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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. Learkana’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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Tinderp Tale #8: I Hate Kissing (Or Maybe Just Men)

Sex was at the forefront of my mind lately. Before, my thoughts around it was just background noise: Oh yeah, getting laid, that’s something I definitely need to do at some point. Now my train of thought was more along the lines of, OH MY FUCKING GOD LEARKANA JUST FUCK SOMEONE ALREADY! DO IT NOW DO IT NOW DO IT NOW–

While I was hornier than I used to be, it was more so a combination of curiosity and panic that was fueling my desire to have sex. I constantly wondered what it was like, being naked with someone. Having them look at me in such a vulnerable state, touch me, and engage with body parts I rarely indulged in myself. Trying to imagine the logistics of sex deeply confused and intrigued me. It was strange, knowing I had a published sex scene in my name, yet had never gone past first base with anyone. Part of me wanted to have sex just to be able to write about it from a more authentic place. But I was also freaking out because I wasn’t getting any younger and losing my V card, in my mind, was tied to my independence and freedom as an adult woman.

I had already meticulously read up on birth control methods and forced my OB/GYN to shove a hormonal IUD up my vagina and into my uterus in November.

tinderp 8.1b

My OB/GYN does not actually talk like this.

The next thing to do was find a penis attached to a hot dude whose company I tolerated enough to have him stick it in me and get it over with.

This was easier said than done.

Other people thought the opposite. They argued that because I was cute and a girl, that I could literally walk up to any guy at random, ask him if he wanted to fuck, and ta da! I would instantly have access to dick. I didn’t think so because I strongly felt that the process of having sex was wayyy more complicated than that. Case in point, this text convo with a Tinder dude I ended up never meeting up with:


Tinder Dude: I’m sure you can get laid.
It’s a matter of you picking someone

Me: Everyone keeps saying it’s easy but I disagree.

Tinder Dude: Guys are not picky when it comes to sex

Me: But I’m picky. I don’t want it to be terrible

and I don’t want to feel used

Tinder Dude: Aren’t you using them?
I mean if you’re out there just lookin for sex,
then you’ll meet a lot of the like minded guys on tinder.
It seems to me it’s more of a mutual agreement.
Both sides benefit.

But those are my thoughts and I don’t want to sway
you into thinking like me.

Btw I’m heading back to OC now.
If you ever decide to visit let me know.
If you want to have sex, awesome.
If not and you just want to be shown around,
I’m cool with that too. Sex doesn’t drive me believe it or not

Me: Okay you are starting to sound a little judgmental. Smh. I don’t want to have sex with just anybody. If I picked the first willing guy from Tinder and told him up front I just wanted to have sex it’s probably going to be shitty. I can’t tell based on a few crappy pictures and a mediocre bio whether or not I’m going to have chemistry with someone. And I’ve never been able to get to the emotional space to ask someone to have sex with me. To me sex is about being really vulnerable and intimate in a way I haven’t experienced, it’s kind of frightening because I need to find someone who would make me feel safe

Also guys don’t seem to want to deal with virgins. The ones who do are sexist assholes with archaic ideas about women and purity


Basically, I was my own cuntblock. I couldn’t see sex as purely physical because my brain likes to add layers on top of everything. There’s the physical aspect yes, but there are also the emotional, psychological, social, and political dimensions of sex that I couldn’t ignore. This multifaceted lens didn’t just apply to sex. It applied to everything going on in the world that I interacted with. I internalize everything, dissect it in a million ways, and the reductive conclusion of this over-analysis more often than not boils down to: I’m fucked up. The world is fucked up. I can’t do this. It can be exhausting and self-sabotaging, but it’s an automatic thought process that I haven’t really been able to control. Honestly, if you could somehow try living in my head for a day, you’d probably kill yourself.

On a lighter note, I was still determined to get laid. I just knew I had way more internal hoops to jump through before that could happen.

Tinder was a total joke to me at this point, but perusing the inadequate profiles of strange men had become a habit. An ego boost for every match made, even when words were never exchanged. A double ego boost when a guy “Super Liked” me (a kinda creepy new feature that enabled a user to immediately let another user know that they were interested, regardless if the Super Liked user had reciprocated that interest by swiping right or Super Liking back). I’ve never Super Liked someone and rejected most Super Likes I received. But along came a guy I will call Brian #2 (due to him having the same IRL name as “Brian” from OKC). There was nothing special about Brian #2. He had a bunch of shitty pictures taken of him at a distance that gave me the impression that he was either really, really hot, or very average looking. He had written a little paragraph in his bio that told me things about himself, nothing memorable or of importance. And he had Super Liked me.

I decided to swipe right. Why the hell not, I thought. He made an effort, which is a lot more than most of the garbage I’ve seen on here. I’ll take a chance. It’s not like I have a lot of options anyway.


 Brian #2 Super Liked You on 2/4/16

Brian #2 

Hi 😀

Favorite boba place in the bay?


Yes! Starting the convo with boba. He was scoring points with me.


Me

Hey

*gif of Danny Tanner from 90s family sitcom Full House putting up a finger gun*

Lol the gifs are a nice new awkward touch

Favorite boba place would have to be green bubble since it’s pretty close to where I am. I also like sharetea, honeyboba and tea papa


After bonding over boba, Brian #2 got a bit more flirtatious:


Brian #2

So I know you have a resume, but what would I need to be considered a good candidate for you? 😀

Haha that’s true! [referring to a comment I made that we may have run into each other at Green Bubble without even knowing it] But I’d like to think I’d remember you. I did swipe up after all 😉


Me

I think I list a few qualifications in my resume lol

But honestly idk. You wrote actual stuff about yourself in your profile so you’ve pretty much met the bare minimum of what I’m looking for

😀


After a few more messages, Brian #2 finally asked if I was free next week, which I assumed would segue into asking me out. I gave him my availability. A few days passed. No response from him. I was confused and annoyed. Why had he pretended to be so interested in me if he was gonna go ghost on me so quickly?

tinderp 8.2b

I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and checked in on him.


Me

Uh does your silence mean you’re not free or no longer interested? Maybe both? *contemplative face emoji*


Brian #2 responded the next day, letting me know he had been sick with some sort of flu. He asked if we could reschedule. I said okay and wished him well. A few more days passed. He let me know he was feeling better and would still like to get boba with me. I told him I was still down to do that. His overall response time, however, was so slow that by the time we finally made concrete plans and exchanged numbers, nearly a month had passed since we initially matched. At this point I was pretty wary of this dude and was skeptical of whether his flakey ass would show up to our date. I mean, I get that he was sick, but come on! A whole month? That’s like YEARS in millennial dating time.

He did in fact show up to our date. I was running late, as per usual. He was waiting for me in the middle of the shopping center in Oakland Chinatown. I spotted him sitting on a bench by the fountain with headphones on, looking serene. I almost felt like I was intruding in some way. “Oh, hey,” I said. He looked over at me, took off his headphones, and smiled. He was a bit too skinny for my taste, but he was stylish and had nice teeth. We walked over to i-Tea, a boba shop next door. After getting our drinks to go (which was the only option, the place was so tiny), we decided to take a stroll around Chinatown.

It was a surprisingly pleasant first date. We ended up at the playground briefly, and hung out on the swings until I felt nauseous from the physical activity combined with the milk tea I had quickly gulped down. We walked more blocks after that. The streets were dark and empty. We were going past the same dinky shops and late night restaurants, but I stopped noticing after a while. One hour turned into three then four, which was way more time than I had anticipated spending with him.

We talked about our jobs (I think he worked as a graphic designer), family, past dating experiences. Brian #2’s family situation sounded pretty bleak, from what I could remember. His parents split up when he was young. He had a ton of siblings, but wasn’t close to many of them. He was a serial monogamist and confessed that he broke up with past girlfriends because they wanted to be more serious and get married, but he didn’t. I actually wasn’t sure why he was being so open about all of this, but I found it fascinating to listen to him. The more I learned, the more I started rationalizing how compatible we were. He had a dysfunctional family who probably fucked him up in ways he still doesn’t understand to this day, which was great, because I also have a dysfunctional family who fucked me up in ways I’m still trying to understand! He wasn’t interested in anything serious due to a deep-seated fear of commitment, which was perfect, because I wasn’t interested in anything serious due to deep-seated feelings of misandry! He’s had a bunch of girlfriends who wanted to marry him, which was awesome, because he must be good in bed with all that experience and I’ve been wanting to lose my virginity to a guy who knew what the fuck he was doing! (Completely flawed analysis, I know, but let me live in this moment, okay.)

