Monday, November 7, 2011
Worst Dates Ever
LUCY BURDETTE: All my characters have had relationship problems and Hayley Snow, the heroine of the upcoming Key West food critic mysteries, is no exception. They tend to fall in love with married men or cads that don't appreciate them, and overlook the good guys that are standing by. They go on awful dates and make terrible choices. And this got me wondering, what this has to do with me, as I am happily married and hope never to enter the dating game again.
On the other hand, I was a horrible dater, mostly because I was painfully, painfully shy. I had no confidence whatsoever and no idea how to talk to a guy. So that got me thinking it was time to drag some more skeletons out of the closet and describe our worst dates of all time.
I'll lead off: there were many, but I think I'll choose the first. My sister, an eighth-grader to my seventh, was given permission to have a boy-girl party. I remember very clearly that the icebreaker was to be "the string game." We ran yards and yards of white kitchen string all through the house. When the guests arrived, they each took one string end and followed it until they untangled the mess and reached the person at the other end. After that, I don't remember much. But my parents agreed that my best friend and I could also invite a boy. My boy crush, "Jay," was invited by a note passed in class. He accepted the same way. On the day of the party, he showed up wearing shin-high white socks. Focusing on those awful socks, I could not bear to speak to him. Not one word the entire afternoon. Sigh. Wish you all had been there to help me out!
ROSEMARY HARRIS: I had a date once that lasted less than an hour. AND it included dinner. I cut bait fast when I know I've made a mistake.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: My parents gave a party for my sixth birthday. I'm not sure now where the kids came from, as that was in June and I didn't start first grade until September. But I do remember that I had the worst crush on one of the boys, and I (in my cowgirl outfit, complete with six-shooters) chased him all around the back yard, trying to kiss him.
I certainly hope that didn't set a precedent...
JAN BROGAN: Debs and Lucy, those are NOT dates. That's pre-adolescent ramping up to bad dates. A bad date is when you drive down to the state university for a party with the boy you think is your date and he SLEEPS with another girl at the party while you are stuck there overnight crashing on the living room floor.. I'm not even sure that's a bad date, actually, either, but that's a really bad experience. But he had been leading me on writing me letters all the time,so I went to the stupid party. Luckily my brother - whom I still miss -had come with me and was there the whole time saying: He's not worthy, he's not worthy, he's not worthy.
HALLIE EPHRON: Oh, this is bringing back memories. Where to begin? I had so many to choose from. Once upon a time (cue music: "Only the Lonely")...
Does anyone remember when Roy Orbison had his first hit records, and everyone thought he sounded so much like Elvis? And early on there was this publicity campaign on the radio about who he really was? Well, I went on a blind date with a guy who claimed he was the real Roy Orbison. Why was he driving a crappy old Buick if he had a top selling single, I wanted to know as we sat in the drive-in? I was in eight grade, and of course my parents had no idea what I was up to. It's amazing I lived to start high school.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: As the parent of a sixth grade girl, I SO did not want to hear this story, Hallie!
RHYS BOWEN: I have a feeling we could all tell more juicy stories if we chose. These are the harmless adolescent ones. I remember inviting a guy I liked to a party and tried to make it sound so casual--obviously too casual because he brought a girlfriend with him. And then there was the handsome Canadian I met in Germany. I suppose it was because I was in a foreign country but he seemed so nice and wholesome to me. We were going to a concert, but he'd left his scarf/gloves/whatever in his hotel room. Come up and see it, it's a great view, he said. Naive me went (only 18 at the time) and had to fight rather hard to get out again. It was only when I threatened to scream the place down that he opened the door.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: See, this is how the bad news turns into the good news. I had NO BAD DATES in high school, none, zero, I am not exaggerating, because I was SO ..whatever I was, unpopular--that I never had a date.
Okay, fine, I did. I went to the senior prom with the exchange student. Imagine! Who hardly spoke English.
JAN: Hey, who said bad dates had to be limited to high school? They can get a a LOT worse!
JULIA: My worst date was while in grad school, and it wasn't the guy who made it so awful. I was in DC and had been dating a law student named Ross for a few months. It was time to take the big step and Meet The Parents (Mine. In Syracuse.)We decided to take a quick weekend flight via People Express. Does anybody remember People Express? They were like those Chinatown busses that run into NYC, except they flew. Sort of.
We boarded a plane at National, full of youthful optimism and joie de vivre. We were going to connect to our Syracuse flight in Newark. That was where it all started to go horribly wrong. There was a winter storm shutting down and delaying flights all up and down the east coast. Keep in mind, People Express was enormously popular at this time for its low, low fairs - so popular that they had bought an empty and formerly rat-infested part of the Newark Airport and were turning it into a state of the art facility. However, that afternoon, it still had no shops, no food services, and precious few seats. The state of the art facilities consisted of a bank of pay phones (1985 - no cell phones!) and a ladies room with half the ceiling missing.
We were delayed. And delayed. And delayed. The place was already filled up with half the students in America, so we had to sit against a cold cement wall. We split one giant pretzel for dinner, after a fight in which I said we might as well spend our money since the worst had happened, and Ross argued we should save it because the worst could be yet to come. He was right. We finally got on a flight - to Rochester.
When we arrived, it was almost midnight. The car rental places were closed. The airline gave us a voucher for a room and a meal. We used the former - at the only place that wasn't already completely booked, which looked as if it usually rented by the hour. No meal - nothing was open. (1985 - no 24 hour restaurants.) They rebooked us for a flight to Syracuse - leaving at 6am. After four hours fitful slumber, we returned to the airport to discover, you guessed it, that flight was cancelled. At which point Ross rented a car and drove us - very slowly - through the blowing snow to Syracuse. We had just enough cash for gas, tolls and a couple hamburgers along the way (1985 - no debit cards.) We arrived at my parents' house 24 hours after leaving DC. It was the first trip we had ever taken together.
Reader, I married him.
LUCY: And we all know how well that turned out--go Ross! Ro, you totally crack me up. We're going to call you in as our closer if we ever get stuck again. Jan and Rhys, yes, yes, have lots and lots more awful stories...will save them for another day! how about you, JR readers, worst dates ever? Can you top ours?