Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

My roommate once told me of an awful online date he had where the girl complained all night, leading up to her throwing a fit about him ordering a non-alcoholic beer for himself when she wanted to grab a drink at the bowling alley.  My roommate doesn’t drink, but was trying to accommodate the girl, who didn’t feel comfortable drinking alone, for whatever reason.  While I would think most people would find my roommate’s gesture noble, she found it the exact opposite.  “I wouldn’t be caught dead with a guy with a non-alcoholic beer.” were her exact words.  Somehow, my roommate managed to not toss his alcoholic beer in her face and finished taking her out on that date.  Needless to say, he didn’t ask her out on a second.

I’ve had my share of crummy online dates, but they all pale in comparison to my roommate’s story.  Coincidentally, I’ve also had the experience of dating a complainer who, also had a weird hang up with alcohol. In my case, she was alarmed to see me ordering a cucumber margarita with my dinner, because it was a Wednesday.  She then feverishly looked through the menu to see if she could find something to drink so I wouldn’t be drinking alone, and ended up with a Long Island ice tea.  I don’t believe for a second that the alcohol was the reason she decided to loosen her tongue to bestow some wisdom on me that the place I took her to “would be okay for happy hour, but not a first date.”   She was just a miserable person.  That was a weird date for sure, but a totally harmless one.

While I wouldn’t consider it an awful time, the two dates I had with an aspiring actress named Kate, was a definitely a strange one.  It obviously started with promise since we actually got to a second date, but there were plenty or warning signs from the beginning that I chose to ignore in retrospect.  Kate was not a crazy in the conventional sense, she’s just someone who said and kept things in a shroud of mystery even though she constantly told me that she’s an open book, often times saying she’s an open book right after saying something mysterious.

“So you just started going to church after college with no church upbringing?”

“Yup.”

“There’s no big event that triggered that?”

“Nope.”

I decided to stop prodding at that point, and ironically enough, she decided to once again remind me:

You can ask me anything, Ryan.  I’m an open book.”

Perhaps, she would’ve eventually filled me on that if we had continued to see each other, but that’s not the only instance where I felt like she was hiding a closet full of skeletons or unaware of those skeletons, like at the end of our first phone call, when she basically ended the conversation with, “Just so you know, I’m not a floozie.  So don’t think you’re going to get any.” or when I walked her to her car at the end of our first date, and she basically told me not to get any bright ideas.  Outside of her feeling the need to explicitly tell me that she didn’t want me to sexually assault her, our first date was actually very enjoyable.  It was the 2nd date, however, where everything went downhill, and it started going in the direction from the moment that I went to pick her up.

I brought a rose with me and pulled up to her place.  As I walked to the lawn, she bursted through the door, not with anger, but with fear.  “Hey, lets get out of here.”   We hopped in he car, she thanked me for the rose, and told me that she didn’t want me to get interrogated by her grandparents.  I knew previously that she lived them, but didn’t know that they would be home or that they were the nosey types.  I shrugged it off, and tried to make the best of things, but soon the date would go off the rails for good.

A few minutes after we pulled onto the freeway, she alerted me that she was car sick.  I apologized for my driving but she quickly clarified that it wasn’t my driving, but rather she always gets  sick when she’s not driving.  Either she didn’t want to go on this date with me and was looking for an excuse to shut down, or she was actually car sick, I decided to believe the latter, so I wouldn’t resent her during the date.  She asked me to turn down the radio and she closed her eyes, leaving me to my own thoughts, wondering if this was going to be the worst date in the history of man.

Fortunately, things got better, but not to the point where I could gloat to my friends that I completely turned things around.  Once we arrived at the restaurant for dinner, her dizziness stopped and we actually had a conversation.  It wasn’t an awkward or painful experience, but we were not hitting the same highs that we had on the first date.  I took her to a show after that and then I dropped her off at home.  I didn’t particularly want to ask her for another date, but I did anyways, thinking that I couldn’t blame her for getting carsick, even though she should’ve never agreed to let me pick her up in the first place.  She declined but told me I was a perfect gentlemen before getting out of my car, giving me a hug, and exiting from my life.

While I was initially bothered by her lack of foresight, I was more bothered that I even offered another chance.  I let her turn me down, and that added insult to the end of the night.  It wasn’t horrible overall, but I felt like I was the only one trying, and I left her the impression that I thought the night was pleasant enough.  This was at the beginning of my online dating life, so I didn’t know what to do at the end of a date where I didn’t want to see the girl again.  I eventually learned as I eventually went on more dates,  that more often than not, dates are going to end up in disappointment.  There were more downs than ups, and there were times where I had to be convinced that I shouldn’t give up.  It’s a roller coaster ride, one that especially makes you a little sick when you realize that you’re not the one driving.

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