To Bitch or Not To Bitch
‘Going for drinks is just Meh. Let’s go for a walk’ she replied. ‘Save our livers and it’s better to be active anyway’ She was challenging the status-quo of the online/app dating scene just like me. This could be a good match, this time from Happn.
As the meeting spot couldn’t be a bar, we met at a bookstore instead. Her idea trickled some fantasies of the ‘sexy librarian’ type I was about to meet when I walked in. She was browsing books in the non-fiction section in the back. She looked up and smiled when we recognized each other from the app instantly.
‘Maybe a drink first?’ I tried. I was a bit nervous and would welcome one.
‘Nah, just go for straight for the walk’ she responded. She kept up with the plan, I liked her determination even though I would feel more at ease with a tiny bit of alcohol in my blood.
She had an interesting story to share as she recently changed jobs from a law firm to human resources. ‘Just too many hours, and then what do you get after ten years of late nights? Still the same late nights with just more responsibility. And the money isn’t that great either, unless you own the firm or work so much that you don’t sleep at all. And the people aren’t fun either. It’s just a rat race with no real prizes at the end.’
Though it sounded like a rant in the first few moments that we met, she said it in wondrous way, surprised about the fact that others would want to live their lives like that. There was a certain upbeat wonder about her observations and her choice to forfeit the law degree and go for a more fun work environment. As we walked from the concrete city office blocks to the leafy botanical gardens, it felt like her and I broke free from the corporate chains into the wild, open, adventurous future.
‘But people still bitch in the office. I don’t know why, they do it everywhere. Men bond by talking about a sportsgame; women bond by bitching about each other. Guess we don’t have anything else to talk about.’ (note from the author: I don’t want to be accused of sexist stereotyping; she really said that.)
‘It’s hard, you know. They will hide away their bitching towards the person they are bitching about, so it all looks clean. But that also means they bitch about me and just don’t show it. The worst is, they expect you to bitch with them about someone else as well, otherwise they think you don’t want to bond with them. And if you don’t join in the bitching, they bitch about your non-bitching behaviour.’
‘Sounds almost like mafia. You need to play with their game to survive, ignorance is a tough option’.
‘The female version of mafia maybe. I just can’t understand that women can’t just not-bitch and still bond. And what was the bitching about anyway? Some fashion mismatch or some other ridiculous unimportant detail.’
‘To bitch or not to bitch, that’s the question’
Suddenly it all made sense to me she wanted to meet at a bookstore instead of a bar.
The park was empty apart from a few joggers who sometimes scared us with their approaching running footsteps and sighing in your neck when they passed by from behind. A good moment to start holding her hand, I thought.
‘This is my secret spot’ she said soon after. It was a remarkably beautiful location that we had all to ourselves, with wide views on the harbour bridge and the laser show on the Opera House as part of the Vivid festival. The adventure felt complete with the splendid location we landed on, as if Peter Pan just revealed Neverland.
Watching the laser show from our secret spot, my arm around her back and a clear sky above us, it was more romantic than whichever hipster cocktail bar could pretend to be. I thought it was perfect timing for the kiss, but I didn’t feel that I had the permission yet to lean over, maybe she just wasn’t ready.
We chatted a bit more, not anymore about the bitches at work bitching, but about life in Sydney, our parents and siblings, sports and other hobbies. We stood up and even went dancing for a bit in the open nature under the stars, without music and a lot of fun. At moments this again appeared the perfect moment for a kiss, but again I felt it was one step too far for now.
‘Time to go home’, she called it a night. We walked back, changed the conversation to how odd this whole app dating is.
‘It’s just random conversations with random people who happen to have a pretty face and are able to turn their everyday chores into a fancy profile intro.’ She summarized it well in a special blend of sarcasm with upbeat wonder. I felt a connection again, we had some sort of the same opinion on the app dating world.
We laughed as if we stood above that ‘rat-race’ for prettier pics and more appealing profiles. At the same time, we met through the same medium, too.
‘more matches boost your ego, and then conversations just drop dead. They kind of go like meh on profiles you feel meh about.’
‘yeah you also just use the app at meh-moments, when you have nothing else to do or just don’t want to get off your couch’
‘Meh dating’ I nodded.
‘What are you on this app for by the way? If I were I guy, I would just wing it. Be the player and then settle down when I am forty-five or so with a much younger chick.’
‘You could still do the same’
‘Yeah but the biological clock, you know’
‘Then do the same thing, just ten years earlier’
She gave me a dorky smile, and I was wondering whether I was being played – she was well below 35 so I could totally fall into her player-phase of her life.
‘Well, think you’re nice’ I had to break the silence and smooth out my bold comment.
‘Yes think you’re nice too’.
We stood just there, looking into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. For the third time I thought it was the right moment, but then again it somehow didn’t feel like I had the permission.
‘Oh just so you know, I can’t kiss you. I have a blister on my lip.’
Aha. Got you. Totally didn’t see that in the dark. My mind relieved, for a moment I thought I was really, really bad at making it happen. So there was a medical reason. Saint non-bitch was so kind to save my skin from the same fate.
Instead we hugged, for a really long time, intensely as a kiss would have been.