What do a prosthetic leg and a visit to the police station on Saturday night all have in common? First dates where people were matched with their ideal person online. Last Sunday, January 5th was the “dating Superbowl”, as Match.com deems it with a 42% increase in new singles joining the site to find love.
Either Match.com has marketing geniuses at the helm, or the number of people searching for love in the new year rivals the great American resolution to slim down starting January 1. What better way to capitalize on the fresh memory of enduring another holiday season of RSVP’ing to parties as “1” or enduring relatives asking, “why are you still single, what's wrong with you?” Whatever the reason, let’s hope that #DatingSunday fared better for most than say, Cody Parker and the double doink that ended the Bears season the very same night as the Dating Superbowl.
In the meantime, let’s revisit three of my favorite dating escapades from my funny and resilient friends on their search for love.
An all-time favorite was a girlfriend who met a guy online, and he suggested Dave & Busters (a video arcade/restaurant) for their first date. Not an ideal choice, but she figured it was a public place and the noise would relieve the pressure of meeting in a quiet restaurant. She showed up at the appointed time, spotted her date and when she waved, he waved back. All a good sign so far, a) he showed up and, b) his online pictures weren’t 10 years old. They exchanged pleasantries, and the perfunctory nice to meet you hug, and then she glanced over and noticed something. Or rather someone, an eight-year-old boy. As she and her date continued to talk, she could see the boy trying to get his attention. She leaned in and quietly asked her date if he knew who the little boy was, figuring he was lost and wandered away from one of the family’s filling the arcade for the evening.
Much to her surprise, her date responded nonchalantly, “Oh, that’s my son.” She picked her jaw up off the floor, and stopped herself from shouting “WTF, who brings a kid on a first date?” Then she felt badly for the kid. Not because he was dragged on a date, it was a video arcade after all, but he was stuck with this asshole of a parent. Either her date was pushing hard for a Step Mom or was too cheap to pay for a babysitter. Neither were good options, and she decided a second date wasn’t going to happen, and she should show this kid how a normal adult acts.
So, she smiled, and turned her attention to the little boy and asked him to go play video games with her, paying very little attention to the Dad. After an hour of race car driving, and Pac-Man, she brought the date to an end. The trio walked to the parking lot and my friend said her goodbyes to BOTH her dates. The little boy seemed grateful and shook her hand, and the clueless Dad remained clueless, going in for a kiss. She side stepped his pathetic attempt, offered a curt goodbye and hit the delete button next to his number by the time she reached her car.
Scammed All the Way to the Police Station
A friend of mine was back in the dating world after his divorce in the early 2000’s. He married right out of college, (translation – only dated as a boy, not a man) had finished his post-divorce spree of one-night stands, had no kids, the ex-wife moved on, and he was looking to get serious. He ventured to the relatively new online dating world, met someone who matched his criteria: nice looking, around his age, divorced, and only one kid, a three-year-old. It all looked good on paper, conversations went well over the phone, so he set up a dinner date.
When he arrived at her apartment and stepped inside things started to unravel – the place was an absolute pigsty. He is very neat, so I am guessing it was bad, not just kids toys and clutter, but a total disaster, with dirt and it freaked him the hell out. He met her son, no surprise there, says hello to the little one, and gets ready to leave with his date. She informs him the babysitter cancelled, and since this was pre-cell phone or very few people had them, she couldn’t call to cancel.
Being a dating amateur, my friend wasn’t quick on his feet to reschedule for another night when a babysitter was available. And if the place hadn’t skeeved him so badly, he could have ordered a pizza and the three of them could stayed in and had a nice, but early evening. In his naivete, he opts to keep the date…for all three of them.
The happy threesome pile into his truck, the three-year-old wedged between my friend and his date, and the little three-year-old legs, dangling over the seat, trying not to kick the stick shift. And no, Mother of the Year did not bring a car seat. My friend is not feeling too good about this date, and it continues heading down hill when he looks over and sees his date quietly crying. He figured that usually happens at the end of the date and asks her what’s wrong. Hmmm… what could be wrong? Your divorced, have a three-year-old kid, cannot keep your house clean to save your life, and you have to drag your kid on dates? All those options ran through his mind as they drove to the new restaurant since he was sure the one he picked for the original date of two adults didn’t have booster seats for his seat mate.
His date sniffed away and gave him an answer he never expected. She starts a tale of woe about her car being in the city impound lot and she’d have to miss work to pick it up on Monday, (sniffle, sniffle) and it would cost her more money to wait until Monday, blah, blah, blah. My friend, who is a bit of a gear head, knows the impound lot is not open on a Saturday night, and turns his truck around. He tells her to get the ticket and money from her house, and he’ll take her to the police station to pay the ticket tonight, saving her two days of impound lot fees. The downward slide continues, as she returns from her apartment with the ticket in one hand, and the other hand empty – no cash of course. So, he off to the ATM machine they go before heading to the police station.
