This is the story about the girl you knew. You never spoke to her or asked her name, but your lives intertwined in so many ways.
The Tinder girl.
You may have lived in Santa Monica and walked your dog by the ocean. Or maybe you shared a studio with a roommate in Culver City (Culver Shitty, lol). Fresh out of college and scrambled to pay your student loans. Or, that “luxury” apartment complex in Palms where you had just moved in with your first “serious” SO and all that new found double income.
And all this time, she was there too, right next to you.
She was your neighbor in West LA when you got your first “real” job. You only paid $1K for one bedroom back then. That was such a steal! And in West Hollywood, too, when you’d just came out here in LA from Minnesota, or Indiana, or whatever is out there between the two coasts.
She lived right above you, when you inhabited that ground floor cave-esque box. And she was right behind the wall when there were just the two of you in that shoddy duplex.
You only saw her once or twice, from the back. Those four seconds were enough to figure her out completely. She was hot. Blonde, slender, beautiful. Or, maybe, she was a brunette, girl next door type. Or a fiery redhead. With tattoo sleeve, maybe. One thing you knew for sure:
That chica is living that Tinder life.
Come Friday night the light in her bathroom would stay on forever. Around the time of the new episode of your current favorite TV show, Uber would pull in the driveway. This and clacks of high heels on concrete.
Couple of hours in — you are dozed off on the couch watching people whose lives are way more exciting than yours. Around 2am the door somewhere swings open. You’ve already relocated to the bedroom by then. Muffled voices. Chaotic footsteps on a squeaky floor. Moments pass before high-pitched sounds hit and violate your ears. You give it a benefit of doubt for a second, but the headboard just keeps knocking a little too violently against the shared wall right where your head is on the other side.
You aren’t asleep anymore, I don’t think.
Noises flood your space like an avalanche. Then you just give up and kind of accept that somebody is most definitely banging right next to you. You curl up in a ball under blankets and pray for this to stop. But it doesn’t stop. In fact it gets worse, and worse, and worse, until there is a resolve. He had fun, shie might have had fun. Then bathroom pipes start wailing like some kind of crescendo. When your hot neighbor’s shower kicks in 2am at night that’s like a signal to your brain. You get drowsy and pass out.
Waking up in the morning to the sounds of normal city life. Dead silence coming from your neighbor’s apartment.
Oftentimes you think of that place as a black hole. It opens up at night and sucks up everything beautiful in the world, such as romance, love, courtship, human connection.
This goes on every weekend, with the reliability of Facebook servers, 99.99% chance of meatballs, or shall we say just balls.
She lives that Tinder life. She gets up at 7am alone, exhausted. Brewing coffee at home if she’s lucky, but most of the time it’s Starbucks. They ran out of plain bagels today, but still have spinach feta wrap. So that’s what she’s getting. She hate wraps and, particularly, spinach. And feta.
**Old blowout and bad hair. **She almost doesn’t care about that woman checking her out in the office elevator. Yes, she’s got bad hair, so? The air of desperation. It allows her to let herself go and just be gross. She doesn’t almost care to show her good side to the cute hunk down at the coffee shop. Or hide a beginning wrinkle in the harsh elevator light from a coworker. “That’s me, okay. That’s who I am,” screams the pale face. Creature of the night.
Battery level across her devices is 10 percent. Low battery announcements play into the overall mood of despair and bad vibes. She’s pretty much indifferent to the fact that her phone is about to die. Yes, it will cut her off from the wonderful world of social media. Her Instagram, Facebook. They perform poorly as a means of escapism from the current state of affairs, anyways.
She comes home at night with a paper bag from Ralphs. In it — a single portion of ready made sushi from the Asian food aisle, and a bottle of wine. She cancelled her tonight’s date (he ghosted) and she’s going to drink it all by herself in unpleasant solitude of her 4 walls.
© Sunset Boulevard/Corbis
Talking to that jerk guy from Tinder. They meet at a small dive bar by hers for drinks on Thursday night. The conversation is very much one-sided. He talks about his pet snake, transcendental mediation and metaphysical matter the entire time. “The matter penetrates the universe”, he says, as if making fun of her and stupid Tinder shenanigans in general, while she tries so hard to accept him for who he is and his obnoxious and stupid world outlook. To save him the embarrassment.
Or, perhaps, to save her own hopes.
At the end of the night, he lets her pay for her drink and doesn’t offer a walk back to her car. She writes down a new rule in her dating book: “A guy with a pet snake is a douchebag”. And not to go out with the guys who own a pet snake.
“How are you?” reads the incoming email from the hot actor and filmmaker she met off Tinder (for a change). Unfortunately, after a while their romance moved entirely to Gmail. Somehow he made it a “thing” by getting into a habit of sending her quick one-liner correspondence every two weeks. “Hey. How are you?” which really only meant “Can we fuck tonight?”
Because phone numbers change, but your Gmail address is forever.
Friday night. Her bathroom light in on.* *She roams around the tiny apartment, walking barefoot on the screeching wood planks, until her body dries up completely. She drops her bathrobe to the floor and puts on a thong and a push-up bra. The ritual followed by her squeezing herself into a dress that is too tight. It’s undone, exposing her miniature delicious A cup and she infinitely jumps in front of the mirror in what looks like an obscure yoga pose trying to zip herself up.
You’re up late watching TV tonight. As the door habitually swings open at 2am, you turn up the volume, but can’t help but playing different scenarios in your head:
Is this new guy an actor, or a techie? Is he tall, dark, and handsome? Or feminine, artsy, and delicate like a flower? Does she like how he pins her down aggressively amidst the messy bed sheets? Or is he timid and over-zealous, as he spends long minutes down there meticulously fingering her, while she tries to feel anything at all?
All caught up in guesses until the echoey wail of pipes, accompanied by the sound of streaming water, brings your back to reality. Your reality of a young professional. Or a student living with the other 4 of you in a three-bedroom house. Or a young family with a toddler. Or maybe an interested single guy, who’s got canned soups and TV dinners stacked in the fridge for months in advance. Whoever you are…
You’re in your bed. The walls are so thin. You know everything about her. You can feel her desperation sipping through the walls. Still, she doesn’t give up. She’ll follow the ritual, over and over, until she finds that special connection, or the rise of Apocalypse, whichever comes first.
This time something’s off, though. Uber pulls in around 2am, but she is alone.
At this hour, she either comes back with somebody, or she doesn’t come back at all.
You think she’s crying? Moments later, she is definitely crying, alone, inside. Her thin hands are criss crossed on her chest as she leans her forehead against the doorway.
She grabs her phone and deletes the App. The aggravating circles. “Somebody likes you!” “It’s a match!” The repulsive green dot. “They are online!” She smashes her phone right into the wall and it shatters into a million pieces. She can’t do this. It’s too hard.
And maybe, falling asleep, for the first time you feel pity for her, the Tinder girl.
Or maybe, you ARE that Tinder girl.
That Friday night looks so good for you, finally. His pictures, bio, witty banter over text over the last two weeks are so refreshing. Your eyes are shining so bright when you arrive at that chic bar on Main where you’d agreed to meet. The date is going amazing. The craft cocktails are deli. Everything just clicks.
Until he disappears in the restroom.
Then, after a long awkward wait, you get a text message saying that he wasn’t interested. Simple. And so, you sit at the bar forever and stare at the bill in front of you and maybe try to hold back tears, and the cute but unwelcome at the moment bartender keeps checking on you “How are you guys doing?”
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XOXO, Marina ❤