The Humble Bumbler
I quickly grew weary of Tinder and its myriad strange men. I didn’t have the patience to sift through the abundant shirtless, jewelry-wearing selfie-taking chill bros to try to find a diamond in the rough. It felt more like an interactive game than a dating platform. With endless matches granted, there didn't seem to be a sense of urgency or incentive to reach out. If I opted for the ‘wait for him to approach you’ method then I was left with the overconfident creeps who spoke in emoji or ignored punctuation. Airing my grievances to friends over brunch, one of them suggested the app Bumble. “Go on,” I said inquisitively.
My friend Lindsay explained that Bumble was founded by a woman and the premise is that the woman holds the power to conversation. The matching process works similarly (5 photos, a name/age/one sentence description and ultimately a swipe left or right), but once a match is made the woman must reach out first and only has 24 hours to do so before the match lapses. With little experience conversing on these apps this sounded incredibly intimidating to me until she went on to explain that the caliber of men on Bumble far exceeded that of Tinder. After several glasses of wine (I’m noticing a pattern here), I decided it was time to try out a new app. And with that, a new app profile is born and browsing of a new man catalog commenced.
Lindsay was right. I don’t know if they stack the top of the deck with the 10s to suck you in but swipe after swipe revealed an attractive, educated, job-holding gentleman “not looking for hookups.” Swipe right, swipe right, swipe a MFing right. Aside from the prospects, what I enjoyed about this app was the ability to screen my right swipes again before taking the time to extend an olive branch (and thus open the doors for endless banter). I appreciated that just because we matched didn’t mean that person got to automatically berate me with a “yo girl what up???” or a dick pic or a GIF of a skateboarding dog in sunglasses and a trucker hat to answer my question of how he spent his weekend.
I perused this new crop of men between the ages of 26-41. If he seemed like someone I could at least have a pleasant conversation with over a drink, had a job and some sort of education, then I would bother to say ‘hello.’ My salutations usually consist of asking them how their weekend was or what plans they have for the upcoming weekend, depending on the day. I initially thought my short pleasantries would bury me in a sea of basic women, but knowing now what I didn’t know then I’m glad I didn’t overthink the initial message because 20% are clueless, 30% are douchy, 10% are douchy and clueless, 20% don’t respond, and 15% are self obsessed validation seekers. That leaves 5% (yes, this algorithm is completely 100% verified). Out of that 5% I’ve gone on a dozen mediocre dates that left me single with a dozen sensational stories to tell.
My first Bumble date was with Josh, self described as a “tall, blond dog owner employed by Mashable and recently imported from Portland.” His photos presented him as model-esque, but based on our text exchange he seemed intelligent and humble. Since he was new to LA he asked me for recommendations on places to meet in Venice. Still a dating app novice, this was not a move that bothered me yet. I suggested Zinque, a dimly lit wine and small plates bar on the corner of Abbot Kinney and Venice. We met on a Saturday night, another move I was quick to not repeat as I realized that my weekends are sacred and Bumble dates, even the humble ones, are not.
I was shaking as I piled on red lipstick and downed a glass of wine before running out the door. It had been several months since Tinder Michael, the vaping sweaty cretin, and I was not eager to jump back in. What do we talk about? What if he thinks I am ugly? What if he thinks I’m boring? What if I lose my train of thought and just start mumbling jibberish? What if he tries to kiss me? What if I have a booger in my nose? What if he has a high pitched voice? What if he doesn’t offer to pay? What if he’s wearing jean shorts? What if the bar runs out of wine? No, that won’t happen. Just take a deep breath and before you know it, the evening will be over, I told myself as I hopped in the Uber and checked my phone for any missed texts from him wanting to cancel. No such luck.
That tall blond dog owner IRL? About 10 feet tall with bad teeth.
That tall blond dog owner IRL? About 10 feet tall and had bad teeth. His photos literally make him look like a male model. I don’t even like male models, how did I get here? He was already sitting at the bar when I arrived and he towered over me as he stood to give me an awkward “nice to meet you” hug. Someone would have to work out an awful lot to build some muscle on the frame of a 6’4 human, but unfortunately that someone was not Josh. Josh is the quintessential flattering photo poster. He was pseudo-attractive but it was a struggle to move past the bad teeth and the slight cross eye that did NOT read in the photos and attempt to focus on some sign of an emotional connection.
We talked about our families and growing up in small towns – his in Oregon and mine in Pennsylvania – and he spoke of his move to LA and his lack of friends here. Oh boy, another move I am realizing I am not a fan of. At the risk of sounding like a selfish bitch I am not interested in being someone’s social lifeline. I’ve been in LA nine years. My friendships are deeply routed in college and when I moved here I worked hard to cultivate a social network. I am all for people pursuing their LA dreams and starting out here in their 20s and 30s but I don’t have the patience or desire to be a tour guide.
Needless to say, I didn’t have the desire to see him again but it wasn’t a total loss. The date taught me an important lesson and paved the way for what I would take from each and every blah date moving forward. I started to establish a clearer vision of what I was looking for by ruling out what I definitely did NOT want. I want someone who is established both in their career and in their social lives. Someone with a clear identity who is adaptable and open to meeting new people, but isn’t dependent on it. Bumble, I’m not done with you yet.