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?


  1. Wow. So many stories, so little time.

    I was out in the world about 9 years ago in my post-divorce search for someone better. Wading through the liars and losers wasn't easy. The two worst were when I agreed to a first-date dinner. And yes, I ate really fast after seeing the liar in person. Maybe you were "fit and athletic" twenty years ago, buddy. And if you lie about that, what else aren't you telling me?

    But then I met a sweet honest man, and we're still together.


  2. Thirty-five years ago, I interviewed and wrote a story about a semi-famous songwriter who'd written a lot of hits and was then going out with her own act. She liked the story and asked me over for dinner the next week. Newly divorced I figured why not. Well, when I arrived she was wearing something very revealing and forced me to smoke a joint with her on the couch. I know this sounds like a guy's dream date, but she was so aggressive, I got scared and literally stood up and ran out her front door. I have never told this story before. :)

  3. Okay, I'll play--beat THIS:

    Christmas break my sophomore year in college. Bought concert tickets--advertised with signs on campus--to be held two nights before New Year's in Asbury Park. Had gone out with this girl a few times before. Got in my 1970 Dodge Dart to pick her up...

    Long story short(ish), the concert was a scam. No act showed up. Money gone. It is decided to go to a movie instead. A STAR IS BORN with Barbra Streisand. That would be bad enough to make this list. But no.

    Dropping off my date, I am told I'm not really the right kind of guy for her and we should not see each other anymore. And I can't help but think how much trouble would have been avoided if this conversation had been held when the "concert" tickets went on sale and she was asked out.

    Oh yeah, and I got into an accident and racked up the car.

  4. No bad dates in high school because I had NO dates in high school. I was a nerd, but I had some good friends who were likewise date-challenged.

    First year in college: the all-time worst was the guy who threw up on my radiator. Old fashioned cast iron--it took weeks for the smell to go away. I'm sure that's not the way he wanted to be remembered (at least he sent flowers to apologize, but I never saw him again).


    Jersey Jack, that scene belongs in a movie! Oh, Jeff, we could get into the movies I sat through for the love of a loser (in my case, quite a few kung fu and spaghetti westerns.)

    Sheila, he gave you the gift that kept on giving... Coulda been worse.

  6. What a timely question. Mine was, hands down, the LSU vs. Alabama football game in 19XX. I was a freshman, and if you attended a big southern football school, you will understand the social significance of a big date to the LSU-Bama game. In other words, I wore a dress.

    My date was on the LSU rugby (or was it lacrosse?) team. We went with his teammates--BIG guys who spent half the game calling the football players tiny little wusses.

    We got in line for student seating at 4:00, which meant I had to smuggle booze in my purse starting at noon, for 7 p.m. kickoff. It was raining and cold and the game dragged because--big surprise--the two defenses were so good, nobody scored until the last quarter.

    Worst part: My date never fed me--not even a frigging hot dog. In that time and place, a girl just did not order her own food on a date because that would Not Be Right. (I cringe to write that.) I came home starving at midnight adn vowed never to see that boy again.

    Because of this bad date, my family has nicknamed the LSU-Bama game the Empty Bowl.

    Oh yeah, and on my bad date, Bama won 3-0. But not this year. Geaux Tigers!

  7. Groan, wasn't high school the worst? I went to a coed Catholic high school, and not one single boy there ever asked me out. All my boyfriends came from the public high schools, including a couple of very sweet boys.

    However, I had a major, major crush on this guy at my school; he was what I now call me "imaginary boyfriend". He knew it, but was much too cool to actually ask me out, until a month after graduation. He picked me up in his hot car, and took me to a drive-in. Which wouldn't have been so bad, except he spent the entire time trying to get me into the backseat. No way, Jose. I faked a stomach virus and made him take me home.

    One year later, a month after my first wedding, he stopped by my mother's house when I happened to be visiting. Triumphant comeuppance.

  8. Jeff,

    I think the date is gone beyond redemption when you get to the words, "Got into my 1970 Dodge Dart..." :-)

  9. I guess my bad date wasn't funny, it was little scary. I'd met the guy at a music club the weekend before and he asked me out for dinner. We went to Supreme Macaroni on the west side which was a cool funky pasta place. Minutes after we ordered our dinner he started making racist comments about some of the other people in the restaurant and the supremacy of some. (Now that I write this maybe that's why he took me to Supreme Macaroni.)I never ate a plate of spaghetti so fast. Cute but psycho.

  10. Oh you all are such good sports to tell your awful stories! We should have had a prize...

    But back off on the Dodge dart--I had one of those in the late seventies, early eighties. It was a slant six, yellow body, with a black top and black interior. Great car except we lived in Florida and it had no ac...

  11. Well so far, I think Jeff wins. And makes me feel a little guilty. I went to a concert once in Jersey with a guy who I thought was a friend and later learned I ruined the concert for him by not being his date. (But at least I had paid for my own ticket and only went because he was selling an extra ticket.)

    Jersey Jack, that does sound like most other men's fantasies!

