The Firehouse Deli in Fairfield, CT.
Have you had your fill of leftovers yet?
Perhaps after all the turkey, taters, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, you might still have a little room for a hearty helping of bad dates.
Is there any other kind?
Allow me to introduce Gretzky, Baryshnikov, and The Skipper -- a bunch of eHarmony guys I met over the summer...
He was an architect who built his dream home in north Jersey. The ex-wife got that. So he bought another place for himself. In the same town. And he was really, really, really, REALLY into hockey. Like, ice rink in his backyard, into hockey.
It was clear to me he hadn't dated in a while. Or he could have been shy. Or maybe he was just bad with the computer. It's hard to type with gloves on.
With every short response he sent, he also sent a pre-written icebreaker. "I like your smile." "Your profile made me laugh." Nice, I guess? But those typically only come once -- before you start communicating.
Once the ice is broken, please don't keep hacking away at it unless you're making me a swan.
I don't think we had much in common. We emailed about nothing. Weather, mainly. I think we exchanged about 10 before he gathered up the courage to ask me out.
The Great One sure was taking his time.
He wrote, "Do you think maybe you'd like to speak or eat with me sometime? :)" Tempting, right?
We never did talk. Or eat. This is primarily my fault. Captain Slowpoke didn't really help matters -- I don't have the energy to teach a 47 year old man how to properly ask for a date. But beyond that, I couldn't picture myself as the girlfriend of a guy with 3 kids and an ice rink. So I disappeared.
He slid a few more icebreakers my way. I didn't reply. Bad Jenny! To the penalty box I go.
He had just turned 40, said he was 6'. Never married, no kids, no pets. He was Russian, his family moved to Sarasota, FL when he was a boy. He went to NYU for his MBA and was an investment banker. Lived on the UES. Only child. Had a full head of hair. He loved the ballet and played guitar.
We went through the normal communication steps, and after the 2nd or 3rd email, he asked me out for a drink. Said he'd be in my neighborhood picking up some guitar strings.
I met him at a pub he picked, called The Ginger Man. When I arrived, he was already at a table, sitting on a barstool like he was on the toilet. He didn't get up to say hello.
He was drinking something dark, and offered to order one for me. I asked to see the menu instead, which came with his oral history of lagers and pale ales. I got an Amstel. He was not impressed.
The beer came quickly and I started to size him up. He was serious. He had no accent. He wore a blazer, which was a bit dressy for a Saturday afternoon, but that was alright. He had major bags under his eyes. He sneezed a lot, which was kind of like being on a date with the Nasonex bee. And he was wearing a pinkie ring.
Misha talked about himself. Occasionally in the 3rd person. Much of the conversation surrounded how much he knew about music. Was this a date or an interview at Guitar Center?
Somewhere along the line, another round of brews and a charcuterie platter appeared on the table. I started eating in the hopes that my chewing sounds would drown out why Jimmy Page was the greatest guitarist of all time (everybody knows that was Hendrix).
I'm sure he could have jammed forever, but 2 hours was my limit. So I said something about needing to head out, and I stood up. So did he.
That's when I realized he wasn't 6'.
He was MAYBE 5'8". I think he saw the realization in my eyes because I saw a flicker of horror in his. Short Stuff and I walked out in silence. I thanked him for the drinks and the sausage. He mumbled something I didn't quite hear.
I imagine it was along the lines of, "You're a Sasquatch, I'm a Pygmy. It won't work. Have a nice life."
He was 36. A younger man! Said he was 5'11" and a half. Lived in Jersey, down the shore. Never married, no kids, no pets. Glasses. Hair. Was a real estate attorney, and also oversaw his parents' charity. It was clear he never met a meatball sandwich he didn't like.
And this boy loved his boat.
It was in every photo. It was part of every conversation. In fact, he wanted our 1st date to BE on the boat.
Hmmm. Setting sail with a stranger on a "three hour tour." Shall I tie the cement block to my OWN ankle and throw myself overboard, or think he'd save me the trouble?
Cappy said he liked BBQ, so I picked Blue Smoke over a harbor cruise. I met him outside the restaurant on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Now, I'm no Slim Jim -- I know -- but this guy was 300lbs if he was 3. And he was the sweatiest man alive. I went to give him a hug hello, but he was like a human Slip 'n Slide, so I skidded off him and shot through the front door instead.
We sat down, and I immediately noticed his booming voice. Every laugh echoed throughout the dining room. He also had a pretty foul mouth. Again, I've been known to let the f-bombs fly, but never on a 1st date. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling it.
It came time to order. I got a brisket sandwich, which I ate with a fork. He got a bucket of ribs, which he ate with his hands.
For the love of Gilligan, never, ever, EVER order ribs on a date! It's disgusting to watch somebody you don't know gnaw on a bone and it's awkward to tell them they have sauce on their nose.
Just don't do it.
So, we talked and I avoided looking at his face. As we were wrapping up, our waiter said they had the world's best chocolate cake. Thanks, jerk! Skipper took that as a challenge and ordered it. It came with a shot of milk and 2 forks. I picked at the plate, leaving a cakey barrier between my side and his. Then the check came.
I offered to pay, but he said, "Babe, I've got it."
Babe?! Unless a cute talking pig was sitting over my shoulder with his wallet out too, I'd say it's too soon for that.
We left and walked east together. I was headed home, and he was headed to the docks in search of the Professor. At 2nd Ave, we parted ways. I turned to thank him for lunch, and his arms were open. So I went to hug him goodbye (forever).
That's not what he had in mind.
When I saw he was coming at me, greasy lips first, I cut right (starboard?) off his sweaty cheek and he got the hair. I'm sure there's a joke here about a "little buddy" -- let's pretend I made one.
So, there you have it. A heaping plate of dating leftovers. Ignore that fluttering in your chest -- it's heartburn.
What foods would YOU avoid on a first date? There's plenty more where the ribs came from...