The Hiking Guy and I met via a dating app. After texting a couple pleasantries, he suggested we meet for an afternoon hike. A hike? Hmmm… this was a first for me.
There is a theory that a hike or a walk on the beach for a first date are ways to not spend money on a first date. I have been on so many first dates that when I’m sitting across from someone over another cup of coffee, glass of wine, or pint of beer the dates sometimes turn into uncomfortable interviews. So why not try an activity? A leisurely hike sounded like a great idea, allowing us to engage in some kind of activity while getting to know each other.
Before agreeing to this leisurely hike, I inquired where he thought we should meet. He mentioned a local trail I had not been to before. I was new to the area so I used my Google skills to ascertain the location of the trail, and determine whether it was a popular trail with lots of people on it (safety factor), how long the hike was, etc. The good news was the trail is well traveled so we wouldn’t be out in the wilderness on our own. The trail was only 1.5 miles in and out and was labeled as “moderate” in skill level. Perfect. I agreed to meet Hiking Guy for a Friday afternoon leisurely hike on a popular trail.
While at work on Friday of the day of the date, I was talking with some co-workers about the local trail and the date that afternoon. I explained how I ever so rationally researched the trail because I watch and read too many crime thrillers and I wanted to make sure I would be safe while trekking through a little wilderness. After listening to my well-reasoned fears, one of my male co-workers says, “Well, if he really wanted to hurt you, he could go out and dig a hole off the side of the cliff the day before and just push you into it while on the hike when people weren’t around.”
My coworkers and I stared at him. Obviously he watches crime thrillers as well (at least I hope he does otherwise I will be steering clear of his desk).
Just like that, with two hours to go until the hike, all of my well-reasoned rationalizations about the safety of the hike went out the window.
I replied, “Well, if my stuff is still at my desk on Monday, send someone to start looking for my body at the trail.” He shrugged. The conversation continued on, swirling around me, as I sat in silence pondering whether or not I remembered the self defense moves I had learned so long ago in college.
I drove across town over to the trail. I pull up, put my hiking shoes on, grab my water bottle, and look around for Hiking Guy. There was a guy pacing back and forth at the base of the trail, but he didn’t look like the pics in the app so I continued looking around. The pacer looks up and walks over to me. Great. This must be Hiking Guy. He doesn’t look like his pictures. He is one of those who literally chose the best pictures he had ever taken from five years ago and made them his profile. (Note to self: Review my profile when I get home to make sure all pics are recent.)
So, here I am standing next to a guy that doesn’t look like his dating app profile, standing at the base of a trail with the thoughts in the back of my mind that I’m going to be pushed over the side of the trail into a hole that has been dug the night before. With that in mind, I put on my cheeriest smile and stick out my hand and say, “Hi, nice to meet you!”
He somehow anticipated my handshake and goes for a hug. A hug. From a complete stranger. Awkward. We exchanged brief pleasantries and decided to start the leisurely trail.
I should let the reader know that at this time I was at the beginning of my fitness journey. I should also mention that this trail, although a mile and a half long, goes up 1,500 feet. Within the first 100 feet of basically climbing stairs instead of a leisurely stroll, I am already embarrassingly winded. I quickly realize that I am going to be more worried about making it up the trail more so than being pushed off the side of the trail.
We discussed the unusually warm weather that afternoon, our weeks at work, and the other general “getting to know you” greetings. Or rather, he exchanged pleasantries while I huffed and puffed my ways through sentences pausing to breathe where there is clearly no comma or period in the sentence to pause.
I finally gave up and stated, “I’m probably going to be more of a conversationalist on the way down.”
He chuckled, “Yea, I was like that before I started running this trail.”
What?!?!?!? He said he RUNS this thing? He suggested a trail that he runs UP while I am trying to breathe my way through this hill and avoid getting pushed off?
I give up at conversation and just ask short questions that require him to answer with a little substance (and therefore allow me to catch my breath). “What… brought you… to this area?” “Tell me… about your dog.” “How has… your experience… using this… dating app… been so far?”
This last question was a mistake.
He proceeded to tell me about a woman he dated a couple times. The story went something along the lines of: On the third date, she wanted him to come over to have a couple beers. He stopped by the store to get some beer to bring over. She opens the door and is upset because she thought they were going out for beers. They stay at her place and she proceeds to consume the beer and get a little tipsy. He then goes on to describe how all she wanted to do was sleep with him… and then tells me that he finally gave in on the couch.
Since we are walking up the hill, one person in front of the other, he is unable to get any nonverbal cues that maybe he shouldn’t be talking about the other women he has dated, much less slept with, on a first date.
With each step up the hill, my interest in him steadily declined. We reached the top and paused to take a look at the views while my breathing returned to a somewhat normal rate. I chug the water in my water bottle like a fraternity brother chugs beer at a toga party. I look over and he is watching me. I notice he has a slight white film around the edge of his mouth. It’s then I realize he didn’t bring water with him on this “leisurely stroll” on a warm afternoon. Please don’t ask me for a drink of water. Please don’t ask me for a drink of water. Please don’t ask me for a drink of water.
So I continue drinking the water until it is gone. That solves that.
“Wow, you were thirsty!” he said.
“Yep,” and I don’t like to share.
After the appropriate time observing the views from the top, we start making our way down. I already decided it was a last date so the conversations were mundane as I scrambled down the trail aiming to get to my car and the air conditioning.
We passed quite a few people on the trail, many struggling just as I had, which made me feel a whole lot better. When we were nearing the bottom, there was a very fit and toned couple on the top of some large boulders overlooking the trail. They were talking to another set of hikers on the trail. As we walk by, he is looking at this fit couple and then says to me, “Wow, the sex between them must be amazing.”
What?!?!?! I must have misheard him. So I naively asked, “What was that?”
He repeated it.
Yep, I have officially determined men who are complete strangers believe it is completely appropriate to discuss sex with me. I don’t know why this happens.
I didn’t know how to reply. I just kept walking down the trail leaving silence as my response.
A couple zig zags later, we ended up back at the start of the trail and he dove into the drinking fountain (clearly he was thirsty). When he was done, I let him know it was nice to meet him and the hike was a great trail. I stick out my hand to shake his hand and he goes in for another hug! Ugh.
“Okay, nice meeting you!” I stated.
I start walking to my car… and he follows. Uhmmm… I think this is now past the part where the date is over. He talks about maybe getting food. I let him know I need to get back to work. I quickly change out of my hiking shoes and throw them in the trunk. I close the trunk and before I can react, he steps in closer to me. In slow motion, I see him coming forward and notice he still hadn’t wiped the film off of his lips. Please don’t try to kiss me. Please don’t try to kiss me. Please don’t try to kiss me. He is too close to stop with a handshake so I quickly turn my cheek and give another hug, pat him on the back, say something about it being nice to meet him, and run to the driver’s side door and jump in before he tries or suggests anything else.
At least I didn’t end up in the bottom of a hole.