Hello, Readers. Congratulations on making it back for another time killer this week. I have to confess that I’ve been a little short on creative ideas lately and today’s topic was difficult for me to come about. I tried meditation, drinking, and drinking while I meditated in order to find motivation. Fortunately, during one of my drinking sessions, a friend reminded me of something that happened to me in my early 20’s and after some real debate, I’ve decided to share it with all of you.
Before I begin my tale this week, I’d like to thank all of you who emailed or commented displaying support for my post last week. It’s not always easy to hit the “Publish Post” button on my screen when I’ve been that honest on the page in front of me. Your support and comments let me know that I made the right decision. I also wanted to acknowledge those of you who sent emails or comments about how something in the post spoke to you or really hit home.
It’s flattering to know that an idea or experience that I reduce to what feel like feeble words gets communicated in such a way that it makes deeper sense to someone reading in a far off somewhere. It’s a humbling thing to know that this blog is sometimes helpful to at least some of you out there and your feedback is a timely and welcome reminder perhaps from somewhere above about using the gift I was given. The feedback I get from all of you is as valuable to me as any small piece of accidental insight contained in my ramblings. Thank you again. Let’s get to it.
I have to admit that aside from a few folks in my tiny little trust circle, I haven’t shared the following story with very many people at all because for well over a decade now I’ve been sworn to (almost) absolute secrecy by the person who is responsible for the entire thing occurring in the first place. In fact, I put it so far down on the “Stories in My Back Pocket for Special Occasions” list I’d all but forgotten it until one of my best friends reminded me about it last week. I’m a lot of things, but one thing I’m not is a blabber mouth. I have a talent for keeping secrets.
However, after much thought and the realization that I haven’t talked to either of the key people in this story save for the occasional bump into at some random place for years now, I believe the statute of limitations has expired on my prohibition from repeating this story. Besides, it’s really funny.
Now as most of you have probably guessed by now, I’m a barrel of fun when I’m in my element. I’m an extremely social person who loves to have plenty of people around to talk to. I’m often the person in the kitchen at various wedding showers or engagement parties telling stories and usually end up being the center of attention for at least part of the evening. That spotlight used to be one that I craved; however, these days it’s often one that finds me in spite of my attempts to avoid it. Half the time I’m convinced that the people listening to me are just grateful they don’t have to watch the happy couple open up their junk from Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn.
When I was much younger (circa the now infamous underwear photo posted repeatedly by my “friend” Lincee Ray at www.ihategreenbeans.com), I was often the recipient of many requests from my female friends to accompany one of their friends who was “just perfect” for me on a blind date. Notwithstanding my severe aversion to blind dates, I did end up getting suckered into going on a few. The following is a true story about the last blind date I ever went on. You’ll soon see why.
The setting of this particular story is in Houston, Texas. I was between undergrad and law school, single, and about as available as fleas on a yard dog. I went out quite a bit (read 7 days a week), made great money at my job, and lived in a swanky place just West of Downtown. Sure, I was full of myself, but at that age I’d been fortunate enough to stumble into success and by Houston standards, I was somewhat of a catch.
Before you accuse me of being vain, let me just clarify what I mean. As far as first dates are concerned, let’s be honest, appearance matters. I had a nice car, a good job, was young and in shape, and had plenty of expendable income, and a plan for the future. As for what was behind that façade; well I’m not sure it’s any different than it is today, but the outside of the building was appealing. Most guys my age were still sitting around in their apartments with their roommates playing video games and waiting for the local wing place to open up so they could throw on a jersey and waste the day swilling pitchers of beer and screaming at the big screen TV. I, on the other hand, was dateable and set up-able. That’s all I meant.
Now because of my overwhelming appeal—or perhaps it was because my knuckles didn’t drag on the ground when I walked—a work friend of mine who I shall refer to as “Jill” decided that I needed to meet a friend of hers who I will call “Kathy” who had recently moved to town from Nashville, Tennessee. Kathy was described in glowing terms and after grilling Jill and determining that Kathy was actually cute from head to toe rather than having “a pretty smile” or “a huge heart” I consented to the set up. Incidentally, when a woman describes another woman in the aforementioned terms it has been my experience that the only thing that’s “pretty” and “huge” about her is her rear end. Annnnnyyyyhoooo . . .
