Sometimes the debacles I get myself into are entirely self-inflicted. At some point in May, after being back on OkCupid for about two months, I was talking fairly consistently with two guys, which for me is rather rare. One of them had given me his number, and I initiated a text conversation by asking some odd questions…to someone with a number one digit away from his. Somewhere in north Jersey there is a very confused recipient. After a week or so of back and forth (and a day when I’d forgotten to take my anxiety medication and came across as super needy, apparently), we made a date for a Tuesday night the following week. At some point, I must have asked him what kind of date plans he would find most interesting, and told him he couldn’t choose movies, dinner, or walks along the beach. Because of that, he must’ve gotten the impression that I am anti-dinner, and he suggested a 7:30 game of mini-golf. Let me digress: mini-golf can be fun with a group of friends, or with a guy/girl you’ve been dating, but is terrible for a first date, at least, it is if you are as abysmal at mini-golf as I am. I frequently have to take the six strokes to save myself the embarrassment of finishing out the hole. Play? Shot? I don’t know the proper golf terminology. I don’t mind when my friends see me acting like a fool – if I did, I would have crawled under a rock and hidden there many years ago. But I don’t need someone’s first impression to be of me digging into a babbling brook while balancing on one foot. That’s second date stuff, for sure. Despite this, I agreed.
In the meantime, the other guy asked if we should meet up. I assumed he would pick another evening, since most normal people with normal jobs are free in the evenings, but of course, he did not have a normal schedule, either, and he picked the same Tuesday, but during the day. Let’s meet up in NYC, he said. It’s halfway between us (it’s not really, and it costs me about $25 to get into the city and back on a bus). So I scheduled in grabbing tea with a friend and picking up some jewelry-making supplies so that, if the date was a complete disaster, at least the trip wasn’t a waste. I told guy #2 that I would get in the city early and guess some stuff done. We debated back and forth about what to do in the city. He’d grown up there, so I assumed he knew about more stuff. We voted against museums, as we’d been to most of them, and they’re not conducive to much conversation (he did at one point look into a museum of sex, which would be a pretty unusual activity for any two people to embark upon together the first time they meet). I finally suggested the zoo, as I’m obsessed with animals, particularly baby animals, and had never been to the Bronx Zoo. He had, so I assumed he would know what he was doing.
By now, I should know that assumptions always turn out horribly wrong. We agreed to meet at 1:00, when he would get in. When he said he was “getting in” at 1:00, I stupidly thought that meant…to Manhattan. Where I would be. And that we would take the subway to the Bronx together. He thought it meant that we would meet at the zoo at 1:00. So at 1:00, he calls to ask what entrance I’m in front of, and I answer, incredibly confused, and barely able to hear anything as I walk down the streets by Penn Station. I ask a hot dog vendor where to find the nearest subway station, hop on a 2 (see what I did there? I’m trying to prove that I know things. Is it working?), and ride for 45 minutes. It takes us a good ten minutes to locate each other after I get off the train, perhaps because he looks nothing like his picture. Those first few moments (and the last few) are my least favorite. Do we shake hands? Nod at each other? Hug? Stand awkwardly? We chose option four. At some point, he must have started talking, because his voice sounded exactly like my friend’s husband’s voice. To the point where I kept picturing their faces fusing together. It didn’t help that they have roughly the same body type. And that one’s Matt and the other is Max.
So for the first fifteen minutes, I hear nothing that he says because all I can think is “notMattnotMattnotMatt.” We head over to the zoo entrance, and the ticket seller asks my date if we’re paying together or separately. He looks at me, like I have the magical answer for this. I’ve never asked someone to pay for me on a first date (or accepted that offer). But at this point, the day is getting expensive, and I only work part-time. So I hesitate, then mumble, “separately”. The ticket man makes me repeat my answer. I think he heard me the first time, but that he’s just trying to make me feel more weird than I already do.
We spend the next two hours getting ridiculously lost in the zoo. Somehow my date remembers nothing from his many visits, and I can’t follow directions without a map, so we wander around the same six exhibits. We get to the tigers, which he wanted to see, but never make it to the tapirs, which was the entire reason I’d wanted to go to the zoo in the first place. We have to follow a family out because we can’t figure out what entrance we came in.
At this point, it’s after 5:00, and there’s no way I will be home in time for date #2. We get back on the 2 to ride into Manhattan. While we’re mid-conversation, the subway screeches to my stop. I get up to leave, and he holds up his hand. Is this a high five? A weird handshake? Is he waving? I don’t have time to figure it out, so I high five him and run the hell off the train. I miss my bus home, and end up meeting with the next guy for a drink two hours after initially scheduled. I am an exhausted, ridiculous mess, and tell babbling stories while sipping my margarita. My date hugs me when I leave (the most uncomfortable hug I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve hugged kindergartners with drippy noses. We stupidly make plans to meet up again, but that is another terrible story for another day.