This one time, on Hinge, I met a boy who seemed cute, funny, and a little quirky. His name was Thomas but he went by Tommy. He was tall with brown hair and brown eyes. Tommy and I made a date for 7:00 on a Thursday evening, which just so happened to be Valentine’s Day. No big deal. We were going to grab drinks at Tommy’s favorite bar in Culver City. I vaguely remembered the bar by name when he suggested it, and did not particularly want to go there. I had been once years before and was not a big fan. I tried to suggest an alternate location in Santa Monica and all he said was “This is pretty close to the west side.” Hint not received. Onward.
I don’t live in Culver City but I was going to an open mic nearby anyway so I could just head straight to the bar afterwards. I was all set to drive to the bar when Tommy texted me.
Hey, is it alright if we push it back to 7:30? Finishing up some work.
Cue hard eye roll. Pushing back our date thirty minutes before we’re supposed to meet up? Bad form. But I did have an errand to run so I said sure, ran my errand, and got to the bar at 7:25. I sat right by the front door and waited for 15-20 minutes. Not exactly sure how much time passed while I was re-reading the menu chalkboard but I did decide I was going to have a $5 Old Fashioned if my date ever arrived. I sat by myself, holding back yawns, jerking my head every time someone walked through the door. And then finally, cue Tommy. He walked in, looked directly at me, and as I raised my hand to acknowledge him, he continued to look around the room. I sat there and watched it happen, amused, waiting for him to circle back at me. He didn’t. I was tempted to just let him walk past me and sneak out the door but instead I said his name and he looked at me like I was a stranger. Which I guess I technically was, but still.
We hugged awkwardly and headed towards the back room. This bar was his choice so I followed his lead. I was wearing high heeled boots so naturally he chose a standing location, ignoring all of the vacant booths dotting the horizon of the mostly empty room. Easier to make a quick getaway I supposed, so I didn’t protest. Tommy went to grab drinks at the bar and I started to go with him but he set his keys and phone down on our standing table, which strongly implied to me that I should stay behind and watch his things. He returned with an Old Fashioned for me and a shot and a beer for himself. We cheers’d and he downed his shot. And so began the forced conversation that I could barely hear.
Tommy kept mumbling things about his tech job, using jargon that I didn’t know. I asked him what he meant a couple of times and after the least helpful explanations he could muster, he kept using his tech jargon anyway. I stopped asking for clarification. I did ask “What?” at least three times because I simply couldn’t hear him over the music. After the third time he had made no effort to either speak louder or enunciate, so I just stopped listening. My feet hurt. I shifted back and forth, trying to find a more comfortable stance and also stay awake. He was droning on about work, a trip he took to Denver once, and how he hated basically everything. I would smile and nod, or roll my eyes disapprovingly at whatever subject he was judging at the moment. I figured I would ride it out and leave after my drink, but then the situation escalated.
As he was telling me how lame something else was, he started touching his nose the way one does when they think the might have a booger hanging out. For the record, he did not have a booger hanging out. You’d think that would be a good thing but believe me it was not. Since he apparently had not yet discerned whether or not he had a booger, he decided to start rooting around in his nostril. Yes, he started picking his nose. Index finger straight in there. Not a glancing blow either, but left it in there for a few seconds AND CONTINUED TALKING. I took a sip of my drink, looked around, anything to avert my eyes. I looked back and he had finished. Phew. He was ready for another beer. Did I mention it was Valentine’s Day? Because it was.
Off to the bar he went. I checked my phone. Only 10 minutes had passed.
How is this possible?! I started taking bigger gulps of my Old Fashioned. Tommy came back from the bar with his beer. The “conversation” resumed. I tuned out again as he droned on some more, until I saw his hand reach for his nose again, and my senses were suddenly heightened. I had laser focus, my heart was beating faster, and I felt my armpits dampen.
The sight of him picking his nose had triggered my fight or flight response. I was thisclose to turning around and running out of the bar without a word. But social constructs kept my feet firmly planted on the concrete floor, where I was still standing in my high heeled boots. This time there was no foreplay. He went straight in with his index finger, and looked me dead in the eye while he did it. He kept talking as if nothing weird was happening, like this was how he carried on conversations all the time. I began to wonder to myself, does he just do this? Did no one ever tell him that you pick your nose in the privacy of your own bathroom or maybe your car in a pinch?! I almost said something; “You are aware that I can see you right now, yeah?”
Finally, he lowered his hand. Finally, I exhaled. Oh no, he only lowered his hand to his mouth. He is now picking his teeth with the same finger he picked his nose. I don’t know if that counts as picking your nose and eating it but I do know I had to get the fuck out of there. I took more gulps of my drink, checked the time, started unzipping my boots to make a run for it. He kept talking. I must have seemed eager to leave because he asked me what I was doing the rest of the night. “Going home.” “Oh. Well I just got a text from my boss.” He turned his phone to prove it to me, as if I would object to him ending this regrettable date.
He told me he had to go home and finish some work. That’s right, the guy who pushed our date back half an hour at the last minute because he was finishing up some work, works from home. Cool. I told him it was no problem and tried to show him how genuinely not offended I was. “Let’s hang out next week though” he said. I looked at him, puzzled. He offered to walk me to my car. I protested. He insisted. I don’t know why he offered in the first place if I wasn’t allowed to decline the offer anyway. We got to my car, I gave him a cursory hug and as I pulled away, he kissed me! I had just watched this guy pick his nose and possibly eat it, so I was disenchanted to say the least. But even more so, I was ambushed! Read the room Tommy. Nothing about this date suggested that you should kiss me.
I turned away to walk to my car and he pulled on my hand. “So let’s hang out next week, yeah?” He asked, as if there had been any semblance of joy on this date. “Um, I’m out of town until Wednesday.” I replied as coldly as I could. “Okay so Thursday or Friday? I’ll text you.” I just looked at him with a very bewildered, likely unpleasant face, and turned to go to my car for a second time. Then he kissed me AGAIN! And he would have kept kissing me had I not turned my head to give him my cheek as I unwrapped his arms from my waist and stepped off the curb directly into oncoming traffic. Just kidding. But almost. I was wearing high heels after all.
The good news? There was no traffic, I was home by 8:30, and he never texted me again. Oh, did I mention this was on Valentine’s Day?