The true story of an actual date with a real person.
I walk to the upscale-ish restaurant/bar in my neighborhood, arrive exactly on time, belly up to the bar and order a well bourbon with a beer back. I'm wearing something cute but not risque; jeans, T-shirt, cowboy boots, leather jacket. It's a lovely evening, for winter. The door opens a few times and I keep turning to check. The third time, it's unmistakably the guy from the ad... 40 pounds heavier and a lot less attractive. I am tempted to bolt, but instead I smile and greet him politely with the requisite Portland half-hug (I greatly prefer a handshake, but everyone here seems to think hugging is the way to greet strangers).
He orders, pays for my drink, we go to the back and sit near a window. I am internally steeled for a polite hour of being pleasant and interesting. We chat.
He is actually not so bad to talk to. Quite nice, actually, fairly interesting. Kind of funny. He pre-emptively orders me another drink (a good reason to insist on going dutch on the first date) and I figure, oh, what the hell, I'm having a decent time. Shortly thereafter, though, the conversation starts to become decidedly less interesting and funny as he begins bloviating about the hospital he works in and how being in a hospital gown is the great equalizer of men blah blah blah. Then I register what it is he actually does, and where; he's an MRI tech in the same hospital my friend Surfer Boy works at. "Oh hey," I say, I don't suppose you know my friend Liam, do you? He's a film librarian there."
There's a pause, and he looks deliberately thoughtful in the way people only look thoughtful when they know immediately who you are referring to, but want you to think they don't.
"Liam? Hmmm. I don't know, there are a lot of people in my department... Liam... what's his last name?"
"Sandusky", I say, "Liam Sandusky".
More pretending not to remember. Then, a snap of the fingers; "Liam! Of course! He works my front desk sometimes when one of the ladies is out. Cocky little guy... really full of himself. He thinks he's the cock of the walk, doesn't he?"
Is this fucker really saying this about someone I just told him is my friend?
"Um. No, actually he's quite shy and self-effacing. He's a creative guy, writes poetry. He's really smart."
"Well he sure comes off like he thinks a lot of himself, the way he struts around flirting with the ladies."
I can see very clearly what the problem is. This bloated old fuck sees Liam's youth, his gentle quietness, his good looks, and the fact that women like him, and he's envious and threatened. Then he asks the obvious next question:
"So, how do you know Liam?"
"I met him online and dated him for a while, about a year ago."
"Oh... so, it just didn't go anywhere?"
"No, it went somewhere... he just realized he liked me too much to keep it casual, but isn't into kids, so we decided to just be friends."
Faux-sympathy. "Awww. That's too bad!"
Pause. Then he starts in on a story.
"You know the funniest thing? You know how Liam has those sideburns? Well, I used to have big mutton-chop sideburns, and it wasn't until I grew mine..."
"Oh, actually," I say sweetly, knowing exactly where this was going, "It's funny but I hounded him for MONTHS to grow those. He didn't want to but I was relentless."
"I'll be right back," he says, "I need to use the restroom."
I sit in kind of mild disbelief at his rudeness for a couple of minutes, and then he returns... and oh FUCK, he's bought me another drink. FUCK FUCK FUCK. OK. I can live through one more. He sits down, sliding onto the bench next to me instead of the seat opposite.
"One more," he says, "I hope that's OK."
"Oh, sure... but this has to be my last one."
"You know, when I walked in I couldn't believe how cute you were. You're so... tiny. You're just really, really tiny and lovely. A tiny, tiny lovely creature."
WTF? What is this "tiny" shit? Is this supposed to be seductive?
"Um, thank you?"
"I really just couldn't believe it. It's like, you could fit in the cup of my hand. Is that perfume I smell?"
He leans in and sniffs, and then, suddenly, he is KISSING me. I fell for the oldest fucking trick in the book. We are in a restaurant, with people, and he is kissing me in public, in front of people, and I am contemplating how I am going to get away, and his hand is on the back of my neck, and then...
He puts his finger in my left ear.
Not like, a caressing fingertip. He sticks his dry index finger into my ear canal. I freeze, stunned like a deer in the headlights. Is this weird? I think. And then, the other finger inserts into my right ear. Fuck YES this is weird! Break contact! Break contact!
I don't really know if I jerk away, turn my head, slump into my seat, but blessedly, both lip and ear contact are broken.
"Ohhh, that was so lovely" he says with a little smug smile. "You know what? Those hipsters over there keep staring at us."
I turn to look, and sure enough, three young hipsters are looking right at us with combined expressions of amusement and disbelief.
"Wow, I really ought to head home! It was nice meeting you." I say, getting hastily to my feet and putting on my jacket.
"Hold on, I'll walk you to your car!"
"Oh, I didn't bring my car, I walked." OSHIT why did I say that? WHY?
"Well, you can't walk home alone in the dark! I'll drive you home!"
"NO um I actually really want to walk and it's my neighborhood and really very safe also I was um, planning on going to buy cigarettes first."
"I'll walk with you, then. I insist."
I'm thinking, rolling over plans in my head. Can I go to the bathroom and call someone to rescue me? Or wait... maybe I'll just go to the mini-mart in the exact opposite direction of my house, so that he'll be tired out when we finally get back here, and he'll ditch. OK. Try that.
He settles up and we set off, me walking a bit faster than normal, him huffing and puffing to keep up. He tries to make small talk, but I don't really reply. At one point, though, he thinks we will hold hands, and his palm and fingers are eerily dry and scaly feeling, and warm like a lizard that's been basking in the sun. Repulsed, I pull away. Not one to take a hint, he tries again a couple of times, and I start walking faster. He's struggling to keep up, his great bulky body sweating and wheezing in what would otherwise be a lovely crisp night.
Three goddamn stores. The first two are closed, and I renew my suggestion that we go back to his car and I walk home alone but, inexplicably, he refuses to take a clue and follows me doggedly around my neighborhood until I finally score a pack of cigarettes at the Chevron five blocks from my house. Thankfully, by now his efforts at impressing me by talking have ended, because he doesn't have the stamina to walk and talk at the same time.
We get to my house. "Well, here I am" I say, extending my hand. "It was nice to meet you, have a good night!"
"Oh, it's been wonderful! Do you mind if I sit and catch my breath for a while?"
By now I'm past any pretense at being polite. "Uhhh fine" I say, and lead the way to the front porch, choosing to settle into the fortress-like rattan chair in the corner. This leaves him the bench, from which I am untouchable. I light a cigarette and offer him one. I know he doesn't smoke, but I was hoping that he would take it out of peer pressure and it would give him emphysema. He's shivering from the cold; he didn't bring a jacket.
"Would you mind terribly if I use your bathroom?"
Oho. He thinks he can get me inside. Think again, Earfinger.
"Sure, it's straight through the kitchen, to the right. Don't mind the dogs, they're harmless. Try not to scare my housemate."
It's an awkward moment, and I don't care. He goes inside, into dark and unfamiliar territory and barking dogs, and emerges a couple of minutes later. Unfortunately, he sits down again. I have to pee, but I am not going into my house until this behemoth potato on toothpicks departs.
I smoke. And smoke. I sit in my impenetrable rattan fortress for three or four cigarettes, and at last, after what feels like an hour, it finally seems to filter through his dense mass of cluelessness that he is absolutely not going to get anywhere with me, and that I will gladly keep him out on the porch until dawn.
"Well, I'd better go I guess. I had such a great time, it was so wonderful to meet you."
He stands up and I extend my hand from my fortress. "'Night" I say, and he pauses in one pathetic confused moment, then accepts my hand, says good night, and like a portly, oppressive cloud, blunders off into the night.