By the end of the night, I saw him in a different light. He had become much more attractive since the first time I laid eyes on him. The waiting game was finally working for once! At one point during our conversation, I looked at him and thought, I would let this guy fuck me.

tinderp 8.3b

Was not actually rainy on our date. “Oakland chinatown night” didn’t really yield many Google results for me to choose from ok

He mentioned having his own place nearby. I wondered how to get him to invite me over. It seemed like a bad idea to directly ask him myself. It would come off as desperate, which I kind of was, but that was unattractive and so I had to pretend like I wasn’t because that was one of many arbitrary rules in the game of heteronormative millennial dating. I got the sense that he was also interested in me. Why else would he spend hours walking endless circles with a strange girl in a neighborhood he had grown up in, conversationally pouring his heart out? Just make a fucking move already, dude.

He didn’t, sadly. It was getting late, so I told him I had to go. He walked me to my car. I smiled at him. “I had a good time.”

“Oh…me too,” he said.

I waited. He just stood there, a look of uncertainty on his face.

I realized right then that this bitch was more awkward than me.

God fucking damn it. What a turnoff.

“I’ll just hug you, if that’s okay,” I said.

“Oh…” was all he could utter.

I hugged him. “Okay–good night!”

I got into my car and drove off.

I was actually pretty optimistic about my prospects with this guy, in spite of the anticlimactic goodbye. I was leaving the country soon for a three-week vacation trip to Cambodia with my mother, so it was now or never. I asked Brian #2 if we could get together again before I left. He said yes. We made plans to meet at Cafe Van Kleef, one of my go-to bars for dates. Once again, I was running late. He texted me that he was already there drinking.

Brian #2: I shouldn’t drink too much. I start touching people when I’m tipsy 😛

I decided this was the opportune moment to showcase my slowly budding flirting skills.

Me: Well, depending on how the night goes we can negotiate the no hands policy 😉

He sent a blushing face emoji.

I finally made it into the bar. Brian #2 was sitting at a table in the back. I got a beer and joined him. I was disappointed to find that whatever attraction I felt toward him from last time had disappeared. Even worse, our conversation had regressed into jagged stops and starts. Fuck. How was this possible?! I was sober last time. It didn’t make any sense. “Wanna play a drinking game?” I asked in an attempt to salvage our connection.

“Sure,” he said. I explained the rules: We take turns asking a question that could be about anything. The other person must answer honestly, or drink in response.

The game was fun at first, but quickly spiraled into dangerous territory. My stubborn, shameless ass answered everything he threw at me, with the exception of “What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in high school?” (I drank instead, because the answer to the question involved my period and even I knew period talk was a no-no on a second date–again, per the rules of heteronormative millennial dating.) The game inevitably led to me admitting I was a virgin, and doing so felt just as uncomfortable as the last time (due to my own insecurities, not anything he said or did). Brian #2 was also game to answer every question I posed to him. I don’t remember much of the details–but it was all very personal and sexually explicit. At one point in this game I thought, Okay, we should stop. But calling it quits would make me a coward. And what would the alternative be? Having nothing to say to each other? So we kept at it, even when we were done drinking and in the middle of leaving the bar.

“Should we keep playing?” I asked once we were outside. “We don’t have anything to drink now.”

“Okay, instead of drinking when we can’t answer something, how about we kiss?” he suggested.

Oh my fucking God. “Okay, sure,” I replied, smiling to hide all the panic and turmoil churning inside of me. Kissing?! Well, it was obvious he was interested in me now. I was nervous because I didn’t have much experience with kissing and I wasn’t sure if that was something I wanted to do with him. I’ll just keep answering whatever he asks. That way I won’t have to kiss him, I thought.

We walked around downtown Oakland, engaged in this rhetorical game of sexuality and desire. Questions became more probing, more intimate. I answered them all. He did the same. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t just say good night and leave. I guess I was still clinging hard to the possibility that I could eventually like Brian #2 enough to have him devirginize me, per my aforementioned desperation.

tinderp 8.4

We started interrogating each other about kissing. I confessed I hadn’t kissed anyone in about 3 years. He asked why. “I don’t know if I like it, honestly,” I said. “I didn’t really enjoy any of my experiences. The first guy I made out with used too much tongue and it really grossed me out.” I asked him if he was good at kissing. Out of all the questions I asked him, this was the one that stumped him for whatever reason. He stopped walking. “Let’s just kiss,” he said.

I stared at him. “What?”

“Let’s kiss,” he repeated.

“Um–okay–” I leaned in and closed my eyes. His hands fell to my waist. And just like that, we were kissing. In the middle of the sidewalk. And it felt…gross. Ugh. I was stuck on how bland his mouth tasted, the sliminess of his tongue. The unavoidable wetness. I pulled away and resumed walking. Good thing no one was around.

“So how does it feel to kiss someone after 3 years?” Brian #2 asked, falling into step beside me.

“Um. It feels okay,” I lied. I felt betrayed, even though some part of me knew I was being irrational. But I had told him what I didn’t like about kissing, and he went ahead and did it anyway. “How was my kissing?” I asked out of curiosity.

This bitch actually paused to deliberate. “Hmm, I think you should use more tongue. But let me see.” He stopped me so we could kiss again. I hated it just as much the second time. I let him walk me to my car, feelings of repulsion and resentment and disappointment boiling underneath the surface.

“Well, thanks for hanging out,” I said. “I’m gonna be gone for that trip, but it was nice seeing you.”

“Would you like to kiss again?” he asked, smiling.

I smiled back. “No.”

His smile faltered, then disappeared altogether. “Oh–okay.”

My insides twisted momentarily. I ducked into my car and tried to ignore the slinking figure I had rejected and was now driving past.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK. I was angry–at him, at myself. Why couldn’t he just be a good kisser? Why couldn’t I just enjoy kissing him? Will I ever enjoy kissing someone? Was the problem with me? Why hadn’t he taken notes from what I had said about kissing, and applied them in our situation? Did he really think he was the exception to the rule? And he had the fucking nerve to actually critique my kissing ability when his was shit! If my kissing was so bad, why the fuck did he keep asking to kiss me? The fact that he kept initiating meant that he must have enjoyed it on some level. You don’t keep asking for things you don’t enjoy.

The worst thing of all to contemplate was whether this disconnect would happen with sex. Was a guy going to fuck me and enjoy it, while I was going to be left feeling disgusted and disappointed? What was the point of being straight when cishet men were so clueless, unsatisfying, and inconsiderate? I briefly wondered, not for the first time, if I was asexual or a lesbian. I didn’t think so, but still. Fuck men. Fuck dating. I was fed up with it all. Thank goodness I was leaving the country, where I wouldn’t have to think about my shitty dating life.

Visiting Cambodia was a profound experience for me. It was beautiful and affirming to be there with family I had never met, but it also served as a stark and painful reminder of how much of an outsider I was, whether I was in my mother’s homeland or in the country I was born. By the time I returned to the United States, I found myself engulfed in the throes of a deepening existential crisis. I didn’t know what direction my life should be taking. Not even the people in my life stayed constant. I burned bridges, one after another. I realized I hadn’t felt happy in a while. Only Queen Beyonce and her masterpiece, Lemonade, provided me with any relief from the stresses of life.

There wasn’t much room for dating exploits in the midst of all this. I deleted Tinder at the end of April, the month after I came back from my trip. The optimism I had worked so hard to keep aloft had deflated considerably. So what if I died alone, unlaid and unloved? I had other things to worry about, like systematic oppression and the meaning of life.

Of course, if you’re a loyal reader of mine, you would know this was just a brief hiatus from the bullshit of millennial dating culture. I would get back out there and fail again. I still really wanted to get laid, after all.

tl;dr Learkana desperately wants to lose her virginity! Learkana makes out with a guy and wants to throw up! Learkana does not get laid!

 Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: i-Tea
Rating: *****
Review: I ordered the milk tea with boba. It was delicious. The tapioca balls were perfectly made: soft and chewy, with a sweet undertone. 5/5 for the boba alone. There’s nowhere to sit but you and your date can walk around the area and talk. (Being active can make things less awkward anyway. Right? Fuck if I know, shit’s always awkward for me regardless.) Totally visit the playground. The playground is fun. (Maybe just sit on the swings though if you get milk tea.)

0

Tinderp Tale #4: Rhymes With Beyonce

Using Tinder to meet guys was a lot less stressful than using OKCupid. It wasn’t just the simpler interface and limited access to information that the infamous app provided, it was also my new approach to dating. I stopped worrying about whether or not a prospective date wanted to smash the patriarchy, and focused more on whether or not I wanted him to smash my pussy. I WAS HORNY, OKAY. My sexual awakening had arrived late, but arrive it did in the late fall of 2014, when a trip to Good Vibrations and some encouragement from friends spurred me to explore sexual pleasure on my own. I ended up buying a vibrator that to this day remains one of the best purchases I’ve made. (Fun fact: I named it Harry Styles. Don’t judge me, naming a sex toy is less embarrassing than naming your genitals. But, uh, if you have named your genitals, totally no judgment here. And yes, this entire opening = TMI. I know, I know. Sorry, I’ll rein it in. Ish.)

Anyway, I was a 23-year-old perpetually single virgin at this time, and despite my constant refrains of feminist empowerment and reclamation, this identity was really starting to get on my nerves. I was desperate to have something more tangible than a couple of dates that fizzled into nothing. Why not a two month fling that ended with us as actual friends who could eventually give each other dating advice and support? Why not a six month situation where we really like each other until we get into a huge fight about reproductive rights or some other politically charged issue and I’m like, fuck off #ByeFelipe? Or what about a couple of weeks of fooling around with a sexually experienced, feminist-leaning guy who’s down to help me safely navigate my sexuality, using an X-rated to-do list that I’ve been meaning to compile for a while now? Love wasn’t off the table, but it wasn’t some closeted priority like it was when I was using OKCupid. I just wanted to start off with mutual attraction and interest. Why was that so fucking difficult?

Thank goodness for my Dating Sensei Sayuri. It was a little rocky at first, but she finally got into her groove and matched me up with dudes I was interested in banging. “You’re so good at picking guys for me!” I told her. “I don’t trust my judgment at all anymore. I’m wholly dependent on you, because you know better than I do!”

This was supposed to be a fucking compliment, but Sayuri had a look of alarm on her face. “Uh, that’s not a good thing, Learkana. You shouldn’t rely on me. I think I’m gonna have to stop swiping for you.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” I cried, lapsing into great anguish and emotional turmoil for a few minutes. Then: “Okay whatever, fine. I can’t make you do it.”

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Well, it was nice while it lasted. Now I was left to fend for myself in this murky dating cesspool. Eventually, though, I was able to formulate a stricter set of guidelines for myself that determined who was and who wasn’t right swipe material. (Okay fine, just who wasn’t.)

Learkana’s (In)Eligibility Criteria for Potential Tinder Matches

  1. No white guys. If you are confused or offended by this, you can find a more elaborate explanation here. If you are still confused or offended by this, thank you for reading my blog, now fuck off. 🙂
  2. No ab pics. I am shockingly more interested in what a dude’s face looks like than in how muscled his abdomen area is.
  3. No blank bios. I get it, dudes are on Tinder because they’re DTF and literally that’s it. But I’m still gonna need them to exert some brainpower and write a sentence or two about themselves if they want a shot at getting it in, kthnx.
  4. No boring, generic bios about tech, travel, and the outdoors. Ugh, like 80+% of Tinder’s male demographic is guilty of this.
  5. No bios that consist entirely of emojis. See explanation for #3.
  6. No consistently glaring spelling or grammar errors. I realize this may be classist/racist/ableist, but I’m a low-income person of color who got her degree in English, I’ve devoted my life to the written word, and I constantly proofread my own fucking text messages, I cannot handle communications I personally deem poorly written especially if it’s just some random dude from the Internet I have no emotional or professional stake in, sorry.
  7. No less than 3 quality photos to determine attractiveness of prospective match. Please, dudes, you think just 1 or 2 photos of yourself will suffice? Your mediocre bio says otherwise. Also, grainy photos from 3+ years ago do not count as “quality” photos. Also, neither do photos of you in groups of friends where sometimes I honestly can’t tell which one is you since your social group is so fucking racially homogeneous and that’s not racist, that’s just an inability to differentiate regardless of what race you project because I don’t know or care about your ass yet and your pictures suck balls, also you can forget about photos of you taken 50+ feet away from the camera or at some weird, “artsy” angle that does a shit job at showing your face, you should be ashamed of yourself like seriously. (What the fuck is wrong with dudes on dating apps? Do these motherfuckers actually want to get laid? Then they better start taking some tasteful, hi-res pictures that suggest actual fuckability! If they don’t wanna come off as vain or whatever, then they should get their fucking friends to do it! Being superficial is a two way street, goddamnit. Yes, I have some very strong feelings about this.)

It soon dawned on me that I was not a cultural fit with Tinder. I was a race-conscious feminist writer who wanted to get laid but still cared about things like compelling biographical narrative in shorthand form and is this guy hot and why can’t I tell immediately? I didn’t give a fuck about your passport adventures, had little to no interest in hiking or other physical endeavors unless I really liked you and in these circumstances that would never be a given, and I basically hated people as a general rule. Why the hell was I on here again?

Because of my vagina, duh. And other things integral to the human condition that I was not immune to (loneliness, desire, blah blah blah). (Ooh! Working title of my future autobiography: My Vagina and Other Things Integral to The Human Condition – y/n?)

Anyway, given that my requirements were reduced to what I didn’t want, as opposed to what I actually wanted (which I still wasn’t too sure of), that left a lot of room for plenty of A-OK dudes to fill up my inbox. One of whom I will refer to as Rhymes With Beyonce. Why? Because his name actually did rhyme with The Queen’s, and this fact (spoiler alert) was literally the only interesting thing about this guy.


You matched with Rhymes with Beyonce on 7/12/15

Rhymes With Beyonce

Hello there. 🙂 My name is [Rhymes with Beyonce] and I currently stay is [sic] San Francisco. I was wondering if you’d like to talk and get to know one another better? :). I’d love to chat.


Me

Sure! I’m Learkana (leer-kaw-nah) and I currently live in Oakland


Rhymes With Beyonce

:). Its nice to meet you Learkana. What do you like to do?


Me

Dancing karaoke writing reading having deep conversations getting boba making awkward videos of myself…you?


Rhymes With Beyonce

I like that a lot. I’m a professional cook so I love to cook, have fun, relax, great conversations, travel and more. :).


We kept going back and forth for a while. His responses were so boring we accidentally had the same conversation twice because I had forgotten his response the first time around. I also couldn’t tell whether his excessive use of smileys was his way of flirting or if that was just his way of textually conveying he was a super duper nice guy, but regardless it was kind of annoying.

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At one point he called me “love” and said I was “the most awesome person” he’s met on Tinder, which made no fucking sense to me, because we didn’t actually know each other and had never met in person. Still, I asked him out in an attempt to be optimistic and non-judgmental. Maybe he was more interesting in real life? (Nope.) Maybe we would hit it off. Maybe he’d be the one to devirginize me. Maybe we would eventually marry each other in a surprise twist and he would become the house husband I’ve been harboring as a fantasy ever since I realized I possessed little to no domestic skills and should probably exchange freaky monogamous sex for domestic labor and caregiving provided by a hot dude who could also put up with my eccentric nature and intense personality. (Nope, nope, and nope.)

Rhymes With Beyonce asked for my number and we made plans via text to meet up at Jupiter, a brew house in Berkeley. This would be my third time going there for a date. Considering how poorly the first two times went, I probably shouldn’t have agreed to this location, but I honestly couldn’t have cared less about where we met up at this juncture in my dating exploits, so as long as it was in a public location, in case he turned out to be a murderer or something.

