There was a dark period in my life a few years ago when my days consisted of work, classes, writing and not much else, and my nights were packed full of the saddest event known to modern humans: the Internet date. If you've never been on a dating website, if you have a spouse or a social life or self-respect, then let me set the scene for you. Internet dating websites are digital markets full of sad sacks trying to sell you on their "laid-back personalties" and "love of the outdoors." Seriously, according to these sites, everyone is constantly napping in a hammock somewhere.
You see people's pictures (behind several filters), read a few paragraphs about them (this is where "laid back" comes in) and see what they're looking for (it's never you). And underneath every profile lingers the sad truth that, hey, we're on a dating website; our lives are shit. But at the very least, those endless months of shitty first dates have given me some stories.
In order from "I really need to get my life together" to "I think I may try lesbianism," here are my five worst Internet dates.
5. Extreme Heat Guy It was summertime. Probably July. I can't remember exactly, but I do remember that walking outside felt like stepping into a super-charged sauna. One minute into my drive to the Denton Square for an Internet date and beads of sweat were making their way down my torso before being absorbed by my Hanes undies (which were now soaked from the top down). My main focus was to not look like a drowning rat in front of this guy, so I spent a couple minutes in the car finger-brushing my hair and blotting a napkin on my face before heading toward the coffee shop. I almost had my hand on the door to head inside when I looked down and saw my date kicked back at an outside table.
I walked up, introduced myself and, when he made no move to get up, sat down. The table and chairs were metal, and I knew I was being branded like cattle when my thighs made contact with the seat. We chatted for a couple of minutes, I went inside to get a drink and, feeling the blast of cold air inside, decided to lure him toward air conditioning. "So, do you wanna get a table inside?" I asked when I came back. "Nah, I'm fine out here," he said. "It's a nice day." A nice day? My glasses kept sliding down my face, and I could see my freckles turning darker as the seconds ticked by. We spent the entire 30-minute coffee date in the blazing sun making inane small talk while I chugged an iced mocha just short of a brain freeze. We never spoke again. I probably have sun-induced cancer.
4. The Mute Things started out normally enough. We chatted online, picked an Italian restaurant in Dallas and exchanged numbers (just in case). We met at the restaurant and, after a quick hello and hug, were seated at a table near a window. He mumbled that he had something for me and pulled out a CD-R with "Folk Mix" scrawled on with a Sharpie. He'd brought me the 21st-century version of a mix tape. I thanked him (I'm not that much of an asshole) and put it in my purse. He said, "You're welcome." And that was the last coherent thing he said to me. All night. Besides giving the waiter his order, all I got were mishmash and the occasional nod.
If you've ever found yourself across from someone who doesn't talk, you probably know what happened -- I talked. A lot. At length. In between 10-minute soliloquies about the restaurant and the unpredictability of Texas weather (I was running out of ideas, OK?), I would purposefully pause for a minute or two to see what would happen. Nada. He just sat there and stared into his lasagna. It was excruciating. When I finally got home that night, my throat sore, he texted me: "Maybe I'm not ready to date yet." No kidding. I actually felt a little sorry for him. I have no idea where the CD is.
3. Aggressive Bald Guy Aggressive Bald Guy (ABG) had a backpack. When we met at a BBQ joint at the Fort Worth Stockyards, he was wearing it, only taking it off when we sat down. Fair enough, I thought, maybe it's like a man-purse or something. After dinner, I started the "Well, I think I'll be heading home" spiel, but ABG was having none of that. He donned his ever-present backpack and suggested we stroll up the street, grabbing a drink. It was late, I countered. But he insisted, and I relented. "What's in the backpack?" I asked, on our way to the bar. His response was vague -- something about how he didn't trust anyone enough to leave his things in his car. Uh huh.
