Tonight my friend Ali is coming over for what I like to call a “friend date.” We discovered a shared love for pigs-in-a-blanket, so we decided to devote an entire night to that tasty little delicacy and make some. We’re also making Cuban sandwiches, buying chips and dip, and probably getting some beer to round out the menu. Probably not the healthiest stuff to eat, but ya gotta admit: shit sounds good, don’t it? Of course it does.
At this point in my life, I’ve come to regard friend dates as being more fun and generally better than actual dates, because my dating experience has been one veritable suck fest after another. Just the idea of spending a few hours with some guy who I don’t know and who will inevitably start spouting off some weird-ass shit because of his lack of social skills makes me want to stay in, curl up on the couch and watch a Meg Ryan film.
I’m not another overly picky female who has her standards set so high that no mortal man could ever reach them. I’m not. In fact, I’m pretty much the most laid-back woman you’ll ever meet when it comes to men. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to settle for Johnny Dipshit just so I won’t be single or anything, but I think what I look for in a guy isn’t that much to ask for: a good heart, a sense of humor, laid-back, good head on his shoulders, a sense of morals and values. I mean, come on. But my dating track record has been with guys who, at first, seem cool, and then just do a 180 and turn out to be the weirdest motherfuckers I’ve ever spent time with. And after reading the date I’m about to relay here, as well as subsequent dates I will eventually post, I think you’ll see that my attitude has an actual basis.
Before I transferred to USF in Tampa, I did a stint at North Florida Community College. During my tenure there, I was quite active on campus: I was editor of the student newspaper, participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. I was also involved in a play that the school sponsored, called “Heaven Can Wait,” which is where I met Brad*. Now Brad wasn’t exactly what I would call a looker (my sister, who is generally less diplomatic, compared him to Donkey Lips from Salute Your Shorts), but he seemed nice enough. I didn’t want to seem shallow, so when he asked me out, I agreed to the date. Shortly thereafter was when the first red flag popped up. He asked me out on a Monday, the date was on Saturday, and for the week leading up to the date, he was acting like we’d been going out for awhile. Never mind the fact that prior to Monday, we’d barely exchanged two words and Saturday was our first date (I can’t emphasize that point enough); in his head, we were already a couple. Needless to say, this was hella awkward for me, but I was 19 and naive and didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him to back the eff off. Had I paid attention to that red flag, however, I could have saved myself a lot of headache on Saturday.
For Saturday’s date, we decided on a good, old-fashioned dinner and a movie in Valdosta, Georgia. I met him at his parents’ house and he drove us to Georgia. It started out pleasant enough, actually: making small talk, finding out our music preferences, hobbies, the typical–the normal–things you talk about on a first date. I began to relax and actually enjoy his company. Then the conversation took a nosedive when he said the following phrase:
“In case this (meaning us) goes anywhere, there’s something I need to tell you.”
Now, in my dating experience, I’ve found that when a guy says something like the above phrase, or something like, “I’m probably going to shoot myself in the foot by saying this, but…” it means his brain filter is off, and you’re about to be privy to some tidbit of information that you shouldn’t be privy to on the first date. Remember when I said the thing about guys spouting off weird-ass shit on dates? This is where said weird-ass shit comes in. However, at the time of this date, like I said, I was naive, and I was thinking he was going to say something like, “I tried pot when I was 12 but didn’t like it and haven’t tried it sense.” You know–something that I probably wouldn’t give two hoots about but something he felt he “needed” to get off his chest. Boy, was I wrong. What he said instead was a real doozy:
“I’m manic-depressive…and not on any medication for it.”
Now before I go any further, let me say, my intent isn’t to make fun of manic depression or anybody who has it. I took abnormal psych in college. I know people who have dealt with it in some capacity or another. I know it’s a serious mental illness, and I completely respect that. However, I also know that it doesn’t deplete your reservoir of common sense, and there are certain situations during which you should probably not make that kind of revelation:
-operating a motor vehicle while on a date with a girl who doesn’t know you from Adam
Just sayin’. After he revealed that bit of info, I was stunned and speechless. Even my brain was drawing a blank on what to say. I kept thinking, “Say something!” because the silence was growing more awkward by the second, but I came up with nothing. I knew what he wanted me to say. He wanted me to pat him on the arm and say something like, “It’s okay, baby,” but it wasn’t okay. Not being medicated for a mental illness and driving a car at speeds upwards of 60 miles an hour while I’m in the passenger’s seat isn’t okay. So I did what I typically do in a situation where I have no idea how to proceed: I kept my mouth shut. Which pissed him off, causing the rest of our ride to Valdosta to be shrouded in an awkward, pissy silence. He was pissed I didn’t react to his news more favorably; I was pissed that he would spring that type of information on me on a first date and expect me to be okay about it.
We arrived in Valdosta, which was unbelievably crowded. Valdosta is a college town, so it doesn’t need to be said that on the weekends every restaurant establishment in the area is packed to the gills. We decided to eat at Applebee’s, but when it became apparent that the wait was going to be significantly longer than what we had planned on, we decided to go somewhere else.
“Where else do you want to eat?” he said.
“I don’t really know what’s around here. Why don’t you pick?” I said (I picked Applebee’s).
“I don’t want to pick.”
(Getting pissed that I keep having to pick the damn restaurant) “Okay, how about Red Lobster?”
“Damn, you’re expensive.”
Yeah, you read that right. Apparently I’m expensive because I wanted to eat at a medium-priced national seafood chain. Again, I was stunned at what a prick this guy was turning out to be. So, visibly aggravated this time, I said, “You pick.”
We ended up going to this steakhouse he picked (which was more expensive than Red Lobster, by the way). Like every other restaurant, it was crowded and the service was slow, which made the dinner even more drawn-out and painful than it had to be. We basically sat and ate in silence the whole time, I kid you not. We also missed the movie we had planned to see, (The Hours), so he had me pick another. The only other movie that was playing at a time we could see and that I had any interest in was How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (ironic, no?). The whole time I kept sitting with my arms crossed or making sure my hands weren’t in a position where they could be easily grabbed and held, as I could tell he was warming back up to me and was one of those guys who would try to snuggle and shit.
The ride back to his parents’ place was nothing but awkward silence, broken by the music of Pink Floyd, and when he dropped me off, I wasted no time in hopping in my car and getting the hell outta there.
True story, folks. And I’ve been on subsequent dates that have come from a similar realm of hell. So give me a friend date any day of the week, because at least I know a good time will be guaranteed, and I won’t want to slash my wrists during it.
Edit: I really hope in no way that story wasn’t offensive to anybody who suffers from manic-depressive disorder. It’s not a character flaw to have it; my only point is, I don’t think that’s something to spring on someone on a first date. And it wasn’t really the fact that he was manic depressive that freaked me out; after he said he was manic depressive, I thought, “Oh, well, there’s medication for that, it probably won’t be a problem,” and then, as if he was reading my mind, he finished with, “and I’m not on any meds for it.” And that was what made me a little uneasy. AND he started talking about one of his episodes where he just up and drove down to Ft. Lauderdale, I think (at this point, I really wasn’t paying attention because the screaming in my brain was so loud). I get his reasoning; he wanted me to know what I was getting into, and I guess that’s great (?) but I’m all about getting to know someone a little at a time when it comes to dating, and something like that is more of a third or fourth date revelation when it’s pretty obvious that the two people might start dating exclusively. My attitude with the first date is, “Okay, we’ll hang out and see where this goes. I’m only committed to this date with you; beyond that, I make no promises.” So I really don’t see the point in discussing such heavy topics right off the bat since you have no idea what might happen afterwards.