spring. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming
and people are leaving behind their seasonal-affective-disorder-related
afflictions to embrace hope for the future. Maybe this will
be the year you’ll finally get in shape to fit into that
cute little sundress you’ve been eyeing. You promise yourself
you will return the entire winter’s worth of empties that
have accumulated on your back porch. You will buy a self-tanning
bronzer to disguise your deathly pallor. You will fall in
we heartily encourage you to pursue your hopeful fantasies,
we would hate to see you float away on a cloud of unrealistic
happiness, only to be sabotaged by a guy with plastic explosives
in his shoes (don’t laugh, it could happen). So for your
own good, we offer you the following dose of reality: That
sundress will be out of style in six months. You will get
rid of those empty cans and bottles only to replace them
with—you guessed it—more empty cans and bottles. Self tanners
almost never look real. And before you fall in love, you’ll
have to do some dating. Sure, it sounds like a walk in the
park—romantic dinners, picturesque picnics, flowers from
your paramour—but before you leap headlong into the dating
pool, remember one thing: There’s sharks in them waters,
to prove it, we checked with an assortment of staffers,
freelancers and acquaintances—and did they ever have stories,
which we offer now for your amusement and, let’s say, as
a cautionary reminder. In some of the stories, names, places
and embarrassing personal habits have been altered to protect
the innocent—and the guilty.
Afraid, Be Very Afraid
is a dirty four-letter word? Date.
this only because I’ve had so many bad ones. For example,
when I was young and living in a lakeside resort town for
the summer, I accepted a date with a coworker. From where
I was standing, he seemed so “normal.” He was outgoing and
funny, not to mention cute, and he got along well with others.
date started out well enough. He picked me up and brought
me to a party with a bunch of our friends from work. That
went well, so I saw no reason to pass up an invite to a
late-night swim with our fellow partygoers. We all had fun,
jumping from the docks, drinking beer and participating
in perilous water games. Eventually my date and I found
it agreeable to separate from the clan and enjoy a walk
on the beach.
found a place to sit and talk and soak up the moonlight.
I took a handful of sand and explained how I loved the feel
of it running through my fingers. I should’ve made a run
for the lake when he said, “Yeah, I love the way rubber
gloves feel on mine.” I let this comment marinate in my
mind for a moment. Maybe he was just trying to be funny,
night wore on, and we all decided to go to his place for
a nightcap. He offered to give me a lift home afterward.
Since he was my date, I felt this was appropriate. Soon
his friends left, and we were alone. He turned out the overhead
light and turned on a very strange-looking lamp with a red
bulb. Suddenly I felt very uncomfortable, so I asked him
what he was doing. “I can see better in red light,” he said
eerily. Hmmm . . . rubber gloves, red light—yeah, this guy
is twisted. Before I had a chance to suggest I cash in on
my ride home, he commented on how secluded and far away
from town we were. At this point I was waiting for him to
whip out his human-skull collection.
that he had mentioned earlier that his grandmother lived
upstairs, and I thought I’d remind him that we were, in
fact, not alone. “She’s very hard of hearing,” he said.
“Actually, if you were to scream, she wouldn’t hear you.
No one would.”
Time to go.
to think of a tactful way to tell a potential serial killer
I needed to go home now. I discovered that “Take me home
now please” was not it, because next thing I knew, he threw
a fit and the lamp with the red bulb. It came
crashing down at my feet, and he continued toward the door,
which he threw open in a rage. The floodlight outside poured
in, lighting his silhouette in the doorway. I thought this
would be the last image I would ever see. Then he said in
a militaristic tone, “Well? Are you coming? Let’s Go!”
a second to think this over because you gotta think fast
when faced with the possibility that your grave might be
in your date’s basement. I do have a metal file in my
purse, I thought. I could stab him with that. . .
he said waiting for me to follow his command.
he isn’t a psycho, I thought. Maybe it’s just my
imagination running away with me. Reluctantly, I accepted.
ride home was hellish. He drove like a maniac, barreling
down the road to the blaring tune of “Psycho Killer” by
Talking Heads. Psycho Killer, qu’est que c’est, fafafafafafafafafa.
. . . Isn’t that ironic? He pulled up to my place with
a screeching halt in his little red Pontiac and tore out
I watched the psychomobile disappear around the corner,
I thanked God I was in one piece and had all my fingers
and toes, not to mention a newfound keen sensibility: I
can now spot the crazies within a few minutes of conversation.
