4 May 2017

THE CASUAL RACIST

So I was out the other week on a Tinder date with this perfect guy when he quickly became the least perfect guy.

Let me back up.

I had swiped right on this Australian guy a few weeks before and didn't get an immediate match. I know it seems like every time I make myself vulnerable in an online capacity it needs to be met with instantaneous validation, but it does. Then a couple of weeks later we matched and I messaged him. Fascinating.

So he organised the date in this fancy cocktail bar, in an equally fancy hotel in Mayfair. I didn't realise how fancy it was until I arrived. Thank god I didn't wear my boob tube, instead opting for a collared shirt because, ah, err, he was in a three piece suit. Admittedly he had been at work, but still, where do you work, the Academy Awards?

In these sort of instances, you can tell I am really into a guy because I suddenly turn into a bellowing mini-me of my father. I'm basically trying to be the most masc version of myself I can be, which isn't exactly masc in the traditional sense of the abbreviation, but you get the picture. And I've noticed it with other friends of mine: I once overheard a friend talking to his new boyfriend on the phone and wondered where this (more) manly voice was coming from. When he got off the phone, I asked who he was talking to - assuming it was his homophobic uncle from the country - but when he said it was his new boyfriend, I wondered how long it would be before he accidentally high kicked through that butch facade and was found out.

It's sad to think we value masculinity over femininity in our community. It's so clearly an offshoot of misogyny. And trust me, I've read all the articles in the gay press that try to put this issue to rest, but when you read Grindr profile after Grindr profile that specifies "masculine for same", you get beaten down. And when I like someone my big boy voice comes out because that's the ideal I've been presented with my whole life.

Anyhoo, we order drinks. Two martini's, so masc, and get talking. Okay, full disclosure: I have never met a guy who's life was almost identical in terms of upbringing. So alike he had even been to MY SCHOOL as part of his school's mock trail and debating team. And I would have been there at the same time, in the same year group. I cursed the day I dropped Legal Studies.

I don't think I can actually explain how implausible this moment was for us. I went to school in a spec of a town, in the middle of Australia and the guy I was sitting across from in London 20 years later had been to that school when I was there, even if it was for a day or two. As you can imagine, I completely blew it out of proportion and treated it like Jesus himself had returned and was dating me.

So we ordered another martini.

I'm getting a little loose by this stage and he starts talking about wanting to raise a family. I've never really been for or against the subject, but suddenly I'm stuffing my face with complimentary almond clusters, trying to soak up the pure vodka, saying things like "I've always wanted three or four children". What? Where did that come from? Then I said, "I want to adopt because there are too many unloved children in this world". Um Angelina? Pipe down please.

We then started talking about country vs city and, again, I have never really wanted to live in the country - grew up there, was damaging enough the first time round - but again I am saying things like, "I've always wanted to own land in the English countryside." No I haven't!

I think the takeaway here is that I'm telling my dates what they want to hear and adjusting myself to what they want to see. It's obviously coming across as disingenuous, otherwise I'd be raising four adopted children from the streets of Delhi on acreage in the Lakes District. But when did I stop being myself on dates and why? Have I ever been myself??? I'm blowing my mind right now.

So then he talked about what it would be like raising kids in the country being gay - oh and I forgot the best part! He only came out three years ago! Does that still happen? Apparently so.

#newgay

Anyway, the conversation continued about attitudes towards the gays in country Australia vs in the UK when I committed a cardinal first date sin.

I we'd us.

I said something like, "well I think if we were walking down the main street with kids..." I had to immediately make a joke out of it and honestly, he handled it pretty well, but let's just say we didn't order another martini.

THEN THIS HAPPENED.

There was a burning smell that came from the table next to us and we both turned to investigate. There were two black women seated adjacent who told us it was just a drink that had been lit on fire to bring out the flavours. He then said, and I am not making this shit up, "I thought your weave was on fire." Now, regardless of whether he thought it was or not, you don't fucking say that. I could see the collective speech bubble above their heads go, WTF? But they were very gracious and explained to him, and for some strange reason, me, that their weaves were real hair and not acrylic. I gave them an I-have-nothing-to-do-with-this-man look and turned the other way.

THEN HE STARTED PETTING HER HAIR LIKE SHE WAS AN EXOTIC BIRD.

I excused myself and went to the bathroom.

When I had come back, he had paid the bill which I thought was sweet until I remembered the casual racism. I was like, oh, grrr.

We went our separate ways and there weren't any follow up messages. A week later he, that's right HE, unmatched me on Tinder. And fair enough, I wasn't my true authentic self, but at least my true authentic self isn't a racist fuckstick.

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