Kiss and Tell: “My date wanted me to try cocaine and told me how to dress”
Annika, a 26-year-old fashion director, is usually non-confrontational, but this particular Hinge match put her easy-going nature to the test
Welcome to Kiss and Tell, a new series about the steamy, surprising and frequently absurd world of Toronto dating. Send your most memorable stories from the pursuit of love and lust in the city to [email protected].
—As told to Isabel Slone
When I matched with James on Hinge, I’d been watching a lot of Sex and the City. I was feeling extreme FOMO about the fact that I was not living my best Charlotte-inspired life. Just like Charlotte, I’m a hopeless romantic. I was raised on Disney movies and 2000s rom-coms—it’s in my blood. So, when I came across James’s profile, I was hoping to find a relationship. Maybe not a husband, but a scenario that would last at least a few months.
On Hinge, your profile consists of answers to specific prompts, and I remember his answers being very cheeky. It didn’t seem like he took himself too seriously, which I appreciated. Superficially, I thought he was a handsome “boy next door” type, with cute floppy brown hair, blue eyes and broad shoulders. He looked like he worked out, but not in an over-the-top way.
We talked for about a week before deciding to meet up. I tend to get stuck in the talking phase when using dating apps: I’d recently gone on a few dates where we’d spent three weeks or so exchanging messages and then didn’t have much to say when we met up, so I was trying not to do that again. Usually, if I was asked out after just a week, I would have said no and tried to get to know the guy a bit more. But I was trying to be less Type A. Let’s be bold and see where this goes, I thought.
We planned to meet at Ontario Place and go for a walk. I arrived precisely on time, and at that moment, James texted that he was stuck in traffic and would be 10 minutes late. In this city, that’s pretty understandable, but to be honest, I was a little annoyed; I’m a very punctual person. I tried to let it go, but he kept pushing his ETA back by 10 minutes over and over until he was 45 minutes late. It was extremely hot out that day, and both the heat and my growing anxiety were making me sweaty. Definitely not ideal.
When he finally arrived, I was relieved. If he hadn’t been so communicative, I would’ve thought I was getting stood up. But he had a warm demeanour and instantly put me at ease. He smiled a lot, which, as a naturally smiley person, I found attractive. He was super apologetic for being so late, and the fact that he was even better looking in person than in his photos was a bonus. Plus he’d packed a little picnic for us in his backpack. I love a guy who takes initiative.
We started walking around all the rusty old rides at Ontario Place. Things were going smoothly until about 30 minutes into the date, when he volunteered that he used to be addicted to cocaine. It was incredibly abrupt, almost like word vomit. It threw me for a loop because we weren’t talking about anything remotely related. I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I just told him that drugs aren’t my thing and I’ve never really touched them.
I respected that he was in recovery, but my appreciation quickly evaporated when he tried to convince me of the benefits of cocaine. He couldn’t believe that I’d never tried it and started telling me about how great it makes you feel, how much energy it gives you, how much fun it makes parties. It made me uncomfortable, and I kept reiterating that drugs are not my thing, but that didn’t slow him down. It was like he worked PR for the cocaine industry.
Finally, we started talking about what we both did for work. He told me he was in finance, and I started telling him about my job in the fashion industry. He looked me up and down and asked snidely, “Why did you choose to wear shorts for our date instead of a dress?” It shocked me into silence.
Whenever I’m confronted with such overt grossness or sexism, I tend to shut down: I’m not a confrontational person. On the inside, though, I was fuming. I wish I could have thought of a witty comeback on the spot. Unfortunately, I only ever think of good ones hours too late.
So, instead, I made an attempt to lighten the mood. He wasn’t dressed up by any means, so I said, “Excuse you, sir—I’m not making any comments about your cargo shorts.” But he just said, again, that “most girls wear dresses on dates and you decided not to.” All I could say was, “Yeah, I did.” The whole interaction made it clear that he was looking for someone willing to play a traditional feminine role, something I’m very much not interested in.
By this point, the date was clearly not going well, and I didn’t want to spend more time with him. But Ontario Place is a bit secluded, and I didn’t have an immediate exit strategy. I felt trapped. Maybe it was my WASP-y background, but I didn’t want to seem rude. So I continued on with the walk as if everything were normal, which was the best acting performance of my life.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, don’t get me started on his lack of conversation skills. I’d been asking him questions about his life the entire time, but he literally never asked me anything. I felt like I was interviewing him for ET Canada. At some point, my patience and politeness had run dry, so I asked him, “Do you have any questions for me?” He replied, “I don’t want to force the conversation.” We proceeded to walk in silence for the next 15 minutes.
Looking back on this experience, I have a newfound appreciation for a pre-planned exit strategy. Now, I set up an “emergency phone call” in advance. If the date is going badly, I can text my roommate, who will call and pretend there’s some kind of urgent situation. It can work wonders.
When we finally got back to dry land—and transit—I said my goodbyes and literally hopped on the first streetcar I saw; I don’t think it was even going in the right direction. Once on it, I immediately deleted James from my Hinge matches, blocked his number, called a friend and proceeded to rant about the date for the next hour. My only regret was not pushing the guy into Lake Ontario when I had the chance.