Monday, July 21, 2008
May you live in interesting times. ~Ancient Chinese curse.
In the course of my ridiculously long, off-and-on single life, I’ve been on some pretty interesting first dates. One in Pennsylvania ended up with me fighting for my honor on a deserted country road. Another, on Vancouver Island, started with 6 bottles of vintage Champagne and an egg-sized chunk of Afghani hashish (and ended after 10 years of marriage and two exceptionally cool children).
There was an egotistical MLB player; a horny transvestite; the Mexican model known as “Big Rod”, who picked me up in his Yellow Cab; a warlock (who picked me up in a hearse) and an assortment of bastards who each admitted over cocktails that they were unhappily (sniffle, sigh) married. The usual stories. But one date, “Allium”, occasionally still haunts my olfactory memory, and it, rather than he, deserves to have the story told.
Caveat: This will run long. Like any sadder-but-wiser person, I feel compelled to offer unsolicited advice.
I met Allium at a party. He had big, dark eyes, a cool accent, a long ponytail, and he stank of rancid garlic. I assumed the stench came from the guacamole or something and wasn’t a permanent condition.
Dating Tip #1: Never assume that a repulsive aspect of another human being is temporary. Whether he or she is married, lame, drunk or stanky, you can bet the problem is just the tip of an unsavory iceberg.
Recommendation: Run away.
So, Allium and I talked about Australia, peyote, travel, politics. Interesting guy! He invited me to join him the following Friday for dinner in the City. He’d pick me up at my office in the financial district.
Dating Tip #2: Avoid dating people who randomly and inexplicably smell of any member of the Alliaceae species, including, but not limited to: leeks, shallots, garlic, Walla Walla Sweets and chives. I once dated a vampire and learned that garlic perfume does not prove that your date is not a bloodsucker.
Recommendation: Go for the Ivory soap or the Old Spice.
That Friday, I dressed up for work so as to look good for the dinner date: bitch pumps, little black dress, red lips, fine perfume, jewelry, the whole shitteree. Allium arrived at my office in torn jeans and a stained Grateful Dead tee shirt, and was still mysteriously reeking of ancient aioli. But, hey! It was San Francisco—always a laissez faire, come-as-you-are town—so, I figured, no big deal, I’d go with the flow.
Dating Tip #3:
Never go with the fucking flow. If a potential dating prospect invites you to join him for a hot weekend in Vegas, ask for details. It could turn into a series of rattlesnakey, side-of-the-road pup-tent campouts, interspersed with tearful hitchhikes through the Mojave.
Recommendation: First class air; Bellagio.
Allium grabbed my hand and said we’d have to hurry to make it in time for dinner. It was a particularly warm evening, and I was wearing especially high heels, but we ran down Sansome Street. An early reservation, I reckoned.
As it turned out, we were running for the bus. He used his monthly pass and found a seat. I dug through my purse for change and paid my fare.
When we got to the designated dinner site, Allium held open the door for me. That’s when I realized we were entering the Union Gospel Mission, where dinner was just being scooped up into plastic trays. “You have to get here early,” Allium explained, “or all the meat gets eaten.”
I was a good sport. I stood in line in my designer dress and Italian pumps. I got my tray of grayish meatyballs and flabby pasta product, served up in a piquant sauce of Elmer’s Glue-all. I grabbed my slice of Wonder bread and an unbreakable glass filled with something vaguely brown, and joined stinkboy at the table.
Dating Tip #4:
Never be a good sport on a first date. Never. Better to just spit at the offending party or bonk him over the head with something and make a run for it.
Recommendation: On a first date, always carry a purse large enough to hold a granola bar, a roll of quarters, Kleenex, a small flask of whiskey, a Billy club (can be substituted with a taser for formal events) and a pair of flip-flops.
Our fellow diners, several of whom, coincidentally, wore stained Grateful Dead tee shirts, glared at the greedy redheaded bitch in the jewelry and fancy clothes. “Yeah, look at that rich whore, gobbling up all our food!”
