I began my dating app experience much later in life. (The foolish decision to buy a Windows phone set me back two years.) I was anxious to get started the moment I upgraded devices. The first and most obvious download was the infamous Tinder, renowned as a hook-up app but also responsible for significant relationships for several of my friends.
The response to my initial profile? Crickets.
A female friend offered to look at my profile and provide some tips. She quickly started searching through my Facebook pictures and then completely rewrote my description. When she was done, my profile opened with my height. (I'm 6-foot-1, and my friend said "no one likes to date a short guy.")
It included my career ("no one likes a cheapskate," she explained) and she changed "interested in triathlon" to "elite athlete" and concluded with "adventurous" and "outgoing." She also deleted all the "nice guy" pics I had chosen and replaced them with athletic shots.
The next morning, I woke up to see something shocking: I had five matches!! In addition there was something I had never seen before, a message in my inbox, the first time a female had broken the ice.
To protect the name of this particular female (although she doesn't deserve it) I will refer to her as "Hollywood," and you'll soon see why.
Our conversation began with small talk, and then we swapped Instagram handles. Her feed was full of images of her in underwear and bathing suits, in racy and suggestive poses. She told me she was an actress and a swimsuit and lingerie model. My immediate thought was "Uhh ohh, red flag, red flag," but I decided against my better judgment that it would be wrong to dismiss her just because of her looks. After all, she was the one who contacted me first and had been doing most of the initiating.
She said she lived in Beverly Hills. I suggested meeting at Urth Caffe so it would be convenient for her. What I didn't say is that I live in Santa Monica and I work in El Segundo, which meant making it to Beverly Hills on a weekday would be absolute torture. (Anyone who has seen "The Californians" on SNL knows what I am talking about.)
The drive took almost two hours. Still, I found parking and made it to Urth with 10 minutes to spare. When I arrived, however, I got a message telling me she was actually about two miles away, at the SLS Hotel on La Cienega Boulevard. She was there getting her hair done "for tomorrow's shoot" and asked if I wanted to meet there instead. It was going to be either a 30-minute drive in traffic or a 20-minute walk, so I decided to keep my parking spot and headed on over.
I messaged when I reached the hotel, and she told me she still needed about 10 minutes. I said I'd be at the hotel bar.
Thirty minutes later … she texted that she was "still getting worked on."
Fifteen minutes later (about an hour and a half since I arrived in Beverly Hills, and over three hours since I left my job), she messaged that she was on her way down.
She looked good, not amazing, but like her photos. I complimented her hair and went in for a friendly hug. She responded with a light, impersonal and slightly awkward embrace.
She looked at me and said, "You look nothing like your pictures!," to which I responded "You mean in a good way, I hope."
She just looked down.
I asked if she wanted to go back to Urth. She said "You're welcome to walk back and I'll meet you there," which I now realize was her first try at an exit strategy.
I suggested we just stay in the lobby for drinks. I began with some small talk, including asking why she's new to Tinder.
"Well, I just broke up with my boyfriend. Actually we broke up last month, but just stopped sleeping together this week. Like yesterday."
I tried to push through the awkwardness: What's it like being a model in L.A.?
She replied: "I need to stop things here and let you know I have no interest in you. I'm looking for someone a bit more…"
"Rich, good looking, successful perhaps?"
She just smirked and looked down.
"Well I guess I'll just walk back to Urth," I said.
"Why don't you do that."
On the way out she twisted the knife once more.
"What's it like dating on Tinder? You think I'll find anybody nice?"
"I think you'll find out soon enough," I replied.
Later that night, I posted on Facebook about what had just gone down.
By the next day, I had 50 comments. A few light-heartedly poked fun. Most expressed sympathy. But what I picked up on were the number of replies claiming similar experiences.
Meeting Hollywood taught me it's OK to sometimes judge a book by its cover, out of self-preservation. That might sound wrong but in the context of dating in L.A. it's often what works.
If you want to find like-minded individuals with similar interests you need to look in the same circles and never go searching at pick-up joints.
However this may be another example of "do what I say, not as I do."
I was recently at the Bungalow in Santa Monica when a friend suggested I go introduce myself to her friends, who were high-profile model/actress types.
I should have known better, but I fall for it every time. …
The author is a toy designer and engineer and recently completed a half Ironman triathlon in four hours, 29 minutes and 8 seconds.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the current dating scene in and around Los Angeles. We pay $300 a column. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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