We met up on a weeknight, as was typical for most dates I’ve been on. Some of my friends think it’s weird, but I think there’s been an unspoken understanding between me and most millennial dudes I connect with, which is the fact that we refuse to waste our weekends on each other when we have better things to do, like hang out with people we actually give a shit about, and laundry (super important).

In hopes of at least getting laid, I put on some sexy underwear and form-fitting clothes, then got into my car and drove over to Jupiter. I got there roughly on time and waited outside for a good 10, 15 minutes. Rhymes With Beyonce didn’t let me know until the last minute that he was running late. Annoyed, I decided I would just chill at the bar until he arrived. I also ordered without him, just to be petty. I ended up sitting next to an ethnically ambiguous guy who was kind of good looking. We started talking. Just when I was seriously and semi-shamelessly wondering if I should get this guy’s number, he ruined the moment by asking me, “Where are you from? I can’t place your accent.”

“IT’S NOT AN ACCENT, IT’S A SPEECH IMPEDIMENT, YOU MICROAGGRESSIVE RACIST ASS MOTHERFUCKER!” was something I was sorely tempted to shout at him. Instead I stiffly replied, “I was born and raised in California. Where are you from?”

He said something I don’t remember because at that point I didn’t give a fuck about what he had to say and only asked so I could sarcastically and obnoxiously interject with, “NO, where are you really from?”

He laughed and I proceeded to ignore him.

Rhymes With Beyonce eventually got his ass to the bar. He was okay-looking in person and definitely not worth the wait. We were seated at a small table. He asked me if I wanted anything. I said no, I had already eaten. He seemed disappointed. I was too irritated to be more accommodating.

So much for my fake optimism. We ended up having the same conversation for the third fucking time, when he asked me what I liked to do for fun. I was pretty sure that having the same conversations over and over again meant that we were not gonna work out in any sense because apparently the things we cared about doing in our spare time weren’t memorable or important enough to be retained in each other’s brains. I humored him by answering though as he nibbled on his pizza and implored me to take a bite. (I think I took one, but definitely no more.) I stared at his goatee and decided I hated it.

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Backdrop is not actually Jupiter. IT’S HARD TO FIND GOOD PICTURES OK

I know, I was being kind of a heartless bitch. Rhymes With Beyonce was a sweet guy. The fact that a former coworker of his came by to enthusiastically say hi, make some brief small talk with him, and sing his praises was further proof that he was a genuinely nice dude. A genuinely nice, boring dude, just like he had conveyed via messaging. The kind of guy I had zero interest in, unfortunately. Not that being nice was a turnoff, but he was so boring! And more importantly, there was no chemistry. My eyes were glazing over. I was itching to get up and leave.

At one point, he asked me how I thought things were going. I was semi-honest. I said I saw us being just friends. Really, I felt that I would be perfectly content to never see him again, but I opted for the friendlier lie. I think he was a little upset, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. After the appropriate amount of time had passed, I called it a night and we said our goodbyes.

I drove home, annoyed at how the date turned out and annoyed at myself for disregarding my gut instinct in favor of pseudo-optimism. Self-aware pessimism was clearly the way to go here. Man, what a waste of sexy underwear, I thought bitterly. I got a text from him when I reached my house. Oh god.

Rhymes With Beyonce: I hope we can be friends. 🙂

Me: Lol no bitch.

Kidding! I just ignored him. Good thing he could take a hint. I never heard from him again.

tl;dr Learkana is horny! Learkana meets up with a nice and boring guy! Learkana does not get laid!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Jupiter
Rating: ***
Review: Eh, nothing special and not really worth the drive from Oakland, so it’s ridiculous I made the trip THREE times just to sample an array of inevitably disappointing dates. This place can get noisy, so if you and your date would like a valid excuse for getting in each other’s faces and shouting, have at it.

0

Tinderp Tale #3: Truth or Drink

What are you looking for?

That’s it. The most important question you can answer as a single navigating the dating scene. The 3 options and their consequences to keep in mind are as follows:

a) If you answer dishonestly, you might hurt someone down the road.

b) If you answer honestly, you might scare or turn someone off.

c) If you skirt around answering or addressing the question, you or whoever’s the most neurotic in the flirtationship will live in an amorphous and complicated state of confusion, anxiety, and stress over where things are going and why.

In my experience, we millennials rely heavily on c), much to my dismay and detriment as a neurotic single. Apparently, direct communication is out of style. Let’s just be chill and not specify what the fuck we’re actually doing!

Back on OKCupid, I was looking for a long-term relationship while also pretending that I wasn’t actually looking for a relationship. (Obviously, this plan was set up to fail and did, in fact, fail.) Now that I was on Tinder, I was unclear of what I was looking for but knew it vaguely had something to do with chemistry, whatever that thing was. Must I resist the urge to throw myself at him in person? Then yes, it’s really a match!

There wasn’t much room to be selective on Tinder, anyway. You judged based on pictures and a brief bio, which may or may not have actual words in it. Which in my case translated to: I forced my Dating Sensei/roommate/friend Sayuri to judge based on pictures and on the bio which should definitely have at least SOMETHING in it, because I’m not that fucking shallow, goddamnit.

One of the matches she obtained for me was a guy I will call Anthony. Anthony was cute. He had high quality photos that included an adorable close-up of him and various action shots that showed he was a fun guy who possessed an actual social life. Also, his bio had words that made sense! (Yes, my standards for dating material had lowered considerably post-OKCupid.)

I was excited and optimistic enough about Anthony to hit him up first and decided to go with a pickup line I would never have the guts to use in real life. (To be fair, it wouldn’t make much sense in real life anyway.)


You matched with Anthony on 6/25/15

Me

What brings your handsome mug to this dating cesspool? 😉


 Anthony

Wow I was about to give up on this whole tinder thing. First time a cute girl actually messages me first


Me

So I win?


Anthony

Yep, I think I owe you a drink or two now


Looking back at this exchange, I must say I’m pretty impressed with my ability to establish flirtatious rapport with a cute guy without fucking it up even once. (It’s the little victories, okay.)

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Anthony and I made plans to meet at Cafe Van Kleef, a divey sort of bar in downtown Oakland with eclectic wall decor. The last time I was there on a date was 2 years ago, but I figured it was unlikely I would run into Steven #1. Anyway, I had given up on making an effort to try new activities or places for first dates and decided recycling through previous bars would suffice. (Lowered standards, check. Brief flirtatious exchange based off little to no information, check. Half-assed planning, check. My transformation into your typical millennial dating app user was complete.)

I think Anthony got there before I did. (I am more often than not shamelessly running late to dates. Time as we know it is a Western bullshit construct anyway! Just kidding. Actually, that might be true. Hmm.) He was sitting at the bar and got up to give me a hug when he saw me. Much to my relief and joy, he looked just as good in person as he did in his pictures! We each ordered a beer and got to talking.

I remember enjoying our conversation and feeling somewhat shy, which tends to happen when I’m around guys I find attractive (and is really fucking annoying to my inner/outer radical feminist). He was a techie college dropout who was completely disconnected to his Latin roots, but he was hot and a good listener. His laugh however was really annoying, to the point where I was inwardly cringing every time he chuckled, but I mean, it would have been stupid of me to make that a dealbreaker, right? (Although the dude waiting in line with me for the unisex bathroom at one point in the night jokingly[?] offered the opinion that I should just run away when I confided in him and another stranger about how my date was going (yenno, because I’m an embarrassingly open book, on- and offline).

I could tell Anthony liked me because whenever the conversation trailed off, he would just stare at me and smile. I would look back at him, but I couldn’t maintain eye contact for too long. He made me nervous. It was too intimate. But it was nice, being looked at by someone who clearly desired me in a consensual, non-creepy way.

This is it, I thought excitedly. This is what they call chemistry! 

I ended up suggesting we play the game “Truth or Drink,” in which we took turns asking each other questions. You had the option of either answering honestly, or passing and taking a drink. Unlike previous times I’ve played this game with other guys from the Internet, this round with Anthony opened up actual dialogue. There were two things of note that were brought up in the game: his ex and my virginity.

I think it started with me asking, “How long was your most serious relationship?”

“Seven years,” he answered.