As if I’d eat any of the vomito con le sfere on that tray. Oblivious, Allium smacked his no doubt redolent lips with gusto and used my Wonder bread to soak up the stray Elmer’s on his tray. I inspected my warm glass and gripped my purse, all the while scoping the place for shivs and fire exits.
Over dinner, I asked Allium why he always smelled of goddamned garlic. He allowed as how he took garlic supplements for his blood. Gah.
Dating Tip #5.
First off, never drink (or sniff) the brown liquid at the Union Gospel Mission. In fact, if fate lands you in any similar soup kitchen, try not to inhale at all until you get about a block away.
Recommendation: Don’t take garlic pills. Better to smell of wet ashtrays, angry ass, desperation, moldy gumboots, overnight Pampers, anything. Even if not taking garlic pills causes you to form blood clots the size of Oregon huckleberries. If you do take them, you’ll get used to the insidious smell and won’t recognize the horror of it. Oh, but I will, gentle reader. I will.
After dinner, I told Allium it was past my bedtime (6:15 pm), and I’d have to be catching the bus back to Marin. Somehow, he convinced me that we should stop in at a great party going on at his place, just a few blocks away: lots of liquor, tasty treats and assorted illegal substances.
Ok, I used to be an idiot. But I was curious and, by now, starving, and really wanted some Fritos and a cocktail, maybe some mushrooms, to tide me over during the long bus ride home. So, we walked to the party.
I was startled at the appearance of the house. It was huge. Immaculate. A sage-green Victorian with leaded windows and an exotic garden. Most shocking was that Allium’s key opened the door.
It all made sense! He was an eccentric millionaire! Maybe he’d been testing me with the bus and the stench and the soup kitchen! Maybe I could use the rest room with impunity! Maybe this would turn out to be a decent Friday night after all! Woohoo!
Dating Tip #6:
Your creative spirit is admirable; but save that overactive imagination for arts and crafts. Use it poetically to pull sappy metaphors out of your rear end. A first date is no time to let delusions and high hopes get the better of you.
Recommendation: If you should ever believe the worst date of your life is going to morph into a surprise party in your honor, take a deep breath and yell: “Taxi!”
We entered the house. Beautiful. Spotless. Intriguing artwork, great design, rich fabrics. I followed Allium as he walked straight through the atrium, then the living room, past the dining room, into the kitchen and out the back door.
In the backyard, a tent was pitched under a tree. Not one of those big, white lawn party tents. No. It was a small, grubby, tattered tent you might pitch by the side of the road on your way to Vegas. Allium grinned proudly, and said, “Well, here it is! Home sweet home.”
A gentleman to the end, he held open the tent flap. “Come on in and meet my wife—she’s been waiting for us to get back from dinner so we can party!”
I never got to meet the little woman. Instead, using both hands and one stiletto-clad foot, I pushed Allium into the tent and, shrill as a banshee, screamed “FUUUUCK YOUUUUUU!” Then I high-stepped it to a bus stop that would get me to a friend’s house in the Avenues. There, I partook of a fine veggie curry and a cozy evening, compliments of Patrick. I refer to Patrick of the John Lennon smile, enormous brain and liquid turquoise eyes. That Patrick. And thus began the first of many amusing evenings and a fine friendship.
Dating Tip #7. Fuck it. If it weren’t for the Patrick happy ending, just writing this down would make me want to smack somebody hard in the crotch. The memory of the stinking date kept me from eating hummus for months, and I love hummus. Swedish meatballs still give me the dropsies. I figuratively (and often literally) retch every time I pass through Gilroy. It’s a miracle I can look at a Caesar salad, never mind eat half a loaf of tasty garlic bread in one sitting.
Moral: Your best date ever may be just around the next shitforsaken corner. Regardless, may you forget it as quickly as it happens, remember it fondly, or hold it close to your heart forever. May you find it boring, scintillating or promising; but may you never look back on it as "interesting". When it comes to first dates, interesting just sucks.
Posted by itinerantwoman at 9:01 PM