Online dating is not just winks and flirty emails. Some dates are so full of halting conversation they would best be portrayed in silent-movie form. This is the story of one such bad date. After emailing back and forth a few times, N. and I decide to get a drink. We agree to meet at the corner of a busy intersection, for reasons I donâ€™t remember.â€œHi, are you N.?â€ I ask a guy approaching the appointed corner. He looks relatively similar to his profile photos but seems to have shrunk several inches since he typed 5â€™8â€ into the height field.
“Um, yeah,â€ N. says. â€œI just ran into someone I haven’t seen in a few years, but I couldn’t stop and talk to them because I had to meet you.”
“Oh. Um, I’m sorry. Do you still want to get a drink?â€ He mutters some sort of response (mumbling seems to be the only way he knows how to communicate), and we walk to a bar down the street.
â€œLet me buy you a drink since you didnâ€™t get to talk to your friend,â€ I say. â€œWhat would you like?â€
â€œWhiskey on the rocks.â€
Waiting for the bartender is nice. For four whole minutes, I donâ€™t have to make forced conversation. After I pay for our drinks, I sit down and hand over his glass of whiskey. He sucks it down. Fast. Maybe I should have bought him a shot.
â€œI’m going to get another drink,â€ he says. Iâ€™ve had about three sips of my beer, so it isnâ€™t terribly rude that he didnâ€™t ask me if I needed another.
He returns to his seat. â€œHave you ever been on a date with someone you met online before?â€
â€œYeah,â€ I say. â€œIâ€™ve been on a couple.â€ Silence. â€œHave you?â€
â€œOne. This one is going a lot better.â€ Oh dear.
We chat, with frequent extended pauses, for about an hour. I would have been fine, elated even, if we had gone our separate ways after one drink, but he keeps going to the bar and getting more whiskey â€“ four in total. I excuse myself to use the restroom, taking my phone with me. I text a friend: â€œWhere are you? Can we meet for dinner NOW?â€
I sit back down at the table.
â€œSo, what are you doing tonight?â€ he asks. â€œDo you want to go do something else?â€
â€œOh, I can’t,â€ I say, trying to sound regretful. â€œI’m meeting some friends for dinner in just a little bit.â€
â€œOh,â€ he says. He sounds sad. â€œWell, let me walk you there.â€
â€œYou totally don’t have to — it’s not even in the direction you’re going.â€
â€œThat’s okay,â€ he insists.
We walk seven blocks to the restaurant. I say goodbye, nice to meet you, good luck with your amateur boxing. He says, â€œCan I get your number?â€