The Very Worst?
I get the same question all the time: What was your worst date ever?
It's a hard question for me to answer because there are combinations of things that put each date into perspective.
A date that looks really promising and goes fine but is clearly not the match for me hurts more than a date where I know going in it probably isn't going to work and then it is a disaster.
Sometimes the beginning of the date will be awful but we'll get it together eventually. Sometimes a guy gives up in the middle of the date and it is obvious. Sometimes I give up and start talking about Panda Sex. Sometimes something crazy happens that has nothing to do with the date.
So I have a hard time deciding which is my worst date ever.
However, guy #8 is a strong contender.
I'll set the scene for those of you that haven't been following my journey. I'm in college. My roommate is engaged. My entire Computers II class is engaged. The Pizza Rat on the subway is engaged and my little sister is engaged. I spend most of my time lying on something called a still point inducer because the stress of not being engaged is giving me terrible back pain and listening to the second half of the Hamilton soundtrack and sobbing.
A resume comes up from a site of which I was a part. It's rather bland, there is not enough information given to have me decide either way.
My mother made some calls and heard this guy was working as a mashgiach to put himself through business school and that he was from out of town and was wonderful, great personality, learned like a champ, all around best guy ever.
However, due to his vague profile I still had some doubts, but decided that if pizza rat could get engaged, so could I. I accepted the date and we arranged for 7 pm on a Wednesday.
Young Archer thought that a 7 pm date naturally meant that she would be getting fed so she didn't eat ahead of time. Young Archer would eventually become Old Archer and would make this her "let's set up the date conversation"
Archer: Hi, thanks for calling, where are we eating?
Archer: You're right, Noi Due Carne sounds great. You'll make the reservation for 7?
But Young Archer didn't realize that an evening date doesn't always mean dinner and a dater needs to come fortified and prepared. So when, at 7 pm I received a text from #8 saying he was outside my dorm, I was excited for where he would take me to get food.
I met #8 (we're going to call him fried pickles. We'll discuss why soon.) outside my door where he looked mildly traumatized. There was another girl going on a date that night-let's call her Happily Married-who had planned a first date with the man who would become her husband but didn't know what he looked like and I guess didn't have his number. So when Fried Pickles approached, Happily Married assumed that this was her date and asked "Are you my future husband?" He responded "No I am the Archer's terrible date" and she continued to look for her future husband in the line of cars waiting to pick up their dates. Happily Married and Fried Pickles were both on foot so they had to awkwardly stand together outside the dorm both awaiting their dates.
(By the way this makes me sound like I was late. I wasn't. He got there 10 minutes early and waited to text me which was the right call.)
Anyway I came down to a mildly traumatized Fried Pickles and he told me about being accosted by Happily Married. Coincidentally I would see Happily Married on dates with her future husband many more times that semester. She may not have waited long to find him in the grand scheme of things but in the small scale of finding him that night, she put in all her effort.
Now the date begins:
Fried Pickles turned to me when we reached the corner and said "Is there a Starbucks near here?"
Let's analyze this. I did my hair and my makeup and put on my nice sweater. I agonized and made phone calls and paced up and down my room and listened to the part in Hamilton where Eliza burns their history together.
He showed up and couldn't even bother to do a quick Google to plan our date.
I never lie on here and I won't start now: that realization hurt me. I was so badly trying to get married, davening and meeting with people, and dealing with the emotional pain of feeling like I was the only one not in a relationship and meanwhile he just showed up. I was mad at him for not putting in the effort. I was mad at Hashem for putting this guy in my path. I was mad at the site and the shadchan and my mother for not catching that this guy would not treat me the way I should be treated. I was mad at the system for being so flawed that we ended up together because we were around the same ages and both heterosexual (as far as I know.) I was mad at my sister for being engaged. If you've read this blog you know that a lot of this anger is not resolved and perhaps will never be. This is a system that favors men and that hurts me, I want to be the teacher's pet. However, I am not in that dorm anymore and I've learned that anger doesn't help any of us. However an angry Archer makes for an interesting first date. Let's get back to it:
I guided him to the Starbucks near the dorm where, obviously, a bunch of my fellow dormers were studying. He got a tea, and I was so hungry I decided to get hot chocolate. I have since learned this was not Kosher and on Yom Kippur that year I bought a hot chocolate and poured it on the left side of my chest during the al-chaits in order to do a really specific teshuva. I carry the burns to this day. And I'll never get the stains out of my white dress.
