I dated a total douche bag in high school. Not only did I date him in high school, but I dated him all through high school. And when I say douche bag, I mean he was a complete douche bag. The douchiest of all douche bags, if you will. The few people that both read my blog and went to high school with me are all nodding their heads while they are reading this chapter because, dude. Douche. Bag.
So I never really dated. And now, as I approach my later 30’s as a married woman, I feel like I dodged a bullet. A big, fat, sexually transmitted bullet. That isn’t to say that I haven’t had a few dates in my life, just, I tend to be monogamous, and most people really annoy me, so I just never got into the whole go-out-with-a-different-guy-every-night thing. Plus, I’m excellent friend material. So although I have always been adorable, and, really, quite fantastic, I rarely got asked out on a date.
Except for a few times, when . . . well, let’s just plunge right in.
The Pretty Boy
I moved to Virginia after graduating high school, not to go to college but, as it turns out, mostly to go to bars, drink underage, dance to Salt N Pepa, and work a forty-hour work week at a crappy company. My older sister was dating a guy that was a bouncer at various local clubs in town. He was also in FAST Company, a branch of the Marine Corps where they train you to survive in the woods with one leaf and a sock AND how to kill someone with your pinky, so he was a big, scary mass of a man. For some odd reason, my sister had decided to like me enough to let me tag along with her when she went to the bars her boyfriend was bouncing at. By the time I met Pretty Boy, I had become a bit of a regular at this one particular bar, where I enjoyed a fine beverage called “The Leg Spreader.” Compared to my sister, I dressed conservatively. Actually, compared to my sister circa 1992, I can confidently say that even Katy Perry dresses conservatively. I’ve seen her throw a suit jacket on loosely over a fancy bra and head out for the night. Not anymore, mind you, but still: the outfits I’ve seen! She drew a lot of attention—never welcomed, but she always handled it sweetly, while I just sat there. Occasionally, when someone really drunk approached us and tried to hit on my sister, I would get to take out my aggression over being ignored and tell the guy to piss off. But usually, I just sat there quietly, pretending to enjoy being invisible. So the night that The Pretty Boy came over to our table, I just sat there waiting for him to hit on my sister until I realized he was talking to me.
I’m sure we had an interesting talk. I was pretty cocky at that age, and if the conversation hadn’t interested me, I would have made it pretty clear. But he was so . . . so . . . pretty! I think his name was actually Dezi or something toolish like that, but he was alright—apart from the toolish name. And the nipple piercings he showed me while we were sitting there. I gave him my number and left for the night, thinking that he would toss it and that would be that. When he called me before the weekend I was shocked but game. I met him again at the same bar where my sister was taking part in a—wait for it—BIKINI CONTEST. Seriously. Even more serious is the fact that she WON the bikini contest and the cash prize that came with it.
Later in the evening, something happened that has only happened to me once in my life and will never, ever happen again. Ever. Ever, ever. I was dancing with Pretty Boy, and a man was dancing to my left but continually trying to “move in” on us. Over and over again this guy tried to move pretty boy out so he could dance with me. Pretty Boy confronted him and, all of a sudden: a brawl. I swear to the sweet, invisible, possibly-nonexistent Lord that I am not exaggerating when I say that a brawl broke out. Over me. And my sweet dancing skills. And my big hair. It broke out so bad that I was knocked down and kicked in the head five times, my sister was pushed over and all her bikini prize money stolen, and the entire bar had to be cleared.
That was the last night I saw pretty boy. He was pretty upset that his gold chain had broken in the fight and his Italian Horn pendant was lost. Never mind my mild concussion.
The Drunk Cowboy
Another bar, another night. I was in a terrible mood when I encountered the Drunk Cowboy. I had just watched my sister be approached six different times by six different guys (all of whom were turned down) and had endured the worst pick-up line of my life (a 60 year old man asked me for a quarter so he could call my mom and thank her for giving birth to such a beautiful girl). For reals.
So when Drunk Cowboy came over and asked me to dance, I said no thanks. He seemed surprised, but it was hard to tell with his giant hat. He walked away and came back 10 minutes later, leaving again when I said no thanks. When he came over the third time, I just felt bad for the guy. One dance couldn’t hurt, right? And it was a Color Me Badd song, so who wouldn’t want to dance to that? On the way to the dance floor, he stumbled a little, but recovered, so I paid it no mind. Here’s an exact transcription of what followed:
“Hi! What’s your name?”
“Sarah, what’s yours?”
“Drunk Cowboy. Where you from?”
