One good thing you gain from making friends with hotel or restaurant staff is ready and first hand access to important information. I limit my inquiries to events and promos. But there was that one time when I couldn’t help ask for more than these.
That was when on the grounds of a hotel, I came upon a foreigner, looking without seeing the ongoing renovations taking place. He was chain-smoking while at it. It was his chain-smoking that caught my interest. Inside the restaurant, I learned there was a wedding reception scheduled later in the day and that the chainsmoker was the groom.
Throughout the morning, I took notice of the groom’s going in and out of the restaurant. Wedding day jitters. I kind of pity him. How many sticks had he burned? Wasn’t the groom always the carefully controlled one? It was refreshing to see it’s the man getting nervous-er and nervous-er by the hour.
Finally, the bride and her entourage arrived only to disappear as quickly into their room. The groom was in the foyer already dressed. He smoked, like, five sticks in five minutes! The absence of his family and friends was conspicuous something the staff observed without kindness. What if, one opined, he’s already married and keeping the information from her? From another: Filipinos cannot wed without the presence of family. From still another: Foreigners!
Soon afterward, the bride in her full wedding regalia entered. She was closely assisted by her maid of honor. A beautiful transgender. I blinked. The men stared. Out reaction reminded me of how the world, or should I say, rather, media took to Pippa Middleton’s bottoms during her sister Catherine’s wedding to Prince William. The men’s stares were broken only when the bride and groom moved in their lines of vision to pause from across the space, glanced at each other, and smiled. One feels the romance even from a distance.
And then a flurry of silken skirts. High pitched chatter. Trail of smoke, perfume, and nervous laughter. Bodies piling into the waiting vehicles. Off to church. Even as mere observers, we felt the exhaustion from the activity.
I pried off some information from the head staff. I learned that the bride is a native, from my father’s hometown. I wondered if she’s a relative? Everybody’s a relative there (you only need to announce yourself as having roots there and being related to this and that family, dropping their names, and soon, depending on who you’ve name dropped, a feast is laid out on your honor and everybody’s chanting, relative! relative!). The groom is European. A marine biologist working in Bangkok. She is a nurse there. Their “meeting” though happened in virtual space: Tinder. I found myself mouthing wowww.
Do you believe in that stuff? I asked the head staff. I presumed that being gay he trolls the Net’s dating sites. I was wrong. Not really, he said, what if despite precautions I end up with a murderer? I nodded vigorously (although my researcher instinct tells me the probability of matching up with a murderer is even for both online and face-to-face encounters).
The first and last time the Tinder site came up in conversation was in a former workplace. There, my department shared space with another. We were two females- myself and an assistant. The other department was staffed with two males- one straight and his assistant who’s gay.
Let’s call the gay assistant, Phoebe. Well, Phoebe brought up the topic, asking if we knew about Tinder. The other two didn’t. I said I did. Phoebe, fresh out of college, looked at me with alarm. I could practically hear his mind: don’t tell me you’re using Tinder?! I assured him it was just from reading about it.
Phoebe recounted that he and his gay friends make use of the site but haven’t ventured into actually meeting their match partners. How come? I asked, isn’t that what it’s about? Eventually you have to meet up? Yes, he said, but it’s scary. What if? Those words again.
Two individuals I know are stopped from fully utilizing Tinder because their fear of the unknown is greater than their need, sense of adventure, curiousity, or whatever. What if I make a mistake? is the most scary (and unforgivable) of all ‘unknowns’. On the other hand, for the couple whose wedding preparations I’ve witnessed, their happy pursuit of what if turned out into a happy ending for both. For them, Tinder served as a helpful medium to scale otherwise insurmountable physical, social and cultural boundaries. I’ve heard of one more successful Tinder encounter, a friend of a friend, which also ended in what is now a happy marriage.
Today the search for the one is literally at one’s fingertips. Such is the power of technology. You’d think the entire world had already registered to the service. But it hasn’t happened. There are reservations keeping people back. For Tinder to appeal more to half-believers it has to study what in their current services needs upgrading in order to minimize or dispel user fears. Otherwise, can it be safely said that Tinder and like-services appeal only to people with certain dispositions?