Sam

I know I vent a lot on here about the awkward, creepy, and sometimes monotonous interactions that I have with men. But I want you guys to know something: I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes it’s my fault. Sometimes, I’m the asshole who screws it up. Well, not so much an asshole as just a guarded, distrustful, woman who has been hurt badly and, as a result, has a somewhat fatalistic attitude towards men despite my otherwise positive and cheerful demeanor. That being said, let me tell you about this time when I was the asshole.

I met Sam on Plenty of Fish. He was very handsome, even in person. (Tall, blue eyes, a little scruff.) He was (probably still is) a couple years older than me, had his shit together, and was just an all-around good catch. I am seriously kicking myself as I’m writing this and recapping how great he was because he’s probably married to a beautiful woman now, living in a house with adorable kids and a golden fucking retriever.  

Our first date was a really good first date. We met at a wine bar and stayed for four and a half hours. Whoa. That was a lot of wine. Yeah. That’s a long first date. Usually a good sign, right? We talked about our jobs, our families, living in LA, comedy, traveling, and everything in between. He loved going to comedy shows and we made a pact to go see one together. All was well. 

Sam walked me to my car like a gentleman and hugged me goodnight. No kiss, but a very close hug and a sweet, sincere farewell. I remember feeling slightly confused at the end of the night.; I had a wonderful time, this guy had everything going for him, yet I didn’t have any of those butterflies or giddy feelings. But still, I knew I wanted to go out with him again. 

We made plans to go for a hike at Runyon Canyon and then grab lunch. The hike went well, which is good because if I’m being honest, hikes can be awkward. (See: my previous entry, Steven.) Even if you go with someone you know really well, there are a lot of factors that go into determining whether or not a hike is a success. First of all, temperature. I don’t want to be sweating profusely on a second date. I’m not the daintiest of them all so this was a legitimate concern for me. There’s also the issue of fitness level; walking the same pace, making sure someone isn’t huffing and puffing. And of course, just long silences and the conversational marathon that comes with trying to fill them. 

But you know what? The hike went well too. It was a beautiful day and we had just the right amount of conversation to fill the time. But there were no affectionate moves made, and it seemed like he might have been a little nervous. It was a nice time but felt like more of a friend date than a romantic date. It’s possible I was being female and over analyzing that a bit, but ONWARD.

After the hike we went to Bossa Nova for lunch. We ate, we talked some more, we had a good time. The food was delicious and he was glad for the recommendation. He walked me to my car again and this time he did give me a kiss. Oh, okay… A sweet kiss, nothing aggressive. I didn’t dislike it but I also didn’t expect it, since I had been getting friend vibes from him for most of the date. Again, I was pleased with the date but slightly confused. I didn’t know what I wanted. Or what he wanted. 

Sam and I went out on one more date. Since we had talked about comedy shows at great lengths, we decided to go see an Improv show at the Groundlings theater on Melrose. We met there, got our tickets, and headed in to grab our seats. Our plan was to get drinks afterwards too, but something seemed off. Sam seemed tense. I wasn’t sure if he was worried about something else or if he was nervous around me, but whatever it was, it put me on edge. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s flattering when a man seems nervous around you. But it also gets old pretty quickly when you’ve made all attempts to make him feel at ease; including telling cheesy jokes, being self-deprecating (slightly, not fishing for compliments or making him question his judgment), and letting him know that I was happy to see him. This was our third date, and he was acting like we were on a blind date. There was just some sort of tension I felt. Who knows, maybe I fabricated all of it because I’m the asshole!

The show started and it was great. Part sketch, part improv, all hilarious. The cast was amazing and I was cracking up, having a great time. Except for one thing: I felt like Sam was checking to see that I was laughing before he would laugh. It was subtle, but I felt it. I would laugh, and then a beat later he would too. He never laughed first, or at anything that I didn’t laugh at. Once I noticed, I couldn’t un-notice it. I began to see him looking in my direction ever so slightly every time a joke or punchline was made. Just the quickest ninja glance out of his peripheral vision, but I saw it, I felt it, and I didn’t get it. 

This might sound ridiculous to you, but it was really starting to bother me. It’s a comedy show, lighten up! I don’t care if you laugh at something that I don’t find funny. And you shouldn’t care if I laugh at something that you don’t find funny. (Obviously there are exceptions, but we’re not going there right now.) During this show I realized that despite our good conversation and Sam being a really amazing guy, we had not laughed much together. And now that we were laughing, he was following my lead? Only laughing when I deemed it appropriate? No no no.

Writing this now, it’s hard to explain why this bothered me so much. But I am a writer, comedian, and lover of all things comedy. Laughter is my calling card, my inspiration, and my savior. I need to be with someone who loves to laugh just as much as I do, and doesn’t feel weird about it. 

During the first half of the show, my best friend kept texting me. I cannot remember now what it was about but at the time it was important enough that I felt like I had to respond to her as soon as intermission started. So when it did, I told Sam I was going to the restroom and made a beeline for it. Turns out everything was fine, but I started telling her about the weird vibes I was getting from Sam. She told me to leave after the show if I didn’t want to get drinks with him. I told her I would think about it. 

After intermission, it only got worse. I tried to hold his hand and relax while I leaned towards his arm, but he was still so tense. He was nervous, and I couldn’t seem to un-nervous him. Once the show finally ended, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. But we had drinks planned. Oh boy. So what did I do? I lied to Sam. Badly. Like, really badly. Fun fact about the author: She is a terrible liar! 

We walked out of the theater and Sam asked me where I wanted to go grab a drink. I froze. Instead of just saying something like, “I’m pretty tired, I think I’m gonna call it a night,” I made up the dumbest lie. 

“I don’t know if you noticed my roommate was texting me a lot during the show? She was on a date with this guy and apparently he ditched her in the valley and now I have to go pick her up because she’s stranded.” (In my defense, this was pre-Uber. Yeah, I’m old.)

Sam just stared at me incredulously. Is this really happening right now? I imagine he was thinking… 

I started adding details, building a story around this idiot that had strung my friend along for years, saying they went out on a date, had a fight, and he bailed. I could picture it happening, so why not Sam? OH YEAH, BECAUSE I WAS COMPLETELY FULL OF SHIT.

Sam didn’t say anything. He just waited for me to finish my disastrous lie and stop fidgeting. Then, like the fucking class act he is, he said “Well, I hope your friend is okay.” I thanked him. He did not hug me, just turned and walked away. I have never felt smaller in my entire life. 

UNTIL, a few weeks later, when I ran into Sam. *Facepalm*

I went to Upright Citizens Brigade for an Improv Jam. This is a very small theater (the original location) and the bathroom is off to the side of the audience seating, right in the walkway. It’s a tight squeeze for all involved and there’s definitely no room to hide. After the jam, I got in line to use the restroom. As the audience from the jam filed out, the audience for the next show filed in. We were all shifting back and forth, letting people by us. When suddenly, I was shoulder to shoulder (well, bicep really) with Sam.

That’s right. Tall, handsome, gentleman Sam came strolling in, and I literally bumped into him while standing in line for the bathroom. I froze, then somehow remembered how to speak and squeaked out a quick “Hi Sam.” 