WHAT. “Wow, that’s a long time,” I said. “What happened?”

“One day she just stopped loving me,” he said with a straight face.

“Uh, okay.” Kind of a grody way to answer, but okay. I wonder if he was still hung up on her. Given the way he phrased it, maybe. Ugh.

“How long was your most serious relationship?” Anthony asked in return.

“Oh. I’ve never been in a relationship,” I replied, feigning casualness.

He was taken aback (as they usually are). “Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Have you ever been with anyone…? Like intimately?”

“Oh, uh…no,” I said quietly. “I’m…a virgin.”

It was uncomfortable to say it out loud. I had never been a proud post-adolescent V-Card holder, honestly. Not that it’s anything to be proud of (boo to implicit slut shaming!).  But to me, being a virgin signaled a lack of worldly life experience. It meant I was sexually naive and immature, and only three-quarters of an actual adult. It wasn’t like I was waiting until marriage, or anything like that. I was simply too awkward and insecure to make it happen, and a real opportunity had never presented itself.

My public confession was made worse by the look on Anthony’s face. I could have been reading too much into it, but he looked like he was the slightest bit dismayed by the news. Like maybe me being a 23-going-on-24-year-old virgin spinster was a total turnoff and dealbreaker. Like maybe he wouldn’t have sex with me because he thought I was an attached bleeder.

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From S1E04 of the HBO show Girls.

I was definitely not looking at him anymore.

“Are you okay?” asked Anthony. “You’ve gone quiet.”

“Oh, yeah…” I mumbled. “I just feel like…it’s weird.” Damn it, I should have drank instead.

“I mean, it’s fine,” he said. “I’m not judging.”

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The subject was changed, and we thankfully moved on. At the end of the night, he walked me to my car. He smiled like he meant it and gave me a hug that told me he wanted to see me again. I drove away, in awe that I had finally met someone I was interested in, who was also interested in me! Maybe this would turn into something real for once. Maybe I wouldn’t be left disappointed.

He texted me a few days later, asking me if I wanted to get dinner.

I said yes. Then, my worst dating nightmare happened: I had an acne breakout.

FUCK. WHY?!

It was one of the worst breakouts I’d gotten in a while. Of course this would happen right when I had made plans with a guy I finally clicked with. Of course.

He thinks you’re cute, I tried to console myself. So what if you have a couple of pimples on your face? You’re still cute. The pimples will pass.

Shut up and crawl under a rock, you ugly fuckface, my inner mean girl voice replied.

I cancelled the date, citing tiredness.

That’s when Anthony invited me over to his place.

Oh. My. God.

This was it. My opportunity to get laid!

Excitement quickly devolved into anxiety and fright. This was a really last minute request. I hadn’t even properly groomed myself (i.e., thoroughly shaved down there). And I still had those fucking gross zits to reckon with. I bravely looked at myself in the mirror. It’s okay. You can do this. You deserve this. You’re beautiful. You’re awesome. You’re–

Nope. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do this. Insecurity took over.

Well, maybe we don’t need to have sex.

Bitch, please. He did not invite you over to play board games. 

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I was disappointed and frustrated with myself. I had spent years trying to unlearn the shame and self-loathing that came with my body and my sexual desires, in a world that taught me both were wrong. It seemed I still had a ways to go.

I let Anthony know I couldn’t make it. He seemed okay with that.

A couple of days later, he texted me with some bad news.

Anthony: Hey I know this is really sudden, but I’m moving to New York next week. My company offered me a promotion and I accepted. I didn’t think it would happen so soon. The timing sucks because you’re the first girl I’ve really liked in a while.

I read his words, feeling kind of sad but not too upset. I didn’t know him well enough for this to have really impacted me, but it was disappointing that the first guy I ever had chemistry with was being snatched out of my hands by the tech industry. I mourned the lost potential. I would never have sex with him now. I mean, I could, but he was leaving for good and having sex with someone in those circumstances would make me feel used. Was this it, then? I realized I still wanted to see him regardless, even if we weren’t gonna bang.

Me: Thanks for telling me. It sucks because I like you too, but I’m happy for you. 🙂 Would you be down to hang out one last time?

Anthony: Lol sure

Per the suggestion of my Dating Sensei, Anthony and I met at Off the Grid in Oakland, a weekly food truck event hosted by the Oakland Museum of California. My breakout had subsided by that time. I was relieved when he did not look at me like I was a fizzling slug. Instead he hugged me and briefly rested his head on mine, a small gesture that made my heart leap with joy.

We ordered food and sat down to watch people dance along to the live band playing salsa music.

“I don’t understand how you’ve stayed single,” he exclaimed at one point. “You’re so cute!”

I gave him a small smile and shrugged. No point in ruining his projected fantasy of me. But it also irked me, to be diminished to this one word: cute. He only liked me because I’m cute? Is that really the only prerequisite for a guy to like a girl? I was more than just cute. Cuteness was only something I had recently made a conscious effort to cultivate. It was mostly aesthetic and superficial, and I had other valuable qualities outside of this flimsy label. Obviously, this train of thought didn’t make for dateable commentary, so I just shut up and took a huge gulp of my Coke.

The event ended close to 9. I asked Anthony if he wanted to walk around Lake Merritt with me. “Is this where you take all your dates?” he joked.

“Haha, no,” I said. (Just some of them, ahem.)

Night had fallen by this time. We walked side by side, under the soft light coming from the lamps strung along the path. I had this strong urge to hold Anthony’s hand, because I had never held hands with a guy before. Yes, this is pitiful, but bear with me. Who knew when I was going to meet a guy with whom I shared mutual attraction to again? The time to lose my handholding virginity was now.

“I….I have a question to ask you,” I mumbled.

“What is it?”

“Um…uh…it’s a really awkward question.”

“Just ask me.”

“Uh…”

This literally went on for 10, 15 minutes and is definitely one of the top 10 Most Embarrassing Date Moments I’ve suffered in my entire anticlimactic dating history.

Eventually I burst out with, “Canweholdhands?”

“Sorry, didn’t hear you,” said Anthony. “What’d you say?”

“UGH! FORGET IT!”

He laughed, came closer, and slipped his hand over mine. It sent thrills through me. I was elated, and also really nauseated by how elated I was by this sappy, innocent gesture. People passed by us. It struck me that to them, we were a couple in love, not two singles going on their final date together before they never saw each other again because why the hell not. It was sad. But also, gross. I had become one of those people who blocked up public pathways with my desire for physical affection.

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We ended up cuddling on a bench overlooking the water. We talked about random shit, but kept returning to the subject of relationships (or the lack thereof).

Anthony elaborated on his 7 year relationship. They started dating when she was a senior in high school and he was in his first year of college. They were even living together, but then she started getting distant. She eventually cheated on him and that was the final straw. They split up.

And apparently, this officially ended like only a month or so ago. He did clarify that the breakdown in the relationship happened long before, but still, COMPLETE turnoff. Part of me was glad he was leaving. But I knew that at this point, I couldn’t really be picky about anyone’s relationship baggage, just because I was some weird anomaly who had none.

“I don’t really like dating,” said Anthony. “I prefer relationships.”

“I don’t know if I could be in a relationship, honestly,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“I like being alone, and being independent. If I were to be in a relationship, I would want some personal space. I wouldn’t want to hang out with someone all the time or feel obligated to text or call someone everyday.” As I was explaining this, I could see disagreement register on Anthony’s face. Hmph. I guess it was a good thing he was leaving after all.

“I still don’t get why those other guys never worked out,” he said.

I took a breath. “Okay. So when I first started doing online dating, I was set on finding someone who had the same sociopolitical beliefs as me, because I don’t want to date someone who’s racist or sexist or whatever. I would ask guys to define rape culture on the first date, and bring up feminism and stuff. But then I realized doing that wasn’t helping me find someone I liked or clicked with. So I stopped.”

“Oh. Well, I consider myself a pretty open-minded guy, so–”

I looked at him. “I think you should stop talking.”

He laughed. We stayed on that bench for a little while longer, trying to savor the moment.

Eventually we made our way back. He walked me to my car and gave me a final hug. “I’m glad I got to see you again,” he said.

