Is This A Library or a Bar?

My last bad date post got me thinking about another bad date... not that it can ever top the fetal pig date story, but... still, it's worth telling...

This was also in college, although a few years later. It was the summer before my junior year, and I had just been dumped by a guy that I had dated for the whole school year. I was depressed, I was home over the summer, and one of my BFFs from high school wanted to set me up with a friend of hers. I had met him somewhere once when I was out with her and, although I couldn't even remember him afterward, she told me, "He really liked you, he keeps asking me about you." So my friend decided she'd set us up for a little rebound fun, get my mind off of things, help me move on.

Now, I should mention, because it becomes relevant later, that this BFF was dating someone. It was very top secret, because her boyfriend was married. Let's give them names, just to keep things simple. Let's call her Monica and call him Bill. Ha, yeah, that's good.

So, Monica asked me if she could give her friend my phone number. I said fine, and he called me a few hours later to set up a date for that Saturday. I was pretty excited. Monica was right, this was going to be good for helping me to move on, even if I couldn't remember what her friend looked like.

Saturday came, and Monica and I spent the afternoon together preparing for my date. What should I wear? Did she know where we were going? Tell me more about him!

I started to worry that me dating her friend might turn into a little bit of a weird thing. We were BFFs, we had known each other for years, but didn't keep in touch that much during the school year. This guy was her school friend, who she spent a lot more time with, but she had only known him for a few months. What if the date didn't go well? Would there be an awkwardness of her not wanting to tell me or something? Or, if I didn't like him, would she be insulted?

She went home, and then, just a few minutes before my date was supposed to pick me up, we were on the phone, and she said this to me: "Ugh, I know I'm going to hate this. It's weird, how sometimes, I can know someone for a while and not even be interested in them, and then, they start dating a friend of mine or my sister or something, and then I see that guy as how they can be a good boyfriend, and then I start to like them, but, of course, it's too late and it's not like I'd ever actually try to steal my friend's boyfriend."

Hmmm...really? Because that sort of sounds like not such a good friend thing to do.

I said, "Really, I really mean this. If this is going to be at all weird for our friendship, I'd rather just cancel the date now. We've been friends for a long time and I don't know this guy at all. I mean it, I seriously won't care. Just tell me now."

And I meant it. On the other hand, I thought, if the date went well and things got more serious, and she either decided to either tell me then or make her move, I might not be as understanding.

Her response? "He's going to be there in just a few minutes. How could you cancel now?"

Now, I don't know if she was really thinking about the logistics of this, or she was just saying, hypothetically, there was no way to cancel now anyway.

I said, "Sure. He'll show up at my door and I'll say, 'I'm so sorry, I was trying to call you but I guess you already left. I'm feeling really sick, there's no way I can go out.' I'll change into my pajamas or something. If he thinks I'm crazy, or rude, who cares? I'll do it."

"No, no. I swear, I'm not interested in him. I shouldn't have said anything. Nevermind. Nevermind."

"Are you sure? Positive?"



So, then, just a few minutes later, I went on this date. Which I will forever think of "my date with the reader."

Why do I call it my date with the reader? Because he reads. Quite well. Which I know because HE READ EVERYTHING. THROUGHOUT THE DATE.

Picture it. We're riding down the highway.
"One way."
"Pools and Spas."
"Party Supply Headquarters."
"Diner. Open 24 Hours."
"Right lane exit only."
"Construction ahead."
"Left lane closed."

I thought maybe he was a little nervous, that he didn't know how to fill an awkward silence. So I tried to make small talk.

"So, what are you going to school for?"
"Business. Speed limit 55."
(He was driving. So, it's not as though he was warning me to slow down or anything.)

"Interesting. Any idea what kind of business you'd like to go into?"
"I don't really know. Luigi's Italian Restaurant. Yield."

At dinner, he read the menu to me. Now, let me just say, there's nothing inherently wrong about reading the menu aloud. If you've got a nice voice, a nice presentation, maybe even a nice accent, there might actually be something kind of sexy about a guy who can say, "Mmmm... this sounds good... Garlic and rosemary crusted..." and reads off one or two delicious-sounding descriptions.

But that wasn't quite the situation with the reader. In fact, I wondered if perhaps I was the most literate date he ever had, and, therefore, he felt he needed to read the menu to me so that I was informed. It was more like a second-grader who is learning how to read. "Ro... Ro... Ro - sem - arie?" Here's a hint: if your date has to say "Sound it out" to you, you're probably not the kind of guy who should be reading the menu aloud.

After we ordered, we talked about Monica quite a bit. I guess this makes sense, it was one of the few things we knew we had in common.

"How did you and Monica meet?"
"How long have you known each other?"
"Do you have a lot of classes with her?"
"She's great, isn't she?"
"Do you know Monica's family?"

Then he asked me, "Do you know she's dating Bill?"
I wasn't sure if he was "in on" the secret, so I said, "Oh, no, I don't know. I met Bill... but I didn't think..." (Yes, I was blatantly completely lying. Although I did meet Bill. That part was true. )

Then he said, "Did you know Bill is married?"
"Oh, ugh, no. I didn't... no, I didn't know that. He's so young."
(Yup. Another complete lie. Except, that he is young. But, the more important part was a lie. See, cheaters, how you drag your friends into your lying?)

He said, "I met his wife too. She seems so nice. She has no idea."
I said, "Oh. Hmmm. Weird." (Not a lie.)

