Love me Tinder

Love me Tinder

I recently went on a quest to discover what the dating scene was like for over 40s.

I used the dating App. Tinder to do that.

I agreed (to no one in particular) to go on 6 dates with 6 different men.

These are the original transcriptions from my first three dates.

Tinder date #1: Let’s call him A.

Age: 53.

Why I swiped right: Friendly, open, warm face. Sincere, kind eyes. Mixed nationality. Well-travelled. I may have just described a Labrador.

A and I meet at my local coffee shop in Parkhurst for an evening coffee. I get really anxious before dates so, as usual, my colon gets all twisty. I can’t pronounce his name properly – it’s Muslim and it sounds a bit like ‘asshole’ if you say it quickly. He got there before me and popped to the lav before coming to my table. Perhaps he had a twisty colon too. Maybe we’re soul mates.

A is well-dressed, he’s made an effort, that’s nice. He has a ‘man about town’ air about him, especially the way he calls the waiter over with one finger and orders a pretentious-sounding coffee I’ve never heard of. He is nervous and prattles on endlessly about work before taking a breath. I lean back in my chair with a big smile on my face pretending to be interested in his entrepreneurial ventures while my brain gets to work scanning for red flags, obvious defects and personality disorders.

My problem though, is that everything a man does is a red flag to me: the way he chews peanuts, the way he wipes his hand on his napkin, the way he holds my gaze. Especially the way he waves his red flag around.

Oh God, I knew he has mother issues. Look at the how much milk he has in his latte.
Sweet Jesus, he has attachment issues. He lingered a little too long on the hug there.

Being on a date with me is a lot of fun. If you like highly neurotic women, that is. I’m a cross between Judge Judy and Sigmund Freud. If I could I would openly criticize you for chewing your nuts too loudly while scanning the pages of the DSM of Mental Disorders.

Outcome: I went on a few more dates with Asshole (I never could pronounce his name properly so I just never said it). Things ended after he told me that he enjoyed the company of escorts after his divorce the previous year. I was hoping and praying he meant Ford Escorts. He wasn’t. And when I asked him how many to be exact, he said, ‘one or two…maybe three…or four…’ Or 444. We’ll never know now, will we?

Tinder date #2: Let’s call him D.

Age: 42.

Why I swiped right: I was bored one night on holiday.

D had a yummy voice. I’m a sucker for a sensual voice and charming manner. He was tall, dark and handsome. We spoke for hours about everything. He was genuinely good company: engaging, interesting, well read and well travelled. But D had been divorced for three years and had been on no fewer than 300 dates.

After dinner he walked me to my car, but made sure that we made a slight detour past his Porsche so that he could say, ‘that’s my car.’ I pointed to my Hyundai i10 and said, ‘that’s mine.’
Then I said, ‘you’re too tall, you won’t fit in. Don’t even think about trying to cram your big head in there and murdering me.’
No, I didn’t. I said goodnight (he tried to kiss me with his sloppy wet lips and I squirmed out of it) and hoped to hell I’d never hear from him again.

A few days later, on a Friday night, D sent me a message asking me what I was up to. He told me he was sitting at the bar after work having a few drinks and imagining me lying naked in his bed. I was so flattered. I wondered if we were soul mates. Nobody had imagined me lying naked in their bed for ages. I leapt at the chance to go and meet him at the bar and shag him senseless. I sent him a message back:

Hi D. I’m so hot for you too. Just thinking about that has really got me in the mood.

And then I sent him a naked pic. It was a photo that I’d found on Google Images of a half-naked, obese, leather-clad woman lolling about in bed (actually, we looked remarkably similar in leather). He wasn’t impressed. I had humiliated him after what he assumed was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It’s okay. I’m sure he had another 299 Tinder dates on speed dial. He tried to apologise the next day but it was one of those apologies that never actually include the word ‘sorry’ anywhere.

It was my bad. I knew that D probably stood for ‘douchebag’ but I still agreed to go on a date with him out of my own sick curiosity. You’d think I’d learned my lesson about trusting my gut but nope, I did the same with the next date too.

Tinder date #3: Let’s call him Coach.

Age: 40.

Why I swiped right: Ok, I have to ‘fess up, this guy was the one you should stay far away from on Tinder. He’s the eye candy guy, the narcissist, the guy with the camera pointing directly at his abs in the mirror. You can almost hear him salivating as he admires each ripple of flesh on his twelve-pack.

