This was one of my favorite first date stories and spurred the inspiration to start sharing about my less than glorious dates. I thought this was a “one-off” and didn’t realize it foreshadowed my dating career. It occurred about ten years ago.
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Online Job Guy and I met via a dating website (this was before the time of Tinder and Bumble). It’s been so long I don’t recall the actual site. He said he was self-employed and was vague about his job description.
We exchanged the appropriate number of in-site messages and then chatted on the phone a bit. I asked him about his job and he said he owned his own business. When I pressed him a little further, he said his work was “online”. I was skeptical about what this “online” business was. He was clearly avoiding the topic so I let it slide and the conversation continued. Internally, I was praying he wasn’t in the adult entertainment business or something that was illegal.
We decided to meet the next day after work for a drink.
At the time, I worked in a law office. That day I was wearing dress slacks, a blouse, and heels. He knew I was coming from work and knew that I worked in a law office. I was waiting outside the restaurant when I saw someone that vaguely looked like his online picture walk up.
He was wearing an old hooded sweatshirt. When I say “old”, I mean old. It had the faded appearance of being washed over a hundred times and was frayed around the edges of the sleeves. It was the perfect kind of sweatshirt to wear to a bonfire over the summer, not to wear on a first date in a restaurant. He paired his beaten sweatshirt with ripped jeans with white paint spatter all over them. These are not the kind of distressed jeans with the perfectly placed rips across the knees and perfectly splattered paint. These jeans had actual tears in them from years of abuse and paint, like from actually painting. His sneakers were untied with the laces dragging behind him.
To say I wasn’t impressed would be an understatement. You know how they say first impressions matter? Well, I wasn’t impressed. I was already coming up with an excuse how I’d have to leave in no more than an hour.
He waved and said hello, and then went in for a hug. So awkward.
We headed in to the restaurant and I started to proceed past the host to the two vacant seats at the bar. Beside me, he turns to the host and states, “Table for two please.”
“Oh, I thought we’d just get a drink?” I asked.
“Well, I’m hungry,” he stated.
Okay – this is the kind of date that will proceed on his terms. Joy. We proceeded to follow the host to the table. As we were walking, I told him I hadn’t planned on food and I was meeting a friend in about a hour or so for dinner. With my exit plan announced, we ordered a couple of beers and he ordered a burger with fries. So he wasn’t eating alone, I ordered a small starter salad.
“That’s it?” he asked.
“Yes, I’ve already had plans to meet my friend for dinner later,” I reminded him.
“Are you one of those girls that just orders a salad and then eats all my fries?”
I chuckled. “I’d order fries if I wanted fries.”
Our beverages came and we engaged in small talk. I was curious about this “online job” so I started asking more questions.
Q: When did he start his business?
A: A couple years ago.
Q: Did he like the direction it was going?
Q: Did he like what he did?
Q: Did he have to travel for work at all?
A: Not really.
After about fifteen minutes of my pestering questions, I think he finally tired my inquisition and started giving me tidbits of information.
His business involved “sporting events”.
Q: Is it online betting?
Q: Online gaming?
Q: Online whatever that had to do with sports?
He finally gave in. He buys various season tickets to different sports and sells the individual tickets.
“That’s cool,” I offered.
Although I attempted to feign impressiveness, I knew the sound of my voice and the look on my face were dripping with judgment. I couldn’t help it. Why was this such a secret? There was no way to cover my disappointment after all that build up.
By this time, food had arrived and he dumped about half the bottle of ketchup on his fries and the other half on his burger. I’m not exaggerating. The ketchup bottle was almost empty. He had pulled up his sweatshirt sleeves, held his burger in his left hand and took bites of ketchup-drenched fries in between of his huge chomps on the burger. He carried on conversation with large chunks of food in his mouth. As you would expect from the amount of sauce, the ketchup and sauce on his burger oozed out of the sandwich and started slowly dribbling down the pinky-finger side of his hand. I figured he would catch it with a napkin at some point. He didn’t. It continued to slide down his hand towards his wrist, slowly proceeding about two inches down his arm, through his arm hairs, all while he continued chatting with glorious amounts of food in his mouth. He finally paused and acknowledged what was happening. Stopping mid-sentence, he lifted his hamburger-cradling arm in the air, rotated his wrist towards himself, bent his arm to his mouth, stuck out his tongue, and slowly licked the long trail of ketchup and sauce from his arm to the burger.
In the restaurant.
It was like slow motion.
I literally looked around for a hidden camera. Here I am in business attire picking at a salad while Online Job Guy basically says he doesn’t have a job, dresses like he rolled out of bed, and licks his arm instead of using a napkin. Licks!!!
I excused myself to the restroom. While walking to the restroom I was looking for any hint that this is a hidden camera operation. I waiting in the restroom an appropriate amount of time, staring at myself in a mirror. Did that just happen? I texted a friend with a “text me in 10 minutes… bad date” text so my phone would buzz.
I headed back to the table and came back to a second beer that he had taken the liberty of ordering for me. How in the world did he think this was going well?
He finished up his burger and fries leaving a ketchup covered plate that looked like something had been slaughtered. As soon as the server came by, I asked for the check reminding him that I had dinner plans to get to. My friend timely texted and I offered to split the check. He took me up on it.
I rushed through the paying for the check process and started getting up from the table. I had half of the second beer remaining. He asked me if I was going to finish it.
“Uh, no,” I replied absently.
“Well, don’t want it to go to waste!” he said as he picked up and downed the rest of my beer. Like a shot.
My jaw dropped. I didn’t even try to hide my astonishment at Online Job Guy anymore.
We walked outside the restaurant. I stated I had to get going and he went in to hug me. I reluctantly obliged and leaned in, only to realize he was trying to kiss me. I quickly avoided it with the classic turn of the cheek with his foul ketchup and burger smelling mouth landing on my cheek. It was just awkward.
I still believe this whole “date” had to be secretly videotaped. And for the last ten years, and for what I presume will be the rest of my life, every time I see re-sale tickets online, I am reminded of wrist-licking Online Job Guy.