“The Tinder Generation
Alana Hope Levinson

Tinder Takeaways

Tinder Date No. 2: My Date Went Out With a Prostitute in Brazil, and Missed a Booty Call in San Francisco

#Generation Tinder

  1. “Say yes to everybody” — Albert swipes his index finger to the right through the air, a pantomime that lets this whole San Francisco cafe know we’re chatting about Tinder — “because ultimately it’s the women who are choosing.”

The Vanity Fair piece that riled Tinder into a self-defeating tweetstorm last week painted 20-something Wall Street bros as the deciders, but I suspected the real world of Tinder wasn’t so clearcut. Just one hour after my lunch with Jim — the Tinder office hookup artist — I was descending deeper into the warts-and-all reality of Tinder, now entering the Creamery in San Francisco’s Soma district of boxy condos and warehouses-turned-tech offices. Date No. 2 was waiting for me at an outside table: a handyman in his early 50's who we’ll call Albert, fresh off a fix-it job nearby.

Strike from mind any image of a working-class hero with brawny biceps. Albert looked more middle-aged programmer: shapeless gray polo shirt, wire-rimmed eyeglasses, a bit on the nerdy side, but nothing wrong with that. He is divorced with two grown kids and came across as circumspect, thoughtful, and (self-confessedly) a bit naive. He ordered a veggie crepe, and began relating his lessons.

He’d been on OKCupid on and off for years, originally writing off Tinder as a tool for the young, hookup crowd. But for anyone who can’t slide by on looks alone knows, OKCupid is work — parsing through the profiles, working deftly honed humor and tidbits from each woman’s factoids into each response. Do twenty of those; hear back from no one. “It’s really hard to actually get a date.”

In comparison, “Tinder is so easy,” Albert explains. At least to swipe — if not to actually go out. Downloading the app earlier this year, Albert had started out by reading the profiles to discern which way to swipe, but then resorted to swiping right on everybody to have a better chance in the numbers game.

“Some guys just want to get laid. Some guys just want to get a date.”

And which one are you?

“Both! Whatever, you know. Whatever they want to do.”

2. When you’re over 50: beware the intentions of the 20-something ladies.

In search of whatever-happens-happens, Albert wrote some sentences in Portuguese on his profile while traveling in Rio de Janeiro. One woman in her late 20's responded, and Albert suggested they go on a beach walk. She shot him down: “I can go on a walk by myself.” Hmm….catty. The texting went on, him suggesting ideas, she rejecting them. Finally he threw his hands up: “Basically I was like what do you want?” he said. “She was like: sexo.”

It was Albert’s hazing into hookup culture. “I was totally not treating it like a hookup app.” He declined the invite.

3. Beware the women who shush you when you talk about sex workers at restaurants.

Still, while still in Rio, Bianca, as we’ll call her, started texting him. She was 33, whose profile pic shows a J. Lo-esque woman with long blonde hair, full lips shining with pink gloss.

They met for dinner, chatting back and forth via the help of Google Translate on Albert’s phone. The first sign that something was amiss was when Albert started relaying her a funny story of a sex worker he’d matched with on Tinder. You know, something to create a repoire around the absurdity of online dating. “I was telling the story to the woman I was having dinner with and she was like, ‘Shhh, the the waiters are listening to our conversation.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t care, what do I have to hide?’”

“She was really aggressive in a way, very sure of herself, not shy at all. I was kind of taken aback a little bit. She kept asking what translated to: am I prejudiced? And I’m not. I’m like the least judgmental person you’ll ever meet.”

Albert didn’t quite understand what she was getting at.

Once in a cab, she said she wanted to go back to his Airbnb apartment, so they did. As they smoked a joint, she broke it to him: she was a garota de programe — an escort.

“I was just kind of like, I don’t fucking believe this. When I went to Brazil, I went with the express intention of not hooking up with prositutes. I don’t do the prostitute thing.”

Well, until he did. “They were like all over me, so what could I do?”

Albert takes a bite of crepe.

“I ended up paying something because I was going to leave Brazil two days from then, and I’m like what the hell, we’ll do this. It doesn’t cost me much because the exchange rate is really bad. She was there. She was in my apartment, not a proud moment, but I had a good time. It was a good experience.” He corrects himself, “It was an experience.”

4. Beware the ladies who call you “daddy” in their fantasies.

The sex workers weren’t just on Brazilian Tinder either. Back in San Francisco, the women continued to message him — one sent an ad for webcam porn shows, others were looking for a “SD,” short for “sugar daddy.” “Whenever I match with someone under 30, I immediately suspect it’s some sort of sex worker.”

A month ago, one woman he matched with texted him at midnight: “Wanna play?” He responded: “What’s the game?”

“You bring some condoms and come over to my place.”

“I’m like, now?”

She wrote something to the effect of “Little girl is tired and wants daddy to sing her some lullabies.” “I’m like this is weird, I’ve got two daughters.”

Albert recalls the episode with incredulity. “The women who want to do the quick hookups are impulsive,” he says. “That’s just not what I want. I don’t want to have sex with a stranger. It’s too weird. I’m not like that horny that I’ll just sleep with anybody, have sex with a complete stranger. I want to like them — a little bit at least. A decent prostitute will at least pretend to like you.”

5. Don’t blame the app.

He asked for my advice on his profile. I told him to lead with the photo of him on top of a mountain above Rio, looking hale and a tad distinguished. Lose the current lead pic, an unflattering, double-chinned shot of him drinking out of a coconut on the beach. He heeded the first piece of advice, scrambling the images around on his phone.

I asked him if his run of high jinks had turned him off Tinder. “Since I’m currently single, any interaction with females breaks up the boredom.”

Plus, “It’s not the app,” he claims. “It’s the people.”

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