This 2nd Worst Date Was A Dining Disaster
In the story, The 2nd Worst Date I’ve Ever Been On, a woman shares her experience of dating a loser.
I am a budding Sci-fi writer, doing so in my spare time. My motivation comes from the authors I read in my youth: Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, and Jules Verne. In addition, the classic Si-fi moves from the Golden Age of Hollywood like War of the Worlds, Planet of the Apes, When Worlds Collide, Forbidden Planet, and shows like the Twilight Zone. Modern authors and visionaries have also influenced me: Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, Eric Kripke, Josh Whedon. For my other works under my pen name Christopher V. Davis, please visit my site at www.chrisvdavis.weebly.com
The 2nd Worst Date I’ve Ever Been On
He took me to a beautiful French restaurant in Los Angeles for dinner on a crisp fall evening in 2007. He had approached me at the coffee shop the week before and asked me out, after chatting me up while we both sipped pumpkin spice lattes. He was friendly and sported the salt and pepper hair that hinted he was probably a touch older than the men I usually dated, but I agreed to a date because I wanted to give it a chance.
I wore a sexy black wrap dress and he arrived wearing black pants and a nice jacket. We were led to a secluded table in a dimly lit corner of the restaurant. It had the romantic ambience you can appreciate on a date. I silently gave him props for the choice. As we perused the menu, he let out a deep sigh.
“Is something wrong?” I asked him. He replied without looking up, “These are some pretty steep prices.”
I glanced back at the menu. As a vegetarian, I usually have to ask the chef to make something special for me or I order from the sides, appetizers, and salads, since the entrees are most often meat-centric. The Watercress Salad with apples, spiced walnuts, and Roquefort was $11. The Pommes Frites and Gruyure Macaroni and Cheese were only $7 each. However, the items he was probably salivating over were comparatively more expensive. The Petit Cut Filet Mignon was $30, the Rack of Lamb was $40, and the Boeuf Stroganoff was $26. They were reasonable prices for the place, I thought.
While waiting for our drinks, we shared our stories about what brought us to California, how long we’d lived there, and I noticed he frequently interrupted me to either condescendingly talk over me or change the subject altogether.
“I couldn’t take another miserable Minnesota winter. I actually have nightmares that—“
“Oh, I love winter. I miss the change in seasons. I feel bad for kids raised here by parents cheating them of a real Christmas and…”
“On the road trip out here when I moved, I stopped in Las Vegas because—”
“What’s taking our drinks so long? Did they run out of vodka and are now flying to Russia to get more?”
Then at some point he mentioned he went to medical school before quitting to become a sculptor.
“Oh, wow. What made you quit medical school?” I naturally inquired, as our drinks finally arrived. “Well, I realized I really just don’t like people enough to take care of them”, he replied, stone-faced. “Most people are a giant pain in the ass”, he chuckled, as he took a swig of his dirty martini.
It was increasingly becoming clear he found himself far more interesting than he found me. Twice during conversation I had to remind him of something about myself that I know I had already disclosed, and he went on lengthy monologues about his beliefs and views of the world, never showing the slightest interest in my point of view.
Him: “So where did you live before moving here?”
Me: “Ummm, Minnesota. Remember? The place with magical wintery Christmases.”
Him: “Most people don’t need help, they just need to help themselves. I believe we enable people too much and yada yada yada…”
Me: Takes bites of salad, waiting for a chance to share my views.
Him: “…and nevermind that there are all these children from broken homes that grow up to fill our prisons…yada yada yada…”
Our sweet and attentive server cleared our dishes and inquired about dessert. We declined dessert and she dropped off the check. He quickly glanced at it and put it off to the side to continue telling me about the laws of the universe and why he was destined to sculpt frogs.
She returned to pick up the checkbook, thinking he had put money in it, but took three steps and turned around to place it back on the table because she found the book empty. He reluctantly took out his wallet to pull out some cash and stuffed the book before placing it, peculiarly, on the table against the wall, furthest from the server’s reach.
Before leaving, we both stopped to use the restrooms. When we met back up in the lobby, the restaurant’s finely dressed manager was at the host stand and asked us how our dinner was. I casually answered “Oh, everything was great”. Then with a face that denoted contempt, he said “Your server said you left her a bad tip.”
My head snapped toward my date in horror. “You did?!” I asked him, clearly outraged and embarrassed. My date, looking mortified, stammered to the manager “No, I left her $9.” I just stared at the manager, shocked that he actually called a customer out on his atrocious tipping. The manager said “The bill was $70, and she said you gave her $5. I just want to make sure the tip wasn’t a reflection of your experience dining with us tonight.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
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My date, trying to save face, insisted “No, I gave her $9! Maybe the four singles fell out and someone else swiped them.” My poor date had no clue that he wasn’t saving face by claiming he left a $9 tip on a $70 tab. I suspected he was lying, because from the cash he used to pay the whole tab it just happened to be only four singles that escaped?
We were silent as he walked me to my car. He asked, “So…movies next weekend?” I’m sure I’m not shocking anyone that I said “No” to a second date.
He gave me his best disappointed face, and asked “It’s because of the tip, isn’t it?” I explained to him that I simply didn’t feel much of a connection between us, but I wished him the best.
He texted me the next day to let me know he returned to the restaurant and left the server a better tip. I was astonished that a man could be so arrogant and conscientious at the same time, but then realized if I suspected he was lying before, maybe he was lying about dropping by the restaurant, too. I told him that was nice, but also seized the opportunity to be a bit more honest with him about why I felt we had no future.
A year or two later, while strolling the campus grounds of a California university on a gorgeous sunny day with a friend, we came across a sculpture near a fountain. It was of a nude man, lying in a submissive position, crouched with his head down. The detail was beautiful, with bulging muscles and beautiful bone structure in his face. I glanced down to read my date’s name credited as the artist. I guess he wasn’t destined to sculpt frogs anymore.
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