“Yeah, me too,” I replied. He was just looking at me and smiling. Anxiety kicked in. Oh god. Were we supposed to kiss? It didn’t seem like he was trying to do that, though, and I didn’t know how to initiate one. I didn’t think I wanted to anyway, because kissing in my experience was shitty and I didn’t want to ruin our farewell with a gross, sloppy tongue dance. Also, we had both eaten garlic shrimp pasta for dinner, so no. Definitely not.

He told me to keep in touch. I was surprised.”Do you mean it?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Yeah. Why not?”

I didn’t keep in touch, and he never reached out to me again either. What was the point? We were on opposite sides of the country. He was looking for love, and I was looking for something that couldn’t be provided to me through a long distance connection.

I think about him from time to time, wistfully wondering what could have been. It’s my default dating mode. I’m always looking back. Pinpointing mistakes. Stuck on what-ifs. Longing for what isn’t. Fantasizing about what could never be. Filled with regret. It’s incredibly lonely when romance and desire are experienced more through retrospect than in the present. But the ache is so familiar, it’s become a part of me.

tl;dr Learkana finally has chemistry with a guy! Learkana freaks out about some zits and her cunt and doesn’t get laid! Learkana engages in some nauseating handholding for the first time, woo hoo!

Now it’s time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Cafe Van Kleef
Rating: *****
Review: Well, this is the second time I’ve been here, so obviously I think this place is awesome. Chill vibe, cool decor, nice people. 5/5 would go again (and did *cough*).

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Tinderp Tale #2: I’m An Asshole

My experience with Tinder was vastly different from my foray into OKCupid. For one thing, I had control over who messaged me, which was a huge factor in my preference of Tinder over OKCupid. The downside was that most of the guys I matched with on Tinder seemed way more passive–they were totally okay with saying nothing at all. (Then again, it could have been a racial difference, given that I had instructed my Dating Sensei to only swipe right on dudes of color. Maybe the white boys on OKCupid felt more entitled to my time and attention, because of white supremacy and Orientalism and other complicated shit I don’t feel like getting into right now.)

Suffice it to say, I was forced to take more initiative on Tinder. I started messaging guys first with the hope that they would follow up by asking me out, only to have it not pan out, even if they appeared interested initially. In addition to not striking up conversations, these guys were also completely fine with meaningless small talk that trailed off into silence. It was annoying, to the point where I finally started sympathizing with cishet dudes who adhered to sociocultural expectations of being pursuers and instigators. To put yourself out there, again and again and again, with no results? It’s pretty soul-crushing and demoralizing after a while.

So it was ironically refreshing to return to established gender roles when I eventually stumbled across someone who was proactive in his interest in me. (Let’s call him Ben.) Soon after we matched, Ben sent an incredibly flattering and straightforward message that went something like this:


Ben – Summer 2015

Hey, I want to say that reading your bio was a huge turn-on for me. I’m not too knowledgeable about social justice issues but I do my best to check my male privilege, and I would love to take you out and learn how to please a strong, independent woman such as yourself if you’re willing to give me the chance.


I checked out his profile. Honestly, nothing stood out in particular. I couldn’t really tell if he was physically attractive based on his pictures but I mean, how can I reject a dude who writes a message like that?

(I should probably tell you what exactly in my Tinder bio inspired this message, but the truth is, I’m not really sure. I’ve changed it so often that all the attempted witticisms are just one big blur in my mind. However, I can say with moderate confidence that it very likely involved references to feminism and low-key insulting men.)

So I responded with something very articulate like “Lol oh wow thanks” and then we made plans to meet over dinner.

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This is where my memory gets really fuzzy, but after mulling it over and using a combination of half-assed Yelp research and eye-squinting reasoning skills, I am 70% positive that we met up at Belly, a restaurant in uptown Oakland.

He was very tall in person. I was disappointed to find that I did not care much for his face. Obviously, this is a shitty reason to bail on someone, so the date continued. He paid for dinner, and was really smooth about it, too. (I don’t expect guys to pay but it’s nice when you’re a broke motherfucker–or any motherfucker really.) We sat at a little table by the window and ate. I had ordered a salad. He had ordered something that definitely was not a salad. We talked. Well, he talked a lot and I half-listened, tired and semi-disinterested.

I don’t remember much of what was said. It probably mirrored most first date conversations I’ve had with other guys. It starts feeling like a script after a while. Where I’m from. Why I moved here. Where I went to school. What I do for fun. The music I listen to, the shows I watch. Where I work. My family. Your entire being gets distilled into a handful of small talk, your complexity and nuance flattened and hidden behind your reserved persona and a wall of carefully chosen words, barriers put in place for a whole slew of reasons that include social anxiety and a general mistrust of men. You recite the same lines and hope you get a slightly different reaction you can work off of. You’re always gauging interest–yours and theirs. You gauge, and gauge, and after all the mental gymnastics you go through you are only rewarded with uncertainty that eats away at you to the point where you are just tired and going through the motions of someone on a date and wondering why you even bothered in the first place. Or, you know, maybe that’s just me.

When we finished with dinner, Ben asked if I wanted to grab a drink at a bar nearby. OKC Learkana would have made a shitty excuse and gone home. Tinder Learkana went along with it, because she was trying to be open-minded and easygoing for once. We walked a few blocks down to Woods Bar & Brewery, a pub Ben had stumbled across on Yelp. We got our drinks and sat down at a high table along the wall. The atmosphere was intimate. The beer was surprisingly good. (Woo, house brews!)

“Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah,” chattered Ben.

“Blah blah,” I replied.

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Not a picture of the actual bar, the first page result of a Google search has failed me.

(Yes my memory is too hazy and I’m too lazy to seriously try reconstructing our conversation. But I’m pretty sure my estimate of the blah blah ratio between us is spot on.)

We ended up lapsing into a lot of long conversational pauses that made me squirm in discomfort. “Don’t you hate awkward silences?” I blurted out (yes I know, really not helping matters at all).

“Nope,” he said. “I enjoy them. I like sitting here and looking at you. You have pretty eyes.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know what to say to that. No one had ever said anything remotely like that about my eyes. Except my friend Elizabeth who I’m pretty sure had a weird Asian fetish thing. But Ben was Asian and probably didn’t have a weird Asian fetish thing, so I decided it was a valid compliment, which in and of itself was still bewildering, because the guys I went on dates with didn’t usually compliment me.

Ben soon launched into a lengthy monologue about dropping acid in college and how everyone should drop acid at least once in their life because it’s really awesome and will expand your mind, to which I tried to respond in as pleasant and neutral a manner as possible in a poor attempt to disguise the fact that I had the drug history of a straitlaced prepubescent schoolgirl and wasn’t planning on changing that anytime soon. (This also, embarrassingly enough, was my first inkling that experimenting with drugs other than weed was a normal pastime for a lot of seemingly well-adjusted people my age. Yes, it’s possible to be a sheltered girl from the wrong side of the tracks.)

I was somewhat buzzed. I felt warm and relaxed. As Ben rambled on, I thought, This isn’t so bad. He talks a lot but I don’t really feel like talking anyway. He’s nice. I can just sit here and kind of listen.

Eventually though, we left the bar. He wished me good night and said, rather bluntly, “I’d like to go on another date with you.”

Who was this guy? His honesty and unabashed interest in me were terrifying and awkward as hell. “Um. So I think you’re really cool but…I would rather be friends,” I said slowly.

He took it well, thankfully. “I’m fine with that.”

We hugged and parted ways.

By the time I was fully sober and had gotten some sleep, I regretted my choice of words. The more I thought back to that night, the more I realized I did not want to be friends with Ben. He was nice, sure, but he talked way too much about himself and if I was being honest, I had mainly found it tolerable due to sleep deprivation and intoxication. Anyway, let’s be real, I wasn’t looking for friends on Tinder. I was looking for someone I liked and wanted to do sexual things with, and it wasn’t going to be him.

It’s not like he was straight-up ugly or anything! (Ugliness is a social construct, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, blah blah blah.) I personally just didn’t find him attractive. If someone didn’t find me attractive, I certainly wouldn’t want them to continue seeing me in spite of my looks. I mean, how insulting is that? So really I was doing him a favor that he didn’t know about, right?

