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Xtra, Xtra: The Grindr Chronicles

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I used to have it, and by "have it" I mean "log on to it pretty religiously." Then I deleted it during an "over-it" phase. Then the Paris-Hilton-in-the-'90s in me came out, and I thought, "Why not? I can be casual about it." Those are literally the words I spewed at my friends in defense of my "Grindring." When I deleted it for the second time, I declared it the catalyst for a larger turning point in my life. Post-Grindr, I would be a more confident, assertive, and cultured version of myself. And that worked. Until I downloaded it again.

For those of you who don't know what Grindr is, look it up. A few weeks ago on The View, Barbara Walters felt the need to remind viewers what Planned Parenthood was, and I just wanted to hug her and experience the world she lives in, even if just for a day. I wanted to wear her red-leather trench coat and have Whoopi Goldberg call me "boss." Grindr, unlike Ms. Walters, is a large point of contention in my life. I've downloaded and deleted this app so many times that my carpal-tunnel situation has become enflamed.

I would often announce my opposition to hookup culture when in fact I was avidly engaging in it. I concluded that Grindr ended up making us more loveless. "Oh, so you're a romantic?" someone replied. I'd never been called this, and my impulse was to say, "I'm so not!" and to say it swiftly. But through that conversation I recognized something I didn't even know I felt: I realized I was ready to end my affair with Grindr. I had ordered wheat toast but found myself with white, and I'd long accepted the white, but it was time to get what I'd asked for.

But first I will give Grindr a quick plug: The men are effing hot. A straight friend of mine described Grindr as a meat market, and fine, I'll take it, but we're talking foie gras and caviar, not a Sonic burger (that would be Manhunt). Sure, it has its programming flaws, like the fact that it crashes, oh, I don't know, every time you open the damn thing, or the fact that the location accuracy might be a bit false-modest, but overall, Grindr turns it out when it comes to delivering hunky goodness. But like many a gay glutton, I found that the temptation could become insurmountable. It crescendoed to a point where I would sit at work unable to even pretend like I was being productive. When a co-worker would approach my desk, I would resort to Herculean efforts to knock my phone off my desk. "Whoops!" The co-worker was always onto me, and I knew it, and I knew I should care, but some guy's torso was teasing me, and only "240 feet away." Time for a coffee break.

Hunky goodness is (really) great and all, but the problem for me became the heartbreak. "NSA" means "No Strings Attached," and not the Mila Portman/Ashton Timberlake film but the reality that this encounter will never happen again. There was this one guy I vaguely remember who had just ended a bad relationship. When I opened the door, he was even sexier than his pictures, and I immediately felt that feeling... you know that feeling? I was so glad he was at my door, and that he was about to walk through it, and before I could even finish the thought, he had crossed the threshold, and suddenly we weren't strangers anymore. We had a good vibe (the real test), a good time (the fun part of the test), and then I never heard from him again (so I failed). He said he was looking for something "NSA," but I seemed to be looking for something more Fatal Attraction -- at least that's how I felt when I realized that people don't say "NSA" in an ironic way. I couldn't annihilate my desire to see him again or accept that I'd never know his name.

One guy, Will, fucking Will, two blocks from my apartment, seemed so much like the perfect guy that once I'd arrived at his place, I thought about never leaving again. He was new to town (via Boston), and I, with my penchant for giving directions, thought, "Why not?" After a few sips of Bourbon, he seemed like the kind of guy you'd bring home to your parents and then fuck it up with sometime later, and then forever incur your parents' wrath for letting the one that got away get away. In other words, my trip to Boston was great, but in the end I missed New York.

At any given time of day, the number of actively Grindring men in New York City -- all within walking distance, and all in a stage beyond "ready to pounce" -- is a number so staggering that if I told you, you'd fall over and land on someone Grindring. If you see a gay man texting, he ain't texting. Some like the anonymity. Some like the swiftness. Some deny it. Some regret it. Some can't live without it. Some say I shouldn't speak on behalf of others.

I just deleted Grindr. Literally. I hope to once again find meaning in life without Grindr. The upside whets my appetite. For one, I no longer have to appear distant at dinners when I'm secretly Grindring under the table. I no longer have to choose routes that allow me to walk against the flow of traffic because of my (perhaps completely rational) fear of the general public seeing me on the Grind. I no longer have to maneuver my hand like a friggin' baton twirler in JV semifinals to keep Grindr out of view, out of the judgment zone.

But Grindr did something to me that I'll never be able to undo: It lifted the veil on those actually around me. It dangled before me everyone I could be meeting and the opportunities I could be creating. A personality like mine does not handle something like this well. I want to see them all naked, now, but at the same time I'm desperate for them to find something deeper in me, some kind of value that pushes us past this one night. So now the room is quiet. Here I am, once again, my confident, assertive, cultured, post-Grindr self. Let's see how long this lasts.