He could have scoffed at me, called me a bitch, a liar, ignored me, cut in line for the bathroom, any number of things. But you know what he did? He said hello back. He smiled at me. He was kind, respectful, and did not throw anything in my face. We had a very brief exchange, and then he walked away to find his seat. I have never regretted my actions more than I did in that moment. It was the perfect fuck you, without him having to say it. And I really don’t think he even meant it that way. He was just a nice, decent guy, so naturally I had to ruin it.  

In retrospect, it’s possible that I may have overreacted. Maybe he was a little nervous on our date, and maybe he was just checking to see that I was having a good time. Maybe he just liked the way I laughed, or the fact that I laughed out loud. And maybe I took this and spun it into some weird, abstract reason not to go out with him anymore. Maybe I am actually an asshole. And maybe that’s how I’m still single. 

“Matched” Speed Dating

That’s right, I went speed dating. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But if you’ve read my previous posts, you know it’s pretty bleak out there. Not to mention this company had been blowing up my Instagram with ads and trying to get me to an event, so I finally gave in and attended one. If nothing else, I could always write about it. (Hi.)

First, I went online and set up a profile. They made it sound like they were going to pair us up based on our interests and commonalities, but that was bullshit. They just wanted a photo so people could find each other at the event. You meet your dates by wandering aimlessly around the bar, holding up your phone, looking at a photo, and matching it to a stranger’s face in the bar. Charming.

I was disappointed to find that they didn’t reserve a separate area of the bar, so we were just wandering through all of the other patrons at the bar looking for our blind dates. As if this wasn’t awkward enough already. I had arrived at 7:00 for a “7:30 sharp!” start time to leave myself time to grab a drink. I’ll need one to get through this. We didn’t start the first date until 7:50 because a couple people were late, so the evening was off to a great start.

My first date was with Gevorg. He was Persian, relatively handsome; dark hair, tall-ish, nicely dressed. We sat outside on the patio where it was quiet and we had a nice conversation. We talked about traveling, living in LA, and that’s about all I can remember. He was nice but there were no sparks. Turned out eight minutes was just the right amount of time to find that out.

Suddenly our phones went off with a text alerting us that it was time for the next date. I opened my phone to see who I was supposed to find next but first, it asked me to rate Gevorg. While he was sitting right across from me! Seriously? Could this BE any more awkward?! There were five smiley faces, well, faces.  One was open mouthed frowning, like an appalled face; one was calmly frowning; one was neutral; one was calmly smiling; and one was grinning. So you select one of these faces as a general note, and then they want you to judge them more specifically. There are buttons you can click to specify your feelings, such as:

“Not attractive” 

“Just friends”

“Intelligent”

“Friendly”

“Boring”

These buttons vary depending on which smiley face emoji you select. So I selected my emoji and subsequent judgmental buttons, and wandered off to find my next date: Marc. 

Marc had round, black glasses and dark hair. All he needed was a lightning scar on his forehead and I would have asked him to show me his magic wand. He had an unusual accent that I couldn’t place, and it turned out that he was from Hong Kong. He seemed either anxious or uncomfortable because he was fidgety and kept looking around. I honestly can’t even remember what we talked about. Like, not even one thing. It was pretty underwhelming. It felt like a while before we got the “on to the next date” text. I apparently took too long selecting the proper emoji face to summarize my feelings because it just jumped straight to the picture of my next date; Victor. I would have to judge Marc later.

Victor was my least favorite date. He just did not make anything easy. First of all, I couldn’t find him because he had posted up at a table in the corner. He wasn’t up walking around or making any sort of effort to find me. Cool cool. So I see him sitting at his table and approach. “Victor?” “Yes, Kelly.” He says, as if I should remember him from the time we met before. (We’ve never met before.) He was sitting with a beer and a big plate of fish and chips, chewing loudly, and not giving a fuck. 

Side note: Can you imagine a woman EVER doing this at a speed dating event? There’s just no way. We would feel like the fat girl in the corner if we ordered a full meal and posted up at a table when everyone else was mingling. 

Anyway, I found him, I sat down. We were on opposite sides of the table in a very loud bar. I couldn’t hear a damn word he was saying. He was from Nigeria and had an accent, which made it even more difficult. But despite me saying “What?” or “Sorry?” or just staring blankly at him, he made no effort to raise his voice or lean towards me to help the situation. So we had a strained conversation that I could barely hear. He mentioned that he was brand new to LA. I asked him how he liked it. He shrugged. Then he told me it was his birthday. OOF. This is not how I would want to spend my birthday. I did not know what to say, other than to offer him a sad Happy Birthday. We pressed on, using the awkward ice-breaker prompts on our phone provided by the dating app. That didn’t help. He offered me a French fry. I declined. I finished my wine. Finally, I got the text to move on.  

Next up was Peter. He was a tall, bald, good looking white guy. Right off the bat, we were laughing. He asked me how it was going so far and I told him about the fish and chips debacle. He joked that he had just proposed to his last date. Okay, so slightly different experiences. We laughed about the awkwardness of this whole thing and I realized that this was the first time I had laughed since the dating started. Wow I needed that. Peter was from San Francisco and was giving LA a test run to see if he wanted to move here. I’m originally from Northern California and we’re both skiers so we organically had more things to talk about. I was actually caught off guard by how quickly we got the “on to the next” text. Next up: Dwight.

In his picture Dwight was wearing a newspaper boy cap, and when I found him, he was wearing a newspaper boy cap. Thank you for making that easy on me. He was a white guy with a beard and a very friendly smile. We sat at the bar and got to talking, which was surprisingly easy with him. He just had one of those positive energies that makes you feel at ease. He works as a grip and is clearly very passionate about what he does, so he talked about that for most of our eight minutes. I didn’t talk as much on this mini date but I didn’t mind. It was nice to just have a conversation that flowed and felt relaxed. I was not attracted to Dwight, unfortunately, but I was grateful for his company and I was not anxiously waiting for the text. But of course, it came. I bid Dwight farewell and we exchanged genuine appreciation for the other’s company. Next up: Sean.

I had walked past Sean earlier and noticed him looking at me. He was a little on the short side, with longish dark hair and a friendly smile. He was also quiet, which made it difficult for me to hear him. This date felt the most like an interview out of all of them. He was just telling me what he wanted from a relationship; listing his expectations. How much trouble he had trying to date in Los Angeles. How no one here seems to want to commit to anyone. How badly HE wants to commit to someone. It was a little much. You can’t ask someone to commit to being in a relationship with you within the first five minutes. 

He was the only one of my dates who had been to one of these events before, and he said that even the women he met at these events didn’t want a committed relationship. I didn’t want to tell him that these women probably just weren’t into him… Once we got on the subject of LA dating it was downhill from there. Just ragging on past experiences and such, which is never fun. I mean, with your best friends and a bottle of rosé, yes. With someone you’re on an eight-minute date with that’s supposed to be pleasant, not so much. We all have trouble dating dude, why else would we be here?

Finally, the text came in. I looked at my phone but Sean just kept talking. He was leaning in and speaking so intensely that I felt rude checking my phone, even though I knew he just got the exact same text. Finally, my next date, Rick, came over and found me. He introduced himself and told me to come see him in his office when I was ready, motioning towards a table by the window. I chuckled and excused myself as gracefully as I could. Then I went and sat with Rick. 

