I was sick with nerves by the time 6 o clock rolled around yesterday. I don’t know why, but first dates cripple me. I’m incredibly shy by nature and first dates always feel like a glorified job interview.
My little sister came to babysit the Dumpling and hugged me tightly.
S- I know you’re nervous, but don’t be! You’re a beautiful, funny, strong and successful woman. It’s really brave and I’m proud of you for trying. Have FUN!
I drove to the restaurant slightly resentful for having to go through with this stupid nonsense in the first place, knowing I only had myself to blame.
I was perfectly happy being single for 5 years. TOTALLY content without a cloud in the damn sky… and I had to go and open Pandora’s box and touch something I shouldn’t have. It’s my own stupid, damn fault that I’m drowning in consequences.
I intentionally went a few minutes late so that I didn’t have to stand by him awkwardly while they sat us at a table. He’d invited me to his favorite restaurant, where the seating is rough because the dining room is open, with low ceilings and too many tables. The noise of neighboring parties floods around everyone else and you can see the irritation on everybody’s face. Especially my date.
I stood in the doorway and saw him angrily arrange his silverware while glaring at neighboring tables. Fun.
J- Hi! Nice to meet you, sorry I’m late!
T- It’s two minutes. It’s hardly worth mentioning. Nice to meet you.
I’m not attracted to him in the slightest. That’s the first realization that hit me like a punch to the stomach. He has a slight sneer where a smile should be and is rather confrontational in his questions.
T- So you’ve lived here your whole life? Do you even have a passport or have you ever even been to Canada? <eyeroll> Did you even go to college?
J- I’m well traveled, thank you.
Some guys should get a pen pal instead of a girlfriend.
T- So I see you’re covered in tattoos. What does your tramp stamp say?
For the record, I’m not covered. In fact I don’t have nearly enough. He can see two on my left wrist and the crown of a honey bee peeking out from the neckline of my shirt.
J- You don’t have any, do you?
T- One that I regret. Do you plan on getting more?
J- I do.
T- So what is it? A butterfly? I want to know about your tramp stamp.
J- That’s by invitation only, sorry.
Thank heavens for attentive servers that pick up on your desperate attempts to endure a bad date. She could see the strain in my face and kept coming back to see if we were ok.
S- Can I bring you something to drink this evening?
J- Yes, thank you. I’ll have a dirty martini.
He’s sober and asks for limes for his water. She brings my martini and he continues telling me why he moved to my tiny town. I take a sip and he smirks at me.
T- How’s your martini?
J- Great, thank you.
T- Must be nice.
He glares in the direction of his water glass and I’m unsure of what to say. As if on cue, the blessed server returns to take our order.
J- I’ll have the scallops, thank you.
T- I’ll have the prime rib, rare, what vegetable does that come with?
S- Broccolini is the vegetable of the day.
T- Yuck. What else do you have?
I’m cringing because I hate picky eaters and I remember all too well having to serve people like this guy.
S- Well we have cooked peas as a second choice, or baked potato but it comes with mashed potatoes, ummm, I could bring you soup and salad in place of the broccolini?
T- Yuck. I don’t want soup or salad. Do you have french fries?
The date is over at this point. If I were going to be 100% honest, I should have excused myself right then and there.
S- Sure! So that’s prime rib, rare, with mashed potatoes and french fries, correct?
J- Thank you.
She smiled at me and I fought to keep from rolling my eyes.
S- I’ll bring you some ketchup.
T- Yuck. I don’t like ketchup.
Good god, I’m on a date with a picky kid. Also: you don’t get to be a judgy bitch about ketchup when you’re incapable of eating a vegetable.
Our dinner came and mine was awful. So bad I could hardly eat it. The scallops were overcooked to the point it was like eating testicles and the pancetta was burned into bitter strips. The rice wasn’t bad and the broccolini ended up being the only thing I could really eat while he ate a slab of bloody meat and a soup of pink mashed potatoes and fries. I love a medium rare steak, so I’m not uncomfortable about seeing blood on the plate, but his dinner was straight out of Halloween. I have a friend who would have gotten up and left the table purely because of his meal.
T- Would you like a bite?
J- No thank you.
I am so grateful that he’s eating quickly because I can’t wait for it to be over.
T- I looked up your business. I don’t get it. I would never pay those prices for that stuff.
Wow. I’m a little speechless and that takes a lot.
J- Well thankfully, plenty of people do.
They cleared our plates and the server brought a dessert menu. I prayed he was full, and he didn’t touch the menu for a half hour while he rambled on about his baseball team. I can honestly say I have never wanted a date to end so badly in my entire life and I snuck out of a bad one, once.
Two hours in, he ordered dessert. I politely declined and he complained after it came that I wasn’t eating any.
T- You aren’t going to eat any?
J- I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and I don’t love chocolate, it’s nothing personal.
T- Check please! Just kidding. What’s wrong with you?
J- Huh, well I’ll drink your martinis and you can eat my cake, how’s that?
The local high school choir came walking into the restaurant and announced that they were invited to a performance out of state and raising money in hopes they could attend. They began to sing happy birthday and my date grimaced. They moved on to sing Rockstar by Smashmouth and he started to make fun of them. The kid walking around with a hat collecting donations was approaching our table.
T- Hurry, pick up your phone. I’m not giving them money for interrupting my date.
J- My sister was in performing choir, it’s probably not high on those kids’ lists of things they want to do on a Saturday night. Welcome to living in that small town you searched high and low for. This is one of the expenses of that dream.
T- I’m not a parent. I always wanted kids so that I could impart my wisdom on them, not to do the shitty/gross parts like wiping dirty asses. No. I never would have done that part, but I would have liked to passed on my knowledge and continue my family name.
All I want to say is: yuck.
The server brought the check and he let it sit there for another half hour. He finally put a gift certificate in the book and we waited another long while because the server couldn’t tell it was ready. I was begging all the angels and saints to send her a sign and help me out of this endless bad date. She did and we were finally on our way out the door.
T- I’m right here, where did you park?
J- Further down.
T- I’ll walk you to your car. Promise I’m safe.
Even the choker was more entertaining than this guy.
We got to my car and stood in awkward silence. I looked down at my bumper sticker.
J- OH! Vote Kate! She’s running for city council this time and she’s wonderful.
T- Ok. Well, would you like to go out again sometime?
J- Uhhh… Sure. Thank you for dinner.
I side-hugged him quickly and climbed in my car, then waited until I saw him drive away.
Thanks be to God, my internet dating life is over and I can now return to my previously enjoyable life.
I’ve been so cross-eyed in love with a man determined to make me feel insecure that I’d forgotten all the cool shit I’ve worked so hard to know about myself.
I’ve been picking men to replace him based on the matching wrapping paper because I’d completely forgotten that as much as his exterior lights my soul on fire, it’s the contents of his character that I can’t quit.
I sat in that restaurant and had a good laugh for the miserable situations I land in. I only have myself to blame and I don’t have a single regret. Life is too short to do anything but actively pursue your own happiness. You get a small amount of time to make the most of it and you have a choice every day to be happy.
Dating makes me sad, so I’m not going to do it anymore. It doesn’t ease the misery of missing him, it only makes me compare and find the rest of the men in the world, lacking. It only makes me feel more hopeless.
Someone once told me to “accept no crew’s advances when you only deserve a captain” and that’s precisely where I’ve landed this time. I found myself entangled in my first captain and now the sea of crewmen just don’t do it for me anymore. As much as it hurts, it also spares me from suffering through lessons I’ve already learned.
There’s more than one captain in the world… but it’s winter and I’m taking my ship out the water for the season.
Bring on the yarn and yoga pants.