Dating · Friends

Piano man

I’ve been busy all week annoying the shit out of my friends about Binary and having absolutely zero chill two dates in. Luckily – for them and you – I convinced a coworker to write a guest post about his first Tinder date ever. I should warn you, it’s so sweet you might need a shot of insulin after. 



I am sitting in front of the Waterloo City Hall, sandwiched between a newly-minted couple comparing/contrasting one another’s soft palates, and two eleven-year-olds-with-bikes competing to see who knows more swear words. I’m waiting to meet someone for the first time. I’d never been on a tinder date before.
I’d never even been on a blind date before. “Blind” suggests one has no idea what your companion for the evening looks like, which must be extremely rare nowadays; anyone with a smartphone and two minutes can (and usually will) do some preparatory research. I had four well lit, well-framed photos and a 100-character bio on which to base both my hurried compilation of her personality and my best guess of whether or not we would be able to agree on a colour to paint the nursery. In my brain she went with yellow, love it.

We’ll call her Sylvie. Her suggestion of City Hall as a meeting place was logical as it was temporally about halfway between us; she drove, I walked. Trying to play it cool and casual I arrive uncomfortably early with six packs of spearmint gum. “Perfect,” I think to myself, “just enough to time get nervous.”

I sit down between two glorious exhibitions of youth while the last of the sun’s waning light makes its exit and the coloured lights illuminating the wading pool hum to life, it occurs to me that this is a lovely public space. The realization that she may have chosen this space because of its popularity for many night-time strolls in full view of fifteen open storefronts arrives with a small, slightly-accusatory thud in my stomach. Having never prearranged to meet someone whom I’d never met, (interviews aside) the possibility that my date could be a burgeoning serial killer did not even cross my mind. I’ll write that off to me being new to this online dating thing, (a small voice in my brain whispers “privilege,”  but this story isn’t long enough to even touch that so I leave it be for now).

This realization does make me think about the incredibly broad range of people available and how the one I’ve committed my evening to could land anywhere on the spectrum. What if she talks through her nose and laughs at fat people? What if she’s a mouth-breather and doesn’t believe in deodorant? Or likes to put cats in a stand up shower and throw bouncy balls in?

She arrives. I recognize her because she’s the only other person trying to bore a hole through her phone with her eyes. I text her “I see you” and immediately regret it, following up with “I’m here! Grey sweater and Jays hat!”, exclamation marks to compensate for the punctuation-less creepiness of “I see you”. She looks up and smiles.

As we approach one another I have an internal panic attack realizing I could have spent a part of the past fifteen minutes figuring out whether I should hug her or shake her hand. We figure it out together.

We land on coffee nearby. It felt like a fall evening ten minutes earlier but now it’s a summer night. I ask for the coldest coffee they have, and she gets the same but with honey. The conversation initially is marginally interrogatory but manages to fall into a flow of sorts. She’s quirky in the best way. Self-deprecating but confident, goofy but passionate, witty but also says stupid things (the latter we have in common).

It’s going well! After coffee and ten thousand frosh from the nearby university have gone by (with their wristbands and shirts marinated in cologne) we decide to go for a walk. She tells me she has something she wants me to see downtown. I’m curious, if not a little apprehensive. We chat idly for a few minutes heading downtown until she stops and says, “Here look!”

And there’s a piano on the sidewalk.

Turns out Waterloo is part of the “Happy Making Pianos” project, placing pianos all over downtown for anyone to play. This is convenient because I studied music in school. I’m no Elton John but I’ve played piano for a long time. And while we talked about school, I am quite certain I didn’t tell her about piano over Tinder, specifically (and semi-childishly) in case this exact scenario were to arise. (LOOK A WILD PIANO AH I WISH SOMEONE KNEW HOW TO PLAY OH SURPRIIIIIIISE).

We spend the next hour and a half finding pianos and playing songs together, (plus one appalling guest appearance from a handsome though entirely tone deaf 20-year-old who stormed our date with the confidence only 5 pints of Canadian and the praise of an equally tone-deaf ex-girlfriend can muster). I played any song I (or she) could think of and I like to think it went well. After exhausting every song ever, we ended up laying by the river on a deck of sorts looking up at the night sky. How romantic.

I live in Toronto and Sylvie in Waterloo. My parents live in Waterloo so I’m there semi-frequently, but with no serious plans for moving back anytime soon and Sylvie building a career in Waterloo, chances of a shared yellow nursery look slim. But for my first foray into the online dating world, Sylvie was very gentle. She made me feel like it’s totally possible to find someone really wonderful through this scary new means. I’m sure I’ll end up on many awkward dates, (and perhaps a few really really terrible mouth-breathing, cat-hating, deodorant abstainers will slip through the initial screening) but ultimately Sylvie kinda gave me hope.

So if you’re reading this, thanks. You certainly set a high bar, and I at least owe you a drink. Thursday?

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