A Sarcastic Appetite

A Sarcastic Appetite Dates: Some Nondescript Bar in Times Square
June 13, 2013, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Dating


Clearly, you all care a lot more about my hilariously terrible dates than anything I’m cooking in the kitchen. So here’s another edition of A Sarcastic Appetite Dates. Yes, this actually happened. 

How many dates have I had where I wanted to leave the moment I realized which guy was my date? Too many to count. How many times have I been fooled – no, fooled myself – into thinking that the one attractive online photo of the guy was how he actually looked, and not the 7 other ones where he looked like a distant relative of Chewbacca? Too many to count.

My date with, oh, let’s call him Chadwick was one such example. This was a couple years ago, when I was in the throes of my first real attempt at online dating, and boy was he a doozy. He had once nice photo, which I convinced myself was how he actually looked, and several others that painted a…less attractive picture. But I soldiered on anyway, convinced that he “looked nice.”

I don’t even remember how we started communicating.  Did he “wink” at me? Was that all it took?  Had I set the bar too low for myself? Did I need to rethink this? Did I need to rethink a lot of things? All of it was possible.

At any rate, we exchanged a few emails before agreeing to meet for drinks the week after Thanksgiving. I had mentioned in one missive that I was flying home the following morning – I had written something along the lines of “I can’t get too crazy!”

Well, I would have been in spectacular company, because Chadwick WAS crazy.

He suggested meeting in front of the Heartland Brewery in Midtown, and I reluctantly agreed. I repeat – we had agreed to meet at the Heartland Brewery. In Midtown. A block from Radio City. Three weeks before Christmas. I had to fight my way past overweight tourists walking four abreast (gah) carrying loads of shopping bags from unique New York stores like Aldo (double gah).

I sauntered up to the plaza outside Heartland, where a throng of people was also waiting for their dates. Oh – there’s a cute gentleman standing over the—nope, that’s his wife. Ooh, maybe that guy—nope, he’s with that girl. And all of a sudden this short (er than he said he was online), awkward guy looking hilariously out of place and somewhat terrified turned toward me and I knew instantly: Chadwick.

Fighting the urge to run, I instead walked over and introduced myself, and it became clear that Chadwick was having a meltdown.

“The wait is over an hour,” he moaned. “I don’t know where else to go.”

I knew I was going to have to salvage this situation – but my mind had gone blank. I couldn’t remember where one might go for drinks in the neighborhood because I never went for drinks in the neighborhood. All I could think of was Maggie’s Place, on 47th and Madison, which I hesitantly suggested.

“It’s too far,” Chadwick cried. “I don’t want to have to cross 6th again. There are so many people!” He looked like he was going to pass out. And he had suggested this! If figuring out a plan B for drinks in Midtown a few weeks before Christmas was enough to put this guy in a coma, what about when something really terrible happened?

Is it too late to bail, I wondered. What if I just disappear into the hordes of tourists. Could he catch me? I don’t think he could catch me.

But my politeness won over – it seemed too mean to run away.

“Let’s walk—here—uh, this way I guess,” I said, and we began walking south on 6th Avenue, as I desperately racked my brain for somewhere to go so we could sit and drink and then the date would end and I could leave. “I’ve read about this bar that’s kind of old school – want to check it out?”

“Where is it?” he asked, sounding panicked. I looked it up on Google Maps and showed him. “It’s too far!”

We ended up walking west, closer and closer to Times Square. I wondered if Chadwick would just keel over on 7th Avenue. Eventually we reached some nondescript bar in Times Square that seemed to resonate with him.

“I know this place, let’s go here,” Chadwick said. Ah – I should have guessed that was his motive all along. Newness: terrifying!

We wandered upstairs, found a quiet booth, and I immediately ordered a glass of white wine (with ice) (stop judging). He ordered a whiskey, neat, and seemed to regain his composure. Maybe this date was salvageable after all. Then again, maybe not.

“So,” Chadwick began. “Where are you going that you said you couldn’t go crazy tonight?”

“I’m flying down to Florida tomorrow to see my family,” I replied, somewhat evasively. It was a personal matter and I clearly didn’t want to talk about it.

“But didn’t you just see them at Thanksgiving a week ago?” he replied, indignantly. “Why do you need to see them again!”

I didn’t realize there was a limit on the number of times one could see one’s family, but clearly Chadwick was about to open my eyes to a whole new world. Using all my powers of non-verbal communication, I replied slowly and hesitantly, “It’s a family thing,” hoping that would shut him up.

