When I moved to New York City, two iPhone apps were essential: Google Maps and Grindr.
My first Grindr date was Z. He was handsome in his profile picture: a little skinny, dark-haired, complete with the facial hair and flannel shirt of your typical Brooklyn hipster. He lived a few stops on the L train and asked me to a drink at a nearby bar.
I met him off the train stop, as he lived in the building right next to it, and we walked several blocks to the bar. He asked what I did; I told him I wanted to be a writer, but that I’d landed a job at a shop in Soho for the time being. “I used to work retail,” he told me. “I enjoyed it. I looked great in a suit.”
“And you’re modest, too,” I smirked.
“No, seriously,” he said, seriously. “I have pictures on my phone if you want to see?” I told him no, and we went into the bar.
We got a glass of whatever was on tap and sat at a quiet table in the corner. “Do you like to read?” I asked, hopefully.
“I love to read,” he said. I smiled. “What do you read?”
“Well,” I beamed, “my favorite book is ‘Mrs. Dalloway.’” He scrunched up his face. “What?”
“Oh, nothing. Just, naturally, you like the book by Virginia Woolf that everyone knows.”
So many responses ran through my head. I thought about naming literally every book she’s ever published. I thought about pointing out that, maybe, everyone knows it because it’s one of her best works. But before I could say anything, he prompted, “What others?”
“Well, ‘The Great Gatsby’ always held a special place in my heart.” (And this was pre-Baz Luhrmann Gatsby.)
“Of course,” he scoffed, “the book that everyone read in middle school.”
If I wasn’t offended before, I definitely was now. “And what, pray tell, are your favorite books?”
“I like classics, I guess,” he muttered ambiguously.
“OK, which classics?”
“Oh, you know…” he trailed off, followed by an awkward silence.
I didn’t know. “I don’t know,” I said. “Do tell.” But he wouldn’t tell me, just continued to look at me like I was an idiot.
I stopped trying to make conversation, only halfway through my beer that now just tasted bitter. After a while, he stated the obvious: “This isn’t going well, is it?”
“Should we go then?”
“I guess so.”
He closed out his card and we left in silence. He walked me to the subway, where we stopped for an awkward goodbye. “So,” he hesitated, “do you want to come up?”
I was disgusted. After being vain, after being a distant asshole, after trying to make me feel stupid and basic, he had the audacity to ask me to come up with him?
On the other hand, I didn’t have anything better to do. I remembered a quote from Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”: “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” He was no Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky, but he would do for the night.