Rick was fun. He had a great smile and good energy. He made me laugh right off the bat. He asked me an ice breaker question to start things off: Would you ever want to be famous? Well, yeah. I’m a comedian and actor so I wouldn’t say that being famous is my aspiration but it does go with the territory if I’m successful. He said that he’s a comedian too and we were off to the races. We talked about all things comedy and how much we love it. He said I was pretty and cool and was wondering why I wasn’t dating anyone. So basically, how are you still single? I told him I was just unlucky and diverted the conversation elsewhere. Rick told me that he liked me and he felt that we were hitting it off better than anyone else he had talked to. I wished in that moment, once again, that I was attracted to him, but he wasn’t my type physically. I know that sounds shallow but I can’t help it and neither can you! We want what we want, or, we don’t want what we don’t want. Soon enough we got the text and I bid farewell to Rick and said help to my new date, Hossam. 

Hossam was quiet and a bit shy, but he was very nice. He was Iranian, older than me, and a bit on the short side. He also was soft-spoken with an accent so the noisy bar was my nemesis once again. He worked in the car business but he was taking some time off to figure out his next move. I asked him if he was going to travel anywhere and he said no. Interesting…. To me, the best thing about taking time off is going somewhere new, but obviously not everyone thinks like me. 

This date felt longer than all of the others, and I realized that it actually was when the hosts came around and alerted us that it was the last date and we were all done. Hossam asked me if I go to Burbank often and asked me for my number. I froze and said “Umm, not right now” and immediately felt stupid. As if there would be another time I’d give him my number? He said okay and abruptly got up and left. Not in a rude way, I just think he was embarrassed. I felt bad. I didn’t want to be mean, but there was no point in me giving him my number. 

I could not wait to get out of there. They told us we could linger afterwards and talk to whoever we wanted, but I wasn’t interested in making any more small talk. I was in a sorority in college and this night reminded me of rush, only worse. On my way out I walked right past Hossam, who saw me, ducked his head down and turned the other way. Cool. Sorry bud. I felt like a real dick but I marched on and left the bar. 

I had survived the night. I was supremely disappointed, mainly because I had paid $40 for this event and not gotten so much as a glass of champagne or a cheese plate. I can’t blame the company for not finding my husband on the first try, but I did feel pretty ripped off. I assumed the $40 would include a separate area for us speed daters, plus maybe a drink and some snacks or something. There was nothing. So I have to say I would not recommend. I’m not going to put the business name in here because this is a blog and not Yelp, but if you see an ad for a similar service, you’ve been warned.  

I think a better alternative to speed dating is a singles party. I’ll invite all of my single friends and they have to bring a single friend of the opposite sex with them. And a bottle of booze. Then everyone is vetted, and if nothing else, we get drunk at my place and it doesn’t cost $40. Who’s in? 

Morgan

Morgan took me on my first dancing date. We met on Tinder and he talked about music a lot. He was really into 80s and 90s music, and he really wanted to take me dancing. I love dancing, but I’ve never done it as a planned first date activity. It’s kind of like sex; not typically something I PLAN to do with a stranger on a first date, but if the opportunity presents itself and I’m in the mood, then so be it.

But this was different. This was a planned evening of dancing with someone I had never met. I didn’t know if he would be a good dancer, a bad dancer, or if he was all talk and wouldn’t actually want to dance at all. To be clear, I don’t really care if someone is a bad dancer as long as they’re into it and having fun. I’m no Beyoncé by any means but that doesn’t stop me from dancing pretty much anywhere I go.

I agreed to the dancing date. I appreciated that he wanted to do something specific and share a bar with me that he knew and loved. The only thing I was wary about was that this bar was in Chinatown, which is not close to me. Or him. And if I’m going dancing on a first date, I’m probably going to have some drinks. So when the subject of transportation came up, we decided to share a Lyft to save the money on two separate ones. We both live in the valley so it probably would have been between $25-$35 each way. Morgan offered to come to my place and I would hop in his Lyft. Or that’s what I thought.  

Morgan drove to my apartment and texted me that he was out front. I thought he was just going to be in the car and I would run down and hop in. I had not planned on him driving his car to leave at my place, because that would mean we would definitely be sharing a ride back. Oy.  Since he’s a stranger from the internet I was not about to invite him into my apartment to wait for the Lyft, so I told him I would be right down. 

When I got downstairs, he was waiting on the steps for me. He was dressed well; not fancy, but good for a downtown dancing date. Black jeans, black t-shirt, black leather jacket with some studs on it somewhere if I remember correctly. He had light hair and eyes and was a few inches taller than me. He was cute. We hugged hello and waited on the curb for our ride.

Now, part of the reason I was so wary about sharing a Lyft is because this meant our date would be bookended by an additional 30-40 minute drive. If it’s going well, that’s fine. If it’s not going well, 40 minutes in the car with a relative stranger can feel like FOR-E-VER. Of course I told myself that I had the option to call my own damn car from downtown if I needed to get out of there, but I generally like to have my own ride for first dates. 

Once we were in the car the conversation flowed pretty well. I kept thinking it must have been funny for the driver to hear us on what was so clearly the very beginning of a first date. I always wonder about the kind of shit that Uber and Lyft drivers witness in their cars. I’m always amused if I’m sitting near a couple who are obviously on a first date. Anyway, things were going pretty well. I was feeling optimistic when we finally arrived in Chinatown. 

First we went to a cocktail bar because the dancing hadn’t started yet. I ordered a Manhattan because it’s classier than ordering straight shots since it’s in a martini glass with a cherry, but it’s basically straight shots. He liked that I ordered whiskey. Guys always do. Or at least they say they do, but really I think it scares them a little. If a woman orders a vodka soda or a Cosmo, they don’t even blink. Whiskey? Whoa, curveball. I swear they look at me differently; wondering how and when I developed such a dauntless taste for the dark stuff, and what else it says about me…

We had a couple drinks and then headed next door for the dancing. It was supposed to be 80s pop/synth dance night, which sounded good to me. And it was! The DJ was awesome, the dancefloor had enough people on it to feel like a party but not so many that you were constantly getting clipped by elbows or “accidentally” groped by dudes passing by. Morgan was a good dancer and we were having a great time. He would grab my hands and dance with me and we would have a moment, then we would separate and dance a little sillier. He was showing me the right amount of attention without smothering me. I know I sound like a diva right now but it really is a delicate balance. 

We danced for about 45 minutes and then went outside for some air. At this point it was around 11:15. We sat for a few minutes until the cigarette smoke became too much and went back in to dance. I told him I’d like to leave around midnight, which meant we still had plenty of dancing left, and he flashed me some puppy dog eyes as if to say “So soon?” Relax, we still have an hour.  

We went back in and danced some more. I was kind of expecting him to make a move or try to kiss me at some point but he didn’t. Which was honestly fine. I was having fun. And sometimes once you have that first kiss, people feel like they have to keep kissing you every five minutes and then it becomes too much. 

After a while I started to get tired. It was midnight and we had done a lot of dancing, so I was ready to go. Morgan was not. I told him I was just about ready to head out and he asked to stay for “just a couple more songs?” Okay fine. A couple songs later, I said I was ready again, this time over a yawn. Not on purpose to be rude, just because I was legitimately tired. He didn’t want to go yet. I told him that I genuinely did not mind if he wanted to stay and dance some more; that he didn’t have to leave with me, but I was ready to go. He didn’t like that idea. But he also wouldn’t stop dancing. 

