Rush hour train from New York City to Connecticut. I am lucky enough to find a comfortable seat on a busy ride. Commuters are carrying their briefcases, their coats, hats, umbrellas, laptops and tablets. Lots of noise cancelling headphones.
I decide to write for a while until I get distracted by a fellow passenger. In front of me, three people share a bench, their elbows and knees touching. In the middle, a man probably reaching his 70s is on his phone, what is left of his white hair carefully arranged. It is not that I am curious, but his phone is held high on plain sight, so I read as I always do.
He is on a dating app, don’t ask me which because that is not a domain I am familiar with. Now he has my full attention.
He goes to see his daily matches. A full list of women come up. I find myself judging along: “this one seems trustworthy,” “too much plastic surgery,” “too young for him.”
He keeps closing profile after profile but he takes a few extra seconds on a few. Then he goes on goggle. Now, he and I are on full stalking mode. I am wondering if his fellow riders, only inches away, are as engaged as I am in this man’s search. The white-hair-man goes back to the dating app and disqualifies a few more women that I thought could be a good match for him. I don’t say anything, obviously.
After a while he closes the app and opens a book. I can’t read from where I am, but it has the word “power” on it.
We both stand up at the same time because we are are getting out at the same train station. From upfront he looks like an ordinary man. He could probably be my dad. He did not look too amicable or grumpy, just a plain man. I can’t avoid thinking that the beauty of dating in this digital age is that people can be as picky as they want without offending anyone. The smartness of it, it’s that an ordinary man can change the destiny of his love life with just one click. The surprising fact is that in a packed commuter train I seem to be the only one who finds a man checking his dating matches in plain sight an anomaly worth of stealing my curiosity.
Good luck, man with white hair and a book about power! I hope you find a match worth of keeping your curiosity alive.