Today is my 19th wedding annniversary; not quite a “big one,” but special nevertheless. I’m not quite sure what the traditional gift is for number 19…maybe incense or a bowl of pistachios? It doesn’t really matter anyway, because one of the greatest gifts I can imagine receiving (okay, besides my husband’s undying love) is a non-tangible one anyway: never having to suffer through a horrible, tear-inducing, oh-so sad, laughable first date again!
Like many of you, I’ve had my share of these gut-wrenching events and have tried hard to forget them. There is one, however, which stands out as The Worst First Date in the History of Mankind! I will relive it now as a public service. In an effort to help all of you avoid such disasters, you ask? No, actually so you can have a good laugh and maybe brighten up your otherwise dreary Monday.
Let me preface this cautionary tale by saying for the life of me, I can’t remember the guy’s name I had the date with, so I will simply call him Dufus. Catchy, huh? Okay, so here’s the backstory: I was in college at the time, perhaps my sophomore year, and I was very involved in a student organization which provided programming for the campus such as lectures, concerts, movies, etc. Dufus, a tall, lanky, all-face/little hair kind of film nerd was also involved in the organization. Our paths crossed every so often, and we were friendly, but not great friends. One evening we were talking and somehow, for the life of me I still can’t remember the details, he thought I had agreed to go out with him that Friday evening. Trying to be kind, I decided to go ahead with the “date,” thinking I could drop the “Just Friends” bomb on him that night.
Okay, so here’s the WORST DATE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND, as it unfolded:
Friday arrives, and Dufus calls and asks if I can meet him at his studio apartment downtown. Turns out Dufus forgot to mention that he did not, in fact, have a car. I arrive on-time (I am nothing if not punctual. Now before those of you who know me say anything, it’s actually my husband of 19 years who causes me to arrive late at every event we attend. Love you, honey!), and when Dufus swings open his door, I am surprised to be greeted by his queen-sized bed. Well, it is Dufus actually, but his un-made bed is right behind him! Uh-oh! Better make that just-friends speech right up-front! But wait…there is no need, because Dufus grabs his jacket and ushers me out the door and says we must hurry before they close. Some fancy restaurant, you ask? Or perhaps an art exhibit on campus? No. The local Service Merchandise store where his wooden entertainment-center-in-a-box is being held for him!
I zip across town and arrive plenty early for us to wait 15 minutes before being helped, and another 20 before this 3×8 foot box is loaded into the hatchback of my tiny Ford Escort. It hangs several feet out the rear, and wedges between the two of us in the front part of the car, resting against the dashboard. Braving the cold night with the hatchback open, Dufus and I head back downtown, not realizing it’s “lap night” around the courthouse square; hundreds of high school kids are driving around and around and around, then down the narrow street Dufus resides on. I double park amid honks and hollers, blocking traffic, while Dufus goes in search of neighbors who can help haul the box up to his second-story apartment. Ten minutes and many hand gestures directed at me later, he returns, alone. So the next half hour of our delightful date is spent with me trying to hold up my end of the box while maneuvering it up the narrow, old staircase to Dufus’ apartment, praying no one tows or sideswipes my car, which is still double-parked.
Now, at this point, our wisp of a friendship had already been sorely tested. Any sane gal would have left at the mention of Service Merchandise! But, I was a nice girl, so I thought, “How much worst could it possibly get?” I know, you’re laughing now, but I truly thought Dufus might make up for starting our date with an “errand.” Okay, keep laughing, I can take it.
After hauling in the entertainment center and moving my car to a safer location (and putting my own money into the parking meter), Dufus announces that he has cooked our dinner himself…an old recipe of his grandmother’s, or some such nonsense. Translation: Cheap Date! He ushers me into a back sitting area of his apartment, where one wall holds a couch, one a TV set, and two hold what seem to be thousands of VHS home movies. Oh, no, I think, will I have to watch Dufus be potty trained? No, luckily, I only have to watch 1980’s-era B-grade movies for the next two hours!
Next, Dufus brings in two bowls of soup for us, so we can dine in front of the TV. Can I just stop here for a moment and remind all the men-folk out there to NEVER try to cook for your first date, unless you’re actually a chef or something? I’m hoping the reminders about not using your date to haul ready-to-make furniture and to not entertain her with VHS Hollywood rejects goes without mentioning! One sip of Grandma’s Soup and I’m desparately looking around for the Candid Camera crew. This can’t be real, I keep thinking. No one can plan a first date, or make soup, this badly!
Alas, Dufus has. So I pretend-sip at my soup for about twenty minutes, until he leaves to use the restroom. I jump up from the couch and open an old, oversized window nearby, praying he doesn’t hear the squeak of the frame. Looking down, I realize the window is over an alley! I can hear the bathroom door opening, so I quickly dump the contents of the bowl down the side of the building, close the window, then jump back over to the couch. He returns, glances in my bowl, and promptly offers me seconds! Ugh!
Begging off due to fullness, I sit back and try to figure out how to get out of there as quickly, and nicely, as possible. But Dufus suddenly pipes up and let me knows he made dessert too! Angel food cake! Okay, I think, how can you go wrong with cake? Ha…let’s just say you shouldn’t have to ask for a butcher knife to cut your slice of cake while you’re attempting to eat it!
In a panic, I actually look around, wondering where the Candid Camera crew is hiding. NO FIRST DATE COULD ACTUALLY BE THIS BAD, COULD IT, I WONDER?? It must be some big joke! I excuse myself to the bathroom, tucking away a few chunks of the cake for flushing so it appears I have eaten some. What do I do now, I wonder? How can I leave when it’s only 9pm?
Well, I do what any right-minded, first-date-hating gal would do…I leave the bathroom holding my lower abdomen and moaning about the sudden onset of cramps! No better way to scare off most men that I know of…simply mention “that time of the month” or anything even remotely connected to it, and men turn pale, turn away, and turn up the TV! (Not you, honey! Love you!) True to the male form, Dufus’ eyes grow large and round, and his hands start to fidget. I tell him not to worry, I can drive myself home just fine, no need to walk me out…though that does not stop him from trying to steal a kiss as I put on my jacket. Never fear! I use the turn-the-head-at-the-last-moment trick and his big, fishy lips land on my ear instead. Close one!
I actually didn’t hear from Dufus for about a week or so after that night…our busy college schedules (mercifully) prevented our paths from crossing very often and I’m sure my “cramps” (big smile) had him running for cover that whole week. And he never did ask me out again, thankfully, after I let a mutual friend pass along the dreaded Just Friends hint. Plus, soon after, he transferred to another school, or graduated, or something and became just a bad memory on my road to wifedom.
Now, did I ever tell you about my first date with my husband and how he was very late, our food was messed up in the restaurant for over two hours, and he took me to meet his sleeping roommate at the end? That’s a great story too…just kidding…LOVE YOU HONEY! Thank you for marrying me and saving me from all the Dufuses out there forever! Happy Anniversary!