I’ve had plenty of bad dates since and expect more in the
future, but they are a welcome relief compared to my date
Daddy Makes Three
from heaven can be worse than those from hell. When I was
17, I dated a born-again Christian who was inexperienced
at the whole dating process. She seemed really nice, so
I asked her out to a movie. Of course, the day of the date
my car died, so her father agreed to take us. I thought
it might be nice to get her a rose. With the car dead, I
had to walk to the florist. Oh yeah, and it was winter.
Two miles, 10 blue fingers and a head full of frozen hair
later, I got back to find them waiting for me in the driveway.
a cozy ride to the theater, just my date, my date’s father
and me, we watched a movie and decided to call it a night.
When her father dropped me back off at my house, I invited
her inside to for a quick tour. After the tour, I leaned
in to give her a kiss goodnight.
you know the feeling you get when you kiss someone and you
know they’re the one? There’s electricity, there’s magic,
there’s instant attraction? Well, this was the antithesis
of that feeling. The fact that she had no experience in
kissing only added to the unbearably awkward moment. The
sensation can only be likened to kissing a hole. She didn’t
shy away from the kiss, but pushed her tongue to the back
of her mouth and opened up like she was trying to swallow
only lasted for a moment, but when it was done my eyes must
have given something away because she ran away. Actually
date gone horribly awry occurred when I had the incredible
idea of taking a girl out for a picnic under the stars.
We got there at just past midnight and set up our blanket
and candlelight. I bought her flowers and spent the day
making dishes that I knew she would like. I even remembered
to bring batteries for the CD player so we could listen
to music. Unfortunately I didn’t take into account that
the police actually enforce the hours of parks. The moon
and candlelight aren’t nearly as romantic with flashing
red lights and a flashlight shining in your face. Luckily,
we didn’t get a ticket, but the cop did force us to leave
enough, most of my dating horror stories have to do with
body fluids. One day I gave blood (what did you think I
was talking about?), and a female friend was gracious enough
to take me out for a couple beers afterwards. For those
of you that don’t know—because I didn’t—drinking alcohol
after giving blood makes one drink seem like 10.
turns out my “friend” was really trying to seduce me. Now,
I’m not one of those people that puts great stock in the
assumption that men are ignorant to women making passes
at them. I like to think of myself, and most of the male
gender, as receptive and aware when people are interested.
This one flew under the radar. Normally, I would be thankful
for any type of seduction that would come my way, but seeing
as this issue is about dates from hell, you can probably
guess that this encounter was not a good one. As a matter
of fact, it was an excruciatingly painful one. Let’s just
say I walked with a limp the next day.
That Bothered Me So
friend tried to set me up with an eligible “match.” I’m
tough, because I want to be with someone cool (no baseball
caps, please) but also smart and definitely not cocky. So
my friend (let’s call her “Betsy”) found this guy (let’s
call him “Mr. X”) who happened to be best friends with her
boyfriend. I met them at dinner. I ran in late and sat down
(they were already seated). It was an OK dinner, but there
were no fireworks. Mr. X was definitely a baseball-cap wearer,
I could tell. He didn’t have one on, but he seemed to have
that feeling about him. Anyway, after dinner was over, we
all stood up to leave the restaurant. Lo and behold, this
guy was literally about 3 inches shorter than I am—and I’m
only 5’2”! I almost gasped; I had never come across a guy
older than me, yet also shorter. But because I was trying
to keep an open mind, and I know that height has nothing
to do with a person’s real identity, I agreed to go out
to coffee with him the next Saturday.
rolled around and he called me to arrange the “date.” I
was cautious at first because I wasn’t sure if conversation
would be difficult without Betsy and her boyfriend, so we
agreed to meet at a Starbucks before my yoga class. We met
and sat down with our coffee, and then it started:
are you from?”
made you move here?”
do you live?”
did you go to college?”
did you major in?”
do you know Betsy?”
you like yoga?”
you have any brothers or sisters?”
do they live?”
do your parents do?”
they like it?”
you like NutraSweet?”
you afraid it might kill you?”
was like 20 Questions—the Ultimate Challenge. This guy asked
me every single question you could think of, rapid fire.
