Over a lifetime of reading women’s magazines, I thought I had the rules of dating down. Yet at 30, with almost a decade living in a notoriously single city under my belt, I still managed to cram more classic first date mistakes into one evening than I would have thought possible.
After a recent breakup of a year-long relationship, I met this adorable young man while waiting in line for a table at my local bar’s 35-cent wing night. After hitting it off in the queue and exchanging numbers, we arranged to meet up for drinks after work on a weeknight. The night of, without realizing it, I already set the stage for disaster by coming straight from the office in my below-knee skirt and pilly, long-sleeve tee. He looked Brooklyn cool in a summer shirt and dark jeans. I looked like a temp from “Clockwatchers.” Strike one.
After one round of beers, the conversation was amazing and the chemistry spot-on. I offered to get us more drinks. That’s when I realized the bar didn’t take credit cards. I’d come equipped with only $15 in cash and had lost my ATM card earlier that week after a wild night out with friends. I had enough for one round, but it did not bode well for my personal rule that the first date should always be Dutch. Strike two.
Another round later and I couldn’t have been more smitten, or hungrier. Right, I remembered, draining my third pint and enthusiastically discussing digital media and our personal information intake, the only thing I’d eaten that evening was half a turkey sandwich on the train ride over. (Strike three — always eat before a drinking date!) I was desperate for some late night grub. He suggested a bar down the street that served free pizzas with every pint. And took credit cards.
This is where I was supposed to mention that I am severely lactose intolerant and rally for some dairy-free eats somewhere else. I always carry some lactase enzymes because I hate drinking black coffee, but the pills only work up to a certain point. After that, things start to get rotten in the state of my lower GI. I hadn’t eaten pizza in over two years. But in my tipsy, schoolgirlish state, eager to appear amenable and knowing most of the close-by restaurants were cash only, I said, “Free pizza? Heck yeah!” Strike four.
I have to admit the pizza was tasty. It had been a damn long time since I indulged in extra cheese. I opened four individually wrapped lactase pills and explained my condition, which is common—usually no big deal. I really liked this guy. Unfortunately, infatuation has always inspired a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease for me.
“How sick do milk products make you, is it like food poisoning?” he asked.
Instead of being the demure, deflecting lady Miss Manners would have advised, I blurted out, “No, in fact, it gives me the runs.”
Seriously, who doesn’t know what lactose intolerance is?
Well, yeah. To his credit, he laughed. Or at least I imagined him laughing as I busied myself rifling through my handbag. Strike five.
Against all odds, we were still having an awesome time. We shared a common love of bands with too many drums and dystopian novels. We both worked in creative fields, and thought DJ-ing was a mysterious science. There was nary a silence of more than two seconds. I did not want it to end.
Therefore, instead of doing what countless advice columnists would recommend, I went back to his place for some good, old-fashioned fooling around. That was not a mistake, I’m happy to say.
Missteps six and seven came in the middle of the night, when the cheese finally hit the fan. I’d never woken myself up with flatulence before, but it was as mortifying as you think. Squirming, trying to silently leave the room before he woke up, I made my way to the bathroom.
Eek. Strike six.
Which brings me to number seven: waiting until the desperate tail end of my laundry cycle to schedule a possibly romantic interlude. I slipped the offending pair back on and wrapped myself in a sheet despite the heat.
The morning was mildly awkward as these things usually are, but very nice nonetheless. He walked me to the train. We said, “That was fun,” and “Let’s do this again sometime,” respectively. I felt good. I still thought he was possibly the greatest thing ever.
Then I started to evaluate the evening, post-hangover. I called up a girlfriend and took stock of the night’s events. I was happy to make her laugh so hard she choked on her soba noodles, but I started feeling less certain about the prospect of doing-this-again-sometime.
What did Mr. Perfect think of all this? I might ask him at some point. We’re going on our fourth date this weekend.