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Tinderp Tale #9: I’m An Asshole Again

I had turned twenty-five at the end of last August. I threw myself an awesome birthday party that involved a Trump piñata, a jump house, and Pokémon balloons–an elaborate, immature attempt to repress my anxieties and dread of getting older but not any wiser, richer, or happier. I was still a virgin who hadn’t found what she was looking for (which was literally anything other than seeing a guy a couple of times then never seeing him again). I disliked my nonexistent sex life but stopped caring as much as I had earlier in the year. (Getting an IUD wasn’t a complete waste, I reasoned, because not having a period was pretty awesome.) I went on a few dates here and there–guys I met through Meetup, Instagram, a friend. (Her ex-Tinder date, actually. I told you I was desperate.) Nothing came of them. I wondered what it would take for a guy to like me enough to put in actual effort. I wondered what it would take for me to like a guy enough to let down my guard. Maybe I wasn’t the kind of girl a guy would give chase to. Maybe I wasn’t the kind of girl who could open her heart to a boy who wanted to open her legs.

Over the summer, I tried dating apps outside of Tinder with zero success. Bumble had too many uppity white dudes. East Meet East had too many passive Asian guys (and was also just a really terrible name, period). I was taking the initiative and composing messages to men in hopes of securing their interest. To be fair, they weren’t very good messages, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Like, wouldn’t you feel compelled to respond to this titillating message?

13346580_10208596919096629_5080661148535377128_n

Okay, fine. What about this one?

ear talk

OKAY WHATEVER AS IF YOU CAN DO ANY BETTER just kidding, you probably could.

I thought about how and why I was such a failure in the dating department. I thought about this often. There wasn’t a singular reason I could isolate. I had friends who were feminists and introverts and just plain awkward like me, yet didn’t have as much trouble finding what they were looking for, whether that was a casual hookup or a long term relationship. Other people were also confused about my spinster virgin status, but for the wrong reason. To them, being cute dictated I shouldn’t be single or a virgin. I knew that was wrong. Cute could only take you so far when you’re me.

There was just something in me that refused to compromise, that refused to flatten myself to appear more palatable to the fleeting desires of men, that curled up into a little ball whenever a guy came too close, that pulled flaws out of every single quirk and mannerism and sentiment expressed by a guy and immediately categorized them (and in turn, him) as unworthy and unforgivable, that hated uncertainty even though it was all I knew–especially when it came to romantic and sexual interest, that would prefer solitude over company if company meant having to spend time with a stranger through a contrived set of circumstances. I was impatient and unlikable and an unapologetic misandrist by default, and that was not going to change.

I started worrying about being alone in the long term. Did I have friends who would be there for me when I was old and frail? Or even now, when I get sick? Or would they be too busy with their spouses and future children? I needed to strengthen my safety net. I knew I couldn’t count on falling into a relationship for security. The idea of having a boyfriend was pretty laughable at this point. L***kana’s Boyfriend was a mythical creature, up there with the likes of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. He didn’t exist, except in the confines of my erratic imagination.

I realized I didn’t know how to live life in conjunction with someone else anyway. Being perpetually single had warped me into a solitary, eccentric creature with habits that were questionable and okay fine, sometimes downright gross. I talked to myself out loud. I danced alone in my room and occasionally attempted to twerk (then felt kind of embarrassed and guilty for having tried). I blew my nose and let the used tissues pile up next to me in bed. I clipped my nails and sometimes let them fall where they may. I preferred sleeping alone, watching shows alone, crying alone, reading alone, and writing alone. I had determined that I was pretty much a lost cause.

tinderp 9.1

Actual bedroom does not look like this.

Still. I figured I would keep going on dates anyway. It was similar to what I felt about patriarchy and white supremacy: I didn’t think anything was going to change, but I’ll be damned if it was due to a lack of effort on my part.

