I love reading other peoples' bad date stories. WotL had a great one recently, and E.Spat did a whole series ("Top Five Bad Dates Ever" - an actual countdown!) on bad dates that was just amazing. ("Amazing," in that watching-a-car-wreck-where-things-blow-up kind of way, of course.) Sanchovilla finally gave us the story of "the crying date," which was more of a sad situation than a bad date...
So, it's only fair that I give you one of my own. And, fortunately for me, I only have one REALLY bad date story to tell. I mean, I've had a few boring dates, but nothing really countdown worthy, so I'll just cut to the chase...
Wait, first let me say that this probably wasn't even really a "date." But it was definitely a really weird, really bad experience with a boy.
When I was a freshman in college, I lawyered my way around the rule banning freshmen from having cars on campus. Being one of the only freshmen with a car was both a blessing and a burden. A blessing because it allowed me a few roadtrips with friends and an escape from campus, and a burden because I ocassionaly had to drive friends on errands and even make a middle-of-the-night emergency room run for a dorm neighbor.
Early in my freshman year, I had a group of about 6-10 friends from my dorm that I hung out with a lot. We met during orientation and were pretty tight for the first semester until we started to branch into our own groups of friends. Out of our little group, there was one guy that I was interested in, and he was interested in me, but it wasn't like we were really doing anything about it. Mostly we just hung out in the group. In fact, I don't think we had spent any one-on-one time. This was probably only the second week of freshman year, so I didn't want to get too committed to anything too quickly.
This particular boy was living on campus, but his parents lived maybe 20-30 minutes away. Before orientation, we had all received the names and phone numbers of our roommates-to-be. He hadn't been able to get in touch with his roommate-to-be, and figured he just wouldn't bring much stuff, because he could always make the short trip home for more if he wanted. In the end, he didn't have a roommate (I think they had matched him with someone and that person ended up going to a different school at the last minute), so he had a big empty room to himself.
This is where the car comes in. He proposed that if I would drive him home to pick up a few things, I could get a home-cooked meal out of it. I was already sick of cafeteria food, and, probably because I liked him... I agreed to it.
This trip to his house was planned maybe a week in advance. I remember him on the phone with his mother, talking about what he wanted to bring back with him to school and what I would like for dinner. ("Do you eat steak? My father said he would grill steak but I wasn't sure if you eat red meat or whatever...") Sure, I'll eat anything. Steak it was.
We drove to his house. I guess, in retrospect, maybe he was nervous about bringing a girl home. Although, I didn't think much of it. I hung out at boys' houses and boys hung out at my house all the time in high school. Anyway, he started babbling.
He warned me, so that I wouldn't think it was too weird, that his parents don't sleep in the same bedroom. Ummm, ok. How would I have found out? I wasn't planning on staying over.
He also warned me that they had a dog.
"That's ok, I love dogs."
"Well, I don't know, I hope they took care of it since I left, but the dog had a few fleas when I left."
Again, ummm, ok. What could I do about it? Besides not pet the dog? And, really, is it possible that his parents just ignored the fleas in the house for the THREE WEEKS since he went away to school?
We arrived at his house. It was a big old farmhouse. It was nice, or, at least, it had the potential to be very nice. (I've always had a tendency to redesign homes in my head, and I saw a lot of potential here.) But, it was weird. For example, there were cane chairs hanging from the ceiling. The ceilings weren't that high, so I had to duck around the legs of the chairs. I guess he noticed me ducking around the chairs because he said, "My mother re-canes chairs. Well, she's going to learn how." Ummm, ok. She had already saved up a lot of chairs to practice on.
Almost immediately, the dog, a big friendly golden retriever, came running up to me. I'm a dog person, so it was so hard for me not to pet the dog. I was also worried that his parents might see me not petting the dog and think I was a bitch. I know I can judge a lot about a person by the way they interact with a dog, and here I was, walking past a dog that was wagging his tail and trying so hard to get my attention.
I didn't think I would get the tour of the house, but, in the end, he was running around the house grabbing things that he wanted to take back to school with him while his father prepared dinner. So, the tour included, "This is my mother's room," and "This is my father's room." I didn't really know anyone whose parents still lived together but lived apart, but I didn't think too much of it, really, anyway.
Throughout the whole little take-things tour, he was fighting with his mother. He'd unplug a lamp and his mother would scream, "You can't take that lamp! That's my reading light!" and he would scream back, "I'm taking it, I need it for my room!" Then he would mutter "stupid bitch" under his breath and unplug the lamp. Guys, take note: This is not a way to woo a woman. Instead, it made him look like an spoiled little brat.
