“You’re misjudging me, I think.”
It was no more than 6 months ago. A guy I matched with on Tinder messaged me, and didn’t even wait until we’d gone back-and-forth three times before asking me to meet him. I was with a friend at a cafeteria, and he was willing to catch up, so I waited for him. It was a dull, wet day. We were at a southern fishing village, and we were sipping our hot chocolates.
The guy got lost, to my surprise. Due to the rain, I couldn’t exactly go outside and wave and shout. After a few phone calls, he finally got there, obviously wet. I had explicitly told my friend she didn’t need to leave just because this guy was coming, and she didn’t. He walked in, we exchanged greetings, and he sits opposite me. He had a bright, perfect smile, calm demeanor, and long, blonde hair. He immediately reminded me of Jesus, but blonder.
We’re talking and he’s happy to hear about my interests. All the while, a pit of dread is accumulating at the pit of my stomach, which I don’t want to deal with. I tell him about my ambitions, and he makes it clear, he’s looking for an ambitious guy. He implies that the reason for his previous break up was that the previous guy was too basic — too unambitious. The dread intensifies.
Suddenly, he shifts to talking about his work. His clinic is doing well, he’s got a great deal of work coming in, he’s just bought a home, he’s telling my friend about all the bargains he’d picked up at a flea market that were making his new home cozier and more beautiful and personal. At this point, I’m feeling beyond stressed out, the dread I had been carrying has taken me over, and I cannot hide it. Instead, I shut down. Unable to utter any more coherent sentences longer than 5 words without slurring or getting lost for words or lost in hesitation, looking down, and feeling terrible. The guy, and my friend, try to get my attention.
What’s going on? Is everything okay? Is he always this quiet? He was talking a minute ago. What’s wrong? No, he’s quite the talker, just give him time to warm up to you. They carry on speaking like I’m not there, which I appreciate.
Cris. Are you okay? I’m going to have to leave soon. — it’s fine, I reassure my friend.
The guy offers to order some wine, but I already practically feel on the edge of an out-of-body-experience, so I let him drink on his own. All I can hear is my annoying mother, rambling.
No one’s going to marry you, like this. Grandma, the wise woman, chips in, to remind me how factually correct my mother is. I abuse them, I threaten to walk up to my room, and never speak to them again, I can’t stand their hideous nature anymore. Grandpa decides it’s his turn now to utter words of tremendous wisdom and insight. You do realize that if everyone in the world made the same decision as you, the world would stop and collapse — he informs me from behind his full-rims… My turn — LET IT STOP, SEE IF I CARE! My stepfather roared and laughed the hardest he’d laughed in weeks.
Back in the cafeteria, the guy can’t stand to see me like that anymore, and tells me to join him for a walk.
What’s going on, really? — he wants to know.
The truth emerges in pieces, but we manage to turn it into something coherent…
I stopped dating guys. I’ve only gone on a few one-night stands with foreigners, until I’d gotten bored of that as well. For the last few months, I haven’t had a fixed job. I was working as an actor, here and there, but nothing too stable. I had originally studied accounting, but couldn’t find a job — which is good, because all the while, I was wishing I wouldn’t. I took a part-time job at a school.
But I just felt like I was suffocating and stuck. It eventually got so bad that at the edge of my despair, I quit working altogether. Trying to tell my family that I was feeling depressed gave me the same outcome as if I had told them, from now on I’d decided to just be lazy. How did families get this stupid? Telling them that I just didn’t have the energy to work anymore — they didn’t really care. I told them, I was sick of hiding and pretending, my real dream was musical theater, and I was sick of waiting until they would approve, because I would just eventually be too old to think about doing it at all. Of course, they didn’t give a fuck. Everytime I applied for a drama course, everytime I went to an audition, the same stupid parroted phrase — “You’d better look for a job — instead of this theater stuff.”
Eventually, the whole family tree had chipped in to tell me how wrong it was not to have a job. Even if you’re sad, you have to work. If you don’t work, no one will marry you, no one will want to be with you.
Everytime I hear someone say some phrases like how family is everything, or how family wants the best for you, or you should always trust the advice of your family, I turn to glare at them. Or I laugh. Depends how I feel. I did not believe families could be this heartless.
When my story’s finished, the guy is reassuring. You have your ambitions — he says. Well yeah, but still, I’ve barely made any progress, I’ve quit my job but I’m not doing a whole lot — I explain.
I think you just don’t have enough self-esteem, given everything that’s going on with your family — he says — and you just need somebody who believes in you.
Like you? — I ask. I have barely met any guys, because not too many take kindly to finding out that I’m not up to having a full-time job right now.
Yeah — he says. You misjudged me, I think.
I choose to take his word for it. OK. Somebody who doesn’t base my worth on how much I’m working and how much money I’m making. WOW.
Our encounter is eventually over, and we promise to keep in touch. However, eventually, our conversations online get even more sparse, and plans to meet again fall through.
<Didn’t you say you were ok with my situation, that I misjudged you? Why didn’t we meet again? I ask.
You’re reading too much into it, I was just busy.
<But you were online on Grindr all day, I say again.
I don’t think you should be judging me for being on Grindr, if you saw I was on, then you must have been on too.
<Of course I was on, what are you even thinking? I’m not judging you, there’s nothing wrong with being on Grindr. I know you’re on FB right now, because I’m on FB too… does that mean I’m judging you?
We’ll meet again when you come from the UK — he says. But we never did.
FAST FORWARD TO PRESENT DAY AT LAST.
Blonde Jesus is online on the GRINDR, and after not having spoken for six months, I decide to reach out, and try again. After all, who knows, maybe I did read too much into it, and maybe he really was busy.
He’s cordial. We talk about what’s been going on lately in our lives. He doesn’t offer as many details as I do, and I ask him what’s up. He says it’s a lot to say in a few texts, so I ask him, why don’t we talk about it over drinks then.
AND THERE IT WAS. HESITATION. It’s been 48 hours, and unlike the previous conversation stream, this time he doesn’t even respond.