There are people you’ll meet and have no conversation with. You’ll be strangers. No words will be exchanged between yourselves. Silence will slice through the air. You might want to say something, but you’ll second guess everything. You’ll not be sure whether they’ll want to hear anything from you anyway. So you’ll stay quiet and mind your teeth. Your appetite for small talk will go to zero.
You’ll scroll through your phone, lurk online reading tweets. You’ll bite your nails if you are one of those people. You’ll struggle to pluck out that dangling skin below your nail. I wonder what’s more painful; hitting your toe on the leg of a stool or fighting with that skin down your nail. Whichever option you go with is painful. You’ll then plug in your earphones and live your life.
And there are people you’ll meet whom you’ll strike a conversation with right off the bat. Your chat will flow like a never drying stream. It’ll go on and on and it’ll feel like the infinity loop. That’s what happened when we met at a dinner I went for in Frankfurt last week. He was with his girlfriend, a girl I’ve known for about a month now.
He took the seat next to mine. We said our hi’s and hello’s and the conversation kicked in. He told me where he comes from. It’s a town somewhere in the Rhinelands. I told him where I come from too. We shared something in common. Both our home towns have rivers flowing through them. He told me about life as the only white guy in a small town in a certain country in Asia. He was a student. I was the only black guest in that place so I could relate. It was lovely though. And he told me about his job working in one of the Big Four firms. I told him about my time in a Big Four company too. We clicked.
“How did you meet your girlfriend?” I asked.
I looked at him with a question in my face that says, “really?” He read it.
“Yeah, we met on Tinder.”
I’d been on Tinder when I was back home.
I told him about my Tinder tales and the stories I wrote. He laughed at some of them and said, “Bro, you’re crazy.”
“Are you on Tinder here?” he asked.
“It’s a good way to meet new people. You should consider it. And I’m sure there are many women who’ll want to hang out with a guy like you.”
I don’t read too much into what he means by “a guy like you.” Two days later, I downloaded the App. I created an account. The App is still the same as I left it over a year ago. I tapped the red X and green heart because swiping is unnecessary work. And I got a match.
Her name was Mara. She was 24, 17Km from my place.
“Not too far,” I think to myself.
Her profile picture was a silhouette. It was shapey like a glass bottle of coca-cola. It looked attractive. I sent a message in German.
„Hallo Mara,“ I typed, „Wie geht’s heute?“
I typed some more.
„Tut mir leid. Mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht. Sprichst du Englisch?“
I sent. And waited for a reply. It came through.
“Of course, I speak English,” Mara said.
She typed clean English. It was polished. Nice punctuation, complete sentences, a full stop at the end of the line. That caught my attention. I’m a sucker for well written sentences. I hate it when I chat with someone who uses shorthand at every turn. It drains my energy and kills my vibe. Mara had this in check. I was hooked.
Things started taking a different turn.
“I’m just here for fun by the way,” she texts.
I didn’t want to be left out of this fun.
“Same here. I’m here for fun too. That makes the two of us.”
I wasn’t ready for the next line. I will keep it clean because my mother sometimes reads what I write. I don’t want her thinking since I moved to this country, I became an uncontrollable beast or something.
Mara tells me she’s “quite good at sucking” what you can imagine, and she’d like to do that to me. I flex my fingers and think about my response. This is my very first Tinder match. And the conversation is already hitting the roof.
Then she writes, “I need to tell you something. I’m not really a girl but I’m feminine.” I continued reading. “I’m actually a boy but I like to be treated as a woman… I like being submissive. I am young, short and in shape and I love to please men.”
My first reaction was a swear word in my head. And the next thing that played in my mind was that clip of Simon Kagwa Njala on the morning breeze asking an LGBT activist a question, that question that became a meme and made rounds on social media last year. It kept running in my head, over and over and I broke out into a heavy laugh in my apartment.
I told Mara, who later told me their real name, where they come from and what they do for a living, that I don’t ball in that lane. He understood. And I unmatched him.
Now I’m left wondering if I should still be on this app. Maybe not. Let me stay on it for one more week. I just might get more stories to write.