date and was only a little disappointed.

When we parted ways, he just cycled off. No goodbye hug or handshake or even “Thanks for the laugh.” RUDE.

“What, no goodbye hug?” I sent him a facebook message that afternoon.
“Hugs?! While cycling? Not that I wouldn’t but in my sunburnt sweaty self/but my lack of hugs doesn’t represent a lack of positive vibes,I had a stellar time.”

Welp. We stayed in touch and sent each other pictures of our blistering sunburns (why didn’t THE IRISH GUY remind me to reapply sunscreen?! Honestly).

I invited him to my birthday karaoke and he showed up, but I was pretty far gone and between BTSK, 007 and a few peripheral others I had my card pretty full.

I texted him a few days later to thank him for showing up and he invited me to join him and some Irish bros of his for drinks. In front of his friends, he mentioned his Irish girlfriend at every possible moment. Once they left, though, he kept putting his hand on my thigh. We moved from one pub to another.

When the discussions of what we liked sexually came up, I knew he was weighing the pros and cons of taking me home. “The hardest part about long distance,” he said, “Is sleeping alone.” I have never knowingly been the other woman, but I’ve been the deceived one (even in an open relationship), and I raised these concerns. I don’t remember what he said, but he assuaged them and we started the walk back to his place.

When I drink, my own accent comes out. I’m first-generation and was raised by people with thick brogues. He and I talked about dialect coaches we’d worked with and I said my favourite word to hear uttered in any accent is “Goddamn it!” (Which I attribute to Gunner and his posh West London lilt).

Ever the show off, Irish Toast imitated him spot on. And then he imitated my Dundee-born Grandpa. Then he imitated Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Concords. He even imitated me. I said, “okay, and how do YOU say it?”

He had no idea. We walked in silence for an entire minute before he ran at a fire hydrant and kicked it. The thud rang out down Dufferin.

“God DAMMIT!” He shouted.

What a nutball, I should have thought. If only!

He limped all the way back to his place and said “Let’s watch a movie.” Usually that’s code and I thought I might FINALLY get somewhere.

He puts on Mystery Team and we watch an hour’s worth before I say “Look, I’m falling asleep. Are we going to make out or what?”
He said he didn’t have the energy, and lent me a pair of boxer shorts to sleep in.

I heard him groan appreciatively as I got undressed and we crawled into his single bed and spooned.

The next morning, he said he had an audition at noon. I asked if he wanted to get brunch and he said “Better – I’ll make it! You like French Toast and tea?”

Heck yes I like French Toast and tea and dudes who cook. He said “I don’t have syrup or sugar or anything for the toast though. I like it dry anyway. Reminds me of home.” I am not usually one of those “ASSIMILATE INTO OUR CULTURE OR GET OUT” but I’m pretty sure not putting maple syrup on French Toast is grounds for deportation. Never one to look free brunch in the mouth, though, I ate in silence before he booted me out.

It wasn’t until I was taking the bus back home that I realised he’d given me some kind of fucked up pseudo-girlfriend non-sexual date experience; that this all really probably happened because he didn’t want to sleep alone but couldn’t bring himself to cheat.

I got a text after a week and a bit of radio silence saying “Call over! We’ll finish watching Mystery Team.”

So I finish up with the Tinder date I was on (it wasn’t going anywhere, despite how much that dude looked like Israeli Bret McKenzie) and hop on a bus over to Irish Toast’s place. He’s made a veggie stir-fry (he’s not vegetarian but knows I am) and says “I’ve already eaten my bit, but I’ve saved you yours.” Again, I am all about free food, so I graciously accept.

We watch the movie on opposite sides of his bed and when it’s done he says “So… I have to get up early, but thanks for calling over.” He all but shoves me out the door.

As I leave, he shouts “Oh, I’m free next weekend too!” I looked back and said “For what?”

My first text as I’m walking down the path from his door was to 007 (this was when we were still sleeping together) and I call over to him. Hell if I have three dates in one afternoon and don’t even get laid.