I ended up on Tinder again in September of that year. I was coerced into creating a new account by my friend Chelsia, who was interested in trying Tinder Social, a new feature that enabled users to go on group dates (and was probably created to increase people’s chances of participating in a threesome or orgy). She changed her mind, but I stayed on the app, sucked in by all the new prospective dates within reach of my fingertips. Dating in real life isn’t going to be any better, I told myself. Guys are still flakey. Guys are still boring. Things are still going to be awkward and confusing and disappointing. Might as well make use of an app that helps me get through them faster until I find Mr. 38-100 (See Tinderp Tale #4 for explanation).

One day, a guy I will call Tayo popped up on my feed. I knew he was interested, because he had Super Liked me. I skimmed through his photos. Only one of them made me think he was attractive. It was a high res, close up picture of him holding a turtle. I decided the quality of the single photo was enough for me to surmise that he was probably good-looking, and swiped right.

After matching, we talked a little about Pokemon Go (my current obsession at the time) and exchanged numbers. He hit me up via text right away.

9/24/16 1:38 AM
Tayo: Hey cutie. It’s Tayo #teamvalor

Where’s your name from?

Ugh. THIS question? He was a person of color, he should know better than to ask. (You may be wondering, what’s wrong with wanting to know? Well, nothing, if  a question like that is posed to everyone, but it’s not. Nobody asks Becky or John where their names are from. It’s lightweight racist and a microaggressive form of Othering, k.) We had barely chatted and already I was annoyed with him.

 Okay suck it up, or else you’re just trying to be a spinster virgin on purpose, I told myself sternly. I responded to him the next day.

9/24/16 10:21 AM
Me: Sup. Just woke up lol.

It’s Cambodian

Tayo: Sup lol. Well good morning to you. Sleep well?

Me: Actually I did! *beige thumbs up emoji*

Are you a night owl too?

Tayo: That’s good. I slept alright! No morning cuddles from you tho lol.

And yes I AM a night owl haha

Oh god, he was already shamelessly flirting with me. I had always felt that it was a risky move to be that explicit when you hadn’t even met the person in real life yet, but where had that attitude gotten me? Zero sex and zero relationships, that’s what. I decided to take a gamble and flirt back.

9/24/16 1:03 PM
Me: Cool cool cool

Maybe we can resolve the cuddling issue in the near future 😉

Tayo: I’d like that 😉

tinderp 9.2

State of Millennial Dating Culture, 2016.

We started talking about Pokemon again. He suggested we watch the show together sometime soon. I was fine with that until I found out he lived with his family and wanted to come over to my place. MY place??? I didn’t bring guys over to my place. I shared a dilapidated house with 3 other roommates. On top of being rundown, it was always messy and kind of grody (through very little fault of my own, or so I’d like to think). It was definitely not the kind of living situation you’d want to invite a guest into unless that guest was your really good friend or family member who you know for sure wouldn’t judge you and even if they did it didn’t really matter because you know they would like you anyway.

Regardless, the thought of having a guy over sounded awkward and potentially mortifying to me, no matter where I lived. I had never done it before. Would I have to give my roommates a heads up? What if my date and I ran into one of them? How would that introduction go? Was it even necessary? “Hey, this is my roommate Mackenzie. Mackenzie, this is…uh, sorry what’s your name again? Well, never mind, I’m never going to see you again anyway. Let’s go to my room and possibly fuck WHAT I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking okay bye Mackenzie!”

Me: Yeahhh let’s do something else hahaha

Tayo: Drinks?

9/24/16 5:09 PM
Me: Kk

We made plans to meet on a Monday night at a bar in Alameda I had never been to. After confirming our date, I assumed I wouldn’t hear from him until the day of, which was typical in my experience of online dating. But no. This bitch kept hitting me up over the weekend, asking me what I was up to. Honestly, I was weirded out and annoyed by his eagerness to be in constant communication with me and probably that was assholish of me, but c’mon! We didn’t actually know each other and we had already made plans to get better acquainted in person. No need to fill in the space before then with vapid small talk. Maybe OKCupid Learkana would have liked this pre-date back-and-forth, but Tinder Learkana was fed up with it and didn’t want to hear from your trivial ass until she could verify your fuckability IRL.

