Lightening Strikes, Maybe Once, Maybe Twice…

The Worst Date I’ve Ever Been On

Let me preface the rest of this blog by saying that I consider myself a very lucky girl. Part luck, part tenacity and part hard work has gotten me to where I am today, which is a pretty nice position in life – All things considered. Sure, there are small things I’d change, but I have a wonderful family, close friends, a fantastic girlfriend, my health, a roof over my head and a wide open future ahead of me filled with endless possibilities for adventure and endeavors.

There are enough strange characters I’ve met throughout the years, my fair share of laughable, This-Could-Only-Happen-To-Me scenarios I’ve found myself in and certainly more than enough character quirks provided to me by those throughout my life that I probably have enough blog material to last until the next millenium. However, there is one story, one woman, one unbelievable “date” that was memorable enough to top all of my friends’ nightmarish memories of dates past, and some of my friends are right up there with Hugh Hefner for dates past. I can laugh now because I got out alive and, as far as I know, with every body part intact. I certainly wasn’t laughing then, although during the date, I made a sort of deal with whatever higher power took pity on me and listened in which I swore I’d use this for comedy at some point in the future if I could please just make it out in one piece. So, here it is: The Worst Date I’ve Ever Been On:

Mistake number one was approaching The Girl at the club. Although just shy of twenty-one, I’d been in college for a couple of years now and had been going to the meager selection of underage clubs for just as long. I should’ve known right then that if something appeared too good to be true, it absolutely, definitely was. I chalk this rookie mistake up to my age at the time and relative innocence in all things related to lesbian dating, although I tried my hardest to come off like the nonchalant pro that I was sure I was. She was seated at a table near the dance floor with a male friend. She was cute (mistake number two – Trusting the strobe lights in the club for an accurate representation of those around you, another rookie error), she seemed quiet and unassuming and was wearing a teeny-tiny denim skirt. We talked for a while, exchanged phone numbers and discovered that we both lived in the suburbs – Coincidentally only about 20 minutes from one another.

We hung out once or twice casually before the night that constitutes as the Worst Date Ever, and it all seemed like it was going smoothly and swimmingly. I was clear in my desire to take things slowly and not rush to put a label on things so as to get to know one another first and build up a certain level of trust. The Girl agreed with this stance and after further discussion, it seemed as though we’d been through similar things with exes and I felt I could breathe a sigh of relief in coming to a mutual understanding. This girl was pretty cool, I told myself, and if we keep getting to know each other and building up this level of trust, something between us might just blossom.

There were small things that I should’ve paid further attention to, but chose to overlook in an effort to start on a truly blank slate. For one, we watched a movie at my place and without more than five seconds of thought or even a glance over the hundreds of DVDs in the tall tower next to the television set, The Girl picked out BASIC FREAKIN’ INSTINCT as exuberantly as a child discovering presents overflowing from beneath the tree on Christmas morning. Okay, fine – I, too, could appreciate Sharon Stone circa 1992, after all I was the one that owned the movie. There was also the fact that I was picking up on a bit of seemingly shady-sounding family history: She lived with her grandma, because, as she so noncommittally put it, had “lots of problems with my mom.” I didn’t question it much, after all, it wasn’t my place to and a lot of girls I knew had oil-and-water relationships with their mothers. Either they were the best of friends or the worst of enemies and nobody has an all-around perfect family relationship, so I shrugged it off and kept chugging blindly and unassumingly forward.

A few days later, I got an invitation to come by her grandma’s house for their big Sunday family dinner. I didn’t think much of it because we’d been clear on where we stood and how we were moving forward, so I saw it as nothing more than a friendly invitation to stop by and chow down on some home-cooked food. Humming along to the radio as I pulled into her grandma’s driveway, I think I even texted her to let her know how wonderful it was that her mom was going to be there, thinking that for whatever mysterious “problems” they’d had, it was certainly a good thing that at least they were on well enough terms to come together for the Sunday family dinner. Little did I know, how could I have known, how quickly I’d be eating those words.

