I never thought I’d be that girl.
You know the type—the kind who spends her Friday night checking her phone a million times, waiting for the guy she likes to text her back.
But really, we’ve all been that girl. There’s not a woman I know who has successfully avoided the Friday night shuffle of uncertainty. Waiting around at home, hoping to hear my phone buzz all the while refusing to text him first.
Except I’ve already messaged Damien today. Twice, actually. Once this morning to send him a photo of the foam in my latte, which looked like a dick—because really, who wouldn’t appreciate the humor in that? And then again in the afternoon to ask what he was up to for the evening.
Maybe I should have played it cool. But we’ve been on two dates so far, and we both had a nice time—or so I thought. He even said he wanted to get together on Friday. Well, it’s Friday evening and still no text, no call.
I swipe my phone from the couch cushion and check it for the millionth time, even though there hasn’t been a peep all day. Still nothing.
Sighing, I pour myself a second glass of wine and flip to the next episode of Sex Education on Netflix. If I’m not getting any tonight, I may as well watch a bunch of awkward British teens try to.
I’m five minutes in and three sips deep when I check my phone yet again, but this time, instead of hitting the text icon, the dating app I downloaded a few weeks ago catches my eye. My thumb hovers above it, but I don’t press down.
I don’t normally peruse a dating app if I’m actively dating someone. I know that puts me in the minority—so many people keep swiping, flirting, and going on dates until the exclusivity conversation comes up. But I’ve never been that kind of creature. I’ve always preferred to date one at a time.
I scoff to myself. A lot of good that’s doing me. I’m eight months away from thirty-two and single. Maybe now is as good at time as any to shake things up.
I knock back the rest of my wine in my glass, pleasantly tipsy. I pull up the app and immediately grimace to myself. Pickins’ are slim this Friday evening. Three profiles in a row where the dude is holding a fish. I don’t get the fish thing at all, but it makes my decision to swipe left that much easier because I don’t have the patience for fish-toting douchebags. Next is a photo of a ripped chest. I squint at the heavily filtered image. He’s got a killer six pack for sure, but this isn’t Grindr. I’m going to need a hell of a lot more than a headless image and a blank bio to compel me to swipe anything other than left.
I pour another glass of wine and finish it in less than a minute when the next few options prove equally disheartening. More group photos where I can’t tell which one is the guy I’m supposed to be interested in. More shirtless photos that imply the guy only wants a hookup. More bios that were filled out with questionable effort because there are misspellings and sentence fragments galore.
Are these seriously the caliber of men populating New York City nowadays? Living in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, I’m used to my fair share of hipsters, musicians, struggling artists, and the like. But all of New York City must be suffering from a dearth of quality men because every man on this app lacks substance and self-awareness.
My thumb is on the verge of cramping from all the swipe-lefts I’ve done these past fifteen minutes, but then I halt on the first genuinely intriguing photo I’ve seen all night.
Harker, 35, is damn gorgeous. He’s got killer blue eyes, thick sandy blonde hair, a well-groomed beard, and a striking sleeve tattoo covering his left arm from his bicep to his wrist. But that’s not why he captured my attention.
That’s all due to his smile. Something about it is mesmerizing. It’s not a typical wide, toothy grin. Technically his lips are curved up in a half-smile, and it actually looks like he’s mid-laugh.
His photo possesses something the others are severely lacking: sincerity. The way his eyes are fixed on someone or something off to the side, the way his right hand is tugging at his hair while his left is spread across his deliciously broad chest, tells me that his reaction is real.
Heat flushes up my cheeks, and I have to take another sip of wine to calm myself. This is even more of a visceral response than I had with Damien on both of our dates, our phone calls, and all of our texts put together.
There’s just something about Harker that makes me want to do more than gawk at his gorgeous picture. I actually want to talk to him. So I do.
I swipe right and am immediately gifted with an alert that he’s swiped right on me, too. I bite back a grin as I type a message to him.
Tonight, I’m so tipsy-confident, I send the first thing that crosses my mind:
I love your smile
Original? Not at all. Genuine? Absolutely. And the best I can do this late at night when I’m three-fourths into a red wine bottle.
I turn back to my TV, but my phone buzzes.
Harker: Nice of you to say. Thank you 🙂 You’ve got a pretty beautiful one yourself.
My own wide smile stretches across my face as I type a thank you, then ask what he’s up to this evening.
Harker: Not a whole lot. Just chilling on the couch, bingeing on Netflix. You?
Me: HAHA same.
Harker: No way! How cute are we? LOL
Me: Way too cute. Like, vomit-in-my-mouth cute.
Harker: Haha already? Don’t tell me you’ve had too much to drink and that’s why a beautiful woman like you chose to swipe right on a guy like me.
Me: LOL I’ve had a couple drinks, but I’ve got my wits about me, so don’t worry. And thank you for the compliment, that’s very sweet 🙂
Harker: Just speaking the truth 😉
Me: Stop, you’re making me blush
Harker: I’ll try, but I make no guarantees. So what do you like to do for fun?
Me: You sure you aren’t trying? 😛 Hmm…I’m pretty boring actually. Hiking, jogging, art galleries, pub trivia, sketching, cooking, reading. But honestly, this is my ideal Friday night, vegging on the couch with wine and Netflix.
Harker: A woman after my own heart
Me: How about you? From your photos all I can tell is that you enjoy tattoos, working out, and laughing
Harker: 😛 You’re correct there. But I’m also a fan of hiking, surfing, traveling, sports, and baking. I also like to foster cats and dogs from the shelter in my neighborhood
I actually make the “Aww” sound out loud. This guy is hot, loves animals, admits to enjoying baking, and hasn’t tried to send me a photo of his dick. He cannot be real.
I relay my exact reaction in my next message to him, and he replies with a handful of laughing emojis.
Harker: Christ, the bar is set pretty damn low for men if that earns such a positive reaction.
Me: *shrug* Sad but true. You have no idea the kind of flotsam I’ve waded through with this app. Most of my female friends on dating apps have had to as well. It can get pretty demoralizing.
Harker: I bet. I’m sorry that’s happened to you and your friends.
Me: Thanks, but you don’t have to apologize. It’s just nice talking to you.
Harker: “Just nice?” 😉
I snort out a laugh.
Me: Okay, so maybe a little bit better than nice… 😉
Harker: Ouch, Ava. You’re killing me 😛
Usually, emojis drive me nuts. But Harker is putting them to damn good use. He’s playful and funny and sincere.
I glance up at the clock on the wall of my living room, my mouth falling open. My chat with Harker has lasted an hour. Somehow it’s only felt like minutes.
Me: Okay fine. You busted me. I’m really, really enjoying chatting with you, Harker 🙂
Harker: I have to say, that’s a relief. Because I’m really enjoying it too—only I’d like to do more than chat
My stomach drops and so does my smile. Here it is, the moment when all my giddiness and excitement morphs into disappointment. Other guys have attempted a similar transition from pleasant conversation to something sexual. Every single time it makes my skin crawl.
But then Harker types the rest of his reply and my worry evaporates.
Harker: Would you be up for me calling you sometime this weekend? Maybe tomorrow? You made this past hour fly by. I’d love to be able to chat on the phone, if you’re interested.