Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: February 2015

Wild and Crazy Dating Stories

tinder

Conversation with my friend Craig, who I met in the street.

“Hey, Neil. How’s the online dating life?”

“It’s good. I’ve met some interesting women.”

“It must be wild. I’ve been reading the articles in the New York Times about all the crazy hookups on Tinder and sex with strangers?”

“That’s the media blowing things up to write salacious articles. They love to appeal to our fears about the internet.”

“I think it’s real. Did you see that video of the 89 year grandfather who fooled all these young women on Tinder? Their reactions will shock you!”

“That’s fake shit. A perfect example of the media using “hot topics” to get hits. I should know, I just wrote something titled “4 Lessons from My Month on Tinder,” which received more feedback than any post that I’ve written on my own personal blog this year. But the truth is, most people on these dating sites are just normal people looking for love.”

“Ha ha, yeah… you mean normal, single people wanting to bring their sexy back… with strangers! Come on, Neil, surely you must have encountered something wild so far?”

“Well, yesterday, I did get a Tinder offer to join a couple in a threesome.”

“Now, that’s more like it! What did you say?”

“I swiped no. I can barely handle one women. Who wants to also deal with her stupid husband?”

I thought when you said threesome, you meant two women.”

“No. It was a married couple. So far, no offers for threesomes with two women.”

“Anything else really wild and crazy?”

“Well, there was one woman who said that before we met for coffee she wanted to Skype.”

“Ooh, for sex talk?”

“No, quite the opposite. She gave me a third degree straight out of “Law and Order” – “Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you use drugs? Do you ever play cards for money?” I started laughing, thinking she was joking, cleverly being ironic, but she wasn’t.”

“I asked you for a story that was wild and sexy, not crazy and sad.”

“Well, how about this – I found this interesting.  As I am swiping on Tinder – yes, no, yes, no – I come across a transgender person.”

“How did you know?”

“She said in the text under the photo. I am transgender.”

“OK.”

“And I know transgender issues are big now, with that terrific TV show, Transparent. And you know how I am all for LGBT rights, but when I actually encountered a transgender person on a dating site, it made me stop in my tracks. I felt a little hypocritical, because there was no way I was going to swipe right and say yes, no matter what she looked like. I’m just not ready for it on a personal level. I believe in it for society, but I’m not sure I am ready to overcome my own internal bias over what is “male” and what is “female.” I’m not sure I am ready to date someone who is transgender. I thought about writing about this in a blog post.”

“No way. Don’t write that blog post.”

“Why not?”

“Because it sounds like you are anti-transgender.”

“I’m not anti-transgender. I’m just being honest about confronting my own bias. Maybe in ten years I will be able to date a transgender person, but not now.”

“Don’t write the post. You still sound like you hate transgender people.”

“I don’t hate transgender people!”

“So, are you saying that if Bruce Jenner publicly says, I am a woman, operation and all, you still wouldn’t date him?”

“I wouldn’t date Bruce Jenner.”

“The Olympic champion? Someone who has been on the front of Wheaties?”

“I’m not interested in Bruce Jenner.”

“It’s almost un-American.”

“You would date Bruce Jenner?”

“Bruce Jenner – sure. If he is fully a woman. I mean, when I was growing up, there were two posters hanging in my bedroom — Farrah Fawcett Majors and Bruce Jenner. Enough said.”

“Anyway, online dating is interesting because it make you confront your own stereotypes, stuff that we are always so progressive about online but never have to actually confront. Do I like blonds or brunettes? Is she too fat or too skinny? Will I date a woman with three children? A black woman? An Arab woman?”

“You sound very judgmental.”

“I’m probably more open than a lot other people. One woman said she doesn’t date men outside of Manhattan, as if Queens is in another country!”

“So are there any definite NOs for you — other than transgender people? What about dating someone gay?”

“Why would I date someone gay?”

“I always thought you were bisexual.”

“Why would you think that? I’m not bisexual. I’m straight.”

“You’re always talking about Broadway musicals with your friend Danny. I thought you guys had something going on.”

“Danny is straight. He is married with two children. Just because we talk about Broadway musicals doesn’t mean that we are gay. That stereotype is so old.”

“Ok, I get it. The secret is safe with me.”

“But that reminds me of one funny story about gays on Tinder.”

“Ooh! Finally. As a supposed “humor” writer, you rarely tell any funny stories.”

“I told you about that article I wrote for that online magazine titled “4 Lessons From My Month on Tinder.”

“Yes.”

“After I handed it in, the editor asked me to take a photo of someone swiping Tinder on a screen. I said sure, always up for a photographic challenge. So I took a photo of my own hand swiping the screen of my tablet. She said she liked the photo, but since her readership was mostly female, it would be better if the hand was a feminine one, and not one covered with strands of dark hair, inherited from my Eastern European grandparents. So, I went back to my photography studio (AKA the kitchen table), held my hand at a certain angle, and adjusted the lighting so my hand would appear more “lady-like.” I then went into the Tinder app and temporarily changed my preference from men looking for women to men looking for men. I wanted to create a photo of a woman swiping YES to a hunky man.  The photo came out perfectly, but in my zeal for the perfect shot, I accidentally swiped too far, so said YES to this man looking for love. I switched my preferences back to “looking for women,” but all day I was worried about this mysterious NYC gay man. What if he swipes yes back to me? What would I tell him? Would I have to apologize and say that I am not gay and swiped on him by accident? Would he believe me? Would he think I am trying to not hurt his feelings? Would he be disappointed if he found me very attractive and here I was – crushing his dreams? Luckily, and also rather sadly, I never heard from him, so apparently he didn’t feel the same way about me that I accidentally felt about him. Even though I am not gay, it stung to be rejected. I thought about writing about this in a blog post.”

“No. Don’t write about this either. Maybe you should just stay off your blog for awhile.”

16th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade

It was the Year of the Sheep (or Goat) – it was unclear to me – at the 16th Annual NYC Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival.  All I know is that, according to Chinese astrology, people born under the sign love creativity, so it was something to celebrate, even if everyone watching the parade had to stand in cold and dirty slush from yesterday’s snowstorm.    But what colors!

Lower East Side Tenement Museum Snapshot Event

It was a once a year event — cameras were allowed inside the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

From the Tenement Museum website: “We tell the stories of 97 Orchard Street. Built on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1863, this tenement apartment building was home to nearly 7000 working class immigrants.”

As the docent guided us through the building, the other participants were fascinated by how much has changed in the hundred years since my own grandmother lived on the Lower East Side, working in the garment industry.   There  have been breakthroughs in technology, advances in sanitation, and regulations that better protect conditions at work and home.

But as we heard stories about those who lived here, a past generation’s hopes for success, love, and health, I thought about my own life, still living in a small New York City apartment, dealing with making money and work, and using an electronic dating app like Tinder as a modern-day Yentl the Matchmaker.

I understood that most basic human needs are still the same.

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