Your Worst Date

Monday, February 10, 2014 / 6:00 AM

Someone asked me last week to describe the best date I ever went on. I don't think I have an answer to that (there have been plenty of decent and pretty good dates/things-I-think-might-have-been-dates), but I don't know if there's really a "best" or "perfect" label I can slap on anything right now. But I can tell you my worst--or, at least, the oddest one:

I met B on a bus in Maryland. I was heading home after work and had forgotten my book at the office, so I had nothing to do but eavesdrop and, apparently, think of ways to complicate my existence. B was talking to the bus driver about when his stop would be coming up because he was still trying to figure out the lay of the city after moving from California, and because it had been two very long weeks since I moved was still friendless and bored, I decided to insert myself in their conversation.

"You're from California?" I asked. He looked over at me, which I took as a cue for some reason to literally get out of my seat and sit next to him. "I am too!"

We started talking and I learned he was in DC for an internship for the fall (he was a college senior) and was staying with his uncle just a mile from where I was living. Before I got off the bus, he asked for my number and I gave him my work email address instead (because that felt less complicated), and texted my best friend about how I finally made a friend (how kindergarten, I know).

The next day, B emailed me and asked if I wanted to hang out that weekend. I had told him I was still new to DC and he said he could show me around since he'd spent a summer interning before on the Hill. I said yes, we exchanged numbers, and met up on Saturday at the metro stop--where he instantly started rambling about the day he had planned out in hopes I would have fun because he wanted me to like him.

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I'm really bad at discerning signs. The first time one of my exes asked me out on a date, I had no idea it was actually a date until he kissed me at the end of the night and I said, "Wait, was this a date?"

Yes, I am both that oblivious and that awkward. If you want me to know it's a date, you should probably hire a skywriter.

So when B started talking about how nervous he was, the thought, "Is this a date?" crossed my mind once, but then I ignored it because I didn't want to ruin the first friendship I thought I was making in DC. 

We had a pleasant enough afternoon at one of my favorite museums, where I was my normal nerdy self, and afterward we got coffee and sat by the Dupont Circle fountain and talked. He asked if I wanted to get dinner, and I was hungry so I said yes (because this kind of day was not an abnormal one if I was with any of my other friends). We ended up at a Thai restaurant, and that's where things started to go really, really wrong.
B: "So what college did you go to?"
me: "UC Irvine. In Orange County."
B: "Oh. That's the place with all the Muslim people, right?"
me: *chokes on Pad Thai*
And then B proceeded to tell me, loudly, of his extreme views and how he and his Zionist uncle were just talking last night about the Middle East and "here's what I think..."

I think the expression on my face was something between O_O and x_x. I wanted to slide off my chair and out the door to run from the horrified customers sitting at the tables around us. The dinner ended after about 20 more hours of him talking and I bolted for a cab--except we lived along the same route, and he suggested we ride together.

When the cab pulled up to my street, I said the quickest goodbye in human history and didn't even wait for the driver to hit the brakes. I threw a $20 at B (which was probably $15 more than I should've paid) and jumped from the car before he tried to walk me to the door.

He texted me a few times after that night, and I cautiously replied to every single one, making sure I left an ample amount of time between his messages and my replies. I made up excuses when he asked me out again, and was pretty successful at avoiding him for about a week--until August 23, the day of the DC earthquake.

It was a Tuesday and the nation's capital was in chaos because earthquakes are not a thing that regularly occur here. As a Californian, I was the office expert, but it didn't stop everyone from freaking out for the next hour until the 9-5ers decided to shut down and go home early. A friend from college was in DC at the time and suggested he come out to my neck of the woods for dinner, so we made plans to meet up, but the trains were a mess and would take him a couple of hours. Rather than go home, I went to the Caribou near the metro to wait and was enjoying an iced tea and some Game of Thrones, when...


I looked up. It was B.

I panicked and spilled my tea and he bought me another one and then sat down at my table. We made awkward small talk ("How are you?" "Yeah, that earthquake was weird."), and then he said, word for word: "You know, I'm glad I finally ran into you here. I remember you said you liked this place, so I've been coming by here every day hoping to catch you."

If things were different and he wasn't a bigoted jerk, I would've thought, "Aww, that's kind of stalkerish, but cute!" But instead, I thought, "AHH THAT'S KIND OF STALKERISH AND WEIRD."

I then pretended my friend had just texted me and was here for dinner, and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting inside the metro station while George R. R. Martin murdered his characters.

The next time B texted me, I made a casual reference to a boyfriend that didn't exist, and then I never heard from him again. I sought out his Facebook page last year out of curiosity and he's now a member of the Israeli Defense Forces.

And this is why you should never talk to strangers, kids.

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