 Monday night came. I was late to our date because I had gotten sidetracked by discussing the first presidential debate with one of my roommates (aka ranting about what a mediocre racist sexist piece of shit Trump was/is). I felt slightly guilty but mostly apathetic. I walked into the bar and was unpleasantly surprised. It was filled with white people. I was slightly irritated because I like my spaces to be diverse whenever possible. A predominantly white space signaled to me that there was a reason people of color stayed away. But there was no backing out now.

Tayo and I greeted each other with a hug and got a couple of beers. Despite our racially homogeneous surroundings, I enjoyed talking with him. He was easygoing and friendly and it didn’t feel awkward at all. He was a dance instructor for kids at a local school, which I thought was pretty cool. The problem was that I wasn’t really attracted to him. That one picture I had depended on ended up being a fluke. In person, he was more compact than I thought he would be. He actually kind of reminded me of the turtle he was holding in the picture, but like, not in a good way. I felt bad, but it couldn’t be helped. I was also feeling a little uneasy, because I could tell he was still attracted to me IRL. He complimented me on my outfit and subtly touched me throughout the night. It spelled trouble in my mind. I pushed the discomfort away, kept drinking my beer, and blabbed on and on about Pokemon and books and music and TV shows. My attempts to keep things light and breezy were helped by the blinding white environment in which it probably wouldn’t have been safe for either of us to bring up the current election in great detail, although the white people in the background (for once) were pretty preoccupied with playing white people trivia. (Well, I assumed it was centered on white media, because the questions revolved around shows both Tayo and I had never heard of or watched. Could have just been a generational thing, but who are we kidding, probably a white people thing.)

tinderp 9.3

Actual bar was not this fancy.

After a couple of hours of chilling at the bar, we headed out. He walked me to my car, smiled and hugged me. “Text me when you get home,” he said.

I don’t remember if I had forgotten or if I purposely neglected to send him the requested text. (Knowing me, it could have been the latter. Yes, I can be an asshole, I thought we established this.) But a little while after I got home, Tayo checked up on me:

9/26/16 11:07 PM
Tayo: Did you make it home ok?

Me: Yes! Sorry I’m terrible at sending “I made it home” text messages lol I always forget [this is usually true okay]

Tayo: lol you totally forgot haha *laugh-cry emoji*

Thanks for tonight *smiling blush emoji* *rose emoji*

Were those emojis really necessary? What the hell was the rose emoji supposed to represent? If he had actually given me a rose in person, the emoji would have made sense in addition to being a much sweeter gesture, but no. Ugh, millennial dating culture. But anyway! This was bad. I tried to sound noncommittal in my response.

Me: Yeah! I had a good time [I mean it was true, just not in the way he wanted]

Tayo: Cool. Let’s do it again soon. We never watched Pokemon hah

Oh god, he was still fixated on that?! I cursed myself for flirting with him and carelessly indulging his Netflix-and-cuddle fantasies before we had even met up in person. Lesson learned: Do NOT flirt with someone until you’ve looked them in the face. (Or at least keep it to a bare minimum and don’t suggest intimate activities beforehand.) Watching Pokemon was probably a euphemism for fucking. Even if he had no ulterior motive, I still didn’t want to watch Pokemon with him. I was perfectly fine with reliving my childhood and retrospectively hating Ash’s arrogant, mediocre Pokemon trainer ass on my own, thank you very much.

If I was a decent person, I would have sent a very tactful response explaining that while I had a good time with Tayo at the bar, I regretfully didn’t feel much of a spark. But at the time, I couldn’t think of what I could honestly say without sounding like a total asshole. The truth was that I wasn’t physically attracted to him, and that sounded terrible no matter how I tried to spin it. I didn’t want to lie either. So I took the coward’s way out and didn’t say anything, which still made me an asshole–just a more passive one.