At first I tried to answer. Then, after a while, it got
ridiculous. I got really tense. Here was this miniature
interrogation addict sitting straight across from me, revving
up to ask the next one as soon as I opened my mouth to answer.
worst part was that people sitting around us were stopping
their conversations to lean over and stare at me, the girl
under rapid-fire attack. I started to panic. Fortunately,
I had somewhere else to escape to, and I ran away to yoga
called me the next day.
called him back.
a promise you can bank on: You’ll never hear me use such
phrases as “the wife” or “the ball and chain” or “she who
must be obeyed” when speaking about my spouse, because I
really, truly, honestly love my wife so very much, and would
never dream of speaking about her in such a fashion. I love
her, of course, because she is kind and smart and lovely
and good—but I love her also because she agreed, for reasons
mysterious, to marry me some 15 years ago, freeing me forever
(I hope) from the depravations and degradations associated
I have to tell you, just between us girls here, that I simply
wasn’t very good at the whole dating thing at all, so that
most of my hopefully romantic evenings out on the
town would qualify for “Dates from Hell” status. And not
because of my company for the evening, mind you, since most
of my companions were fine, on a date-to-date basis (It
was only over the long term that they turned scary). Nope,
where most people’s hellish dates are driven by the fact
that their chosen companions turned out to be horrible,
selfish, stupid, bumbling, boorish, loutish, insensitive,
stupid monsters, my dates were all nightmarish because the
monster was me.
one of the times when I was at my most monstrously stupid,
for instance. To impress a particularly cosmopolitan date,
I made reservation at a sushi bar in the early ’80s, when
sushi wasn’t as commonplace as it is today, and when I’d
never actually eaten the stuff. Things were going fine as
I gulped down all sorts of raw-fish matter, then smoothly
picked up the big, sticky, green lump on the corner of my
plate and popped it whole, ignorantly, into my mouth—unwittingly
introducing myself to that fiery Japanese horseradish known
as wasabi. As my tongue disintegrated and my palate collapsed
into my lower jaw, I quickly pondered spitting the offending
substance out, but decided instead to play it cool and swallow
it all. That way, you see, it could burn out all of my insides,
too, over the course of the evening. Lesson learned: It’s
hard to be charming when your pancreas is trying to escape
from your body through your nose.
what about the time when me and my friend (who, for the
purposes of this article, we’ll call Tim, because that was
his name) decided to tag-team two classmates at graduate
school by inviting them to come to Tim’s swinging bachelor
pad with us for a home-cooked meal. Now, it’s important
to note that for the six months that Tim and I were neighbors
prior to this evening, he had eaten a pepperoni pizza from
Domino’s for dinner every single evening, and most
of my dinners came out of boxes, cans or free-food buffets
at happy hours. But, by golly, we were gonna cook and impress
our dates with our sensitive ’80s kitchen skills, prior
dinners and lack of culinary skills be damned. So Tim got
four gorgeous steaks, which we marinated and grilled and
sliced thin—tender, medium, perfect—and then served spectacularly
over pasta with vegetables on the side, all of them marinated
in the same delicious juices as the meat. And that was about
the point at which our dates coolly informed us that they
were vegetarians, a fact of which we should have been well
aware, had we had even the most rudimentary observational
skills, seeing as how we all ate in the same cafeteria every
day. Things went downhill quickly from there. Tim and I
went out to Domino’s for pizza together later that night.
those are just a couple of my more socially acceptable,
humorous dates from hell with the monster that is me. Many
of the others were just flat-out ugly monster stories. Like
the night I spent comatose in my date’s bathroom, waking
up in the morning to the sound of her roommate banging the
door into my head. Or the night of my senior prom, when
I accidentally left home with no money in my pocket, but
didn’t want my girlfriend to know, leading me to spend the
evening grubbing for cash (from classmates, from their dates,
from strangers) to pay for dinner, photos and other sundries.
Or the night when I sneaked out of a bar with my best friend’s
girlfriend, leaving him to drive forlornly home by himself.
Or almost home, anyway, since he hit a tree on the way.
Or the time when a bartender at my favorite saloon with
whom I’d become intimate turned to me during a snuggly moment
and said “It’s so nice to actually develop a relationship
with someone, instead of just doing the whole bar pickup
thing,” to which I replied “What relationship?” And then
there was none . . .
you see, the world and our community are probably far, far
better places with me out of the dating pool altogether,
thereby reducing significantly the opportunities for dates
from hell in the Capital Region. Y’all be sure to thank
my wife for that, the next time you see her, y’hear?
Floor is Yours, Counselor
essentially living hell on a daily basis as a bartender
a string of loser drugged-up musicians—and drugged-up nonmusicians.
They were the type of guys you rarely actually go out on
a real date with. They just became your boyfriend and you
never knew how it happened. So when a first-year Albany
Law School student from Connecticut asked me out, I was
it would be refreshing to date a guy that actually graduated
from high school and never spent time in juvenile detention!
He picked me up in his Saab and we went to, of course, Justin’s.
