Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Date from Hell, with points

First, a bit of background. I consider myself an intelligent woman. University educated, with a fair share of street smarts, common sense, and life experience. If I were to class myself, I'd say middle: opportunities will be presented to me that many may never get. Even though I am in my 20s, others have told me I have a maturity level of someone in their 30s. I am both considerate and responsible. I have the ability (if not the means) to be self-reliant and am very strong-willed. While I know how to have a good time, I also recognize when it is time to be serious.

I try to take care of my body; eat right, exercise regularly, don't smoke. This last one is important, I have a sort of cigarette allergy. I couldn't smoke if I wanted to, it makes me ill to be around smokers.

This will be relevant to the story.

I met this guy, we’ll call him Kit, at the MD Renaissance Festival. He works there like I do, with some of the support staff (game booths and things). I met him out in the parking lot, there were two women who had locked a little dog in the car and headed into the faire. I alerted security (that dog would have been dead by the time they were done, and it's against MD state law). I showed them the vehicle while they were on the radio to stop them at the gate. The women returned to their car and sat inside it for a while. I didn't want to leave for two reasons: one, they saw me at my car and I did not want them to retaliate against it for turning them in and two, I didn't want to walk away and have them just head back to the faire and not deal with the dog.

Kit was in the parking lot working (trying to sell rides to the front gate in a hand-pulled carriage, as part of his job), and stopped to chat with me. Naturally, I was explaining the situation to him, so he waited with me until the women drove away with their dog (understanding my concerns for my car and the dog).

After they left, we went inside and had lunch before I had to go to work. He was very nice. I learned he worked in construction, was younger than me but only by a few years, and was a smoker (but he never smoked in his car). Taking a chance, as someone had recommended I do, and trying to be a good person and give everyone a chance, I gave him my number.

We talked on the phone and at the faire off and on after that (remember the faire is in the Fall). It was approaching Spring, when he asked me if I would give him a boyfriend chance (so to speak). He had promised he would never smoke around me, respecting how I felt and reacted to it. I can deal with that, smoking is a pretty big issue for me but if I'm not around it, I think I'll be ok.

I have a group of friends who get together in the Spring and go to Medieval Times (in costume and everything). I thought that would be the perfect first date, in a group setting so if things don't work out we don't have to be miserable, and invited him to join us. He showed up smelling like cigarettes, but I let that go. I thought it was fun, he behaves pretty well in a crowd of strangers. So we started planning our second, official 'date' date.

The trouble starts here, but we're not at the date yet.

Second date, first official one-on-one date planning commences.

His first suggestion; he wanted me to join him when he visited his brother... in Delaware. This should have been the first alarm, a long road trip is not a good first date setting. (Gents, you may want to take note of this: if you want to take someone out for the first time, an interstate weekend road trip is not a good idea.) I ended up saying I was already busy that weekend he wanted to go (it was not hard to become busy).

I was slightly concerned at this point. I already knew he was on a different level than I; high school education (not so important), slightly lower class (again, not so important), and he had one habit I would have a hard time getting past (really really important). I decided to test him a bit. There was an exhibit of Titanic artifacts at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore around this time, and I really wanted to go see it (the Titanic disaster has interested me for many many years, long before that crappy movie).

Surprisingly, he said he loved MDSC, so going there for that exhibit was a great idea. There's a point in his favor. He said he would pick me up, and we could take the light rail into Baltimore. There's another point, I've never ridden the light rail (New experience = good). He then suggested we could go to Hooters for lunch. There goes a point, and the second alarm. (Here's another note you many want to make: Hooters, unless suggested by her, is not a good place to take her on a first date. I don't care if the wings are good, it's not a good idea.)

We set our date with whatever we would do for lunch still undecided. We were going on Sunday. He gave me a time frame to get started, and I told him to pick me up anytime between 0800 and 0900. I was very firm that I was going to have a late Saturday night and any earlier I would not be ready. So, ask me what happened on Sunday.

I’ll tell you!

It seems to me that a logical person would hear "anytime between 0800 and 0900" and think it was a good idea to shoot for 0830, sometime in the middle. If someone gave me a time frame such as this, that's what I would try to do. I anticipated there was going to be a problem with what time he was coming to get me (based on the time he said he was going to leave), so I tried very hard to be ready early. He arrived at 0745. Remember when I said I wouldn't be ready if he was early? I wasn't, I hadn't had breakfast. Take note: being early can be just as bad as being late. And there's one point against. (I don't really use a point system to evaluate my dates, but the nature of this story makes it funny, as an illustration of all pros and cons, etc, if you follow. By the way, he does get a point for picking me up.)

