Swipe right for a bad time: Tinder in New York City

My date emerges from the bathroom, red-faced and sweating, after another 20-minute disappearance. His 9th beer has been waiting for him at the bar; he drinks it in one gulp like a man in a desert. It is December in New York City.

A tongue darts across his teeth and fingers rake through his sweat-soaked hair. His eyes bulge from the lines of cocaine he’s been railing in the bathroom. He admits nothing, confident he’s been inconspicuous.

It is story time. He leans in conspiratorially. “In college, whenever one of my roommates brought a girl home, we would all pile into a closet with slats on the door.”

I am not liking where this is going.

He continues, “They always took the girls back to the same bed. Then get this,” he says with a wide grin, “we’d watch them have sex.”

My smile is frozen. “Wait, what? Really? How many times did you do this?”

His brow furrows; this was not the reaction he had hoped for. “Uh, not that much. Like twelve times? I’m gonna take another piss, can you order me a beer?”

That was my introduction to Tinder. I split a cab with the dude partway home and leave him as he continues on to a nightclub by himself. “Come with me, let’s get some molly, let’s get FUCKED UP,” he says while the cab driver looks back in mild interest. “I want to RRAAAVEEEE.” 

“How did your date go?” my roommates ask when I walk in. 

“It was, um, yeah, wow.”

Five years later, same setting, different guy. We’re at a Brazilian bar in Manhattan. “Here’s the thing about Tinder,” he says. “A fat chick who’s a 4? She’s only swiping right on dudes that are 8 and above.”

Any hope I had of a decent night has been shot to shit.

He takes another drink and continues. “And a dude who’s an 8 is gonna go out with her. Because he can’t get any better. The chicks who are 8 are only going after 10’s.”

The guy takes out his phone and eagerly passes it over. “I read about it on Reddit. Look–read this thread. There’s like hundreds of comments. I’ll wait.”

After drink #2, the conversation takes a shift.

“Artificial intelligence is taking over our lives,” he says. “A.I. is everywhere. We have robots for maids, for delivering pizzas. Do you know they created the first robot that’s self aware?”

“Wow, shit, really?” The topic of robots is not one that I can ever meaningfully contribute to.

“Yeah, like she passed a test or some shit and KNOWS she’s a robot, KNOWS she’s alive, and once they KNOW, that’s it for us. We’re done.”

“Damn,” I say. “So should we get the check or–”

“And there’s already so many robots out there now that there’s no stopping them. Like they’re gonna be part of our society.”

“Mmm,” I drink.

He places his hands on the bar and looks at me meaningfully. “When you’re a grandmother, your grandson is gonna bring home a robot girlfriend.”

“Oh, wow. Okay. I don’t know about that.”

“What will you do? It’s not a matter of if, but WHEN.”

“Dude, I’m sorry, but I really can’t see that happening.”

“It’s. Going. To. Happen,” he says, punctuating each word with a smack on the bar. “She’ll be sitting at the dinner table, what will you do about it?”

“I really don’t think–” I say.

“Don’t be naive!”


“It’s happening, he’s gonna bring home a fucking robot, what will you do?”

“I’LL FUCKING LOVE HER,” I exclaim, startling the bartender. “I’ll fucking love her and I’ll fucking accept her.”

He shakes his head. “Wrong answer.”

My date has gone to the bathroom. I frantically wave over the Brazilian bartender and say to her in Portuguese, “Please give me the check right now. This date is awful and I want to pay for it all so I can leave. Please help me.”

She frantically rings me up. As I’m writing the tip, my date returns. 

“That was so cool!” he says with a smile. “In the bathroom I could hear you speaking Portuguese and I could understand everything. Like every word. It really isn’t that different from Spanish!”

I laugh nervously. The bartender stares at us wide-eyed. We both wait for a retort that never comes. After a moment, she awkwardly takes the bill with her eyes cast downward.

He looks at me, “Oh, did you pay? Wow, thanks! Let’s do this again sometime.”

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