I really hoped he wouldn’t hit me up again. I mean, why would he? He wasn’t looking for friends either, right? And I had made it very clear we would not be fucking, right? Unless he thought hanging out would eventually lead to me fucking him, right? Ugh.

A few weeks passed. Radio silence from him. I exhaled in relief and moved on with my life.

Then…a couple of months later, I got a text from him. It went something like this:

Ben: Hey! Sorry I took so long to contact you again. I’ve been really busy but now that I’m free, when are you available to hang out? Mondays, Wednesdays, and weekends are good for me.

Godfuckingdamnit.

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I didn’t know what to say.

‘Hey sorry, I changed my mind about wanting to be your friend. After sobering up, I realized you’re boring and not worth my time lol.’

Or what about…

‘Hey sorry, I don’t wanna be friends cuz I already have enough friends plus you talk too much and it’s actually kinda annoying now that I think about it. :(‘

Or how about the classic, ‘New phone. Who dis’?

“Don’t say anything,”my friend Chelsia advised. “Just ignore him. He’ll get the hint and move on.”

“But–but isn’t that fucked up?!” I cried.

She shrugged. “What can you say? Just say nothing. Nothing is better.”

So I did it. “It” being nothing.

I also unmatched with him on Tinder. You know, just to shove the knife a little deeper into his chest. For funsies. (Okay really it was because I started freaking out about the possibility he would hit me up on Tinder again and demand explanations for my assholish behavior.)

Poor, oblivious Ben. I felt guilty as hell.

It’s official, I thought. I’m an asshole, just like Rishi and all the other guys I never heard from again.

Oh, whatever, shot back my inner voice that just so happened to be manifesting as a bitter premature spinster. He’s gonna marry some nice, cute, well-adjusted Asian girl who will totally think he’s hot and totally drop acid with him. And I might as well come to terms with being a full-fledged asshole now, it’s not like online dating is going to get any less ruthless.

The cynic has spoken! On to the next one.

tl;dr Learkana messages passive guys who don’t give a fuck! Learkana finally gets asked out by a refreshingly forward dude! Learkana meets said dude in person and realizes he’s not cute and actually kinda boring IRL and she feels really bad about ghosting on him but it’s her life, her choice!

With that said, it’s now time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Belly
Rating: ***
Review: I mean I suppose it’s not totally fair to rate this venue given that I’m only 70% sure that it was the actual venue of my first and only date with Ben. But I swear the setup of the restaurant looks A LOT like what I remembered! And it was also definitely in uptown! And it’s MY blog and through MY lens, SO THERE. Anyway, the food was good from what I recall, but I did feel the minimal seating made for an awkward first date arrangement. My philosophy is: the more randos around you to provide a moderate amount of background noise, the less uncomfortable it is for you and your date when you two inevitably lapse into awkward silence!

0

Tinderp Tale #1: Nonconsensual Hugging

It was the summer of 2015. A summer of new beginnings: I had created a Tinder account. My hair was growing out and I was wearing makeup consistently enough that people had mostly stopped freaking out about it. I looked like the Kawaii Asian Girl (TM) everyone wanted me to be, instead of an androgynous, pre-pubescent Asian Daniel Radcliffe who for the record still could have gotten laid if she wanted to okay but whatever moving on.

New online dating app, new me.

“Can you swipe right for me?” I asked Sayuri, my roommate and newly christened Dating Sensei. “And do, like, 5 matches a day for me?”

“Sure!” she said.

Same old schemes.

“No white guys,” I warned her.

She nodded without missing a beat. “Got it.”

The matches came in. I was giddy from the speed at which I could flirt with guys, the rapid pace at which I could reject them if they or their bios said the wrong thing (e.g., “I’m pretty indifferent about Beyonce” ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS *unmatch*).

There was so much power at my fingertips. I was UNSTOPPABLE.  (Cue diabolical laughter, and that smiling purple emoji with the devil horns.)

Fuck OKCupid! Tinder was awesome. (Or maybe it was awesome because I finally stopped talking to white guys. Hmm.) Tinder got to the point. It got to the heart(lessness) of the matter. There were no endless blocks of text for me to overanalyze and agonize over, no lengthy paragraphs to compose out of some weird unspoken adherence to the medium of the message thread. Best of all, the guys I talked to weren’t afraid to use emojis, which meant they didn’t sound like robots in my head (which may have also been a racial difference).

It wasn’t long before I started chatting up a very promising match. From what I recall, he was slightly younger than me and cute in a kinda dorky way, was working as an engineer at Tesla for the summer before he returned to college on the east coast, liked to do magic tricks, and wasn’t afraid to include a picture of him and his mom as part of his dating profile, which I interpreted as adorable and wholesome instead of weird and awkward.


Jason*

Hey hey. Share with me your current favorite YouTube video. So I know it’s *real*

Also tell Dating Sensei I said thanks [yes I mentioned Sayuri swiping for me in my Tinder bio at this time, yes I was/am that shameless]


Me

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b81Cr97ANrk [a Buzzfeed video featuring the Try Guys, a quartet(?) of 4 dudes who challenge social norms around masculinity and do other random shit, in this video they explore childbirth and use a labor pain simulator to recreate what that experience would feel like: shitty and painful AF #TeamEugene #ILoveHimOMGHesSooooHot #MasculinitySoFragile]

Lol, will do. I actually have to report to her on my results so thank you for your voluntary participation


Jason

Labor: painful as getting kicked in the genitals 500 times


*name changed to protect the oblivious

So we went back and forth with more small talk, until I got fed up with it and I asked him if he’d like to meet up.

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That’s right–I, Learkana, took the initiative and asked a boy out! Tinder Learkana had way less fucks to give than OKC Learkana. Tinder Learkana was bold and brave and asked boys out instead of passively hoping guys would perform their socially assigned gender role and ask her out first. Tinder Learkana also didn’t give a fuck about a guy’s sociopolitical views. (Okay fine, she still kind of gave a fuck but wasn’t gonna force the issue if she could help it.) She mainly wanted to know if looking into his eyes would make her heart jump down into her vagina, and she wasn’t going to actually know this until she met him in person. She will now stop narrating in the thirdperson, okay thanks.

We exchanged numbers and made plans for dinner on a weeknight at Burma Superstar on Telegraph. (This was before I had heard about their exploitative labor practices, okay.) Because it was closer to my office than my house, I went straight to the restaurant after work, feeling just a little weird because I was wearing an outfit that was more business casual than date appropriate (a form fitting sleeveless turtleneck dress with a cardigan and flats). Oh well. Tinder Learkana doesn’t give a fuck!

Jason was running late, and texted me to let me know. I figured I could just grab a table for the two of us. A server told me nope, everyone has to be present in order to be seated. So I stood awkwardly outside for a good ten minutes or so until the server felt sorry for me and seated me at a table between two very chatty couples, and by that time I felt kind of embarrassed and annoyed and maybe slightly pathetic. Where the fuck was this dude?

Finally he showed up, and he was pretty hot, so I instantly forgave him. (What?! Don’t get all holier-than-thou on me, we’re all shallow assholes.) I even got up, gave him a smile, and proceeded to hug him, in accordance with my friends’ advice to be more physically affectionate.

Wrong move.

Or at least, it felt like it.

My arms briefly enfolded his body, which felt stiff and lifeless in my embrace. Why is this like hugging a tree, but, like, a dead tree with really strong ‘get the fuck off me’ vibes? Fuck, maybe I shouldn’t have done this. He was too tall for me to gauge his facial expression during this 5 second physical exchange. I pulled away, slightly unnerved. Does he already not like me?

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He seemed okay as we both sat down though, so maybe I was just being a tad neurotic or maybe he was just an awkward hugger. He ordered something with chicken. I wasn’t that hungry, so I ordered broccoli. (Like, fancy stir fried broccoli that was overpriced, if that sounds more appealing to you, but probably not.)

“Broccoli? Are you a vegetarian?” he asked.

“No, I’m just not that hungry,” I said defensively. (Side note: why is it that a meat-eater can’t order a vegetable-only menu item without everyone assuming they’re a vegetarian? Meat eaters aren’t contractually obligated to gorge on dead animals every time they feed themselves, jeez.)

