This is the story of my very first Tinder date.
I had been on online dates before but hadn’t tried Tinder yet because of its reputation for being more of a hook up site. (And I’m a lady, duh.) Of course after, oh I don’t know, three dates? I grew tired of Plenty of Fish and OkCupid so I decided to dip my toe into the wonderful world of Tinder. I will say, there are a lot more options on Tinder. It seems to be the one default app that all single people have. This doesn’t mean that there is better quality, necessarily, just greater quantity.
I was a bit apprehensive about meeting up with someone from Tinder and having them immediately try to have sex with me. As far as I knew, that was all Tinder was. The digital Red Light District. Don’t come in here unless you’re ready to take your pants off. Don’t get me wrong, I never wear pants at home. My roommate literally texts me when she has people coming over to make sure that I’m decent. But on a first date with a stranger? That’s a different story. My friends convinced me that there were some people on there actually just looking to get to know you. “If you’re on there, there have to be some other decent people on there too, right?” Fine. I’ll try it. “And if you do decide to take your pants off with a stranger, so be it!” Don’t push it.
I matched with a guy named Steven who seemed friendly, cute, and harmless in a good way. He had blondish hair with a beard and light eyes. He suggested a hike for our first date, which in retrospect I might not do again but it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a surprising choice and I didn’t feel like he would be putting the moves on me on a hike as much as in a bar. He suggested a place called Castle Peak out in West Hills. I had never been there but I was open to a new hiking spot so I agreed and we made a date.
I drove out to West Hills on the day of the date with that all too familiar feeling of I-want-to-take-the-next-freeway-exit-and-turn-around but somehow resisted it. Power through Kel, if nothing else you’ll get a nice walk in the sunshine. Steven texted me and told me he was already there, so I looked for him when I parked and walked over to the trailhead. Steven spotted me first and walked over to greet me. He was quite a bit shorter than I had anticipated. This again.
Now, Tinder doesn’t require you to put your height on your profile so it’s just part of the gamble. I usually feel like it’s rude to just flat out ask someone their height, because if they tell you they’re short, now you look like an asshole if you don’t go out with them. (I know, who cares if someone you’ve never met thinks you’re an asshole right?) But I’m assuming that a lot of women do flat out ask men for their heights, because there is this pattern of men begrudgingly putting their height on their profile, followed by a snarky comment like “because that matters apparently.” One guy even put “Oh and I’m 6ft, for all you shallow women out there.”
Let’s get one thing straight; yes, your height matters to shallow women, but it also matters to tall women. I’m not exceedingly tall, but I am 5’7” which puts me at 5’10”-11” in heels. I don’t wear them that often but I like to have the option without feeling like a giant. I don’t need your passive aggressive height listing to make me feel bad about the fact that I’m not 5’2” and 100 pounds. If you don’t want to put your height, then don’t. Pouting about it on your profile is not a good look.
Anyway, back to Steven. He found me in the parking lot and reached out to shake my hand. I always hug when I first meet my date instead of a handshake for a couple reasons. First, I want to see if I like hugging you. Is it awkward? Are you leaning into the hug? Are you uncomfortable with this amount of physical contact? Are you being creepy and trying to grab my ass right off the bat? You can tell a lot about a person by hugging them. But I also like to hug them to set the tone that this is a date, not a business meeting. Especially a day date. I used to work as a server most nights so I had to do a lot of day dates. They already feel less romantic and starting off with a handshake really doesn’t help that cause.
Steven seemed a little tense when I hugged him, like he wasn’t ready for physical contact. Who’s the sexual predator now? We exchanged niceties and then headed up the trail. It was a hot day and it was a bit of a rocky and dusty trail, not exactly lush and green. I soon came to realize that was on purpose. Since I had never done this hike and didn’t know the trail, I asked him a few questions about it to get the conversation ball rolling. He answered my questions briefly and moved on. Not unfriendly, just a little nervous, maybe? But I could tell the conversation would require a bit of effort on my part. So I asked him some easy questions to start. Work, where you from, etc. He just seemed distracted; kept looking around and at the ground.
