Journal #3 (in which said man gets a tinder, PART II)

Tinder is too easy to set up. You download the app to your phone and then it prompts you to sign in with your Facebook account and I do (because for some reason I still have a Facebook). All of a sudden you are live and anyone has the ability to swipe you left or right or throw their phone against the wall when they see the kind of shit that Tinder is throwing their way. My hands drip sweat and my heart slams against my ribs. I thought my reemergence into the dating world would feel different. It’s not that I thought there would be bells, but I thought there would be bells—something to announce that here I am, I’m finally a man and I’m on Tinder. No such announcement comes. No chariots, no trumpets. I have to move fast. I throw together a bio and upload the photos from the photoshoot in fear that my soulmate will find me, swipe me left and forget me before I can upload my authentic self.

My first photo is me looking down and away under a tree by a lake and branched shadows stripe my beard. It’s super deep and poetic and I like it a lot. The second photo is me smiling at work, to show that I have a smile and also a job. I’m holding books and chocolate because I like books and chocolate. I think most people do. Photo #3 is me with a cat I found, to show I care about animals. This was a catch and release cat. I caught the cat, then released the cat with only Tinder to remember our brief time together. The fourth photo is me with some chickens. I’m crouched down low, hand extended with feed and I grin up at the camera, natural. I don’t own chickens but my neighbors do and I broke into their yard to be with them. Because having a photo with chickens makes me look more like the man I want to be and less like the man I am. The next photo is several years old, when I still had friends. It’s us at a football game. It’s the only football game I’ve ever been to but it makes me look like I go to football games all the time, like I’m generally a fun person to be around. And then the very last photo, for those who make it that far, is a photo of me on all fours in front of a fireplace, one claw out and a face that says something between meow and roar, that I’m sexy but don’t take Tinder too seriously. Taking the claw into consideration, I’m only on three-fourths of all four fours.

My bio is temporary. In it I copy and paste the lyrics to “I’d Rather Die Young” by The Hilltoppers. It goes like this—

I’d rather die young than grow old without you

So don’t ever leave me whatever you do

Though others may tempt you and tell you they care

You’ll find only sorrow in a secret affair

I’d rather die young than grow old all alone

Please tell me you love me, let me call you my own

To see someone’s picture where my picture hung

Believe me my darling, I’d rather die young

And repeat. The song goes on like that. Listen to it if you must. Or don’t, I’ll probably be changing it soon anyway.

With my most authentic self out there, people swiping me any which way, I begin. I starve for my first match. The amount of matches that Brian gets in a single day is staggering, so I know it’ll only be a matter of time before I get my own. I swipe, I swipe. With every swipe I grow weary, a heaviness descends beneath my chest. I don’t get any matches, but also I don’t swipe right often. I’m not playing the numbers, I’m playing for the One. Over the next several hours I don’t look up from my phone and when Brian tells me I need a break I scream at him and burrow back into the LCD light. I don’t tell him I haven’t gotten a match. In these same several hours Brian has gotten 17. He’s not counting but I am.

“You need to calm down,” he says to me. “None of this is real.”

“Right,” I say, but I forgot about that six and a half hours ago.

And I feel a little better, remembering that this is not real, that this is all research for a fake blog I’m to write. Still though, it’s difficult to separate yourself from this authentic you you’ve placed for the world to judge left and right. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to ignore that in the past several hours, there has been no proof that anyone has noticed you, that you even exist.

Darkness crawls up from the eastern horizon and not even the stars give their light, smeared by rolling clouds that smell of tears. Frogs scream from the pond, from the grass, from the drums in my ears and a train moans slow beyond the trees and you can feel the weight of its rattle against the tracks even here. The only light comes from our phones and the only movement from our fingers, swiping left, swiping right, but mostly left.

It’s 11:00 pm when I run out of Likes. I won’t have any more Likes for another 12 hours. Tinder sends me a special offer for Tinder Plus—which for the low price of $9.99 a month I can have unlimited Likes—and I wonder how pathetic Tinder thinks I am, how pathetic Tinder thinks I feel. Maniacally I laugh and go to bed because there’s nothing else to do. I don’t wake up till 12 hours later, when there is something to do.

