Friday, February 3, 2023

Insight: Dating disasters provide laughable moments

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

My wife Nancy and I were watching an old episode of “The Office” television show recently and it prompted a flood of bad memories for me about dates that I had experienced which were less than ideal.

In the television show, the character Michael Scott (the company boss), joins co-workers on a night out at a local bar. When co-workers Jim and Pam Halpert try to set Michael up with a friend, he turns out to be a boorish date who ruins the occasion for everyone.

That got me to thinking about my own dating history before I met Nancy and how I survived some of the worst dates imaginable.

Here’s a sampling of what I’m talking about.

A few months after moving to Florida in 1991, I visited a local bank to establish a checking account. I was helped by the bank’s assistant manager, a friendly and attractive woman who was interested in my job as a newspaper reporter and seemed to be flirting with me. I asked her to have lunch with me the following day and she agreed.

At the restaurant for lunch on a Friday, we appeared to be compatible, and I asked her out on a second date. She agreed and said that she’d meet me at a popular restaurant at 6 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Before she left, I forgot to exchange phone numbers with her before we drove away.

That Sunday night, I answered the doorbell at our family’s home at 2:30 a.m. to find a state trooper standing there to inform me that my father had been struck head-on in a nearby town by a drunk driver and that he was killed in the crash. I joined the rest of our family as we collected his belongings and made funeral arrangements the following day.

By the time Tuesday evening rolled around, I had completely forgotten about the date I had set and, in fact, didn’t remember it until Thursday night. On Friday morning, I went to the bank and apologized to her while explaining the circumstances of my father’s death.

She became enraged and told me that was the lamest excuse she had ever heard for standing her up at the restaurant. I told her that it was true, and my father’s obituary was in that day’s newspaper. She laughed and told me I had probably faked the obit since I worked for the newspaper. She said I should come up with a better excuse next time but there wouldn’t be another date because she hated liars.

On a different first date a few years later, I met a woman at a café for dinner. She ordered a salad, and I had a bowl of black bean soup. Apparently halfway through the meal, the black bean soup upset my stomach and I excused myself to use the restroom. I spent about 10 minutes in the restroom until I felt good enough to return to our table. I resumed eating and carrying on a discussion with my date when I once again had to urgently return to the restroom.

Emerging from the restroom after 15 minutes, I found my date was gone and our table had been cleared away. I asked the waitress what had happened, and she said my date had paid the bill and left the café, but not before asking her to pass along a message to me. She said if I was that disinterested in our date, I should have been honest and told her so. She said I should never call her again.

Years later, I was sitting in my apartment on a Sunday afternoon when a neighbor I knew knocked on my door. She asked me if I would drive her to her sister’s house about 40 miles away. I had nothing better to do that day, so I agreed to take her there.

As we drove to her sister’s home, she said she liked me and that I had a nice car. She said she’d always remember my kindness and considered this as “our first date.” Long before she said that I realized she was really drunk and not making sense. She was slurring her words and a bit of drool was hanging from the corner of her mouth.

We arrived at her sister’s house and the sister wasn’t home. We turned around and drove back another 40 miles to my apartment complex. As we pulled into the parking lot, this neighbor asked me to keep the trip a secret. I asked why and she said her boyfriend was insanely jealous and would probably become angry if he knew that I had driven her to her sister’s house and he might become violent.

For weeks afterward, I stayed inside my apartment only going to and from my car when going to work. The drunk neighbor knocked at my door again about a month later and when I realized who it was, I turned down the volume on the television set and didn’t answer the door.

I think we have all experienced some “less than perfect” dates during our lifetime. What ones come to mind for you?

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