“All this happened, more or less.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5
As we embark on this new season at Tastefully Trendy (the one in which I share all of my single life stories for your amusement and/or personal growth), I thought it best to start from the very beginning. Understanding how I began my dating career will give you a better backdrop for what is to come (although it may cause you to question why I didn’t throw in the towel years ago).
I was 21, and I had just graduated from college, where, to be honest, I was a bit of a big fish – academically, anyway, which, I guess is kinda the point.
Here I am walking post-graduation, surrounded by people whose names I’m pretty sure I knew at the time.
For all of my medals and cords, though, I was leaving the “greatest pool you’ll ever have”, as my high school history teacher had warned me, having gone on only one solitary date, way back in freshman year (a story for another post). I had a great time in college, and many a school-girl crush, but I failed to earn that most-important-of-all degree: the MRS.
Yet, with an eager and expectant heart, I moved myself to Rhode Island for grad school, ready to see what this land of dark-haired, thickly accented boys held in store for me.
Within a week of arriving, I was miserable. I knew literally not one person in the entire state, and I was so lonely. So, I decided to try online dating. In 2002. THIS WAS NOT A SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE THING TO DO. Also, I was very naive and made poor decisions.
The first man I met we’ll call Billy. This may actually have been his name – I genuinely don’t remember (sorry, Billy.) Billy’s profile said he lived in Connecticut, about two hours away, was a few years older than me, and had kids. At 21, these things probably should have been red flags to me (they would not necessarily be at 30), but I didn’t realize that, and so I agreed to meet him, oh, about 2 days after we’d virtually said hello.
To Billy’s credit, he drove out to meet me, and we’d agreed to meet up at church. I was new in town, and this was my second time visiting the conservative Baptist church I would eventually call home. I wanted to make a good impression. Billy didn’t seem too worried about that, though, as he arrived in head-to-toe denim, smelling strongly of cigarette smoke, and with a ponytail down to his waist – an interesting surprise for me. (When I went back to look at his profile pictures after the fact, there was the faintest hint of a ponytail outline behind him – easily mistaken for a shadow to the casual observer. Note to self: do not observe profile pictures casually.) Billy’s wardrobe choices would have been questionable for any first date; for a conservative Baptist church first date, they were definitely the wrong decision.
In case you’re needing a visual, here’s one to help fuel your imagination. Just add a little more acid wash.
I spent the service worrying about what people were thinking (so, yes, I got a lot out of the sermon that day), and then finally, it was time to go. I knew already that Billy and I were not going to work out; a normal person probably would have cut her losses and made up an excuse to go home. But, I was not a normal person – I was a naive 21 year old who felt bad that he’d driven two hours to meet me. So, we headed off to lunch. And that’s when things really started to get interesting…
Tune in again soon for the continuing adventures of SB and Billy! (And sorry about the cliffhanger…it’s a long story, and I want to respect your time). But, for even more fun, choose your own adventure, and write an alternate ending in the comments. I’m pretty sure it can’t be any more bizarre than what actually did happen next. Or, leave me a note with the strangest first impression you’ve ever had on a date!