August 26, 2010 by Kat Richter
I’ve just discovered the ultimate gay-dar. It’s called Grinders and it’s an iPhone app. Now you might be wondering why on earth I would care about the “Gay on the Go” iPhone application, being neither gay nor the owner of an iPhone, but I’ve been searching for a reliable gay-dar since I was seventeen. It was then that I wasted an entire summer angling to “accidentally” bump into one of the fine arts students at Pratt Institute.
My summer at Pratt did the trick in terms of my career (yesterday’s horror story at Temple University notwithstanding). I woke up one morning and said, “Mom, Dad, I want to go to arts school and become a fashion designer.” They said something along the lines of, “No honey, trust us on this one, you don’t.” To which I responded, “I had the best gown at the homeschool prom three years in a row [Note: this was no easy feat; we had a rather well attended homeschool prom]! That gun metal silver renaissance gown I made? Sheer genius! And the origami-inspired pleats on the skirt I wore my junior year? Brilliant! This year, I’m planning this amazing—”
It was at this point that my father gave my mother one of those, “She’s your daughter” looks and my mom found a pre-college program at Pratt. For four weeks, I spent two hours on the train each morning and two hours again in the evening, covered in charcoal and sketching NJ Transit patrons for my homework assignments. I learned how to wield my portfolio like a weapon that summer. I also learned, thanks to my life drawing class, what a penis piercing looks like. Additionally, I got the whole “I want to go to art school” thing out of my system.
After approximately six minutes in the fashion department, I came to the conclusion that I did not want to be a fashion designer. I spent the rest of the summer hanging out with the creative writing students (what a surprise) and a very lovely boy from the fine arts program who, for whatever reason, always tagged along.
Given this boy’s self-proclaimed “passion” for all things Jane Austen, I assumed that I was the reason he always joined us for lunch. Near the end of the summer, he spent one morning carrying a red rose from one class to the next and I couldn’t wait till our lunch break because I knew—I just knew—that the rose was destined for me. But it wasn’t. It was destined for one of the creative writing students. One of the male creative writing students.
And this is why I am very interested in the Gay-on-the-go iPhone app. Think how much time I’d save if I had a reliable gay-dar! The way it works is this: you log on, create a profile and upload a photograph, just like Match.com. Except unlike Match.com there’s some sort of GPS feature so you can be sitting at a bar—let’s say Rum Bar on 20th and Walnut—and when you hit search, Gay-on-the-Go responds with a note to let you know if there are any fellow Grinders in your vicinity.
“GreatAbs4U is just 580 feet south of your current location” or “SurfsUp87 is 700 feet to the northwest.”
The best part about the Grinders iPhone app is that you can also use it in reverse. Why would I want to use it in reverse? Duh: to determine whether or not the pair of good-looking men across the bar are an item! If they’re on Grinders, they are. But if their photographs don’t show up? Well, hello gentlemen! (Yeah right, like I could ever approach a pair of good looking men at a bar and say “Well, hello gentlemen!” Especially not after another day of Temple-induced hell; I’m not even wearing lipstick—or a bra, actually; I’m too depressed— and any minute now, I’m going to fall asleep in my Chardonnay. All the same, it’s good to know that I could approach these men, at least in theory, if I had the right tools, such as the Grinders iPhone app).
As it just so happens, I’m sitting at a table in the back of Rum Bar with a dear friend and her co-workers, one of whom is cruising Gay-on-the-Go. Good people that they are, they’ve listened to me drone on and on about Temple University (a plague upon them! a pox! Frogs and locusts and so and so forth) and now one of them is saying, “You’re the girl who writes the blog? We love your blog! So what’s going on with this Date #4 character?”
It’s at this point that I fall silent and confess that I’m not really sure. “I think I’ve botched things up with him.”
But a minute later my phone rings. And lo and behold, it’s Date #4.