The dinner went fine, and I arranged for some of my friends
to “accidentally” show up there so they could see what a
little hottie he was! After dinner, he insisted we go straight
back to his dorm room. I thought it was sketchy, but I went
along thinking maybe he had some fabulous furnishings or
a good jazz collection. When we arrived I found the most
institutional dorm room ever. It lacked anything that might
promote comfort or entertainment. He tried to kiss me and
I was like, “Are you kidding me?” I asked if we could go
out somewhere, and he became annoyed and nasty. As we entered
the elevator to leave, he looked at me and said, “You thought
I was going to make you walk home [alone] didn’t you?” Yuck.
I said that had never even occurred to me but it sounded
like a great idea.
date, with an Albany Academy for Boys alum (button-down
shirt, khakis and loafers, of course), ended with one of
my wacko, druggie musician boys poking me in the eye (intentionally)
after stalking me down and finding me on the date. It was
very Three Stooges!
For My Next Trick . . .
word “date” sends chills down my spine. From the time I
started dating at 14, there were subtle clues that I did
not have the skills to pick out men who were “boyfriend”
material. There was Jeff, who was so cheap he demanded that
we both order the same meals (usually some sort of pizza
slice) so that the check could be split to the exact penny.
I dated Andrew, who was more attracted to his soccer ball
than to any woman who might come his way. There was also
Tom, the man who set the table on fire.
worked behind the counter at the local Mobil Mart. He wasn’t
smart, nor was he attractive. We met when he showed up,
uninvited, to a friend’s party, and attached himself to
me like white cat fur on your good black sweater. My friend
Caroline thought he was a “diamond in the rough.” My mother
just thought he was rude.
a few weeks of his constant telephone badgering, I broke
down and agreed to meet him for dinner. He arrived at the
restaurant with a small chocolate sampler and a long-stem
silk rose covered in a thick layer of dust. Once we were
seated, he promptly ordered a vodka tonic and informed me
that he did not have enough money to cover appetizers or
dessert. That was fine by me, as this would limit the amount
of time I would have to spend with him. The restaurant was
packed, and Tom continued kicking back drink after drink
while we waited for dinner to arrive. At some point, he
loudly stated, “I gotta piss,” and began walking toward
the restroom. Before I knew what was happening, the flatware
on the table began to make a clinking noise, followed by
the glasses, and a lit candle. As the tablecloth ignited,
it became apparent that Mr. Mobil had at some point tucked
the tablecloth into his pants! As he nonchalantly stamped
out the flames, I slowly exited through the side door. He
later told several of my friends that he didn’t understand
why I left that night, and that he thought I owed him for
my dinner, as he was stuck with the bill.
was almost 10 years ago, and I still peek in the window
of the Mobil Mart before entering. How I ever got the nerve
to date again I’ll never know. I hear that the new trend
is “adventure dating,” where you get together and to go
mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, etc. I think that’s
great, especially since these are sports I actually like,
but for a first date? How does one make that perfect first
impression while wearing padded spandex shorts and a large
plastic hat? It all sounds like too much work to me, and
quite frankly it gives me nightmares.
Had New Orleans—We Should Have Left It That Way
all your fault.
we first met in New Orleans, it was different. With a couple
of friends from college, I was on a winter-break adventure;
I was loose, fun-seeking, undemanding, willing and able
to adapt to strange new places and people. I was a good
visitor. You were grounded in familiar surroundings, comfortable,
accommodating, eager to show us your city. You were a good
you came to visit me in New Jersey, you were nervous, uncomfortable,
a fish out of water. You didn’t adapt easily to a new environment;
you were awkward around my friends, clingy with me. You
weren’t a good visitor. I was self-absorbed and insensitive,
resentful of the intrusion into my ordered life, reluctant
to break my routines for you, unable to make you feel at
home. I was a lousy host.
was a date from hell for both of us. And it lasted an entire
it wouldn’t work the second you stepped off the plane. There
you were, a woman I had never seen before, a proper Southern
belle in some sort of pastel-colored chiffon dress. When
we were hanging out in New Orleans, weren’t you always in
my dorm, you parked your suitcases. As you opened them up,
and clothes and perfumes and makeup and hair-care products
began spilling out and taking over the entire end of the
room, I began to visualize, almost immediately, those same
suitcases packed up again and zippered shut and being lifted
onto the train that would take you away forever.
walked around campus under the hot May sun until there were
no more buildings to show you. I introduced you to friends
who shook your hand, mumbled perfunctory “Nice to meet yous”
and hurried off to more important engagements. I struck
up strained conversations with you that made me wonder if
I had merely dreamed those late-into-the-night talks in
New Orleans. We went to parties and drank a lot, which made
it only a little easier to forget what an awful time we
were having. Morning brought only headaches, more sweltering
heat, and more agony at the thought of how we would fill
the remaining hours until your morning train on Sunday.
