Steven

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…)

Yannick

Not every dating story is a funny one.  I generally try to keep it light but unfortunately for me the funniest thing about this story is that the guy’s name sounds like Yuck. Reliving this date is uncomfortable and honestly, embarrassing. I have come so far since this date and would never allow someone to treat me this way today. But I also think that it’s worth telling because every woman I know has been there.  So buckle up, because it’s about to get bumpy.

A while back, I went through a hard breakup. I don’t really subscribe to the belief that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, so I took a few months off of dating. And I liked it that way. Because you can’t get hurt if you don’t let anyone in, right? Soon enough my friends were really pushing me to get back out there, so naturally they reactivated my Tinder profile. Hooray. I matched with a French guy named Yannick right away. He was handsome but didn’t say much in his profile. He asked me for my number very quickly and asked me out. Initially, he proposed that I come to his apartment complex and play some tennis and then have a soak in his hot tub. That seemed a little aggressive for a first date so I declined that offer and proposed we meet for drinks at a bar.  We decided on a bar about halfway between us and made a date.  

The day of the date, I was not excited. I had that dreadful feeling in my belly and was texting my friends for reassurance. They had me send his picture. They said he looked short. That did not help. I went anyway. He said he had trouble finding a parking spot so I ended up waiting for him for twenty minutes; the perfect amount of time for me to go back into a psychological tailspin while standing on a curb in Hollywood. He finally arrived and I was relieved to see that he was pretty cute and not short after all. Phew. He definitely let me know that he thought I was cute. He looked me up and down for so long I had to clear my throat and get his attention. It was slightly unnerving but also, it felt nice to be desired after being so painfully rejected by my breakup.

We walked inside and Yannick picked out a dark corner booth for us to sit in. The waitress came over and we both ordered Moscow Mules.  She asked if we wanted to make it a double for $2 more and while every fiber of my being wanted to, I didn’t want to be that girl five minutes into the date so I politely declined the offer and so did he. I should have gotten the double. I drank mine at what I consider to be a normal pace, and when I looked over, he had barely touched his. Apparently he was not a big drinker. I applaud that, fine, but on a first date, especially a first date after a big breakup, I need a fucking drink to take the edge off. But he was nursing his so slowly that every time the waitress came and offered me another drink I would politely decline and chug more water. 

He started getting handsy with me real quick; brushing his hand on my thigh, putting his arm around my back. He went in for a kiss within fifteen minutes. Come on, man.I had to give him my cheek about four times before I finally gave in and let him kiss me. Shouldn’t have done that though because then he just kept kissing me. One kiss was fine, but I don’t need five. We just met.  We’re in a bar on a first date. Sober. Calm the fuck down. But in his mind, I had given him permission to touch me even more. 

As we were talking, he would just find ways to touch me. He hugged me and dragged his hand back across my lap, pretty much touching my crotch as he grazed past me. I flinched. Did he do that on purpose? Then he started asking me very forward and personal questions about sex. I told him that I was uncomfortable talking about it so naturally he followed that up by asking me what my favorite position was, telling me that he likes “the foreplay, you know, giving it” and asking me if I did too. I just stared at him, not sure how to react. “Are you not a sexual person?” NOT ON A FIRST DATE WITH A STRANGER! I wanted to yell at him. I should have left, but I didn’t. Instead I just tried to steer the conversation elsewhere.

He got tired of the bar and wanted to go get food. I’m one of those people who’s always hungry so that was fine with me. As soon as I stood up, he was grabbing my ass. The first one I let slide because I thought it would be the only one. It wasn’t. He grabbed it a few more times despite me commenting on it and moving away from his grasp. “You have a nice ass” he said. I know. Stop touching it. I should have left, again. Recounting this date is painful and disappointing, and if it happened today I would have been out of there after the first drink. But I was just getting back into dating and it caught me off guard. Maybe this is normal? I couldn’t remember, honestly. I was just trying to go with the flow. Women do this a lot to our own peril. We try to diffuse the situation instead of causing a scene. That’s the only thing I can say to explain why I went along with this guy for so long.

We walked to a burger place and he held my hand all the way. I allowed it but was not enjoying it. We sat at a table and ordered our burgers. No drinks, even though I desperately wanted a glass of red wine. I’m not sure why I cared what he thought of me when he clearly didn’t care about what I thought or how I felt, but I didn’t want to be that drunk girl on a date. So no wine. We waited for our food, and somehow things got even more awkward. 

