It was hot out, and I was stressed about breaking a sweat on my walk to the bar. I’d signed up for okcupid on a whim, without really telling anyone. At first I was just content to creep on the site and read the hilarious/awful/ridiculous profiles. The few messages I’d received up to that point consisted of 1. actual gibberish/incomplete sentences, 2. sexual propositions, and 3. single words like ‘Hey’ and ‘Sup’.
Finally someone sent me a normal message. A few replies back and forth later, he asked me out. I didn’t know much about him (mid-30s, worked with computers) but I figured I had to start somewhere. He seemed nice enough, and I was fairly confident he wasn’t a serial killer. So I agreed to go on my first okc date with G.
G was driving in from the suburbs, so I picked the bar. I was a little nervous, mostly because I had NO CLUE what to expect. This sounds pathetic but I, single girl in her late 20s, had never been on a real, legitimate date before that point. A pre-determined set up in a bar or restaurant was not something I’d ever, well, done. My only frames of reference came from Sex and the City, romantic comedies starring Kate Hudson, and the stories of friends and co-workers. I was flying completely blind.
Just as I arrived at the bar, G texted that traffic was awful and that he was running late. Fifteen minutes later he came BARRELING in, out of breath and sweating profusely. I only vaguely recognized him because he looked almost nothing like his picture: 10 years older, shorter, and 50% balder. G smiled nervously and introduced himself, apologizing like crazy for being late. I assured him it wasn’t a big deal; meanwhile, I had been having a mild panic attack sitting there alone for 15 minutes, convinced he was going to stand me up.
We ordered drinks and I waited for him to calm down and regain his composure. Problem # 1: he never did. In fact, he was so nervous that he visibly shook the entire time. I started to wonder if this was his first online date, too (it wasn’t) or if he had some sort of medical condition (still unclear, but my guess is yes). I’m a pretty friendly person so I like to think I can put someone at ease, but homeboy was a hot mess.
I tried to make small talk, realizing problem # 2 very quickly: we had almost nothing in common. He was nice enough, but we were grasping at straws for something to talk about within the first 10 minutes. “Oh, you write code? ….Cool!” While I overcompensated with chattiness and wracked my brain to think of non-pathetic topics beyond the weather, G continued to sweat, shake, fidget, and stutter like he was under federal indictment. Poor guy. I couldn’t wait to put us both out of our misery.
After what felt like literally hours but was probably more like 45 minutes, we left, and he offered me a ride home. I declined, visions of Law and Order: SVU dancing in my head, and out of sheer politeness offered to walk him to his car instead.
“Which way are you parked?”, I asked, starting to cross the street.
He stopped, suddenly looking nauseous. “Oh, God. Oh God. I have no idea.” I stared at him, trying to understand. “I was so stressed about being late that I parked my car in the first space I could find and didn’t pay attention to what street I was on, and then I ran here and I don’t know the city so I’m all turned around and can’t remember which way I came from!” He said miserably, turning bright red.
“Okay,” I responded slowly, like I was speaking to a five year old. “It’s okay. It has to be close. We’ll find it.”
TWENTY MINUTES of wandering aimlessly around Old City later, we had yet to find that fucking car. G was becoming more mortified by the second, muttering apologies and stumbling along behind me as I strode down street after street, making him click his auto lock button in rapid succession. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. We had run out of things to talk about in the first two blocks and a horribly uncomfortable silence had fallen over our search party.
All I wanted was to peace out and put on my sweatpants, but what was the protocol for something like this? If I left G alone, I was fairly certain he’d either a. die on the streets, carless, or b. follow me home and beg to crash at my place. Also, as much of a mess as he was, he really was a nice guy. I couldn’t ditch him.
I tried to joke with him. “If I’d known I’d be taking you on a guided tour of Philly, I would have at least made you buy me dinner first! Haha.” Silence. Crickets. Tumbleweeds.
I tried again. “Umm…how much time did you put in the meter?”
“There was no meter”.
I stifled a laugh. “Yes there was.”
“No, there wasn’t.”
“Y–” WTF. Now I was irrationally arguing with a stranger like we were an old married couple. The silence resumed, and continued on for blocks. And blocks. And blocks.
Finally, as the level of awkwardness rose to a crescendo, just as the words “I have to go–my house is on fire” were about to burst from my lips, we turned onto a new block, he clicked his remote, and a gray Chevy chirped happily at us. “YES!” I cried, genuinely elated.
G carefully extracted the ticket from his windshield and sighed, hanging his head. “You were right”.
“Yup,” I said impatiently, not even caring. “Well it’s been nice but I have to get going. Great meeting you and thanks for the drinks. BYE!” I bolted down the street, scared I’d get sucked into another insane scenario or worse, that he’d ask me out again.
Which he did. Later that night via text. I politely declined and that’s the last I ever heard from G. But every time I walk down that fateful block of 4th Street, I think of his gray Chevy. And I hope he remembered to pay that ticket.
Date rating: 4/10 (terribly awkward, but he was nice and I got this story out of it)
Lesson learned: Do not worry about your date’s mode of transportation. Do not ask how he arrived/is getting home, unless you want to embark on an ill-advised ‘Where’s Waldo’ of mid-level sedans.