Illustration by Eric Gonzales.
A right swipe on Tinder and a strategically chosen “Hey”: the opening line of any tragic romance. He showed initial disinterest, which (for an insecure masochist like myself) rendered me immediately smitten. I pressed him to proffer more than 1-2 word responses to my desperate questioning and he obliged, feeding me ever more reasons to believe that Tinder had delivered me perfection. He was a strapping, MIT-educated, small-town American looking for a “significant other” but open to “whatever”; a Republican voter who didn’t like their portrayal as “gun toting, gay hating, mysoginistic (sic) assholes”; and a Baptist who didn’t “push it on people”. His character was thoroughly, even implausibly, complex.
I excused away his faults (surely the product of his conservative upbringing). In his “not terribly PC” words, “[g]ay guys aren’t exactly easy to find or spot. And those that I can tell are gay usually aren’t my type”. The line was titillating for me, as it would be for seemingly any other oppressed middle-class, white, male homosexual. We planned to meet the following Friday, as he was going to Melbourne. In the meantime, my friends (accustomed to my tendency for melodrama) quickly tired of hearing how rapidly I had fallen in love. One even suggested he may be a fake, an idea I refused to entertain, trying not to let my self-doubt sabotage the nascent relationship. I pressed him to send more photos. He obliged, after noting that the neighbour’s cat had jumped into his window. The ensuing photo, with the cat on his chest, was predictably cute. In it, he appeared much younger than in his profile (people’s apparent age varies all the time, right?).
He was in a meeting for the entirety of the following day (presumably, this happens in the IT industry). I know this because I begged him to send me more photos of himself. He was flying down the next morning and I wanted to quash all doubts before the long weekend. His excuses were multiple and varied. He fell asleep early, his distance suggesting that he was not in Point Piper. I incessantly checked when last he was online. I googled him, searched him on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Nothing. When he landed the next day, he said he’d Skype me at his friend’s house. He never did. He blocked me on Tinder. My text messages no longer reach him. My reflection on the 2.5-day love affair? Better to be the fisherman than the catfish.