She was a traditional Catholic girl from New Jersey. I was a former New Yorker visiting my Jewish parents for the week. We met at a Rangers game other people had dragged us to. We both hated hockey. In her case, it was because she preferred other sports. So that's what I pretended, too.
With encouragement from my friend Jumbo Budweiser, I found the nerve to suggest the continuation of our playful conversation over dinner the next night. This is not a story about the woman who would become my wife, and there is a very specific reason why.
She suggested the restaurant. It was an empty dive bar in the East Village that I would never notice, much less enter. But that's not the kind of message you telegraph to a traditional Catholic girl from New Jersey on your first date at her favorite eatery. So, in between pretending to follow her assessment of the New York Giants, I also pretended not to be a vegetarian Jew with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Luckily, she couldn't see my womanly reaction to the men's room toilet. Rimming the lowered seat was the residue of a nearly successful recent attempt at making the bowl. This forced me to play the same revolting game, since there wasn't enough hand soap in the world for me to raise that seat now. And, as any guy can tell you, this game's second player invariably has worse aim than the first, since he must stand farther away to avoid splash-back containing contributions from the first player.
After trying to wash my memory as thoroughly as my hands, I returned to the table. At that point, my date excused herself to visit the ladies' room. As I watched, my delight at her tight jeans quickly morphed into the horror that Shelley Duvall experienced upon reading what Jack Nicholson had been typing all that time in The Shining. My date was closing in on the same door I had just emerged from. This bar had only one, unisex rest room.
After she returned, I once again pretended to consider the chicken wings. But they were 800-pound gorilla wings now. When both dinner guests avoid eye contact and utter one-word sentences, you know there either won't be a second date or they're married.
After we parted outside with an obligatory cheek kiss -- because only a sexual predator would try for more -- I doubled back to the bathroom. I needed every detail of what happened seared into my memory in an attempt to make sense of it all. What I saw splashed vinegar on my humiliation. The toilet was scoured spotless.
My date was, indeed, more of a man than I was.
What happened on your worst date ever?
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