He picked up a rock and held it out for me to see. And then, he started talking. Like, really talking. He was telling me all about the rock and what type of sediment it is and how old it must be and on and on. As it turned out, geology was his passion; and rocks were his jam. Once he started talking about them, he didn’t stop. As we walked, he would pick up different rocks and show them to me, keeping some in his pocket, leaving others. He pointed out a rock formation and said that it had veins of gold in it. I made a joke about him panning for gold and he looked me dead in the eyes and said “I do pan for gold.” I looked at him curiously, waiting to see if he was fucking with me or not. He wasn’t. I was on a date with a 49er. You know, the ones the football team is named after, not Jimmy Garoppolo, unfortunately for me.
He then went into the details of how one pans for gold. He was squatting down on the ground, showing me his form, explaining that normally there would be a pan in his hands but “you just have to picture it,” and then pretending that he had found some gold in his pan. I played along with him since it was the most excited I’d seen him yet. I asked him if I could have the gold he had just “found,” as a token of our date. He looked at me like I was nuts. Oh, that’s too much?
Once the demonstration was over we continued down the trail. I tried to restart the conversation with some regular topics. Well, just not rocks. I had a rock collection when I was a kid and I know my birthstones are pearl and alexandrite, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I asked him about his other hobbies, and when he started talking about rocks again, I specified. “Anything not rock-related?” He was stumped.
So I started talking about myself, hoping we would find a subject in common. I told him a story about riding my bike when I was a kid, asked him if he had a bike. He did. That’s all he had to say. Onward. Food! I asked about his favorite types of food. He seemed paralyzed by the question so I babbled on for a minute about sushi and self-serve frozen yogurt. Nothing? Okay… Sports! Let’s try sports. I asked him if he played sports growing up. I told him I played softball. Do you like baseball? “Yeah it’s alright… Oh see this rock over here…” He wandered off to grab another rock and show it to me. This guy was killing me. I felt like I was on a hike with an eight-year-old.
I stopped trying. I decided to just walk, enjoy the view and the hike, and smile and nod whenever he showed me a rock. He was sweet, but so oblivious. At least he wasn’t paying attention to how sweaty I was getting in the 90 degree weather. I tried to ask him how much longer the hike was going to be without it coming out like “Are we there yet?” He said we were about halfway. Oh joy.
We came to a pretty cool cave, enjoyed some panoramic views, and headed back down the loop. I wish I could say that I retained all of the information about rocks that Steven bestowed upon me, but I did not. And it really showed on the second half of the hike, which turned out to be the pop quiz section of our date.
Steven would pick up a rock and hold it out for me to see, like a child who’s caught a caterpillar and wants to show you. Then he would look at me expectantly, waiting for me to identify it. Yep, looks like a rock to me. I would look at the rock, back at Steven, shake my head and shrug. He would look disappointed for a split second, but then excited because he got to answer the question himself. It was like a round of Jeopardy when there’s an entire category you know nothing about. I wasn’t even buzzing in and he still expected me to answer. Why are you still asking me? Clearly you know the answer and I don’t. I didn’t know there was going to be a lightning round on geology at the end of our date!
We made our way back down to the parking lot and I was ready to get in my car and go home. Steven asked if I wanted to get lunch. I told him I had to get going. He was disappointed, which surprised me. Maybe if you’d let me keep the non-existent gold… It was another one of those moments where I felt like we had been on completely different dates. For me it was awkward and I had no intention of seeing him again. (And I honestly thought the feeling was mutual.) But he was like “Hey that was fun!” Part of me wished the date had gone well because I could have ended with a terrible pun about how “this date rocked!” But, alas, I’ll have to save that one for another 49er. (Here’s hoping Jimmy G is on Tinder…)