The morning winds sweep in from the bay and scatter the white smudges of sky that give way to blue. Birds race above the long, wet gravel drive and a Blue Heron perches itself beside the pond, extending its wings outward to catch the Sun. I don’t go outside. I stare at my phone and start swiping. I don’t notice the sky or the blue or the birds because I only notice the swipes, the bikini-clad porn star beauties winning out over the homely girls who I’m sure have personality. Then there’s the racial preferences. My soul is punctured, leaks out all remaining warmth and feeling. All that lingers is a vague sense of the pain in my thumb and the numb in my heart and it’s only three days later when Brian tells me about the sky and the blue and the birds. I haven’t eaten, I haven’t showered, two days in a row I’ve called Heidi at work to tell her I’m not coming in. Because I’m sick, I tell her, and you could argue this isn’t a lie.

I beg Brian to take my phone away from me, but when he asks if I’m serious I say fuck you, just one match fucking please. It’s approaching midnight on the fourth night when I run out of Likes once again and put down my phone. My LCD lit eyes are slow to adjust to the night and I rub the back of my neck. My shoulders are tense and my stomach roils and I wonder if it was something I ate, but I haven’t eaten anything. My hands tremble. I want to bury my death beneath the carpet. You get so alone sometimes, I want to scream, but I’m long past that, I’m long past any—

My phone nudges the desk—a short vibration so loud that even Brian looks up from his low spot on the floor. My finger reaches for the phone, presses its only button. A faded glow tells me the notification is from Tinder. What Tinder tells me is I have a new match. Eyes open wide, I stand up slow—all joints creaking—and I raise both arms to the ceiling. I breathe in, exhale out. Whispers of nighttime. I close my eyes. A new match, my first match. And just like that, the world opens up like an intimate touch on the back from a passing coworker—a touch that lingers a beat too long, the middle finger pressing down through cotton, grazing the low valley between shoulder blades and then flicks away and gone. I mention and compare to this touch because a touch just like this happens the following day at work. It happens when I’m on my knees shelving a book, but I don’t shelve the book because of this touch that feels too much like the touch of a mother—no, no my mother would never touch me like that, no, not like that—and I’m left there with the scent of this coworker’s floral shower breeze, a bleak meadow, a lone lilac tree, and my knees are so weak I’d collapse if I wasn’t already sprawled across the floor.

 😳

join man next week for Journal #4 (in which said man gets a match, sends a message)

Journal #2 (in which said man gets a tinder)

On the morning I decide to join Tinder, I’m shelving books on the third floor of the bookstore I work at, in the poetry section, and find myself flipping through one of them. The book in hand is called “Rumi Day By Day.” Rumi is a 13th-century poet and Sufi mystic. This little book compiles 365 of his most inspired lines and sayings, one for each day of the year. The day it falls open to is day #150 which reads—

“Lust is like a drug addiction: it strangles the intellect and confuses the mind.”

On the opposite page, on day #153, it says—

“Every single part in this world longs for its counterpart.”

I shut the book and stuff it between two other books. I’m not sure where I stuff it because when I come back to the Rs several minutes later, again on the verge of tears, I can’t find it. I ask around if anyone can find it. Nobody can find it.

When I get home I talk with Brian about Tinder, what his experience on Tinder has been thus far. He says that it’s super easy, claims that his profile is super effective and I don’t doubt him. His breasts are large and his cleavage makes deep shadows. Despite his male identification, Brian hasn’t given up the advantage of breasts. He’s not sure he ever will. They’re priceless, he says, absolutely without price.

He shows me one gem of a conversation that begins with his suitor asking—

WANT TO LET ME SINK MY COCK INTO YOU?

To which Brian replies—

why is your cock worth my time

From there the conversation only gets more crass and something is said of a cock eight and an half inches long. This fact has yet to be proven as said cock lives in Canada, and being a cock in Canada, cock picks are an expensive expense to send down the border. I’ll keep you posted on cock size.

