The shenanigans had been fairly tame…
for a night out in Ho Chi Minh, but all the same, we were hung over and craving something to line our stomachs. Garrett called up his friends Jackson, Aiden and Nolan, and we took scooters out to District 7 and into a suburb so calm, it was shocking after the buzz of District 1. The Indian restaurant we parked at wasn’t very noticeable. Just some old couches surrounding tables on a deck, but the prices were right and the food smelled life saving. The boys re-hashed their nights, which led to talk of hooking up, and tales of conquests. As the only girl, I drank my Vietnamese iced coffee quietly, but listened intently.
Aiden was the biggest talker and launched into a story about a recent Tinder date. At the mention of Tinder, it was all ears. Garrett had already told me he’d been using Tinder, but not talking to anyone, like a creeper, and I heard the app popping up in conversation throughout my stay. It seemed everyone was on it and loved to talk about it. I’d never used it, nor really looked into it, so I found their stories highly entertaining.
“So, this [Vietnamese] girl and I meet up for coffee and lunch and she tells me she does massages, like she soaps up her body, and rubs it all over you,” said Aiden, “I’d heard about it before and I was like, okay, that’s cool. We have a good lunch, I’m enjoying it, we’re talking about a lot of stuff, and I paid, ‘cause I’m a nice guy and that’s what I like to do. But, as we’re leaving, she hands me her card, like, come by later, get a massage, and you can have a discount.”
Aiden looked disgusted and he started to speak with more volume.
“I look at her and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe you just did that. This is over.’ Then she’s running after me saying, ‘I really like you, I’m so sorry,’ but it was done. No way, man, that makes me so angry. Like, you’re gonna give me your business card?”
The guys all nodded their heads.
“Yeah, there’s lots of prostitutes on Tinder,” said Nolan. “What did you expect?”
But, Aiden still felt tricked and I felt a bit confused. He was angry because she wanted to get business from him and yet he was okay with her business when she first told him about it. What changed? Maybe he was just sick of trying to go on dates and realizing the girl is a prostitute, as he’d told another story about a girl wanting to meet him at the Sheraton who’d turned out to be in the sex-selling business.
“They’re just trying to make some money using Tinder. It’s a business for them,” Nolan said matter-of-factly, not at all bothered by the situation.
Jackson, Garrett, and I stayed somewhat out of the conversation. Jackson and Garrett seem to get a lot of luck by being in a band and I’m still trying to believe you can meet people without the use of a phone app.
Aiden is full of stories, as he recently went through a break-up and is making up for, in his words, lost time. It seems he has a system where he toys with the girls he has not much interest in, messaging them, “what do you like to do besides show your cleavage and take selfies?” He gets deep with the ones who spark his interest, asking questions like, “if you had to live in one moment from the past forever, what would it be?”
Of course, girls love that stuff, although I found the question slightly gag-inducing. Lucky for me, I got a chance to ask the recipient of that deep message what she actually thought of it.
We were all at a bar in District 7 and I was sitting with some expat girls, grouped around a smartphone, giggling at the choices before us. One of the girls, Mia, swiped through the pictures of men without shirts posing in the mirror, men with their dogs, men with girls at parties, men in bad shirts, men with….their wives? In an actual wedding photo?!
“I don’t think a lot of Vietnamese guys get it. They think Tinder is for language exchange or friendship. It’s so weird, though,” said Mia.
“Or they get it and they are using it for adultery. Their wife is busy taking care of the family and would never go on Tinder,” another girl, Sofia, added.