    Sheila - I think you had a class act "bad date," How many college boys throw up (zillions) How many send flowers? (Nil)

  12. I always seemed to acquire boyfriends like viruses--well, maybe that's not the best comparison....but they were always just around. I can't remember ever being asked out on a "date" by a guy I didn't know.

    But then there is the little matter of my highschool sweetheart/next door neighbor (and now my husband for the last seventeen years) introducing me to my FIRST husband...

  13. My worst date was as an adult.Mark had been trying for weeks through friends to reach me. This whole circle of people encouraged it. So we went out together--but in a group--and went to a party....and he disappeared. Gone. For the whole party. I eventually found him--hours later--with a group of women, and asked him to please take me home. Which he did--and that was the best I could say about him.

  14. As Hank said, I never really dated in high school. For reasons that escape me, I was always instantly classed as the "Safe Boyfriend", the one who would act like a gentleman and not cause any problems. More than one set of parents wanted to adopt me on the spot; in one extreme case, a father told me he would pray for his daughter and me, because he didn't approve of her usual choices, but he liked me just fine.

    Worst ever single experience? Reservations at the Top of the Landmark, went to pick her up at a party she said she "had" to run in for a moment. I parked, got halfway up the sidewalk, and was met by a mutual friend. "Uhhhh.... are you here to pick up Dee?" Yes. "Uhhhh... she left." Okay, do you know where she went? "Uhhh.... she took off with Stony on the back of his bike."

    Okay. Graceful exit, went to dinner by myself. Capper is, about four days later, Dee braced me in the Student Union cafeteria demanding an answer as to why I didn't talk to her anymore, and caused the hell of a scene over my rejection of her.

    My first real lesson in Understanding Women. Now, 30+ years later, well.... I almost had it...:)

  15. You guys are cracking me up. I could talk about my Jr/Sr prom where my steady boyfriend had already asked another girl before we started going steady and she insisted he take her. I ended up going with Mr. Future Business Leader of America (kissing him was like tasting raw oysters), and a favorite of my mother's, the FBLA sponsor. The Jr class sponsored the dance and our theme was Arabian Nights. I spent most of the evening in the life-sized genii bottle acting as the hostess.

    Then there was the macho guy who took me to the firing range for our first date. Uhm...okay. After enduring his pedantic explanations of how to fire a weapon, and showing me his prowess. He handed me the .38 he'd been using. I declined, reached into my purse and pulled out my S&W .357, loaded it, put up a fresh target and put six rounds in the target's chest. I speed-loaded, put six more in the target's head. By the time I turned around, my date had skedaddled and I had to pay for the lane, the targets, and a cab home. Ah, well.

  16. I wish I remembered my bad dates. I've effectively blocked them out...I was dateless in high school, too, and it was so bad that my best friend asked her older brother to call me up and ask me to my own senior prom!

    A guy who was halfway toward becoming a full crossdresser -- that is, he wore skirts, hose, and heels, but left his top half male -- asked me out once. In fact, I remember another guy in drag asking me out. I was in my 20s and clueless about fetishes. I asked, Aren't you gay? He had to set me straight about his straightness. Eye opener for sure.

    I have to wonder, what is it about me that attracts the cross dressers?! No wonder I'm still single...I refuse to date a man who has better legs than I do.

  17. Julia, Rosemary:

    The 1970 Dodge Dart was a GREAT car. I fixed it up after that night and ran it into the ground. Couldn't kill that car. It's just that chicks dig the flashy ones. Her loss.

  18. Oh,so funny! (or..not funny.) And as for movies, one guy I dated for a while--didn't like "Nashville."

    After the movie, I said--ya know, this ain't gonna work. If you don't like Nashville, I don't see a future for us.

    I wonder if HE was reading this blog--he would say that was HIS worst date??

  19. I last dated during the Disco Club Era. Unfortunately I accepted a ride home with this guy from the Disco. I was living with my parents at the time. I couldn't get out of his car fast enough. He then proceeded to sing, off key, outside of my bedroom window. Freaky, but true. My parents, Russian immigrants, asked, "Who ees dis boy?"

  20. I still can't eat cashew chicken because of a bad date over 30 years ago!

  21. Silver!! Amazing!! That is--the stuff of legend.

  22. Tanya, I can just hear that..hilarious!

    And I keep worrying--was I that guy's worst date? I mean--you never think it's gonna be..yourself..

  23. Oh god! That's right!! All these years I've been thinking of him as MY worst date and I've probably been HIS.

  24. I know, Ro! It's a showstopper, isn't it? xoxo

  25. Guess what? I was the worst date!

    At my very first job outof high school, this guy I really liked finally asked me out to the movies. First date. He took me to see “King Rat.” After sitting through the preview of “A Yankee in Viet Nam,” once “Kink Rat” started and I realized what it was about (WWII prisoner of war camp), I turned to him and said, “I’d like to leave now.” I have no clue where I got the nerve to say this, but no way was I sitting through that movie.

    “What? You’re kidding, right?” he whispered.
    “No, I’m not.”

    We left the movie. Being young and stupid, we didn’t know to ask for his money back.

    He told me later that he almost decided right then and there to never ask me out again.

    Guess what? I’ve been married to him for 43 ½ years and he still teases me that he paid good money to not see that movie.