I began to feel a kind of stifling loneliness that comes
only from being trapped with someone you can’t connect with—a
loneliness much worse than being alone.
you to Manhattan for an afternoon and evening, but I didn’t
know my way around, and I didn’t have much money. So we
wandered aimlessly, and I made nervous small talk about
cool places I had heard about but couldn’t seem to find.
I didn’t even locate a decent place to eat.
recall any fights. Once or twice, we pretended to show each
other affection that wasn’t really there. Maybe that got
us through the weekend. Maybe the fading memory of a better
time in New Orleans helped us remain civil.
I did feel a kind of quiet rage welling up on Sunday morning
when you were moving so slowly that I thought you would
miss your train. I began stuffing things into your suitcases
myself, becoming all the more agitated when I couldn’t get
the zippers around the bulges. Finally, we got them shut,
and we made the two-block walk to the station, me lugging
both bags and still walking faster than you, turning around
every now and then to shoot you “Hurry the hell up” looks.
Your train was almost ready to pull away. We had only a
moment for goodbyes; we embraced tentatively, me fighting
back anger and exhaustion, you fighting back tears.
I walked back to my dorm, I involuntarily broke into a trot,
then a run. Running from you, running from me, running from
the overwhelming sense of failure.
I would regret that I wasn’t nicer to you that Sunday morning,
that I couldn’t find some words to make you feel a little
better, to make us both feel that somehow it had been worth
I would have to remind myself that it wasn’t all my fault,
to cook and I love to eat out, and for a long time my ideal
for a perfect first date was a good conversation over an
interesting meal. I rarely could translate that ideal into
reality, however, and I eventually concluded that there
was something about the combination of food and low lighting
that brought out the bizarre in a guy’s personality. Crass
remarks, gross manners, ill-timed revelations—I saw all
these and more unfold from across the table.
was the date with my parents’ next-door neighbor—tall, good-looking
and smart—who sat down in the restaurant and without any
preamble, craned his mouth wide open, inserted his middle
finger—it seemed to be going down his throat—and began fishing
around for something way back around his molars. I stared,
wondering what he was doing, at a loss for words. A few
moments later he finished extracting the rubber bands from
his dental retainer and was ready to eat. I had pretty much
lost my appetite.
dinners at home didn’t fare much better. One memorable effort
involved a birthday dinner I cooked for someone I thought
might have boyfriend potential. We’d gotten together a couple
of times, and I wanted to dazzle him with special effects
from my closet-sized kitchen, so I did up the works: fettuccine
alfredo, salad with homemade vinaigrette, a bottle of wine
and my mother’s apple pie recipe. After polishing off a
large piece of pie, Mr. Interesting told me he was involved
with someone else.
a few years. Another dinner at home, another guy. Things
were humming along nicely. For our first date, this man
had surprised me with a picnic in the Connecticut countryside
on a summer afternoon. He liked jazz. He liked to cook.
He was a fellow reporter and an interesting conversationalist.
An ex-girlfriend was safely out of the picture.
him to dinner. We were in my kitchen, cooking together.
The mood was lighthearted, and for some reason, I started
to tell him about the birthday dinner that had ended so
disastrously after the apple pie. By now, I thought the
story was hilarious, and that my ability to tell it on myself
demonstrated a humorous flair.
didn’t laugh. We sat down to eat. His silence continued.
He looked ill or upset or maybe both.
you OK?” I asked. “You’re awfully quiet.”
put down his fork. At least he was only halfway through
the main course.
don’t know how to tell you this,” he said. “Remember that
story you told me while we were fixing dinner? Well, Marianne
and I patched things up.”
McGrath is a freelance writer in Albany who went out for
dinner on a first date with the man who is now her husband.
recently ending a six-year relationship, the thought of
being part of the dating pool is completely depressing.
The comfort factor is gone, not to mention that I don’t
know what to expect or what is expected of me on a first
into a date situation recently that, if it weren’t so comical
and surreal, probably would make me cry. But I have chosen
to keep a stiff upper lip and chalk it up to experience.
Not to mention that every time I tell the story, I get a
solid, hearty belly laugh from listeners, followed by “I
can’t believe that happened to you.”
started out innocently enough. A friend of mine—let’s call
him Brad—and I were going to a show, where we were meeting
up with another friend of Brad’s—let’s call him Rico (as
in Suave). I had a wonderful time at the show, and thought
Rico was a nice-enough guy, considerably older than me but
young at heart. A few days after the show, Rico left me
a message at work inviting me to lunch. I thought to myself,
What the heck, I guess I have to start dating again sometime.
