More Dates From Hell:                   Plume

True Stories From Survivors

Chapter 1    You’re the Date From Hell

Your date is looking horrified, and it’s because she or he is traumatized  What got into you, what were you thinking--what were you doing? This time, it’s time to pity your date.

                                                       * * *

Midway through dinner on our third date, Gayle told me that she liked old-fashioned men. That was me! I was an old-fashioned guy.

    We were at a fairly fancy jazz bar in Boston, having a delicious dinner, listening to great singing and piano playing from a guy we’d both read about. We kept our conversation low so as not to disturb the music.

     We were side by side in one of those small semicircular booths when I noticed that Gayle wasn’t listening to my conversation about trading stocks on the foreign exchange. She was smiling lazily at the piano player. To make matters worse, he was staring back at her with the same sexy little smile. I drew an imaginary line from his eyes to my date, and the trajectory couldn’t have been clearer: he was eyeballing her cleavage.

    I just about choked on my raw oyster and gave her a tap that was a little  too harsh.

    “Do you two know each other?” I asked, hoping she would get the hint, would stop staring back at the guy, and would maybe tie a napkin around her neck to hide some skin.

    She gave me a little laugh and said, “Very funny. He’s great, isn’t he?”

    Oh yeah, he was great, and he looked a little like Michael Bublé, or like Jeff Bridges playing piano in the movie “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”  Next thing I knew, Gayle would probably say, “I know this song!” and start slithering on top of his piano like Michelle Pfeiffer did, making goo-goo eyes at him.

    “I’ve heard better,” I couldn’t believe I heard myself saying.

    “I love him,” she said, smiling more broadly at the singer, who smiled wider, too.

    Was she breathing harder, or was I listening harder?

    “Aren’t you going to eat your food?” I asked, trying to draw her attention away from the guy.

    She hummed along, running her fingers through her long brown hair, and her green eyes were half shut. That dreamy look was too much for me.

    I dropped my oyster shell on my plate and glared at the signer. I put my arm across Gayle’s shoulders and dragged her right against my side.

    The singer said, “This is for all the beautiful brunettes in the world,” and Gayle purred, “How nice.”

    “Is he bothering you?” I asked, angry. All she had to say was yes, and I’d deck the guy.

    “No!” she said. “I love his music. He’s got a great voice.”

    At the end of the song, Gayle clapped hard and the singer nodded in her direction and murmured, “Thank you.”

    That did it.

    “Hey, buddy. Put the moves on someone else’s date.”

    Did I say that? Yeah, I said that. And I’d stand behind it. At least until he stood up and I could get a better look and decide if he was much bigger than I was.

    Gayle was shocked.

    “Relax,” she said, stroking my arm. “Nothing’s going on. Please. Calm down.”

    The singer said, “And this one is for all the men who are lucky enough to be here with the brunettes in the world,“ but he stared at Michelle’s cleavage some more, and it was clear to me  that he was toying with me. He was going to seduce my date right in front of my eyes and still sound innocent about it. This guy obviously made a practice out of hitting on women and humiliating their dates night after night. Only this time, he’d chosen th wrong brunette and the wrong brunette’s date to mess with.

    “Don’t do me any favors,” I yelled, clutching the edge of the table. To my date I said, “We’re going.”

    She panicked and said, “Please, what’s wrong? Settle down.”

    I brought my hands to my chest and bellowed, “What am I? A fool? I know what’s going on here. The guy’s been staring a hole at your cleavage for a half hour. He’s asking for it.”

    Two waiters in tuxedos appeared, and I jumped to my feet, wobbling the table. I didn’t want to be at a disadvantage when the punches started to fly.

    The guys stood on either side of the singer. I gulped. I didn’t think I could take on three guys all at once--a frontal assault would leave me in pieces.

    The two guys took the singer by the elbows, and the singer got to his feet at the same time that one of the guys pulled his piano bench out for him.

    The singer put an arm out in front of him, testing the air, and slowly turned toward the back of the room. I felt the wind come out of my sail, and I wished I weren’t still standing.

    “Oh, sit down,” Gayle said in disgust, throwing her napkin onto the table. “He’s blind.”

    When the manager asked me to leave, I nodded like a whipped puppy and did as Gayle told me: I took her home. When she was getting out of the car and said, “This isn’t going to work,” I was chivalrous enough to know that she meant never call her again.

    Old-fashioned men know not to continue the pursuit when they’ve been given the brush-off on the same night they’ve humilated themselves.

                                                            — Glenn, 26, trader, Boston