The Bumbler — Part One

I just got out of a relationship. It didn’t end well.

Actually I’m not even sure if I could call it a reltionship.

Let’s just say the dynamics of the whole thing were rather unorthodox

It started off unlike any other relationship I had ever been involved in — on Bumble.

It was doomed to fail.

As a creature of the millennial generation these types of dates should feel normal. But for me at the time, they were still very “to catch a predator”ish.

How it started — I flew into a Midwestern city a week before my sister’s wedding to help her “set up.” This was not my choice, but my dear mother insisted that she, my dad, and I be there just in case anything should arise that we could help with.

I spent most of the week watching house hunters — not my choice at first, but after a week, I am a fan — and chopped — same situation. My role as a pre-wedding “helper” was utilized to the fullest extent.

I bumbled occasionally, but never spent hours mindlessly judging the 20-somethings in a 30-mile radius of my location, like some of my peers did. Apparently the more you use the app, the more you have “success.”

Nancy — my mother — dragged Jer-bear — my father — and I to scout out the outdoor wedding reception venue, which surely needed our help with preparation.

As the event coordinator was showing Jer-bear and Nancy around the venue and undoubtedly fielding a host of catastrophic what-if questions from Nancy, I decided to step outside and see what the world of Bumble had to offer.

Swipe Left.

Swipe left.

Swipe Left.

“Oh she’s cute.” Swipe right.

Swipe Left.

Swipe Left.

“Oh she is also cute.” Swipe right.


She fit the type of girls I have historically trended toward — tall and blonde.

I’m not a douche I swear. I have just always been slightly more attracted to those types of women. But intelligence is No.1 so if she was blonde and stupid that would be a no go. I was hoping she would message me, so I could find out.

For those individuals unfamiliar with Bumble, a male user of the app and a female user of the app have to like each other to “match.” But the only way a conversation between the two matched individuals can be started is if the female user messages the male user.

I’m not sure if there is a Bumble for the LG part of the LGBTQ community. But there should be. Even though I’m not entirely sure how that would work.

I continued to swipe.

Swipe left.

Swipe right.


It was a faster response than I was used to after a match.

I opened the message to a single word waiting for me — “Cute.”

I thought of my response and proceeded to wait the appropriate amount of time to give the illusion that I was busy and not waiting on the conversation. This type of messaging — be in dating apps or text messaging — is something I refer to as “the game.”

Everyone born after 1986 — or who has talked to someone they are interested in via text — has played the game.

How the game is played — someone initiates a conversation over text; the recipient of the message sees the text, thinks of an answer and waits a certain amount of time. This can range between 10 and 30 minutes or a time equivalent to how long the other party took to respond to your message.

So a very short conversation can take place over hours.

It’s a horrible game. But it is effective.

I waited my standard 10 minutes then responded to my Bumble match. I began to go back to swiping, but


“Interesting,” I thought. I waited another shorter, but still acceptable eight minutes then responded. I proceeded to go back to swiping.



I decided to break the rules of “the game.”

I replied within a minute. And then she replied back.

“What is this madness,” I thought. Two people actually having a conversation without the illusion of being busy??

I checked her age and profile to discern more from this rare “insta replier” and saw that she was 21. Only four year younger than myself.

A question that shook my beliefs in the game’s effectiveness began to resonate — “had the game changed?”

We talked about work and living for a few messages. And then wham, she hit me with “here’s my number.” This was a rare occurrence.

For women on Bumble — in my experience — they don’t do that until a much longer list of in-app messages and awful icebreakers have accrued.

Something was different about this girl or there was no doubt the game had changed.

We started text messaging and going through more of the traditional beginner conversation questions — “where are you from, what do you like to do for fun?”

Then she asked me to send her a picture of myself.

“This person is an overweight man,” I thought.

This did not make me feel comfortable. I began to feel the to catch a predator vibes that had always turned me off to apps like Bumble. But I did it anyway.

I asked for one in return, which she sent. The picture was of the same girl that I matched with on Bumble. But after seeing catfish, I knew that picture could easily be ripped from the inter webs.

“Please God don’t let this be a middle-aged, overweight man accumulating pictures of ignorant male Bumblers,” I thought.

We continued to banter and then she asked me to join her on a run. — the feeling of a different game or a horny old fat man began to resonate again.

I agreed to the run with the curious Bumble girl. But was still very hesitant.

I had brought workout clothes for the week because I had my own pre-wedding planning — to stop drinking, work out, and get in shape. I also brought an ab-mat and two 50-lb. dumbbells. Because I was certain that I would need a last minute pump for the wedding pictures.

