Why I Didn't Go on my First Date
Art by Kim Salac
It all started with a Snapchat. I usually only Snapchat my cousins, and I have no idea how or when this guy became my friend, but I received a notification from a John**. The photo was of a shirtless boy with squinty eyes and a little smirk that said “wyd.” I showed it to my brother asking who the guy was. My brother said he had played basketball with him in middle school. I responded to the gold-chain-shirtless-boy and asked if he played basketball with my brother (why did I even entertain this? I have no idea, boys never talk to me, and I like to keep it that way). He responded with a lip bite pic, again shirtless, again squinting, with a message that read “you remember me lol.” I did not respond.
I responded to the gold-chain-shirtless-boy and asked if he played basketball with my brother (why did I even entertain this? I have no idea, boys never talk to me, and I like to keep it that way).
A few months later, I was in my childhood best friend’s wedding, and I found out that Shirtless Squinty is in the wedding, and he also had to walk with me down the aisle. I didn’t look at him during the rehearsal even though I had to link arms with him. At the rehearsal dinner, two different women came up to me, asking me if I was single, and when I gave the faintest hint at an affirmation, they immediately followed with “what about John?” Other random people piled on; a few mentioned his salary, a few his appearance, a few his truck. Might as well have thrown in the length and girth of mini-Shirtless Squinty as hard as they were selling him.
He then leaned forward and said “I had fun talking to you tonight” and put his hand on my hip for a spontaneous side-hug. My fingernail prints were on my palms with how tightly I was clenching my fist.
At the wedding, I still didn’t look at him. Many people told me about him and why I should “give him a chance.” At the reception, he sat beside me. I began to feel guilty because he didn’t know many people there, I figured, so I gave in and talked to him a little; harmless conversation about things like macaroni and cheese. He eventually left to talk to other people, and I got up to dance. The second I sat down because I didn’t know how to wobble, a blond goatee came my way. He sat beside me, and because of the music, I couldn’t hear (I already can’t hear well), so I had to lean in a lot. I was very conscious that this might be misconstrued as flirtatious behavior, so I kept my distance and I didn’t hear half of what he said after that. I told him I liked 80’s music (they were playing “Don’t Stop Believing”), and he did the Guy Thing where they quiz you and mansplain things to you like who AC/DC is. Using just my eyes I gave my childhood best friend a little indication that I needed to leave, so she pulled me up to dance some. Later in the evening as things were winding down, Squinty came over again and said goodnight and goodbye. At that moment, I was talking to my childhood best friend’s mom, and she had just said “he makes six figures a year, are you sure you can’t talk to him?” He then leaned forward and said “I had fun talking to you tonight” and put his hand on my hip for a spontaneous side-hug. My fingernail prints were on my palms with how tightly I was clenching my fist. I often say that if I could choose my superpower, I would have the ability to shoot my arm and leg hairs like a tarantula. In that moment, I wanted venom too.
Of course my mom asked if the guy I walked with at the wedding was single. I had just received a Snapchat from him asking me to hang out. I made many a joke about how badly I did not want to go and never would. She then framed her argument as “he’s cute, he makes a lot of money, he’s Christian, and he’s nice, what else could you want?” like a test of some sort. Later my best friend started telling me to at least go experience something new (okay valid, I’m 20 and I only hang out with my relatives).
His Instagram made me violently giggly when I saw the dozens of pictures of his truck and his gym pictures (one of which I titled “Bicep” because it was gloriously ridiculous).
I want to make it so vividly clear, that I didn’t want to go, no matter what any other detail gives off. I didn’t eat for a whole week, and my sleep was either a nightmare of a lady in my room or of snow. I couldn’t do any homework. I cried a few times in the mix, too. Every single middle school repulsion of boys touching me or even looking at me was pulled back to the surface. I reasoned that “maybe just go and see, it doesn’t have to be a date.” I convinced myself he might not be terrible, and I might at least make a new friend. His Instagram made me violently giggly when I saw the dozens of pictures of his truck and his gym pictures (one of which I titled “Bicep” because it was gloriously ridiculous). His frequent Snapchats did not help either as every time he got more and more shirtless and closer and closer to the nipple, I got violently ill and hysterical. He sent a few messages about me needing to send “full face” pics and how I “didn’t need a filter.” Awh thanks. There were a few as well with his gold chain in his mouth. Hot. Everytime I talked about this, everyone made a defense for him (including me sometimes): “Maybe he’s just nervous, he’s never had a girlfriend, he thinks that's how you flirt, etc.” Again, I reasoned, this can just be one dinner, maybe he’s not as gross in person, maybe then my parents will stop being so scared of and for me.