A few days passed. He texted me again, much to my dismay.

9/29/16 8:06 PM
Tayo: Hey u

Me: Sup

Tayo: How are you

9/29/16 10:05 PM
Me: Hella tired *dead-eyed emoji*

Tayo: I feel it. I’ve been falling in and out of sleep.
How is your week going?

I didn’t respond. The thought of texting either small talk or a politely worded rejection to him overwhelmed me. I couldn’t deal with it. Please just let him take the hint, I thought.

He didn’t. Or maybe he refused to. (Dudes are socially conditioned to be pursuers, after all.) Over a week later, he sent me another text.

10/10/16 2:19 PM
Tayo: We totally should go Pokémon hunting
around lake Merritt. I want more dratini’s lol

Goddamnit why couldn’t he just get that I didn’t want to see him again?! I wasn’t sure what to do.

“Just text him that you’re busy and will hit him up when you’re free,” said my friend Susan.

“But…isn’t that lying?” I said incredulously, as if my silence didn’t also make me an asshole.

“Just do it,” she advised. “That’s how dating works. If you’re not interested, tell him you’re busy. He’ll get the hint eventually.”

I unfortunately took her advice.

10/10/16 9:22 PM
Me: Hey! Sorry I have a lot going on right now, I’ll let you know when I’m free

Tayo: Ok

I wasn’t sure if he finally got the hint in that moment or maybe days, weeks, even months later, but I never heard from him again. I’m pretty confident that I reached new levels of assholishness with this exchange.

Looking back, I wish I had responded to his text message about wanting to meet up again with something along these lines:

Me: Hey, so I think you’re a great guy and I enjoyed hanging out with you. But I didn’t really feel the sort of chemistry I’m looking for in a potential dating partner. That said, it was nice meeting you and I wish you well. 🙂

Or maybe that message would have been more hurtful than what I did. I’m not sure. I’d like to think honesty is the best policy, but I know not everyone thinks that. I also know that pairing tact with honesty doesn’t guarantee a warm reception. “The truth hurts” is cliché for a reason. Suffice it to say, rejection sucks on both ends. (Although yes, quite a bit more on the receiving end. Ugh. I’m really sorry for my shitty behavior after our one and only date, Tayo…who will likely never read this apology considering that it’s embedded in a very wordy blog post written almost a year later and addressed to a pseudonym.)

If I was deeply invested in the idea of cosmic consequences for individual human actions, I would say that the universe probably wanted to punish me for how I treated Tayo, because my next misadventure ended up being the worst thing to ever happen to me thus far in my sporadic dating life. But that’s an excruciatingly humiliating and tediously complicated story for another time.

tl;dr Learkana is going to die alone and unlaid, probably! Learkana ghosts on a guy because she didn’t want to tell him she doesn’t like his face although in hindsight she definitely could have used her writing skills to offer up a more nuanced and considerate rejection! Learkana is an asshole!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Swell Bar
Rating: *
Review: Too many white people. But if diversity is not your thing, you’ll like it okay.

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OKBye Story #10: Romance Not Guaranteed

I was on a dating hiatus. Just for a little bit. It was the summer of 2014. I had cut off my hair, because I was sick of it being so long and also fuck the patriarchy! I didn’t give (that much of) a fuck about the male gaze! I was (am?) a strong, independent woman who could do whatever the fuck she wanted, including get boys without relying on some stupid online dating website. So what if I had gone to a women’s college, meaning there would be no opportunities to reconnect with the imaginary cute guy in my feminist social ethics class on Facebook? Psh, I could meet guys at work.

Well. Okay, I couldn’t do that either, since all my coworkers are cis hetero females and even if they weren’t, that would be very unprofessional and inappropriate.

I could…meet guys at the bar or the club!

LOL as if, moving on.