Speaking of cock, Brian has a dildo that Brian can only describe as moderately sized and this I can only describe as entirely inaccurate. Upon moving into our new cottage together, Brian asks me if it would be too much if the dildo was displayed on one of our bookshelves. I say it depends on the size. When I wake the next morning, it’s perched atop the uppermost shelf and is decidedly not moderately sized. If it is moderately sized, what this says about me and mine is unsettling and begs the question if my joining Tinder is a good idea at all. I ask Brian to put the dildo in a place I’ll never see it again. Brian only smiles. I haven’t seen the dildo since. I’m afraid to know where he put it.

Brian’s Tinder bio is as follows—

Plagued writer, lowly bookseller, failing buddhist, enthusiastic existentialist. Generally in the camp of burn it all down.

Trans (he/him), sex positive, pansexual, polyamorous. 

Looking for people to read with, play outside with, sleep with, and/or plot the coming end of days with.

If you’re just looking to fuck, don’t bother wooing. Just ask.

Brian tells me the most interesting thing about his Tinder experience is how his suitors ask the big question on everyone’s mind. My favorite is as follows—

silly question haha not that it matters too much.. may i ask if you have a penis or vagina? just curious lol i dont care what you do and respect all peoples. i respect your pronouns and will call you whatever you’d like me to. i just wanted to know where to put my dick

As I stand over Brian’s hunched shoulders and watch him swipe left and right, left, left and right, I do my best not to stare down his shirt, his breasts undulating with every flick of a finger. Brian doesn’t wear bras because men don’t wear bras. I once made a point that most men don’t have breasts, but this did not go over gladly. I won’t be bringing it up again.

How to describe Brian’s type? After hundreds of witnessed swipes, his type can only be described as awful. Perfectly respectable and put-together young men and women get passed up for older men with long and silky hair, Fabio-esque if not for its dirty brown quality, pulled back into ponytails and sometimes dreads. People like that. People with guitars. People who, just looking at, you know only talk about flames and hatehatehate and hating everything. Anarchists. You know, hipsters.

My type includes girls of the petite and frail variety, any color hair but preferably dyed something in the realms of blonde to blue and can likely, most of the time, be classified into the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” genre of girl. From my source at Wikipedia—

Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) is a stock character type in films. Film critic Nathan Rabin, who coined the term after observing Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown (2005), describes the MPDG as “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” MPDGs are said to help men without pursuing their own happiness, and such characters never grow up; thus, their men never grow up. […] The stock character has no discernible inner life, and usually only exists to provide the protagonist some important life lessons.

As a broodingly soulful young man myself, I begin to wonder if my type (the MPDG) even exists in the real world. I wonder if my type is an illusion, a figment of someone else’s imagination. All information I have on love has come from movies and books and porn. If I really think about it, it’s tough to find good examples of love in the real world that make all this searching worth it. If love is like the moving pictures, I would do anything—get out of bed even—to find love. But if love is more like the old creep who wanders our bookstore—hitting on my younger coworkers and when asked if he needs help finding anything responds with “No hun, I’m looking for my dead wife, she’s here, somewhere” and then he’s off, his eyes on the high shelves looking presumably for his dead wife—if love is like that, I don’t think all this swiping and numbing and strangling lust of confusion is worth it. (On a side note, they do speak of a ghost that haunts this building and say his name is Frank, but I do hope it’s really this creep’s dead wife. I hope one day that old man opens a book, finds his dead wife in there, and we never see him again.)

Before I join Tinder, Brian offers his assistance as photographer. This is for my Tinder profile since I have so few photos of my own to choose from. Many are taken, but few are used. Brian tells me that too many of them he would swipe left. I want to point out that I’m not his hipster-anarchist-alcoholic type, but decide not to. I’d rather not talk about his hipster-anarchist-alcoholic type because it involves the words hipster, anarchist and alcoholic, and Brian would not appreciate this because he is all three.

Brian’s Facebook still has photos from his pre-transition and his pictures can only be described as Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG)—a startling resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence if she had short, Hot Topic blue hair, if Jennifer Lawrence was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. That’s how Brian looks on Facebook. It doesn’t take much digging.

Brian does not look like Jennifer Lawrence anymore. The biweekly testosterone injections have had a clear impact on his jaw and even his scent is muskier and he no longer shaves his pits which I find disgusting in the presence of large breasts, or small breasts for that matter. Though facial hair has yet to grow, there’s a darkness to his cheeks and chin and upper lip as if a mere sheet of pale skin separates a forest of stubble from the waiting world.