By this point it was somewhere around 12:15-12:30. I started to get annoyed. He pulled me outside to the patio. “Maybe some fresh air will wake you up!” he said cheerily. No bro, It’s just late and I’m ready to go.  I was trying to stay cheery too but I was exhausted and just wanted to go home. Plus I had that thirty minute car ride home in the back of my mind. 

Morgan heard a song come on and perked up. “I love this song! One more?” I agreed and we went in to dance. The song ended, and I was ready to go. And he still wasn’t. I told him again, in a very calm, friendly, not passive aggressive tone (I swear) that I was tired and going home, but I still didn’t mind if he wanted to stay. He did not take the offer. He grabbed my hands again to dance some more. Nope. Not three times dude. I’m going home.

It was 12:45 at this point. I told him it was late and I had to go. I thanked him for the drinks, told him I was calling a Lyft, and turned to walk out of the club. He followed. I told him he didn’t have to. He insisted. I found my Lyft and he came with me. Great. By this point, I was just annoyed with him. I had told him three times that I wanted to leave, after a solid two hours of dancing, mind you, and he didn’t want to let me. 

This date had been great and, up until this point, I was fully planning on seeing him again. But then he ruined it by not listening to or caring about my needs. It was like when you have a delicious meal at a restaurant and the waiter just never brings your check. You are happy and full, pleased with the experience, but then you can’t go home, and now you’re just mad. It KILLS it.  And now I got to spend 30 minutes in the car with someone I was annoyed with, instead of going home on my own in the car and thinking about what a great time I had on our date. 

Morgan still wasn’t done dancing. He asked the driver if he could put music on. “This is my favorite band” he said as he put on Chromeo. Which was cool, I liked the music. But then he turned it ALL THE WAY UP. It was so loud I thought the driver was going to get pissed. He seemed a little annoyed but didn’t do anything, so I asked Morgan to turn it down a little bit. He turned it down the most infinitesimal amount possible and then sidled over to me for a backseat dance party. Nope. I was done an hour ago. I’m not in the mood for a 1am dance party in a stranger’s car. I was hoping to be asleep by now. Or at least on my couch in my pajamas eating popcorn. 

He kept trying; leaning towards me, singing to me, getting close to my ear. I shifted my knees towards the door and stared out the window. I was not entertaining this anymore. This guy, once again, was not reading the room. He could not have cared less about how I felt or what I wanted. He only knew that HE wanted to keep dancing, and so he did. 

When we finally arrived at my apartment and got out of the car, I wanted to dart inside before he could make this night last any longer. Morgan was trying to make plans for next time. He didn’t appear to have any idea how over it I was. He hugged me and I knew he was going to try and kiss me so I gave him my cheek real quick, then broke out of the hug. I walked up my steps as he turned on his seductive voice and said something along the lines of “Can’t wait to do this again.” I let my door shut behind me as I gave him a cursory smile. 

20 minutes later (almost 2am), Morgan texted me. 

“Had a blast ;)”

I did not respond. The next morning he texted me again. 

“Shame you had to be early today… I would have liked to keep you up a bit longer last night…”

That’s funny; I never said anything about having to be up early in the morning. I just wanted to go home. I’m guessing he told himself that, because why else would this woman not want to stay out until 2am on a Thursday? With ME?

“I wouldn’t have lasted any longer anyway. I was way too tired.” I responded. To which he replied,

“Hah, well, we’ll just have to work on your stamina”

I did that thing where you laugh involuntarily but are also so skeeved out you make a weird face and shudder a little bit. And never texted him again. 

Justin

A few years back I met a guy named Justin on Plenty of Fish. At least, I’m going to call him Justin because this date happened so long ago that I don’t actually remember. But there is one thing that sticks out in my mind: The nickname. Let me explain. 

I met Justin at a wine bar in Hollywood for drinks. We had been chatting on POF for a little over a week and he was pretty forward about wanting to get together in person. He gave me his number right away but I had stuck to messaging on the app, so he didn’t have my number. I agreed to meet him for a drink. When I parked, he messaged me via POF to tell me he was there and would meet me out front. As I walked up, I saw a tall, slightly bearded white guy wearing a cowboy hat. And boots. Bold move. At least in LA, or anywhere outside of Texas, really. He smiled when he saw me coming and greeted me with a big hug. I was slightly overwhelmed by him right away, but I also had not been on too many online dates before so I chalked it up to my own general apprehension. 

We went inside the bar and he picked a high-top counter towards the back for us to sit. He didn’t ask me if I liked that spot, just told me where to sit. It felt a little pushy. Mostly because he picked the most uncomfortable bar stools in the whole place, (especially when one is wearing a dress) and I would have suggested literally any other seat, had he asked. But he didn’t. Not that big of a big deal, but it did sort of set the tone for the date. 

We sat down and the waitress came and grabbed our order. I got a glass of wine, he got a beer. And then we talked. Well, I should say, he talked. A lot. I learned everything there was to know about this man, including the fact that he was not actually a cowboy. He told me about his childhood, his high school experience, how he joined the military after high school, and pretty much everything up to present day. He worked at The Improv comedy club doing lights and sound, which I thought was pretty cool. I tried to ask more questions about that but he clearly preferred to talk about his military experience. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for his service, but I can’t relate to it on a personal level so it turned into him talking at me for about an hour straight. 

I would nod and say “Uh-huh” or “Wow” or “What?!” at the appropriate times, and he would just keep talking. Sometimes he would acknowledge that I had in fact spoken with a small nod of the head, or curling up the corner of his mouth just the slightest bit. So you CAN hear me… But he just kept talking. I felt like I could have been a wall, or a chalkboard, or more likely a mirror, and he would have just kept talking at me all the same. He clearly wasn’t looking for feedback or any sort of back and forth. It was almost like he had rehearsed all of this and he had to power through it before he forgot it all. Like a monologue. By the time I finished my wine he had barely touched his beer. Hard to drink when you’re talking nonstop. I ordered another glass of wine. 

Now, grown up me now knows that I shouldn’t have ordered that wine because it sent the signal that I was enthralled by his stories and wanted to stay longer and hear more of them. But little me (you know, 25-year-old me) just needed a glass in order to have something to do with my hands. This guy was talking so much I was trying not to fall asleep. Maintain eye contact. Head up. Don’t yawn. I needed something to keep me busy, alert. Not that wine made me alert, but the prospect of having a glass in my hand that would spill were I to fall asleep mid story did.  I drank my wine. He blabbered on. 

Then came an unusual moment that has only ever happened on this date. Justin decided that we should give each other nick names. I laughed it off. Don’t you have to know someone to give them a nickname? He was serious. I said “You don’t know enough about me to give me a nickname,” and he just laughed that off. I’m a fan of nicknames in general and I give them to my friends all the time. I have different nicknames from different people as well. I think nicknames are great, but they usually happen organically. You can’t just look at someone you barely know and give them a nickname because you want to. Well, you can, but it’s probably not going to be one that they’ll ever use again. 

But he was set on it. He looked into my eyes, then looked me up and down, smirked at me, and said “I’m gonna call you Tiger.” He sat back, crossed his arms, looking pleased with himself. “How you doing, Tiger?” He looked at me waiting for praise, for me to say “Oh my gosh! It’s like you know me!” But I didn’t. Because, come on guys, it was pretty lame. Tiger is a nickname for a child, not a grown woman. It’s what a 1950s Dad would call his son when they were playing catch in the backyard. It’s like Sport, or Kiddo, at least in my mind. “Go get ‘em Tiger!” is the only thought in my head when I hear the nickname Tiger. 

