The date that made me quit dating…the first time. Because to be clear, I eventually tried online dating (and quit trying online dating) a second time, but only because my therapist told me to. It was a long, weird afternoon spent in the company of a stranger who said THE strangest things. An afternoon that was so long and strange that the telling of it has to be done in three parts. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Somehow I managed to be the only person who didn’t quite realize that Tinder is almost exclusively for finding friends to host adult sleepovers with. Mind you, I wasn’t exactly boyfriend shopping, but I wasn’t looking to just hit it and quit it either. That was the first problem, my methodology. Problem #2: At this stage of my game, I was still at least legally blind to some red flags. In retrospect, yeah, I probably shouldn’t have gone out with this dude in the first place. But you know, hindsight and what not.
We had exchanged some messages on the app and eventually moved over to texting. Tinder Tim wasn’t the greatest of conversationalists. He’d text me Pink Floyd lyrics. On more than one occasion. Even after I told him I’m not a huge Floyd fan. But in the interest of staying “open-minded” and “well, you have to give him a chance,” I kept the conversation moving.
He was in one of the Philadelphia unions, which I was into. Little known fact, I love me a blue collar man. Men doing manly things, working with their hands and all that. And he was really into nature and outdoor activities; another point for Tinder Tim. He asked if I was into mountain biking and a couple of other pretty extreme sports. I was upfront and told him that I will try anything once (I’m talking about mountain biking, ya dirtballs), but if he was looking for someone who is going to go mountain biking and rock climbing with him as a regular way of life, I’m probably not your girl.
So, it wasn’t a huge surprise that when we got to the stage of setting up our first face to face meeting, he asked if I’d be up for going on a hike, despite the cold weather. As I’ve mentioned before, I make it my business to not get murdered. So, no Tinder Tim, I’m not going hiking with you. I let him know it wasn’t the weather I had an issue with; I’m not up for meeting a stranger I met on the Internet out in the wilderness.
Let’s stop here a second. All jokes aside, as a woman, I take my personal safety very seriously. I take no chances. And while I don’t expect a guy to necessarily think the same way I do (e.g. realizing that suggesting a woman meet you for the first time in the woods is no good), once I point it out to him, I need him to get it. To understand why. Tinder Tim did not. He made no acknowledgement of my point or my joke. Ignored it altogether and went on to suggest indoor rock climbing instead. What a great opportunity for us to get to know each other: I’m suspended 150 feet off the ground and you are privy to the unfortunate angles of my ass in a harness. Dude, you’re killing me. My reply: “How about we just meet for a drink and save the extreme sports for the second or third date?” Against every fiber of my being, I’m trying to be open-minded here, people.
He suggested a bar I’d never heard of. Now, I couldn’t help but notice that at no point in our plan making did he ask what part of the city I lived in before making this suggestion, but whatever. I didn’t want to be a harpy shrew and, more to the point, this dude kind of sucked with date ideas, so fine. Sardine Bar, here we come (we had a whole conversation about how I don’t like seafood, but whatever). We agreed to meet up around one o’clock in the afternoon that coming Sunday.
I had standing plans that morning with a couple of my girlfriends to have a potluck brunch at my place, and I don’t cancel plans for a dude I don’t even know. Lord knows I’ve outgrown that nonsense. The three of us got caught up over bagels, coffee, and mimosas until I realized that, oh shit, I have to go! And it was while I was getting my act together to get out the door that I noticed that both Mallory and Amanda were still on their first and only mimosas. I had drank the rest of the bottle on my own. Oops.
In the cab on the way to the bar, I text another friend to let her know where I was headed and to give her the dude’s info. And to let her know I was accidentally a little drunk. I also got a text from Tinder Tim, letting me know he was at the end of the bar in a grey hoodie. Ugh. Hey, man, I love hoodies. I own more than a woman my age probably should. Just maybe don’t wear one on the first date is all I’m saying.
Once I got there, it was easy to locate him because there was no one else sitting at the bar. We were in the middle of our awkward introductions when the bartender came to take my order. Because there was no one else at the bar needing his help, he was all up in my grill and ready to be of service. I felt an admittedly irrational amount of pressure to make a decision quickly. Too bad the beer list was on a chalkboard on the other side of the room, and I couldn’t see the writing on the wall (ain’t that the truth) without my glasses. I turned to Tinder Tim and asked, “What are you drinking?”
“Oh, I don’t drink.” Of course you don’t.
I hemmed and hawed for another minute, all the while wishing the name of ANY BEER would just come out of my mouth so I could get on with my life in general and with this date in particular. Then Tinder Tim chimed in to say, “But when I did still drink, I drank the Two Brothers Night Cat.” I told the bartender to surprise me with something hoppy and turned back to my date for some excruciating small talk. In very short order, I was able to piece together the fact that the reason my date didn’t drink was because he was in a twelve-step program. Right, so to recap: I’m on a date, at a bar, with a guy who is in AA. I’m already a little drunk. And I just got here.
Good, bad, or indifferent, this was going to be interesting. That was for damn sure.