———— The Birth of the Nickname ————
Like so many millions of my sisters-in-singlehood, I have turned to what must be the planet’s fastest-growing industry: The wacky world of online dating. It’s really a genius idea, shopping for the perfect date just like you shop for a new floor lamp on Amazon—just click on your preferences (How tall? How bright? Modern or traditional?) and they’ll show you a list of men to match, ready to go.
Except, when your “package” finally shows up, it looks nothing (not to mention acts nothing) like the picture that made you pull out your Visa in the first place.
For me, the key to staying sane has been my girlfriends. Lucky for me, they’re all going through their own personal versions of Manhattan dating hell. Not that we haven’t had fun along the way.
The three of us have probably logged hundreds of dates between us. As girlfriends do, we discuss those dates regularly, down to the tiniest detail.
That’s where the whole nickname thing got started. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment (or the exact guy out of our long list of duds) that started it all, but once it caught on, the nickname thing seemed to take on a life of its own. Right around the moment a relationship would start to die, a nickname for the poor bastard who was about to get the axe would be born, falling out of the mouth of the gal whose Facebook status was about to switch back to “single.” So Joe became Sloppy Joe, Nick turned into Small Dick, John became Insufficient Funds, Rob turned into OnStar. The list goes on and on. Even if the nickname-giver was still holding out hope that the guy might actually be a keeper, the nickname was always the deciding factor. Once it had been bestowed, that was it.
Done. Finito. So long, Charlie.
It’s not about being mean, I swear. It’s about finding the silver lining, which, more often than not, is the ability to laugh at the sheer volume and variety of bad dates we’ve been subjected to.
That, my friends, is what brings me to this book.
I can’t make this shit up. So I might as well share it.
———— Foreign Intrigue ————
I met him at the rooftop bar at the Gansevoort Hotel. It was dark. I now use that as an excuse for the fact that I actually went home with this slimeball.
Yes, this is one of those dates.
The KC, who I also sometimes call Creeper, seemed like he was on the up-and-up. He told me he worked for the U.N. and was in town on government business—something I have since learned is a very popular line amongst foreign guys looking to score. We shared a couple of cocktails and the usual idle chatter, and he seemed nice enough that when he invited me back to his place, like the fool I too often am, I accepted.
The first red flag came when we were in the cab, heading down Orchard Street to his apartment. Except, he couldn’t remember what the number of his apartment was. I thought that was a little strange, but we had been drinking, and he was from Armenia, so maybe he wasn’t home much? Anyway, eventually he remembered which apartment was “his.”
But when we got to the door, someone else was behind it.
KC explained that this was a guy who worked for him putting gas in his car. “Wow,” I wondered, “how much do you pay a guy for that?” I never found out, because the guy promptly left. I guess to go pump some gas.
I stayed the night, although I did not sleep with KC in the biblical sense. When I woke up in the morning, my new Armenian friend was nowhere in sight, but I was not without male company.
Yes, the gas-pumping guy had returned! Here’s the very best part. When I queried him as to where KC might be found, he said he was PUTTING GAS IN THE CAR!
The maybe-not-a-gas-pumping-guy must have instantly realized his mistake, because he blew that Popsicle stand in what felt like seconds. Me? I wanted out of there, too, but not until I did a little CSI New York-style investigating. I wanted to know exactly who this Casanova was.
Sadly, years on the dating scene have turned me into a very seasoned sleuth.
I threw my clothes on and scanned the apartment for any identifying material. I spotted a backpack on the floor, opened it up, and, voila: Inside was a checkbook with KC’s name on top and what I imagine was his wife’s name right under it, unless he had a joint checking account with his sister or his mother. It also indicated that he was some kind of military person who apparently lived in Pensacola.
Clearly, this was not a love connection. I wanted a memento, so I ripped out a check that I would later use to google KC for more info. I also contemplated sending the check to his wife, but ultimately decided I’d done enough damage.
What kind of damage, you might ask?
I wanted to leave KC something to remember me by, so I turned on every faucet in the place full blast and stuffed the drains with towels. Then I ran out of the building, hailed a cab, and rode home with the satisfied smile of a woman who had just flooded out a jumbo sewer rat.