I wasn’t in the house for more than five minutes before I was introduced around, smiling and saying hello to Grandma (who I’d met only once in passing and had some senility issues), her mother, her two brothers and an aunt and uncle, who had his hairpiece on backwards. It was hard not to stare when making small talk with her uncle since any slight movement would cause the toupee to shift treacherously atop his head; moving slightly to the right with a shake of his head, slightly to the left with a nod. The food smelled delicious, the afternoon sun was shining high in the sky and everybody was bustling around one another in the cozy kitchen/dining room combo to fill their paper plates. Time seemed to stand still, however, when all of the sudden The Girl, visibly nervous and tapping her foot against the tile, cleared her throat and said loudly that she had an announcement to make. Everybody slowed what they were doing and looked up at her expectantly, their full attention and eager smiles on her as she defiantly looked each one in the eyes. Confused, I felt my stomach plummet a little – Not the full top-to-bottom elevator shaft, just a few floors – Just enough for a trace of fear to worm its way into my gut as I wondered what the hell she was doing.

“Okay, so, I’m gay and this is actually my girlfriend, Ashley.” She stated quickly as my stomach instantly fell down the rest of the elevator shaft and pretty clear beyond the basement. Time completely froze. My face probably much matched her various family members’; a speechless mixture of horror, shock and confusion. As time continued to cease operating in that entirely too small kitchen, I was well aware of the distrustful, appraising eyes slowly flickering their way from her to me as they took everything in. As awful as it sounds, my first thought was to slowly back away, look at her as though she was crazy and tell the family that I had no idea what she was talking about, then make a run for it. First of all, I had no idea that she wasn’t out to anyone. It had never come up in conversation because, well, we’d only had about two casual dates to begin with. I slowly realized how much ground I obviously still had to cover with this one, especially since now apparently I was her girlfriend – Something that was just as surprising to me, seeing as we’d been clear on getting to know each other first and taking things slowly when we’d first met, which was only about a week ago.

My intelligent response was, “Uhh, umm”. Luckily, I was cut off by Grandma, who had unearthed from who knows where a shiny, cardboard party hat, complete with sparkly tassel on the end and the words “Happy New Year!” etched across it in glitter. She’d put the hat on and twirled a noisemaker about, a placid smile on her wrinkled face. “It’s a celebration!” Grandma cried out, spinning the little plastic noisemaker for all it was worth. “Happy New Year! Hap, hap, Happy New Year!”. Bless Grandma’s heart.

As The Girl and her mother stared daggers across the kitchen at one another, I briefly wondered how much of this was to piss her mom off. I didn’t have to wonder long, her mother turned to her aunt and, placing the back of her hand across her forehead in distress, she closed her eyes slowly. “I just don’t know how much more of this I can take, Becky,” Her mother went on. “I really don’t. First, the running away from home and sucking my mother dry while living here and now this. It’s just so disrespectful.” To this day, I have no idea if her mother was a genuine homophobe or if she was just at her wit’s end with her daughter, because my mind was too busy reeling with this new information. Running away from home?  Sucking poor, sweet Grandma dry of her hard-earned Social Security funds and retirement benefits while she claimed to be “temporarily” taking a break from college and deciding what it was she wanted to do with her life?

As we made our way into the dining room, I desperately tried to engineer every excuse I could think of to leave. This wasn’t right and I was damn angry with The Girl for putting me in this very awkward position. If she’d needed help or support coming out to her family, I would’ve absolutely been there as I would have for any other friend or acquaintance, but there had been no discussion, no mention of even still being in the closet at all. I was completely blind-sided and I was pretty upset about it, made worse by the fact that The Girl seemed to think that everything was just fine and, now that her announcement had been made, she was free to slap my butt (as she did while I was spooning potato salad onto my plate) and kiss my cheek (as she did several times at the dinner table). Each time she did so, all conversation immediately died, an awkward air over the entire dinner, and all eyes shifted over to us and away again – All eyes except her mother’s, of course, whose kept fluttering open and shut as she rubbed her forehead in distress and mumbled something along the lines of “No, no, no, this isn’t my life”. Believe me, I was right there with you, sister. The Girl was the only one that didn’t seem to notice anything at all amiss, even as I’d shift away from her and study the greens on my plate as though they unlocked the answers to all of life’s mysteries. At that moment, if they did, the iceberg lettuce would’ve solemnly explained to me how and why I seemed to pick the girls that I did.

