After Pennsylvania goes blue for Biden, Rachel receives a Hinge match. It’s from a 6’2”, twenty-seven-year-old Oregonian named Wander. Drunk on hope, Rachel invites him to start the conversation.
They soon get lost in a hypothetical situation: Rachel’s favorite. It leads to Wander saying, I want to be completely honest: I’m an irresponsible bad boy who will pay attention to how you feel.
Rachel reads what she wants to out of this. She’s into it, sort of.
Welcome to a brand new world leadership and a new himbo in your DMs.
After looking up what “himbo” means, Rachel asks Wander if that’s really the identifier he’d choose, adding “lol,” casually.
Hell yeah baby, Wander says. I’m handsome af and dumb af to match. You down?
Rachel tells him she doesn’t think true himbos know the term. There’s no “lol” this time.
Oh ya your right now that I think about it, he replies. I am hot and smart.
Rachel must correct his spelling but holds back.
Wander asks if she’d like to get a drink sometime.
Sure, Rachel replies, appropriately.
Then: Though fair warning, if you’re just looking for a kind stranger with overgrown bangs upon which to drop your emotional baggage, my listening capacity has been limited to carry-on bags only for a first encounter.
She continues. Apologies if that’s slightly too blunt. Just been spending a lot of time telling my awkward jokes to dudes who probably should’ve bought their therapist a well drink.
Rachel adds the emoji of the woman shrugging, not expecting a reply.
Wander does. Dam Rachel have I been dropping mad sad boy vibs? After Rachel says she’s just tired, he writes, Well hopefully your a lover and a fighter.
You’re*—Rachel has to, so she doesn’t combust.
Omg Rachel you’re really trying to just drive me away.
Rachel tenses. She’s suddenly invested in Wander, or rather, she’s nearing twenty-five: the age at which she thought she’d be getting engaged, settling into something more stable than a skin routine.
lol sorry, she quickly sends. Self-sabotaging is one of my less-flattering qualities. Covers the nerves.
Wander thinks that’s pretty adorable. Rachel thinks the word adorable is pretty disgusting. He asks if she’s a good dancer. He keeps typing her name out and it makes her feel like she’s standing in a house with a slanted floor that’s not dangerous but noticeable.
No, she can’t dance.
Well you know what they say. If you can’t dance your properly really good at sex.
Rachel blinks before making a better joke.
Pretty and funny. Let’s meet up this Friday? He knows a bar in Greenpoint that’s equally inconvenient for them both.
At this point, Rachel needs advice. She consults her group chat.
“I can picture you two moving to Willamette Valley to start an organic peach farm, an electric Subaru in the driveway and a catio on the back porch,” Rachel’s Oregonian friend says.
Rachel doesn’t know what most of those words mean but, as her Sensible Friend notes, the only way that scenario ends is in a murder-suicide.
The Oregonian friend sends a photo of some farm hippies. “Your future children, Basil and Hawk. But Wander wants to try for a girl,” she adds. “Lavender.”
“He’s from Eugene,” Rachel replies, checking his app profile. “He went to Southern Oregon.”
“That’s literally a town where people exist just to eat tofu scrambles and watch live theatre and wear tiaras in public without it being weird.”
This is Rachel’s worst nightmare.
Still, “Should I meet him?” Rachel asks. “I sort of want to see if his middle name is, like, Bob. It’s good material.”
Sensible Friend sends the rolling eye emoji to remind Rachel relationships are more than fodder for her writing. Ignoring this, Rachel privately consults her Emotionally Intelligent Friend: the last of her three wise women.
“A boy named Wander wants our first date to be on Friday the 13th,” Rachel tells her.
“Have you checked his Instagram?” Emotionally Intelligent Friend asks.
Rachel has, the way she does of anyone who dares to put their full name in a dating app profile. “It’s a very mediocre photography page.”
“Did you check the tagged photos?”
Rachel scrolls. “He’s into improv,” she says. “And he looks like he’s still in middle school.”
“Kind of,” the friend replies, which isn’t really a judgment, but also is.
That’s sort of a long commute, Rachel tells Wander, hoping he’ll take the hint.
But Wander says he can do Manhattan. Whitch bar do you want to go to? he asks, to which Rachel cannot bring herself to reply.
She hides the conversation from her inbox and wonders if she will ever gain the ability to determine whether or not someone’s attractive or if they’re just wearing glasses. Maybe that will be what arrives alongside twenty-five.
Rachel A.G. Gilman‘s work has been published throughout the US, UK, and Australia. She is the Creator of The Rational Creature, a columnist for No Contact, and was Editor-in-Chief of Columbia Journal. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and she is reading for an MSt from Oxford University.