Jill and I were friends but only in a very pedestrian sense. We talked at work, had lunch together on occasion, and were about the same age. When she offered to set me up we actually had to exchange phone numbers because we rarely, if ever, saw each other after hours with the exception of work happy hours or parties. She agreed to pass on my information to Kathy and I agreed to shower, shave, and refrain from what is normally a prodigious use of a certain four letter word rhyming with “truck” as Kathy apparently possessed a modicum of Southern charm and etiquette that precluded her virginal ears from comprehending such filth. I should have known right there it wouldn’t work.
After confirming with Jill that it was only Kathy’s ears that were virginal and getting a clarification that derivatives of the word rhyming with “truck” were also off limits, I agreed to the terms. What can I say? I love a f*cking challenge.
At this particular time of my life I spent a large portion of my available social time at two particular bars in Houston: Blanco’s, which is the closest thing to a real honky tonk that Houston has, and Kay’s Lounge, which is a dive bar with a Texas theme and cold Lone Star beer---in the bottle, of course. In fact, to this day they are the only two bars that I will actually hang out in when I go back to Houston.
I’m not much on pretentious places with velvet ropes and a 6’5” Neanderthal in a $1,500.00 suit and that elastic wire protruding from his jacket and tucked in his ear guarding the entrance while attempting to subtract 21 from the current year as the Mmmmch, mmmmch, mmmmch beat of that pseudo techno music permeates the neon lit walls.
Dude, you’re a bouncer. Get over yourself. I also don’t like to pay eight bucks for a beer and if I can’t get into a place with boots, jeans, and a pearl snap shirt on then that’s not a place I want to be anyway. If I want to hear a bunch of self-important jerks in sport coats talk about themselves I’ll go to the Travis County Courthouse.
The week of the big date actually went by without incident. I worked, worked out, and even went to the Galleria to buy a new shirt for the big date. On Wednesday evening—as if on cue—Kathy called my cell phone and I answered. She was very formal—a condition that I attributed to the awkwardness of calling a strange person in a strange city based upon nothing more than a friend’s vague descriptions of me as a ‘nice guy’. However, after a few minutes she loosened up a bit and I noticed a wonderfully charming, bona fide Southern accent. Formality aside, I’m a sucker for Southern accents.
After some general banter, I asked her if she had any thoughts about our date or if I should take the initiative and plan it on my own. We agreed that I would pick a local place with some Texas charm to meet for a cocktail and that she would pick the restaurant where we would dine. Since she had just moved to town, she was staying with her parents in a suburb and agreed to drive into town to meet me. I, of course, chose Kay’s Lounge.
Before I get into particulars, I’ll tell you that I chose Kay’s for a couple of reasons. First, it’s my type of place and my type of environment. My philosophy—even at that stage of my dating life—was that if a person couldn’t accept me in my natural environment then dating her wouldn’t work. I was more than willing to go to a fancy dinner or hang out in a swanky place with her, but she had to know what I was about first.
Second, Kay’s was close to my place and close to Blanco’s which were both on my pre-planned escape route if the date went south. I’d already gotten a hint that this girl was a little too Scarlett O’Hara for me and I wanted a way out just in case I found myself frankly not giving a damn. Fiddle-dee-dee (Google it.).
Incidentally, it also occurred to me that her “I’ll drive into town to meet you” ruse was actually her planned escape if I turned out to be a putz, which was, of course, impossible. We were like Fisher and Spassky eyeing the chess board before the big match. As transparent as it was, I admired her plan.
On the Friday of the big date I called Kathy to confirm our plans. Well, that’s not entirely true. I called her to throw a wrench in her strategy. I offered to pick her up at her parents’ house but she stood her ground and shut me down. Point Kathy.
I told her that I’d be done with work around 5 and that I’d see her at Kay’s promptly at 6. I let her know that I’d be the good looking one at the end of the bar in skin tight jeans. Oddly enough, she didn’t find that amusing. “We’re in for a long evening if that’s the case,” I thought. I actually debated a trip to the mall to buy the tightest jeans I could find, but I nixed that plan just in case she turned out to be hot.
