The worst date I ever had, as I related to Leah and Simon when we were visiting, happened when I was 13 years old. I was a freshman in high school; my best friend was a sophomore; we were both giddy and silly about the idea of going to the dance with cute boys and dancing with cute boys and that was about the extent of our imagination. Little did I know that one of my schoolmates was planning to ask me to the dance, and that experience would remain, 15 years later, as the worst I ever had in the world of dating.
Act 1: Preparation
For those of you who don’t know me personally, I grew up in a very small town and attended a tiny high school (the school population for four grades was approximately 350 students). Everyone knew who everyone was, so when new kids moved to town it was kind of like hungry sharks surrounding a cage full of guppies – everyone wanted a piece of the new blood before the guppy cage decided what clique he/she fell into. My friend had a crush on this new kid in my grade because he was pretty and emo before anyone knew what emo was, with piercing blue eyes and black hair. He wrote poetry and had an unusually-spelled name, so my friend decided to ask him to the homecoming dance. I, on the other hand, was planning to go to with them to the football game in my awesome blue-jean jacket and then change into a cute outfit for the dance. I’d follow the same MO I had for middle school dances, which was to dance with friends and then either hide or boldly march up and ask boys to dance during the slow songs, depending on how the crowd was reading.
But about a week before the dance, this guy in my friend’s grade sent through the rumor mill that he was going to ask me to the dance. So I did have some warning, but I wasn’t sure what that meant, because this was High School now, the big kids, and I had never gone to a High School Dance before. When he finally caught me after PE one day to officially ask, I probably turned 18 shades of embarassed and mumbled assent (I honestly don’t remember what I said, but he must have taken it as a yes). I got all excited, because he said there would be a limo (!?!) involved. My mom took me shopping in the middle of the week and I got this cute Blossom-esque outfit complete with hat. Shut up. It was 1992.
Act 2: Mortification
The big day arrived. I went home from school and got ready to go out, since the guy said the limo was going to pick me up at 5. At 5 PM he walked up our driveway and then walked me back town to the main road (for some reason, he didn’t want the limo driving up our driveway?) We got in the limo, me with a raging case of stomach locusts, and I saw that his friend was going to be in the car with us. A small wave of relief quieted the locusts briefly, as the guy told me we’d be driving a half hour to pick up the other guy’s girlfriend and then we’d be driving out to the coast and back before the dance.
What?!? What happened to going to the game? What happened to hanging out with my friend and Emo Boy? I was really nervous to the point of illness, and felt only marginally better when the other girl got into the limo – because at least there was another girl in the car, and my awkward 13-year-old self didn’t feel as unsafe with two relatively strange guys. The limo headed out to the ocean, which took at least an hour, and then stopped at a fancy restaurant. The sun was setting; it was a beautiful and romantic view over the ocean, but all I could think about was trying not to vomit from nervousness. The other guy and his girlfriend started making out, and the guy who asked me to the dance sort of half-fumbled an embrace while I turned 18 shades of green. It was time to eat, so we went into the fancy restaurant and I could hardly read the menu I felt so weird. The prices were all so much higher than any restaurant I’d ever been in before (mainly fast food and Chinese; my family almost never went out to eat) so I picked the cheapest thing on the menu that I thought I could keep down, which was a salad.
The guy and his friend and the girlfriend seemed to be enjoying their meals, but I could only choke down a few bites, as I was dreading the more-than-an-hour back to our town in the limo with nothing to say. I wasn’t at all attracted to the guy; I was still just a kid; this was all way too fast and grown-up for my social and romantic maturity level. I don’t even remember whether people talked for the trip back, but I do remember that when we got back to town and drove up to the dance, the guy told me that he’d see me later; he and his friend had decided to ride around in the limo for a few more hours. The girlfriend ran over to some friends (she’d lived in our town before but had moved away). So I walked into the dance, already in full swing, alone.
Luckily, my friend and Emo Boy were there so I had people to talk to. I ended up having a relatively good time at the dance, and my friend dumped Emo Boy for this other guy who she thought was waaay cuter, all in the course of a few hours. The sick nervous feeling in my stomach had finally started to dissipate when the guy and his friend showed up and he came over and made me dance with him.
I really didn’t want to dance with him, because I was pissed that he’d done all these things without telling me or asking me, and then left me alone at the dance. But I did anyway, because I felt bad about him spending all that money. I got a ride home from my friend’s dad and never talked to the guy again. Luckily, he started going to another school after that year and I didn’t see him around town very much, so I didn’t have to worry too much about it.
Part 3: Humiliation
A couple of years ago, I googled my name one day for kicks. And, lo and behold, the guy who had asked me to homecoming all those years ago had written about our disastrous date on some message board. He used my full name, and his story (his point-of-view) was very different. It was all about how he’d shoveled poop for months to save up enough money to take me out, and what a cold and ungrateful bitch I’d been. Granted, I was pretty immature, and could have handled the situation at the dance a little better. But I was 13! I was a freshman in high school! Looking back I realize how much of a kid I still was, and I wasn’t in any way ready for such an adult evening. Unfortunately, there was no way to rebut what he’d written, as he’d written it a couple of years before (hooray for the internets!) and the message board where he’d written it was no longer active. I was red-faced and humiliated all day after finding it (and if you know my full name you can google me and find it too!) But here’s my side of the story. The world can judge for itself. And if his name were at all unique, I’d write it out here in bold caps 3 or 4 times so if he ever googled his own name, he’d find this post. But there’s thousands of hisnames in the world and only 1 of me (well, 2, but the other one of me has a different middle name and lives in England).
How about your worst date? Someone must have a more awful story than mine.