Grudge Match

The online dating site I’d been using is becoming a little feral. In almost a year of searching for single middle aged men in a relatively small city, I may well have exhausted that particular limited pool of opportunity for now.

Tinder has become a surprising and interesting distraction, swiping through the multitude of photos of men triumphantly holding fishes aloft and proudly polishing their throbbing midlife crisis motorbikes. It was a resource that I had previously avoided, assuming that it functioned purely for people looking for spontaneous hook ups. But I’m surprised to see the huge range of profiles, from people looking for soul mates, clandestine affairs, a quick shag, or anything in between.

The Fireman had been my first successful Tinder encounter, he had deciphered my message app username from my profile and contacted me directly like the smooth old pro he is at picking up middle aged chicks in need of attention. But apart from him, sifting through the many contacts becomes tedious pretty quickly, continually describing, explaining, and even justifying my lifestyle preferences and interests to numerous naive newbies. Clearly, I have become a little wiser and quite a bit more cynical over the past year of dating.

My view that it is the home of timewasting amateurs is confirmed when I am stood up on my first date. My thinking is that if I am looking for great sex that’s based on friendship, then perhaps widening the net is a good way to connect with people on different levels. I definitely have a weakness for musicians, and I’m drawn to this guy for his creativity and tastes as well as his exotic looks. We make a last minute arrangement to meet for a quick drink one afternoon. Luckily, the combination of spontaneity and my current cynicism means that I don’t build my hopes up at all. I am pretty chilled as I choose my seat in the deserted bar. After 5 minutes he messages to say he’s delayed and I let him know I’ll wait. After 20 minutes, I leave, un-match him, and take myself out for a delicious lunch – and I’m convinced that the company was far more entertaining than originally planned.

I’m equally surprised to discover the number of familiar faces there too. My clumsy fingers are still getting used to the different swiping functions and in one very close call I accidentally ‘superlike’ someone I know through work and would never consider fucking – ever. He has constructed his profile expertly, to make him look far less of a toothless, withered, chaotic alcoholic than he is in real life. And I am convinced that he’ll recognise me, seeing through my thinly veiled glamorous disguise. Thankfully, he is characteristically unobservant and I quickly un-match when he responds.

Another match however turns out to be a briefly exciting prospect. We move in similar work and music circles, following each other on social media, sharing similar tastes, values, politics and creative interests. He’s not traditionally good looking, but I like his style, confidence and dry wit. And I know his ex-wife and mother of his young child…. It’s a small world. But on this occasion, I’m mildly hopeful things could line up well for a casual, non-traditional, friendship that fits well with the busy lives and responsibilities of all involved.

But ultimately, it’s too much of an odd set-up. After agreeing that the logistical opportunities are interesting and that we find each other attractive, the messages are minimal. We meet for coffee one day but seem to fall quickly into work-related gossip in a comfortable but non-flirtatious way, firmly rooted in the friendzone. We manage a slightly awkward hug and a peck on the cheek as we say goodbye and he even suggests a second date – one which unsurprisingly, never happens.

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