I felt strangely like an accomplice as he piled the lamps and other stolen furniture next to my car. His mother would turn to me and say, "He's not taking that lamp." Ummm, ok... what am I going to do about it? What am I, his mother?
Finally, we were saved by dinner. We sat down to the dinner table and the first thing I noticed was what looked like a large mayonnaise jar on the dining table... and in it was...
I wasn't sure. Maybe it was something we were going to eat? It didn't look like anything I had ever seen before. He was just plain-old-caucasian, so I didn't expect there to be any weird cultural we-eat-live-octopus-as-an-appetizer-it's-a-delicacy kind of moment. I leaned in to get a better look... It started to look like something I remembered from high school...
"Uh, is that a..." No, it couldn't be. I shouldn't even say it. "What is that?"
Unbelievably, they really truly had a fetal pig in a jar on their dining table.
Alright. I'll try not to look at it. I was raised to be polite. I'll enjoy my dinner and then I'll go back to school. I just have to get through dinner.
I cut into my steak. It was the most dry, burnt and gristley piece of meat I had ever had. That poor cow, wasted. But, I just kept telling myself that I would just be polite, and eat it, and that would be the end of it. Just try not to taste, try not to look at the fetal pig, try not to imagine fleas biting my legs.
I tried to swallow pieces of steak whole with the juice that I was drinking. I kept thinking, "Please, God, let me choke on this so I can get out of here - even if it is in an ambulance." But then I realized choking might keep me there longer - maybe they'd do the Heimlich and then want me to stay and rest for a little while after choking. At some point, maybe I should give up on politeness and make a run for it. I kept thinking about seeing this boy around school, or our little group of friends asking me what happened. I just had to get through this. Even the juice tasted gross.
"Do you have any... steak sauce?" Maybe if I could soak it in some kind of sauce, the steak would slide down my throat a bit easier.
"No," his father responded, "Steak sauce is only for bad steaks."
Yeah, and your point is?
I decided to excuse myself and use the bathroom. I was working under the theory of maybe-if-I-spend-enough-time-in-the-bathroom-this-will-all-go-by-more-quickly. When I went in the bathroom, I realized my legs really were itching. I pulled up my pant legs and saw that my legs were entirely covered with fleas. I'm not exaggerating - I could not see one dot of my skin under all of the fleas. I put a foot on the toilet seat and, using toilet paper wrapped around my hands, wiped hundreds, if not thousands, of fleas into the toilet. I did this again and again but the fleas would just jump up and then land on my legs again.
Enough was enough. I went back out to the table, put my hand on my head and said, "I'm really not feeling so great, I think I need to get going."
A few minutes later, we all headed out to my car, while this boy was still fighting with his mother. "But, I neeeeed this chair!" I slowly kept taking affirmative steps forward. I opened the door to the car. "You nevvvvver let me have anything I want!" I sat down in the car. "But maaaaa!" I put my seatbelt on. "I waaaaant the chair." I turned on the car. "Maaaaa!" I put the car in gear.
Finally, he got in the car, and we sped back to school. I was already deciding that not only was I no longer interested in him, I wasn't really sure I even wanted to speak to him again.
I guess you could say that it's not his fault that his parents are weird and keep gross stuff in their house and don't give their dog a flea bath. Hell, my parents are weird - would I want a guy to hold it against me? But moreover I was really put off by the whiny and rude way that he dealt with his mother. For the very first time in my young college career, I wanted nothing more than to get home to my little dorm room.
I turned the radio up. Please just don't talk to me. Please just don't talk to me.
"Did you like my family? Did you like the house? Did you like dinner?" Obviously not one to take non-verbal clues.
I had to say something right? "Ummm... sure. What was that juice that we had? That was... different."
"Red kool-aid? You never had kool-aid before?"
"No, no, I've had kool-aid before, but... it tasted... different. It kind of tasted like... I don't know... pickles?"
"Oh, yeah. Probably pickles. My mother uses that jug to make pickles sometimes."
Back at school, all of our friends wanted to know how it went. I decided to play it cool and not embarrass him. "It went fine. They're, you know, normal." When they asked if I was still interested in him, I decided to play it cool, not tell them what a whiny little jerk he was. "Sure, you know, we'll see where it goes. School just started." When I couldn't wear shorts for two weeks because of all of the flea bites on my legs and everyone said, "Aren't you hot?" I said, "No, no, I'm fine."
In the interest of being nice and polite, I never ever told this story to a single soul. Until now.