Some things people say about me make me squeamish: “You go on so many dates!” “Got any new dating stories?” “Who’s the new guy?” Every time, a flash of the movie Runaway Bride goes through my head, as well as a song featured in the movie: “Oh, there she goes. Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up. Oh, there she goes… she’s a man eater!”
But… the truth remains. I have been on a lot of interesting, cringe-worthy, awkward dates. Many, many. And although I’m dating someone really awesome now, I’ve realized that each one of my painful, awkward encounters is a funny story now, and has taught me something. So, here’s a gem from my dating histories.
The Story of Pretzel Guy
This story dates back to my college days. He was a nice, good looking boy from my church, an “older man” at 23 to my 19. We knew each other from a few big group get togethers, and as I recall, his asking me out went like this:
Him: How have you been lately?
Me. Oh , a little busy and tired, lately.
Him: You know what makes me feel better after a stressful week? Homemade pretzels.
Me: Oh, yeah? That’s cool.
Him: Would you like to make some homemade pretzels here? (at the church)
Me. Oh, sure, that sounds fun.
Him: How about 5 or so?
Me: Yeah, that would work.
Him: Well, actually, that’s dinner time, and you’ll be hungry. What about coming to my apartment and I can make you dinner? I could even pick you up.
Smooth, Pretzel Guy. So, as I remember, I said sure, and then went home, feeling a little awkward about the fact that I’d agreed to go to this guy’s home, and didn’t even know his last name or anything about him, other than that he liked homemade pretzels, which we would no longer be making.
He picked me up in a beat-up tan Volvo. As we drove, he told me that his apartment was in a “rough side of town.” He was clean-cut, polite, and a psychology grad student. “What do you mean by ‘rough?’ I asked, to make conversation. “Actually, someone in my building just got stabbed last week,” he said, chuckling nervously (Awkwardly? Excitedly?) My first thought was, ‘It was him!’ Suddenly I had concocted visions of Norman and the Bates Motel in my mind. The car was inching closer and closer to our destination, and I thought quickly about how I might use my backpack as a weapon should the need arise.
He had Mexican votive candles all over his apartment, which caused the fears of stabbing to subside a bit, but I still made sure I knew where the knives were.
We started cooking. I was following a recipe that called for milk. I opened the fridge and found a jug. As I opened it, I noticed that the cap and lid were ringed with something black and sticky, resembling tar. I recoiled. Pretzel guy looked quite red.
“Ah, so yeah. So, since I live alone, sometimes I want chocolate milk, but not enough to pour a whole glass of it. So I just pour the chocolate sauce in my mouth, and drink right from the jug…?”
I don’t remember how I responded, but after that, the date went okay. He suggested watching a movie after dinner, and I agreed, but felt wary as it got darker, and darker, and darker. Finally, at the end of the movie, I asked to be taken home.
Pretzel Guy turned out to be a perfectly nice, respectable guy that I didn’t have romantic interest in. He moved on to live happily ever after, and so did I.
My Lessons Learned (at age 19):
- Don’t go to someone’s house on a date unless you know their last name.
- Be wary of a date who mentions stabbing in the first 10 minutes of the date.
Present-Day Reflections (Will not tell you how old I am now):
- I obviously didn’t have much dating experience at the time. I look back and commend this guy for asking me out in person (not over text, which wasn’t invented at the time), and called to confirm the date, volunteered to pick me up, and was a real gentleman. Unfortunately, it feels like times have changed! This kind of behavior would be thought “very chivalrous” now, as opposed to a reasonable expectation, which makes me sad 😦