Follow me down memory lane – to the land of dates long gone but not forgotten. Step over the discarded roses, melting candies, and wadded tissue. Saunter beyond the river of tears, crumbling hearts, and singed hopes and dreams. Take one last listen to the melodic whimpers and woes. Now stop. Lift your eyes to the dark and ominous sky. Push through the thick, intrusive stench. You have arrived. This is the resting place of the worst date ever.
There are many clichÃ?Â©s I could have used to begin my journey: “Be careful what you wish for,” “The grass is always greener,” “Another one bites the dust. . . .” But none of those could have brought you to the heart of my disgust and despair. Now that you are here, let’s begin.
A twenty -one- year- old teacher who had spent the last four years of college working and studying without much of a social life, I decided (well, my friends decided) it was time for a change. It was a Friday night, just a few hours after I’d left work, when I got the call that the girls were meeting at a local sports bar for a quick bite to eat and some well-deserved liquid libation. Not expecting to be drilled about my non- existent love life, I happily agreed to tag along.
It wasn’t until the last quesadilla had been eaten and we’d moved to the bar that I got the inclination my friends were up to no good. The bartender, a surprisingly brainy law student named Joe, had caught my eye and we exchanged a few witty comments and whimsical flirtations in between drink orders. I was excited to feel the rush of attraction in the pit of my stomach – something I’d almost forgotten how to feel.
Just when it seemed Joe was about to ask for my number, I noticed the girls hovering around a dark-eyed stranger wearing a long-sleeved lumberjack shirt. “Odd,” I thought. He was attractive, in a creepy sort of way.
My eyes turned back to Joe who had left to fill another order. I was admiring his wavy hair, broad shoulders, and cute bottom, when the white napkin from hell hit the counter. It read “Mike” and a sloppy phone number followed.
I looked at the stranger and him at me. He smiled shyly. I don’t think I responded, but I recall my eyes frozen on his. At the time, I felt an odd connection, which my friends had convinced me was fate knocking on my door. Looking back, I wish I had closed my eyes ad kept them shut until Joe reappeared.
I wasn’t the only one witnessing the gaze and napkin. My could-have-been future lawyer husband saw too and didn’t come by my side of the bar for the rest of the night.
I left with Mike’s number and an earful of info from the girls. “He just moved back from California. He’s smart – has an engineering degree or something, He was wearing a Rolex…..looks rich.”
“In a lumberjack shirt?” I asked.
“He’s eccentric” they chimed in. He was cute.
After an entire morning and afternoon of prodding from the girls, I finally called the number on the crinkled bar napkin. Part of me was hoping all of the chatter they’d fed me was true. I did want to find “Love.”
A deep voice answered and I asked to speak with Mike. It was him. I told him I felt silly to be calling, but my friends had insisted and I was sorry they had bothered him the night before. He got right to the point and asked me to dinner. Italian, he said. I was taken aback by his directness but didn’t really feel like spending another Saturday night alone. I agreed to meet him at his home, but insisted that I be the one to drive. The plans were set.
After the girls stopped cheering, I did the usual predate routine: nails, hair, changing clothes and shoes multiple times. As dusk fell, I got into my car and headed toward the date from hell.
When I got to the address Mike had given me, I was impressed. The house was beautiful. I went to the door and rang the bell. A woman in her fifties answered along with what I assumed to be her husband. They were Mike’s parents. I spied Mike in the background with his hands in his pockets, a sheepish grin on his face. He introduced me to his parents and they smiled at me as thought I was the first female they’d ever seen. Mike proceeded to give me a tour of his parent’s house, including his room and the bathroom, which I recall, was decorated in musical notes and red roses. By the way, Mike was wearing plaid again and jeans. But his shoes were cute-brown boat shoes, I recall.
Wishing I had chosen to wear one of my more conservative outfits, I sunk into my skin and inched toward the front door hoping to feign a sudden illness.
Mike’s parents wished us well and off we went to my car – The car I said I would be driving on the date.
Mike suggested that we take his Jeep since he got carsick when others drove. Not being the argumentative type, I got into his jeep against my inner voice’s urging. Did I mention that Mike handed me a rose in a bud vase with a gold sparkly twirly decoration in it? Yes, a whole bud vase, which I had to hold on my lap all the way to the restaurant. Oh, the restaurant – was a pizza joint where we ordered a large pepperoni and Mike stared at me the whole time I ate (or tired to eat). He said he was trying to picture our children and asked the waitress several times if she thought I was attractive. Mike pointed out that I had some spices in my teeth and wanted to get it off for me! I was too freaked to eat, so we left the table with my stomach growing and got back into the jeep where my bud vase was waiting. Mike tried to hold my hand but I said I didn’t want to rose to fall.
As were driving back to the direction of his house (where I hoped my car would still be waiting for me) Mike apologized for being so sleepy. He said he’d gotten a shot to help him with his manic depression and it made him tired. Then he turned down a street towards a park and turned off the engine. I was terrified. I truly thought I was in the middle of a nightmare and would wake up any minute. Mike suggested we sit on a bench and I said I was really tired and wanted to go home. He said he would take me home after we talked. I repeated the word TALKED and he nudged me from the car. On the bench, I tried to make small talk while examining my surroundings for a quick escape if needed. Mike pulled me towards him and forced his tongue down my throat. He was a wet, sloppy kisser and criticized me for not kissing back. He was becoming angry. I made the excuse that I was chilly and would be more comfortable back at his house.
We drove back and I was searching for an excuse to leave. Mike held my hand and led me to the house. I was too nice of a person back then. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. After all, he had been honest about his illness – he wasn’t trying to hide anything. I really wanted to go home. I figured I could visit for a few minutes and then leave. After all, Mike’s parents would be there, right? Wrong. The house was empty. I said I needed to use the restroom and I went inside and locked to door. No window. The counter was covered with pill bottles. They all had Mike’s name on them. Why hadn’t I seen that on the tour? I guess I was in there a while because Mike knocked on the door and tried to open it. I said I would be a minute. He was growing impatient and asked when we were going to have sex?! I didn’t know what to do – my heart was racing. By the Grace of God, the phone rang. I unlocked the door, car keys in hand, and ran for the door. Mike called out to me and I said I had my period and ran out the front door. I jumped into my car and took off with Mike running down the driveway behind me!
Thank God, I had driven to his house! Thank God that I had never given him my number! Thank God that I have a forgiving heatr and didn’t dump all of my friends.
True story. I wonder what Lawyer Joe is doing these days. . . .