Oh, and as for the dildo I’ve never seen again, I do see it again. It turns up some weeks later in our bookstore between the Qs and Ss, perched erect and watchful in the spot where the “Rumi Day By Day” book was supposed to be.

😮

join man next week for Journal #3 (in which said man gets a tinder, PART II)

Journal #1 (in which said man considers tinder)

Think of genuine face-to-face interaction like Myspace, or home phones, or carrier pigeons—an outdated mode of communication that nobody uses anymore. They don’t need it. I walk down the street and feel I’m the only one inhabiting this reality. All I see are the tops of heads, hair falling over eyes and horizontal necks, tap dancing fingers kicking across tiny screens. I see a homeless man, and alas! his eyes, but his eyes scare me because homeless people scare me. I’m alone here.

There are of course the hipsters who still use face-to-face interaction like they use vinyl, but it’s only for show like the the record player they have displayed next to their fourth-hand couch. It’s displayed so you don’t realize the fourth-hand couch is really a second-hand Ikea and the speakers are really plugged into an iPhone the same way they’re really plugged into their Twitter and Facebook and Tinder. They listen to Spotify just like everyone else.

I am not a hipster. I don’t use human interaction for show. In fact I don’t use human interaction at all. Think of my life like an empty room—no couch, no vinyl, no record player, no cords leading to an iPhone hiding behind said nonexistent couch. Nothing. Only a mat on the floor with room enough for one.

I don’t remember the last time I had sex. I remember the last person I had sex with and I saw said person not under five years ago, which makes me think I haven’t had sex in five years. These things happen, or don’t happen. An accidental born again virgin. I hiccuped and found myself behind the times, an old man at 26.

Other outdated modes of communication and entertainment could include—but are not limited to—cassette tapes, floppy discs and drives, VHS tapes (yes, many hipsters still use VHS, but only as a sick form of kind of cool irony). When someone does happen to look up from their phone and their eyes collide with mine, I see the way they look at me. Their eyes soften, curl around their edges with a scattered sense of something lost. What they see is a VHS tape. Something cool, antiquated, but utterly useless.

—like a typewriter, another example, or a pencil—

The collision of eyes ends as their neck cranes back down to their phone and they walk on, forget that there are people out there like me, at least one. If there are any others out there, I don’t know how to find them. You can’t find them on Tinder. Nobody can.

Let us return to the metaphor of my life as an empty room with a mat on the floor with room just enough for one—in a literal sense this is fairly accurate. I live in a small one-bedroom cottage on the outskirts of town and sleep on a rug in the corner, though I do share the space with someone who once was a friend. Brian is his name. Brian once was called Brianna and still has breasts as evidence of this. Once every two weeks he digs a tin Batman lunchbox from the corner of our closet. Inside are some syringes and vials. Inside the vials is Testosterone Cypionate. The syringes—and Testosterone—go inside Brian so he can look more like a Brian as opposed to a Brianna.

Brian is what started all this, really—this experiment in investigative journalism—because after moving in with Brian I quickly realized what a needy whore this Brian is. Brian recently rejoined the ranks of Tinder. For the uninitiated like myself, Tinder is a dating app where you flip through prospective mates like a deck of cards until you find a match.

This is what Tinder Inc says about Tinder—

Tinder is a fun way to discover new and interesting people nearby. 10 billion matches have been made on Tinder. Here is how it works: If you’re interested in connecting with someone on Tinder, then just anonymously Swipe Right to Like them; or Swipe Left to Pass. If someone likes you back, then it’s a match! Chat with your matches and get to know them inside of Tinder.”

