App dating is weird.
There’s no other word for it… except maybe “dismal” or possibly “tragic.” Never is human nature more painfully on display than on “Tinder” or “Bumble” or “Match” or fucking “Coffee Meets Bagel” for Christ sake… all of which I have attempted to use in the aftermath of my divorce, which was over 3 years ago now.
3 years… Jesus Christ.
My ex-husband got himself into another committed relationship less than 2 weeks after our divorce was finalized. He buried his dysfunctional head in that woman’s lap while the anthropomorphized corpse of our marriage was still twitching… and as far as I know he’s still there. It stung a bit, but namely because he claimed he was still trying to work things out with me while he was doubtless cultivating another bed to lie in. Honestly, she’s welcome to him. I certainly don’t miss having custody of an overgrown adolescent who’s life revolves around binge watching Netflix every night and pouting about being asked to vacuum the goddamned carpet.
Since then, I’ve had a handful of relationships. I think 4 or 5. It’s been kind of a shit show, but mostly because I had to overcome my habit of staying in unhealthy situations for no other reason than I felt obligated not to hurt anyone’s feelings or I just couldn’t cope with another break-up. A few of those relationships were the result of dating apps… the weirder ones:
– One dude I dated didn’t have a car. I didn’t think much of it. I live in hippie-ville USA. Lots of people don’t have cars around here because they don’t believe in capitalist, fossil-fuel consumer culture. But about a month in, it came up that he also didn’t have a license. When I probed a bit further, he admitted that instead of a license he had a DUI.
He should have known better than to be demure with that information. Because once I sense I’m being told a half-truth, I turn into an 11th century inquisitor. A few phone calls and an internet search later, and I had collected 7 different mug-shots of my new suitor…
One of which was for domestic violence.
– Another guy I went out with neglected to mention that he was a polyamorous, “sex-positive”, dominant… which was his multi-syllabic way of saying he wanted to fuck anyone and everyone that moved. He would have fucked a shrub if he thought there was a chipmunk in it. Naturally, he didn’t tell me any of this until AFTER the 6th date. You know, AFTER my affection had begun germinating with all the vengeance of a spring cottonwood tree. Now I don’t have any judgement toward the poly community, and I think people should enjoy sex with whatever consenting party they choose. However, the way that this dude went about it felt like a pretty under-handed bait-and-switch, and his sex drive was so prolific that he would sometimes shame me for wanting to go to sleep. But I liked him, so I agreed to give the whole “open relationship” thing a whirl and lasted exactly 1 week. I remember looking at him while we were having sex the last time, his eyes closed and his head kicked back like a baby-bird, gobbling the shadows off the ceiling. “I could be anyone right now, and it wouldn’t matter… he wouldn’t even notice.”
The thought was as relentless as a car alarm.
– Yet another dude met me for drinks and literally talked about his divorce and custody battle for 3 hours straight… 3 HOURS STRAIGHT. My attempts to re-direct the conversation to, literally, ANYTHING ELSE were ignored. He couldn’t be steered off those rocks. I should have charged him $150 and taken notes.
– Still another invited me out for drinks and showed up 45 minutes late. I would have gone home but for the fact that while I was waiting at the bar, I made friends with the most marvelous gay man who was blithely drunk and began referring to me as his, “Ivory Wench.” When my “date” finally did arrive, he didn’t even bother to buy me a drink and yammered on in a self-important manner about the lack of masculinity in our town. A few weeks later, without any contact in between, he texted me: “Busy tonight?” Because apparently, modern masculinity can’t be bothered with complete sentences.
I didn’t respond.
– There was one dude that I was really excited about. We had a lot in common and he was very sweet and generous and obviously super into me. I was on cloud 9 about him, right up until he told me that he was still married. “Technically” still married. They hadn’t lived together for a while, but the paperwork hadn’t been filed or anything. And it’s not like there were kids involved. Nor was there a complicated settlement to argue over. He and his wife simply hadn’t bothered to make it official. When I asked him if it occurred to him AT ALL that maybe he ought to take care of that whole divorce thing before he started dating, he stared at me blankly. “No,” he said. That’s when I knew we were on different wavelengths… specifically, I was on the “don’t-start-dating-until-you’re-actually-divorced” wavelength.
And in between these, more painful and ridiculous experiences, there was the array of average non-starts that sort of characterize the indolent buffet of faces that flips past us in the new left-or-right swiping dystopia. It reminded me of sitting around, flicking away at an empty cigarette lighter. With each dry scrape of the flint that failed to spark, I became less and less hopeful about my chances. Sure, every now and then something seemed to catch, a playful conversation, a tangy flirtation that hinted at a date, but they rarely unfolded into an actual invitation. On the rare occasion that I actually did meet someone for coffee or a drink, I would find myself overwhelmed with ennui and dread before I even left my house.
Fortunately, I’m a deputy medical examiner. And in any terrible situation where everyone is miserable, I have the home court advantage….
I was going to meet a guy- or should I say ANOTHER guy. He’d been floating around my Bumble account for a few rotations and I hadn’t really made a decision on him. His profile said he was Middle Eastern and he appeared attractive enough. And since I hadn’t been brutally disappointed in almost a week, my faith in the human race had regenerated enough to make me inexplicably optimistic about a coffee date.
We had agreed to meet up for a non-committal test-drive at a local Starbucks in my county… which was not only low-pressure but also well-lit and I knew that at any given moment, the neighborhood would be teeming with my esteemed law-enforcement colleagues if I found myself needing back-up. Not only that, but if I ended up having to break the dude’s arm, I knew that my people would nix the assault charge and take my side.