So, off we go down the road in his truck (forgot to mention, he lives about 35-40 minutes away from me, we've got a long car ride ahead, light rail only runs as far south as his area). He kept asking me what kind of music I listened to in the car. I replied that I don't listen to music in the car. This is mostly true, I really don't, I rely on news and traffic reports because of the distance I go. Maybe I was being too subtle (men, after all, don't get subtlety very often, I'm told), and that's my fault, but I would assume if my date said 'no music' then maybe we should take that long car-ride time and do some getting-to-know-you talking. Again, it seems logical to me. Instead, he took it to mean "you choose what we listen to because I don't have a preference." I then had to endure a very long, awkward car ride with someone who barely said ten words to me, while more awkward commercials played on the radio (one was a true-love finding dating service. Can we say ugh? And there goes another point).

When we got close to his area, he said he needed to run by his house and change. CHANGE?? AS IN CLOTHES??? Yup. See, he'd been out all night at a bar with friends, never went home, never went to bed, NEVER SHOWERED, before coming to get me. One point down.

We got to his house, he invited me in (at least I didn't have to wait in the car), and invited me back to his bedroom. We are sooooo not on a bedroom level. So I just stood awkwardly in the doorway trying to avoid looking at the half-clothed pin-up girls that papered his walls. His father was there, but he didn't introduce us. So I, being raised a certain way, introduced myself. This seemed to catch his father off-guard, a testament to the very different social spheres of our backgrounds. Two more points down, one for the bedroom, one for the lack of introduction.

After his quick hop in the bathroom and wardrobe change, we were back in the car. He picked up his cell phone and called a friend. I only heard one part of the conversation, of course, but based on what I heard, I figured his friend knew he would be awake and wanted a wake up call (that warrants a point, what a nice guy). They chatted briefly about where we were on our timetable. Then, to my surprise, he pulled into a McDonalds and asked me if I wanted anything. Remember when I said I try to eat right? Yeah, I haven't eaten at McDonalds for more than 5 years at this point. We could have worked breakfast into our plans if he had only said something. As it was, we didn't talk about breakfast, he choose to go to McDonalds without first finding out if I ate there. Haven't for 5 years, not about to start, in the interest of being kind, I told him I wasn't hungry. I went that day without breakfast, remember he arrived too early and I didn't have time. There goes another point.

To hide the strangeness of sitting there while he ate, I called my dad and asked him to put my bonsai plant outside. When he was done, we drove across the street to the light rail station. It is now 0845, the sun is blazing down, there is no shade in sight. I sat down while he bought light rail tickets. That's a good point, paying my way on a date. And now we wait....

0845 we arrived at the light rail station. We waited, and waited, and chatted a bit (not much) and waited. He mentioned his friend whom he called to wake up and his fiancé might 'meet us down there.' I took that to mean they were going to be in the area too and would join us for lunch. No problem. Still waiting for the train. At about 0945 (my fair skin is baking in the sun) Kit decided to check on what time the first train runs on Sunday (MDSC, by the way, opens at 1000, we were trying to get there close to opening, but that wasn't super important). Guess what time the first train leaves? Don't worry, I'll tell you. 1100. Minus one point, and I flat out told him that was something he should have found out before we even got started. He laughed and said "because you could have slept longer, right?" Frankly, yes! And had breakfast!

At about 1015, his friends arrive. Now I know what 'meet us down there' meant, he meant to say 'coming with us.' I thought we already did the group thing, is it not now time for the one on one thing? If not, that's ok, but don't you think you should ask your date if friends could come? I probably would have said yes. In this case, I was expecting to spend some time alone with my new boyfriend. And to make it worse, they were engaged, so now I'm faced with a couple on a vastly different relationship level than I was. Hopefully, my date knows that we are not at that level and needs to behave accordingly. And minus one point for the hitchhikers. One of whom, by the way, was busily smoking a cigarette when he walked up. Ugh.

Well, the train isn't coming until 1100, so they decided to pass the time by sitting in the cars listening to a tape of a comic routine (the joke they found the funniest was "I used to be a lifeguard until that little blue kid made me lose my job." We are not amused). Thankfully I didn't have to endure much of that because the train pulled up around 1050 or so. We board, I sat next to a window, my date next to me, the other couple across the aisle. Then, my date decided to introduce us (we’ll call him Marco, his fiancé was Delia). His friend said Kit should have done that when they first walked up, and we all agreed. Minus one point for the botched introduction, but his friends get a point for recognizing it!

On the train, heading to Baltimore, we were discussing which stop to get off on. I turned around to look at the route that was posted above the window, and that very moment that I was turning around, my date attempted to kiss me on the cheek. Since I moved at just the right moment, he managed to get my hair, essentially missing. I pretended not to notice. One more point down, we are so not at a kissing level of any kind.

Next stop, Camden Yards Baltimore.

