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19 April, 2009

The worst date ever

First off, this is delving back into the archives of, perhaps, April 2006. As you're probably aware, I am off the market, so if I want to give you good dating stories, I need to go back in time.

In April of 2006, I decided to join Match.com. Maybe it was March. It had been 8.5 years since I had been on "a date" and I didn't know what to expect. I also didn't really know what I was doing anymore. I thought I was "good with women" but it's a very different thing flirting with your friends, versus trying to meet new people. And the idea of online dating made me a bit nervous in the first place. The main thing I decided when I started was that I should be very open-minded. Don't do things the way I used to do them. Don't judge the book by the cover. Give people a chance.

Bad idea. But we'll see why.

So, after a few days on Match, I was a bit daunted by the fact that none of the women I was writing to were responding to me. Perhaps because they could sense the desperation! At any rate, I didn't know what my market value was, and I guess I also had not (yet) learned any of the tricks of communicating in a way that would entice responses rather than scare people away. It probably didn't help that I was not smiling in any of my photos, and my profile probably sounded serious and intense in ways that are only appealing to a select batch of insane women.

So, finally someone connected with me on Match. It's like fishing. You throw your line and hook (and sinker) and see what you catch. Sometimes it's tuna, and sometimes it's an old shoe. I cannot even remember if this girl (who I'll call Lisa, though I honestly cannot remember her name) contacted me, or vice-versa.

So, from her pictures, I was "suspicious". There was one photo, and it made her look like she could be okay, or she could be "not okay". It was one of those "neck up" photos that make you wonder what is below the neck. Anyway... open mind... books... covers... judging... no... no... no... We communicate via email online, and decide that we will go on a date. She lives near Greenlake. I remember the emails were a bit tense, and weird, but I am keeping open mind, right? I don't think that we decided what we'd do in advance. Or maybe we did. I cannot really remember. But I am going to make you wait a moment to hear what we decided to do, because that's the best part of the story, and probably will give you some insight into just how clueless and stupid I am!

So, day of the date, I am driving over to her condo. I decide to give her a call on my way to make sure everything's cool on the timing and everything. When I call her, she is crying (let the show begin). More like sniffling, really. I ask her if everything's okay. She says, "I don't want to cancel. I really want to go on this date. I am just worried that I might not be at my best right now." Voice inside my head begins yelling "Run away!", but alas, the voice in my head is from afar, down a long corridor, and there are many people talking in the hallway, it's a morgue, and there are many gurneys with corpses being rolled around to various refrigerators and incinerators. So I do not hear the voice in my head. Woe is me.

I ask her what's wrong. She says "My cat, Princess, just died, and I am just having a really hard time with it". I ask her if she's sure she wants to go out, and she says yes. Okay.

I park my car near Greenlake, and begin walking in the direction that I think her condo must lie. I reach the building, and as I am walking by the lobby of the condo, which has glass front windows, I see a woman waiting in the lobby. Inner voice screams "Keep walking! Keep walking! Don't slow down. Pass go! Collect $200! KEEEEEP WAAAAALLLLLLKIIIING". It was one of those "Everything you need to know, you have just seen, in the 200 milliseconds it took for the photons to go from her person, to your retina, converted into electrical impulses, racing through the optic chiasm, through the thalamus, and to the back of the cerebrum, crash-landing with a nauseating thud, in primary visual cortex". Did I listen to the voice? Unfortunately, no. Instead, "stupid me", which I believe honestly was my superego speaking, in this case, since my id would never be so counterproductive, thinks "Here we go... it's just dinner..."

"It's just dinner" is not a phrase to be uttered or pondered without thought of consequences.

So, committed to my fate, the "date" began. One in a series of bad decisions. Next bad decision? "Hm... what should we do? I have an idea! Let's cook dinner together!"

Yes, you are not reading that wrong. On a first date that was already 7 notches beyond precarious, I decided that it would be a good idea to go to the supermarket, buy groceries, then go back to her condo, and cook! Yes, cook! Some people would say that this would be either a big deal or a bad idea even if you'd been dating someone you like for weeks. But someone whom you wanted to flee? What was my problem?