We had a quick drink (during which his backpack never came off) and then he led us to a bench on the sidewalk where we talked. Forever. Every time things got quiet and I thought I could suggest we leave, he'd keep talking, grabbing my hands and making intense eyes at me. He was easily excitable and talked about God-only-knows what. Looking back, I can't believe I stayed as long as I did. As the crowds started to thin, he asked me if I was hungry again. The sad part? I was. I figured after all I'd been through, he owed me another meal. We made our way to the local Whataburger, where I ate a chicken finger basket and eyed the backpack sitting on the bench next to him. He ended up attacking my face with his mouth outside my car before wandering off into the night, backpack on, bald head gleaming.
2. The Pretentious Asshole We planned to meet at my favorite Italian restaurant in Addison, Joe's Italian Cafe (seriously, check it out), but when I got there, he was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes, the hostess suggested that perhaps my date had already been seated. I glanced into the dining area, and there he was, wine in hand. OK, kinda rude, I thought. But I let it go. Maybe he isn't an asshole, maybe he's just an alcoholic. I sat down, the waitress came, I ordered something super fattening and turned to my date.
He's kinda cute, I thought.
"I can't imagine being that old and still working as a waitress," he stage-whispered to me.
"I'm sorry?" I said, hoping I'd misheard him.
"You know, being in your late 20s, early 30s, even older, and working as a waitress or in retail or something?" he said. "I mean, get your life together. How sad. I'm in my 30s, and I already make more than $40,000 a year."
I stared at him for a full minute, his once-cute features morphing into ugly lines and shapes he shoved wine and bread into.
"You know, at least she's working," I said, pissed. "She's making a contribution." I stuffed some bread into my own mouth, talking through the doughy wad, not caring anymore. "By the way, I work at Barnes & Noble, and I'm in my late 20s. I just don't think you should judge people based on their job or income."
I wish I could tell you he begged for my forgiveness, realizing how much of an asshole he was. But he just backtracked a little before changing topics. We wolfed down our dinner in an effort to get the hell away from each other, and I didn't even try and make a reach for the check when it came. Hey, $40,000 a year and all...
1. The Guy Who Almost Murdered Me (Probably) This date was more of an "almost date," being that it never actually happened. But what did happen is as follows:
We chatted online, decided on a place (TGI Fridays in Addison) and picked a time (7 p.m.). Then, since I was a first-date pro by this point, I asked him to meet me in the front waiting area of the restaurant. That way, we wouldn't have to look for each other. No problem, he said. I threw on a skirt, brushed my hair and fought my way down the Tollway, arriving at 7:02 p.m. I sat down in the front area and waited. For five minutes. Ten. Fifteen. I asked the hostesses if they'd seen a guy matching his description. Maybe he went against the plan and had been seated. One of them said they saw a guy come in earlier, look around and leave. Hmm. I went to grab my phone to text him and see where he was, but I'd done the unthinkable -- I'd forgotten my phone at home. The two young hostesses eyeballed me for a bit, their faces sad. "Do you want some water while you wait?" one offered. "Maybe he got stuck in traffic," said the other. Their pity was palpable. Would he really take off after a single minute? I wondered. After 30 minutes, I gave up and left, pissed that I'd shaved my legs and used precious gas in my car for a no-show.
When I got home, I grabbed my phone to text him and see what happened. I was greeted with about five missed calls and 17 or so text messages. Some of my favorites, in chronological order, were:
"Hey, where the hell are you?"
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"I can't believe you're standing me up, you stupid c*nt!"
"I'm gonna fucking report you online, you bitch!"
I think you get the gist. When he called (again) a minute later, I couldn't resist answering. He told me he'd gone in, didn't see me and proceeded to wait in his car and watch the door for me. He claimed he never saw me walk in. When I asked him why he didn't just wait inside, he said he wanted to get a look at me before meeting me. I told him he could call and talk to a couple of sad-eyed hostesses if he didn't believe me and to never contact me again.
I am convinced that had I met him, I would be locked up in a basement somewhere, the mother of his five kids, a pathetic Dateline segment for the masses.