“That’s a lot of metal,” Alex says, and swipes her away too.
Next up, a girl in a green leprechaun hat, grinning in a green tank top, holding up a green beer. She has big boobs and a bigger smile.
“Oh, a nice Irish girl,” I joke.
Alex vanishes that one without comment.
“Hey, what’s wrong with her?” I ask. “She was gorgeous.”
“Not my type,” he says.
“Hokay. Moving on.”
He rejects a rock climber, a Hooters waitress, a painter, and a hip-hop dancer with a body to rival Alex’s own.
“Alex,” I say. “I’m beginning to think the problem lies not with the bio but with the biographer.”
“They’re just not my type,” he says. “And I’m definitely not theirs.”
“How do you know that?”
“Look,” he says. “Here. She’s cute.”
“Oh my god, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
“What?” he says. “You don’t think she’s pretty?”
The strawberry blonde smiles up at me from behind a polished mahogany desk. Her hair is clipped back into a half ponytail and she’s wearing a navy blue blazer. According to her bio, she’s a graphic designer who loves yoga, sunshine, and cupcakes. “Alex,” I say. “She’s Sarah.”
He rears back. “This girl looks nothing like Sarah.”
I snort. “I didn’t say she looks like Sarah”—though she does—“I said she is Sarah.”
“Sarah’s a teacher, not a graphic designer,” Alex says. “She’s taller than this girl and her hair is darker and her favorite dessert is cheesecake, not cupcakes.”
“They dress exactly the same. They smile exactly the same. Why do all guys want girls who look like they’re carved out of soap?”
“What are you talking about?” Alex says.
“I mean, you had no interest in all those cool, sexy girls and then you see this wannabe kindergarten teacher and she’s the first person you even consider. It’s just . . . typical.”
“She’s not a kindergarten teacher,” he says. “What do you have against this girl?”
“Nothing!” I say, but it doesn’t sound like it’s true, even to me. I sound annoyed. I open my mouth, hoping to walk my reaction back a little, but that’s not what happens at all. “It’s not the girl. It’s—it’s guys. You all think you want a sexy, independent hip-hop dancer, but when that person appears in front of you, when she’s a real person, she’s too much and you’re not interested and you’ll go for the cute kindergarten teacher in the turtleneck every time.”
“Why do you keep saying she’s a kindergarten teacher?” Alex cries.
“Because she’s Sarah,” I blurt out.
“I don’t want to date Sarah, okay?” he says. “And also Sarah teaches ninth grade, not kindergarten. And also,” he goes on, picking up steam, “you talk a big game, Poppy, but I guarantee that when you’re on Tinder, you’re swiping right for firefighters and ER surgeons and professional fucking skateboarders, so no, I don’t feel bad for homing in on women who look like they’re probably sweet—and to you, yes, maybe a little bit boring—because it doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that maybe women like you think I’m boring.”
“Fuck that,” I say.
“What?” he says.
“I said, fuck that!” I repeat. “I don’t think you’re boring, so that whole argument fails.”
“We’re friends,” he says. “You wouldn’t swipe right on me.”
“I would too,” I say.
“You would not,” he argues.
And here’s my chance to let it go, but I’m still too fired up, too annoyed to let him think he’s right about this.
“Well, I would for you too,” he retorts, like somehow this is all some sort of argument.
“Don’t say something you don’t mean,” I warn. “I wouldn’t be wearing a blazer or sitting behind a desk, smiling.”
His lips press closed. His jaw muscles bounce as he swallows. “Okay, show me.”
I open my own Tinder app and hand my phone over so he can see the picture. I’m smiling sleepily, dressed like an alien in a silver dress and face paint with aluminum antennae hot-glued to my headband. Halloween, obviously. Or wait, was it Rachel’s X-Files-themed birthday party?
Alex considers the photo seriously, then scrolls down to read my bio. After a minute, he hands my phone back to me and looks me dead in the eye. “I would.”
My whole body tingles with pins and needles. “Oh,” I say, then manage a small “okay.”
“So,” he says, “are you done being mad at me?”
I try to say something, but my tongue feels too heavy. My whole body feels heavy, especially where my hip is touching his. So I just nod.
Thank God for his back spasm, I think. Otherwise I’m not sure what would happen next.
Alex studies me for a few seconds, then reaches for the forgotten laptop. His voice comes out thick. “What do you want to watch?”
Six Summers Ago
ALEX AND I were both pretty strapped for cash when the resort in Vail, Colorado, reached out to offer me a free stay.
At that point, whether the trip would happen was up in the air.
For one thing, when Guillermo broke up with me for a new hostess in his restaurant (a waifish blue-eyed girl almost fresh off the plane from Nebraska)—six weeks after I took the plunge and moved into his apartment—I had to scramble to find a new place to live.