This is what Tinder Inc says other Incs say about Tinder—

Tinder solved online dating for women”

—New York Magazine

“Tinder has become something of a cultural phenomenon”

—TIME Magazine

“Tinder is perfect for women”

—ELLE

“The world’s hottest app”

—Forbes

It’s a cesspool, it really is. I imagine Brian rejoining Tinder has something to do with needing to get away from me and my empty room with the matt, the literal and metaphorical room. This is how it happens—After we go to Goodwill and Home Depot and Value Village for kitchenware and shelves and toiletries for our new cottage together, Brian starts up his Tinder. A severe change takes place within Brian. The light goes out in his eyes, their only illumination from the little LCD screen he’s hunched over for the following several hours. I fear that if his phone dies, it’ll leave two gaping holes from which no light escapes. This doesn’t happen. By the end of these several hours Brian has over fifty messages to sort through and three dates lined up for the coming week. As someone who hasn’t had three dates in the past five years, this is astounding, and mildly nauseating. I realize something has to be done. Whether it was what I wanted or not, over the last five years my world has grown frighteningly small, claustrophobic even. The few friends I do have I don’t keep in touch with and are on the verge of becoming non-friends. And then there is Brian who I am slowly realizing I’m in love with, so friendship there is no longer possible. But the love isn’t real, I know that. I’m in love with Brianna, not Brian, and Brian has made it incessantly clear that he is, indeed, a Brian.

Anyway, Brian’s week goes like this. His first date is with a dude named Chase—now of course his name was Chase—and I quote via Brian: “It was some of the best sex I’ve ever had. It’s rare that anyone can keep up and Chase, my, Chase could keep up.” The next date is with a transgender woman and it goes like this—drinks, breakneck make out session, Brian drives transgender woman home, transgender woman begs Brian to take her back to our cottage. Brain says no. Transgender woman begs Brian to be her boyfriend. Brian says no, fuck no, fuck no you crazy fucking person. I later find out that at the age of 27, transgender woman has had 34 significant others and clearly does not take the institution of significant others very seriously. Brian on the other hand has had only six—though he has had 57 sex partners—so I don’t know what conclusion to make of this.

57 partners. I count that on my fingers to see what 57 looks like, what 57 feels like, but I don’t have enough fingers. Nobody does. I use my toes. I don’t have enough toes.

How many partners have I had? I can fit all three on one hand. Index. Middle. Ring. One. Two. Three.

I don’t know how his next date goes. Brian comes home with bruises. I wonder if he likes that sort of thing. He lies down on the floor, crawls under my desk he’s turned into his own little cave and burrows against the wall. He stares at the collage of photos he has plastered across the wall and under my desk—photos of the Great Pacific Northwest, the evergreens and mountains and rain-drenched Seattle streets—and I see that Brian wishes he is there. Brian is there though. We live within this Great Pacific Northwest together in a cottage meant only for one. We’re always right here but I don’t say this. Instead I break his silence and announce that maybe I too should get a Tinder, I too should enjoy in this afterglow. Brian only laughs. He’s still laughing when I shut the door, lie face down on my own rug in this empty room, tears staining my pillow. How does this happen? How do we get so alone?

That night I dream about my past five years of unintentional celibacy. Not a whole lot happens which explains why I can fit it all into a single dream of night sweats and screaming trains and rattling tracks. I dream a world of no risk taking, no chances, no Romeo and Juliet eye-locks and no cute stories of boy meets girl because technological evolution has ripped this from the mating equation. Our phones evolve while we fall backward into the Big Collision. We don’t take risks because we don’t have to. We can either talk to the cute girl at the coffee shop or huddle over the comfort of our phones swiping left and right and giving ourselves a sense of power and control that true human interaction has long since given us. There’s a safety in Tinder, of guaranteed sex or requited attraction or dopamine rushes when IT’S A MATCH! and hundreds of options so no “One” is never enough, not even the cute girl at the coffee shop. So when you see this cute coffee shop girl with her greasy forearms and stained apron and sky-blue bra strap loose over her left shoulder and your heart is thudding and your palms are sweating and your stomach doesn’t feel a part of you, there is no shame in going to the light of your phone, swiping left, swiping right, masturbating in a cold shower if everyone swipes you left.

The genesis of (almost) all social interaction takes place on our phones, on online social platforms I am no longer a part of, which answers the question—why am I so alone?

Tinder. Tinder is to blame, and yet it’s also the answer to my problems, to a world that has become so frighteningly small and numb and so lacking in feeling that you have no choice but to feel it and you feel this lack so strong that you’ll do anything just to never feel this nothing ever again. This nothing tears right through you.

😦

join man next week for journal #2 (in which said man gets a tinder)