Check, Please

Even before you read all the entries found at the currently trending Twitter hashtag #thisdateisover, you know the ugly truth–even the most initially promising of dates can curdle faster than custard in a too-hot double boiler.
Tonight, local personalities will fill the Bagdad with their stories of dates gone bad at Planned Parenthood’s fundraiser “It’s Not Me, It’s You: Stories From the Dark Side of Dating.”

Since many dates involve food and eating, most everyone has a terrible tale in this context. I asked some of my funniest pals to contribute theirs. Names have been changed to protect the innocent/guilty. So here you go, and hope to see you tonight.


I went to a wedding last summer, and the mother-of-the bride and her best friend kept talking about her son, how cute he was, how I HAD to meet him.  She told me how he was into “good food and wine,” so…naturally we’d be a match? Anyway, I meet him at the Saucebox, and for most of the night he looked at me like he was either bored or confused, until he started talking about an upcoming vacation he had planned for years.  To go hunting in the Grand Canyon. I think it was for moose or something, I’m not sure.  He was obsessed with hunting and fishing, and not much else. I guess some prefer to talk about eating their food, and some prefer to talk about shooting it. That was the end of that.


I love reading the Missed Connections ads. You know, the ones where people think they spotted their soulmate wearing a black hoodie and green-rhinestone bedazzled horn-rimmed glasses on the 15 but were too wimpy to talk to them, so they write them a strange, mournful ad in the back of the WW or Mercury instead? Yeah, I LOVE those! So, one day I was breakfasting at J & M Cafe when I spotted a super cute guy come in. We locked eyes, I felt a frisson of…something (but I was pretty hungover so I figured it might just be nausea) and I covertly stared at him as he ate alone at the bar. When he left, he paused at the door, looked straight at me, and smiled. I considered running after him and declaring my love, but that seemed too proactive. So I went home, and after consulting four girlfriends, wrote my one and only Missed Connections ad and posted it on craigslist. All our jaws dropped when it was answered, by him, the next day. He was leaving the corporate world to open a pizza place and he was a witty and charming writer. We all thought I’d found my dream match. I agreed to meet him at his not-yet-open pizza place for our first date. If I’m not home by midnight, we’ve eloped, I told my sister rapturously. Long story short, the pizza was awful, the Chardonnay was warm and cheap (cheap-bad, not cheap-good), he used the words “I fancy myself a” at least eight times (no, he was not British), and he only asked me one question about myself the entire night, in response to my story about raising goats growing up, and that was, “I’ve always wondered–how much milk does a goat give?” Then, at the end of the date, he said, “I would love to kiss you, but I’ve got a terrible fever blister on the inside of my lip.” At this point, I was edging out the door. Needless to say, I returned home well before midnight, unmarried and hungry.


One date took me to a wonderful Italian restaurant in Sellwood and before we got out of the car, he lit up the biggest joint I’d ever seen and smoked the entire thing. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was to sample all of the dishes he ordered! Conversation wasn’t so great.


Once I was waiting for my blind date to show up at Bamboo Sushi and he was late. I was idly staring out the window, wondering what he looked like, when a massive Hummer drove up slowly and started to parallel park right outside. It took the driver like 10 minutes to maneuver in between the Prius and Subaru flanking him, and then when he got out, he accidentally set off the alarm and couldn’t figure out how to turn it off for about five more minutes. By now the whole restaurant was watching this clown. He was wearing a dorky blazer and really shiny shoes. As he headed into the restaurant, I realized with horror that this very well could be my still-a-no-show date. It was. He was boring and told me he liked to watch wrestling. Sadly, I drank too much sake and still made out with him later, despite the Hummer and the shoes and his poor taste in television. He was a slobberer. Gak. Dating is so trying.


