For those of you in committed relationships or still using flip phones, Tinder is an app that lets you start messaging a stranger based on how they look in five photos. If both parties press the heart button for each other, the folks at Tinder let you start communicating. My old boss kindly referred to it as the “flip and fuck” app. Put more mildly, it’s very shallow. Tindering can be done while waiting for a train, waiting to go on a Grouper, or generally any time you’re bored and want to flip through pictures of strangers. It’s a ridiculous joke of a dating technology that sometimes turns into not so much of a joke.
Case and point, a few weeks after moving to Chicago I went on a Tinder date. I agreed to meet up with a guy named, um, we’ll call him Ralph. A few hours before I was supposed to meet Ralph for dinner, I realized that you go through all the stages of grief before embarking on a Tinder date:
First, you’re in denial that this is seriously happening. Next, you’re mad you ever answered his message. Then you start bargaining, wondering if you just stood him up would your dating karma turn to shit? Soon, you become depressed, refusing to turn off Netflix or change out of your pajamas. Finally, you accept that you have essentially set yourself up on a blind date and hope for the best.
Walking into the restaurant, I tried to remember what Ralph looked like. Luckily, there was a front bar and he had grabbed a drink (I made sure to be a few minutes late because I’M SO POPULAR AND BUSY). He recognized me too and we shared a nervous sigh of relief that neither of us had been Catfish’d. Ralph was the kind of cute that creeps up on you, a little stocky and baby faced but definitely charming.
We were at a Spanish tapas restaurant, and we began the meal with him ordering a whole pitcher of sangria. As the wine flowed, so did our conversation. Turns out Ralph’s dad runs one of the biggest medical practices in the Midwest, and he was doing cancer research in hopes of getting into med school. Everything was going smoothly until we ran headfirst into a major dealbreaker: Ralph had no idea what a pun was.
Anyone who knows me will realize that in this moment, my Tinder dreams were essentially shattered. Ralph could be the next Dr. McDreamy, but all the money and success in the world can’t replace a good sense of humor. I made a mental note here, but continued to let the sangria drain. Once ice and orange peels were the only things left in our glasses, Ralph walked me down the street to my train. After a prolonged hug he went for a polite goodnight kiss.
It wasn’t three seconds later that a shoe-shiner appeared out of nowhere. He announced his arrival as he got down on one knee, forcibly grabbing Ralph’s right foot, and started shining. This stranger ignored Ralph’s protests and confidently argued that a beautiful girl like myself wouldn’t want a guy with dull shoes. Shoeshine man had a point. Poor Ralph was totally bewildered and upset. In the end, Ralph had to go to the ATM to pay the man. After he left, we both knew the romantic moment had passed. I then took another mental note that in no way did Ralph find any of this funny.
As to be expected, the kindling on our love fire never quite started burning. Thanks to the good shoe shiners of Chicago, Ralph flipped and got fucked over. But I like to think he finally learned a valuable lesson: that he should always put his foot down…ZING! (See, Ralph? That’s a pun)