Written by Mary K. Moore
“My name is Mary, and I’m addicted to Grindr.”
There. I said it. I’m a heterosexual woman who loves to cruise gay men via the Grindr app. I recently read about another straight woman who gave Grindr a test run although confessed no lingering addiction. Still, bolstered by this revelation, I feel safe enough to admit I have a weakness for profiles of ripped men who would never have any interest in me other than possibly to offer unsolicited assessments of my “fierceness.” (Levels varying depending on my degree of leopard print.)
It all started not-so-innocently enough. While on a furniture hunt with Billy, my gay designer, his iPhone battery went dead, so he insisted on downloading the gay man cruising app onto my phone. “Shopping while we shop,” he reasoned. This confirmed for me what I knew all along. While I was fondling vases, Billy was mentally fondling every hot Latino within eyeshot of the modular sofa section. And although I had appreciated his ability to simultaneously cruise for both men and furniture, (“Muy Caliente!” Put that down, girl. It’s tasteless.”) I was intrigued at how Grindr could make the process that much more efficient.
At first, I could hardly comprehend that Steve Jobs indirectly had a hand in producing a working version of Gaydar which, to me, was right up there with a functional time machine and successful mental telepathy. My head was spinning. How did it work? Was it attune to an aversion to pleated pants or an affinity for Details magazine? And how did it indicate? Did it play swat you or proudly bray, “It’s Raining Men”? Billy explained that the app allowed the iPhone to detect other gay men who were registered with Grindr within a specific distance. You simply uploaded a picture, turned the cruise app “on” and with a distinctive “brump brump” noise alert, you could see on the man grid that you were just feet away from “Dyson” who according to his profile, “never lost suction.”
Like Dyson, I, too, was sucked in.
Naturally, I volunteered my dog Holly as a profile candidate. Although rare, it wasn’t unheard of for members to use a picture of their pets. (Of course, it came with the built-in reservation about anyone who regularly uses objects, places or animals as a profile picture. Specifically, just how ugly are you?) But with her relaxed ears and winning smile, I knew Holly was just one brump brump away from meeting her soul mate. Even if it was only her owner secretly observing him as he scanned the perimeter in vain for a handsome dog lover while ignoring the thirtysomething mother sitting nearby.
The power of Grindr was remarkable. In fact, the first time we downloaded it, Billy and I were at a drive-thru bank. Instantly, we heard the distinct Grindr alert. “We have a live one!” Billy crowed as we fought over the phone trying to get a look at our possible new boyfriend. “0 feet away,” it read. Registering this at the same instant, we froze and slowly looked up to see a handsome male teller behind the glass who was now studying his phone–and a pair of idiots previously wrestling in the front seat of their car. Still, safely disguised by our canine avatar, we managed to remain steady, collect our money and not peel out of the drive squealing like school girls who had just toilet-papered a cute boy’s house. We saved that until we were around the corner.
But my Grindr obsession did not cease after the weekend with Billy. I took Grindr with me to restaurants, to the grocery store, to hotels, to the gym (where it almost exploded.) While most are scanning Facebook in a moment of boredom, I can be found scanning an array of faces and taut torsos reflected back in various bathroom mirrors–and reflecting more about me and my level of voyeurism than I’d probably care to acknowledge. (Is that you there Dyson and can you really suck the chrome off a trailer hitch? It haunts me!)
Along with the unsuspecting gay community, my husband is also a victim of my Grindr fixation. He has grown weary of the words (or threat depending on your perspective) “Let’s grind.” While most men would welcome such an invitation, he knows it simply means I’m virtually on the prowl, not to mention within feet of indicting him with Grindr’s signature brump brump sound. In fact, if I’ve known you more than 20 minutes, I’ve undoubtedly demonstrated to you the wonderful anonymous pleasure of Grindr. It’s my own personal parlor trick. Okay, I can’t put my fist in my mouth. But I bet I can show you a guy within 150 feet who can.
My Grindr lows? I once cruised for gay men at the hospital as my mother endured spinal surgery. While in the waiting room, I happily accosted my heterosexual brother with all the possibilities surrounding him had he been gay. (My mother did fine by the way. As did Holly who got two Grindr hits from from a love connection less than a football field away. In the case of my brother, to my credit, at least I didn’t approach him with my signature, “Let’s grind.”) Recently, through clenched teeth, my husband had to chide, “Are you seriously cruising for gay men at the elementary school award ceremony?” I was. After my kid got her award. I mean, I do have some boundaries…(To the credit of other attentive parents, homosexual and not, no one within 700 feet was grinding during the awards. Except me.)
Grindr highs? I discovered my local bakery owner has glorious abs. I have made a note to set him up with Billy via Holly when the time is right. I have also gotten to know the dating plight of gay men within varying distances of me, who like every other single in the world, are just looking for someone to love and who maybe enjoys the same TV shows. And while some confess casual intentions, the occasional ball gag or a strict preference for Bears, most are just normal guys smiling out into the virtual ether at possibly, for them, The One.
Of course, The One isn’t an occasionally bored heterosexual female dog owner. But sitting quietly, within a few feet, Holly and I root for them.
Is there a place I won’t Grind? I haven’t Grinded at a funeral. But I haven’t been to one in ten years. I guess it would depend on my relationship to the guest of honor. That said, I’m not making any promises. I admit, I occasionally secretly fantasize about taking Grindr to a mega church spouting strict doctrines against homosexuality (but no mention of porn addiction mind you) and watching the pews vibrate with hypocrisy. And maybe with that revelatory brump brump in an adjacent pew is The One. Dyson finds the right attachment and somewhere, however many feet away, Holly is wagging her tail.
Amen. Brump. Brump. Let’s Grind.