Unfortunately, trying to subtly shift away from The Girl caused me to inevitably shift closer to Brother The Younger. Brother The Younger was a high school athlete and apparently not too bright, because when I shifted my chair away from The Girl, he looked at me for a moment and then grinned and shifted his chair closer to me in turn. Our chairs were now inches apart and I had a strange feeling that Brother The Younger had mistook my annoyance with his evidently equally dim sister for some sort of interest in him instead. After another moment, he tapped his fork gently against the side of his plate in three clear, resounding dings before again moving his chair even closer to mine. Grandma, apparently excited by the sudden noise of chairs scraping and Brother The Younger attempting to communicate with me through tapping cutlery and dishes like it was Morse code, jumped up onto her chair with speed I’m sure she hadn’t used since a Roosevelt was President and began twirling her noisemaker again in an effort to add to the din. As the uncle quickly stood and tried to gently coax Grandma down from her chair, I nearly jumped out of my skin by the sudden feeling of denim against my leg. That damn Brother The Younger was at it again and this time he’d shifted so that his leg brushed against mine. I jumped so far in the other direction that I practically ended up on The Girl’s lap, which she took as a very good sign, and put her hand on my leg while lifting a forkful of pasta to my lips.

“Try this, Ashley, it’s really, really good,” The Girl said softly, giving me her best seductive face, as I miserably bit the pasta off of her fork. At that moment, a sudden shriek that didn’t sound completely human emanated from the other side of the table so loudly that it shook the walls of the dining room. Sounding like something between a live cat being skinned (“Did Grandma’s cat somehow get into the dryer?” I wondered wildly) and some sort of ancient tribal battle cry, I glanced up just in time to see her mother splayed against the chair as though struck by a large piece of construction machinery.

“Owwwwwwwahhhhhhhh!” She continued to scream as Brother The Older folded his beefy arms and glared at The Girl and I.

“Do you see what you’re doing to Mom? Do you see? You only just care about yourself!” He shot angrily. Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Brother The Older – Please don’t lump me in with your sister just yet, I plan on this being my first and last family dinner with you lunatics. I glanced at The Girl, who was on her feet in less than a second. As they launched into a loud back-and-forth argument about how each didn’t care for anyone other than themselves and things each had done in the past to prove that statement, I blew out a breath and glanced to my right. Bad move – My eyes locked with Brother The Younger, who lifted his lips in a smile, pointed silently at his siblings and twirled his index finger next to his ear while mouthing, “They’re crazy” before letting his eyes slide down my face to my chest.

“Well,” The Girl’s aunt spluttered, sounding very near tears. “Well, let’s have dessert, shall we? Dessert, anyone? I made pie.”

The Girl’s aunt was unable to get anyone’s attention at that moment and turned to me with her hands on her hips. “Pie? Have some pie, Ashley,” She said, almost desperately and with a considerable amount of building hysteria in her tone.

I smiled as politely as I could and took this as my exit cue. “Oh, no, thank you,” I replied graciously. “I actually have to head out, so I think I’m going to get going…”

“Nonsense,” The Girl’s aunt cut me off abruptly, before snatching my paper plate from my hand and pulling a steak knife from her back pocket to slice the pie with. At this point, I began fearing for my life – What woman keeps a steak knife IN HER BACK POCKET? I immediately shut up and plunked back into my seat, watching with wide eyes as she dug at the pie, smiling as she extracted an extra large slice and literally tossed it onto my plate before shoving it back at me. The slice of pie had landed upside-down, but I picked up my fork and began eating it immediately, to which the aunt smiled, no hint of warmth anywhere in her expression, appeased by my large, enthusiastic bites and began throwing slices of pie onto everybody else’s plates. It didn’t matter if they wanted pie or not, or if they were even done with what they already had on their plate. We were all getting pie and that was the end of it.

