The Tinderverse is a bewildering flotsam of social media space junk. The lost and the lewd, the peculiar and the promiscuous- they all hover uncertainly amidst Internet acronyms, unselfconsciously meta profiles, and enthusiastic emoticons. In my mind, Tinder embodies the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars: a quagmire of freaks, all killing time in between misadventures, all disappointed that they can’t play with their droids, and all waiting for the chance to unholster their weapon.
And I’m in the middle of it all. Looking for a young Harrison Ford. And just trying to get to fucking Alderaan.
Hold on…Alderaan explodes, doesn’t it?
Well that doesn’t work as a reference.
I mean, I’ll never make it there.
And I’m three decades too late to find a young Harrison Ford. Young Mr. Ford doesn’t exist anymore. Not even in the post-apocalyptic Tinderverse.
Wow. That just makes that whole metaphor kind of…depressing.
And meta as fuck!
Anyway, every now and then, your weirdness meshes serendipitously with the weirdness of another, and you find yourself on an actual date.
The Muso was a horrifically cute fellow that I went out with a few times last year. He was the main songwriter in an unsigned prog-metal band. I matched with him and, feeling frisky, decided to break conventions by sending the first message: “Is the state of Sydney’s live music scene so calamitous that a musician has to find women on Tinder?! Don’t girls just peg their underpants at you as you walk down the street?”
Apparently, being nerdy enough to use the word ‘calamitous’ as an online mating call endears you to some people and, impressed by the size of my dictionary, he invited me to beers at an achingly hip pub in Bondi.
Our first date ended with a warm smile and a chaste hug. And it was refreshing. Old-fashioned. Other-worldly, even. The force was strong in this one.
He messaged the next day to say that he’d had a nice time and would love to see me again.
How nice, I found myself thinking, to be in the company of a dude who didn’t make his desire to wrench my legs asunder the focal point of our time together. It’s refreshing. Old fashioned. Other-worldly, even.
And the second date? Well, it started with a beer and it ended with the phrase, “I’m seeing a psychologist because they think I’m somewhere on the autism spectrum. You’ve heard of Asperger’s, haven’t you?”
Ah. So I was wrong- the cute musician boy wasn’t not making a move because he was a gentleman. He was not making one because he couldn’t pick up on my ‘I am amenable to the concept of being kissed by you’ social cues.
Nothing’s easy, is it?
His announcement should have signalled that he wasn’t the droid I was looking for, but I didn’t want to be judgemental, especially since he a) played lead guitar and b) continued with, “Being a nurse I figured you wouldn’t run away. Thank you for not running away.”
And there might have also been c) he had a pierced tongue.
But I’m not admitting to anything there.
And I figured that the words “autism spectrum” were more palatable than “casual heroin habit” or “I only killed animals as a child”, so I agreed to a third date.
It was on New Year’s Eve. We were going to have a socially isolated quiet evening at his house. He was stoned when I arrived. I was unimpressed. He misread my facial cues and offered me a joint. I poured myself a glass of wine instead. He began to sermonise that weed is healthier than alcohol. I became irritated. We debated. The exchange became somewhat heated, then he blurted out, “I was an accessory to murder once.”
An accessory to…what?!
Was this a debate technique? Misdirect your opponent with ejaculatory disclosures? Why was he telling me this? I hadn’t even kissed him yet. And, in the timeline of relationships, should your lips not briefly converge with another’s before you unlock your closet and dump a pile of rotting bones on them?
As I pondered this, his cat jumped on my lap. I began to stroke the beast’s head; noticing for the first time the disquietingly large number of Pop! Vinyl dolls there were in his lounge room. The entire cast of Dr. Who was there- he’d collected the Spectrum out of them. They stood, crowding every surface: an army of esoteric sci-fi characters, mute, but somehow proud in their zanily proportioned, bobble-headed glory. They were all spaced precisely three inches apart. They were all angled to face the lounge we perched on, and they were all
I took a swig of wine.
And, under their unyielding, inanimate gaze, the Muso told me his story, giving it the sort of unerring attention to detail that only an Aspie can muster.
The murder happened during a drug deal gone bad, one that took place in a dowdy, inner-west flat. My soft-spoken, seemingly gentle Muso was there with a volatile, steroid-injecting acquaintance. They were visiting an emaciated dealer. To buy an ounce of pot. The PlayStation in the corner was broken. There was a hole in the curtains. And a blue Louisville Slugger softball bat was by the door to the kitchen.
To cut a long, disturbing story short: Steroid smacked Skinny with the bat mid-deal.
Completely out of the blue.
Ha! Geddit? ‘Cos the bat was…?!
Golly I’m clever.
Anyway, Steroid hit him once…twice…a handful of times. Skinny collapsed on the carpet. The Muso started to rise from his seat, buttocks hovering over cheap pine, when Steroid turned, pointed the blood-streaked bat at him, and told him to “wait in the fuckin’ car.”
Unsurprisingly, he obeyed.
“He had the new Slipknot album,” he told me, scratching his knee through his shorts, “so I just listened to that while I waited.”
“What song?” I interjected. “‘Wait and bleed’?”
He frowned. “No. That was on their first album.”
I rolled my eyes. Friggin’ Aspies. “Never mind. Continue.”
When Steroid emerged, the Muso asked him what happened. Steroid stripped off his bloodied shirt, wiped himself with it, threw it in the car, and told Muso to clear it from his fuckin’ mind.
Muso left Sydney the next day. He boarded a train to Queensland, planning to move back in with his mum. On the way there, in a burst of melodrama, he threw his SIM card out the window.
“So I couldn’t be tracked,” he explained.
I ran a finger over the rim of my wine glass. “Did you call the cops?”
He looked at me like I asked if he’d changed his underwear. “Of course not-”
Of course he hadn’t changed his underwear: Aspie’s don’t like change (!!)
“-He’d have killed me,” he finished.
I paused. “Did you ring an ambulance?”
“Nup. Too risky.”
At this point, the cat on my lap had begun to feel suffocating. “But you could have anonymously rang one and saved his life. Does that bother you?”
He frowned, genuinely confused. “Why would that bother me? It was none of my business.”
Holy-fucking-hell. He wasn’t ‘somewhere on the spectrum’, he was Aspie as shit. Aspi-er than Susan Boyle.
And funnily enough, that night after I left, ‘I dreamed a dream in time gone by…that I was high…and playing softball…I dreamed the game had gone awry…’
I awoke the next morning to a message from him. He wanted to progress to “a dinner” because he felt that we connected on “many levels”.
Which, in a way, we did: we were both smokers, both socially awkward, and both fans of Karnivool.
The only problem was that pesky ‘accessory to murder’ nonsense.
Because it wasn’t the ‘my sister’s boyfriend used to abuse her, so I gave her a gun to defend herself with’ kind- which, under the right circumstances, I may or may not be able to justify- but the ‘I sat in a car while one man bashed another into a pile of broken bone and brains’ kind.
Which is, generally speaking, the disturbing kind.
I mean, ‘once there was a time when men were kind, their voices soft, their words inviting…’
Sorry. I’ve got ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ stuck in my head now.
Anyway, I wasn’t going to go on another date with him any more than I was going to part his arse cheeks and wear him as a hat.
So I replied to his text with a generic and insincere ‘thanks for the lovely night/ maybe we should just be friends/ best of luck in the future’.
His response came three hours later: “Well FRIEND, I appreciate your honesty. And since you don’t want to date anymore, how about you come and see my band sometime, FRIEND.”
I shivered, He’s really got to work on recognising those social cues.
I threw my SIM card out the car window.