Tinder status update: still head-over-heels in love with the extraordinary female camaraderie it inspires (opens in new tab), still not even marginally in love otherwise. Which is why, in a continuation of my trash-person campaign to treat real human beings like so many Polly Pocket dolls, I handed my phone over—along with an all-access pass to my matches and deck—to a cast of randomly selected characters. So what happened when I let these perfect strangers take my love life into their hands? A collection of short stories called Chaos: Three Vignettes About Curiosity and Not Caring.
The scene: a press dinner. The cast: me, seated near a corporate vice president. As the only dude at a table of young, single women, he could do nothing but pray for deliverance as he was carried away by a conversation about Dating in New York City. Sensing an opportunity for a teachable moment, I offered up my Tinder to this blissfully unaware, happily married father of two.
His first match said "You're hot." He immediately hurled my phone back at me, the no-chill equivalent of signaling to Regis Philbin that you really want to use that "Ask the Audience."
With my phone back in my possession and the alert for a lifeline clearly sounded, I responded with the usual: "Thank you. I know."
Back to the VP. "Hot bitch." More panic. More flinging of mobile devices. Unmatch. Point made.
It was the middle of an embarrassingly truncated evening. I was 1.5 drinks and absolutely no food in on a bar crawl with an unnamed famous-ish person you might have to Google but would then go "Oooh, him." As the host of said bar crawl, Oooh Him was a bit more sober, so when he expressed an interest in taking over my friend's guest-Tindering duties, I agreed.
Oooh Him, it turns out, has terrible taste in men—he matched me with far too many no-bio/selfie-only bros. But to his credit, he did have decent taste in opening lines. He and a friend tag-teamed the one on the left.
"This is my favorite thing to do...for my single friends, I mean," he said. Sure.
At a mutual friend's birthday party, she swiped lazily as we discussed the great topics of our generation: life, love, if I should get an IUD (opens in new tab) so I can wear white trousers whenever I want. Like most strangers I let do this, she was hesitant, showing me profiles for approval first.
Then she suddenly stopped. "I'm going to bless you." (Was it really that bad (opens in new tab)?) So she said some stuff about sending me happiness and light, and pressed her hands into my chest.
Later that night, I realized I'd lost my keys, which led me to wonder if she'd actually cursed me. But it couldn't have been. Because when I took a rare moment to un-quash my emotions and just be...weirdly, truly, I did feel happiness, light, and something kind of like love (opens in new tab).
1) Most people will take guest-Tindering seriously. It's kind of sweet. 2) But at the same time, nobody knows you like you do, so they probably won't make you many matches you'll want to keep. 3) Everybody's nice when you first meet them. Unless you're a guy on Tinder.
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Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.
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