[From the Author: I'd like to start off by saying that the following story is completely true. Nothing has been exaggerated for effect. I present to you the simple truth of what was by far the worst date I have ever been on in all its awful glory. -CJH]
When I got out of the Army in 2008, I was in a steady relationship with a girl whom I had known for about a year and a half. She lived and went to school in Alabama, which was only about 45 minutes away from Fort Benning, where I was stationed when I got out. I had been able to get a job with a Police Department in the city that was neighboring of the one she lived in, so I decided to move out there with her when I was discharged. I was there for about 6 months, before deciding that I should go to college. The catch was that I had the opportunity to go to school in Indiana completely free and save my G.I. Bill in the process due to having a Purple Heart.
The two of us initially planned on staying together while I went to school, but we sort of drifted apart after awhile and decided that it was best for the both of us to break it off. She went on to marry and divorce some loony Engineer Officer who was also stationed at Benning. I enrolled in a school in the city that I basically grew up in and around. It was an odd experience going from Army Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer and Combat Veteran to college Freshman. I felt like I was at Preschool in most of my courses, even though I was only 23 at the time.
Needless to say, I didn't seem to be able to make a lot of friends. I had a few decent ones that I'd talk to, but it wasn't like I had much in common with the majority of the people that I had come across. After about a year of being single, I decided that I should try and meet some new people and try to go out on a few dates. Other than a couple of girls that I knew from class, I really didn't have a way of meeting anyone new. So I did what a lot of people have done and turned to the internet to try and find someone worth getting to know better.
I hadn't ever really given it much thought and wasn't sure what the “hip” sites were at the time. “Apps” weren't really a thing yet, even though it wasn't that long ago. I remember that I signed up for a few of them, but most just seemed full of fake profiles and weirdos (Oh if I only knew). There was one that was more focused on making friends, instead of dating. So I deleted the other ones and tried to just focus on that one in the hopes that maybe someone who was mostly just looking for friends would turn out interesting and cool enough to want to date.
The first thing I realized is that it's not easy to be on a site like that if you're a guy. Why is that? Because just about every other guy ruins it for the small portion of us who are trying to act like normal people and not sex-crazed morons. It seems like no matter what approach you take, the chances of finding someone are not in your favor. But I did like that I could at least make some new friends, as I still hadn't really settled in. I talked to some nice girls and some not so nice ones, but it was at least a month before I met anyone that I'd actually consider meeting in person or date.
That's when I came across her page. She was a cute girl, who had really pretty hair. That was the first thing I noticed, anyway. She was 19, but it seemed to me like she was more mature in terms of her interests than most girls her age. I sent her a message, she replied. You know how that goes. We exchanged numbers and start to text each other throughout the day. And at one point, she even asks if I'd like to get on webcam and talk with her. I've got a bit of “phone-phobia” but didn't have a problem typing while also on camera. So we logged onto Yahoo Messenger (remember that?) and that's when I saw her in full motion for the first time. She was sitting a darkened room, with what looked like furniture from Soviet Russia (should have been the first red flag). There was also a rather large, balding man passed out on the couch behind her. She, however, still looked like the pretty girl I saw in her photos.
She was surprisingly talkative and explained that the guy behind her was her dad and that he had health issues. It was a good experience, and after texting a few more days, we both finally agreed that it would be nice to meet and go on a date. I don't really get too nervous about that sort of thing, so I was more excited than anything as the time lead up to it. Neither of us wanted to make a big production out of it and thought it would be best just to meet up at the mall and have some ice-cream. That way we could talk more and get to know each other better in person. We had a time all picked out and things looked as though they were going to go well for me.
Now, before I actually get to the date, I'd like to add a bit of a preface to this next part. I will be the first to admit that I am far from an Adonis and that judging someone based just on looks is incredibly dense and wrong. But we can all admit that we have our limits in term of what we find attractive in a person that we see as a potential match. When I describe her and what happened on the date, I'm not doing it to be mean. I'm simply stating my observations of the girl and how the date went for your reading displeasure. If by some insane chance, that the girl ever finds this story and remembers this different, I encourage her to reply and I'll gladly retract anything I have gotten wrong. Also, I'm sorry.
So there I was, sitting at some tables on the back side of the mall. It was during the week, so there wasn't many people around. The ice-cream place also happened to be on that side, so it was most convenient. I did the smart thing and sat at a table that was nearest to the wall and had my back to it. That way I could “people watch” while I waited and also spot her well before she actually got to me. Kind of not fair, but hey, you have to have some kind of advantage in situations like that, right?