That was a mistake.

I decided to get ready for the run. I put my workout shorts on, jumped into my Lulu lemon running shorts and put on my socks.

Now all I had to do was put on my running shoes.


I managed to pack two 50-lb dumbbells, an ab-mat, and workout clothes, but forgot my workout shoes.


I looked at my other options — a pair of broken-in Sperry’s and cowboy boots.

No. Not happening.

— I wore my cowboy boots to work for a week straight during a summer job as a beer runner, and spent the next two weeks as a beer limper. I only took the boots off after my boss told me my limp had become noticeable. Pride shot. —

It seemed the encounter with the mysterious Bumble girl had been evaded.

I felt a strange sense of relief. “At least now I won’t have to find out if she’s actually a man,” I thought.

I texted her and informed her of my shoe debacle. She seemed unfazed.

“Ask your sister’s fiance if he has shoes,” she replied.

Hm. A valid response for a girl who wants to meet up. Or a desperate response of a black-market predator who wants my organs.

I asked my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Travis, if he had a pair of shoes he thought I could borrow. Travis is about 6’1”, so there was a chance that his shoe size would be close to mine.

He confirmed that he did have an extra pair of shoes and he handed me a nice, spacious pair of size 9 shoes. I wear size 13. I could instantly feel the future pain my feet would feel as he handed them to me.

I informed the bumble girl of the next development in my running shoe saga. She again seemed unfazed. And I again felt a sense of relief, because I wouldn’t have to be potentially catfished.

I sat down and turned on house hunters while I contemplated the decision.

“I am leaving now,” she texted.


I need to make a decision.

To run, hurt my feet, and potentially be murdered or to sit down, continue my mundane week of pre-wedding preparation, and wonder what if.

And although I wanted to see if the two brothers of house hunters got the victorian sun deck finished in time for the Johnsons sooooo bad, I decided to go on the run.

Can’t have those what ifs in your life.

“I am leaving in 10,” I responded.

I was not leaving in 10.

I had to redress, shave and shower.

I grabbed the pair of shoes that screamed “YOU WILL REGRET THIS” and wedged them onto my feet.

Mmm snug.

I took a few steps and now knew for sure this was going to hurt. Every step I took felt like my foot had been vacuum sealed in those cute little tennis shoes for babies you see at the mall. They lose their appeal when you are wearing them.

I set out on the run without stretching.

This was a big deal.

I pulled my hamstring in high school from running without stretching. It was a pull located on the upper end of my hamstring toward by glute — ass.

It required months of physical therapy, including a daily ultrasound massage on the affected area.

My butt cheek was massaged daily.

Yes, sounds nice, but the physical therapy clinic I went to for treatment seemed to treat mainly high school athletes and the room I received my “treatment” in was not private. 

Alll the ladies got to see my beautiful behind.

I have been determined not to repeat that.

Five minutes into my run, my feet were feeling fine for the situation they were in.

“I’m here,” she texted.

“I’m almost there,” I responded.

I was not close.

I whipped out my smartphone and asked Google Maps to deliver me to my destination with haste. I was not familiar with the city, And the areas I was running through were not the nicest.

The murder-catfish scenario seemed to become more likely.

I started running faster. I could feel the squeeze of my baby shoes begin to tighten as my feet swelled from running.

I arrived 25 minutes later.

“I’m here,” I texted.

She said she would be on the corner across the street from Whole Foods. I began to feel the usual pre-date butterlies and was excited.

Or was this the feeling your body gets when your kidneys are about to be stolen?

I saw her before she saw me. She was not a man. And she looked like her pictures.

🙌 Praise Jesus 🙌

She was taller than I thought and had blonde hair. She was wearing running tights and a long sleeve shirt with large headphones.

“Looks warm,” I thought.

I’ve never understood why people workout in earphones like that. It is essentially working out with ear muffs on.

It was May.

She turned around and saw me across the street.

She didn’t move. So I crossed the street and met her.

She seemed nervous as well. Not “oh my god, I’m so anxious” nervous. It was a “nervous to meet this person for the first time” nervous.

My feet were pounding. But I was able to disguise the pain and act as though everything was normal. We began walking.

“What is that?” she said.

I was chewing on an invisalign gummy, which essentially is a piece of rubber you bite on to make an invisalign retainer fit better.

I informed her of what it was.

“Whew, alright I thought it was an eraser. That would have been bad,” she responded.

I am a big teeth person. I mean teeth are ma jam.

