Tag Archives: travel

A Dog Could Eat Your Face (online dating tourism and intellectual labor)

I kind of hate living in an interesting city sometimes. There’s suddenly all this pressure from visiting people to know cool things they would personally be interested in, to be free to hang out. I feel guilty for having a life (or needing to sit quietly in my room, which, let’s be honest, after too much time on the central line, you need some days) when people are in town. But it’s always nice to see them! Even if it’s not for as long as they would like. And these people are generally a-ok with me putting my sanity/well-being first. That’s what makes them friends, not strangers.

But what gets my goat is strangers using online dating profiles to get travel advice, often with the insinuation of a hookup.

What they say, interspersed with some infantilizing “baby” or “sweetheart” type words: Meet me for a beer right now. Show me around town. Recommend a place for dinner. Convince me this city is where I should move. Make London a pleasant experience for me. Entertain me.

attentionWhat they seem to expect in response, sans sarcasm: OH YES HERE LET ME DO SOME FREE LABOR FOR YOU. THIS IS THE SHIT I LIVE FOR. Lord knows, without attention from a man I will wilt like a flower without sun. Please, please, shine the glowing light of your masculinity on me so that I may once again find purpose! And maybe could we make out a little bit? Just to make sure your time in the city is really, truly great and worth telling your buddies about when you get home, so you can high five and bro it out like the goddamn champion you are?! Because that’s all I want for you out of this trip here. #DIFTSBRO

It adds up. Even just the time reading these dumb messages presuming that I would somehow be invested in their experience of London. Let alone all the time it would take to fulfill all these men’s touristy dreams. Often, they’re making these requests in their very first message, not even after exchanging greetings. Conveniently, it does make it very easy to trash their messages.

a club last weekAsking for a date is one thing. There’s a mutual burden of being interesting and a shared hope that it might be fun; however, asking someone to provide what is essentially a service simply because you found them interesting and they had the nerve to exist on the dating site in the city you’re in is absurd. You want to eat/drink/have fun like a local? Read a guide book. Watch Anthony Bourdain. Use Google. Don’t ask me.

Because I really don’t care if you enjoy London. I did not move across the planet to be some North American angel of tourism. I did not set up an OKCupid because I wanted to guide bored men to Borough Market or show them round to pubs I like. I barely have the time/energy/inclination to do that with people I already know.

Stop asking women for their time for your convenience, rather than seeing yourself as having an equal responsibility to entertain them. Got it? Now read that again, with handclaps between every word.

Emotional labor is labor. Intellectual labor is labor. And if there’s none of that being exchanged, that’s called-wait for it-wait for it- TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SOMEONE. And I’m not interested in having someone use my time, my mind, and my own sense of “well I’ll just take 5 minutes to tell you all this to be nice” for their own benefit.

boredI don’t want to list fun places for you to go. I don’t care where you go. You mean nothing to me beyond some words on a screen. Right now, a dog could eat your face, and I’d never know. And guess what? I’m ok with that.

So here’s a better plan than my meeting your only-in-town-for-the-weekend self for a drink: I’ll stay in my pajamas and have another glass of wine while coloring in “a cluster of fucks” by Never Stay Dead and watching 30 Rock. You get a travel app on your phone.

goodbye foreverWe never speak again.

EVERYONE WINS. Unless a dog really did eat your face. In which case, please seek medical attention.

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Basic Instincts (or why I don’t have a ticket to Thailand)

Sometimes you find someone who seems absolutely perfect. He was a total gastronome and travel enthusiast. He had favorite modernist painters and strong feelings about local museums’ art collections. On weekends, he was trying to visit every country in South America.

He started talking about flying me to Paris and Thailand and visiting me in London or San Francisco for grad school.

I’m a firm believer that the gift of travel is one of the most beautiful, intimate things you can give. You’re giving someone new perspective, new tastes, new conversations. You are filling their eyes with new sights and their minds with new ideas. It’s more than a plane ticket; it’s a little piece of the world. I’ve always identified with Sandra Bullock’s character Lucy in While You Were Sleeping. She has this dream of traveling to Florence, the point that she carries her passport everywhere. I love to travel, but most of my experiences have been through working on cruise ships. This guy seemed like a dream come true: someone who loved to travel and whose priorities matched my own while doing so, namely seeing fantastic art and eating beautiful things.

But I had a funny feeling about him. Something just didn’t seem right, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. But even from the very beginning, I remember remarking to my best friend that something about this guy seemed off.

I got sick and had to cancel on him once, which seemed to really piss him off. I’m no fun when I sound like a baby seal and my ears hurt. So I’m really not too sorry for this. It sucked to cancel, and I definitely understand being disappointed, but at least he wasn’t the one whose cough shook the walls.

We had decided to go to the Brooks and then to Bari for dinner. That had been the plan. We were working on rescheduling, even as he bitterly threw guilt trip attempting zingers at me about how I hadn’t really wanted to meet him and would he ever get to see me in person.

Then suddenly the text conversation changed to demanding erotic images.

Here’s the deal. You can ask all you want, but you don’t get to demand anything. Ever. My body is my body, and only the people I want to see it get to see it. I love my body. And sometimes, I let people see it, but it’s only if I want them to do so. It’s an intimate experience of sharing, something that stems out of trust and a mutual desire. I have to want to show you just as much as you want to see, and even then, it’s totally up to me if you get to see anything, and on top of that I get to determine what someone gets to see. And you can be damn thankful for whatever you get, even if it’s just a shot of my face. You want more, there’s a whole internet full of porn for that. I used to run an underground porn club. Trust me. There are plenty of boobs out there to be seen that aren’t mine.

So I told him off, and thankfully he hasn’t texted me back. I’m thankful to whatever germs kept me from meeting up with him in the first place, and I’m glad I’m learning to listen to my instincts.

If someone gives you a weird feeling, don’t walk, RUN. Life is too precious for us to waste time on people who make us feel bad about ourselves and who want to deny us our personal autonomy, and we should never put ourselves in situations with people who make us feel remotely unsafe. We deserve to feel safe and respected at all times, bare minimum. Trust yourself before you trust anyone else, especially a stranger.

In other news, anyone for a friend date to Bari and the Brooks?