Meet guys through mutual friends?

That would also be weird, and everyone kept saying that the available guys they knew were douchebags anyway.

Meet guys on the street?

Not with my resting bitchface and existing de facto conditions of sexual harassment.

So then what?

Back to the online dating cesspool it was. Damnit.

So I created a new account and wrote up a new profile that, according to my friend Elizabeth, was less quirky and way more cynical than my old profile, one of the reasons probably being that this time around I decided to be more explicit of my personal battle against white supremacy and wrote “pissing off white guys” as an item under the section of things “I’m really good at.” I figured it would filter out most of the ignorant, entitled assholes and colorblind idiots. This was round two, and I was always already over the bullshit.

One of the first dudes to message me was an Indian guy who was maybe like a 70% match. He looked cute, plus he liked Pokemon, and he wasn’t white.

abed1

I figured he couldn’t be that bad. And hey, I actually have proof of this awkward interaction (and others from here on out) since this account was never spontaneously deleted, so here you go:

RandomDude10 – Sent on 7/31/2014

If you’re pikachu, then I’m Ash (nickname + one of my pics on here haha)! What’s your list of karaoke songs / what must you always sing? I figured I shouldn’t stick to only pokemon. Even though I want to so bad.

CrumpleHSnorkack – Sent on 8/1/2014

By that analogy do you mean to suggest that you’re my master and you want to capture me because I’m an animal?

Nicki Minaj and T-Swizzle

RandomDude10 – Sent from the OkCupid app 8/1/2014

No I just think we’d get along. Pikachu and Ash are more friends than master/animal. Maybe I’m too innocent to see otherwise :<

Ooh nice selection. Mines backstreet boys and some Baby by Bieber. A lil bit of Katy P sprinkled in too.

So you hate small talk, and I’m not white so you probably won’t piss me off… What do you think about maybe grabbing a drink next week and having that deep convo about {whatever you want or whatever we come up with}?

CrumpleHSnorkack – Sent on 8/1/2014

I could still piss you off. But I guess we’ll see.

RandomDude10 – Sent from the OkCupid app 8/1/2014

Right. I said probably. I can’t tell if you want to get drinks or not haha. Can I get your name and number if you do

CrumpleHSnorkack – Sent on 8/1/2014

Learkana xxx-xxx-xxxx

your name?

RandomDude10 – Sent from the OkCupid app 8/1/2014

Abed*, xxx-xxx-xxxx

Let me know when a good time next week would be.

*name changed due to barest minimum of respect for individual confidentiality.

(I know I know, I sounded totally cold and detached and heartless or whatever but it’s a defense mechanism okay sheesh.)

We made plans to meet up at some bar in downtown Oakland. He texted smileys to me, a communication style that I did not reciprocate. I was wary of appearing affectionate or overtly friendly to dudes I didn’t know, regardless of whether I actually liked them or not. Stupidly enough, it didn’t occur to me until much, much later that maybe acting like Frosty the Snowbitch would bite me in the ass and, as a result, maybe I should take preemptive measures to not have this alleged defense mechanism bite me in the ass.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. On the night of this tenth first date, I drove to downtown Oakland and proceeded to walk over to the aforementioned bar that shall not be named, mostly because I don’t remember what it was called. He was already there. He was more attractive in person, which made me feel self-conscious. He smiled at me, but made no move to touch me. “Ready to go in?”

“Yeah,” I said cheerily, digging in my pocket for my ID and credit card. Oh fuck. I checked my other pocket. Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. I didn’t have a purse because of my fuck-gender-roles-I-don’t-need-a-purse-to-carry-shit-and-make-me-even-more-vulnerable-to-being-robbed mentality at the time, which was why I had slipped what I needed into my pockets before I rushed out of the house. Or at least, I thought I had, but my pockets were coming up empty. So I had no ID to get into the bar, and no card to pay for my own drink like the strong, independent woman I wanted to project.