Of course I failed to consider one of the drawbacks of meeting someone for a date in my jurisdiction… that drawback being, I know WAY too much about any given location. Seriously, whenever I drive down the main drag, I’m compelled to take my passengers (either living or dead) on a guided death-tour. I’ll point out which hotel has had the most suicides… which corner was the location of a grisly 3-car pile-up… which house is populated by overdosing crack-heads. So, when I pulled up to the Starbucks, I was compelled to note that the coffee shop was located right next to a park that boasts a man-made pond with a rather dubious history.
Specifically, we think there’s a human head in it.
Quick recap: Some drug-dealing dude killed some woman over a money dispute… or something like that, we’re really not sure. Anyway, once the deed was done he was faced with the age-old problem of how to dispose of a body. I’m not going to tell you what he should have done because I don’t want to be responsible for your delinquency. I will, however, tell you that he did it wrong. Our knuckle-dragging friend decided that the best way to get rid of this body would be to dismember her- as smaller pieces would, theoretically, be easier to hide, transport and discard. While the logic here was sound, the criminal-mastermind really shot himself in the foot when he called a friend for assistance in disposing of the victim. This friend decided that he wanted NO part of this debacle, cashed in his gangster-card, and called the police. Shenanigans ensued that I won’t detail here. Suffice to say that the body was discovered, identified and the perp was arrested while attempting to flee from the police in the afore mentioned park. Of course you’ll note that I said the body was discovered. In reality, only most of the body was discovered. The killer had apparently been watching a lot of “The Forensic Files” or something and decided that he needed to remove the decedent’s hands, carve out her tattoos, and remove her head to prevent police from being able to identify her. Of course, once again, Moriarty here totally fucked himself because– while the head and fingertips were never found– it really doesn’t help to carve out someone’s tattoos when you just take that epidermal tissue and throw it right back into the same goddamnned bag with the rest of the body.
Anyway, as I pulled up for my more-or-less blind date, I noted the pond was being drained and I remembered that I had gotten an email from local detectives, alerting us to the possibility that the dead woman’s head was in there… having allegedly been chucked in the pond while the killer was running from police. In the email they wanted to give us a heads up (heh) that the draining process would take a while and they would let us know if and when they found anything. As I walked into the Starbucks, I noticed the pond was almost 2/3 empty and soon we’d know if the wayward noggin was to be recovered.
Not the typical way to walk into a date, but whatever. I breached the front doors and charged in, determined to be out-going and charming… and …optimistic and… shit….
Like so many app-dates before him, this guy greviously over-estimated a great many things about himself. For starters, his height. Pretty much every dude that I’ve actually met from dating apps has generously bolstered himself by an additional inch or two. And if this guy was 5’9″ as he claimed, then I’m 6’3″ and I print money out of my ass. The other thing that he over-estimated was his fascination. Over the next hour, he behaved as though I was a fawning magazine journalist doing a feature story on him. He prattled on and on about his acting career, his modeling career, the screenplay he was writing. I did my best to be polite… you know… seem interested and supportive like my debutante mother trained me to be. Unfortunately my good manners only encouraged him in his delusion that he was an irresistibly charismatic, up-and-coming screen-writer. Because the next thing I knew, I was reading the opening scene of his painfully lame action movie.
He had it on his phone. Who the hell does that?
And that’s how I found myself staring out the window of the Starbucks, wishing I could be slogging around in the mud looking for discarded body parts with my own kind. I wasn’t sure my “date” could even remember my name, let alone anything else about me… seeing as how I could barely get a word in edgewise and he hadn’t bothered to ask me anything about myself. And, for the life of me, I couldn’t think of an obliging manner in which to extricate myself from the conversation and take my leave. My mother’s etiquette lessons never included a module on how to gracefully get the hell away from a tedious jerk-off who cannot hear enough of his own story. Probably because it would be considered “rude.” But the fact is, this is a different time and I’m a different woman. I’m constantly having to remind myself that, despite my sexist, puritanical, Judeo-Christian origins… it’s a new day up in this bitch and it’s not my fucking job to be pleasant and accommodating. So I tossed the notion of being obliging or graceful… and I aimed right for the head.
“Hey,” I abruptly said to my coffee companion, cutting off his monologue. “Do you know why they’re draining that pond?” I asked him, gesturing toward the park… where something that was actually interesting was going on.
He glanced out the window and shook his head, apparently taken aback that I had interrupted him… or maybe he was astonished to discover that I could speak- who knows.
“They think there’s a head in it… They think there’s a murder victim’s head in the bottom of that pond…”
Five minutes later I was walking back toward my car… having effectively rendered my date utterly speechless by dropping the ultimate conversational cinder-block on the whole pointless endeavor…
Or rather, I shouldn’t say pointless… I mean, after all…I got something out of that date. And no, it wasn’t a cup of coffee. I had to buy that myself. After that date I decided to completely abandon app-dating… and rightly so. I just don’t have time to waste on that kind of bullshit, sitting around acting all demure and impressed and interested. Additionally, it gave me something to write about I guess- because even tales of death and dismemberment can get a little redundant and I imagine you guys want to hear about something equally horrifying. So here it is: Dating in 2019 is a disaster. The only thing worse than being single is trying not to be single… and I’m starting to think that maybe I should write a fucking screen-play about this shit…
… for fucks sake…