The true story of a date that vanished...
Names have been changed to protect anonymity
“You should ask him for an explanation.”
I’d never received dating advice from a policeman before. And so, as I sat on the sofa that Monday afternoon—dumbstruck, looking out at the grey Stockholm sky and wondering what the fika had happened—I didn’t tell him that I’d already asked for an explanation several times.
“Thank you,” I said. I hung up the phone. The boy wasn’t in fact dead as I had presumed, which was perhaps more confusing than if he were.
As a bit of a rewind—around three weeks prior, when I was visiting Stockholm from Portugal where I live, I connected on Grindr with a very tall, very kind, very handsome 30-year-old man named *Viktor. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I guess I’m in his league.”
I was in a car heading to the airport for a flight from Stockholm to Marseille — where I was meeting college friends there for what we’d intended to be a 'post-pandemic' reunion... it had instead become a modest 'mid-Delta virus horrors' get-together. And so, I didn’t make much of this Viktor.
But during a five-hour layover in Amsterdam (travel in the age of Covid-19), whatever 'textual spark' we’d previously had burst into a flamboyant, raging, and ultimately destructive forest fire. He opened up to me entirely. He had three brothers and three sisters - the latter crop from his father’s second marriage. He went to Barry’s Bootcamp four times per week. He had just received his Master’s in psychology and would soon leave his job at a restaurant for something bigger. He hadn’t been in a relationship in years but felt ready again. I told him I liked being single, but the right person could change my mind.
A friend of mine disappeared a few nights ago and I haven’t heard from him in almost 48 hours now. I just wanted to check if you knew about anything happening to him
“You know what my biggest turn-on is?” He asked. I was sitting in the Amsterdam airport and listening to a podcast on the disappearance of Kenny Veach, a hiker who went missing near the Sheep Mountains north of Las Vegas. “A boy that is genuine and kind. And you’re that. I shiver when I think of a guy like you.” (I too shiver, but only because I’m 98 per cent sure I have an iron deficiency, but I kept that to myself.)
“I guess that makes sense,” I told myself, as I picked at the weird Dutch grilled cheese I was eating. Still, I began joking that he must be a catfish. I even saved him in my phone as 'Viktor Catfish.'
He kept telling me I was too good to be true. I told him I’m poor and if he is trying to rob me, it would be wiser to dupe someone who has money.
“Do you think this guy looks hot or crazy?” I asked Astrid, my closest friend in Sweden. I sent her a photo. “Crazy lol,” she replied. When I called her later, she noted that she didn’t have any friends in common with Viktor on Instagram – neither did I – and that his account only had a handful of followers.
“Just don’t waste your entire trip talking to this guy,” she concluded. “Of course I won’t,” I told her.
I hung up to check into my hotel room. Once upstairs, I laid down in my twin-sized bed and texted Viktor all night.
I told him, once again, that I doubted he was real. Perhaps he was a psychopath.“I think emotional players, douchebags, empathetic people...should be punished as severely as criminals,” he wrote. “Because when someone behaves emotionally cold or plays with people, that for me is a crime.”