Anyway he is sipping tea and I am sipping hot chocolate and literally thinking "Why is this hot if I can't eat it with a spoon and be socially acceptable."
Fried Pickles was clearly sick. He was blowing his nose constantly and seemed to be tilting to one side, almost as if he were going to collapse. I felt bad that he was sick but also wondered why he didn't just postpone our date. I thought maybe he didn't want me to think he was playing games with me, but in the end I was just grossed out from all the nose blowing.
Boys: If you have to postpone a date that's fine. Just in the text when you postpone it, suggest a new date for the date. That shows the girl that you're serious about her and aren't faking to get out of the date. But most of all, don't go on dates while sick! That's how global pandemics get started.
I asked Fried Pickles how business school was going and he said he had no idea what I was talking about. He was enjoying being a Mashgiach and had no plans to change, that was just something he sometimes put on his resume in case that happened in the future.
I need a man with a career. That's what I had told the Shadchan. And here I was.
I was so hungry my fingers were shaking. So naturally I said:
"Tell me. At this restaurant where you work. What is it like? Can you name every dish on the menu and what it tastes like? And please, for the love of all that is holy, can you just describe the process of frying a pickle?"
I salivated, squirming in my chair with my desire for food. As he described the menu I planned my steps when I got back to my dorm. Into the elevator, unlock the door, pull out my laptop, order a burger. Fries. Fried Pickles. Nachos. The Chef's Special. All of it. Goshdarnit was I hungry. Could I pay extra to have the delivery boy run faster? I wasn't sure.
Meanwhile Fried Pickles is blowing his nose and we've moved on to a conversation about how both of our younger siblings are engaged. This should have been a connection for us, but like all our conversations, it went nowhere.
I looked at my watch, expecting it to have been hours, days, weeks, since the date started.
I made a crucial decision in that moment. This date needed to end and I was going to end it.
I had not yet discovered the secret date ending trick that is Panda Sex. So, I thought to myself, what was something I could talk about endlessly that most people found boring?
I, literally out of nowhere, said to him "do you know about gymnastics?" and launched into a 10 minute rant about scoring, routine composition, and the history of the sport.
He got up, threw away his tea and offered to walk me home.
Victory was mine.
I returned to my dorm and ordered my food and nearly cried when it hit my mouth.
My mother called some of the references back. Turns out they had mixed this guy up with his engaged brother.
The entire ordeal lasted 45 minutes. Nothing crazy happened, there was no major story.
Just a guy who treated me like less than an afterthought while I initially treated him as my potential husband.
This date took a lot away from me. Before this, I had never imagined I would need an exit strategy for a date. These 45 minutes jaded me. Perhaps I couldn't even expect men to treat me like a decent human being, much less a potential marriage partner.
So, when people ask me for my worst story, I always go back here, though other stories are crazier (as you will see!)
I've seen this guy since. He switched to being a buffet waiter at a restaurant that does not have fried pickles and had to close during COVID. I had a shadchan reach out to me recently and suggest him. It was quite easy to say no. And it hurt that I am being set up with him-again-when he meets none of my criteria and continues to appear to put little effort into his dating (based on resumes I've seen of his floating over the internet.)
I've written about burn out on here. I've written about my displeasure with the system. At the end of the day all that really matters is that I was down when I went out with this guy and the way I was treated made me feel like I was being kicked while down.
No one should have to feel that way. If you have, reach out. Let's share a hug and then go to one of those axe throwing places.
I still have some anger I'd like to address.