I looked at him, unimpressed. “How’d you come up with that?” I queried. “I don’t know, I just did.” He was so satisfied with himself. And unfortunately for me, the nickname stuck. He called me Tiger for the rest of the night. Looking back, maybe he forgot my name halfway through and decided to give me a nickname as a cover? If that’s the case, it was a smoother move than I realized. But I’m gonna go ahead and make fun of him for it instead, cool?

Once he finished his beer and I finished my wine, I got up to go to the restroom. When I came back, he was not at the counter anymore. I thought he had ditched me at first, and was feeling a bit relieved to be honest. But then I saw him waving at me from the couch. He had taken it upon himself to move over to the couches and order me another glass of wine. Damnit.

Some of you might be thinking “Well that’s sweet, what’s wrong with that?” and find me ungrateful. But here’s the thing; this was a first date. I hadn’t spoken two words and this guy hadn’t checked in with me, hadn’t asked me anything about myself, hadn’t gauged whether or not I was enjoying myself. He just moved to the couch and ordered more drinks because HE wanted to.  It was a power move and it made it much more difficult for me to just say good night and walk out the door. If we had been dating for a while and he knew that I enjoyed his company and would want a third glass of wine, then yes, this is a thoughtful move. But on a first date, when I didn’t know him, it just felt like he had decided for me that I was going to stay. 

I made my way over to him reluctantly; scouting the door to see if I could sneak out without him seeing me. I would never actually do that because I’m not a dick, but the thought crossed my mind. When he saw me he put his arm out and motioned for me to sit next to him, rubbing the couch cushion. Like, right next to him. Real close. FYI dudes, this is another creepy move when you do it to someone you barely know. I just looked at him for a second. “I got you another glass of pinot” he said, trying to tempt me to sit down. “I have to drive, you know” I reminded him. He dismissed that as if I had told him something completely irrelevant.  “Just sit with me, come on, Tiger.” I quelled the urge to throw up in my mouth and went to the bar to get a water. 

I came back and warily sat down, placing my purse in between us. I had it between his thighs and mine, very much on purpose, so that he couldn’t scoot any closer to me. And you know what this motherfucker did? He picked up my purse, moved it, and literally said “Let’s just get this wall out of the way here” as he reached over me to set it behind me on the couch. Again, gentlemen, and ladies for that matter, READ THE ROOM. This is a recurring theme in my stories and I hope it will make at least one person more cognizant of the fact that a date is a two-person activity. It’s not all about you and what you want. 

Once he moved my purse, I tensed up a bit. I was just trying to maintain my personal space. My bubble. He did not pick up on that. He put his arm around me and tried to pull me into him, and I ducked out from under his arm and sat back up. “I’m good like this” I said. He chuckled at me, looked at me like I was a horse that needed to be broken. I could see it in his face: Challenge accepted. Oh no.  

He began his second monologue of the night, occasionally putting his hand on my thigh, or scooting closer. I continued to rebuff his advances and would scoot a tiny bit farther away from him each time. I was getting dangerously close to the end of the couch. Once I finished my water, I told him I needed to go home. I tried to leave quickly so as to avoid the cumbersome walk to my car and subsequent farewell, but he was too quick. He had already paid the bill and he jumped up to walk me out. 

As we walked to my car, he put his arm around me. “This was really fun, Tiger. We should do it again sometime.” “Thank you for the drinks” I deflected. We arrived at my car. I started to walk around to the driver’s side but he grabbed my hand, pulled me towards him, and kissed me. I pulled back quickly. “Okay have a good night” I murmured as I turned away again.  I walked around the car and as I opened the door to get in, he said “I’m gonna call you, Tiger. You better believe it!” I laughed as I saw the realization come over his face that he didn’t actually have my number. “Oh wait, you have to call me! You better call me, Tiger!” I laughed some more as I waved and drove off into the sunset. Well, down Sunset Boulevard anyway.

Epilogue: One of my coworkers at the time was a comedian who performed at the Improv regularly. She asked about my date and when I told her that he worked there, it turned out that she knew him. I told her how the date went and she laughed. A lot. She asked him about the date the next time she saw him and got quite a different version from him. According to Justin, I was nervous, shy, and immature; not uncomfortable and disinterested. He said that it was kind of a turn off and that he wasn’t really interested in seeing me again. Cool cool. The feeling is mutual, Tiger. 

Steven

This is the story of my very first Tinder date. 

I had been on online dates before but hadn’t tried Tinder yet because of its reputation for being more of a hook up site. (And I’m a lady, duh.) Of course after, oh I don’t know, three dates? I grew tired of Plenty of Fish and OkCupid so I decided to dip my toe into the wonderful world of Tinder. I will say, there are a lot more options on Tinder. It seems to be the one default app that all single people have. This doesn’t mean that there is better quality, necessarily, just greater quantity. 

 I was a bit apprehensive about meeting up with someone from Tinder and having them immediately try to have sex with me. As far as I knew, that was all Tinder was. The digital Red Light District. Don’t come in here unless you’re ready to take your pants off. Don’t get me wrong, I never wear pants at home. My roommate literally texts me when she has people coming over to make sure that I’m decent. But on a first date with a stranger? That’s a different story. My friends convinced me that there were some people on there actually just looking to get to know you. “If you’re on there, there have to be some other decent people on there too, right?” Fine. I’ll try it. “And if you do decide to take your pants off with a stranger, so be it!” Don’t push it.

I matched with a guy named Steven who seemed friendly, cute, and harmless in a good way. He had blondish hair with a beard and light eyes. He suggested a hike for our first date, which in retrospect I might not do again but it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a surprising choice and I didn’t feel like he would be putting the moves on me on a hike as much as in a bar. He suggested a place called Castle Peak out in West Hills. I had never been there but I was open to a new hiking spot so I agreed and we made a date. 

I drove out to West Hills on the day of the date with that all too familiar feeling of I-want-to-take-the-next-freeway-exit-and-turn-around but somehow resisted it. Power through Kel, if nothing else you’ll get a nice walk in the sunshine. Steven texted me and told me he was already there, so I looked for him when I parked and walked over to the trailhead. Steven spotted me first and walked over to greet me. He was quite a bit shorter than I had anticipated. This again.

Now, Tinder doesn’t require you to put your height on your profile so it’s just part of the gamble. I usually feel like it’s rude to just flat out ask someone their height, because if they tell you they’re short, now you look like an asshole if you don’t go out with them. (I know, who cares if someone you’ve never met thinks you’re an asshole right?) But I’m assuming that a lot of women do flat out ask men for their heights, because there is this pattern of men begrudgingly putting their height on their profile, followed by a snarky comment like “because that matters apparently.” One guy even put “Oh and I’m 6ft, for all you shallow women out there.”

Let’s get one thing straight; yes, your height matters to shallow women, but it also matters to tall women. I’m not exceedingly tall, but I am 5’7” which puts me at 5’10”-11” in heels. I don’t wear them that often but I like to have the option without feeling like a giant. I don’t need your passive aggressive height listing to make me feel bad about the fact that I’m not 5’2” and 100 pounds. If you don’t want to put your height, then don’t. Pouting about it on your profile is not a good look. 

