There was a certain balmy excitement in the warm Florida air as I stepped out of the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
And why not? It was December, it was 78 degrees, I was back in Miami and I had a new â€œgirlfriendâ€ patiently awaiting my company for dinner.
There were a few red flags.
She would call me to tell me what she wanted to cook for us and suddenly hang up screaming â€œyour negativity is destroying this relationship!â€
She spouted insipid pop-psychology phrases like â€œyou need a lesson in gratitude for all the bad things that arenâ€™t happening to you.â€
Who thanks the Universe for not doing bad stuff to them?
Iâ€™m also sure she was still active on Tinder, because while I was checking out women on Tinder I noticed she â€œde-matchedâ€ me, which I could only assume was to make sure I wasnâ€™t able to see her checking out guys on Tinder.
I was looking forward to spending my vacation with my new pseudo-Tinder-girlfriend. So what if it was temporary? The best things in life usually are.
Permanent stuff, like shingles and taxes, are the biggest downers.
I picked her up and I was immediately put off by something. Iâ€™d just drank half a bottle of Pinot Grigio with my sister, so my spider-senses werenâ€™t functioning at full capacity, but she didnâ€™t seem like the same person I met 10 days ago.
After the moderate chitchat and appetizers, she started probing me with serious relationship questions.
Then she asked me how long Iâ€™d been married.
I told her I couldnâ€™t remember.
â€œYou canâ€™t even remember what year you were married?â€
â€œNo, but I sure as hell remember the year I got divorced.â€
One thing I learned is that you shouldnâ€™t mock the institution of marriage to a middle-aged woman whoâ€™s never been married.
Because somewhere in that jaded, adult head thereâ€™s a little girl still clinging to the notion that Prince Charming will sweep in and fix everything.
The mere suggestion that it could end up any other way was an insult to her life-coach mandated delusion that I had somehow just shattered with my realism.
Her demeanor suddenly got stiff and uncomfortable.
â€œI just donâ€™t know what to do with you,â€ she said as the main course arrived. â€œYouâ€™re not being very romantic.â€
I suddenly realized that this woman was looking for actual â€œromance.â€ On Tinder.
It made me laugh so hard inwardly I inhaled a scallop and almost choked to death at the table.
My cynical reaction made her erupt into a torrent of criticisms with a veracity and vitriol that I could only imagine were meant for some man-ghost from her past and not present company.
The scene got so unpleasant I shoved the table aside, told her to go to hell and left (after I paid the bill, because I am Southern and have manners).
I got an Uber to Smith and Wollenskyâ€™s and angrily ordered a double-shot of Titoâ€™s. Two middle-aged Cuban women at the bar invited me to a party, where they forced me to dance to awful maudlin romantic Spanish music at top volume and poured me wine until my eyes were blurry.
I stared out across the Miami bay from their high-rise condo, thinking about the situation as the water rippled hazily in the humid December air.
The problem with Tinder is that the format is too full of promise, and too lacking in permanence. Itâ€™s internet-inspired anonymity makes it the dating equivalent of YouTube commentary â€“ we donâ€™t really give a damn about what we say or do, because we perceive it as â€œnot realâ€ somehow.
But it is real. Weâ€™re here to meet real people, who are just as lonely and displaced as us. But maybe the â€œinternet-nessâ€ of the whole format makes it feel as un-connected to our real lives as looking at porn.
We have yet to really integrate the â€œonlineâ€ part of our lives with the â€œrealâ€ part of them, and Tinder is just the Warcraft of casual dating, where we create caricatures of our own lives and pretend that theyâ€™re really us, when in fact we know itâ€™s a lie.
And knowing that what youâ€™re presenting to other people is a lie makes you unable to actually be yourself, which in turn makes the whole thing a dance with your ego, and not an actual partner.
Deep down, I think the human spirit rebels against Tinder. We want love to be special. We want love to be unique. We want meaning in our relationships.
Who the hell wants â€œWe Met On Tinderâ€ to be their wedding theme?
I deleted the app from my phone, and went back to the party, where I sang â€œToca La Brisa, Eres Tuâ€ and learned the waltz before they finally kicked me out at 5:30 am.
As I crawled back to The Waverly my sister was already up, walking the dogs.
â€œHow was your date?â€
I crawled under the sheets, my head still ringing with Spanish romance music.
All I could utter was:
â€œNosotros bailamos.â€ VT Â Â
R. Chase is a local writer and surveyor of single life on the Bourbon Trail. Follow him on twitter at @_Rchase