I’ve spent the better part of this past week in the bustling metropolis of Chatham — my hometown. No, I’m not a secret agent on some impossibly glamourous undercover assignment (I would be a terrible secret agent); we had a death in the family that I’m really not in the mood to write about just yet. Since I’m all about dealing with life with humour and distraction, I decided I should go on Tinder while I was here. At the very least, I expected some funny, screen-grab worthy profile pictures and conversations. As always, the universe had other plans.
Tindering (dear lord, is that a verb now?) in Chatpig comes with a very different set of challenges compared with dating in Toronto. My first five prospects (ha!): cousin, ex-boyfriend, ex-boyfriend’s brother, a pickup truck, and a questionable gym mirror selfie. After five easy left swipes, the app told me to wait while it looked for more people in my area. Five people. I adjusted my distance settings to be a bit more favourable (while trying not to end up with matches in Detroit) and tried again. Not long after, I managed to stumble across someone within city limits I had neither dated in high school nor am related to, so things were looking up.
Sam (bonus points if you can figure out how I came up with this nickname) moved to Chatham for work a few years ago, and was heading to his own hometown for the weekend, so he asked if I would be up for getting a drink before he left. This was entirely unexpected, but in for a penny, in for a pound. I hadn’t been on a date in this town since I was 19 and still living with my parents. Doing it at 32 while staying in the guest room did not make it less weird.
Things I take for granted in Toronto require actual forethought in a small town. First, you have to choose a place that isn’t the equivalent of a bad high school reunion. A pool hall I didn’t visit ever (that may not have existed) when I lived here seemed like a good bet. Then came the tricky transportation issue: it’s not like I could just hop on the subway or catch a streetcar. Sam politely offered to pick me up, but that comes with the one-two punch of worrying he’s a serial killer and having to introduce a stranger to my parents. Absofuckingnopely.
Instead, I opted to borrow my parents’ car to meet him there (which is thankfully no longer a toaster on wheels). I am such an adult. As I was getting ready, I was gifted with sage advice from my family. ‘Don’t bring him home unless he has money.’ Thanks Dad. My little sister told me to ‘make good choices.’ Hey, there’s a first for everything. I also received a mid-date reminder text not to drink and drive. Well damn, my plan to get obliterated and tear up the streets went right out the window (I actually had my second and final beer about two hours prior). Maybe it doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes a village to help your child date.
The date itself was pretty great. Sam’s a firefighter who just happened to build his own house, biked across Canada for the hell of it, and ran the Boston marathon, while retaining a healthy dose of ‘aw, shucks’ small-town charm. He also kicked my ass in every game of pool (I only won once, and that’s because he sank the eight ball), yet still let me pick a cheesy horror movie on Netflix. The catch? He loves Chatham. While this may be where I grew up and where my family lives, I fucking love Toronto. Seriously, anyone I date is really having an affair with me because I am already in a serious relationship with my city. I even listed reasons Chatham does not rock (sorry not sorry) — although he did counter my terrible shopping argument with TSC, a store I love.
However, I’ve been told by one of my trusty advisors that I can worry about all that on date 54. For now, it looks like date two will be in Toronto next time he visits his hometown (conveniently a lot closer to the Tdot) — which he does far more frequently than I. I should start researching pool halls or something.