Sunday, February 1, 2015

127 Hours: MRH Does Dating.

Once upon a time (this past December), my very sweet and well-intentioned roommate/best friend decided to take matters into her own hands regarding my social life, and downloaded (for my use) a phone app named Hinge. Then, when I was perhaps a little less than sober (meaning not as uptight and reserved as I usually am), she had me log into this app with my Facebook account.
It was then in the wee hours of a Saturday night, with only a few finger swipes and even fewer cheers, that my Hinge profile was born.
For those of you who don't know what Hinge is (I sure as hell didn't), Hinge is sort of Tinder's well-intentioned cousin. They still belong to the same family/have the shared genetics of being phone apps that you select potential mates (yes, I said mates) by judging pictures and swiping in a certain direction, but Hinge operates under the sweeter (but perhaps naive) belief that because they're pairing you with people you have shared connections with (Facebook friends), there's less of a chance you'll be meeting up with a sociopath.
Or something.
I was initially resistant to Hinge. Something about meeting people through an app seemed inorganic and cheap. It felt as if I was ordering an interaction with people through Amazon Prime, the 2 day delivery guaranteed. I am a romantic at heart (although also admittedly semi-cynical), and I want to make friendships and relationships through adorable meet-cutes in coffee shops and friends of friends and Central Park. However, as it was often explained to me, this is New York. You are young. This is how people meet people. This is normal. You are being ridiculous. You are also growing couch sores from being a hermit. Go out and be social. 
So out to be social I went. 
The Hinge interactions all start the same way. You match with someone who approves you, and vice versa. You then exchange small talk via a messenger system (usually about your jobs and weekend plans), and then someone inevitably brings up drinks. You set a plan, wear a cute outfit, and see what happens.
Some of the guys I've met through Hinge were extremely sweet, and proof that good guys, even guys that weren't necessarily meant to be mine, exist. We found some good bars and some delicious food, and it was fun to pretend every so often that I was a glamorous New Yorker who frequently goes out after work (even though 9 times out of 10, I was just feral-cat hungry and generally rumpled/frizzy after a 13-hour shift). Although the nights usually ended with both of us uttering one of the most favorite of lies shared between humans ("We should definitely do this again soon!"), I came home feeling as if I had tried, and had at least put myself out there. Although, I do genuinely hope to see some of those guys again, even if it's just in a friendship capacity.
Of course, there are also the horror stories. There are three of note, the types that help allow me to have a blog named "The Awkward Times of MRH".
1) The First Hinge date. It started out innocently enough, but unraveled quickly. He tried to make out with me/physically pushed my face closer to his after whispering the line, "Maggie Gyllenhaal is ugly". Men, a dating tip for you-insulting random celebrities is not considered a normal aphrodisiac.
2) The Alpha Dog Hinge Date. This guy had potential-we had a lot of shared interests (such as loving delicious tzatziki sauce, exploring the city, and the brief flirtation of attending medical school). Before meeting up, we had discussed books, movies, and medical research, and I was comforted that at least we'd have some stuff to talk about on our date. He showed up, and the night started out well enough. Then he got more and more drunk, and became more and more of what I believe scientists officially have classified as a "douche canoe". He bragged about how he cheated on ex-girlfriends, helped ex-girlfriends cheat on their new boyfriends (there is something oddly poetic about that), called all women 'bitches', and best of all, purposefully tried to pay a cheaper check (belonging to another table) that the waitress had mistakenly brought us. When she did bring us the correct (and more expensive) check, he tipped less than 10%. Of course, there is also the piece de resistance-this guy looked me straight in the eye and told me, with increasing vigor and total seriousness: I AM the alpha dog, I am THE alpha dog, I am the ALPHA DOG. Let's just say that I suddenly understood the plot of 127 Hours, and being willing to chop off your own arm to get the hell out of dodge.
3) The Great Hinge Date. The night after meeting Alpha Dog, my less-than-enthusiastic self met up with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. We met at a cute little bar, and I was so nervous around him that I stuttered for the first 10 minutes and spilled my cranberry vodka down my white shirt. (Just your normal male-heart-snaring moves). The rest of the night was a Great Date. We had a lot of chemistry, we had fun, and he made definitive plans for the next time we would see each other. Most importantly, he mentioned the five words that make my knees weak and my heart beat dangerously fast: "Chicago-style deep dish pizza". 
Fast forward a week, aka 7 days I spent checking my phone obsessively and ping-ponging my way a few thousand times through the "I wish he would just text me. Maybe I should text him?" and "I'm a strong independent woman. He can try to woo ME" states of mind. I admittedly broke my resolve the following weekend, and texted him first. He in turn asked for plans for the upcoming week. After another conversation several days later, we planned for dinner and drinks Saturday, and he asked if he could come meet me out in my part of the city. I was equal parts nauseous and excited (and eating a giant breakfast of shrimp and grits Saturday morning didn't help things either). 
Before my gluttonous brunch on Saturday, I texted him to confirm our plans. And then didn't hear anything back for roughly 8 hours. A lot of things could happen in 8 hours, the conscious part of my mind reminded me. He could be taking a coma nap in preparation for tonight. He could have lost his phone. He could have been kidnapped. He could be running a marathon, in New York in January when the streets aren't plowed and the temperatures are frigid. Just your normal run of the mill excuses....everything is fine! And then, a couple hours before we would have met, I received The Text (and I quote): "I'm starting to get serious with someone I've met. Sorry for the shitty timing!". 
Ummmmmmmm, okayyyyyyy. 
Look, I get it. Dealing with people outside of friendship can be messy. While my ego is bruised and my pride feels like it received a couple of well-placed bee stings, he wasn't interested (or at least not interested enough), and it's not going to work out. I'm a big girl, and I'll cope via stress eating, just like I always have.
But what I cannot forgive is the damn deceit. What makes this man (and all others like him) into a goddamn monster is giving the sweet, sweet promise of deep dish pizza, and then quickly ripping that promise from my yearning taste buds. What circle of hell must you have climbed out of to promise a girl the world's most amazing fusion of carbs, tomato, and cheese, and then renege on the deal? HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN WHO IS FOOD-SCORNED, GENTLEMAN. TAKE NOTE AND TAKE CARE. Wars have been fought over less.
All in all, this past month has taught me several lessons: First, your normal sushi place (which you have believed you are single-handedly supporting through your weekly delivery orders) will survive without you (also, you shouldn't be single-handedly supporting a restaurant). Secondly, putting yourself out there, while not always successful, still puts you in the running for SOMETHING. Your chances for anything (the discovery of a great bar, a good meal, a new friend in the city, or a character trait in someone else that makes your fingers absolutely itch for the pepper spray) go up from 0 to 100% once you go out and DO and TRY. Third, when it comes to good, authentic deep dish pizza, get that name and address down on lock, at the cost of all else. 
Oh, and one more thing. Don't give up.

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