I wrapped up work around 4 that day and headed to the gym where I worked aggressively on my beach muscles. After all, it’s foreseeable that a lady of her pedigree would expect me to offer my arm, pull out her chair, and help her exit my truck. I wanted to be adequately pumped so as not to disappoint her. Hell, that’s not true. I just enjoy working out.
At any rate, I showered, shaved, and threw on my best cologne. I can’t remember the name of it but it was probably something like “One Man Show” or “One Night at My Place” or simply “Stud.” Whatever it was, I’m certain that it had the musky smell of irresistible pheromones guaranteed to tempt even the most reserved Southern woman. Throw in my beguiling demeanor and the light blue shirt I’d specifically selected because an old girlfriend once told me that color “made my eyes pop”—whatever that means--and I was sure to win the chess match. I didn’t even stuff my pants. I smiled knowingly at myself in the mirror before grabbing my keys and heading out the door. Game on.
Like a lion strolling through the Serengeti, I arrived at Kay’s about 10 minutes early and made my way to the end of the bar which was in direct eyeshot of the door. The place was empty save for a few local drunks and I wanted the advantage of scoping out the scene before she arrived. I waited 25 minutes before breaking etiquette and ordering my first drink. If she didn’t have the courtesy to be on time, then I’d start drinking without her. After all, that delicious, cold Lone Star wasn’t going to drink itself and Some Guy didn’t like to be kept waiting.
Being on time is a pet peeve of mine, particularly when a week’s worth of notice and a confirmation phone call have been given. I was already mildly annoyed. Granted, Houston traffic is a pain and I wasn’t Germanicly adamant about the exact time, but she could have called to let me know she was running late. I could have caught the last 10 minutes of Cops instead of rushing over to Kay’s.
After finishing my first Lone Star I got up and went to the restroom. Upon returning, I sat down and the door opened. As if expecting a round of applause Kathy stepped in to grace us with her presence. Let’s see if I can describe her.
Kathy was dressed from head to toe in white. I couldn’t decide if she was there to date me or to put a coat of paint on the exterior of the building. Throw in a black bowtie and she looked like a slutty Good Humor Ice Cream man. She had on white heels, white dress pants, a white blouse, a white sweater, and she carried a white purse—all of which looked expensive. Her entire ensemble was perfectly accented with gold accessories except for her earrings which were diamonds—trust me, they weren’t CZ.
Her blonde hair was long, silky, and contained enough hairspray to hold a wheat field in place on a windy day. She was extremely pretty but her features were obscured by a preponderance of foundation, rouge, and thick eye make up. I’ve seen stucco applied more sparingly. I pictured Michelangelo lying on his back painting the Sistine Chapel using her make up kit. If I wanted to, I could have carved my name in her cheek.
“Well hiiiiii. You must be Deeennnisss. Niiiice to meeeeet youuuuuuu,” she said in an angelic Southern accent that distracted me momentarily from her make up. “That’s me,” I responded well aware that my previously open mind was slowly closing. I resolved to give her a chance and suggested that we sit in the booth farthest away from the entrance so that we could have a little privacy. She agreed and sauntered over to sit down.
Kay’s doesn’t have a wait staff, but the bartender was bored and he stepped around the bar and walked over to take our drink order. You all know what I ordered. After some thought, Kathy actually asked for a mint julep. Granted, she’s from Tennessee and all, but it wasn’t Kentucky Derby time and we were at a dive bar. That drink screamed high maintenance—as if the outfit didn’t—and I quickly prepared myself mentally to drop a ton of cash on dinner.
“This broad had better put out,” I thought as I pictured waking up next to her with make up all over my pillow cases. I wondered if Borax got make up stains out of cotton and it actually occurred to me that there was no way that the mountain of junk on her face was water soluble. She probably used a quart of motor oil to remove it every night.
We got our drinks and as I sipped my Lone Star I casually glanced at my watch and realized that she was 42 minutes late. I abandoned any hope of even a casual apology and as she sipped her fancy drink she began to talk about herself. She went to Ole Miss—a bastion for spoiled Southern girls on Daddy’s dime seeking their MRS. Degree—and majored in Business.
