This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.
I went on dates.
I went on a Tinder date with a schoolteacher who read me poetry aloud on his faded leather couch, but he seemed a little too earnest for me, so I went on a Hinge date with a musician who sang songs to me from the piano, but I was afraid to get involved with another creative type, and then I went on a Raya date with a movie producer who took me to a dinner so fancy it felt like a brag, and I imagined what it would be like to be a stepfather to his daughters, flaxen-haired sprites with names like Annabelle or Clarissa, but then I decided I was too young for all that, and I went on a date with a college student I met on Bumble who told me he couldn’t afford to eat out, so we sat on a curb on Sunset eating soft corn tacos from a truck on the corner, and for a moment I felt older than I really was, older than I had ever been before, though in fact I wasn’t even 30 yet.
I went on dates with older guys and learned to get their references, the same allusions to movies and television shows released before I was born that seemed to be touchstones for gay men of a certain age — of course I love Beaches! — but I also went on dates with guys my own age or even younger, and I was comfortable with their language, too, Snapchatting selfies from my bed captioned “tired af” dotted with sleepy-eyed emojis.
When I went on dates with successful guys, I knew what to say, commiserating over how crowded Soho House had become (it’s overrun!), but later I would complain to friends about their uninterrogated privilege and the high likelihood that they had secret cocaine habits, because rich guys so often do. When I went on dates with guys who were broke, I related to them, too, that needling anxiety of feeling like you never have enough in a city where everyone seems to have so much, but I would rule them out — telling friends that I needed someone more “worldly” and “accomplished,” this politely coded classism that still allowed me to feel good about myself.