Familiar faces

"Hey, did you do something to your hair?"

I’m not good with names. I readily admit this. Unless I’ve known you for 20-some odd years or deal with you daily, chances are I will flub when it comes to an introduction, or speaking to you or about you. Yesterday was a perfect example. A coworker came looking for PPJ, who wasn’t at her desk. To make a long story short, I had a noticed that said coworker had dyed her hair, and we had a short, pleasant conversation about it. She left, and when PPJ came back, I said, “Hey, What’s-her-face is looking for you.” One of the other guys who heard the whole exchange busted out laughing, saying “Wait, you just had that whole conversation with her, and you can’t even remember her name?”

Yup, and welcome to my world.

See, between all the various circles of friends and places of employment from here to Florida and back, I have a hard time with names. This is why if someone friend requests me on Facebook, if I don’t see the face, chances are I have no idea of who it is. The name might be one I recognize, but chances are, quite honestly, I won’t.

So, I was on OKStupid mucking around as I often do. Now, I recognize a lot of faces there … friends, people who doing the “dating circuit” of web sites, etc. It’s really nothing new to see a face I recognize. Except for one that had been eating at my brain since I saw her.

Now, because of computer algorithm, this woman’s face continually appears when I browse. And I know I knew her, but I couldn’t place from where or why. I wanted to e-mail her to see why the heck I recognized her, but I just simply couldn’t pull the trigger to do so. Like there was something deep down in my gut that said, quite sternly, “don’t do it.”

However, this conundrum is the type of thing that will get stuck in my brain and drive me nuts.

Then as I read through her info one last time, it hit me: She was the person who I had the proverbial “Worst Date Ever” with almost 10 years ago.

Now, technically, it wasn’t the worst date I’ve ever been on. Nor does it compare to some of my friends’ worst first date stories (like Corey’s infamous “bowling date,” any one of Kelly’s, or even my friend Paul who has some of the biggest freak magnet stories I’ve ever heard). Heck, I doubt it ranks among the stories on DateWrecks. But for me, it was just brutal. So, obviously, I have to tell the tale.

"Don't worry, I'm hot."

"Don't worry, I'm hot."

I was freshly moved back to PA and living at mom’s — not because I wanted to — but because it allowed me to save up some cash for a new car that I knew I would need since my truck was 2WD. I had just started working. Things were good.

We met online. Said woman e-mailed me — no picture on her profile. That’s always an immediate red flag, but I’m a daredevil. We chatted. We seemed to have a lot in common. She was from out west, here for school. She was very into dancing (I believe she said she taught belly dancing or something along those lines). Articulate. Obviously very bright. When it came down to her physical looks, she said, “Don’t worry, I’m hot.” Red hair. A little on the taller side. I have to admit, I was curious. So for our first meeting, we agreed to meet at The Elbow Room in Shadyside.

I get there early, and have a beer at the bar. About 5 minutes later, she strolls in, and my first thought is — and I remember this distinctly — “Wow, you so aren’t hot.”

"I'm not hot, I'm just drawn that way."

Now, that may seem cruel, but let me phrase it this way: We all have different definitions of hot, and mine is pretty high. In my mind, if you’re going around saying “Don’t worry, I’m hot,” you better be looking like Jessica Rabbit personified — because if she were real, she’d be really freakin’ hot. If the date would have said “Don’t worry, I’m cute,” or “Don’t worry, I don’t have 3 eyes and hunchback,”  hey, cool. Heck, I’d even accept “Don’t worry, I’m hawt,” and expect someone who looks normal. With her, she was attractive … but she wasn’t my type, and definitely was not among the “I’m hot!” category.

But, even though there wasn’t that physical spark, I figured we were here, so let’s make the best of it and see if there’s any kind of mental connection. Sounds good, right? Right.

Over dinner, the pain really begins. She hoses me for living at home, but later reveals that her parents are paying for her apartment. I tell well-tested, interesting tales — which she promptly talks over. She lambasts me for not knowing what OEM was (since this was my “pre-building my own computers” stage). I believe she also tore into my food choice (a steak salad) because she was a vegetarian. So, it becomes really evident that despite us liking a lot of the same things, this just plain wasn’t going to work.