We get off the train, figure out which way we need to go, and head towards the center. MDSC is like an interactive, science-oriented museum. There is a room with things that you can play with that pertain to physics, a planetarium, a dinosaur area, weather area, workings of the body area, a woman's health exhibit, and the Titanic exhibit, as well as several IMAX shows. It's really quite fun, and I hadn't been there in years. Both of Kit's friends lit up a cigarette on our walk, so I kept my distance and we had to wait outside while they finished them. I turned around to look across the harbor, and my date darted over to pull a drag from his friend. I'm certain he thought I didn't notice. I did. One point down for breaking his promise (remember he had promised he would not smoke around me) and he gets an extra special 'cigarette count' point. Yes, it was one puff, but it counts in this category.

We get inside, stand in line for our tickets. Titanic and IMAX are extra, Kit makes sure his friends know we're getting Titanic passes and I indicate there probably won't be time for an IMAX, so we don't get those. He pays for my tickets, there's a plus point (it should be noted that I did make it a point to bring enough money to cover myself if necessary). You get a little wrist band that shows you paid, and while we were putting them on, he leaned over and kissed me on my head. That point he just got, he just lost. I told him we weren't there yet and he shrugged like he didn't do anything.

It's about 1130, we moved into the dinosaur area, and I look around. Where's my date? Who knows, he went off on his own. I found his friends, who were successfully going through the area together, but he was not nearby. Yup, that cost a point, I think going on a date with someone means being together with them for most of it.

I found him eventually, and we skipped the weather area and moved up to the physics playroom. Again, my date is somewhere. We reconvened around 1230 or so and decided it was time for lunch (remember, no breakfast here). Kit once again suggested Hooters, but Delia was on my side here. This doesn't count as a point because I've already got one for the first Hooters suggestion, and his friend on my side cancels out what I might dock on this one. We ended up eating at the café in the center. Kit pointed out to me that there were salads, he gets a point for that, and he bought my lunch, another point. Good job, two in a row!

After lunch, we go outside so the other couple can have their after meal smoke. Marco asks me if Kit can have a cigarette. Kit looked expectantly excited at me (it should be noted, my date did not bring any with him. This act is not enough to warrant a plus point, because he already promised he would not smoke around me). I'm fighting a losing battle here and I know it, so I simply said "whatever," and I'm sure I was clearly disappointed. Minus one for the smoke, and that's two for cigarettes altogether. Minus another because the three of them stood in front of the door, near the clearly marked "No Smoking Area" sign, remarking on all the cigarette butts around. Just because everyone else ignores the sign (which is there because children pass through those doors), doesn't mean you have to.

We went to the body area next, the boys had a lot of fun with the things that made fart sounds (no surprises there). We were in this section for a long time, again, I was mostly without my date. Just before 1500, we all managed to meet in the astronomy area. The loud speaker said the next planetarium showing would start at three, and the other couple wanted to go to that. The center closes at 1700, and we still had not seen the exhibit I had come all that way to see. I said that's what I wanted to do. Kit said that's what I wanted to do, that's what we'll do. Point to the date! Off we go.

The others were joking while we were in line to enter. I let it pass, but I didn't join in. There's nothing funny about hundreds of people dying because someone made a stupid mistake. Once we entered, I took note that the other couple just breezed right through the exhibit, I knew they were going to the planetarium. No big deal, they were not my date. My date, however, wasn't there either. I was taking my time, I wanted to see this after all. There were 7 rooms in the exhibit and I was reading every word (I only do that if I'm really really interested, by the way). Somewhere in the 5th room, my date said he'd be waiting outside. It told him I would be a while, he said he was just trying to stay awake. He's now just told me that something that interested me was putting him to sleep (yes, I do remember he was up all night). Still, he loses a point for that.

I refused to be rushed, and spent a little more time in the exhibit gift shop than I normally would have. Actually going through that was the best part of my day (it was fascinating, the exhibit was artifacts they had recovered from the wreckage: jewelry, paper money that had been preserved in leather wallets, unopened bottles of champaign, personal affects of passengers) and it was nice to do it at my own pace.

When I was all done and had bought what I wanted from the gift shop, I found my date. There was a little refreshment stand in the lobby, and he had gotten some popcorn and a soda. He offered me some popcorn (it should be noted that there was a designated eating area, but we were not in it). I was playing with a Tamagotchi, so I told him I might in a moment. Then I saw how he was eating it. He was not using his hand to pick up a piece or two and bring them to his mouth, he was using his tongue. When he offered some to me again, I declined, saying I actually wasn't hungry. One point down for the eating behavior. Gross.

We met up with the other two and went to through the women's health exhibit. It was now 1630 or so, the center closes at 1700, it took us 5 hours to go through almost the entire center. Normally I'd call that a day well-spent, but the company one keeps is an important factor.