My childhood best friend assured me he was not the type to try anything. She had been there when I would get into fisticuffs with boys on the playground in elementary school (usually it ended with me rising victorious and valiantly sprinting around and with them flattened with mulch on their backs). She had been there in 6th grade when I sat on a particular boy until he cried at soccer practice (he’d tried to hold my hand), and then when I punched (in the chest if that makes it any better) my only middle school “boyfriend” when he tried to put his arm around me (I’m so sorry Matt, I hope you are well). Thus, she knew that I would absolutely throw hands if he tried any sort of hanky panky with me. Our “date” was supposed to be eating at a local restaurant and then “riding around.” I moronically assumed “okay cool, we ride around, look at trees, listen to music.” Of course I’m the same person who had occasionally said I was “down to clown” which I now know is a euphemism for sex, but I had just thought it meant, like, I was “down” to have fun or something. I don’t know. I think I said that to a couple of my school-friends, too; I did not want to have sex with you, sorry. I said it to him when he talked about the “riding around” and he said “I don’t think you know what that means lol” with squintier eyes than usual. I looked it up. Lesson learned.
He then asked me “what I liked” (I really wasn’t sure what that meant). I responded “What do *you* like.” To which, I received a message that made me actually scream out loud.
Everything changed when the fire nation attacked. I received a message the morning of our “date” that said he may need to reschedule (I’m politely rephrasing, his exact words were “i’ll let you know” when I asked about the time of our “date,” like I was going to sit around and wait for him). I surely and absolutely did not care other than some anger at him being disrespectful of my time and how I wasted a week being stressed and sick about it all, and I wanted an apology. I also felt embarrassed that not even this douche canoe in a tool box had put a time down for me; it was a pride and insecurity thing meshed together. I responded with a “maybe another day haha,” and planned on making my first conduit on Minecraft after I put the finishing touches on my winter cottage. He then asked me “what I liked” (I really wasn’t sure what that meant). I responded “What do *you* like.” To which, I received a message that made me actually scream out loud.
“And see this is what I don’t know, I like driving around some, my hand on your thigh, then pulling into a parking lot and kissing you, but idk if you like that.”
I knew he knew where I worked, and that confirmed that this was not a coincidence. She said to stay in the back and she would tell me when they left.
A few days passed, and I was at work at a small retail store in our mall. I hadn’t heard from him in a day or so after he later sent “oh sorry” after his earlier message and my lack of response other than a “yeah, that’s not my vibe.” I was folding shirts and had just made my way to the register when I saw two figures walking in in my peripheral. Impulsively, I immediately said, “Hi, how are you?” I glanced to the side and saw that it was John and his friend. I then turned to my co-worker and said, “I have to take something to the back,” and I sprinted. I then picked up the phone that connects the two registers and told my coworker that there was a guy that I didn’t want to see out there because he has been really weird with me. She said she had heard one of them say “look, there she is.” I knew he knew where I worked, and that confirmed that this was not a coincidence. She said to stay in the back and she would tell me when they left.
Later that day, my cousins and I were walking around the block downtown while there was still light out. As we were walking by a restaurant, we saw our other cousins in the window of a restaurant on the street. We stood there for about ten minutes trying to get my other cousins’ attention. I received a Snapchat notification from John, but I didn’t want to deal with it, so I let it sit for a while. Later that night, I opened the message that read “was that you?” I responded “what?” (why did I respond, I don’t know). He said “I think I drove past you lol.” I said something along the lines of “oh when and where.” He said he had seen me downtown, and I replied that I hadn’t seen him. He then said he had driven by twice within five minutes (sus), and that “I know you saw me.” I had not, and hopefully never will again.