It didn’t.

“What for?” he pressed.

“Um…I’m going to my grandmother’s memorial service,” I replied, sighing.

“Oh.” Chadwick casually resumed drinking his whiskey.

Out of the thousands of men who were online dating in New York, I’d clearly managed to reel in another winner.

Eager to change the subject, I began peppering Chadwick with questions about his upbringing. Rural Pennsylvania. Nine siblings. NINE SIBLINGS! “Catholic,” he said blithely.

Chadwick then told a story about his sister, who briefly lived with him in New York when she was unemployed. “She was never home when I’d come home at night,” he said. “Even real late at night. It went on for weeks.”

“Did you ask her where she was?” I asked, puzzled.

“No!” he said indignantly, looking at me as if I’d asked whether he voted for Bush in 2008.

“I kinda wondered if maybe she was a prostitute,” he continued. “Then when she moved out she told me she had a boyfriend the whole time. The whole time!”

It was obvious that Chadwick wasn’t in possession of all of his marbles, a fact that may have been glossed over growing up due to the presence of, oh, eight other kids. He’d said he was employed somewhere reputable but I was suddenly quite doubtful.

I sucked down my wine and changed the subject once again. Chadwick mentioned he was thinking of buying his mother a puppy for her birthday, and he’d even found one online he liked.

“That breed, you know – Charlie. Charlie something. It’s $350. Which is a lot for a dog!”

“Cavalier King Charles Cocker Spaniel?” I asked. Chadwick fell back in his seat as if he’d been punched and glared at me somewhat suspiciously. He was clearly alarmed I could name dog breeds, and now seemed unwilling to tell the rest of the story.

“That sounds like a great idea!” I said brightly, plowing valiantly ahead. “Just be careful if you’re buying one online. It could be from a puppy mill – especially at that price.”

“A puppy mill? What’s a puppy mill?”

I looked at him wide-eyed. He was absolutely serious. Completely befuddled, I started stammering. “It’s—it’s—it’s a—uh—some people breed, uh, a lot of dogs for money…and, uh, they’re not always the breed, uh, you think they are?” I squinted at him. Maybe that would emphasize my point? “That’s a well-known breed, and I, uh, think they are usually much more expensive than that,” I added breathlessly. Was I actually in the position of trying to convince him that puppy mills do indeed exist?

He looked at me with a very deep-seated skepticism. Clearly he thought I was making this up just to mess with him. Then again, who would have believed my half assed reply? Did I even know what a puppy mill was?

I had to get out of there. But Chadwick ordered another round, and being the, ahem, polite date, I did as well.

We began talking about work. I described working for my friend’s father in a previous job, and Chadwick suddenly seemed intrigued. “What was that like? Was it weird? Was it weird for your friend?”

I shook my head, describing how I once went on vacation with the boss’s family – and my friend – on a boat in the BVIs.

Chadwick looked concerned. “Wait – you were in the ocean?” he asked.

“Uh. Yes. Yes, we were,” I responded, unsure where Chadwick was headed.

“So if you wanted to swim you could just jump off the boat?” he asked.

“Uh, yes, actually. The water was really warm, because we were in the Caribbean?”

“But-but—was the boat attached to land? Couldn’t you just float away? I mean, you were in THE OCEAN!”

I paused for a moment, wondering if it was worth explaining to Chadwick how an anchor works. “Well, uh, see…boats have anchors, so you’re uh…anchored to land? The water is pretty calm and shallow -you can just jump right in.”

There was zero comprehension on Chadwick’s side of the table. I could only imagine what he was picturing: the ocean as a black hole? The Titanic? A week-long reprise of Gilligan’s Island?

We had come to an impasse, and there was no getting around it. Chadwick simply couldn’t fathom the version of life I had presented. Puppy mills? Jumping off a boat into THE OCEAN? It was all too much to bear.

Shortly thereafter he called for the check, and soon enough we were outside parting ways. I didn’t even bother throwing out the classic, “I’ll be in touch!” And I think the feeling was mutual; Chadwick seemed bewildered and confused. It was like he had just lost his innocence. And it appeared I was responsible.

Sometimes I wonder if he’s still wandering around Times Square mumbling to himself, his mind blown at the existence of puppy mills, anchors, and sisters who are not in fact prostitutes.

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