I felt like he was judging me for only getting broccoli, like maybe I was one of “those” girls who watched what she ate and weighed herself all the time, when really I was the kind of girl on the other side of the same coin who exploited her thin privilege by putting trash in her body and “forgetting” to exercise the recommended number of times a week. I possessed the minimum level of social skills to know that was not a charming or titillating point to bring up on a first date, so we talked about other stuff, like where we went to college. “I went to Mills. It’s a liberal arts women’s college.” How many times have I made this statement to a guy on a first date? Too many times to count, but I felt like it was a quick and easy way to check for casual sexism.

“I took a class at a women’s college once,” he said. “It was kind of a weird experience.”

“What do you mean?” I demanded.

“Just the dynamic is different,” he said vaguely.

I let it slide. (Tinder Learkana let things slide!) We talked about pets. Jason loved dogs. He asked if I had ever owned a pet. I said my family had owned all sorts of pets in the past, but most of them ran away or died or we gave them up. I tried to say this in a way that was fun and charming and quirky, but I think it mostly came off as insensitive and cruel. Oops.

Jason expressed an interest in Japanese culture and said he would like to learn the language. This was a turn-off to me, because it reeked of potential East Asian fetishism. “Do you speak Tagalog?” I asked, which in retrospect was pretty ignorant, since it’s not the only Filipino language there is, but it’s the only one I know of off the top of my head, okay. (Side note: according to his bio, Jason is half white, half Filipino.)

He shook his head. “Never learned it.”

“So instead of connecting with your roots, you’d rather immerse yourself in an Asian culture that is more palatable to the Western white gaze?” is something OKC Learkana would have asked or implied in a less articulate, more passive-aggressive manner because it’s hard to spit out flowery, contentious trains of thought in person and on the spot regardless of my ability to frame ideas through the written word in hindsight. But Tinder Learkana slapped on a smile and changed the subject.

We talked about more boring stuff. I couldn’t gauge whether or not Jason was interested in me. He was friendly, but the kind of friendly you would be towards someone you were socially obligated to make awkward small talk with for the next hour or so while you shared a meal with them. He didn’t say anything suggestive, didn’t compliment me, didn’t touch me in the slightest. Not knowing how he felt was making me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Earlier he had mentioned the possibility of getting a drink after dinner, but now I wasn’t sure if that was going to happen. I guess I should have taken the initiative to show that I was interested in him, but I was still feeling the burn from Rishi’s rejection and didn’t want to appear overly eager if Jason wasn’t even remotely interested. Also, I wasn’t actually sure I was interested in him. I was attracted to him, yes, but there wasn’t really any chemistry from what I could tell, and based on my experience with Rishi, I knew chemistry was of the utmost importance–the primary factor required to determine whether expending time, money, energy, and self-respect on “seeing where things went” was worth it. (And okay yes, the whole Rishi debacle was still weighing heavily on my mind at this time and informing Tinder Learkana’s dating approach.)

By the time we got the check and kind of split the bill (I didn’t have enough cash to fully pay Jason for my share, but guiltily told him I’d get him a drink), I was still very confused about what was happening. We left the restaurant and sort of just started walking aimlessly towards no specified destination, which got me really anxious.

“Did you drive?” I asked.

“No, I took BART,” he said.

I remember talking a little bit about family with him as we were walking, and getting more and more panicked at the sense that the dreaded goodbye segment was coming up pretty shortly.

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I was right. We wound up at the BART station. I looked up at him and put on a big smile. “Well, here’s your stop,” I said brightly.

“You didn’t take BART?” he asked.

“Nope, I drove. Well, it was nice meeting you!” I hugged him again and instantly regretted it. Again with the stiff and lifeless body! Fuck, did I just hug-rape this guy, twice? Why didn’t he say anything if he didn’t want me to to hug him?! Okay, now I’m victim-blaming. Fuck.

I quickly looked back up at him again. He was giving me a searching sort of smile. Like he was slightly puzzled by what was happening, too. “Maybe you can show me around Oakland sometime,” he said.

I was already walking away. “Yeah, maybe,” I said, smiling again but freaking out on the inside because fuck, this shit was awkward as hell and why the fuck do I keep doing this to myself oh god oh god oh god.

By the time I got home, I was actually shaken by the date. The uncertainty of it all was messing me up. I couldn’t tell if he was interested, and I didn’t know to what extent I was interested, but as usual, it was contingent on to what extent he was interested, because I didn’t want to be interested in someone who wasn’t really interested in me, because that meant I was more interested and therefore more invested in him than he was interested/invested in me, which would mean I was the interested loser and he was the disinterested winner and I didn’t want to go back down that fucking road again because it really sucks okay. (Yes, this is how my petty and fucked up mind works. Dating is a game. You must try to win the game by giving the least fucks until you hopefully meet somewhere in the middle with a shared amount of fucks then BAM! Mutually fulfilling relationship of some kind.)

I relayed all of my concerns to my Dating Sensei, but probably in a way less coherent manner. “In conclusion, I’m still terrible at dating,” I said.

She seemed perplexed, then advised me to text him and see how he responded in order to gauge his interest. Ugh, again with the practical advice to reach out. How well did that work out last time?

Still, she was my Dating Sensei and she was right in the grand scheme of things, so my ungrateful ass texted Jason to let him know that I had a good time. He responded that he did too. The conversation ended there.

The next day, I texted him a “Memoji,” which is basically an emoji, but, like, with your face. (If you’re a narcissist like me, you can download it from the App Store! If you have an iPhone, that is. Don’t know if it’s available for other types of smartphones.) Here’s a sample array:

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Pretty cool, right? Or maybe pretty dorky/tacky/self-absorbed, whatever, but we can all agree that it warrants a fucking response, right?

Well, I sent Jason a Memoji of me smiling and waving, in an attempt to say “Hi” in a cute millennial way, and this motherfucker didn’t say anything.

In fact, I never heard from him again.

I was kind of crushed, because it’s normal to feel pretty sad and pathetic when you send a gif of your face to someone you think you might like, and that bitch just ignores you.

I guess I could have texted him one more time (with words and not an animated image of my face), but I was done with confirming rejection, like I was some desperate weirdo with an inability to pick up on social cues. I had gotten the fucking hint, okay. (And yes, for a little while I did cling to the hypothetical scenario in which Jason never received the Memoji, but I eventually made my way back to reality and was forced to accept the much more likely if painful and offensive possibility that he saw it, didn’t give a fuck, and completely disregarded it. Truth hurts, people.) I mean, Jason was only here for the summer, so he couldn’t have been the love of my life or anything, logistically speaking, but I mourned the lost potential. Like, he could have fallen in like with me enough to invite me to the east coast! Or he could have been a really awesome fling! Or he could have fucking responded to my fucking Memoji with a “Haha that’s kinda cool”!

So where did things go wrong? Was it because I had casually mentioned animal neglect as part of my family history? Was it my face? Did he not like my face? Was the hugging that terrible? (Was I really a hug-rapist? Oh God.) Was I that boring? Was my first impression that bad? Did he just want to get laid, and I didn’t seem like the type to have sex on the first date? Or–wait a minute–was I the one who came off as disinterested, so he in return was disinterested? Who rejected who first, and why?? Why didn’t we ever make it to the bar? Also, did he not care that I owed him a drink???

I have been told, time and time again and by multiple people, that these are very unimportant questions that are a waste of time to think about. So naturally, they consumed a good chunk of my brainpower for the next week or so, or really for the next few years and forever, because being neurotic and going on one disappointing date after another will do that to you.

tl;dr Learkana goes on her first Tinder date! Learkana fails at hugging, twice! Learkana realizes she still sucks at dating and that really blows!

With that said, it’s now time for…

RATE THAT DATE VENUE!
Venue: Burma Superstar
Rating: *
Review: I mean the broccoli was delicious but c’mon, $11.95 for fucking broccoli and you don’t even pay your kitchen workers? Fuck that shit. (Yes yes they are *alleged* workplace violations but I’d rather err on the side of caution and support the underdogs. Also, there are plenty of great Bay Area restaurants that thrive without rumors of labor exploitation swirling around them. Just saying.)