Tinder Stories #3 – The Red Boots

I always used to think I had the whole Tinder-game completely figured out.

I felt like there were a set of rules you had to abide by in order to only have fun and never get hurt, and that I was abiding by those rules in a perfect way.

Examples of rules:

1) Understand that no Tinder-chat, no matter how deep and intimate it may get, actually
matters in any significant way whatsoever. It is only when you meet the person IRL that anything matters. Online acquaintances are only zeroes and ones. Binary. They may disappear as easy as they show up.

2) Understand that every person you meet will be completely different IRL from how you think they are going to be. Always. So you might as well try to get to that first date as soon as possible.

3) Tinder is supposed to be fun.

4) In the Tinderdized society of modern dating, no date is ever as interesting as the
yet-to-be-discovered thousands of potential dates still waiting in your phone. So don’t
take it personally if someone suddenly just disappears from your radar.

5) Keep the first date short – this will dramatically increase your chances to get a second
one later.

I thought I had figured out a way of dating that would allow me to always have fun and never be hurt. But then I met the girl with the red boots, and everything changed.

Chapter one

Our story commenced much in the way so many stories had commenced before.
She was coming over to my house for dinner. What was kind of interesting this time, however, was that prior to this date I had actually broken one of my own first rules of the Tinder-game. Instead of going directly from chatting to meeting IRL, we had actually talked once on FaceTime.

It had been her idea, not mine.

She thought that a short FaceTime-session would get rid of potential uncertainties that we might have before meeting IRL, thus rendering the actual first date more agreeable. During the FaceTime-session she was holed up in her summer vacation home, I was chilling in my kitchen. We spent a lot of time discussing our mutual love for jazz, which is why I was in the middle of playing the classic Blue in green album as the doorbell rang and our first face-to-face meeting took place.

My first impression: She’s so tall!

My second impression: She’s so confident!

This was during the height of the pandemic, and although technically speaking you were still able to travel by bus and by metro in Stockholm, she had decided that she was instead going to avoid contamination by walking everywhere.

Seriously, everywhere.

She walked to work each morning (40 minutes).

She walked to her gym every night (15 minutes).

And now she had walked through a snow-covered city, far out into the suburbs, for a dinner with a ski bum she had never met (2 hours).

I gazed at her in awe as she unlaced her dark-red boots, the color of love, blood and broken hearts. After a quick embrace she strided confidently into my kitchen, Legolas-like, where I was in the process of preparing a simple three-course meal consisting of mushroom dumplings, braised chicken and a chocolate pie.

After what must have been hours, but felt like minutes, we found ourselves on my couch. Hips touching. I remember that she took my hand, and the look in her eyes. Then the second embrace of that night, much longer and harder than the first.

– I have to go, she said, not sadly.

I followed her to the train station, even rode with her for a couple of stops. She never let go of my hand.

Chapter two

I’ll say it again. She had a passion for walking everywhere.

What is crazy about Stockholm in the winter is that it can get quite snowy, and when it does, the sidewalks just tend to be kind of forgotten by the plowers who are working to keep the roads clear and driveable. So quite often when we met up for drinks or coffee, I would see her from far away, walking right in the middle of the street amongst the cars. Long strides in her blood-red boots.

We were of the same age, but whereas I was just a ski bum with a passion for the restaurant industry (our meeting happened during one of my 8-week-interseason-breaks home from Chamonix) she was already highly educated and had this serious job working in finance.
One night, a few weeks after our first meeting, she invited me over to her friend’s house. They had had dinner, and I entered the party as coffee and post-food-drinks were being served.

– Everyone, this is Monsieur Mec, she announced to her group of well-groomed, well-dressed and generally super well looking friends.
– And Monsieur Mec… This is everyone, she smiled.

As the lights in the kitchen were slowly being turned down lower and lower (and the music turned up higher and higher), I reflected on the company into which I had entered.
Smart, beautiful girl. Intelligent, upper-class friends. And in the middle of it all: Monsieur Mec with his long hair and tales of his life in the mountains. It shames me now to admit – I was impressed by their wealth and culture, and I was flattered and proud over their interest in my oh-so very different life. I was breaking many of my own rules by being so open about myself. About my lack of money and education, about my abundance of freedom and ski-days.

That night we returned to her apartment by foot. Slightly tipsy, not-walking-so-straightly. After freshening up in her bathroom, I found her on the couch, slowly unlacing her blood-red boots. Now, I have never felt like romantic Hollywood-movies actually do a very realistic job of portraying intensely fierce love-scenes. But as I lifted her off the couch and carried her to bed (all 190 centimeters of her – how could she possibly be so light?) it truly felt like we were in a movie.

A very hot movie.

Chapter three 

The reality of the ski bums life: At the end of every interseason, there comes a time when you must return to Chamonix. Fall is over, winter is starting, and the big city life of Stockholm loses all its charm.
By this time I had broken all of my rules regarding Tinder. I was actually beginning to think I had found love. The dating-app had been removed from my phone for a long time (I had deleted it after our fourth date – a first, for me), and in my head I had started dreaming about her first visit to Chamonix, our first ski date.

But as I entered her apartment that night, I immediately understood that something was wrong. She used to always play Frank Sinatra when I arrived – “by far the greatest voice in history”, she said – but this time the apartment was silent.
I found her on the couch, the same spot where so many magical moments had started before. But this time she seemed distant.

– How was your day? she asked me
– Good, thank you. I got a lot of things ticked off my to-do-list, which is always a great
– Ah yes, she replied. Speaking of to-do-lists…
And then she dumped me.

As quickly as we had entered each others lives, our journey ended.

I walked home slowly that night, as she would have. The girl who loved walking. And for every step I took, I thought of her red boots. And how they were no longer a part of my story. I had broken all of my own rules – and as the tears were flowing down my face, I realized that it would from this moment be very painful for me to see blood-red boots.

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