———— Mixed Nuts ————
To be honest, I never should have agreed to a date with AM in the first place. He was from Weehawken, New Jersey, which is even more “outer borough” than the outer boroughs! However, like many of the expert self-promoters I’ve found on dating sites, he looked amazing on paper. He was tall, great looking, an athlete (he played hockey, which maybe should have offered a clue to his somewhat aggressive personality), and had a nice, stable job at a bank. Who wouldn’t bend the rules for a catch like that?
Not only did I bend the rules for AM, we actually made it to the elusive fifth date. We reached this milestone despite the fact that those red flags were waving long before the incident that earned him his nickname. Basically, he seemed to have a bit of a temper. An edge. A weird vibe that indicated he might blow at any moment.
But he didn’t. Until that fifth date.
He took me to his favorite restaurant, a “quaint” (and I use that term very generously) cafeteria-style barbecue place with karaoke in Chelsea.
Great—more karaoke! What’s up with these guys and karaoke? I wondered if KS might make an appearance.
We each received a ticket, and then proceeded like high school students with trays in hand along the counter, where we selected our food from a variety of cafeteria-style delights. Then the server punched our tickets.
Problem was, I’m not a big meat eater and all of the entrees looked like they could practically walk or fly out of the place. I opted for a green bean casserole and some other item that had a faint resemblance to a vegetable instead.
Despite the menu, we wound up having a blast joking and laughing for hours and making fun of the terrible karaoke singers that provided our entertainment. The chemistry between us was electric to the point that a woman at a neighboring table commented that we were either on a first date or madly in love.
Finally, it was time to end the cafeteria festivities and move on. That meant providing the checkout girl with our individual meal tickets so we could check out.
Here’s where things started to head in a distinctly southerly direction. AM’s ticket came in at a reasonable $40, while mine somehow totaled a whopping $120. Those were some pricey green beans, I guess.
Now, as you already know (remember Insufficient Funds?), I always offer to split the check with my dates, but AM was too gentlemanly to allow this. On our previous dates, we followed his suggestion that I pay for the drinks and he pay for the food. However, because our entire bill was on these “tickets,” and mine was so much higher than his was, I suggested that this time we split the bill 50/50.
He did not seem to like this suggestion. His entire demeanor changed. Meanwhile, I had no cash on me and tried to play the adorable damsel in distress by plopping a five-dollar bill—all the money I had—into the tip jar.
AM was not amused. As the line behind us grew, he violently slapped his credit card on the register and stormed out of the restaurant.
I ran after him, only to be greeted with a temper tantrum that seemed more appropriate for someone in his terrible twos. My mind was racing. Was he bipolar? Did he have multiple personality disorder? Is this how it all started with Ted Bundy?
He screamed like a man possessed, right there on the street, ranting and raving about how he had taken me out to dinner three times and I had never even offered to pay. This, of course, was wrong, meaning he was completely delusional. More importantly, he was terrifying. He was a full foot taller than me and was screaming as if he was about to cut my throat right there in front of all of Chelsea.
I started to plan the quickest possible escape from what felt like certain doom. He kept yelling, moving on to the fact that I was “expensive” and “high maintenance.” Then, mercifully, he left me on the corner, but only after his unforgettable parting words: “This is why you are beautiful, almost thirty, and ALONE!”
I guess I couldn’t have expected him to put me in a cab to make sure I got home safely given how “high maintenance” I am. I couldn’t fathom what had just happened. Then I remembered he was from Jersey. What was my rule about dating guys from the “outer limits”? I made that rule for a reason: because they’re WEIRD!
I headed to the subway, a little dazed and confused, but also relieved that the whole ugly scene was behind me. I bummed a cigarette from a guy standing outside the train to calm my nerves and wound up telling him the whole story of my verbal assault and almost battery at the hands of an unhinged giant from Jersey.
As if to prove chivalry isn’t entirely dead, cigarette guy invited me to his party! Instead of going home and crying in my vodka and soda (again), I met a great guy, went to a party, and had a blast.
What’s the moral of this story? For me, it is to squash that part of me that wants to give guys (that appear good on paper and have the pictures to match) the benefit of the doubt, and to take heed to red flags early on.
After all, they say Ted Bundy was hot, too.