Luke-warm regrets (AKA Tinder, Take 10, but who’s counting)

by Charlotte E. Wilde

You’re un-showered but sipping your Americano like you know you’re on deck, watching her watching you with all the anticipation of a casual Goodwill shopper looking for a halloween costume three weeks in advance. You don’t feel bad about the Beiber pants, (after all, you’ve got a plane to catch) but fuck if you don’t smell like last night’s foray into the land of cheap tequila. It drifts off you like the Sunday morning remains of some “mature slash not-crazy” Vegas-style bachelor party– caution jettisoned like whiskey shots or the unsolicited ass grind from a pair of cowgirl boots wearing too much mascara. Still, even with 11AM’s improbable staring you in the face,  you can’t help but imagine yourself two tongues deep in the mouth of this Tinderella.

If you’re perfectly honest, you’ve had one foot on the flight home since you pawned off Miss Miller Light (and accompanying lashes) on Jake’s eager look between bars. Somewhere shy of 3AM you’d Ubered back alone– bells on bobtails ring, swiping all the way, whereupon you’d dedicated an hour to marketing yourself to fellow insomniac, age 28, and seemingly smarter than the average catch.

You’re not one to critique but really, this is just what it’s come to– a generation that sells itself better via text, a slew of photographic sex-appeal culled from social-media humble brags, evidence of eligibility and success. And admittedly, you’ve been spinning like a soccer mom through the human buffet– at once a willing participant and somebody else’s middling fare– happy to be on the winning side of that right-swiped midnight mistake.

This morning found you half-bored and with only a hazy memory of last night’s conversation to go on but 9am room service came with a Bloody Mary side of bold, resulting in a nude hotel-room selfie, complete with strategically covered/not-so-covered junk. You were hoping for a blush but she gave as good as she got and before you could lie, “I don’t usually do this,” you found yourself and your hangover draped in a chair outside a pun-heavy Nashville coffee shop masquerading as not-a-Starbucks.

When she walked in the door your look dwelled like a long Monday, but hell, actual-size doesn’t happen often in the land of love-by-application. Headache shifting into 2nd you’re only mildly surprised to find yourself copying her coffee order– half way so you didn’t look uninformed, half way because you figured she’d find it fortuitous that you take your coffee the same, half way because you were too busy thinking how weird it was to meet someone for the first time who’d already seen you naked. “Cheers,” she says, distracting you from mathematical impossibilities, “cheers” you reply and you compliment her shoes, meaning her legs, presupposing her capacity to read between the lines.

Tinder does have its perks.

Yeah, this girl’s worth a ten second pause. There’s something about her walk, a little awkward and with a bounce that belied bralessness, or at least something close. No, that’s not it. Maybe it’s the way she talks, like she fell out of an indy chick-flick; 500 days of Zoe Deschanel’s little sister, all dark eyes and a morose so palpable you imagine her skin must taste like the last day of vacation.

You picture telling her all your secrets, that you’ve been fucked since your ex, never found a home in another human and how you secretly liked the idea that you probably never would.  “Serial dater,” Frank used to say, but maybe it was more akin to “in love with being unloved,” ’cause you’re the first to admit the minute you start feeling chased you cash in your chips and switch casinos.

Well, you can’t speak for her but personally but you’re plenty comfortable in the cliché of wanting what you can’t have — New York being filled with the exact opposite, having far too much of what you can’t want. The nice thing about the impossible is you can build this lithe creature a sandcastle complete with moat and never have to watch the waves knock it down. Two sips in and you’re already thinking about Skype sex, but hell, let’s just see where it goes.

The middle is a blur but must be a success because she offers to drive you to the airport. You accept, having already fallen hard for the feeling you’ll get when you walk away.

But hey, it wouldn’t be millennial romance if it lasted longer than a replayed Snap. Happy endings are for cult-members, not modern-day heros with an axe to grind and a lifetime-layover’s worth of luke-warm regrets.

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