[He begins to sway, and it becomes obvious that he is wasted. Like, waaaaaasted.]
“So, what’s your name?”
“I just told you. My name is Sarah”
“Where you from, Sarah?”
“I just told you that too, Syracuse.”
“Oh. Well, what’s your name?”
O.K. Multiply this conversation by four, because I’m getting tired.
By now I know he’s wasted. It’s as if all the alcohol he has ever consumed throughout his entire life caught up with him at the exact moment. And after he asked me where I was from, for the fourth time, I watched as his eyes rolled back in his head, and he fell flat. Not knees-to-chest, but flat on his face in the middle of the dance floor. And he was out. And so was I.
It’s probably my fault for having pursued the A-hole. We actually met over the phone while I was at work. At times I can be funny, and when I’m on, I’m on. This day, I was on with a capital O. A-hole called; I cracked him up, and he called again. And again. Eventually I gave him my home number, and we began a long-distance relationship. We were close in age, but not geography—I lived in Virginia, he lived in Chicago. We spoke daily for months. We exchanged mix tapes and photos through the mail, and eventually I asked for a plane ticket for my birthday in order to fly the A-hole to our house for a visit. We clicked in person and got even closer—so close that after he left the first time, it was only a couple of months before he flew back out for another visit. This visit wasn’t as dreamy, and when he left, I was feeling sort of done with the whole thing, but we spoke about some things and committed to continuing our relationship. So we did. Until one night . . . my phone rang.
Here is the conversation that occurred:
“Hi, this is Sarah.”
“Hi, Sarah, this is Susie, and I want to know what you are doing calling and mailing my fiancé?”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I’ve been engaged to A-hole for 2 years now. Who the hell are you?”
“I’m the girl he’s been dating for 6 months.”
“Well, I thought you should know that he is engaged to ME, and you should stay away from him.”
It ended pretty well with her, actually. She was pretty understanding, considering I had no idea that she existed until that phone call. I broke it off with him right away, and in a very, very, very loud manner. So loud, in fact, that he replied, “Wow. I had no idea you were such a bitch!” Years later I saw him and he was all greasy and bloated. Single too. So I felt better.
The Other Cowboy
Yes, there is more than one cowboy in my life, sort of like there is more than one pendulum in my life. This one was sober, though, and you will soon see why.
When I lived in Virginia, I lived with my Mom. She had a housekeeper who came every week, and one day it was discovered that she had a son. He was my age and—lo and behold—single! What luck! So, a date was made. A blind date.
I’m pretty confident that people only have one blind date in their lives. When I opened the door to my blind date, I opened the door to an evening suckfest. There was the hat, there was the buckle that said something like “Kentucky,” and, let’s not forget, the tinted glasses. He had a stringy mustache and pale skin, and, at age 18, he was already sort of doughy looking. Then there was “the arm,” which, in and of itself, was not an issue. He had a “dead” arm, that hung at his side, and because I had no previous knowledge of it, I lingered on it as I sort of looked him over. He picked it up with his good hand and let it drop while he said, “I fucked my arm up.” And off we went.
He took me to Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut, people! Not even Applebee’s or Chi Chi’s! And it was the single most awkward evening of my life—not because we didn’t have some sort of conversation, but because of his arm! This guy was freaking traumatized over his arm! When the pizza came, he insisted on cutting it a second time, and he did it in such an angry, one-handed way that the pizza almost fell off the table five times. He talked about his drunk driving accident the entire time, and let me just say the story wasn’t that long. I mean, he drank, got drunk, drove, and hit a tree. He got a ticket, a DUI, and a dead arm out of it. End. Of. Story. I began the evening compassionate. I ended the evening wanting to kill his other arm. After Pizza Hut, and hearing the same story for the third time, we went for a drive. Where did we go? Let’s see . . . where would a completely traumatized cowboy go? Back to the scene of the crash, of course! Not once, people, not twice, but a total of three drive-bys. “Here is where I must have passed out. Here is where I skidded. Here is the tree . . .” And the entire time we were on this drive, I had to listen to the same REO Speedwagon album over and over and over again. I wanted to take the wheel and smash us into the tree.
All of this happened in Virginia. Turns out Virginia really is for lovers! I moved there in 1991 and left in 1993 and in that time had more bad date experiences that I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m leaving some out here, to spare you the stories of The Impotent Soldier and The Cheating, Bomb-Planting Kickboxer. Already I’m on page four, and I don’t want to lose you all forever. So what I want to do now, if you have stuck with me this long, is ask you to share the story of your worst date. Make me feel better, people! Give me a reason to LIVE!