I called Rico and told him I thought it would be fun to
see him again.
and I met for lunch on Friday. We talked, joked and just
started to get to know each other. Rico made me feel really
good; he was full of wonderful compliments. “You have an
intoxicating laugh, you’re really sweet and I would like
to see you again.” I accepted the offer.
Saturday Rico called me to talk about getting together.
He mentioned a few different things, but ended with, “or
you could come here.” Normally, I would not agree to such
a request, but Rico was a friend of Brad’s, so there was
an element of trust already in place.
at Rico’s house around 10 PM on Saturday night. In retrospect,
that should have been my first clue to how the evening would
go. Rico has a wonderful home, classically decorated, well-kept
(by the maid), and comfortable. We retired to the family
room with a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers. We
spent the next couple of hours talking about family, friends,
past relationships, careers—we were having what I would
consider a good first-and-a-half date.
decided to put the food away, and I lent a hand. As Rico
came back to the family room, he suggested lighting a fire.
I said, “Why not?” Little did I know it would turn into
the backdrop for a porno flick.
turned off the lights in all the other rooms except for
the family room, and built a fire. He then dimmed the family-room
lights and sat back on the couch. I mentioned that the crap
jazz he was listening to was starting to be—or should I
say had been—annoying. I decided to grab a CD from
my car. Rico walked with me to my car, and as we returned
to the house I realized that the CD was still in
the player in the car. I ran back to the car to retrieve
is where it gets weird.
back into the family room, the lights were turned way down
low, the back couch cushions were on the floor, there were
two pillows at the head of the couch facing the fireplace,
and Rico was laying on the couch. I looked at him and exclaimed,
“I am not lying on the couch with you!” I think I should
have left at that point, but I was having such a good time
until then, I was hoping things would return to the way
they were before. I put the CD in, and Rico and I sat on
the couch. I tried to resume the conversation. Rico then
said, “Look, I am putting my cards on the table. I am attracted
thinking, I just met this guy, so I replied, “I am
not quite sure how to handle that.” I once again tried to
resume the conversation, but I noticed that Rico was losing
the hammer came down: Rico said, “Look, I am done talking!”
I think it took me a little while to process what he was
saying, so I replied, “Well, I guess I better leave.”
last words were, “I’ll walk you to your car.” So he got
up, turned the lights all the way up (you know, like last
call in a bar: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t
stay here—not that I would have stayed). So I took my CD
and he walked me out.
Came From Out of Nowhere . . .
became gay because of this: I met this young stunner when
I was in my mid-20s at a booze-addled, drug-fueled all nighter
in North Yorkshire (U.K.). Christ, it may have been the
concoction of alcohol and various narcotics that warped
my delicate mind, but she looked just like a young Liz Taylor,
small in stature (though too tall to be a certified dwarf),
but perfectly formed, almost like a human-sized china doll.
I managed to walk her home in the company of her slightly
older and haggard friend, whom I didn’t really pay much
attention to, stuck one on her cupid’s-bow lips and arranged
a date for the following Saturday, just me and Liz Taylor,
down the local pub, lovely.
came around, I’d managed not to go out the night before,
so I wasn’t suffering from an impossibly bad hangover and
would be in fine form to woo her with my hippified charms.
All went well on the meeting, neither of us were late, conversation
flowed, as did the booze. Last orders was called and I walked
her to her door again. Imagine my surprise when she invited
me in for a late-night snifter of booze and/or a jazz cigarette
to take the edge off the evening’s quaffing.
I accepted the invite, and when I plonked myself down in
the living room I found myself sitting eye to eye with the
older, haggard friend from last week, rolling joints and
grinning like a fuckin’ ogre. I smiled and said hi, and
she started into some rant about men being bastards, users,
worthless whores, drunks, aggressors . . . and on it went,
all this time my date had completely disappeared and I was
getting a bit worried. The ogre offered me a smoke of her
joint, and as I reached over to take it from her, she grabbed
the back of my neck and proceeded to try and suck my face
off. Then her legs came ’round my waist in a vicelike death
grip, and she managed to get me on the floor. I couldn’t
breathe and was about to take drastic measures by punching
her in the kidneys (if she had any—I was thinking she might
be supernatural), when I just heard a siren-like shriek
and it all went quiet. The grip was released, and as I gasped
for air, I saw Liz Taylor standing there in her saucy lingerie,
mouth agape. The ogre looked down at the carpet like a beaten
dog, and all I heard Liz bellow was “MOTHER!” I nearly threw
out Liz (note, this is not her real name) was expecting
me to go up to the bedroom for some shenanigans, and took
me not coming up as meaning I fancied her mother. I’m still
seeking counseling, if anyone can help.
