A right swipe away from love.
New York, New York. The city so great they named it twice. Apparently that’s not all the doubling up that went on though as prices in New York are jacked up so high that a date in Manhattan will empty your wallet faster than you can say “no one actually drinks Fosters back in Australia”. But life is about experiences right? So a Tinder date in America’s crown jewel was just too good to pass up. Now with 8 million people living in New York the fact I had matches might be more to do with population statistics rather than romance but if love really is blind then I believe Tinder is more than just a GPS, so with my man bun pulled tight and my expectations high I set off on the M train to meet Stephanie*, my very own New York Tinderella.
With rain hammering down on the outside of a small bar Stephanie had chosen for us, and as people huddled together, like poorly placed commas in an article, I sat and waited. Stephanie was a New Jersey native as I had come to learn in our courtship (2 hours of texting across Tinder followed by an impromptu phone call as she didn’t believe I really was Australian) and while this technically destroyed my plan to go out with a New York native, I was flexible and according to her so was she, so it was an easy concession to make. In our Tinder banter she had shown herself to be witty, sarcastic and, in her own words, ‘a princess’. Her parting words before I left for our date of “wear a nice outfit, caveman, and prove to me you’re worth my time” reinforced this but it had also struck a chord and I was curious to experience this acid tongue in person.
In a bar full of men who appeared to alternate the volume of their voices based on their self-confidence she was easy to spot as she came gliding through the door. Draped in black and with red lipstick that didn’t just jump from her face so much as run across the room and slap people in the face it was so vibrant, she was every bit as attractive as her pictures suggested (which is really half the battle where Tinder is concerned, if the right gender shows up and you can recognise them, you’re doing well). And with a flick of her hair here and a well-heeled swivel there, our New York date was underway.
Conversation flowed as two people from vastly different backgrounds connected. We were different, and not just because I was born a man, and she, a woman, in fact that was actually a pre-requisite of mine, but she had come from more privilege than me and while I expected that to show in her behaviour and attitude it really didn’t. There was one caveat I should mention, she had told me upfront, of which I appreciated the honesty, “I won’t pay for a single drink tonight”. This was vastly different to the woman back in Sydney who would be likely told “enjoy your one glass of Chardy then” but over here it didn’t feel so odd, and if anything added to the character of the date, so I had agreed and was funding her race towards inebriation (which you should never do, if you plan on getting inebriated, don’t run, get a taxi).
We swapped stories of our childhood, our lives, both present and predicted future, and as we decided to leave I agreed on two tequila shots. For anyone taking notes just scan the back bar before you agree to such a request as she picked Patron Anejo at $14 a shot, that’ll teach me. So with the sweet kiss of Mexico’s finest stinging the back of my throat and a wry smile on Stephanie’s lips, we headed out into the driving rain in search of more adventure.
Two train lines later and a scolding for not holding the umbrella at the optimum angle we arrived on a street which, to me, looked like every other street that cut through Manhattan. Puddles had formed on the street as pedestrians looked to side step their way to dry socks and as we dropped down a small flight of stairs into a hot dog shop I thought to myself, maybe she’s run out of ideas. How wrong I was. See while Sydney is very good at putting a ‘bar’ sign on a bar, New York likes to take the longer route. This technically was a hot dog store, I was watching people dig in right in front of me, but as Stephanie sidled into a phone booth set back in a wall and picked up the receiver I realised, as the Transformers so aptly put it, there was more than meets the eye. As she spoke a false wall within the phone booth opened to reveal a very well dressed gentleman, and behind him, a very dark and moody cocktail bar that looked straight out of a movie. He told us the wait time was 2 hours and if would leave a contact number he would call us when a table opened up. In Sydney it’s exciting if they have Guinness on tap, this was something else.
To pass the time until our space opened up we did the most logical thing, unless you are my wallet then it was the least, and went across the road to another bar and started to pre-drink in earnest. Another tip for those keeping score, if you have a booking in a fancy cocktail bar, don’t go mental on the pre-drinks, because you will stay pay upwards of $18 for a cocktail, you just won’t taste a thing. But in the heat of the moment that didn’t seem to matter. I was introduced to the New York classic ‘pickleback’ shot which sounds almost exotic, but is really just a straight shot of Jameson followed by a straight shot of pickle juice. I was also introduced to Stephanie’s lips as we shared our first kiss, which made the bar all the more memorable.
They say time flies if you’re having fun, doubly so if you’re drinking picklebacks like they’re bottles of water and you live in the same place Mad Max does, so before we knew it we were summoned back to the very sly hotdog cum cocktail bar. I’ve never seen Sex and the City but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an episode just like this, albeit without an Australian who doesn’t like pickle juice and with some clichéd writing about sex and friendship instead.
I felt like James Bond entering a cocktail bar through a phone booth in a hot dog shop (I’m fairly certain that’s the setting for one of them, Die Another Day maybe, anyway it’s not important right now) and we sat front and centre at the bar. We chose two drinks, completely arbitrarily, which is like going to the hairdresser only to just point at someone on the street and go “fuck it, I’ll just have that one thanks”, and realised simultaneously that a) we were pretty drunk and b) we’d rather go back to her apartment than drink these cocktails. As far as realisations go those were pretty clear cut and as we piled into a taxi and left three quarters of our very expensive drinks still on the bar I’d like to think someone shook their head disapprovingly, although I’ll never know for sure.
Her apartment was in the heart of Manhattan and I felt very fancy indeed as I stumbled from a taxi and dropped my phone in a gutter.
Moving quickly inside I was introduced to a housemate who was intently watching a movie, and though I can’t recall which one, it definitely had Mel Gibson in it. I recall as I loudly and proudly told him that “he was one of us” and while I meant ‘Australian’ I can’t be sure he didn’t take it as a racial statement following Mel’s recent issues with Judaism over the past few years. In any case there I was lying on the bed of a beautiful New York** native and feeling pretty stoked to boot. In one of those supporting character roles you only ever find in sitcoms or in the last stage of being drunk before blacking out, one of her close friends was buzzed into the apartment and stopped by the room to offer us Ketamine. Now I’m all for a healthy start to the day but this Special K was not for me, and as she left, drugs still in hand, or potentially inside her at this point, the date reached its climax, for lack of a better pun.
We’re all adults here, I don’t need to go into detail and I’m sure you can piece together this puzzle*** and as the sun rose on a bright and sunny New York morning I felt pleased with my nights work. I’d connected with an intelligent and beautiful young woman in a city famous round the world. I’d tried new drinks and opened myself up to new experiences, which is really at the heart of any date like this. And most importantly I had spent $300 fucking dollars on a single date. Yes, this was a hell of a city.
*Not her real name
**New Jersey technically
***We had sex
Stay tuned for Chapter Two of 'Aussie Fella Seeks his Cinderella. Alex knows his Tinderella is out there somewhere.