Anyway, back to Steven. He found me in the parking lot and reached out to shake my hand. I always hug when I first meet my date instead of a handshake for a couple reasons. First, I want to see if I like hugging you. Is it awkward? Are you leaning into the hug? Are you uncomfortable with this amount of physical contact? Are you being creepy and trying to grab my ass right off the bat? You can tell a lot about a person by hugging them. But I also like to hug them to set the tone that this is a date, not a business meeting. Especially a day date. I used to work as a server most nights so I had to do a lot of day dates. They already feel less romantic and starting off with a handshake really doesn’t help that cause. 

Steven seemed a little tense when I hugged him, like he wasn’t ready for physical contact. Who’s the sexual predator now? We exchanged niceties and then headed up the trail. It was a hot day and it was a bit of a rocky and dusty trail, not exactly lush and green. I soon came to realize that was on purpose. Since I had never done this hike and didn’t know the trail, I asked him a few questions about it to get the conversation ball rolling. He answered my questions briefly and moved on. Not unfriendly, just a little nervous, maybe? But I could tell the conversation would require a bit of effort on my part. So I asked him some easy questions to start. Work, where you from, etc. He just seemed distracted; kept looking around and at the ground. 

He picked up a rock and held it out for me to see. And then, he started talking. Like, really talking. He was telling me all about the rock and what type of sediment it is and how old it must be and on and on. As it turned out, geology was his passion; and rocks were his jam. Once he started talking about them, he didn’t stop. As we walked, he would pick up different rocks and show them to me, keeping some in his pocket, leaving others. He pointed out a rock formation and said that it had veins of gold in it. I made a joke about him panning for gold and he looked me dead in the eyes and said “I do pan for gold.” I looked at him curiously, waiting to see if he was fucking with me or not. He wasn’t. I was on a date with a 49er. You know, the ones the football team is named after, not Jimmy Garoppolo, unfortunately for me. 

He then went into the details of how one pans for gold. He was squatting down on the ground, showing me his form, explaining that normally there would be a pan in his hands but “you just have to picture it,” and then pretending that he had found some gold in his pan. I played along with him since it was the most excited I’d seen him yet. I asked him if I could have the gold he had just “found,” as a token of our date. He looked at me like I was nuts. Oh, that’s too much?

Once the demonstration was over we continued down the trail. I tried to restart the conversation with some regular topics. Well, just not rocks. I had a rock collection when I was a kid and I know my birthstones are pearl and alexandrite, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I asked him about his other hobbies, and when he started talking about rocks again, I specified. “Anything not rock-related?” He was stumped. 

So I started talking about myself, hoping we would find a subject in common. I told him a story about riding my bike when I was a kid, asked him if he had a bike. He did. That’s all he had to say. Onward. Food! I asked about his favorite types of food. He seemed paralyzed by the question so I babbled on for a minute about sushi and self-serve frozen yogurt. Nothing? Okay… Sports! Let’s try sports. I asked him if he played sports growing up. I told him I played softball. Do you like baseball? “Yeah it’s alright… Oh see this rock over here…” He wandered off to grab another rock and show it to me. This guy was killing me. I felt like I was on a hike with an eight-year-old. 

I stopped trying. I decided to just walk, enjoy the view and the hike, and smile and nod whenever he showed me a rock. He was sweet, but so oblivious. At least he wasn’t paying attention to how sweaty I was getting in the 90 degree weather. I tried to ask him how much longer the hike was going to be without it coming out like “Are we there yet?” He said we were about halfway. Oh joy.

We came to a pretty cool cave, enjoyed some panoramic views, and headed back down the loop. I wish I could say that I retained all of the information about rocks that Steven bestowed upon me, but I did not.  And it really showed on the second half of the hike, which turned out to be the pop quiz section of our date. 

Steven would pick up a rock and hold it out for me to see, like a child who’s caught a caterpillar and wants to show you. Then he would look at me expectantly, waiting for me to identify it. Yep, looks like a rock to me. I would look at the rock, back at Steven, shake my head and shrug. He would look disappointed for a split second, but then excited because he got to answer the question himself. It was like a round of Jeopardy when there’s an entire category you know nothing about. I wasn’t even buzzing in and he still expected me to answer. Why are you still asking me? Clearly you know the answer and I don’t. I didn’t know there was going to be a lightning round on geology at the end of our date!

We made our way back down to the parking lot and I was ready to get in my car and go home. Steven asked if I wanted to get lunch. I told him I had to get going. He was disappointed, which surprised me. Maybe if you’d let me keep the non-existent gold… It was another one of those moments where I felt like we had been on completely different dates. For me it was awkward and I had no intention of seeing him again. (And I honestly thought the feeling was mutual.) But he was like “Hey that was fun!” Part of me wished the date had gone well because I could have ended with a terrible pun about how “this date rocked!” But, alas, I’ll have to save that one for another 49er. (Here’s hoping Jimmy G is on Tinder…)

Yannick

Not every dating story is a funny one.  I generally try to keep it light but unfortunately for me the funniest thing about this story is that the guy’s name sounds like Yuck. Reliving this date is uncomfortable and honestly, embarrassing. I have come so far since this date and would never allow someone to treat me this way today. But I also think that it’s worth telling because every woman I know has been there.  So buckle up, because it’s about to get bumpy.

A while back, I went through a hard breakup. I don’t really subscribe to the belief that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, so I took a few months off of dating. And I liked it that way. Because you can’t get hurt if you don’t let anyone in, right? Soon enough my friends were really pushing me to get back out there, so naturally they reactivated my Tinder profile. Hooray. I matched with a French guy named Yannick right away. He was handsome but didn’t say much in his profile. He asked me for my number very quickly and asked me out. Initially, he proposed that I come to his apartment complex and play some tennis and then have a soak in his hot tub. That seemed a little aggressive for a first date so I declined that offer and proposed we meet for drinks at a bar.  We decided on a bar about halfway between us and made a date.  

The day of the date, I was not excited. I had that dreadful feeling in my belly and was texting my friends for reassurance. They had me send his picture. They said he looked short. That did not help. I went anyway. He said he had trouble finding a parking spot so I ended up waiting for him for twenty minutes; the perfect amount of time for me to go back into a psychological tailspin while standing on a curb in Hollywood. He finally arrived and I was relieved to see that he was pretty cute and not short after all. Phew. He definitely let me know that he thought I was cute. He looked me up and down for so long I had to clear my throat and get his attention. It was slightly unnerving but also, it felt nice to be desired after being so painfully rejected by my breakup.

We walked inside and Yannick picked out a dark corner booth for us to sit in. The waitress came over and we both ordered Moscow Mules.  She asked if we wanted to make it a double for $2 more and while every fiber of my being wanted to, I didn’t want to be that girl five minutes into the date so I politely declined the offer and so did he. I should have gotten the double. I drank mine at what I consider to be a normal pace, and when I looked over, he had barely touched his. Apparently he was not a big drinker. I applaud that, fine, but on a first date, especially a first date after a big breakup, I need a fucking drink to take the edge off. But he was nursing his so slowly that every time the waitress came and offered me another drink I would politely decline and chug more water. 

He started getting handsy with me real quick; brushing his hand on my thigh, putting his arm around my back. He went in for a kiss within fifteen minutes. Come on, man.I had to give him my cheek about four times before I finally gave in and let him kiss me. Shouldn’t have done that though because then he just kept kissing me. One kiss was fine, but I don’t need five. We just met.  We’re in a bar on a first date. Sober. Calm the fuck down. But in his mind, I had given him permission to touch me even more. 

