For a Labor supporter, *Neil sure wanted “Jobs & Growth” in the bedroom.
He didn’t get my vote.
A few years ago I went to Sydney for a work conference. I was in one of my existential funks, so the trip couldn’t have come at a better time – I desperately needed a shake-up. I was also feeling very frisky. What’s a solo girl with a hotel room to do, but catch up with old friends… and meet new ones. My horny rationale was deluded, but determined: Ima snap myself back into gear by downloading Tinder! TLDR; I didn’t gain any clarity re. life purpose whatsoever, I just experienced the weirdest dating phenomenon out. Negging.
Post-conference, I created Baby’s First Tinder Profile. My by-line was “I’m just here to ruin your life.” Fighting fire with fire there, Hanson. After a few international student left-swipes, I matched with *Neil. He looked ok, if a bit beige. He worked for a union, most photos had him doing Young Labor stuff, but the snap with Albo was cute. If anything, I could use him as a professional network, right? We flirted, he called me, and we agreed to get a drink that night.
Before the date I met up with my girlfriend Jenny, and over margaritas at El Loco we discussed life’s big questions. Miss Sun embodies her surname; she’s a ray of pure brilliance that warms my jaded, cynical heart. Her intelligence, tolerance and philosophical depth is astounding. The only subject on which I trump her is my unabashed hedonism. Upon lurking Neil’s profile together, she was somewhat sceptical about my selection. I should have listened… but do I ever?
Full of tacos, tequila and temptation, I met Neil outside a bar near Wynyard station. Before I’d even gotten out of the Uber I spotted him. Superficially, I was very disappointed. He looked awkward, in an ill-fitting dress shirt, baggy suit pants and potentially orthopedic dress shoes. I chastised myself: Don’t be judgy Em, give it a go. I checked my prejudice. Ugh, but it was 10pm, and for God’s sake he was wearing a high school back-pack, gripping the straps like he was about to jump out of a plane. No, stop it, be nice. Ok fine, Mum.
His first words to me were “By the way, I’m not drinking.” Oh, okay. He had literally asked me out for a drink, but sure. False start. Getting up to buy myself a wine, he commenced a whining diatribe:
“You think I’m lame don’t you. Now I feel like I should drink. I don’t know, it’s just I’ve been binging so much lately. I’m at Alcoholics Anonymous levels. This is awkward, I’m so conflicted.”
“Dude, I literally don’t care. But I for one am several margaritas deep, so am I getting you a wine or what?”
… I got him a Pepsi Max. For self-preservation, ultimately.
With our drink orders finally established, Neil proceeded to talk at me. I heard about his undergrad degree, his eating disorder, his PhD progress. I learned about his sister, his mother, his time teaching out in the desert, and his issues with the education system. He ranted angrily about his terrible date the night before. I could almost guarantee he was the reason the previous date was unsuccessful. I said a silent, thankful prayer to red wine and dim lighting.
I went back to the bar for a refill, and a breather. The staff had noticed my discomfort, and poured me a tequila shot on the house. With a stiff upper lip, I returned for a “nice to meet you, but I’ve got to head off” wind-down. Sensing my intent to retreat, he fired a question at me: “So anyway, what’s your story?” Sigh.
My story was that I was tired and a bit pissed. I was ready for crisp hotel sheets and the Food Network. Ready to text Jenny admitting that she was right in her suspicions. I ran through my standard back-story: upbringing, education, employment. I was expecting a standard response. What I got was a dressing down:
“So you’re just wasting all your potential, then. And you’re fine with that? You know you could do more for yourself, and you’re not even trying. That’s such a cop out.”
I wasn’t sure when Neil had turned from bad date to guidance counsellor, but I was taken aback. Who did this Billabong backpack wanker think he was? Surely he was about to claim orthopedic foot-in-mouth syndrome. Nope, rather than apologise, his face lit up. He grabbed my hand in his sweaty paw, and looked me dead in the eye. Holding my furious, confused gaze he smirked:
“Yes, look how fired up you are. You independent bitches love to be told where you’re going wrong. Should we go back to my place? I’ll spank you like the naughty girl you are.”
Sorry, what? Was this happening? I was speechless, unable to fathom that this batshit bulimic dweeb thought there was even a snowball’s chance I would be down. I basically barrel-rolled out of the bar and jumped straight into a cab, high-tailing it back to the Intercontinental. The entire drive I thought one thing: Fucking Tinder.
Back in Perth, Neil didn’t let up. All that cold-calling and door-knocking for the Labor Party had really honed his persistence skill-set. I blocked him on all platforms, and he still found ways to contact me. One day I snapped. Our last communication was a very public rebuttal from me via Instagram. Take your vox-pops and shove it, Neil.
Maybe I should blame my own political preference. I stupidly thought that Neil wouldn’t act like a Troy Buswell, just because he was left-wing. But really, who could have predicted such a foul human? I for one tend to #HOPE for the best in people.
It turns out chair-sniffers and bra-snappers are found across all factions of politics.
And when it comes to Neil Strauss’ fun concept of negging… VOTE NO.