My waitress during this fiasco, however, was a goddess. She could sense my pain and brought me beer at an alarmingly quick rate — mainly because I was downing them really quickly. It was because of that waitress that I didn’t follow through on my fantasy of smashing a beer bottle off the end of the table and jabbing her in the throat just to shut her up. I know, lots of rage there — but seriously, these situations can be awkward enough as is, so even if things aren’t going well, at the very least be cordial, you know? It’s not hard.

So, dinner is over and I ask for the check. I pay. I leave a generous tip because:

  1. The waitress saved us both from a terrible fate (Her: death. Me: 20 years in the hole for murder).
  2. Generally speaking, good servers can do a job I can’t. They’re smart, awesome people with great people skills who generally don’t make squat unless they work in a fantastic establishment. So, if they’re really good, I tip well.

She sees the bill (not that I showed her or anything, she actively looked) and what I’m tipping, and says a quote that forever burned itself into my brain:

Overtipping is no excuse for poor math skills.

Did I just hear that? Really?

I’m generally not a person who is left speechless by obnoxious behavior — in fact, I’m usually the one instigating it. But, after that, I was done. I tried to explain my rationale — “Hey, I know a lot of servers and it’s a tough gig — and she was awesome — so she’s getting a big tip,” but I believe her response was something along the lines of “Oh, you’re just trying to impress me.” At this point, I had reached the breaking point and said, “Listen, if a couple extra bucks is what makes or breaks me, chances are I’m not going to begin with.” And that ended that.

As we walked out, she said she was parked down the street. I said, “Oh! Well, I’m down the other way. So, I’ll catch you later. Bye.” No hug, no kiss, no handshake, no cordial good-bye, no nothing. I waved, and it was with more of a “Peace, sucka!” kind of attitude. I turned my back, walked away and hoped I’d never see her again.

That was the first — and only — time that I haven’t walked a woman that I was meeting for a date back to her car.

Once I got to my truck, I did the only sensible thing I could: I let out a primal scream, started laughing hysterically, drove down to Bar 11 and drank my face off so I could erase her face from my mind.

Luckily for me, I wasn’t entirely successful.


6 Responses to “Familiar faces”

  1. 1 John
    April 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    As someone who frequents OKStupid, I respectfully request you send me a link to this woman’s page so I can avoid a similar fate. Confidentiality is, of course, assured.

    Also, I’ve talked to Paul about “date from hell” stories. He’s got some good ones. I’ve got some good ones. We actually share a certain someone, and when I mentioned her to him, his eyes got huge and he just glared at me with a look that said, “Oh. Dear. God. No.”

    Next time you and I are in the same establishment, I’ll share my pain.

    • April 15, 2010 at 1:57 am

      I think I’ve heard about that. I think she was also after me for well over a year. Yeah, we’ll chat.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Outstanding story, thanks for sharing that brought some much needed improvement to my day. In the interest of full disclosure I still do not know what OEM means.

    • April 15, 2010 at 1:56 am

      OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer

  3. April 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    As a self-proclaimed and oft validated expert on bad dates (including above), I feel confident in ruling this a bad date. If you still cringe when telling the story 10 years later, it’s bad. I want to meet this woman for a few key reasons. 1. I dislike her by association. She’s a tool and I really get my jollies insulting total tools to their face. 2. I feel it is my obligation to explain to her why she’s not dating successfully, and that she is the type of person who ruins dating for the rest of us. 3. There’s only room for one Jessica Rabbit wannabe in Shadyside.

  4. April 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Great story! I once had a first date/only date with a guy who told me throughout dinner how disgusting my food was and how it was making him sick to look at it. Repeatedly. Umm, I got grilled chicken breast and veggies. How is that gross? He took it to the level of how disgusting ketchup is. Oh, and he wasn’t even a vegetarian…just an asshole. I peaced out the same as you.

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