With the exception of sugary products, if something is too good to be true, you should best avoid it. So when I matched with the gorgeous guy, holding the cute curly dog I really should have asked the hard questions: namely why would I win the Tinder lottery when the only other thing I’d won in my life was a box of chocolate frogs. Alisdair was gorgeous, yummy, cute, sexy, hot and sweet. He was ridiculously desirable at face value, and what is Tinder about if not face value? Anyway he was 44, divorced four years ago and even from across the broadband, I sensed a babe lost in the woods. He worked at something I never found out about because he told me about his work as a part-time swimming coach instead and then sent me various pictures of him in his part-time work uniform. This continued throughout the better part of a day until I suggested that I’d got the general idea: he looked good in very little clothing. At that point he asked me for more pictures of me. He didn’t ask me in a sleazy way but in a way that suggested he thought this was what you were supposed to do. His conversational manner was odd, like he had been kidnapped and was sitting in an interrogation room being forced to play Tinder while a panel of people in lab coats took notes.
Day 2 brought another request for a photograph. I told him I did not send pictures to men I had never met. In fact I did not send pictures.
I was the girl in the photos on Tinder. He apologised. Not like normal, well you know, normal weird guys, apologise.
“I’m crazy,” he said.
Was he really crazy, I wondered. Mad. Maybe the people who’d kidnapped him and made him play Tinder had brainwashed him. Maybe they had given him the cute dog to pose with and it was all part of a plan. He was a pretty plant and the CIA were probably involved. How else to explain this bundle of anomalies? I mean Tinder is full of weirdoes but they’re real life weirdoes: bald, ugly, monosyllabic, lycra clad, guys who want to come on your face… you know normal weirdoes
We actually made a meeting. Not a real meeting but a tentative one. It took some doing, since he was pushing for a post 11pm Tuesday night hangout.
“That’s a hookup,” I said. “I told you I didn’t like hookups. They make me feel like a prostitute.”
He was taken aback. “Why is that? I don’t understand,” he said. “You don’t understand the difference between a hookup and a date?”
“No.” He seemed hurt by this, in the same way that a two year old would be if you stopped them sticking their finger into a plug socket.
“You don’t understand why asking me to come to your place at 11pm, having never met me does not make me feel kind of like meat?” Your average Tinderello would get that, but he’d still want to do it.
“No, not really. Ok we won’t then.”
Reader I think he genuinely didn’t. It began to dawn on me that perhaps he was not of this earth. So I asked him.
“Are you an alien?” I typed.
“No, why?” He did not seem disturbed by the question though.
“Well you have a strange way of asking and answering questions. It’s direct but naïve.”
Had he really typed that? I went with it.
“Well perhaps more Aspergers really. Are you?”
“No, not at all.”
So why did he jump in with ‘autistic’ then?
I returned to my kidnapped/CIA theory. It made even more sense. The people who’d kidnapped him were decommissioned spies who’d been reassigned. This task was way too left field for them but somebody had to do it. Charged with giving him a Tinder profile, so they’d probably run something through a computer and this was the best they came up with. For all I knew he was genetically engineered and so was the cute dog. It was compelling. Especially when he told me about his teeth.
“My teeth hurt.”
I felt like we were reprising a scene from Being There.
Was I supposed to help the alien/CIA/Mi6 Tinder plant get his teeth fixed?
“Have you been to the dentist?”
“Yes they are taking them out on Thursday. But I will be alright on Friday.”
Friday was the day we were supposed to meet. On Thursday evening I WhatsApped him. “How are your teeth?”
“They didn’t take them out.”
“I have to go to hospital for it.”
By now I was not so much interested in dating him as I was increasingly coming round to the idea that he might be a robot and things might be a bit mechanical. But weirdly, I was enjoying the conversation.
“So I won’t be able to meet,” he typed. “Because they hurt. My teeth I mean.”
And so off he went. Friday and the weekend passed and on Monday I decided to see how his teeth were.
“They still hurt. A lot.”
“Do you have anything for them?”
“Painkillers and…antibiotics.” The script people had found the right words just in time, but they were clearly struggling as they had been all along. I mean who in their right mind would make up an excuse involving sore teeth and push it into a second week?
The conversation had nowhere to go now. I was disappointed, not in the way I would have been if he were a regular guy who threw me aside because he found something better, but because I was convinced I was on the trail of a Tinder Mystery. If he were real he might have been avoiding me but to this day I am convinced he wasn’t. Those enchanting looks, that adorable dog, the bizarre conversation, the sore teeth that nobody could fix. You couldn’t make it up. Unless you were the government.