I know exactly what I was getting myself into, yet I still did it. I’m a sicko. I’m too curious for my own good. It would not surprise me if I end up dead on a Tinder date because I need to understand exactly why the guy has the vacant stare of a serial killer. My obsession with understanding human behavior knows no bounds. So I deserved every torturous moment that I got with my Samoan/Kiwi rugby player-come-coach – oops did I leave out that little detail? Honestly, ladies, he looked like Dan Carter and James Small’s love child. SO NOT MY TYPE, OF COURSE.

Cut to my same coffee shop in Parkhurst on a Wednesday night. Coach arrives about fifteen minutes late and heads turn as he enters the room. I can smell his delicious aftershave from where I’m sitting. He is DROP DEAD YUMMY. I get up to greet him and he gives me a big smile and says, ‘Hey, nobody told me I’d be meeting a princess.’ What, Princess you say? We’re definitely soul mates.

He sits down and says to the waiter, ‘I’ll have what she’s having.’
I am mesmerized by his gorgeousness. He’s all olive skin and chiseled jaw and perfect teeth and tight buns. If you like that sort of thing. And if you enjoy objectifying men. He starts to tell me about himself and his work as a business coach and former rugby player. I try to ask questions but he’s not listening. He continues to talk about himself. Then continues to talk some more. After about fifteen glasses of red wine and five menstrual cycles later I interrupt him and ask, ‘would you like to know anything about me?’ He says, ‘well, what would you like to tell me?’ Hmm, where do I begin, Narcissus?

Now this all sounds fairly harmless at this point, I mean what guy doesn’t like to talk about himself, right? But here’s the thing – something was very, very off. It wasn’t only the fact that some details of his life seemed a bit sketchy, it was the fact that he spoke to me in slogans and coaching jargon like a motivational speaker THE ENTIRE TIME. He’d developed this ‘go out and get ‘em tiger’ persona and IT WAS FUCKING IRRITATING!

Now the thing is, Kelley, you’ve gotta get out there, you’ve gotta seize the day, bite the bullet, take no prisoners, do your best, climb those mountains, never say no, don’t give up, enjoy each sunset, live your best life…yadda yadda yadda…

There was nothing real about him, nothing of substance, nothing to connect two human beings together on an emotional level. Just a fake, false empty façade. At first I started to plan my escape – I tried to use my eyebrows as a SOS signal to let the waiter know I was in blind date trouble – but he’d been taken in by Coach’s charisma, so he was no good to me. That’s when I decided to switch gears and use the situation to my benefit, and write the evening off as RESEARCH. I shouted out ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, Coach!!!’

No I didn’t. I thought, now that he’s completely off the cards as the future Mr. Thorrington, I might as well sit back and watch the crazy unfold up close. Also, if I grew tired of his soliloquies – at some point he actually quoted Shakespeare: ‘well, as you know Kelley, fair is foul and foul is fair’ – I knew that I could have a bit of fun with him. I was squealing inside with delight and wished I could ring all my friends to gather round and witness this self-centred spectacle.

I have another confession to make. While he was jabbering on about his wonderfulness and punching the air with cries of ‘Carpe Diem’ I had two streams of thought going on, both directed at God.

Stream 1: God, this is so cruel. How can you make such a pretty man so self-obsessed and personality-less? It doesn’t seem fair. I mean he is so preeeetttty…..

Stream 2: God, would it be okay if I sleep with this pretty man and pretend he’s someone else? More importantly, will he stop talking about himself long enough to have sex, and will he be cheering me on the whole time with fist pumps?

Outcome: No matter how hard I tried to turn lemons into lemonade and water into wine, eventually my sensitive soul just couldn’t endure the anguish any longer. It was obvious that we were not destined to be soul mates, shipmates, or even playmates, because we’d reached a stalemate.

As I drove away, Tinder no.3 nothing but a pretty blur in my rearview mirror,
I thought of stopping off at Paul’s Ice Cream and drowning myself in their flavour of the month (Egyptian cotton vanilla, if I recall) and giving up on love forever…

But then I remembered something Coach said: ‘Kelley, you have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.’

(Confession: while recalling and writing about my date with Coach one half of me wants to punch myself in the face for going on the date; the other half wants to sprinkle hundreds and thousands on his newly waxed chest and lick Egyptian cotton vanilla ice cream off his twelve-pack. Who’s shallow now?)

To be continued…

Kelley Thorrington
natalie@thecreativelab.co.za