Halloween week is the perfect time to reflect on the things that you find deeply, completely terrifying. For me, this includes mayonnaise that’s been left out in the open air for too long, the thought of riding Pirates of the Caribbean alone at night, the TLC special “Born Without A Face” and handful of awful dates I went on during my eight year stint as a single person. We’ve all had dates that have traumatized us to the core, sure, but some are so horrendous that years later you will lay in bed at,night shaking and sweating at the memory of the Trader Joe’s bag boy who looked quite different when he wasn’t surrounded by organic produce. Below, eight dates that still make me want to hide under my bed.
1. The hairdresser who loved Phil Collins. Let me preface this by saying that odds that your mother’s hairdresser will set you up with someone you have anything in common with are SLIM. I knew this when I agreed to go out with the man chosen for me by mom’s hairdresser. I was in Arizona for a short time, working and saving up money to move back to New York, and let’s just say that I was so bored, that I would have agreed to have agreed to be set up by my local Subway sandwich artist.
When I saw my blind date, who told me he was a hairdresser/personal trainer, walk into the wine bar, all I needed to see was his metallic, button-down shirt to know that I had made a huge mistake. I didn’t know how big the mistake was until, after 30 minutes of probing questions which resulted in only YES or NO answers from my date, I got him to make a complete sentence. If he could only listen to one musician for the rest of his life, it would be Phil Collins. “Before or after Genesis,” I asked hopefully. “After,” my date replied. Then he asked me if I wanted to come see his salon chair. No, I did not. Worst part: his hair looked like total shit.
2. The misogynist who was under federal investigation. Some guys are so unique that they can only be found in the bowels of a free, online dating site. I don’t know what possessed me to write back to the pale, bald man who messaged me, “Hello there. You seem normal.” I suppose I assumed that someone who used the word normal in a message would be normal. A novice online dating mistake.
When I met him at the Italian restaurant, he literally looked like he was dying of cancer. Turns out, he was only so pale and wan because he was under investigation for insider trading by the federal government and couldn’t leave his house much. In his down time, he informed me. he was writing “a book for young people about how to live their lives.” As if he hadn’t charmed my pants off already, he told me that he strongly believed it was a woman’s job to change diapers. This was the one time in my dating history that I RAN away from a restaurant, huffing and puffing, looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being followed.
3. The Trader Joe’s bag boy. Don’t laugh at me for wanting to bag the man who bagged my organic arugala and Kashi at Trader Joe’s. I have this theory that Trader Joe’s bag boys have the same appeal that musicians do, when you see them playing their instrument, so to speak, they look like a god. But when you see them after the show, up close, you see that the bass player is just an eyeliner wearing, former nerd with acne scars. The same held true for my TJ’s bagger.
When he showed up at my apartment on his bike, carrying an expired rose from the stockroom floor, I saw him for what he really was: An Amish boy on permanent Rumspringa who told me he was illiterate. WOMP, WOMP, WOMP.
4. The guy who went to sex therapy. I call this the date of sweat, because it was 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity in NYC. He wanted to meet at a place with an outdoor patio, which meant, before he even arrived, I was shvitzing so profusely that I wanted to jump in an ice bath. The sweat was literally running down my face and neck.
When he told me that his last relationship ended because he couldn’t have an orgasm, my level of face sweat multiplied by like, 5,000. I looked like I had just done a spinning class as I willed myself to nod empathetically. He took this as a cue to tell me about how he and his ex went to sex therapy and then, all his issues with his dad. Sweat, sweat, more sweat. I was at Bikram yoga sweat level when it started to rain. Thank god. At least I had a solid excuse for my face to be soaking wet and a reason to jump in a cab as quickly as humanly possible. Thirty seconds after my cab peeled away, exhaling my relief, I received a text from him that said: “Just so we’re clear, I want to see you again.” I replied, mopping my brow, “I don’t think so.”
5. The Seinfeld look-a-like. I’m hesitant to tell you how I met the next gentleman on the list because I might die of embarrassment. What the hell? It’s just the internet, right? Days after getting dumped by a guy while I was staying at his parents’ house, meeting them for the first time, my co-worker encouraged me to go to a singles mixer at the Jewish Community Center just to get my mind off things. The bachelor pickings included: A man who was fixated on telling stories about all the hotels he had stayed in (focusing on bed softness, water pressure, and minibar contents), a man with terrible eczema or some other more serious skin disease and a Jerry Seinfeld look-a-like sporting the signature, white sneakers.
Obviously, I sprung for Jerry Seinfeld because of my resemblance to Elaine Benes. Our little chat was hardly as witty as one Jerry and Elaine would have, but it resulted in him asking for my phone number. When I asked him what he was looking for on our first date, he told me,” I like vanilla women.” “Too bad, I’m not vanilla,” I joked. Crickets. He looked like Jerry Seinfeld, but he sure as shit didn’t have his sense of humor.
6. The polyamorous intern. I met him at concert and I decided to ignore his BO because he had nice smile. The excuses we make when we’re desperate for companionship!
As I discovered 30 seconds into our first date, his stank was the least of our compatibility problems. During my first sip of drink he launches into a monologue: “I’m polyamorous, divorced, have a kid and a mentally ill ex wife…oh, and I don’t have a job, just an unpaid internship.”
He was 37, by the way. I blinked, blinked again, blinked again. Chugged my drink and told him I should probably go.
7. The night hiker. Anybody who knows me well knows that I am not an outdoors kind of gal. If you’ve moved to a new city three days earlier, you tend to let those kind of standards slide. When the guy at your local pizza shop asks you if you’d like to go hiking sometime, you say yes without hesitation. Plus, being able to hike was allegedly one of the perks of living in Los Angeles. I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to experience all my new city had to offer.
The only problem was, this guy wanted to take me hiking at NIGHT, when I’d never been hiking before. And he wanted to do this in a place that contained many snakes. Picture this: me standing on a wobbly rock bawling my eyes out in the pitch dark while the dude tried to scare the snakes away with a stick because…his flashlight was out of batteries.
8. The guy who told me I would never find what I was looking for. You know it’s a bad sign when you’re on a first date and a man is trying to convince you that he’s the best you’ll ever do. When he asked me what I was looking for, I told him honestly:” A smart, kind, honest, hilarious, artistic guy who likes my singing voice and never leaves the pizza box open when the pizza is hot.” His response as he slurped his lobster bisque: Laughter. “Good luck with that!”
The insidious thing about this statement was that for a long time, part of me did toss and turn at night, shaking and sweating with the fear that this man was correct. He wasn’t. He can eat me, wherever he is. I found exactly who I was looking for.
[Photo from Shutterstock]