After finishing the slice of pie so quickly that I sort of wished that the Guinness Book of World Records had been present, I excused myself to use the washroom. My plan was to get into the bathroom and use my Phone-A-Friend, only this time I wasn’t reaching for a million dollars, I was just trying to leave in one piece. My plan at the moment consisted of begging a good friend to call me back in exactly five minutes and proclaim some very big emergency at home that I just had to rush out for.

Brother The Older immediately pushed his chair back so that I couldn’t wedge myself past him and continued openly glaring at The Girl and I. I was getting really sick of his attitude; in fact, I was getting dangerously close to what I consider a fairly generous daily threshold for other people. Through gritted teeth, I asked if I could please get by so I could use the washroom. He sighed heavily, as though I’d suddenly put the weight of the world on his shoulders, and made a big show of scooting his chair towards the table about a half-inch. As I made my way across the dining room, The Girl’s mother stood, her arms folded tightly around her, and reached to turn the ceiling fan on.

“It’s too hot in here,” She announced, shaking her head. “It’s much too hot, I can’t stand it, I feel like the walls are closing in!”

The ceiling fan rumbled to life and, with a great Whoosh!, began circling madly above the dining room table. There must have only been two speeds for that particular fan, High and Higher. All of the sudden, paper plates were picked up by the sudden windstorm in the dining room and everyone was pushing around each other to hurriedly try to save them before they landed with a messy splat onto Grandma’s shag carpeting.

The Girl’s uncle was one of these people and evidently did not thoroughly think through his sudden movement to grab his plate because as soon as he jerked forward, his hairpiece, bristly dark hairs sticking up in all directions, slid forward over his face and landed with a soft plop onto the table. Everybody stopped what they were doing and simply stared, as if in sheer disbelieving awe, at the flat, furry thing on the table. It resembled a small forest creature and The Girl’s uncle stared just as uncomprehendingly at the hairpiece, as though not quite yet understanding the depth of his embarrassment. The last thing I saw as I nearly sprinted for the bathroom, more out of a sudden fear that I was going to burst into hysterical laughter as the ridiculousness of it all hit me full force than anything else, was that the shiny domed top of his head was just as tomato-red as his twitching face. I wasn’t sure if he was about to explode in fury, burst into tears or laugh good-naturedly, but after only an hour with this family, I was fairly sure it’d be one of the first two options and I didn’t plan to stick around to witness it.

Gesturing to The Girl, I whispered that something had come up and I was so sorry, but I had to leave. After I eased my car out of the driveway and, relief flooding my chest at freedom, practically flew down the street and didn’t look back.

The non-relationship had reached its end, in my mind, that day; its tiny life swiftly cut short by several serious miscommunications, one batshit crazy mother, two idiotic brothers (one perverted and one ice-cold), one possibly sociopathic aunt and master-of-disguise uncle. Not Grandma, though – I liked Grandma and, if it was up to me, I would’ve adopted that crazy old party girl right out of that nutty family and into mine.

I spoke to The Girl once after The Worst Date Ever. She said that she felt as though her mother had shone a negative light on her towards me at dinner and wanted to get her life together in an effort to show that she wasn’t the sponging drifter that her family made her out to be. Although I was already planning to let her down gently, I was enthusiastic and told her that that was a good thing and she should certainly do what she felt was right, if not for anyone else, at least for herself. All enthusiasism for The Girl getting her life and her future back on track, however, came to a crashing, screeching halt upon her next words:

“So, anyways, I was going to stop at Heavenly Bodies (*note: Well-known gentlemen’s club in the area) and see if I could work there. I mean, it just makes sense, you know? Why struggle waiting tables when I could make a week’s worth of tips from Applebee’s in a night there? I have a hot body and I know I look good, but you wouldn’t be mad if I did that, right? I mean, having a dancer girlfriend would be kind of hot, right?” She mused, completely serious as I snorted the sip of pop I’d been taking directly through my nose. As the caffeinated bubbles burned at my sinuses and eyes, I cut her off as soon as I was able to again breathe normally. It’s just not going to work out. Although I was as polite and articulate as possible while I explained that I just didn’t see a future between us but of course I’d still love to be friends, I couldn’t help but think (in the safety of my own head, of course) that, at least this one time, I could be confident in the fact that it wasn’t me. It was definitely her.

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