Had I know that all I was doing was trapping myself in a corner, I would have been out of there in a second. But there she was in all her infamy. I both recognized her and had no idea who she was all in the same moment. It was a surreal feeling, to say the least. She was wearing what looked to be a gray burlap sack, which in reality was just a really big ugly sweater. I could not tell whether or not she had anything on underneath, nor did I want to find out.
It was about that time that I figured out why she had the lights so dim on the webcam chat that we had together. She had a mustache. Thinking back on it now, I imagine that it was a big, glorious Saddam Hussein sized mustache, when it was probably a lot smaller. But any time that you can notice that sort of thing about a girl right away, it's not good. I had been through some hairy situations in Iraq, but nothing prepared me for the sight of her. I was in shock, but was forced to act as though I wasn't to be nice. Sadly, things would only get worse from there.
I did all I could to keep calm in the face of what had quickly turned into an uncomfortable situation. I said my hello and she did, as well. That's when I first noticed that she had an odd inflection to her voice, like she was trying to fake an accent of some kind. I hadn't heard her actual voice at all, since we had only communicated through texts and video-chat without sound. It's hard to compare the sound of her voice to an actual language, but if I had to say, I would say she was attempting to sound English. The only positive about it was that it was distracting me from her glorious facial hair. We walked over to the ice-cream place and ordered, and went back to the same area with the tables that we had first met.
Normally, I can keep my own in a conversation with a person, even if we had just met. But I was at a loss for words and tried to just focus on eating my ice-cream. She didn't seem to be having the same problem, as she was more than happy to continue speaking in her odd voice. Somehow she got on a tangent about her ex-boyfriend. I'm unsure as to how it came up, but things started to become a blur around this point. She mentioned that he used to insist that she meow like a cat. And act like a cat. And that he would force her to wear a tail. Connected to something that certain people use in certain unspeakable places.
Through this haze of craziness, I had a brilliant idea to get out of the situation and whatever the hell she was talking about. I took out my phone and sent a text to a friend of mine. I asked him to do me a huge favor, which was to just wait five minutes and call me. And that whatever I said, he should just go along with it. He sent a simple response of “lol ok” and I waited.
I had my hands resting on the table, one of them holding onto my phone and the other the ice-cream bowl. She reached out and put her hand on the hand holding the phone. My eyes quickly shot downwards as I was frozen in fear and saw what I can only describe as multiple little bumps all over her knuckles and fingers. I remember that she said something about my hands, but I was too far gone.
After what felt like an entirety of awkward hand-on-hand action, my phone finally buzzed. I said “Excuse me.” to her and answered. I believe what I said next was along the line of “Oh damn, really? You've got a flat tire but no spare? That sucks, man. Yeah, I can come help you out, I'm right over there.” He was laughing the entire time, as I think he probably figured out what my plan was as soon as I started talking. I stood up from the table and said “Sorry to cut this so short, but my friend is sort of stranded and I'm the only one who can come help him get a new tire.”
She didn't seemed that bothered by it, even though the entire date had only lasted maybe twenty minutes, tops. In fact, she had a punch-drunk look to her. Apparently she was very impressed with my ability to casually react to scenes of intense horror. I thought that would be the end of things and that I could make my escape, but she started walking with me as I left. I had assumed that she was just leaving and going to her car, like I was. So when we got outside, I said goodbye again as I started to head towards my vehicle. But she kept right up with me, side by side. All the way to my car. Talking the entire time. In that weird voice.
I wasn't sure what to do and said good bye again. She clearly wasn't getting the hint, and just kept on talking. I was inching my way towards the door when she clenched hold of me in a tight, double armed hug. She made a strange, deep breathing sound as she attempted to squeeze whatever life I had left in me after the date. Mid-way through the hug, she says “You smell so good.” and finally let go after a few more uncomfortable seconds. Her hair smelled of old milk. I was finally able to escape to the relative safety of my car and pulled out of the spot with her waving and smiling at me the entire time.
Never had I felt so worn out after such a short amount of time. I was blindsided by every awful thing that you could hope for in meeting someone new. Needless to say, I stopped replying to her texts after telling her that I thought we might be better off just staying friends. And she moved on after awhile. I kept my profile on that site, but didn't even think to try dating anyone off of it for a long time. Thankfully, I had much better luck in the future and no longer had to rely on awful chance meetings like that.
People often say that they have had “bad first dates” but I think that it is safe to say that mine was probably worse.