Last week I told you about Mr. Saturday, Kyle: our shining star in the latest round of, “How Much Worse Can It Get? Dating Edition.”
What you couldn’t have known, even if you’d read every word of that post with your jaw quickly migrating south, was that I’d been on the heels of another eyebrow-raising first date, Mr. Friday, Nick.
Nick was also a cute guy in his 30s with whom I’d texted back and forth for a few days before meeting up. He mentioned that he didn’t drink, so we made plans to meet at a local park.
It was fairly chilly in central Oregon, especially by 6pm, and I wondered how to look cute and warm at the same time. I settled on black sneakers, black winter leggings, a black crop top turtleneck, and a puffy jacket that hugged my waist so I (hopefully) didn’t look like a shapeless blob.
I stuck gloves in my pockets and pulled my hair into a low ponytail, anticipating a breeze with bite.
“I’m leaving now,” Nick texted once I was already sitting in the parking lot waiting. (In case you’re curious: out of the past nine first dates, only one has shown up before me.)
When he finally arrived, about 15 minutes late, he gave me a hug hello. He looked like his photos…mostly. A little rougher around the edges, with pockmarked skin, but tall, good hair, and he’d clearly just showered. (Sadly, that last bit is noteworthy.)
“Are we going to box or something?” he said as I pulled on my gloves.
“I think you’d win,” I replied in a chipper voice, my stomach dropping. What the hell kind of joke is that for your opening line? These gloves aren’t even big! “You know, I’ve never punched anyone.”
“Why are you wearing gloves?” he pressed, his voice laced with sarcasm.
“It’s like 40 degrees!” I laughed, still trying to make light of it. Are we going to keep talking about this?
We walked over a scenic wooden bridge and Nick paused to take photo. He didn’t make eye contact and seemed on edge. My stomach continued to plummet.
“I hate this town. Everyone’s so clique-y,” he snarled as we walked down the sidewalk, heading downtown.
“I’ve heard a couple of people say that,” I replied, making an effort to catch his eye and smile to see if he’d soften. “I got really lucky because I had some friends when I moved here.”
“My friend is a bouncer over at [a bar],” he said as we got closer to town. “Do you know where that is?”
“I think so,” I answered. It was becoming clear that Nick, a California transplant, didn’t know our town very well, underscored by the strong scent of cologne trailing behind him. No one -no one- in central Oregon wore cologne. “I always get the two main streets mixed up, but I think it’s this way.”
Does he want to go to a bar? He said he didn’t drink.
“Nah, he’s not working tonight. Let’s go this way,” he steered us to the left. “Did you hear about the guy who just got shot downtown?”
“What? No!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, my friend saw the whole thing. Some black guy was beating the sh*t out of this white guy and finally the white guy shot him and now everyone is saying it’s like a black lives matter thing, but the dude had it coming.”
Nick’s voice had gone from sarcastic to chilling and I swallowed, wracking my brain for a reply that wouldn’t trigger him.
“That’s awful,” I breathed. And so are you.
Only 25 minutes into our date, I started trying to figure out how to make a break for it. We were now standing in a brick-lined courtyard near the river, several vendors and a band setting up beneath white tents. Nick started walking towards a coffee shop.
“I didn’t bring a mask,” I said.
“Me either,” he replied, and proceeded to poke his head inside the coffee shop.
“Excuse me, sir,” a sweet-faced security guard cautioned. “You can’t go in without a mask.”
“I’ve got my skin mask on,” Nick growled, but came back outside.
I stared at the security guard with wide eyes.
“Help me,” I mouthed.
His eyes twinkled as he laughed and mouthed back, “Blind date?” I nodded.
Soon, people filled the courtyard and the band started playing.
“I can’t wait to get out of this town,” Nick moaned. “I sold my house and I’m moving next month.”
“Oh wow,” I replied. “Congratulations. Great time to sell.” Good riddance.
“Yeah, this town is ridiculous,” he went on. “One time I was watching TV at like 4am and I heard this noise. It was a couple of tweakers in my garage, robbing me. So I called the cops and they were like, ‘Well you’re a vet[eran], right? Can’t you take care of it?’ So I’m like, what the f*ck, and all of my guns were upstairs. Eventually they left and the cops came, but they thought I was making it up! Like some PTSD bullshit. So they wanted me to get a psych evaluation and I was like, fine, and then I was stuck in the hospital for four days. And when it all finally went to court, the cops never showed up, so the whole thing got dropped.”
“That is an unbelievable story,” I replied, my mind spinning in circles.
“Do you have any crazy stories?”
“Uhhh, not that crazy,” I said, no longer even trying to make eye contact. “I went out with this guy once who showed me a video of himself surgically removing his toenails. While we were eating dinner.”
Nick’s face was blank in response. I started to panic. How do I get out of here?!
“This band sucks,” Nick snarled. “A bunch of white guys playing reggae. God.”
“I’m gonna take off,” I blurted before I said something I might regret. Not realizing what was to come the following night, I had just ended my quickest date of all time: 40 minutes.
“Okay,” Nick replied, looking surprised. To his credit, he didn’t ask questions. But he did follow me a solid half mile to our cars – because he couldn’t remember where we’d parked them.
I pulled away quickly and beelined for the supermarket to buy
a bottle two bottles of wine. With my gloves on, thankyouverymuch.