Here’s another one from the vault. It seems like I should follow up any entry with an “Exhibit A” by adding an “Exhibit B,” so get ready for more tales of men without general first date skills. This may be one of the more ridiculous dates I have ever been on.
I should have known it wouldn’t be good when this guy, who I met on Plenty of Fish, suggested that we go to Chili’s. I remember that I was out having a drink with a friend when he texted me that we should go to the Northfield Chili’s and she made fun of me for saying yes to the date. I should have listened to my friend/intuition/taste in food… Also, just a note, I’m not a snob but I just feel like maybe choosing a place or activity that is a little unique can be a way to show that you are excited about a date and took time to plan it. Dinner at Chili’s probably didn’t take a lot of creativity or brainpower for this guy, but as I soon discovered, most of his mental energy was taken up by being crazy!
We get to the Chili’s in a Northeastern suburb of Denver around the same time and get a table. This guy is reasonably attractive, but his overall look seems to be stuck in about 1996. He’s got a leather jacket on and one of those shirts with the sort of big pointy collars that fold down in front… Like a Backstreet Boy would wear. So maybe it’s more like 1999. We sit down and start looking at the menu, and this dude, let’s call him Neurotic Fish (I used to refer to all the guys I met on Plenty of Fish in this way, by giving them a “Fish Name”), immediately whips out his digital camera. Yes, not phone, digital camera. This date was probably in 2009 or 2010 so this was odd, but maybe not as odd as it would be if the date was last week. This digital camera is old and shitty, so he is clearly not trying to impress me. What is he doing?
He is about to show me his fucking life story. He moved to Denver somewhat recently from somewhere dumb that I can’t remember. Texas? Ohio? Georgia? New Jersey? I honestly can’t recall. He shows me probably 100 pictures over the course of this date, in chronological order, all generally hard to see on the tiny digital camera screen and WHY?!? Highlights include pictures of his mom and his brother and nieces and nephews, pictures of his childhood dog, pictures of his high school friends from Texas/Ohio/Georgia/New Jersey, pictures of his ex-girlfriend (again with the exes on the first date!), pictures of his car, his current roommate and apartment, and various other mundane bullshit. There was also a trip to Vegas or Disney World or something of that nature which consisted of pictures of him trying to look gangster in front of fake versions of internationally known tourist sites. The whole time he narrates, telling me way too much detail about all of the people involved and what his relationship is with each of them, what health problems, drug addictions, hobbies, each of them have…
He also lets slip interesting tidbits about his own issues, such as how he doesn’t like to be in crowded places because he thinks people are going to steal his belongings so he feels compelled to look around him at all times. He also talks about how his ex-girlfriend was a terrible person and how all of the girls he has met in Denver are mean and don’t call him back after the first date. I am starting to realize why.
Interesting note on this one, somewhere around picture number 17 or so, he orders a soda and tells me he doesn’t drink because of his medication. I figure he is on some sort of psychotropic drugs and figure it would be weird for me to drink if he doesn’t… So there goes one of my usual awkward date coping mechanisms of drinking until the nice wears off… I just have to keep nodding and smiling instead, and avoiding eye contact by staring at the digital camera screen.
Midway through this soliloquy, after we have gotten our chicken fingers or bloomin’ onions or whatever, something happens that really puts a nice cherry on top of the freak show that is already going down. A guy who volunteers with the nonprofit organization I work for walks by with his family. This dude is an older guy, let’s call him Bob for now. Bob introduces me to his wife and adult daughter, who I have never met. “This is Neurotic Fish. We are on a terrible first date. Can you help me escape?” is what I want to say. Instead, I introduce Neurotic Fish using his actual name and explain that I know Bob through my work. “She really loves her work,” Neurotic Fish says with a smile like he KNOWS me. I don’t even know how he knew that because the whole date so far had consisted of his jabbering on in an endless slideshow of his life. But now Bob and his family probably think this dum dum is my boyfriend. GREAT.
Bob and family are on their way out, so we say goodbye and Neurotic Fish resumes the surprisingly long tale of his life and times in Denver (he’s only lived in Denver for like 6 months at this point!) I continue my “active listening” and start considering sneaking over to the bar area and taking a shot. Eventually, the digital camera pictures run out. There were probably only room for about 100 of them and for that I am thankful.
So then I try to wrap this shenanigans up as quickly as possible. Because we have probably already been at this lovely, brightly-lit booth in a half-empty Chili’s for over two hours at this point. It takes a long time to narrate a full autobiography via pictures! So I basically run for the door after the check, and I recall it being super cold out that night. Neurotic fish insists on walking me to my car because he says something weird about something “happening to me” in the parking lot… I think it was just something that overly paranoid people say, but it creeped me out, like how in a scary movie the killer says they don’t want anything to happen to their victim… But whatever, I have taken self-defense classes so I decide to allow him to walk me to my car. Turns out he didn’t want to be creepy, he just thought that the parking lot would be a romantic spot to drop this classic line, “You’re so amazing, why are you still single?”
A few comments about people asking this question of single people. Because lots of people say it, women say it to their girlfriends, parents say it to their children, maybe even bro dude friends say it to their bros? I am not sure about this one, so any bro dude friends who are reading will have to help me out. First of all, the answer to “Why are you still single?” is pretty much always “I don’t fucking know! Clearly no one likes it enough to put a ring on it so why don’t you ask all the various fools I have been on dates with and maybe they will give you an honest answer about why we aren’t still dating! They didn’t give me one…” Second of all, this question seems to indicate that there is some secret thing wrong with the person being questioned that they are hiding? Or that this is the time to reveal their not-easily-apparent flaw? “You see, I am still single because most people I date can’t really hang with my twelve cats/hoarding issues/prescription drug addiction/obsession with One Direction and presidency of their fan club…” So it seems even worse when someone who is trying to date you asks this question. It’s basically a way to tell someone that they seem nice but you are pretty sure they are actually crazy.
But this seemed about par for the course from Neurotic Fish because… lack of skills at life. At least he was trying to be nice about it. “You’re beautiful, you’re smart, blah blah…” he was trying to be complimentary but still implying that he wanted to know if I was obsessed with Justin Bieber and would call out his name in bed. Or let’s see, this was probably before Justin Bieber was a thing. Umm… substitute Lady Gaga? Or Pitbull? The Black-Eyed Peas? I feel like those people were big in 2009 when this date occurred. But I digress. He asked me this question about why I was single, in front of my car, in a freezing cold Chili’s parking lot, and he wanted an answer. I should have just asked for HIS answer to the same question, that’s a nice social work/therapy tactic that I could have used… But instead I said something about how I have high standards and don’t put up with bullshit from anyone, you know, subtly trying to imply that he did not meet my high standards. But this one was not so great at grasping subtlety, or really any sort of normal social cues. So I said a bunch of stuff and then said I was cold and had to leave. Both true statements. I pretty much dove into my car at that point, as a strategy to avoid a first-date kiss attempt, which was another thing I was worried might “happen to me” in the parking lot after his weirdo comment. But I made it out of there ok and tried to avoid future contact, to no avail. Lots of texting about how come no one likes him and wah wah and I felt bad so I made up an imaginary boyfriend that I met on Plenty of Fish and he told me that when I break up with my “boyfriend” I should keep him in mind. Interestingly, after this I did start dating someone I met on Plenty of Fish but it was also super weird and worthy of this blog. So stay tuned for that one.