Yep, it's my topic. Sometimes I think of a few words, type 'em up in an email and hit "send" before I think about it too much. Other times I've actually got a good story that goes with those words. And it happens that this time I do, although it's purely a coincidence.
To begin with, this whole concept of “dating” kinda baffles me. I’m not sure I’ve even ever done it. Dated, that is. I’ve gone out on dates, but for the most part I didn’t have to date because I had beautiful women practically falling into my lap every time I turned around. (Well, Joan moved in next door. Same difference.) Besides, at least in high school where we were all supposed to learn how to do this “dating” thing, I was practicing an instrument a couple of hours a day, running back and forth to rehearsals, squeezing in schoolwork here and there (I managed to maintain something like a B+ average; don’t ask me how, it certainly wasn’t for hard work) and, oh yeah, trying not to be the biggest nerd in the universe and having something of a social life, however pathetic. (Guess which instrument I played. Hint:)
By junior year I had a boyfriend (yes, I did say boyfriend; I also had a girlfriend but I don’t think anybody knew about that). That he was older and didn’t go to our school made him nice and dark and mysterious, which he wasn’t, and great for keeping other boys away. He wasn’t a bad guy, really. Just, you know, kind of basically hopeless on several levels. We didn’t “date,” either. We just kind of hung out.
I went to college in the same town where I went to high school; in fact my high school and my college were less than five miles apart. (I had this Big Plan to go out of state to college, had picked one out, had done everything but register, and then this college five miles away threw me a four year scholarship. What was I supposed to do, throw it back? And why a scholarship, you ask? See above.) More running back and forth to rehearsals, practice rooms, auditoriums and football fields. Only it was more serious there. My boyfriend (same one) complained that he never got to see me, which was basically true; even when he started school there he never got to see me. We fought a lot, broke up, “dated” other people (well, maybe he did; I never had time) and then got back together. Then one time I actually did “date” someone else, and he turned into this crazed dragon, yelled a lot, did insane things like quit his job in a fit of pique, and gradually flushed his entire life down a giant toilet. I decided I didn’t want to hang around to see how this turned out. Meantime, I discovered girls (maybe “re-discovered” is more accurate), graduated, moved to San Diego with the then-love of my life and got dumped for a bimbo receptionist after about three years.
And then, folks, we have what’s known as the Twilight Zone of the Blind Date.
Some well-meaning friends apparently decided that it was not good for Jen to be alone, and so they decided to fix me up with as many people as possible as quickly as possible, in hopes that I’d click with somebody and stop doing weird things like, I dunno, leave the milk out on the counter all day and drop my cell phone unnoticed on the stairs outside my apartment. (Really, it’s not good for Jen to be alone. I could accidentally kill myself with food poisoning or walk right into a moving bus without half noticing.) And so there were a number of rather forgettable evenings with a number of nice young ladies whom, I’m sure, were just fine, except that I needed another relationship right then like I needed a hole in the head, and this was probably pretty obvious to just about everybody except the well-meaning friends.
Anyway. The Worst. Date. Ever. A woman I knew from work, who had several grown and nearly-grown daughters, had one of them coming back from college with a friend of hers whom, she was told, was smart and not-unattractive. So arrangements were made for me to go with this young lady to a local country and western bar (leave it to San Diego to have a gay friendly country and western bar; I can’t even find one of those in Dallas—not that I go to bars a lot, or even at all.) We were meeting this woman from work, her wife, a couple of the other daughters, their friends and a couple of hangers-on, so it was a pretty good-size crowd. Good, I could hide in the middle of it. Only I couldn’t, because the wife wouldn’t let me.
I’m not kidding; no sooner had we walked in the door than the wife, who was probably in her mid-fifties, began hectoring me to dance with everybody in the place. (Hey, I two-step a little, but Fred Astaire I am not, and certainly not backwards in high heels.) First with the girl I was ostensibly on a date with, but when she said she wasn’t really comfortable dancing, Wife began throwing me at everyone else in the place. The couple next to us (two ladies in their mid-thirties who were obviously enchanted with each other), the couple next to them (two ladies in their mid-sixties who were not speaking), the woman leaning against the wall a few feet away (she turned out to be a guy; it’s so embarrassing when that happens) and so on and so forth. A couple of times I made a valiant attempt to say, “Hey, we’re talking and enjoying the music, how about we just do that for a while?” but I got steamrollered by Wife’s plowing past me (and dragging me along) to introduce me to the couple that had just walked in the door.
I’m not sure I ever got to talk to my actual date. Truth to be told, I don’t even remember her name. What I do remember was this becoming a spectacle, people staring, me wanting to disappear beneath the floorboards, my friend from work hiding behind a beer and covering her face with her hands, my date looking confused but not really angry, and other members of our party kind of drifting around wondering what in the hell was going on. Suddenly, in a fit of inspiration, I excused myself to the ladies’ room and went past it, out the side door and into the night.
I walked home. It was probably two or three miles and I didn’t go the fastest way. I got off the main street as soon as I could, thinking that Wife might come after me in her Suburban and throw me at potential dance partners (primarily homeless people, at that hour) all over the street. As crazy as the whole situation had become, though, I don’t remember being angry. Just very, very puzzled. No idea what I could have done to set Wife off. Surely my date hadn’t done anything. She just didn’t want to dance, that was all. And neither did I, by this point. In fact, I was reasonably sure I would never dance in public again. (Figure this out, I don’t think I have—except maybe at my sister’s wedding.)
So that was it. The Worst Date Ever. I never saw my date again, which was kind of sad, because she seemed nice. I never really figured out what was going on. My co-worker tried to apologize about the whole thing, but what I really wanted was an explanation and I never got one. Fortunately, about a month later Joan moved in next door to me and I didn’t have to worry about dating ever again. Yep—she fell right into my lap. The way they always do.