So... it is painfully awkward, and I want to spare you some of the details. Suffice it to say, we went to Albertson's and she had zero input into what we should eat, but was behaving more like someone who could not believe that they were the guest star of The Twilight Zone, and were waiting to be transported to an alien ship at any moment. For some reason that is also unclear to me, I decided we should eat spaghetti and meatballs. I am a retard. The last time I made meatballs was probably in like 1995. Actually, that's not true. In fairness, I think I had just made swedish meatballs for some sort of potluck only a month or two earlier, and was proud of my meatball-cooking abilities. The thing about meatballs, though, is that you have to stick your hands in meat, which is sort of a bizarre thing to do on a date. If I had been with someone I really liked, it would have been bizarre in a different way, and probably led to all sorts of perverse humor about putting my hands on the meat, and all that. But this was demented.

But wait, the story gets worse.

We return to her condo. And ascend the stairs or elevator, or whatever it was. Then we enter her unit, which is clean and not disgusting in any way. There's one saving grace. We walk into the kitchen area. And in the middle of the floor is "Exhibit A". There is a dish of catfood, a candle, and a greeting card, standing neatly on the tile floor. I stand there, staring at it. She is also staring at it. There is silence. For quite a long moment. Then she says "This is where Princess liked to eat her dinner".

This was a shrine to her dead cat!

(Ruuuuuuuuuuun Awaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!!)

But no. There is 24 ounces of ground beef that needs to be formed into greasy spheres and put into this crazy woman's oven. The conversations shifts to some small talk about her. She informs me that getting on Match.com is good for her, because it gave her a reason to get out of sweatpants for a change. She also informed me that she's been on some type of disability leave from work for a fairly extended period of time, and she implied that the leave was for psychological reasons, not physical. (Run?)

Comes time to prepare "The Last Supper", since I am sure this date will end in my death due to mortification. And Lisa (was that the name I gave her?) informs me that she doesn't really want to help. She would rather watch me cook in her kitchen. I think she said something like "I'm having a great time watching you work". So there I am, in this woman's kitchen, shaping the meatballs. I prepare the meal, while she tells me about the various medications that she takes. Then, we eat. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I eat, and she pretends to eat. She said she wasn't really hungry, which I assume means she was too nervous to eat, or didn't want me to watch her eat, or was a vegetarian, or did not think it was good. Who knows. I thought it was good.

So, the date ends, right? We finish dinner, and I leave, right? It was probably like 8pm, so the date's over. Right? I only wish. Because I felt bad for her, I wanted to at least try to make the evening enjoyable. I did not want her to feel like I was running for the hills. Actually, I recall that during dinner she mentioned that she had a previous date where the guy just suddenly said he had to go, and took off. Yep! Smart guy. Inner voice said "Run away!" and he ran! Unfortunately for me, hearing her say this made me feel like there was no way that I could run away any time soon, because I didn't want her to feel worse about herself. What a martyr I am.

So we hang out after dinner, and we're talking, and it's all awkward. And somehow we end up on the couch (please tell me that you don't already know where this is going?) and we're listening to music on her laptop. By this time, she's at least relaxed to the point that the conversation is idly interesting. But she was honestly among the least attractive people I have ever met, in ways that defied her age. I feel horrible saying this, because it wasn't like she was deformed, or morbidly obese, or anything. The best way of describing it is that she was a 35 (supposedly) year old woman who had the body of a 65 year old.

So we're listening to music, and something clicked in my head. Something very moronic. It occurred to me that there was no way I could end that date without kissing her. And I did NOT want to kiss her. It would be like kissing the old woman in the bathtub in "The Shining". Just like that. With dry, cracked, split, and crusty lips. And all kinds of unpleasantness. But I had to do it. I had to make her feel that we had a better date than we actually did.

So I kissed her. And it was horrible. And then I ran away.

I am not sure if I did her any favors or not...

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