Time to leave, outside each of them had another cigarette. Down another point, are you keeping track? I moved away and busied myself with my gift shop purchase and my program. When they were done and ready to go, they started walked. Kit said 'eh' and gestured with his head to me. I think he meant to say "Hey Airyn, we're ready to go." Minus a point for lack of English. I could have sat there until he properly addressed me, but I wanted to go home!

During our walk back to the light rail, he offered to hold my jacket for me. I'm sorry, no. He's just been smoking, he's going to get his smoky makes-me-ill scent all over it. I didn't deduct any points for this offer, though he asked 2 or 3 times. He really thought he was being helpful.

At the platform to the train, they had another point-costing cigarette. He was only able to finish half of it (no sympathy here) before the train came. We rode back to the truck where he finished his cigarette. I could not get upwind of it this time, so I spent most of that holding my breath. Point down for making me have to hold by breath.

When he was done with his cigarette and had paid his friend back for the three he borrowed, he once again summoned me with 'eh' and lost another point. On the terribly long drive home, we listened to a CD of his choice, very loudly, and he told me that his friends and he are like that: out to have a good time and not be serious all the time (this was because I was very solemn after seeing the exhibit, it meant something to me and gave me some things to think about). Down one point for the music and one for calling me too serious.

We got home, I said thank you very much, it was fun. He said it was great and call him if we want to do it again. Funny thing, I never heard from him after that. I have a feeling his friends probably told him that I was not one of them, and I'm ok with that. In fact, he gets a point for it, because I didn't have to tell him it wouldn't work out. I did see him at the Renaissance Festival, and had no problem giving him a hug or accepting a friendly kiss on the cheek. Looks like we both were able to silently agree that occasional friends is as far as we would go. And that's a plus, I only had to endure one really awful day.

The end!

Have you been point-counting?

He gets 4 cigarette points (these are blaring negatives! The half he finished and the first puff are half a point each.)

Overall score is negative 14 (11 positive points and 25 negatives, not including the nasty cigarettes). Talk about someone who couldn't do anything right.

I told that story to someone in an online community once, and he said "you have your standards too high!" Honestly, do you think any of the times I took a point away it was not warranted? This was not an issue with standards!

So, I’m going to point out again that I don’t rate my dates on a point system. I never have, I never will, but the retelling of this one made it fun. And it might have been an awful date, but I sure got a good story out of it!


Willow Goldentree said...

There were times when I thought you should have deducted at least 2 points. *wink*

I don't think you have your standards set too high, especially for a "first" date. Everyone should be on their best behavior when it comes to something like a date, or meeting someone for the first time.

Kit reminds me of "Al." On our first date, he was sweet and unlocked the passenger side door before he went around to get into the drivers side. I'd hardly been on any dates before this so I sat in the car thinking, "wow, what a gentleman!"

Then he unlocked his door and got in the car then proceeded to belittle me about not reaching over and unlocking his door! "When you're on a date and the guy is nice enough to unlock your door you should return the favor by reaching over and unlocking his."

Excuse me?!?! That was so rude! And yet I proceeded to date him for 3 months. I'm getting anxietal just thinking about it.

Fyrecreek said...

Everyone has a different opinion of gentlemanly conduct, I suppose. If he's not 'nice' enough to unlock your door, how are you going to go anywhere with him?

The thing about cars though, is that I often forget to wait. Maybe that's unladylike of me but, if my date intends to open my door, he'd better tell me or I'll get out myself! That kind of etiquette does work both ways and sometimes you just don’t think about it.

You know, if you enjoy each other's company, than it's not about unlocking the car or opening doors. Whether it's done or not is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Long gone are the days of footmen and calling cards. That’s probably a good thing....

Willow Goldentree said...

Oh! I'm usually the one to open the door myself too unless he says!

Glen and I have actually gotten "tangled up" when we go on dates. Like he'll pull the chair out and I won't realize he's doing it for me so I'll just sit in the other chair. HAHAHAHA aahhh...we strong women sure like to do things our way. :-P

And your last paragraph...well said!

Fyrecreek said...

"we strong women sure like to do things our way"

I've been told that's why finding a life partner seems to be such a difficult thing for me to do. Too many men are frightened by my strong will and independent mind.

Not everyone is intimidated by that, I'll concede that point. But a lot of people are.

My (then) boyfriend and I went to his high school prom with another couple. She and I had quite a conversation in the car while we waited for our dates to open our doors. Conversations about how we were perfectly capable of opening our own doors. Strangely enough, it wasn't until the evening was over when we both concluded that we should have just gotten out anyway. But for some reason, the guys enjoyed doing it.

There's nothing wrong with trying to and even liking being a gentlemen, guys! Just bear in mind that today's modern womyn might forget about their role in that! Strong willed as I may be, it can be quite nice to be treated like a lady.

Fyrecreek said...

Gees! I just realized how long that story is! It takes up more than half the webpage! :D

Willow Goldentree said...

But it's a good story!