Baguette Fear is from London.
Whaddya Do for an Encore?
to tell you about some really hellish dating experiences:
Like the guy I dated a couple times who, it turned out,
was obsessed with weaponry—especially ancient weapons like
swords and things—who my friends eventually dubbed “Battle-ax
Jim.” Or the alleged “model” who I thought was the Hottest
Guy in the World, until I found out he really worked at
a Sunglass Hut in Poughkeepsie and was borrowing a friend’s
studio apartment to hide the fact that he lived with his
parents. Or the stock-car racer who had me drive all the
way to New Jersey for our date, which consisted of dinner
(pizza and beer) and a walk through the mall. Or the guy
who wanted nothing more than for us to trip on acid together
(being more of a drinker and less of a drug-taker, I refused.
He called off the date!).
no. I think instead I will tell you about another hellish
dating experience—one with a guy who was extremely nice,
smart, good-looking and considerate. I couldn’t stand him.
Which just goes to show what a horrible person I am.
was a doctor—or at least he would have been in a few months.
He was completing his residency at a local hospital, and
planned on going into practice as an orthopedist. We met
at a party in another town, struck up conversation and talked
for at least an hour. We decided to set up a date in Albany
a couple of weeks later.
don’t recall much from our first date, except that it was
rather innocuous: We had dinner, we went home, goodnight
kiss, end of story. Everyone was excited that I wasn’t dating
a broke bohemian waiter/bartender, a shiftless, pot-smoking
loser or a cocky, obnoxious frat boy—the kinds of guys that
I always seemed to meet.
second date, however, was much more memorable, unfortunately
for me. He came to pick me up, and I couldn’t help but notice
that he had the most horrendous shoes—blue, boiled-wool
clogs with some kind of design woven on them in tan thread.
They said, “I am confident in my sexuality, I am comfortable
with who I am, I am not a slave to fashion trends.” They
were awful. I hate to be shallow, but they really colored
my perspective on this guy. In my eyes, he instantly went
from attractive, kind, sensitive and smart to tasteless,
simpering, dull and perhaps tacky.
I went on the date anyway. We went out to dinner, and afterward,
he invited himself in to meet my roommate and have a beer.
And he asked if I minded if he brought in his guitar—it
was downtown Albany, after all, and he didn’t want it to
came in, made nice with my roomie, had a beer and eventually,
we wandered out to the back deck. He brought his guitar
and asked if I wouldn’t mind if he played a song or two.
I did mind, actually—in my book, nothing is more painful
than listening to a mediocre musician try to woo you with
his bad taste in music—but this was a date, and, I reminded
myself, he was a nice-enough guy. I would be polite if it
I said, trying to drum up enthusiasm. “That would be fine.”
novice-guitarist friend played a tune. And when he was done
with that, he played another tune. And then another tune.
And then another. And another. First a Hootie, then a Sheryl
Crow, then a Sister Hazel, then a Blues Traveler. I think
you get the idea: They just kept coming, bad Top 40 hit
song after bad Top 40 hit song. He crooned, he wailed, he
serenaded, he tried to rock out. Wesley was so lost in his
acoustic-rock-star fantasy that he failed to notice (or
perhaps he just didn’t care) that I had stopped paying attention
and had begun playing ball with my dog so she wouldn’t howl
at him (I’m not kidding). I glanced up at the second-story
window of my house, and I could see my roommate looking
down from her bedroom, laughing, ha ha ha, at me and my
must have gone on for about 45 minutes before I reached
the end of my rope. He was having some trouble finding the
right chords to some Hootie and the Blowfish song, so I
made my move. “Hey, Wes, you know what would be cool?” I
on, I’m trying to find the right chord!” he snapped.
a minute!” he cut me off, without even looking up
really tired, and . . .”
that pissed me off.
being polite and rudely cut good ol’ Wes off in mid “Hoooooold
myyyy haaand!” crow. I ushered him out the door, promising
I would call some time next week. I didn’t call him, but
in a few days, he called me. And he stopped by a couple
of times. And he called again. I finally agreed to meet
him for drinks one more time, but I just couldn’t get the
wool clogs and irritating guitar thing out of my head. I
decided I wouldn’t see him anymore, but he just kept calling.
I kept declining, making excuses, telling him I didn’t really
want to get involved. But nothing seemed to phase him. He
kept calling and calling and calling . . .
