Last evening I pulled out a cup from the cupboard, to make a cup of tea. My hand gravitated to the Geffen opening night gift that my friend Susie had given me when I went to see her show at the Geffen. She was very much on my mind, as I thought about the recent fumbles on Bumbles. One of our last engagements together was navigating the shoals of loss. She would really have appreciated some of the things I’m finding so disorienting about online dating apps. Recently, I’ve been reviewing some of the pandemic letters I wrote three years ago which I’d presciently snapped photos of capturing like a bug in amber those awkward emotional outreaches to folks from the uncertain bastion of solitude. In the spirit of those fumbles, I thought maybe Susie would appreciate a letter from the other side.

Dear Susie,

Hope things are going well for you up there. There’s probably no need for dating apps in Heaven. I imagine post-corporeal mingling at will rather than the intentional actions we need take here on earth. To bring you up to date, I ditched the Silver Singles app and went on Bumble. I wish you were here to compare awkward first steps back into the dating pool. You can imagine me sitting on the edge of the pool, my silk stockings slipped off, my big toe hovering over the water. I know you would already be at least waist deep in the pool, grinning your easy, warm yet ironic, lopsided grin across the pool at some algorithmically perfect specimen while I decided if the handrail on the side would support my weight.

Rhett seemed interesting, handsome, with kind eyes which was my opening salvo. Meanwhile, I imagined my mom spiraling in her grave. Her voice in my no-longer-teenager-head “Girls don’t call boys.” What would she make of this wild world? While chatting, (because who can resist a salvo like that) he suddenly responded back, became someone named “Lonny,” with a fascinating and tragic life story – lots of loss, and pleading hesitancy about dating, even after being widowed 8 years. He didn’t even apologize for using another name on his profile. How naïve must I be?

I gave him my number.

He texted me while I was walking one morning, and it was kind of nice to text back and forth while I finished my morning exercise.  We were supposed to chat last night by phone – we didn’t. He didn’t call, and Mother Shirley’s warning voice rang in my head.

Where are you when I need you, Suze? It would be so fun to use the app together, to giggle over the fact that when “Lonny” called me, his strong accent (nothing like the texted narrative he’d shared with me on the app – now vanished) made me realize I was probably being catfished. Another evening passed where we were supposed to chat. My untrusting mind puts him at his night job, unable to call while working a shift at the Amazon Fulfillment Center. Time only to trek to the restroom. No time to catfish on Bumble. He seems to be only available in the morning.

How does one do this? As you asked me right after losing your partner, “How are we supposed to get through this?” It’s a brave new world, I must say. And the worst part – doing it alone. It’s not fair that you aren’t here to go on this journey with me. There really should be a Bumble support group or at the very least a FAQ sheet or hotline. Maybe I need to consult the younger crowd. Apparently so many people meet through these apps. Was there an online course somewhere I was supposed to take?

I chatted about the Bumble experience with a co-worker who acknowledged that they had frequently exchanged phone numbers but had created a special number through their google app. As a digital tourist, this seems way more complicated than I have the bandwidth for. Perhaps a simple FaceTime chat can assuage my fears. “Lonny” either is Rhett as depicted or not. But what excuses would “Lonny” have to connecting via FT for our second phone chat? I suspect there will be ample reasons why he is unable. During our brief phone connection his voice was oily, yet tentative, respectful. Has my paranoia prevented me from taking the call at face value? So the guy I found attractive suddenly isn’t because there’s a potential language barrier? How shallow does that make me? Desperately, apparently.

As I’ve evaluated over the pandemic and after (because we are AP now, right?), do I have time for a pet? Do I have time for a connection in love? Am I looking for a plus one for theatre events? If so, would anyone who took the time to create a Bumble profile be satisfied with that type of engagement? You would know, Suze. Had life not thrown you the shitty trajectory it did, you would have put me into this show as an understudy. I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied to sip my evening tea in your mug and think about what you would be saying from across the table or phone line. But if you have a chance, please give me a sign. Thumbs up or down would be good.

6 thoughts

    1. Hahahaha! Not the actor unfortunately. But there is material in bumbling fumbling. ❤️

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