My gut drops and my heart starts racing. It’s a hopeless feeling, and I don’t know how to make it go away. I feel pathetic, talentless, and pointless. But I’m also a type-A person, and so within minutes I’ve covered my desk with post-it notes declaiming ‘Do not fear FAILURE!’ and ‘Expect nothing! Live frugally on SURPRISE!’.
The aggressive slogans don’t help. My ability as a writer has come to question today, and no amount of intense motivational propaganda can boost my spirit.
This fiasco started when I came up with a brilliant idea for an article. I would meet up with former Tinder dates and ask why nothing had come of them. I would give the article a snappy title like Rekindling Tinder: Why Old Flames Burn Out, or some other fire-related pun. It would be hilarious, warm-hearted, and uncover delicate insights about the modern condition and the timid connections we make through online dating. I wasn’t quite sure what it would look like, but it would be brilliant.
Literally everyone said it was a good idea.
My first Tinder re-date was scheduled to take place at Monty’s Bar in Fitzroy. I arrived first and waited in a small, plywood booth off to the side of the main bar. Worried that the dimly lit atmosphere was too romantic, I considered moving but ultimately stayed put. I ripped a page from my notebook and hastily wrote up a consent form.
Fifteen minutes passed. I looked up and saw my date, Jack, walk in. He was tall and cute in a gawkish way, like I remembered. He took a step inside, turned around and walked straight back out of the bar. I had never been stood up before, and this seemed a remarkably bold way to do it. My phone buzzed: “I’m here, just getting money from the ATM”. Oh, okay then.
Once he was finally in front of me – stiff hug out of the way and lager in hand – I didn’t know how to start. An interview seemed too formal, but that was what it was. I turned on my iPhone to record, but was intimidated by the bright screen in the dim booth and so placed it face-down.
Jack turned it around again, “I’m sorry, it’s just not going to record the sound that way.”
“It doesn’t need to be clear,” I said, “It’s only for notes.”
“Yeah, just leave it this way, trust me.”
My authority as interviewer had been undermined. I tried to prompt a discussion about our first date, but the seed of doubt had already been planted.
“Wait,” he said, “am I being interviewed? Or are you?”
“I thought it could be like a discussion,” I said. The lilt in my voice made it a question.
“Am I your first interview?” Oh, the nerve.
“Yeah, can you tell?”
“Never mind. Let’s talk about the date.”
“Do you want to start, or-“
The conversation lasted forty minutes, but our heartfelt confessions and newly uncovered revelations were irrelevant, really. Our dynamic had irrevocably shifted. I would not recover. The shame had settled over me
The final blow came earlier this morning when I looked up one of his short films on Vimeo, the creative cousin of YouTube. I prayed that it would carry the heavy hand of an amateur filmmaker; that there would be a dead space in the middle, or an ending that lacked punch. But it was actually pretty good.
So here I am; brought to question so much more than how good of a date I am. Would I be a better writer had I not blown off our second date? Or would this petty jealously have eventually overthrown me. My lesson has been learned: Never go out with another writer. Not even once.
I write my lesson down and stick up another post-it note.