TRUE STORY — My gma’s dog ate my retainer about eight months before this and I was certain that my teeth were shifting. So I got invisalign.

Necessary? You may not think so. But, like I said, I love da teeth.

She had nice teeth. So that was good.

We continued to walk. I was still feeling the inital-meeting butterflies, so I was asking her all the questions I had already asked over text in addition to some more awkward ice breakers.

— I hate these types of questions with a fiery passion. They are fake. You know it. The other person knows it. —

But I continued to ask — “What’s your favorite book” and “what’s your favorite movie?”


We ended up at a coffee shop. “Let’s sit outside,” I suggested.

I had my eyes on a metal chair. It was calling to me.

“Soon my feet will feel relief,” I thought.

We sat down.

Sweet Jesus. My dogs were braking.


“You can take your shoes off,” she suggested.

The pain must have been apparent. So much for disguising it.

“Hmmm what a nice offer,” I thought. But I knew that for the sake of any future with this girl and the public safety of the coffee-shop patrons around us, I needed to keep these guys on.

I politely declined and ensured her that it really wasn’t that bad.

But ohhhh it was.

We began talking about school, and work, and interests. And I began to analyze.

She seemed like she wanted to sound intelligent. Which I get because who wants to sound uninformed? But she seemed like she was repeating talking points and opinions spouted to her about certain topics from other people.

I can identify this, because I, too, have done this before. And let’s be honest we all have. But a genuine opinion is always better that another person’s coming out of your mouth.

We continued our rigid conversation. And gabbed about some more rehearsed conversations she had had with others before.

And then

She mentioned she was vegan.

“Oh that’s so cool!” I said.

“Ugh great. She’s one of those. Cue the hippy drums and the marijuana.” I thought.

“So what can you eat?” I said with actual interest.

She gave me one of those “Ha oh peasant, you really don’t know what vegans eat?” kind of looks.

“Have you ever had french fries?” she said.



“Yes, I’ve had french fries, you smart ass.” — I contained this response.

I decided to playfully respond with a chuckle —“Yeah, but like what else?”

She began to list off a variety of different foods. Still delivering them with the pleasant, “you peasant” tone.

Near the end of our conversation, my feet had finally become somewhat used to their cozy baby home.

Then we got up to leave. The pain returned.

It was starting to get dark. I was still trying to figure this girl out.

“I can drive you back to your place now that I know you’re not a fat old man,” she said. Or something to that effect.

I was surprised at the similarity of thought. 

Huh I guess I’m not the only one who worries about getting their organs black marketed via Bumble.

I agreed to her offer.


“Soon I can take these bad boys off,” I thought.

We started up the car and were on our way. The pain was almost enough to drown out the butterflies I was starting to feel.

“Should I offer to kiss her? Should I just go for it? Should I ask her out again?” — all thoughts that passed through my head.

We pulled up in the alley behind my sister’s place and into the driveway.

The moment had approached.

She turned to me and was quiet for a period of time.

“I had a good time tonight,” I said.

I wasn’t really sure if I did have a good time.

“Yeah, me too,” she replied.

“We should do this again,” I said.

— I was only going to be in town for another few days, so if she ended up sucking, at least we wouldn’t be in the same Bumble radius. —

She said yes.

We agreed on another get together and then it was time to leave. The butterflies were pumping at this point.

I decided to go for it.

“How about a kiss?” I prompted.

“How about a hug?” she suggested.

Suhwing and a miss.

The butterflies promptly exited my system.

We got out of the car and hugged goodbye.

I walked back into my sister’s townhome with house hunters on the mind.

When I walked back inside, Nancy was in a flurry of creating wedding favors.

“Where did you go? How was it?”

I told her where we went and how it was.

It was the usual “not-too-detailed” response most children give their parents.

My phone buzzed — a new message from homegirl.

I responded quickly, following the new practices of the new game. I was sure at this point.

The game had changed. 

Then it was time…

Time to free my feet from their baby prison.

I was worried to see the potenital damage my infant-sized shoes had done to my feet.

I unlaced the shoes and the shoe expanded like biscuit dough when it busts out of the container.

Ahh almost there.

I slipped the shoes off.

I noticed a nice shade of red around the toe portion of my socks.

I took the socks off.

It looked like my toes were part of a serious multi-person homicide.

Was it worth it?

I hopped in the shower, tended to the feetsies, and jumped into bed.

The frequent exchange of texts was still continuing.

I turned off the lights and thought about the Bumble girl I met.

I started to drift to sleep in between the waves of pain my murdered toes were feeling.