I created my Grindr account when I was sixteen. It was an impeccable example of a profile start-up kit: shirtless selfie of a skinny white boy provided with a cheeky description and the best intentions. “Fresh Meat” was equally the perfect screen name and invitation for dick pics. His was “Hunter”— fitting for the first man with which I agreed to meet.
Cut to: white girl 18th birthday party, Saturday night, first week of summer holidays. He’s a few years older than me and I agree to meet him two blocks away from the party. I get a message that he’s arrived. Fuelled with vegetarian spring rolls and half a bottle of vodka, I stumble to his car.
Like all good Grindr stories, he is nothing like his profile picture. A profile that boasted gym memberships, aesthetic looks and a carefree attitude masked a man who grunted when I saw his muffin top peeking from under his singlet.
It’s an awkward meeting. At first, I don’t realise it’s him and I walk straight past the man slumped against his car immersed in a game of Candy Crush. It isn’t until he messages me, begging me to turn around, that I realise this is what I signed up for. There’s a hint of pot in his car and the squeal of Spice Girls lyrics bouncing from the stereo. A dream catcher hangs miserably from the rear view mirror above a menagerie of plush toys. We talk for a good hour about the world’s issues before I offer to get down to business.
“No,” he pushes me away. “I want it to be special when we do it. Another time,” but I’ve already decided this isn’t happening again. I apologise and sink with embarrassment into the leopard print covered seat. I’ve misread my first Grindr experience. This time, an early-naughties Britney Spears attempts to ease the situation by gracing the otherwise silent car.
“It’s alright, we’ll just make out.” I try to move over and support myself while finding a comfortable position to lean across the centre console and kiss him but once again he says no.
“I don’t want you to place your hand on my stomach.” I remove my hand and continue, moving it up to his face.
“No, not my face either.”
“Sorry but it hurts from my shot I got the other day.”
Like some altered game of Twister—left hand on elbow, right hand supporting the head but not too close to the ear or the face—we attempt to make out to various pop divas.
It’s short lived.
“What the fuck?” I fall back into my seat just like the final collapse that signals the end of Twister. It’s my friend returning with the pack of smokes I ordered.
“Why would you tell people where you’re going?” he questions.
In an instant, I’m pushed out of the car and listening to the chorus of “Toxic” fade into the distance.
Weeks later, the messages roll in. They read:
“Suck me off?”
“How about Janet Jackson next time?” “You like Janet?”
Words by Connor Reidy
Image by Joshua Lawless