How narrow was my own existence, I thought then, and how it continued to narrow by the day. But to go on dates with 86 different men is to gain as many windows on the world; it is to see one’s vast city and one’s vast self, if only for a few hours, through the eyes of a stranger one would never otherwise have met.
Take, for instance, Date No. 10, which found me at a Rhode Island pub on a February evening so brutally cold the authorities had advised us all to stay indoors. James was a boat builder, blonde and slight. We drank the espresso martinis he had ordered and argued about welfare; we talked of fathers. Later we decamped to his apartment, a flimsy, spartan place that nevertheless held the most exquisite furniture, tables he had inlaid with ash and birch and varnished till they gleamed. The heat failed in the middle of the night, and we clung to each other for warmth as his dog, Bruce, a German Shepard, curled and recurled at our feet. As it grew light, he asked me how I took my coffee and I said that I drank tea; he returned some time later with a Styrofoam cup from Dunkin’ Donuts and a dozen red roses he had bought at the gas station. It was, he told me, Valentine’s Day.
Multiply that evening’s curiosities by 86, and you’ll begin to grasp the potential of these soul-crushing apps. Thanks to Hinge and Bumble, I have dated German poets and Indian bankers, Australian contractors and Brazilian waiters. I’ve met United Nations diplomats and my favorite movie star’s ex-husband.