My bite is imperfect. What does this mean for me? When I completely bite down, the bottoms of my tops and the tops of my bottoms don’t quite overlap, so I can’t bite completely through food. This means there are certain foods that I must avoid when courting in order to avoid heartbreak and total humiliation. Burgers, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, pickles, ANYTHING with a width greater than 2 cm is a great threat to my chances at love. So, once I accidentally scheduled a first date with my crush on the same day I had a dental appointment, but it was just an early-morning cleaning, so I figured no big deal. One of my teeth was super sensitive, so they x-rayed it and sure enough there was a tiny cavity, which they said they could fill then, and I thought it seemed like a good idea to get it over with, the Novocaine would easily wear off by later that night. I guess the dentist was overly enthusiastic with it though, because come mid-afternoon my whole lower jaw was still completely numb. By the time my date rolled around it was just starting to wear off. I don’t know why I ordered a burger, I was nervous and not thinking. I bit into it with gusto so my crush would be impressed by my hearty appetite. I chewed slowly, trying to look cute as I toyed with a fry, but my date had a definite look of disgust in his eyes. Did I have ketchup on my chin? Tentatively, I reached up, and touched something long and stringy and slimy. I yelped as an entire onion ring fell into my lap. Imagine my horror when I realized I hadn’t bit all the way through it, so it had pulled out of the burger and just hung there limply, and I couldn’t feel it because of the Novocaine. The rest of the night went all right but my crush evaded my hints at a second date. I learned a lesson though.  Now I just order soup on first dates.


And last but not least, a tale of hope, which the author entitled “Turkey: 1, Mormon Boyfriend: 0.”

Bringing your new boyfriend home to meet the parents is always a bit stressful…especially when said boyfriend is of the Mormon faith and your parents are of the faith where herpes, safe sex and religion in the Middle East are liberally discussed at dinner (maybe even at breakfast if the coffee is just right). Apart from anticipating the rousing and explicitly vulgar games of charades my family usually plays after dinner, I thought our first meal together would be a fairly stress free affair. Food is the ultimate common ground, right? When conversation runs dry, terse words have been depleted and my sister’s insults hit a lull, you can always turn to the stand by “mmmm, this is sooo good. How DID you make it?”

For our inaugural supper together as family of four plus one religious outlier, my mother had luckily forgone the usual trial-by-fire Danish Eating Extravaganza which usually includes, but is not limited to: pickled herring, liverpaste, mackeral, ryebread, pork and lots of it and last, but hopefully-not-on-the-menu least, lard spread with bacon bits in it. Instead she opted for a all-American favorite of roast turkey complete with mashed potatoes, gravy and all the fixings fit to make a pilgrim weep in starvation-induced appreciation. And weep the new boyfriend did. Well, not technically (and not ’til later), but by the rate at which he scarfed whole hocks of fowl and poured gravy straight into his gullet, you would have thought he’d grown up in a family with 18 siblings that had to fight like honey badgers for every morsel on the table.

The meal was going well, turkey was being imbibed, we were all feeling sleepy when suddenly, the boyfriend leapt from the table and made a mad dash down the hallway. Maybe his days of dating a sinner were finally catching up to him. Maybe he was being punished for overindulgence (really, who needs that much gravy?). Maybe my mom had slipped his turkey portion a roofie and he had a bad reaction. WHO KNOWS. The next thing we heard was the sound of slop being projectile vomited a tragic 3 feet from the nearest toilet.

We all rushed to the scene, my sister snickering in glee. The evening’s feast lay at our feet in a slightly less enticing presentation than before, the boyfriend hunched over his belongings in shame. She promptly nicknamed the poor lad “mutant elf” and filed away this incident in her mental file cabinet so it could be produced in the future for years to come (mostly at inopportune times in front of subsequent boyfriends who then developed complexes about which nickname she would give them should they misstep).

The rest of the visit went by uneventfully and the Mormon boyfriend and I dated for a few more months before he went off on his mission. We ended things peacefully, without cursing, throwing of special underwear or drinking caffeinated beverages. In the months following I met a man who drank beer with relish, thought organized religion was for the birds and willingly downed pickled herring with style. Six years later we were married. Maybe, if a man can’t hold his turkey, it just wasn’t meant to be.