It Was Nice Meeting You

Tom is a recent computer science graduate from Stanford and is one year into his job working on search optimization at Pinterest.

Kayla just moved to San Francisco after just getting her MBA at Wharton. She previously studied economics at University of Chicago, and it’s her second week working at McKinsey & Co.

They both swiped right last night on Tinder. Tom suggested that they grab a drink at Toronado at 9. Kayla had nothing else going on as her friend Melanie just bailed on her for a Bikram yoga session in South Beach. Classic Melanie.

SCENE 1: THE DATE

9:12pm, Toronado, back room. As she waits for Tom to arrive, Kayla refreshes her Instagram feed for the 3rd time in 5 minutes. Nothing new.

Tom: Hey Kayla, I’m so sorry I’m late! My rock climbing class ran overtime.

Kayla gets up to hug Tom.

Kayla: No worries! It’s nice to finally meet you. I didn’t know you climb, that’s so cool!

Tom: Yeah! I started when I moved to the city a year ago and fell in love with it. Do you climb?

Kayla: My friend once took me when I used to live in Philly, but that’s about it. I’d love to try it out again!

Remembering the advice he read from a love column in GQ the other day, Tom holds off on suggesting a climbing date in an effort to mask his neediness.

Tom: Yeah, it’s really fun! You should check out Mission Cliffs, the people there are great. Shall we take a look at the menu?

Kayla: Thanks for the tip! Yeah, let’s see…

Kayla, dazzled by Tom’s masculinity sheltered beneath his checker-patterned flannel, had secretly wished he had alluded to a future climbing outing together. She’s getting positive vibes, but disciplined herself out of fear of appearing desperate.

Tom: I’m feeling a whiskey on the rocks. What about you?

Tom hates the taste of whiskey. He had a horrible experience his sophomore year when his fraternity brother, Kevin, forced him to take shots of it after losing a bet. Clearly, he’s overcompensating to impress Kayla with a culturally normative rendition of masculinity.

Kayla: Hmm, I usually get the Dogfish Head IPA, but I might go fancy tonight with a glass of Merlot or Pinot. (chuckles)

Kayla never drank Dogfish Head in her life. She heard from her homebrew-expert friend, Zachariah, that it’s highly rated. At Wharton, her go-to was Heineken or $3.99 Trader Joe’s box wine. She really wanted San Francisco to accept her.

Tom: Good choice. I admire how they add enough hops to give it an extra edge, but still maintain a level of smoothness. It’s bold, yet balanced.

Kayla: Totally. I also like how Dogfish Head hasn’t sold out yet. I feel that microbreweries are getting bought out more often these days.

Kayla, like Tom, knows absolutely nothing about the craftsmanship nor market trends of fine beer.

FAST-FORWARD 20 MINUTES

Tom: Have you seen any good TV shows recently?

Kayla: I’ve watched a few episodes of Black Mirror. It’s really dark!

Kayla actually binge-watched all three seasons this past weekend, but decided not to share that factoid out of fear of coming off as someone who had a “boring” weekend in.

Tom: I love that series! It’s amazing how Charlie Brooker is able to reflect the cultural mores of society back at us in provocative but subtle ways without compromising his artistic vision. He is truly the auteur of the Netflix generation.

Tom loves to play armchair media critic. He once took a freshman seminar at Stanford called “Portrayal of Female Protagonists in 1980s French Cinema”, so he feels that he has the artistic license to critique film with authority. He also has no idea what “auteur” means.

FAST-FORWARD 20 MINUTES

Kayla: I think there’s more nuance to Peter Thiel’s argument. Technological revolutions are triggered by zero to one improvements, but evolutions are more granular than that. Most innovations are, unsurprisingly, incremental.

Tom: True. That’s an interesting point.

New to tech, Kayla dispenses aphorisms she’s overheard at coffee shops in the Mission without hesitation. Tom, holding back even more aphorisms that he’s imported from Wired op-eds and Y Combinator’s weekly newsletters, politely nods in agreement. “Interesting” is a politically correct word, he assures himself.

Kayla: Have you read Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma? It’s really good. He takes Schumpeter’s idea of “creative destruction” and coins the notion of “disruption theory”. We studied it in one of our classes at Wharton.

Tom: I haven’t, but I’ve heard of it. Marc Andreessen refers to it quite frequently in his essays.

Eager to demonstrate her B-school credentials, Kayla idea-drops and name-drops left and right in the hopes of impressing Tom. He responds cooly by name-dropping in return, while struggling to hide his excitement upon hearing such sacrosanct Silicon Valley truisms.

FAST-FORWARD 20 MINUTES

Kayla: I should probably get going. I have my 6am soul cycle class tomorrow morning.

Tom: That sounds intense! I hope you have a good workout. It was nice meeting you, Kayla! Good night.

”Oh God, she’s one of those people”, Tom thought to himself. Historically, Tom is against dating cultural stereotypes. How ironic. As Tom walks away on Haight St., he puts on his headphones and resumes the latest episode of the Andreessen Horowitz podcast.

Kayla: You too! Have a good night.

“Oh God, I shouldn’t have mentioned soul cycle”, Kayla thought to herself. She walks away feeling a deep sense of anxiety from the whole date. She proceeds to furiously delete Tinder from her iPhone.

END SCENE 1: THE DATE