Never start a piece of writing offering your reader advice. What you will find, I have reason to believe, is that even your closest friends may not be the slightest bit interested in hearing from you what they should or shouldn’t know or be doing. Your mother may be the only one who will tell you she appreciates your words of wisdom, but she is your mother, so she is probably lying to you.
No one, I wonder, has ever asked me for dating advice. Perhaps the reason may be that I myself am the only person who actually needs such coaching. In my darkest moments, I fear this may be true, since I apparently do not seem to make the grade as an ace initial dater. Many women will concur. While I have some skill at qigong, yard work, watching movies and TV, and other such life skills, I am lousy when it comes to first dates in particular.
There was a period in my life, long past now due to waning interest on their part, that many kind friends pitied my unmarried state – while I in a case or two actually pitied their married state – so they made it their life’s mission to hook me up. I kid you not, for a while I was the king of the blind dating scene. Sadly, however, as I was so bad at entertaining women in round one, I never, or hardly ever, made it to round two. My friends, all having exhausted their supply of likely candidates for my affection, gradually threw in the proverbial towel, and I was left to fend for myself in the old fashioned way, trying to pick up women on my own. Where, I might add, I continued to fail at first-dates miserably as well, and in fact did not even get to the first-date stage often since I’ve always been lousy at accosting women as well.
If you don’t believe me, then here is an example of how my first dates tend to go.
Some good friends of mine – who are happily married, I might add, so they are not the ones about whom I felt sorry for their ever having met each other – I say some good friends of mine, it turns out, had a lovely young woman whom they thought would be perfect for me.
Why you might ask did they believe this? Well, she was not an inordinate number of years younger than I and, the cherry on top of the whipped cream, the tempting luscious frosting atop the possible matrimonial three-tiered cake, was that she had graduated from the same high school as I.
Yes, I was excited by this news. I have often thought that the greatest happiness on Earth would be mine if I could marry a fellow University High Junior Rainbow. What could be better? We would have lived the same Jr. Bow lifestyle, experienced the same teachers, taken the same classes, trooped the same hallowed hallways a few years apart.
I’d already blown all the first blind dates I’d been lucky enough to be offered, but this seemed like a win-win situation all the way around, a slam-dunk as it were.
The evening started off well as I managed, when I picked her up, to speak sensibly despite my exuberant excitement over what our futures together might hold in store for us.
I do not know how my appearance struck her, but I was suitably impressed by her winning looks and pleasant personality. She was one of those women men meet and think, How on Earth is this woman still single?
We drove to one of my favorite places in town, a combination restaurant and bar up in Mānoa Valley called Chuck’s Steakhouse. This had been the scene of many happy nights for me because some of my best friends played music there, and I in fact knew most of the employees and many of the regular patrons.
My new friend and potential life partner seemed impressed by my Norm Peterson-like acquaintance with the place, saying that she’d never been there before. Ah, I thought, she is indeed in for a treat then tonight.
My friends happened to be playing that evening, and because I absolutely detest people talking when musicians, especially my good friends, are playing music, we sat at one of the two tables immediately outside the front entrance.
After our cocktails arrived and we’d put in our food order, small-talk ensued regarding how we knew the mutual friends who’d been so kind as to set us up together. From there we moved on to our work. The food arrived just about a the point when we arrived at the topic uppermost in my mind: Our shared love for University High.
“I hated the school,” she said. “I wish my parents had never sent me there. I wanted to stay with the people I’d grown up with. They all went to Kaimuki Intermediate and then Kaimuki High, but my parents forced me to go to University High from seventh-grade. They said I’d receive a better education there.”
I was a bit taken aback by her obviously sincere and heartfelt dislike of my cherished alma mater, and I said, stupidly, “And do you think they were right? Did you receive a good education there?”
“Hah! Good education. Not hardly. My time at that school was wasted. I could have just stayed home a read the books. I’d have learned just as much as I did in the classroom.”
You see, Dear Reader, this is what I mean about how terrible I am at first dates, why so many go from bad to worse. My biggest problem? I don’t know when to shut up.
More stupidly stupid I said, “But didn’t you have teachers like Mr. W or Ms. X, Mrs. Y or Dr. Z?”, naming some of the most wonderful teachers I’d experienced there.