As we were talking, he would just find ways to touch me. He hugged me and dragged his hand back across my lap, pretty much touching my crotch as he grazed past me. I flinched. Did he do that on purpose? Then he started asking me very forward and personal questions about sex. I told him that I was uncomfortable talking about it so naturally he followed that up by asking me what my favorite position was, telling me that he likes “the foreplay, you know, giving it” and asking me if I did too. I just stared at him, not sure how to react. “Are you not a sexual person?” NOT ON A FIRST DATE WITH A STRANGER! I wanted to yell at him. I should have left, but I didn’t. Instead I just tried to steer the conversation elsewhere.

He got tired of the bar and wanted to go get food. I’m one of those people who’s always hungry so that was fine with me. As soon as I stood up, he was grabbing my ass. The first one I let slide because I thought it would be the only one. It wasn’t. He grabbed it a few more times despite me commenting on it and moving away from his grasp. “You have a nice ass” he said. I know. Stop touching it. I should have left, again. Recounting this date is painful and disappointing, and if it happened today I would have been out of there after the first drink. But I was just getting back into dating and it caught me off guard. Maybe this is normal? I couldn’t remember, honestly. I was just trying to go with the flow. Women do this a lot to our own peril. We try to diffuse the situation instead of causing a scene. That’s the only thing I can say to explain why I went along with this guy for so long.

We walked to a burger place and he held my hand all the way. I allowed it but was not enjoying it. We sat at a table and ordered our burgers. No drinks, even though I desperately wanted a glass of red wine. I’m not sure why I cared what he thought of me when he clearly didn’t care about what I thought or how I felt, but I didn’t want to be that drunk girl on a date. So no wine. We waited for our food, and somehow things got even more awkward. 

He started asking me questions that felt like a job interview. “Tell me something about yourself that I don’t know.”  Um, we’re on a first date. You don’t know anything about me.But I humored him and told him that I had gone scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef the summer before; something I had wanted to do since I was a kid. He just looked at me, unimpressed. What? Was that not personal enough?He clearly wanted me to tell him something sexual but I wasn’t going to do it. I told him that my front teeth are fake because of when I launched myself over the handlebars of my bicycle and landed on my face when I was nine. He reluctantly accepted my answer. Then it was his turn. He told me, with the saddest puppy dog eyes he could muster, that he had never had a Valentine. “Liiiike, ever?” I asked him incredulously. He shook his head at me piteously, as if he thought I was just going to reach under the table and give him a hand job to cheer him up. Don’t look at me like I’m going to be your fucking Valentine. It’s JUNE. I looked around for the waitress, in need of either wine or the check.

Next contrived question: “Tell me three things you’d like to do with me.” Then he gave me his most seductive look. Nope. Sorry bud. I’m not gonna play this game with you. I made some shit up about going for a hike, having him cook me dinner (he had bragged about his skills in the kitchen), and something else completely non-sexual like going to a museum. He looked disappointed, but he did not desist. “I want to go to the gym with you, I want to have sex with you, and…” I don’t remember what he said after that because I think I blacked out from how uncomfortable I was. I should have left.

Our burgers finally arrived and they looked amazing, until… He ate his with a knife and fork. The entire thing. I thought he was just cutting it in half at first, so I did the same in a weak attempt to be dainty. But no, he was cutting his burger into bite sized pieces and eating them off his fork. I hesitated to pick up my burger, then decided, fuck that, I am not eating my burger with a knife and fork. So I smiled daintily and said, “I’m still gonna pick mine up. Hope that’s okay.” I honestly hoped it would turn him off. It didn’t. When we finally left the restaurant, he stared directly at my breasts for a solid five seconds before reaching his hand out towards my chest. I thought he was going to pluck some food off my shirt but no, he actually pointed his finger down my cleavage and said, “Are you wearing pink and black? That’s my favorite combination.” I laughed uncomfortably as I pushed his hand away, covering myself. It was one of those moments where I didn’t even have time to react because I couldn’t believe he actually did that.  “Your breasts look soft. Are they soft to rub your face into?” “Um, I don’t know. I’ve never rubbed my face in my own breasts before.” I joked, again trying to diffuse the situation. But he kept going. “Can I do it?” He leans in. I jumped away from him. “No, you can’t!” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???

We begin the walk back to my car. He puts his arm around me. I try to move out of it but he pulls me tighter. We’re almost to my car so I just stick it out. Honestly it seemed easier to just let him have his arm around me than to push him away and risk getting into an altercation of some sort. I’m walking stiffly with my arms crossed, hiding my breasts and digging my elbow into his ribs. He still holds on. 

“Do you have laundry?” He asks me, completely out of the blue. “What?” I thought I misheard him because of his French accent and penchant for mumbling. “Do you have laundry?” I hear again. So I reply, slightly confused by the question, “Not in my unit but I have it in my building.” He laughs. Like, really laughs, for the first time on our whole date. I realize that in this moment. Holy shit. He hasn’t made me laugh once.I look at him, “What?” “Not laundry, silly. Lingerie!” he says. Ooohhhh, MY bad. I didn’t realize you were such a creep. I was no longer amused or humoring this guy. “That’s none of your business.” I say and shrug him off of me for good.

Or so I thought. Clearly oblivious to my apprehension, he decided to pick me up. Not sure why. This – not surprisingly- caught me off-guard and I resisted, which made it pretty difficult for him. Not to mention I have a very athletic build and I’m heavier than I look. He seemed surprised by this so he ASKED ME HOW MUCH I WEIGH. I didn’t tell him. He guessed. I ignored him. He asked me if I could pick him up. I said I didn’t want to and power walked the rest of the way to my car. I couldn’t get into my car before he kissed me and grabbed my ass. I backed away. 

 “So I’ll see you Sunday?” he asked. 

 “I can’t Sunday.” 

 “Monday?”

“I can’t Monday.”

“Tuesday?”

“I told you I don’t have time before I leave town on Wednesday. I’m sorry.” 

“How about Sunday AND Tuesday?” 

In what fucking world does that make sense?!

“You know what, if something changes I’ll let you know” I said as I jumped into my car and locked the doors. I sped off, feeling icky and objectified and awful. So much for getting back out there. I returned to my apartment, defeated. I think I even cried a little bit. Yannick kept texting me for days and I had to just tell him that he made me uncomfortable and that I did not want to see him again. He actually apologized and asked me how he had made me uncomfortable. Oh, Yannick, let me count the ways…

Danny

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is… I’m an optimist so I don’t typically subscribe to this particular belief, but sometimes the pessimists are right.

This particular time, I met a handsome man named Danny on Plenty of Fish. He had piercing blue eyes, blonde hair, a strong jawline, nice muscles… you know, the whole package. He was so good looking I was surprised that we matched. Some of his photos looked like modeling shots but he also had some “I’m a real boy” shots that looked pretty good so I listened to my vagina and swiped right. Yes, men, women think with our genitals sometimes too. 

Danny messaged me right away and I was thrilled. We chatted a little bit and he asked me out to dinner. Nice. A dinner invite? That never happens! Usually it’s drinks at best or just a general query into “hanging out.” I accepted the invite and we made a date. 

