I don’t really date a lot. As a matter of fact, I haven’t “dated” anyone (seriously or otherwise) in…well, a while. And it’s not because I’m jaded about guys, or sad about ex-boyfriends, or super bitchy to new guys I meet. I’m pretty laid-back, down to earth, sometimes funny, kind of cute (I’m aware that’s completely subjective), socially competent, professionally successful and willing to take new adventures (I’m also aware this is beginning to read like a personal ad, but bear with me here). The point is: there’s no good reason for my lack of dating, other than I’m just really not focused on it right now. But when I meet a guy who interests me (and who’s interested in return), I get kind of excited about the whole dating process: the first call, the exclamation of delight over shared interests, the silly embarrassments of a first dinner, the awkwardness of a first kiss and the anticipation of the next time you meet.
However, I’m only surmising all of this “first date” stuff from what I’ve seen in romantic comedies, because none of that ever happens to me.
It all began a few Fridays ago…
I went out for my fellow hotelier friend’s birthday (let’s call her…”Joy”) to a local karaoke bar in Seattle. Couple of things about the evening should be noted:
1. I went out by myself. Yes, I was fine with this. I wasn’t going to invite a friend (as my other friends don’t know Joy, and anyway I’m comfortable-ish by myself) and as I’m not dating anyone, it was either go solo or stay home. So I figured I would go out, and the worst case scenario would be that I would’ve spent an hour getting ready only to come home again if I wasn’t having fun…right? (Keep reading.)
2. I don’t really “do” karaoke. I have a decent to above average singing voice, but I’m often not quite confident enough to feel good about my performance, particularly when followed by other, better singers/performers.
3. I had no intention of “meeting” anyone.
So. I arrived at the bar and was immediately “introduced” (read: Joy shouted at the group of 15+ at large, “Hey everyone, this is Kelsey, say hi!”) whereupon people looked up, smiled (some) and mumbled a couple of names I promptly forgot. I settled myself down in the only available space and made new friends with the people around me, ordered a drink, and began to enjoy the raucous, silly madness of a karaoke- and booze-filled evening. A few Bud Lights in, I decided to put my name in the queue to sing one of my fave old school country songs, “Every Little Thing” by Carlene Carter (June’s daughter). I waited with baited breath each time a name was called, and felt a little “oh shit” pang when mine was eventually called – but decided to go for it anyway.
My “performance” started off slow because I was nervous (so my voice was shaking a little) and as I don’t usually sing karaoke, I had the mic too far from my mouth so I think the first 16 or so measures were probably only heard by my immediate audience (thank god for Joy pointing that out and correcting me before people starting booing and throwing tomatoes. Or drinks.). I was embarrassed and tried to make the rest of the song fun, entertaining and upbeat…but I just don’t think I ever got it back together. Upon the song’s final measures, I was able to make my exit (mercifully) and was congratulated by the group for a song well sung (liars!). I accepted their praise semi-gracefully and made my way to the bar to hide my shame in another drink.
The rest of the evening passed quickly but began to deteriorate for me, as I watched guys that I had felt potential interest in turn their attention toward other women, and listened to confident karaokettes rock the house with their surprisingly powerful voices and crowd-pleasing song selections. I decided I’d spent enough time with the group to be socially acceptable for a birthday event and needed to jet before my mood really started to turn. Just as I had paid my tab and was getting ready to make my way home, I heard a voice next to me saying, “Going home already? I was hoping you would sing again.” In surprise, I turned to meet “Don”, a Hula Hula regular with a gravelly voice and infectious smile. I laughed (somewhat more derisively than intended) and as he introduced himself I felt a little connection, and decided perhaps I wasn’t quite ready to call it a night. We exchanged pleasant, humorous conversation over a couple of cocktails the rest of the evening and generally had a rather delightful time.
Yadda yadda yadda, we decided to meet for breakfast the next morning at a great hangover-type bar in lower QA. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly “first date” material. But this felt okay, as it seemed like the kind of spontaneous situation that’s better than primping for a “real” date, because it was so in-the-moment. We were chatting pleasantly, if not deeply, and all in all it felt…comfortable.
A few mimosas into breakfast, we were both feeling a little tipsy (before you judge, remember: I’m single. And had nothing to do that Saturday.) and decided to hit another bar.
Which is where everything began to go downhill.
Suffice to say that this is the part of real life that rom-com movies skip right over – the part where there are no butterflies, or roses, or cute chance encounters but instead drunkenness, embarrassment, a too-hot day and complete disillusionment in the idea that meeting someone in a bar ever works out.
Long story short, Don got wasted (well, what did I expect? Even for a guy, a couple of mimosas, a full shot of sipping whiskey and several Jack & Cokes will probably put someone under.) and I ended up taking care of him. Which means…
-I hauled him out of the bar where he was pissing off a bitchy bartender,
-took him to the scene of the crime from the night before to get food (I don’t know lower QA well enough to know where else to go) where
-I was ridiculed by that bartender for getting stuck with Marlon to begin with (evidently this is a pattern of behavior he’s seen over time), and
-I paid for Marlon’s food (as he got mad at me for not wanting to make out with him in the bar and walked out on the tab), whereupon
-I got into a drunken argument (on his part, not mine) with him, after which
-he decided I was being a bitch and was going to go home, where after
-I got really angry and ran into the street after him (as it was evident he was going to drive home) and
-finally, finally cajoled his car key out of his hand (so he wouldn’t kill someone or himself) and at last
-stalked home in a furious rage, leaving him to get home by his own means with the texted instruction to call me in the morning to get his goddamned car key.
Does any of this sound like romantic first date butterflies?!
No. There were no butterflies – only a wasp’s nest full of angry buzzing in my head that I’d been so stupid to let this whole situation get so out of control to begin with. In hindsight, I’m well aware of the many wildly waving red flags that – had I been willing to see them – would’ve alerted me to impending disaster. For example, the fact that Don knew all the morning bartenders at the restaurant. Or that he’d ordered a full shot of sipping tequila at 10:30 AM. Or that we went to breakfast immediately after meeting, instead of waiting to get to know each other on another level (via phone? Email? Whatever.) and then going on a date (if, indeed, a date was warranted by other conversation). So, okay, it’s mostly my fault. But I threw caution to the wind, and…well, you read the story.
On the one hand, I see why things like this happen to me, because I’m a nice girl. If I’d been more of a bitch, I would’ve left him in the street without going through all drama of assuming responsibility for someone else’s actions and let fate take him home, safely or otherwise. But you know what? I can’t have that on my conscience. I can’t know that I willingly allowed someone so clearly incapacitated to take care of himself to potentially drive away and put other people’s lives in danger. So I took the ethical high road, and I feel good about it – but I wish I hadn’t traveled down that path to begin with.
More on the end of that story to follow, but the point is this: lesson learned. It’s okay for nice girls to have plain old nice dates instead of dating adventures. In the future, when I’m ready to go home and a guy hits on me at the end of the night, I’ll give my number and let him call. And if he does? Great. We’ll talk, and maybe email, and maybe meet up. But not for karaoke.