I had been thinking all night that maybe I should say something to stop us from talking about Monica so much. What better time than now?

So I said, "You know, I'm just thinking... maybe it would be better if we tried not to talk about Monica. Just because, you know, it's like she's the only thing we have in common right now, and it'd be better to find other things we have in common, right?" (Yes, I realize there could have been a less awkward way to change the subject. But, I also wanted to make the point that we shouldn't base the getting-to-know-each-other phase of our relationship around Monica. That makes sense, doesn't it? It'd be like if you dated someone from work and immediately laid down a no-talking-about-work rule. Otherwise all of your dates might be about work. One very long work meeting at dinner every weekend. That's how I thought of it, anyway.)

He agreed, and changed the subject. To his ability to read things.

I don't really remember much about the rest of the date (nothing very exciting, I guess) but just before he dropped me off he said,
"Gas station."
"24 hours."
"Milk, Bread, News."
"Bridge height, fourteen feet."
(Yes, windypundit, I realize you could totally figure out where I used to live from this. But I moved, so it's ok.)
"No left turns."
"I think someone should tell Bill's wife."

"Um, tell Bill's wife what?"
(Sort of a lie. I knew what he was talking about.)

"Well, I know, as a guy, I should just be on Bill's side, but I don't think anyone deserves to be cheated on."

"I guess. But, do you know for sure that he's cheating on her? It'd be wrong to say something, and ruin their marriage, if you weren't positive it was true."
(Kind of lying, I know. Since I knew it was true. But, not blatantly lying.)

"No, I know for sure."

Stopping in front of my house, "Oh. Well, I had a good time tonight. Thanks. Have a good night! Bye!" (The "good time" part was a lie. Definitely.)

Getting out of the car, "My father cheated on my mother."

"Um, I'm sorry to hear that. Thanks again. Good night!"

As I walked up the driveway, the reader opened the window and shouted, "SHE WAS DEVASTATED!"

From my front door, "BYE!"

I came home to a message from Monica, insisting I call no matter how late it was (it wasn't late at all anyway, I kind of cut the date short) and tell her how everything went.

I was sort of thinking that maybe I shouldn't call her, that maybe I should try to distance this date from her friendship or something. You know, like the inverse of the-date-shouldn't-be-about-Monica rule. But, I figured, (1) the date didn't go too well, so I wasn't worried about future dates; and (2) she should probably be warned if the reader was going to out her affair.

I called her and told her that the date, basically, sucked. And that her friend, while somewhat attractive, had a weird habit of reading everything aloud.

"Oh yeah, I know he does that, but I didn't think he'd do it on a date."
"Well, he did. It was weird."

"But other than that, it was good?"
"Hmmm... not really. A lot of awkward silences and things. I guess we just didn't click."

"But, other than that, it was good?"
"Ummm..." (How weird of a question is that? Other than the fact that you didn't click, was it good? Maybe I'm supposed to look for the good in it?) "I guess maybe it was good in the respect that it got me out of the house, it got me thinking about dating other people? So... anyway... I don't know how to say this, so I'll just say it... he wants to tell Bill's wife about you."

"YOU TOLD HIM???!!!???"
"No, I didn't say a word. I played dumb about the whole thing. He knew."

"I didn't! I swear, I wouldn't. He knew..." And, before I could finish my thought, she hung up on me.

Over the next few days and weeks, I left her a few messages that said things like, "I swear I didn't say anything. Call me."

I never heard from her again. I told myself that it was for the best. Who needs a friend who can't trust you? But, I can admit that I miss her sometimes. We were best friends for a long time.

A month or two later another mutual friend told me that Monica had a new boyfriend and things were getting pretty serious. Who was her new man? Why, my date, the reader, of course.

Hmmmph. I should have called the wife myself.


  1. First off, love the post title.

    Second, holy crap you dated Debra Winger's father from "Forget Paris." (Tell me I'm not the only one who saw that forgettable movie.)

  2. Once again, I admire your ability to keep a secret, even playing dumb when someone else is carelessly blabbing. I admire that skill in a lawyer.

    As for figuring out where you used to live, I'm pretty sure it must have been here in Chicago, because I swear that guy used to sit behind me and my wife at the movies all the time. "Mark Wahlberg ... Burt Reynolds ... in ... Boogie Nights ..."

    You know, I'm not really trying to crack your secret blogger identity, but if it bothers you, you could take all the fun out of it for me by sending me your name and address and a nice headshot...

  3. OH MY GOD my mother does the reading thing!!! I always thought it was just because she's sort of crazy but I'm so glad to know she's not alone.

    I think it's something about not being able to have any kind of silence. If there aren't any signs to read, she'll start whistling a tune. No joke.

  4. Yeah, I know I'm chiming in on this a few days late...

    there might actually be something kind of sexy about a guy who can say, "Mmmm... this sounds good... Garlic and rosemary crusted..." and reads off one or two delicious-sounding descriptions.

    Every once and a while I do this, and no matter what item I mentioned out of the menu, my friend says, "Not really." Should I be reading something into this?

    I went to the movies this weekend and an older couple came in and sat two rows in front of us...every time there were words or subtitles on the screen, the old man would read them out loud.

    Yeah, it was really bugging me...until I figured out that he was reading them for his wife, who was blind.

    On my way to hell, I'm going to remember how sweet it was for him to do that. I'm also going to remember to sit further away from them next time they're in the theatre.