Meeting, Matching, and Dating
Updated: Apr 14
Featured: A boy meets girl story with the trials and tribulations of dating in a trans-modernist world.
Once upon a time, they both swiped right.
He was one of the good ones, which of course made him horrible at Matching, Meeting, and Mating.
“You’re doing it wrong,” a colleague lectured. “If you had a reservation at one restaurant and a table at a better one opened, you’d switch, right? You should have three women lined up tonight, not one. This week alone, I’ve slept with three different Tinder girls. My Tinderella’s, I call them.”
“Were they interesting people?” he asked.
“How the hell do I know,” his colleague said. “I’m not taking them home to meet Mom. I tell them in advance that I’m not looking for a relationship. I’ve got one girlfriend too many as it is,” he laughed. “And a wife I don’t want,” rolling his eyes.
She was a nice girl, a stay-at-home type, a collector of strays, which of course made her horrible at Matching, Meeting, and Mating. She’d had the same friends since kindergarten. They made her profile and offered to run background checks on her selections. She’d be at home right now, knitting, Netflixing, or reading with Leo, Lucy, and her most recent acquisition, Kitty, but because of coming to meet ‘Mr. Right,’ was not. “You never know about these things,” her friends warned, preparing her, in case of rejection. They did not want her getting hurt or worse.
He waved as she entered the bar. He reminded himself of what his colleague said, “It’s a hookup, not a date.” They introduced themselves. The scent of her perfume intoxicating chocolate chip cookies? “You’re as lovely as your picture,” he said, studying her nose. He suspected she’d used the same apps and filters to alter her profile pic that he had. She looked like Taylor Swift but more voluptuous, with shorter hair minus the haughty posture.
She said, “You look good too.” She remembered her friends’ advice to not give compliments because it sounded desperate. Was wearing a V-neck sweater cut this low, self-objectifying? Her contacts bothered her eyes, but her friends insisted she looked better without glasses. At least she could see him, his direct gaze unsettling when dropping to her cleavage and then bouncing away. He made her appear petite when she looked in the mirror above the bar, and she discovered his body hard with muscle when she misjudged the distance sitting, bumping him.
Spending hours designing their profiles. They followed suggested text protocols, waiting for the correct extent of time before responding and picking the perfect emojis. Now, their eyes flit away, scanning strangers, depending on cliché conversation starters, “Ahhhh, what’s your birth sign, he asked?
“Gemini, what’s yours?” she asked.
“Libra.” Now what? Silence. I’m dying here. Why does she have to be so desirable?
“What would you prefer to drink,” he asked?
She said, “I’ll have a Cosmo, please.” The last time she’d drunk them, she’d fallen asleep on a bed of coats at her friend’s party, comatose the entire night. But it’s what the women on Sex in the City always ordered. She wasn’t Carrie or Miranda either. And she damn sure wasn’t Samantha. Closest to Charlotte, she supposed, but without her sense of style. How is he holding me with his eyes? I don’t want to look away, but I must. I’m blushing for sure.
He said, “One Cosmo, coming. Let me get the server’s attention.” He thought back to his co-worker’s advice: “Girls love their Cosmos. It helps them lose their shit faster.” Did he want that? Her eyes big and trusting with thick lashes, like Bambi’s girlfriend, Faline.
She watched the men in the restaurant peer into their phones. She realized she would be no one’s priority, only a Netflix And Chill for a fuckboy suffering from FOMO. She shrunk further on the barstool. He seemed sweet, not like the others.
He said, “I ordered an appetizer too.” He’d heard women who use dating apps expect a free meal out of it too. Tinder Food Stamps, they called it.
She said, “Wonderful. I’ll help with the bill.”
Her friends had warned, “Split the check so you’re under no obligation.”
They only met minutes earlier, and distrust had appeared. He thought he was being used for free food. She thought she was being pressured, exchanging sex for some potato skins.
He said, “Don’t worry,” patting her hand. Thoughtful, helping with the check. Her skin, so soft and warm, created a buzzing throughout my body.
His colleague said he should text dick pictures to prospective matches to weed out girls who weren’t serious. But he had enough trouble taking a photograph of his face. He wondered how his dick measured against others. The thought made him laugh silently. He could hold a ruler next to it and run an app to ‘enhance’ it, of course. Maybe I can take down the headshot altogether and just leave the dick pic up. Is that serious enough? A giant fuck you to the hook-up scene.
She said, “The drink’s delicious. Thank you.” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had an orgasm with anyone but herself. Could she have sex with someone she just met? How many Cosmos would it take for her to no longer care? But his eyes sparkle when he looks at me, and he has a dimple. I want to kiss it and remember what I do with him.
The editors want more of a connection, but it’s a first date, and these two are afraid of getting hurt. They don’t seem on the same wavelength either. Or maybe they are. He’s thinking of his dick, and she’s thinking of orgasms. This could be as good as it gets in Cyberspace. I’m calling the shots as the author, after all. Maybe I should have something too. “Barkeep, over here, Patron, Anejo, make it neat, skip the lime, please.” Who knew matchmaking is so complicated?
As coached by his friends, he asked, “Do you want to go to my place after we finish here?”
“I’m sorry I can’t. As the author, I make it a policy never to date my characters. I suggest you get yourself back in the story where you belong.”
“Like I said, we could go to my place after we finish here?”
As instructed by her friends, “I can’t,” she replied. “I have a prior commitment.” Her friends said never go to his place, on a first meeting. Too dangerous. Who was she kidding? Prior commitments, she had none unless she counted re-reading the more memorable text message’s she’d received, such as, ‘Since you never replied to my text, good-riddance. I’ve married and divorced you already. I got the house, the silver tea service and the dog.’ Another said, ‘I don’t date women with cats. I detest cats,’ and then the endless images of floating dicks and shaved chests with badly drawn tattoos. She was a coward if a screen controlled everything. Intimacy was a distant star out of her reach. She watched him scan his phone, looking for her imagined replacement. At least she had her cats for comfort.
They finished eating in silence. He collected the check. She gave him money for half. They said their goodbyes. Brief hugs at the sidewalk. “I’ll text you,” he said. He always said that even if he didn’t mean it.
As they walked in separate directions, his phone vibrated in his pocket. 16 New Matches. He scanned another like, from another girl that looked like the one from the time before and the time before that. More whitened teeth plumped up lips, pasted on eyelashes, fake boob jobs, and Kardashian asses. None of them measured up to this woman, the one he broke bread with and shared a connection, no matter how brief. It’s her. My mouth yearns to taste, and my mind wants to know, this one.
He looked back and saw her standing at the light, waiting to cross the street. She was real. He could catch her.
He said, “I’m sorry. That was rude of me, not to offer to walk you home.”
She angled her knees toward him. “I’d like that,” she said, shivering, wrapping her coat tighter, and pressing against him. She saw his mouth turn upward. The warmth of his smile shone on her, making her belly swirl. It’s this man I want to understand.
They both put their phones away and waited for the light to turn green.
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By Kay Freeman
Writer, artist, Tequila Connoisseur, lover of the Blues, Dark Romance, all that is weird, bizarre, and unexplained.