She keeps telling me how she can't wait to take a ride on my motorcycle, a reference to one of my Tinder photos, in which I am straddling a Triumph, one I admittedly put up to look cooler than I am.
When I confess to Meg that the bike isn't mine and that the photo was taken during the first and only time I'd ridden one, she doesn't seem to hear me.
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Our conversation is effortless and flirty, and we don't realize we're the last ones in the restaurant until the waiter politely tells us they're trying to close.
Still, as the evening progresses, I can't shake the disquieting impression that Meg isn't interested in me so much as whatever fantasy she's concocted based on my Tinder profile.
"She looks like fun," I think, and so I press my thumb onto the screen and swipe her to the right, a gesture that passes for flirtation here in the peculiar world of Tinder, the mobile app responsible for "introducing" us.
With that, the word liked flares up in green, a virtual stamp denoting my interest, and Michelle vanishes into the digitized ether as quickly as she first appeared. I contemplate this for about a second, then forget Michelle entirely, distracted now by Christine, the 36-year-old in a sequined evening gown who has taken Michelle's place. Certainly more age-appropriate, but she is 28 miles away and, more to the point, doesn't inspire the sort of fun thoughts Michelle did.
I swipe Christine to the left, watching the flash across the screen in glib orange lettering.
Nope, nope, liked, nope, liked, liked, nope: This is what romance looks like on Tinder, the fastest-growing mobile dating service in the nation, and either the most superficial one to be invented or the one most honest about the primal instincts that have been drawing strangers to each other since the beginning of time.
I give her my number, and soon enough-stranger are an entertaining diversion.
As it gets later, however, Lori's messages take a blunt turn.
The effect is that instead of feeling like another lovelorn castaway handing the reins of your heart over to the algorithm of, say, Match.com, you have the sense that you're merely putting a minor addition to the same social network you already share with a billion people. " So reads the message that appears on my phone the next morning. There's Michelle, as well as -year-old Ashley, and Lori, a 22-year-old whom I felt vaguely creepy for liking in the first place.