What a dream date! So far, the witty banter portion of the date consisted of asking the three-year-old if he likes Spiderman, and his date giving the oh so appealing details of how her car was impounded. I bet he was wishing he was back to casual sex with nameless, faceless women. At this point he wants the night to end, the woman out of his truck and the child back home safe and sound. Somewhere along the way my friend realizes there probably was no babysitter, and this woman should be worrying about cleaning her apartment, taking care of her kid and her transportation issues, and dating should be the very LAST thing on her to do list.
Off to the police station the threesome go where my friend pulls out $100, slaps it down on the counter, gets the ticket paid, and the trio pile back into the truck. The woman turns to him, thanks him, and has the nerve to ask if he still wants to go out to eat. Because there’s a toddler in the truck, he refrains from handing her the receipt and telling her, “here’s your dinner sweetheart,” as I think the dating light bulb went on somewhere between the ATM and the police station. “No, I’m good, I’ll just drop you both off,” he wisely said.
After his two dates climbed out of his truck, he went to the single man's place for dinner - the Burger King drive thru with his new-found dating wisdom, picked up a burger with his remaining cash, drove to his sparkling clean home, hopped online and narrowed his dating criteria exponentially. Almost 20 years later he continues to date, asking many more pointed questions before the first date. My friend is hopeful he will find someone, but even happier to report no more first dates have included an outing to the police station, a Baby on Board Sticker, or a meal at the McDonald’s drive thru.
You Don’t Mind, Do You?
A nurse friend of mine started online dating in her fifties and has loads of stories to tell, proving that crazy can show up at any age, anywhere, and on any date. This friend is a firecracker, can run circles around people half her age, has no problem with colorful language, and can have fun just about anywhere she goes.
She grudgingly lists her occupation on her dating profile – nurse. She knows since her age range was 50-60, she would get men who were looking for either, a) a caretaker or b) want to talk ad nauseum about their health issues, or c) get free medical advice and assessments. She was interested in none of the above for first date niceties.
However, nothing prepared her for a date a few summers ago, that ended in her having to call an early end to the evening. The man looked good on his dating profile, was normal on the phone while they chatted, and moved into making plans to meet in person. It was summer, so their first date would be dinner on the patio at a local restaurant. She spotted her date at the table, he looked like his picture, was a nice-looking guy in his early sixties. They exchanged pleasantries and ordered drinks. She was optimistic since so everything seemed to be going well. The drinks arrive, and the conversation continued to flow, he was handsome, smart and…. now sweating profusely. Then her charming date started breathing heavy, not a “I’m having a heart attack heavy breathing”, thankfully. Her 30 years of nursing told her it was more of a “my hemorrhoids are acting up,” or “That old football injury is bugging me a little.” She mutters “Fuck” in her head because she thinks even on her night off, she’s not really off work, as she knows a story about some ailment or medical question is going to be interjected now.
The waitress returns to see if they would like a more drinks and the heavy breathing and grimacing lightens up as they order another round After the put their order in, the date leans over and says, “my leg is killing me.” At this point my friend is not going to engage, she is not in the mood to be Florence Nightingale tonight and gives a casual, “oh okay, “figuring if she doesn’t make a big deal out of it, he’ll drop it. Her date looks at her again, and then says, “you don’t mind if I take my leg off, do you?” Before she could even process what he said, he pulls up his pant leg, unhooks the buckles and takes off his prosthetic leg and leans it up against their table.
It’s at this point the waitress delivers the drink, and without missing a beat, looks at the leg, looks at my friend and asks if she needs anything else. My friend replies, before she has even touched her first drink, “another round!” The waitress turns to leave and trips over the leg, falls to the ground, causing other people to look over and see the leg propped up against the table. My friend is so horrified by his nerve, she downed her drinks, said it was nice to meet but she needed to go. The date reattached his leg as nonchalantly as he took it off and he began walking her to the car.
My friend wanted to run to her car, since she knew he had one bum wheel and she could out run him. But she contained herself. She walked to her car, thanked her date for a nice time, and told him to check with the prosthetic fitter for an adjustment and off she went, as quickly as possible.
I hope #DatingSunday was better for you than my friends who endured situations they never imagined. However, they persevered, one friend found her husband online, and they now have a beautiful daughter; the nurse is in a long-term relationship and happy to report the only thing her boyfriend takes off at the dinner table is his ball cap; my other friend found the perfect girl with a clean apartment, no kids and no need to visit the police station. They didn’t last (his choice) and he proved that he hasn’t mastered dating yet, but there’s hope he will come to his senses with the perfect girl, since his arteries can't take much more Burger King.
This new year could be the year of love for many, or at least some great stories. And Match.com I can’t wait to see what you have in store the rest of the year, maybe a World Series of Dating to up the odds for people looking for love. Just remember singles - get a babysitter, get your car out of the impound lot, and try to keep all limbs attached during a first date.