I Survived a Group Tinder Date With a Middle-Aged Stand-Up Comedian
“Finding the one” is a concept I am utterly fascinated by, but I also find it deeply puzzling. What is it that fuels peoples’ desire to continue trying after so many failed attempts?
For me, this urge doesn’t exist. At a mere 20 years old, with two failed relationships already behind me, I don’t have the slightest inclination to initiate a third. There is actually nothing I want less than to be interviewed for the position of ‘ball and chain’ over a couple of drinks or a painfully awkward meal. In saying that, being the master-observer of the perplexing sport that is dating is something I find incredibly entertaining.
Post-break-up number two, I vowed to never date anyone ever again, or at least not for a really long time. It was this that led me to Bali, where I met Morgan – and subsequently, Geoff.
Usually, I’m good at reading people upon meeting them, but Morgan was different. She threw flames of her intellect, wit, and feminist ideology at full force into any conversation. Sparks of self-deprecation, childhood trauma and pain inflicted by fuckboys (and girls) from her past went flying in every direction, bouncing off the ideas she so confidently presented. She wore ‘GRL PWR’ on her sleeve (literally, she has it tattooed on her inner bicep), which she swung in every direction, almost like a shield throughout conversation. She didn’t appear to yearn to be shacked up, which is why it shocked me when she brought up Geoff.
Geoff, as Morgan explained, was a 30-something-year-old that she’d matched with on Tinder whilst still in New Zealand. Now, here in Bali, she was due to meet up with him. I was surprised that Tinder – an app renowned for enabling sleazy behaviour and spreading STDs and heartbreak – had a place in Morgan’s life, but this wasn’t the only shock I was to receive.
Morgan spoke of Geoff in a way that intrigued me: he was tall with dark features and worked in software. He also had his name legally changed from Geoffrey to Geoff. I imagined a Balinese bootleg version of Orlando Bloom, perhaps with glasses and an early 2000s dress sense. With good knock-offs, you can rarely tell the difference. My sex-deprived imagination, as well as my ‘great’ ability to read people, was severely incorrect.
I instructed Morgan to meet with Geoff before she brought him to our girls’ dinner, as a form of vetting. While I sat patiently, sipping my Coke Zero, I could feel anticipation brewing in my body. This event was as unconventional as it could possibly come. We were in a country that has its own rich culture, yet we were sitting in a Mexican restaurant drinking happy-hour margaritas.
A six-foot-something middle-aged man approached our table and jolted his arm forward. The words, “Hello, I’m Geoff” flew forcefully out of his mouth as Morgan took a silent seat next to me. I looked up to be greeted by a grin resembling mousey-toned fur-babies housed in skinny, pale lips. His age lines embraced his thick black eyebrows, which curved around the corners of his deep-set and tired eyes.
He was not clad in the early 2000s fashion I was anticipating, but instead, a white t-shirt that had fallen victim to a hot wash and black skinny jeans sealed at the ankles with a pair of Doc Martens. He seemed nice enough, but I sensed that something was off. I was intrigued to figure out what.
Geoff’s long and spindly fingers reached for the sleeve of his t-shirt, gathering what little slack was available and lifting it up to reveal his slender bicep, which was home to fresh ink. At first glance, I thought it was an abstract interpretation of an elephant, but on closer inspection I realised it was a botched stick-figure illustration of the iconic The Nightmare Before Christmas scene where Jack and Sally are standing on the curved hill, staring into each other’s eyes.
Geoff held an uncanny resemblance to Jack, I decided. I also decided that the tattoo was a metaphor alluding to what he and Morgan would be doing later that evening.
I sipped my drink as outrageous theories ran through my mind, lips pursed around my metal straw to prevent a fit of laughter escaping. Occasionally I gave Morgan a side glance, to which she responded with a scold as Geoff spoke of what seemed to be his midlife crisis.
He ran us through the reasoning behind his tattoo, why he thought that getting one must be as painful as experiencing a period, explaining why The Nightmare Before Christmas is his favourite film, and why he had retreated to Bali. He was in desperate need of a break from reality, he said, and was seeking an ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ experience.
As an attempt to diffuse the boredom we were all experiencing, he blurted out that he was into stand-up comedy. He shared one of his ‘jokes’ was based on his workplace, where he had made up an elaborate lie that he is unable to produce children to prevent anyone asking him why he isn’t a father already. He laughed, we didn’t.
I subtly turned my glance to meet Morgan again. She had bailed: the first of many times she would perform her vanishing act that evening and the first of many jokes that fell flat. She was outside chain-smoking a packet of Marlboro Golds. As Geoff continued speaking, I thought to myself that he may only end up getting the ‘Eat, Pray’ part tonight.
He lit a cigarette at the table and turned to our friend Becca.
“Which part of the UK are you from then?” he said in an accent that failed to reflect his Kiwi upbringing, but instead, a semester abroad at Hogwarts. Becca replied politely and asked him where his accent originated from. I braced myself for the answer.
“Oh I’m not from the UK; I just like copying people’s accents.”
All of the girls, including myself, gulped simultaneously.
Having had quite enough, I injected myself into the conversation I had been patiently observing.
“I’m getting tired… I’m going to order a car home if anyone else is keen?”
It was as if Geoff was the drunk uncle at Christmas that everyone just wishes would fuck off.
“C’mon you aren’t going home, are you? Next round on me!”
We all politely declined, thanked him for coming, and left.
Unfortunately for Geoff, Morgan had already escaped the restaurant to get fucked up at the local skater hotspot, Pretty Poison, in the hope of curbing her embarrassment. Despite the build-up, there was no romance that night and no sorrowful goodbyes at our villa the next morning.
Geoff went home on his lonesome, probably to apply some after-care to his new tattoo. As expected, I went home entertained.
Cover by Michael Discenza