The day of our date arrived, and I was actually excited! Usually when I make first date plans with someone I’ve met online I am debating whether or not to cancel all the way up until the moment I meet the guy. But not this time. I texted Danny to let him know my ETA and he said “Great, I’m already here. I’ll see you inside.” 

We met at a cute bar that is small enough you can see the whole interior from the front door.  Since Danny had told me he was already there and knew I would be walking through the door at any moment, I assumed that he would spot me first and greet me right away. Nope. I walked in, looked around, and saw a couple of groups of people gathered here and there. There was one guy by himself in the middle of the room but he had thinning brown hair and looked nothing like Danny, so I kept scanning the room. The bar was backlit with red lights, the walls were dark red, the leather booths were red. It was a cozy, intimate spot. I saw the groups of people enmeshed in their conversations; no one peering out from the group as if they were looking for me. I saw no Danny. 

I was puzzled. Was I at the wrong bar? I did another scan of the room, growing more uncomfortable by the second. I felt like everyone in the room was watching me get stood up, even though no one was actually paying any attention to me. Except for the one guy by himself. He looked at me, looked away, looked at me again. I’m flattered bud, but I’m here to meet someone. Then he looked at me one more time, cocked his head to the side like a confused puppy, and took a step towards me. “Kelly?” he asked, seemingly confused. “Yeah?” I replied, definitely confused. “It’s me, Danny.”

I didn’t believe him. I was legitimately perplexed. He looked nothing like the person in the photos. I looked exactly like mine, and he had the audacity to question whether or not I was me? I just stared at him. “I’m Danny, from Plenty of Fish” he tried again. “I’m your date.” A short silence while I processed this information. “You’re Danny?” I blinked. “Yes I am.” I just looked at him some more. This guy looked at least fifteen years older, five inches shorter, thirty pounds heavier, and a whole lot balder than the online version of Danny. I had been tricked.

Now, for those of you who don’t know what it feels like to be catfished, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you’ve had a couple drinks and you’re leaving the bar at 2am. You had some water and your last drink was a while ago, so you feel confident that you’re good to go and that this drive home will go well. But then there’s a DUI checkpoint up ahead. Oh shit. Oh shit. Am I good? You start to wonder. Panic a little. Your palms are sweating (you might notice this as a recurring event in my dating stories, the ol’ sweaty palms.) You want to turn around and go back the other way, but they’ve already seen you so you can’t very well just turn around and speed off. You freeze, panic a little more, question every decision that’s led you to this moment, and then concede. You pull into the checkpoint because you really don’t see any other option, and settle in for the consequences.  Except in this case, the DUI checkpoint is your date! Yay!

 “You look pretty different from your pictures.” I started, tentatively. “Oh really?” he replied, acting surprised. “Yeah, like really different.” I looked at him expectantly, raised my eyebrows a bit the way parents do when they’re trying to coax the truth out of their children. He gave me nothing. I just had to spell it out. “Like a completely different person. Is that really you in your pictures?” I had never been this straight forward with someone right off the bat and it terrified me but also felt amazing. Until he lied to my face. “Yeah, that’s me.” “You sure?” I gave him one more chance to fess up. He didn’t take it. “Yes I’m sure. Those are pictures of me.” I asked him if they were old photos, he said maybe a couple years but nothing crazy. So that was that. He was sticking with his story, and I had officially been catfished. 

I didn’t really know what to do after that. I thought that if I had the balls to ask him straight to his face about his catfish photos that he would give it up, but he hadn’t. So what’s my next move? Stand there and argue with him? Leave? I somehow felt like I couldn’t just leave. Just felt too mean. So I stayed. He had offered me dinner, after all. At least there would be food. 

We walked over to the bar to order. There were no menus, no food, and it became clear to me that there was not going to be any food. So much for the dinner invite. Another lie. Cool. He asked me what I wanted to drink. I asked him what he was having. “Oh I’m just having water. I have an early flight in the morning.” This just keeps getting better.“Well I’m not going to drink alone so I’ll have water too, I guess.” He turned to the bartender and ordered two waters with such attempted swagger I’m pretty sure he thought he was James Bond ordering a martini, shaken, not stirred. We drank our waters standing at the bar. Talk about a dream date, am I right? 

I was determined not to be shallow and to give this guy a chance. I somehow thought that I was the asshole for not finding him attractive, when in reality he was the asshole for lying on his profile AND lying straight to my face. So we talked. I asked him some typical first date questions and all I learned about this guy was that he had a lot of money and his pilot’s license. His father had some big banking company in Switzerland and Danny was supposed to take over it, only he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go back to Switzerland. He told me he was a pilot and that he wasn’t just boarding a flight in the morning, but flying the plane. Okay that’s pretty cool. I don’t know how to fly a plane.

The non-shallow part of my brain was trying really hard. But then he would say something else about his extravagant lifestyle and how much money he had spent on his last vacation, or his collection of cars, or his private plane, or blah blah blah. You would think that would trick the shallow part of my brain into liking him, but it didn’t. I’m not a gold digger by nature so it really just turns me off when people lead with their money. That’s nice, but what else is interesting about you? Are you a happy person? Do you like your job? Do you have friends? Any hobbies? Or do you just work at a job you hate all the time and fly around on an empty private plane because you have no friends? 

I kept trying to steer the conversation away from money and he just kept steering it right back. The guy had nothing else to say. Nothing to contribute. Not a joke, not a story, not a compliment, not a question about myself. I was underwhelmed. Unimpressed. Bored. Sure, I had initially disliked this guy because he lied to me and was not as attractive as his profile had promised (well, not even the same person really), but I had stuck it out and tried to give him a chance anyway. And he had showed me that he had nothing to offer but money, which at this point I didn’t even believe that he had. It didn’t matter to me if he did, I was never going to see this guy again. 

I excused myself to go to the bathroom and immediately called my best friend. She didn’t answer. How dare she! I texted her. Multiple times. I was in there for a few minutes, waiting for her to reply and give me an excuse to bail. But she didn’t. I was going to have to handle this myself. And then I had an epiphany: I could just leave. I did not owe this guy anything. He didn’t fly me here on his plane. I was not being held here against my will. He hadn’t even bought me a drink (not that that would mean I did owe him anything, but you know what I mean.) I had already sat there talking with him for forty-five minutes trying to find a connection and I had failed. I was a grown ass woman who didn’t need my best friend to call with a fake emergency. This didn’t mean I had to be rude or sneak out, but I could absolutely leave. And so I did. I walked out of the bathroom, told Danny that it was nice to meet him but that I was going to take off, and he said okay. He told me to have a good night, and I left. I was straight forward with him and he reacted kindly. 

I exhaled deeply as I walked out of the bar, smiling to myself. Not in a mean or petty way, but because I was proud of myself; proud of how I handled the situation. I had been so worried that Danny was going to be mad at me, guilt-trip me, insist that I stay, or call me a bitch for leaving that early. But he didn’t. I treated him with respect and he responded with respect. This might seem silly to the men reading this, but it’s something that women think about a lot. When we reject a man, we play out every reaction they could possibly have in our heads before we decide how to handle it.  Most men are respectful, but some are not. And the ones who are not can be unpredictable and scary. 

Lucky for me, he was just a catfish and not a predator. He let me go. So I stopped by Trader Joe’s on a Friday night, all dressed up with nowhere to go. I bought myself some wine and cheese and snacks and headed home, just in time for that made-up emergency call from my best friend.