I’m sure she had a host of sorority sisters named Muffy, Peyton, Blake, and Lane and they all dated guys named Hunter Something the Fourth or whatever. I pictured her in a yellow dress and white gloves strolling across campus to Home Economics class. Oddly enough, I was in the Italian Fraternity in college: Kappa Kappa Chino. I actually dropped that joke on Kathy—she failed to see the humor in it but politely smiled. I’ll be here all week, folks.
Her father, to whom she referred to as “Daddy,” also went to Ole Miss and was “in construction.” I was temped to ask where the building on campus that was named after him was located. It quickly became apparent that rather than being “in” construction “Daddy” made people “do” construction for him. The guy wasn’t operating a jack hammer or lugging two by fours around all day. He owned the place. “What about your Daddy?” she asked. “What does he do?” “Well, my daddy didn’t go to college and he climbs telephone poles for a living,” was my answer. I believe it was at that point that Kathy realized we weren’t meant for each other and I could see it in her face. “At least now I can say that word that rhymes with ‘truck,’” I thought.
Let me say that Kathy wasn’t all bad. Granted, she was self-involved, clearly spoiled from birth, and could not have cared less about me, but I’m not a judgmental person and although she and I were as different as it gets, there was a certain charm about her that I found attractive. I was sure that Hunter Whatever the Fourth would see that one day. Of course, I believe that Kathy translated “different” to mean “better than me” and I frankly saw no need to try and change what had clearly been drilled into her pretty little head since her first cotillion. Besides, I take comfort in being a dirtbag and there was no changing me either.
Here’s where it gets weird—and funny.
After hearing about “Daddy” and his money for another 15 minutes, something odd happened. Kathy abruptly excused herself from the table and made her way to the bathroom, purse in hand. I assumed she was over me and was heading there to make a call to Jill in order to put her escape plan in action. Either that or I assumed she missed a birth control pill and, conscious of wearing all white, was responding to a cramping issue or something like that. Far be it from me to understand how that works, but it did occur to me that “starting” in that outfit would be more of an exclamation point than a period.
Far from being insulted, I was actually relieved. “I’ll finish my beer, be polite, and then just level with her,” I thought. “Then I’ll head to Blanco’s and find a woman more my speed with a ton less make up to twirl around the dance floor all night.” Perfect.
Kathy returned to the table and I politely asked if she had selected a place for dinner. My intent was to let her open the escape door on what was quickly becoming a debacle of a date and then suggest we call it a night. Oddly enough, she said she had selected a place called Pesce—which she pointed out “means feeeeesh in Eye-tal-eee-an.” Surprised, I agreed to go to dinner and we agreed to have one more drink before heading out for our 8:30 reservation.
As I sipped my next beer I couldn’t help but notice that Kathy looked noticeably uncomfortable. She squirmed in her seat, was short with me, and seemed unusually preoccupied. Struggling, I tried everything from jokes to rescued puppy stories but I just couldn’t get her to engage. When I finished my drink I decided to head to the restroom in order to give her some privacy. Of the million permutations running through my head, a few of them revolved around perhaps an ex-boyfriend she called while in the bathroom. Perhaps I’d offended her or perhaps she too was just being polite in hopes that I would end the date. I would head to the bathroom and let her make a phone call. Perhaps it would be sorted out when I returned.
After taking my own sweet time in the bathroom, I returned to the table literally reaching for my wallet in order to pay the tab. You can imagine my surprise upon seeing Kathy sitting there with another mint julep in front of her and an entire pitcher of Lone Star beer in front of me with a nice frosty mug beside it.
Confused, I poured a beer and said something like, “thirsty or are you not hungry yet?” She offered a polite smile but nothing more. After a beer and a half from the pitcher I realized that I had not eaten anything since a sandwich at around 11:30 a.m. It was quickly approaching 8:15 and I was starving as well as beginning to feel the five beers I’d already had. Kathy probably weighed a whopping 105 pounds and had to be feeling her mint juleps by now.
“Look, I’m starting to get hungry. Why don’t we finish these and get out of here,” I said trying to get things going. “Uh, oookaaay,” she said. Still, something was not adding up. It actually occurred to me that Kathy may have been running from some sort of criminal activity she participated in back home in Nashville and was nervous about getting pinched. Hell, that explanation was as reasonable as any other in light of what was going on.