I ran into him at a bar. Since I wasn’t returning his calls,
he apparently called one of my friends and asked her where
I was going to be that night. He approached—wool clogs and
all—and asked me, “So, what do you wanna do tonight?”
to think fast on my feet and be perfectly clear about my
intentions—apparently Wes wasn’t the kind of guy to take
a hint. So I grabbed a hold of a male friend who happened
to be walking by at that moment, hissed at him to agree
with me, introduced him to Wes and said, “You know what
I really want? I want to go home with this guy tonight.
I’m really sorry.”
thing is, even that didn’t really faze him. He called me
again the next day, perturbed but wondering when he could
stop by again.
Lord Giveth, the Lord Taketh Away
From Hell No. 1:
I was 20 I worked at a CVS in Rochester and started to fall
in love with Theresa, a coworker with beautiful blue eyes,
a more beautiful smile, and the most beautiful sense of
humor. She had just graduated from high school and still
lived at home. For three months we flirted and teased, sharing
an interest in literature and poetry. We both wrote and
started sharing snippets of verse while “facing and dusting”
or stocking shelves, only meeting at work.
working more hours.
hadn’t dated yet but always made plans to get together.
Finally, I took the plunge, called her at home, and proposed
an autumnal picnic at the pinnacle of Cobbs Hill Park, a
hill overlooking the city of Rochester. I persuaded her
with a chance to read each other’s poetry and a $50 (a lot
of money for a CVS clerk, and crass to mention, but I was
desperately in love) picnic lunch from Perfect Picnics.
The basket even came complete with a bottle of red wine
and one of those red-and-white-checked tablecloths. It was
set, she let her parents know that she was meeting me at
noon at the pinnacle of Cobbs Hill, and I raced off to get
the perfect picnic spot on the first weekend in October.
was perfect, it was sunny, it was noon, and Theresa was
the tablecloth, got the wine glasses (a bonus set of French
crystal wine glasses I got for opening a checking account
the day before at Columbia Bank), laid everything out in
the warm October sun, and waited as first 12:15, then 12:30,
then 12:45 went by without Theresa showing up. I revised
some of my poetry, wrote a new poem, then couldn’t contain
myself and walked to the pay phone.
older brother answered. “She’s not here,” he said.
waiting for her at Cobbs Hill. We had a date for a picnic,”
know that. She’s not here,” he said, and hung up. Having
dealt with protective Catholic brothers before (from 10th
through 12th grade I was enamored with the girls from Saint
Agnes High School), I waited 15 more minutes and called
brother answered, told me Theresa wasn’t there, and, when
I persisted, finally handed me off to Theresa’s mother.
“Theresa is not here. She has joined the convent,” Theresa’s
mother said, and hung up.
been crapped on by mothers before, but that was over the
top, so I called back, but no one answered.
out the next week at CVS that Theresa had quit; she had
indeed joined the Sisters of Saint Joseph. While I was embarrassed
(and a little pissed over the wasted $50 perfect picnic,
as I hated red wine), I took a little measure of satisfaction
that at least I had been stood up for God.
From Hell No. 2:
of my first post-divorce dates was through a personal ad:
I didn’t have time or patience or inclination to start dating
the acceptable way, and I really couldn’t date anyone from
work. You don’t want to date your fellow teachers. So I
placed an ad (not through Metroland), did some phone
screening of the responses, and went on some dates.
one from Hell was with a woman who turned out to be a minister
with a prominent local church. She had moved into the area,
found it difficult to date people from work (I suppose unless
you’re a priest it’s tough to hit on your practitioners),
and she started answering personal ads (not in Metroland).
We chatted. We had a lot in common: She was a “fellow traveler,”
worked in some of the same causes, liked theater, and was
the antithesis of my ex-wife, a Mormon Republican.
pretty much was my only criteria for dating at that point:
no females who thought Pat Buchanan was pretty smart.
the minister and I dated. By the third or fourth date, she
even picked me up and drove me to dinner and a movie; Angels
and Insects, I think.
on the drive home, she stopped by Washington Park and we
chatted, as we often did, and she stated that, though a
minister, “I am a woman with a woman’s needs. Does that
think it did, so I started playing what in high school was
known as “baseball.” I got to first base easy enough, but
as I was leading off first, ready to steal second, I started
to think about what I was doing, rather than just doing
you really can’t steal second if you’re thinking about whether
you should steal second. I started imagining her the next
morning at church, sermonizing, standing in her robes before
the altar, and as her tongue wrestled with mine, I realized
that I really couldn’t steal second, or, God forbid, find
out that the coach put on the “hit and run” play and I’d
have to end up sliding headfirst into third base all out
of breath and dirty.
pretty much ended the date. I walked home, and I did not
even get into the dugout on our next date, which was our
I had, I now realize, returned the favor. I stood up God.