He started asking me questions that felt like a job interview. “Tell me something about yourself that I don’t know.”  Um, we’re on a first date. You don’t know anything about me.But I humored him and told him that I had gone scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef the summer before; something I had wanted to do since I was a kid. He just looked at me, unimpressed. What? Was that not personal enough?He clearly wanted me to tell him something sexual but I wasn’t going to do it. I told him that my front teeth are fake because of when I launched myself over the handlebars of my bicycle and landed on my face when I was nine. He reluctantly accepted my answer. Then it was his turn. He told me, with the saddest puppy dog eyes he could muster, that he had never had a Valentine. “Liiiike, ever?” I asked him incredulously. He shook his head at me piteously, as if he thought I was just going to reach under the table and give him a hand job to cheer him up. Don’t look at me like I’m going to be your fucking Valentine. It’s JUNE. I looked around for the waitress, in need of either wine or the check.

Next contrived question: “Tell me three things you’d like to do with me.” Then he gave me his most seductive look. Nope. Sorry bud. I’m not gonna play this game with you. I made some shit up about going for a hike, having him cook me dinner (he had bragged about his skills in the kitchen), and something else completely non-sexual like going to a museum. He looked disappointed, but he did not desist. “I want to go to the gym with you, I want to have sex with you, and…” I don’t remember what he said after that because I think I blacked out from how uncomfortable I was. I should have left.

Our burgers finally arrived and they looked amazing, until… He ate his with a knife and fork. The entire thing. I thought he was just cutting it in half at first, so I did the same in a weak attempt to be dainty. But no, he was cutting his burger into bite sized pieces and eating them off his fork. I hesitated to pick up my burger, then decided, fuck that, I am not eating my burger with a knife and fork. So I smiled daintily and said, “I’m still gonna pick mine up. Hope that’s okay.” I honestly hoped it would turn him off. It didn’t. When we finally left the restaurant, he stared directly at my breasts for a solid five seconds before reaching his hand out towards my chest. I thought he was going to pluck some food off my shirt but no, he actually pointed his finger down my cleavage and said, “Are you wearing pink and black? That’s my favorite combination.” I laughed uncomfortably as I pushed his hand away, covering myself. It was one of those moments where I didn’t even have time to react because I couldn’t believe he actually did that.  “Your breasts look soft. Are they soft to rub your face into?” “Um, I don’t know. I’ve never rubbed my face in my own breasts before.” I joked, again trying to diffuse the situation. But he kept going. “Can I do it?” He leans in. I jumped away from him. “No, you can’t!” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???

We begin the walk back to my car. He puts his arm around me. I try to move out of it but he pulls me tighter. We’re almost to my car so I just stick it out. Honestly it seemed easier to just let him have his arm around me than to push him away and risk getting into an altercation of some sort. I’m walking stiffly with my arms crossed, hiding my breasts and digging my elbow into his ribs. He still holds on. 

“Do you have laundry?” He asks me, completely out of the blue. “What?” I thought I misheard him because of his French accent and penchant for mumbling. “Do you have laundry?” I hear again. So I reply, slightly confused by the question, “Not in my unit but I have it in my building.” He laughs. Like, really laughs, for the first time on our whole date. I realize that in this moment. Holy shit. He hasn’t made me laugh once.I look at him, “What?” “Not laundry, silly. Lingerie!” he says. Ooohhhh, MY bad. I didn’t realize you were such a creep. I was no longer amused or humoring this guy. “That’s none of your business.” I say and shrug him off of me for good.

Or so I thought. Clearly oblivious to my apprehension, he decided to pick me up. Not sure why. This – not surprisingly- caught me off-guard and I resisted, which made it pretty difficult for him. Not to mention I have a very athletic build and I’m heavier than I look. He seemed surprised by this so he ASKED ME HOW MUCH I WEIGH. I didn’t tell him. He guessed. I ignored him. He asked me if I could pick him up. I said I didn’t want to and power walked the rest of the way to my car. I couldn’t get into my car before he kissed me and grabbed my ass. I backed away. 

 “So I’ll see you Sunday?” he asked. 

 “I can’t Sunday.” 

 “Monday?”

“I can’t Monday.”

“Tuesday?”

“I told you I don’t have time before I leave town on Wednesday. I’m sorry.” 

“How about Sunday AND Tuesday?” 

In what fucking world does that make sense?!

“You know what, if something changes I’ll let you know” I said as I jumped into my car and locked the doors. I sped off, feeling icky and objectified and awful. So much for getting back out there. I returned to my apartment, defeated. I think I even cried a little bit. Yannick kept texting me for days and I had to just tell him that he made me uncomfortable and that I did not want to see him again. He actually apologized and asked me how he had made me uncomfortable. Oh, Yannick, let me count the ways…