A glorious ritual wherein a pair of human beings join up for an evening (or day) of fun, conversation, and hopefully romance. The "getting to know you" moments, so to speak. Occasionally awkward moments arise (alcohol sometimes being the impetus for said awkwardness), sometimes awkward mornings are involved, sometimes someone ends up with a big 'ol mess to clean up, literally and figuratively.
I dated once- a long time ago. It was the pre-internet boom years, the fashion black hole that was the stretchy-black-clothing-filled late Eighties and early Nineties.
Here I am in a hotel in Winnipeg (1991? 1992?) with my gals Blondie and J, all wearing stretchy black articles in one way, shape or form. I believe we were still underage in MN at this point, but not in Canada!
Bless you, oh Canada.
We were all single here, though I believe I may have "technically" been living with someone that I pretty much didn't want to be living with anymore. My flexible morality allows me to call that "single". So there.
Unlike most normal people, I LOVED dating. Loved it. I loved the nervous anticipation before the first date, especially trying to find something to wear ("do fishnets scream 'I'm easy?' or do they say I'm a confident, sexy broad? Do these Doc Martens go with this black miniskirt and my Dead Milkmen t-shirt? Or, should I wear my KMFDM shirt to show how badass I am? How about jean shorts with tights and heels? Too much?"). I'd like to say that I liked the anticipation of waiting for them to pick me up, but I generally dated the special breed of men that didn't have cars, rarely had jobs, and generally expected me to plan the date, drive on the date, pay for the date and put out on the date. True to form, me- being 20-ish, employed, in possession of both a car and a vagina- well, you can guess how that generally went.
We- as young, single females sometimes do- tended to go out on the weekends, frequenting local drinking establishments and basically trollin' for skank of the male variety.
One such drinking "establishment" was in Superior, Wisconsin. Superior (especially at that point in time) was the logical choice for a night out for most Duluthians, as it was just a couple of miles and one big bridge away, and the bars stayed open until 2:30, compared to Duluth's (at the time) puritanical 1:00 a.m. Superior had the distinction, at the time, of having 150+ bars in a 2-mile stretch of roadway. Nothing said drankin' like a trip to "Suptown".
This "establishment" of choice in Superior (especially as a last stop, if you catch my drift- wink) was a lovely and quaint little pub called the "Joker's Wild". The Joker was always good for man-watching as the $1.50 knock-you-on-your-ass cocktails and giant jar of (shudder) pickled eggs seemed to draw them in like flies to shit.
Speaking of, the Joker was quite possibly the filthiest bar I have ever set foot in- and honey, I've been in one or two in my time. The toilets had steaming hot water in them, the bathrooms-I swear- never got cleaned. I think they just took out the trash once in a while and occasionally threw some sort of paper product in there for the hell of it. The dirt was black and caked in the corners, the walls were filthy, graffitti'd and peeling, and the lights were, thankfully, dim.
The Joker was condemned and razed a few years after I got married. I'm kind of surprised it made it that long, really.
The Joker is where I met (picked up) this guy I called J-Crew (irony intended). He had the quirky and healthy all-American good looks of the male models in that catalog- tall, handsome & lean, with unruly curly short hair- but none of the blue-blood background to accompany the package. He was a cruel joke to the female population. Gorgeous and jobless with a warrant out for his arrest on some driving-related matter, as I found out later on our first date.
On looks alone, though, I was smitten.
I tended to not wait around for guys to make the move- I'm extremely impatient that way. I caught his eye at the bar, flirted for a few minutes...then went in for the kill. I (fueled by, I'm sure, several whiskey cokes) sauntered on over and struck up conversation. J-Crew and his buddy Chuck regaled me with tales of how bored they were, how lame Duluth was, and why did I want to live here. Funny, I remember having a lot of conversations back then that were pretty much a variation of this one, yet most of the same people still live there or really want to live there. Hmmm...but I digress.
I believe we went to an after-bar party that night at one of the UMD Rugby player's place. J-Crew and Chuck were there and I continued to shamelessly flirt. Subtlety has never been my strong point. I've bought men drinks, 70's piano-bar style. I have no shame.
Numbers were exchanged, a first date was planned.
Being that he was broke and I was unwilling to invest a big chunk of change in a date, we decided to go for drinks at a bar in Duluth called R.T. Quinlan's. It was a weeknight, so the place was pretty empty. We ordered drinks, I paid, and we sat down. I was uncharacteristically nervous for this one- extra cute always throws me off. He was busy enlightening me on the finer points of avoiding the Po-po when you have a warrant out (something like driving with a revoked license, if I remember correctly), and why he dropped out of College but still lived in a College Town that he seemed to hate. He was aloof and distant, I kept staring at his hair.
It was about 30 seconds into our second drink (paid for by...?) when I decided to flail my arms about wildly in some sort of spazzy, descriptive conversational idiocy when my arm grazed his drink, sending the entire contents into his crotch, ice and all.
I was so horrified, I jumped up and started yelling "I need a towel!" like I had somehow managed to sever an artery and needed to make a tourniquet RIGHT NOW!
The bartender brought one over with a look on his face that pretty much said "you are crazy. Please do not try to ever date me or my friends" and walked away. The crotch was blotted. To make it up to him I bought another round. All was well.
Well, that is- until we were going to leave and I decided to make a pit stop to pee and walked head on into a doorway.
Or, when we were getting into my car and I knocked my noggin (again) on my car door.
Or, until we were going to his place (ahem. For Parcheesi and ice cream, you dirty little monkeys) and I nearly bit it on the ice on the sidewalk.
I pretty much decided then that he wasn't "boyfriend" material when I realized that I was the only one laughing at my retardedness. He so obviously didn't get me. He was a humorless, unemployed sexypants.
Too bad. Our children would have been stunningly cute.
But, lucky for him his good looks made him perfect booty call material.
Indeed, my car and my vagina served me well in that relationship. Plus, the lack of actual dates meant no one had to pay for anything except the occasional cab ride- which was totally worth it.
I loved dating.
I just never said I was any good at it.
Coming soon: Part two of the series Dating, mating and Whiskey-"What the hell was your name again?"