I went through a phase in my early teens when I was obsessed with jury selection (I mean, who DIDN’T have that phase?) and read every book possible on the topic. This was after the OJ Simpson case and I was convinced that the right jury would have REALIZED WHAT EVERYONE ELSE ALREADY KNEW. I became an expert on how to spot liars, identify psychopaths and establish who wants to wants to chop off your head and use it as a soup bowl so I was convinced I would be up for online dating.
I mean, isn’t that what it really is? Identifying who is crazy and deftly avoiding them as you dive into a murky pool hoping to connect with Joe Fox?
One month into online dating and I can tell you this- no amount of prep work on murders, manipulators or molesters can prepare you for the experience of online dating. Thirty-four days in and I’ve gone on two dates. The first date was bearable but not great. The second man who I went on a date with is slowly becoming a legend for all the wrong reasons.
I am here to tell that story.
It started off all wrong. I had been legitimately busy each time that *David had texted a potential date night. We ended up talking on the phone/texting/emailing for two weeks prior to meeting. (Never do this. It sets the bar way to high and you end up having all these inside jokes that do not translate when you meet and it’s nothing like you expect). I had become increasingly nervous as the date approached. David was kind- but he was almost too kind. He talked to me like we had been married for a dozen years and he knew my favourite type of ice cream. At first it was endearing but after awhile it got worrisome as he mentioned trips we could take later in the year and asked me what kind of milk I liked so he could make sure he had room in his fridge.
Naturally, I did what any single woman in her 30′s would do when nervous on the first date. I paid off the waitress and proceeded to get mildly drunk before he arrived. At 1pm on a Saturday.
He showed up wanting a hug and I had a blue tongue from my tropical margarita. The closer he leaned in, the farther I leaned back. He slid his short fingers across the table to grab mine and I quickly crossed my arms. Don’t get me wrong. David was a nice guy. One of the nicest guys. He has a three legged dog and woke me up each morning with a text message about having a great day. I appreciated these things about him but the idea of holding his hand made me want to curl up into a small ball and hope that someone kicked me into traffic.
I wasn’t feeling it. And worse, the less interested I tried to appear- the more David enjoyed me. I turned into the worst version of myself, picking battles with him like we were ideological opposites on a political talk show. I compared his appreciation to coffee into a caffeine addiction (he said he’d quit). I renamed his beloved dog (he said he liked my name better). He talked about how he didn’t like people who had complicated drink orders (I made sure to make my next order 8 syllables long). I finally asked him what was something he hated and he said “Nicolas Cage”.
So I became a Nicolas Cage fan.
Take a moment and just think of how hard it would be to do that. Nicolas Cage is universally disliked. It’s like saying you like AIDS or car accidents or Ann Coulter. No one likes these things! And yet- I became someone who did. I raved about Nicolas Cage like it was my job. I flailed my arms, I pounded the table, I got watery eyed as I talked of how National Treasure was an American classic.
And in the end, David agreed that Nicolas Cage wasn’t that bad. And I knew David wasn’t the guy for me.
Our food came and I ate silently thinking of how I had made the classic mistake of telling David I had no other plans for the day. No other plans for the day meant I had no excuse to leave. And I had to leave- being able to sway someone on Nicolas Cage was the last straw. I ate my sandwich sadly, slowly picking off all the bacon and putting it to the side of my plate (I dislike bacon. I know, I’m a weirdo. Let’s still be friends). David happily chomped through his meal, eating the bacon off my plate- his eyes smiling the whole time in a way that would make Tyra proud.
The waitress came to clear the table and I threw my dirty napkin on my plate. A small pile of greasy, cold bacon still lay congealed in fat, surrounded by leftover stubby fries and the tomato garnish that no one eats. As our waitress stacked the dishes and turned to walk away, a lone strip of bacon slid off the plate and landed on the dirty lounge floor. I watched as the waitress kneeled over to pick it up and just before she could- David snatched it from the floor and happily threw it into his mouth.
He ate bacon off the floor.
Bacon. Off. The. Floor.
I was reminded of the time I walked in on my parents having sex. You are so utterly shocked by what you have witnessed that you can’t scream or shout or whisper. There are no words for the horror that your eyes have witnessed and instead, all you feel is every happy feeling leaving your body with a realization that you are changed forever and not for the good.
David smiled as he grabbed the rest of the greasy bacon, from the plate still in the hands of the horrified waitress and started talking about what movie we should go see. Although I was sure my eyes had correctly witnessed him eating food off a carpeted floor, I had to confirm in case I was hallucinating. He nodded that he ate the bacon off the floor and chirped “5 second rule!”.
I quickly went into overdrive. During one of his 23 bathroom breaks, I begged for help and a good friend began messaging me a serious “cat emergency”. And then to further provide evidence that I needed to leave immediately, I also told him my friend Amber had broken up with her fiancé. I actually was crying at this point. He walked me out to my car, rubbing my back and when he tried to kiss me I replied with “Nope!”.
I started my car and put my head down as I felt tears slide down my cheeks. I wasn’t crying over the failed date. I wasn’t crying over the idea that dating was going to be so much harder than I anticipated. I wasn’t crying over losing my soul and pretending to like Nicolas Cage. and I wasn’t even crying over the fake wedding break up or the imaginary lost cat. I was crying because I was disappointed in myself. That my years of studying humans had not prepared me to spot the man who would happily eat animal fat off of a dirty pub carpet.
* Names have been changed to protect the floor bacon eaters.