“Oh my God,” she said, “those guys you’re naming were the worst of all. None of them knew how to teach. I don’t how that school did their hiring, but they were terrible at it. Those people should all be fired. I can’t believe my tax dollars are paying their salaries.”
I tell you, sadly, I was in too far to see my way out. I’d no Plan B, so, undoubtedly pounding the last nail into the coffin that contained our dying potential matrimonial bond, I said, for some idiotic reason, “I’m building a website for all Junior Bow graduates.”
“A what?” she asked.
Let me put in a note here, that this was the end of the 1990s. Although the World Wide Web had been around a while, I could certainly understand why someone might not be familiar with it. I had a pager.
“A website,” I reiterated. “A place that can act as a kind of directory of classes, you know, so alumni can get back in touch with each other via email addresses. It’ll also be a hub for news about the school. Grads will know what events are happening, and I’m inviting everyone to announce their own news, weddings, fundraisers, CD releases, things like that.”
“Oh geez,” she said. “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Why would anyone want to stay connected to that place after they got out of there. Stay connected? Heck. I know who I want to be connected to, and who I want to be connected to me. There’s no way I’d want people I don’t want to talk to trying to get in touch with me.”
That was it. I’d done what I always do to ruin first dates. TMI. Too much information. Sensing her animosity toward my beloved alma mater, I should have dropped the subject, not further punish her with the torment of enduring more of this encyclopedic Junior Bow drivel of mine. As well, I did mentally checked her off the list of alumni I’d yet to contact in order to invite them to join us on the website.
Our first meal together went further downhill from there. I had absolutely ruined her dinner by dredging up the home of the Junior Rainbows. Dammit. Would I never learn?
I’d lost my appetite, and so, apparently had she. Abruptly she asked Sally, a buddy who was our server, for a doggie bag. Taking this to be the last sign of my failure to deliver the goods with this suitor, I asked for a doggie bag as well.
She was in such a hurry to leave, that I didn’t have time to go in and say goodbye to all my friends. Just as well. I was feeling quite ill at this point, due both to the realization of my callous disregard for my date’s feelings, as well as the fact that I did not want anyone inside the place, and especially not my best friends playing music in there, to wish me well with this woman I’d obviously already lost, the relationship inevitably doomed. I was embarrassed enough as it was.
We drove down University Avenue and past the high school, but I made sure not to mention that fact. When we reached her home in lower Makiki, I stopped outside the apartment door, and, engine still running, ran around to her side and in the most gentlemanly manner, released her from cruel bondage with me in the car.
“Would you like to come in for a drink?” she asked.
This question, you may be sure, floored me. Knowing if I did this, I would undoubtedly say more assinine things, thus leaving an even more monstrous impression of myself on her than I had already, I politely declined.
“Do you want to catch a movie sometime?” she asked.
This kind of question I dreaded even more than the suggestion of a nightcap, for if we actually did this, it would mean that she’d have all the many more hours of having to endure my ungodly company.
“Sure,” I said, lying, I know. “Let’s do it.” I hate lying like that, but it was for her own good. I was sure as she relived the details of the evening, she would come to the conclusion that I was hardly worth her while.
It was with a heavy heart that I told my friend, the wife of the kind couple with whom I worked, all the details of how I’d ruined yet another first date with a potential wife. I apologized and hoped that she and her husband could forgive me for screwing the whole thing up.
“Well,” my friend said, “Roger,” this was her husband, “actually told me not to set you two up.”
“Really?” I was completely taken aback. “So he knew that I’d probably blow it, huh?”
“Well, no,” my friend said. “Roger warned me that even though you both went to the same school, he thought you two might not mesh very well at all.”
“Really? Well, with my apologies to him, please tell Roger that he was right. She was definitely not interested in me after I demonstrated that I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut.”
So you see, Dear Reader, this is perfect evidence, Exhibit A, of how I am the worst when it comes to first dates.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with 1975? Given the way the plot of this story has been unfolding, shouldn’t I be talking about 1975, not some period in the late 1990s?
And you would be right. I tell this tale of the woe regarding first dates because in all of the remainder of 1975, when I went on first dates, I was learning more and more, in that rock bottom foundational year, about how to be bad at them.
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Aloha #WriterWednesday. Today’s #WritingPrompt is
Use it to inspire a piece of writing, and then post that piece somewhere I can read it. I would love to see what you wrote : )