I want to start off by saying that I have discovered a fundamental design flaw inherent in going out on a “dinner date” with someone you haven’t met before: there is no natural end-point. At least at the end of a movie there is that convenient “The End” credit roll, after which you can make groggy chit-chat while desperately trying to wrench your shoes free from their dalliance with the soda-encrusted floor. But dinner has far too many loopholes embedded in the “cheque please” montage. What there needs to be is a contract created that states something to the effect of “we shall converse over the flesh of animals and plants until exactly sixty minutes have passed and then we shall break congress to perhaps associate another day or never.”
Unrecognized genius is genius.
The Ninja Date with Jason:
This is another date wherein the warning signs began before I ever saw him in person. (Let’s face it: I’m not learning anything by this process.)
Our making plans went something like this:
Jason: I’m new to the area. Where do you suggest for dinner?
Me: Hmm, what kind of food do you like?
Jason: I don’t care, I’m flexible.
Me: Ok, there is this great Irish Pub down the road we could go to.
Jason: Ugh. I hope I like it.
Me: We can go somewhere else….
Jason: No, I’ll probably be fine. I just don’t like pub food.
Me: Well, there are other restaurants… I see that you like Thai food on your profile!
Jason: I only put that there to attract exotic chicks.
In retrospect, this is where I should have pulled the plug on the adventure. But the allure of possibilities will forever ensnare me and so I agreed to meet him for dinner at 6 pm.
I arrived and found that he was already there. “You’re late,” were the first words I heard. I glanced at my phone and saw that the time was 6:01.
We got seated and he said, “Should we start off with some drinks?”
“Sounds like a plan,” was my clever response to cover up my desperate attempt to decipher the drinks menu. (Random Liz Fact: I’m not much of a drinker. One drink sets aside my natural filter and encourages me to ramble nonstop about every odd thing that flits through my mind. Two drinks unleashes the Kraken of Hugging. No one needs that.)
The waitress came over and asked if we were ready. Without checking with me in any way, he ordered a beer AND an entrée. Dafuq? I had a moment of panic and so I just randomly chose a drink and a salad and sat there wondering two things. One: What did I order? Two: Did I misunderstand what “starting off with drinks” means? However, this was no time to analyze since it was clear that if I didn’t speak up, we would be mired in the Swamp of Silence for days.
“So………. Your profile was a bit cryptic in regards to what you do for a living,” I said.
“Oh yeah. That’s because I’m a hacker,” he said, in the same tone of voice one would say “I’m a plumber” or “I enjoy scraping the carcasses of animals off of roadways in the summer.”
“Ok…. What does that mean exactly?”
What followed was “approximately” four hours of him talking about himself and what he “does.” For the first ten minutes I sat there with a look on my face that can most accurately be summed up as this:
How do you even respond to something like this? HOW?! At one point I heard the word “Pentagon” and I thought to myself, “Heeeeeeeeeeere comes the SWAT team.” Which was the exact moment our waitress came with the food and I almost burst into karate moves or tears or both.
I stopped paying attention somewhere around estimated hour one and instead began envisioning what it would be like to date him. Clearly there would be some FBI involvement. Sadly it would be not in the way I had always imagined it: me questioning them for days without rest until they cracked and confessed that “YES, GODDAMNIT THERE ARE UNICORNS.” I saw how we would date for a few months and then we would have a melodramatic break-up, after which I would come home to find out that my “home computer” had signed me up for 100 porn sites.
Then I started focusing on how he talked. Have you ever done this? I don’t recommend it unless you are fully prepared, because once you See you cannot Unsee. It was as if time itself slowed down like in the Matrix. Except that instead of bullets arcing through the air, it was spittle and bits of food arcing away from his mouth in desperate bids to hit escape velocity and leave the terrible orbit of his orifice.
At this point I felt that I had been sucked into some alternate dimension and was in either prison or limbo or possibly both. The design flaw in this date was shrieking its fool head off. There had to be a way out, and if I had to bring out my sword and cut open the Gordian Knot of Dinner Dates myself, well then so be it! I felt up to the challenge.
Me: Hey… sorry to interrupt, but do you happen to know what time it is?
Jason: Oh, uh… yeah… it’s… 7:30.
OMG. How was it even conceivable that only ninety minutes had passed? I had no clue. Fortunately, like I’ve mentioned before, I am an Emotional Ninja and I Had A Plan. “Be cool, Liz, be cool.” I said to myself. (Or possibly out loud. I don’t know.)
“Oh… ok…. well, just to give you a heads up, I remembered…. earlier… stuff… oh yeah! That I have a trainer appointment at 8:30 tonight, and, um, so I should probably wrap things up here soon. Gotta go home… change into gym stuff… you know.” I tried my best to look crestfallen at this thought. Meanwhile, my brain’s left hemisphere was shaking hands with the right and saying “Good job, old sport. He’ll NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER suspect.” Neurons lit up with happiness. Medals were awarded. Somewhere in my Temporal Lobe a mini Chewbacca was yelling out ARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
He immediately switched topics and started asking questions about me and what do I do and what is my favorite color, etc. However, it was too late, I had created my airtight lie and I had to stick to it. I let fifteen agonizing minutes pass and then brought up again how urgent my trainer appointment really was.
He walked me out to my car and away I drove in the vague direction of the setting sun. I felt very triumphant. If this was a movie there would be one of those ballads playing over the scene that would first sound bittersweet, but then it would hit the uplifting bridge section to notify the audience that everything was going to be Just Fine. It would also signal to all of those daters sitting awkwardly with their limbs asleep that it was