A Date in Lebanon
By: Sara King
This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Lebanon and a few spots in Europe. While visiting a group of friends, I decided to “Tinderize” in Beirut. Meeting “Georgio” wasn’t inspired from a remarkable Tinder connection, but more so from knowing that going on a Tinder date in Lebanon could make a really great story.
Georgio* is an American born, 28 year old, Lebanese/Armenian jeweler. He lives with his mom and sister, travels to Boston often, and has a tiny dog that he loves.
On my way to meet Georgio, I didn't feel nervous or apprehensive. I mostly felt as though I was gearing up to be myself in a new setting with a new person. I wasn’t going on this date with any sort of expectation besides meeting someone new to trade thoughts and experiences. Yet there was a moment on the bus, while I listened to TSwift, that I thought to myself “what if I end up magically falling in love with this guy?” It felt free to be able to wonder such a thing, to be able to dare in such a thing.
I first noticed his bright magenta shirt, followed by his full beard. We greeted each other the Lebanese way – kisses on the cheek and a handshake. His first words to me were “the restaurant is closed and I don’t know what to do.” He wasn’t excited to be meeting in Hamra, but it was an area I was familiar with so he obliged. We decided to walk around in search of a place to eat. As we traveled onward, I teased him about his lack of enthusiasm for Hamra. It didn’t go over well – my halfhearted flirtations were met with his frustrations about the inconveniently closed restaurant. I began to prepare myself for what would be a long night of strained conversation.
We eventually found ourselves at the Main Street restaurant with the plan to get a few drinks and fill ourselves with appetizers. I noticed that as we ate, Georgio became increasingly happier. The stomach really must be the way to a man’s heart, or at least to a man’s more content disposition.
As our hunger subsided, conversation began to flow easily. At Georgio’s realization I had never been to a dance club in Beirut he exclaimed with his Lebanese accent, “Honey, this is the clubbing capitol of the world!” He went on to tell me about a 25+ club that requires an invitation and is hidden within a barber shop in downtown Beirut. He admitted that he doesn’t care much for the club, but really digs the idea of being able to get into this one. I agreed; I was ready to go hunt down my own membership and secret password just to be in the know.
Later, we got on the topic of drinking. Georgio was a little offended that I hadn’t ordered a “real” drink; I went with a classic: an amaretto sour. While I appreciated that Georgio waited to order his drink until I ordered mine, it did inspire a discussion about our own drinking behavior. I stayed with my one drink for the night while he went on to tell me his dog is named after his favorite scotch and how he plans to name all his animals after alcohol. It seemed that Georgio and I were worlds apart in more ways than one.
Later, as we walked around after dinner, we passed a family with 3-4 kids. Georgio, quite appalled, squealed, “How many kids could you possibly want??” He began to calculate the cost of raising a child. If you were wondering, it costs approximately “$250,000 to raise one child in Lebanon.” Needless to say, there were some differences in our feelings about children.
Though there was little we agreed on and some hilariously rough spots during our time together, Georgio listened intently. He was kind, considerate, and made sure to pick up the tab. He was real and seemed to engage with me with no pretense. At the end of our date, he walked me to my friend’s car (shout out to my dear friend Cathleen for making sure I lived through this experience), knowing the Sara and Georgio saga would live and die at Main Street restaurant
Overall, my time with Georgio was enjoyable and entertaining. It clearly didn’t end up anywhere near love. It didn’t even result in facebook friendship. The experience alone was worthwhile. I’m learning more and more how much growth occurs when we have an opportunity to hear a new friend’s stories and learn to be vulnerable, too. Although I am personally not a proponent for the liberal use of Tinder, I am thankful it was a gateway into a better understanding of different cultures, lifestyles, and people.
It would have been easy for me to listen to all the reasons a young woman shouldn’t travel alone or go on Tinder dates with strangers, but at the end of the day I would have missed out on the hidden moments of a vibrant life. I would have missed out on talking through perspectives that clarify my beliefs by simply articulating them to someone different from myself. I would have missed out on getting to laugh about things that transcend cultures and nationalities, like how a “Mexican burger” at a Lebanese restaurant is really just a strange idea.
I went on this Tinder date because I strive to be a woman brave enough and humble enough to take a chance and walk through unexpected doors. I hope to use those open doors to learn, to be molded by adventures, and to be surprised. I want to be intentional about living a full life so that in old age or even next year, I can rest in the fact that I've left my comfort zone enough to see life beyond my own considerations and with a more global perspective.
*=name has been changed.