I have not heard from him since, except for the occasional “LIKE” of an Instagram picture or nerdy Facebook status.

I don’t know why that happened the way it did. I don’t know why I kept thinking something WOULD happen. I am sure as heck glad nothing really did, though.

Magic Mike

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.”

Record scratch

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.”

“Schoolboy?”

“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. 

007: For Your Eyes Only

Almost immediately after my most recent big breakup, I started sleeping with a friend of mine. I don’t care that it might be a bad idea, because every rebound bingo card needs a “Greatest Hits” square, and (though I hate to rank former flames), as far as sexual connection it’s been 007 and Harold (my most recent ex), a deep chasm, and then everyone else.

007 and I met half a decade ago through a friend who’d been infatuated with him in high school. We went home together the night we met, and though it’s been years since we last kissed I always had vivid erotic flashbacks to showering together or the way he’d roll my stockings down while undressing me. It lasted only a few months (and we both got hurt in the end – it inspired the friend who introduced us to write a song!) but I’m sure everyone I’ve dated since my dalliance with 007 could tell that I was comparing them, and that they usually came up short. We stayed friends, though. He tutored me through the entry exams for my program and let me pay him for his troubles in baseball tickets and food specific to his dietary needs. He quit drinking and has been a solid dude to me for many years.

Sure, our New Years kisses would linger a little too long. And we’d *like* every vaguely scandalous social media picture. And his friends would say things like “Tinderella is no stranger to dick blindness – she dated 007, after all!” but that was our deal. We kept our hands to ourselves. I will always defend him, because I adore him.

It wasn’t what I intended to happen when he invited me to his climbing gym one Sunday afternoon shortly after I gave my ex the boot – I just let 007 teach me how to scale lumpy walls the way I let him teach me math, or how to kiss. When I’d slip off, he’d catch me, even though the mats would have broken my fall rather adequately. He stretched me out at the end and we’d blush at things that weren’t necessarily sexual (“Whoa one of your hips is way more flexible than the other, T!”) We grabbed falafel and he invited me to watch a movie.

After we watch all of Beauty Day, I say “Hey 007, what are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking about sex.”
I sit there, blinking. I’m thinking about sex as well but I expected to have to tiptoe around it. “I don’t know how to respond to that.”
“Forget it,”
“No. I just… it’s really soon. But I want to. With you, I mean.”

I am the most awkward person alive.

We put on Adventure Time, and I snuggle closer.

“It’s been a while for me,” he confessed.

I kiss him. We are frenetic. He carries me over to the bed; I’ve forgotten how strong he is. No, I haven’t. I’ve willfully ignored how strong he is until right now. That willful ignorance was the only thing keeping me from losing my mind when I couldn’t touch him for years. I can’t get close enough. It’s exactly as good as I remember, if not better.
“I forgot how…” he starts, panting.
I cut him off with a kiss. “I didn’t.”

The next few hours are a blur. Everything we try works. We fit. We are sweaty and sticky and we’re down for whatever the other suggests.

Every subsequent sleepover date has been just as satisfying… to the point where I get aroused even seeing a new iMessage from him, because an iMessage means he’s thinking about me and wants to know what I’m up to and maybe wants to know what I’m doing later.

The few friends who know are very hesitant, and have expressed concern. I understand why. This whole post (keeping it from our friends; my need to justify it; the GUSHING! all in spite of our past) is a long series of red flags.

But for all the sexual experiences I’ve had since my breakup, ones with 007 are the only ones that don’t feel empty; where the conversation doesn’t suck and the sex is challenging and constantly changing.  Other partners make me feel like we’re only together until something more appropriate comes along, but I have no expectations either way about this.

It’s what I need right now. I don’t need to be loved; I don’t need to be romanced or plied with drinks. I especially don’t need a bunch of men I don’t know sending me dick pics (so no, I will not add you on SnapChat, random Tinder bros). I need a laugh and a handful of volcanic orgasms, but maybe if it keeps going I’m also going to need a way to tell our friends without them freaking out.