A Tinder Story by Jasmine Ledesma
Tinder is a beehive where you, the sickly hopeful consumer perhaps ravaged by loneliness and boredom can be as picky as you want. This app allows you to push your peas around and neglect the pieces of meat that are a bit too bloody. You have so many options, you can be as excessive in your rejection as you want. You can have late college boys who smell like fallen cigarette ash and old textbooks, girls who like energy drinks and mosh pits, and free photos of other people’s dogs. There are no boundaries. You can suckle on the thought that out there, in the sea of carefully constructed profiles, is somebody perfect for you. This dream feeds you, propels you forward and keeps you swiping.
Every single day, approximately ten million people use Tinder for roughly thirty-five minutes. I’ve - so far — kept my dates with men virtual. Stay in your vacuum, baby. There’s no need to get any closer than I want you to be. This is my house, after all.
He wanted a picture right away. He instructed me to write his name on a piece of paper and hold it beneath my breasts. We were not even five texts into our communication. His card deck of fluorescent-lit photos told me three things: he had at least two friends, liked to eat red gummy bears, and lived in queens. I was a muddy river, too sad for anything outside of / I needed validation even if it was purely artificial, green-lighted by exposure. I was a baby with only one need. Tell me I’m good. Tell me I’m here. I could fall in love with A.I. There are support groups for people like that, who don’t want lulls in conversation or expensive dinners, who fantasize about fucking cold, stoic robots who might let out an electronic trill at the end. He — the boy receiving my texts with acne scars and classes during the week — must have felt similarly. We were doing what needed to be done. It was real. It was science. My finger struck send. My room murmured for a few seconds until he sent me a picture in return. Gifts of each other, for each other. A couple of months later, I was feeling more like spring than winter. I was even doing the cleaning, throwing out mountains of insignificant papers and plastic. When I opened up an old notebook, a little scrap of paper fell out like a snowflake. It read: Jason. It still burned.
After some lukewarm conversations on tinder about various hobbies and music interests, Kelly and I decided to have our first date on my school’s campus. I wore an oversized jacket with my freckle brown hair down across my shoulders. She had a sweet smile, dominated by her theater of teeth. Her fingernails were painted green which I mentioned more than once. We strolled through the lounge and computer labs, discussing what careers we were pursuing, what our favorite shows were, and embarrassing stories from high school. The conversation flourished like a flower. I felt no pressure to pretended I was anything but what I was. When it began getting dark, I walked her to the train station, and we swore to meet up again. Our third date, which happened at the end of the summer, when everything was covered in heat, began with drinking tall Four Loko’s in the midnight belly of a McDonalds, climaxed by getting kicked out of McDonald's for being too loud and ended in her bed. I couldn’t sleep for a long time. Harlem wailed like a newborn from her pale window. I looked over the mountain of her body — now covered in sheets — and imagined a future where we got used to each other's sleepy breath and she could call me by a name nobody else could. I didn’t even know her last name, yet she was conjuring these soft thoughts. I slept heavily.
In the morning, I left my shirt at her apartment and wore hers home. As I wandered through the tunnels of the subway, I looked at other people directly into their eyes. Did I look different? Could they tell I had somebody who cared about me?
We sexted all afternoon. You’re feeling worse than you have in a while and my class got canceled. You tell me you don’t need any pictures, only words. Like God, you dream me up in your own image.
I sat with Dina in a shopping mall in desperate need of new paint and tiles and told her about how I used to hurt myself in high school. I’d hide pieces of glass or broken CDs in my phone case or in my pencil case. I’d steal band-aids from pharmacies. I hadn’t ever told anyone before but felt safe divulging my pain to somebody I met only an hour earlier. From her profile — which made up the basis of my decision to meet her — I knew Dina was a Gemini who worked at a record store. This was enough. I made her my emotion vase. And she let me, even told me about her childhood of trailer parks and dead dogs. What is so enticing about strangers? The fact that they are easy to fill, or that they want to be?
I deactivated my profile four months ago after realizing I needed to be continuous and loyal to myself before anybody else. This is my house.
Every second, three hundred new matches are made on Tinder.