Let me tell you guys a story about my very first online date. Ever. Of all time. Where it all began. And the rest, as they say, is history – or an endlessly frustrating path of hope, excitement, disappointment, confusion, ghosting, and just a sprinkle of creepiness.
I cannot remember this guy’s name so I am going to call him Bob. I choose Bob because I don’t want to overlap on the names of my blog posts and it seems unlikely that I will go out with a man in his 60s who wears Hawaiian shirts and loves Jimmy Buffet. (Is that not what you guys picture when you hear the name Bob? Just me?) At least not until I’m also in my 60s, wearing a lei and drinking a margarita at a Jimmy Buffett concert alongside him.
Anyway, Bob and I met on OKCupid. That was the first online dating website I ever signed up for and it was at my roommate’s behest. I had broken up with my college sweetheart of five years and it was time to get back out there. So I did. Reluctantly so, but I did.
At the time I was waiting tables and worked almost every single night, so I had to set up a weekend day time date with Bob. We agreed to meet at a for breakfast on the Venice boardwalk. I was nervous for my first online date ever. I was also nervous to just get back out there in general after being in a relationship for so long, but I had to leave the nest sometime.
And… I was late for our date. Not horrendously late, but in my twenties I was pretty much 10-15 minutes late to any social engagement, and about 5 minutes late to work. Without fail. But I was charming and an otherwise excellent employee so I always got away with it.
I was just about to text him and let him know my adjusted ETA when he texted me, and let me know that he had arrived. 20 minutes early.
Shit. 15 minutes late isn’t THAT bad, unless you’ve already been waiting for me for twenty minutes, then it’s like I’m 35 minutes late and that makes me feel like a stinking hot pile of garbage.
Not the best way to start a date, with my tail between my legs, rushing around Venice trying to find parking, and hustling my ass over to the café and breaking a sweat in the process. Hi, I’m your late, sweaty date. Nice to meet you, Bob.
I think he could tell that I felt pretty badly about being late because he was kind and didn’t make any snarky remarks. But still, the dynamic felt like he had the power and I had to prove myself to him.
I ordered as quickly as I could and we got to the small talk. Yay!
Bob worked as a tugboat captain, which I found very amusing. That’s one of those job titles I’ve only ever really heard of in cartoons, and I had some questions to ask him about it. He filled me in on his days of running the ship (literally) and towing boats in and out of Long Beach Harbor, and it turned out to be not as wild of a job as I had imagined. He just tugged boats all day. Pretty self-explanatory. We moved on to other subjects.
Bob was a big, buff guy, so it was clear that he kept active. But he did have a bit of that top-heaviness going on. You know, when they have the legs of a gazelle holding up the pecs and arms of the Hulk? Yeah, it was like that.
I studied personal training in college and have always been fascinated by the human body, so we got onto the subject of kinesiology and working out. He mentioned he had torn his ACL a few years back and I asked him how he did it. He did not want to tell me. Like, really didn’t want to tell me.
I immediately thought of all the scandalous ways he could have injured his knee that he wouldn’t want to tell me on a first date.
“Come on, tell me the story!”
“It’s not a good story” he just kept saying.
“The more you say that the better the story gets in my mind. You should probably just tell me. “
He eventually acquiesced, sighed, and told me.
“I hurt it getting out of a chair.”
“Like, you fell out of the chair while you were having sex with someone?”
“No, I was just getting up.”
“Was it a spinny office chair and somehow you lost your balance?”
“Nope. Just a regular chair. I didn’t fall down. I just stood up and tore my ACL.”
“So, you didn’t step on a marble or anything?”
He stared at me.
I blinked. He was right; that was not a good story.
But it did explain the disproportionate top and bottom situation he had going on.
“I told you it wasn’t a good story.”
“You weren’t kidding. That’s a really boring story. You’ve got to come up with something better than that.”
He looked at me like I was crazy.
“Just make something up! Who cares? You could switch it up every time, have some fun with it! You tore it skiing in the Swiss Alps… You tore it having a silent disco outside on the beach… You tore it falling off a yacht… umm, Pirates…???”
My voice trailed off. I was not getting any implication from his body language that he was even mildly entertaining the idea of making up tall tales about injuring his knee. Swashbuckling or not.
It’s possible he thought I was crazy starting in that moment.
Since he wasn’t amused by my wild imagination, we moved on. Turns out he wasn’t amused by much of anything. The conversation was a bit dry, just like his knee story.
He did seem to enjoy mansplaining to me why it was better to sit next to each other at a bar than across from each other at a table when on a first date. You see, ladies, he explained to me that we would have easier access to touch each other and invite physical chemistry if we were sitting next to each other. But since there was a table between us, our physical touch was restricted.
Uh, ya think that was an accident? You don’t have to tell me how to strategically position myself so as not to get groped by a stranger I met on the internet. Women have been utilizing the table as a pseudo-bodyguard/buffer for centuries thank you very much.
But I digress. The date went on a little longer, but it did not improve. When it was time to leave, we split the check and he walked me to my car. I was parked at a meter and we stood on the sidewalk for a moment as we bid each other farewell, forever.
All was well and done, and then we had our awkward goodbye hug. I think it was obvious that I didn’t want a kiss from him because he didn’t try anything. I was in the clear! Until we pulled away from each other after the hug. Bob’s face suddenly contorted and he looked at me like I had punched him in the gut.
“What was that?” he asked me.
“What was what?” I had no idea what he meant.
“That face you made.”
“I didn’t make a face at you.” I genuinely did not make a face at him.
“You just looked at me like, ugh, eww.”
“I sure didn’t.”
He looked at me sideways; distrusting.
“I guess that’s just my face.” I shrugged.
He stared at me for a second like he wanted to either say something more or just punch me in the face, but couldn’t because I was a woman. I took that as my cue to turn around and walk to my car. Date over. And that was my introduction to online dating.
If only he’d seen the face I made when I got into my car by myself.