I nodded, stood up, walked over to the bar and paid the tab. When I sat down again, I sipped the remaining quarter of my beer quickly and reached for my keys. “Do you just want to ride with me to the restaurant and I’ll take you back here when we’re done?” I asked. As an unmistakable panic came over Kathy’s face, I struggled to comprehend the next few sentences. I hadn’t noticed it before but I could clearly see that Kathy was actually sweating through her make up.
“I cayeeent go to deeeener with youuu, Deeennnisss,” she said.
FINALLY! She was giving me the out I needed. See, I knew she wasn’t into me and I should have just said something a couple of beers ago.
“Look,” I offered, “I know that there’s really no attraction here. We’re both really different people and I respect that you have the guts to tell me that. You’re very attractive and seem really nice. What do you say we just call this a friendly dinner and I’ll be your new friend in a new town?”
“Nooo, that’s not eeet, Deeeenniss,” she said still sweating.
“What is it, then?” I said more confused than I’d ever been on a date.
And then it came. The explanation I’d been waiting for. Now, before I tell you what it is let me just say that the following information never—and I mean never—crossed, nor would it have crossed, my mind as an explanation for Kathy’s odd behavior; however, upon explanation it all made perfect sense.
“Well, what is it then?” I said quickly becoming annoyed at the vagueness.
“I sheeeeet in myyy paynts.”
INSERT ABSOLUTE SILENCE AND A BLANK STARE
“I’m sorry? You what?” I said.
“I sheeeeeet eeeen myyyy paynts. I went to the bathrooooom eeen my paynts. I have dye-ah-reeeee-ahhh.”
Oh boy. At this point I have to admit that I was, in a word, dumbfounded. I doubt Emily Post has written extensively, if at all, on the proper way to handle the “what if my blind date craps herself in a public place” problem. It was never more apparent to me that she and I were also sitting in the booth furthest from the door and would have to walk across what was now a fairly crowded bar in order to get out of there not to mention the fact that I was a regular in the place. I couldn’t stand to have my image soiled like Kathy’s expensive white pants. I’m certain Kathy had already been trying to get her pretty little head around that problem. It goes without saying that this conundrum was not addressed in Home Economics class at Ole Miss. Then again, perhaps that’s what the white gloves were for.
After seriously considering simply hightailing it out of the bar, I looked sympathetically (the one time in my life when I was glad that empathy was not an option) into Kathy’s horrified face and said—for lack of nothing better to fill the silence—“what do you want to do?”
“Eye don’t knooooowwww,” she said with tears beginning to appear.
I told her to sit tight—as if there was another option—and I walked calmly out of the bar toward my truck. I remembered that I had a dark colored towel in there I’d used on my seat after a run in Memorial Park the day before. Lucky for ole Kathy, I’d forgotten to take it out of the car. I rolled it up and as discreetly as I could I tucked it under my arm and re-entered the bar. I actually felt sorry for Kathy at this point but I was still not about to escort a crying, fecal stained debutante through the crowd.
I sat down and handed her the towel under the table. “Look, if you wrap that around your waist and. . .”
“Just go, please,” she said.
“But I. . . “ I said.
“Just go. I’ll feeeegyer eeet ooouut,” she begged.
Not one to miss an opportunity, I stood up, thanked her, and then hightailed it the hell out of Kay’s. I respectfully waited until I was at least 100 yards down the street before beginning to laugh hysterically. I stopped off at a local taco place for a quick dinner and then made it to Blanco’s on time to meet up with some friends who asked me how my date went.
“It didn’t go so well. We were just too different,” I said not wanting to explain.
“That stinks,” said a friend.
“You have no idea,” was my response.
Well, there it is. To this day, I haven’t seen or heard from Kathy and my guess is that she prefers it that way. Jill eventually forced the story out of me but didn’t believe me until Kathy apparently confirmed it months later. Another point of interest is that the booth where this entire fiasco occurred is the identical booth that Lincee Ray and I sat in many years later and after filling me with several Lone Stars she won a bet that forced me to cough up that now infamous shirtless picture that exists in cyberspace in perpetuity. If I ever return to Kay’s, I’m going to avoid that booth like a bad case of the runs.
Thanks, as always, for sticking with me in the off season. Take care of yourselves and stay in touch. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be cleaning my white pants. DP