To this day, whenever somebody mentions P.J., my best friend Rachel still holds back the urge to strangle me. You see, P.J. could very well be the number one choice for the worst date ever, heading up the Guinness Book of World Records, the nightmares from hell story bank, the worst date ever
gossip tale, and the fattest, smelliest, ugliest trombone player this side of Georgia has ever seen. Or the world, for that matter. And the ugliest fact about the whole matter is that P.J. was the blind date-the date nobody could screen beforehand, and the date I agreed to set her up with.
Now, let’s remember: It wasn’t as if my date was any better either. The washed-up rock star in the washed-up pop punk scene was hardly an intellectual stimulant or even a joy to look at. However, to college girls, washed-up rockers in washed-up genres are the coolest thing on the block, so I, being a college girl myself, fell into the mess and ending up wooing one at a bar in Athens, Georgia. I first noticed him behind the bar, sloshing drinks with grace, tucking his razor-gelled blonde hair behind his ears and pushing his Buddy Holly black glasses up his sweaty nose. I marveled at his tattoos and his delicately placed piercings, falling prey to the youthful mistake of wanting a rebel. We exchanged the typical amusing conversation, the soft laughter and elongated smiles, the dry, awkward coughs in moments of silence, the contrived compliments, the overcompensating bragging, and the witty banter for almost an entire evening. “You gotta be like the smartest girl I ever met,” he said, sending girly shivers down my naÃ?Â¯ve neck. Looking back, I am truly ashamed that I accepted the compliment, or even thought of it as a compliment in the first place. We arranged a date.
My best friend Rachel, long time confidant of the most precious matters of the heart, decided to visit me the same weekend the guy from the bar and I had chosen for our date. Calling Jason, the feature of my newest rendezvous, I suggested that he bring a cute, intelligent, motivated guy to accompany my beautiful friend on our outing; he gladly agreed and proposed the perfect guy. He told me that Rachel would fall head over heels for his buddy, who, he assured me, was totally cute and a great conversationalist.
He told me about P.J.
That evening, Rachel and I crept into the Transmetropolitan, a trendy musicians’ hangout which served delicious Italian cuisine. We searched the seats while I secretly hoped I would recognize Jason in the first place. It wasn’t like our first encounter was in the most well-lit of places. Turning my head to the balcony seating, I finally noticed him, sitting idly sipping a beer and talking to Rachel’s date. Talking, more specifically, to the most hideous of beasts my eyes had ever beheld. “Oh, oh dear,” I moaned, poking Rachel and indicating upstairs.
Sitting next to Jason, his gigantic rear-end sloppily heaped over the sides of the chair, sat P.J. He was dressed in an alarmingly bright green tee-shirt with a polka-dotted bow tie fastened at his chubby neck, and wore a pair of black Buddy Holly spectacles identical to Jason’s. He wore loafer shoes and khaki pants so that he looked like a hideous mathematics professor who hadn’t showered for a month. As we approached, we realized that this wasn’t far from the truth: although he had the intelligence of a pea, the smell confirmed his lack of showering habits.
Rachel’s expression was indescribable-the only way I could ever possibly mimic her muteness and the way the color drained from her face would be to set you up on a date with P.J. There’s simply no other way. Stunned, Rachel said, “Kristin, I need a drink!” and poked her hand into her purse, extracting a mini bottle of gin, uncapping the top, and guzzling a mouthful. She shoved the bottle back into her purse and mentioned that she loved me but was going to kill me.
After reaching the top of the stairs, we exchanged the usual politeness, introducing ourselves and giving half-hearted hugs to our foul dates. The first thing I noticed, after the putrid stench emanating from P.J.’s enormous wet armpits, was the pile of empty plates on the table. Jason indicated that they had gotten tired of waiting for us and so ate without us. “You ate without us?” I exclaimed. He shrugged and nodded, and began talking about how awesome his band was and how great his hair looked and how amazing his food was. Wonderful.
Then Jason asked me if I’d like a beer. “Absolutely,” I replied.
“Then why don’t you go ahead and open up a tab?” he furthered, motioning towards the bar. Me, open up a tab, on my date?
So I opened up a tab. Minutes later, Jason got up and visited the bar himself, bringing back two German imports for himself and P.J. “Hey,” he said, setting them on the table, “I ran outta money, so I just went ahead and put these two on your tab.” I asked him if he was going to pay me back, and he said that it was my payment for getting to go on a date with him.
Let me get this straight: First you order and eat without me, then you offer me a drink and make me open up my own tab, and then you put your and P.J.’s beers on the tab you made me open? I suddenly realized with stark clarity what a winner I had picked out. I scolded myself and reminded myself never to chat up a guy at a bar again, however rebellious he might look.
Rachel sat across from me, slumped in her chair, sharing infectious giggles with me, and secretly guzzling her bottle of gin under the table while P.J. wasn’t looking. They stared at each other with the comfort of thorns, and were so quiet that whenever P.J. sniffled and wiped his nose with his hand, scratched his belly, or squeaked in the chair, the sound reverberated throughout the bar. I sat sipping my drink, rolling my eyes around in my head, and counting the number of times Jason said “I”, “me”, or “my” in the same sentence. Trying to sneak in a comment or two, I’d say something like, “Yes, you know the same thing happ-“, but was shortly and swiftly cut off each time by Jason’s “I”, “me”, and “my” phenomenon.
A few minutes later, P.J. asked to be excused, telling us he needed to visit the bathroom. We didn’t think anything was amiss until Jason began squirming in his seat, checking his watch, and murmuring things about work. Twenty minutes later, with the conversation even staler, it was becoming quite clear that my best friend, my beautiful, witty, enormously fun best friend Rachel, had been abandoned by the fattest, smelliest, ugliest trombone player in Athens. P.J. never returned.
As we tumbled down the steps, Rachel swooning over the gin and I over my embarrassment, Jason sped up in front of us and swung open the front door to the restaurant, promptly smashing it into my face as I knocked head-on into the glass. He kept walking, and even after I recovered from the chirping birds swirling around my head, he continued walking two steps in front of us. He gave me a high-five and left us outside his bar, where he hopped in and went straight to work.
At this point, one might wonder if I ever talked to this guy again. In fact, I’m surprised to tell you that I did, but under the wrong kind of circumstances. A week later, I missed two calls from Jason while at work. Arriving home and dialing my voice mail, I settled in for what I assumed to be the heartfelt apology, the promise to pay me back, or even just a friendly hello, but what I got was something much more interesting.
“Heeey,” the message began, “this is, uh, Jason, that guy you met a bar the other week?” (Yeah, like I could forget!) “Uh, that last call wasn’t actually meant for you, so you can just go ahead and, uh, disregard it. Thanks.” I disregarded it, and went ahead and deleted his number.
As you can imagine, Jason, nor P.J., were ever heard from again.