Abed didn’t seem too annoyed about it, and suggested we go to the beer garden on Telegraph instead, which would be less of a hassle to get into. We ended up sitting at a table and just talking. Well, he was the one doing most of the talking. I said very little because I was repressing my raging intersectional feminist dialectic and couldn’t think of anything interesting to say that wasn’t somehow connected to the white capitalist heteropatriarchy. Am I really that boring without feminism? I wondered as he went on about his job. Oh god. I’m a boring person. Ugh.

I found myself staring at his lips a lot, and wondering what it would be like to kiss them. I hoped he wasn’t noticing my creepiness. He did seem very into his own story. He was talking about his roommates who were a couple and also like his best friends, and he was recounting the one time he walked in on them having sex. I laughed and OMG’d in all the right places. (I mean, I think I did.) He then launched into the story of how he auditioned for the role of the token Indian dude in Safety Not Guaranteed (that shitty movie starring Aubrey Plaza and some white dude), but didn’t make the cut.

My raging intersectional feminist dialectic bubbled up to the surface. “Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t get the part,” I said. “I think it’s fucked up how the Indian guy is emasculated in that movie.”

He made a noncommittal noise and changed the topic. I took that as a sign that he didn’t want to discuss the emasculation of Asian males in the media with me. Oops.

The burden of being interesting weighed more heavily on my shoulders as the night went on and Abed continued to be an annoyingly charismatic storyteller. God. I needed alcohol. Well actually he needed alcohol I decided, since I didn’t have my ID. Maybe if I got some alcohol in him he would see me in a slightly more interesting light. “You want to get a drink?” I asked more than once, nodding over at the bar.

“No, I’m good,” he replied every time. Ughhhh, damn him, and damn the fact that I needed alcohol to feel less awkward and boring on a first date.

abed2

So he kept talking, and I kept trying to listen, but mostly I was wondering where this was going, because so far it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. After an hour or so, he finally got up and started talking about getting dinner, and how he had some work meeting he had to attend, and I found myself leaving the bar and walking with him as he pointed out how he needed to go that way down the street before asking me where I was going and there I was, with a sort of disbelieving feeling and look on my face, caused by a gradual realization that made me blurt out, “Wait…are we splitting up?”

“Yeah, do you know where you’re going?” he asked, slightly concerned.

“Yes, I do,” I snapped.

“Okay, great! Well, it was nice meeting you,” he said while smiling and shooting finger guns at me, “Had a good time, we can text each other if we wanna hang out again okay bye!” And across the street he went.

Bitch, you know as well as I do that neither of us are gonna text each other! I wanted to shout at him.

Instead, I turned around like a normal person and walked back to my car, trying to figure out whether that was the rudest or politest rejection I had received from a guy. I made it to my car JUST FINE, opened the door and found my driver’s license and credit card laid out on the driver’s seat. Both must have fallen out of my pocket while I was on my way to meet up with Abed. Of course. Of course that would happen.

I wondered if the night would have turned out differently if I had had my license and credit card on me when we met up. Maybe the night would have ended in some sloppy drunk kissing. Or maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, because he had decided I was ugly in person, and that was why he had been so passive-aggressive about wanting to end the date early. Or maybe I was really boring and he had used up all his small talk skills on me. Or maybe he was hoping I was only a stiff, cold-hearted bitch through text, only to realize upon meeting me that I was actually also a stiff, cold-hearted bitch in real life. Or maybe…

Oh, fuck it. I couldn’t deal with all this antifeminist overanalyzing and wallowing by myself. So I went home, got a beer from my roommate Mackenzie, made her listen to my heteronormative woes, and she made me watch The Birdcage starring Robin Williams the end.

tl;dr Boy messages girl, girl and boy meet up at a bar, girl forgets her ID so they go to another bar, girl and boy make awkward sober small talk which is the worst kind of small talk, boy leaves and literally pulls a kthnxbye on girl, girl and boy never see each other again