The Date From Hell

Background information ... 
In the late 1980s (I don't remember exactly when), the John-Boy & Billy radio show had a contest.  The idea was to write up a story about the worst date that you ever had.  The writer of the winning story would win a trip to the Bahamas.  I felt that I had a perfect story to tell, so I wrote it up and sent it in.  The story below was my entry, and every word of it is true.  Unfortunately, I did not win the trip to the Bahamas.

My Most Unusual Dating Experience
Sometimes it's tough to be a nice guy ...

We all have things in our past that we really shouldn't want to admit. This is a story that I should keep to myself. But with a free trip to the Bahamas dangling in front of me, it is time for the story to be told. Let me begin with a quote from humor columnist Dave Barry — "I am not making this up!"

In the early eighties, I was still a single guy, and it had been a while since I had dated anyone. I was making sales calls in Lancaster, SC, tooling around in my company K-car. Punching the buttons on the radio, I stumbled across the H.A. Thompson show on WBT. (This was my first mistake.) The "Dateless and Desperate" show was on. After what turned out to be too little consideration, I wheeled into the nearest shopping center and grabbed the nearest phone. In no time at all, my desire for A Desirable Woman was broadcast throughout the Charlotte area.

Lo and behold, the red light was blinking on my answering machine when I got home that evening. It was a female voice— she had heard my mating call on the radio and wanted to meet me. So I returned her call, since her voice carried no signs of a recent lobotomy.

We talked for about 30 minutes. I guess that I was blinded by the fact that we actually could carry on an intelligent conversation, and that she seemed interested in me. Whatever the case, I missed the Early Warning Signals. For example, she pointed out that she wasn't the best-looking girl in the world. "What the heck", I thought, "I can't expect every girl to be Christie Brinkley". And besides, a lot of women underestimate their looks.

She suggested that I come by her house the next Saturday afternoon so that we could meet. Here was the next Early Warning Signal. She still lived with her mother (I think that she was about 25 years old - I was also 25), but they were currently living in temporary housing, as a tree had fallen through their own house and it was being repaired. Again, I said "no problem".

She even had an activity planned for our nice little date. She had some sort of hobby that required getting articles from old magazines (yet another Early Warning Signal). She had seen an ad in the paper for a man that had old magazines for sale. Why don't I take her to this man's house to look over the magazines? Why not, indeed? This would be an excellent opportunity to get to know each other.

I was to be at her house at 2:00 p.m. Saturday. There was plenty of time to wash the car in the morning — I had to make a good impression! Which car would it be ... the company K-car, or my neat little Triumph GT-6 sports car? Well, I reasoned that one thing that women look for in a man is the ability to Produce Income, so a company K-car could possibly be more impressive than a frivolous little sports car. On the other hand, a low-slung sports car can be interesting if she gets in wearing a short skirt. For whatever reason, I chose the K-car, and spent all morning polishing it to a lustrous shine.

So after shaving, showering, and dressing in clothes more than fine enough for magazine browsing, I headed out to meet my blind date. I left early, because I did not recognize the address that she had given me. After studying my Charlotte street map and getting closer to my destination, I began to realize that this girl did not live in Myers Park. In fact, I was beginning to feel a little out-of-place — I was wishing that I was driving a cop car instead of a K-car.

But I pressed on, and soon I pulled up in front of her temporary house. Well, it didn't look so terribly bad — there was a little picket fence around the front yard that would prevent its use as a  motorcycle gang clubhouse. So I parked the car, got out, locked the door, opened the fence gate and approached the house.

A horrid little yapping rat-dog appeared out of nowhere, but thankfully he didn't try to make love to my leg. My blind date — let's call her Darlene — met me at the door before I had a chance to knock. This was the point at which most guys would have executed a Bat-turn and headed for the nearest bar. But no — I'm just too nice of a guy.

Darlene was right — she was not the best-looking girl in the world. She wasn't in the top ten. She wasn't in the Honorable Mention list. You could say that Darlene was the human equivalent of Syrup of Ipecac. (If you don't know what that is, go see your local pharmacist.)

The kindest thing that I can say is that at least she wasn't fat. She was tall and skinny — make that real skinny. She was built like Olive Oyl, except with not nearly as much sexual magnetism.

She had long flowing hair. I use the word "flowing" in the same sense as in describing an oil slick. It was long, stringy, oily and dirty hair, uncontaminated by shampoo.

How can I describe her face? The best word that I can think of is "wompy-jawed". Her eyes weren't level on her face, not unlike Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman. Her mouth appeared to be a little crooked, too. But her smile completed the effect. I never knew that one person's teeth could grow at so many different angles. I was mesmerized. Correction — make that shell-shocked.

Some women wear sensible shoes, while others wear sexy high heels. Darlene had elected to go on our magazine quest in her worn-out rubber flip-flops. They made her dirty feet even more noticeable, and complemented her faded flowery dress well.

We sat down in her lawn chairs to have a chat. My mind was already racing — "How in the hell am I going to get out of this?" "God, this girl is ugly!" "I hope that I don't run into somebody that I know!" "This girl would gag a maggot!"

She told me all about herself. She was unemployed. (I could understand why — I wouldn't hire anyone that would cause the other employees to get instant nausea.) But I don't remember hardly anything that she said, because the whole time I was trying to think up an excuse to leave.

Suddenly she said, "I really appreciate your offering to take me to look at the magazines! Do you mind if my mother comes along?" It was at this point that I realized that the two-seat sports car would have been a better choice than the K-car. But since I'm such a nice guy, I again said, "No problem."

As if on cue, Darlene's mother came out of the house. If she had been pushing a shopping cart full of junk, she would made a stereotypical New York City bag lady. And here was Prince Charming, who had come to whisk her daughter off of her feet and ride off into the sunset. But at this time I would have rather ridden off of a cliff.

So we all got into the K-car and headed for the magazine man's house. By this point, I had an explanation ready in case I ran into a friend. These ugly people were some distant relatives that I was obligated to take to K-mart for some obscure reason. Yeah, that was the ticket. Fortunately, I never had to use that excuse.

The magazine man's house was in a pretty nice neighborhood. When he answered the door, he first looked at Darlene and her mother, then he looked at me with a questioning look. I think that he could sense that I really didn't belong with these people. But he invited us in and led us to the basement.

This man had piles of magazines in his basement. Most of them were old celebrity and movie magazines. At this time I found out that Darlene's magazine hobby involved collecting everything ever published about Elvis Presley. Wow — she was really turning out to be the girl of my dreams. I always wanted to date a skinny, ugly wompy-jawed Elvis freak.

So there I stood next to a bag lady in a damp basement full of old magazines, watching Darlene browse through a zillion old magazines, hoping for a gold mine of pictures of the King. She must have looked for well over an hour. Finally, she had a stack of choice issues in her hands, and she was ready to complete the transaction.

The magazine man wanted a nickel each for the magazines. Darlene's stack totaled up to $2.35. So she pulled out her change purse and started counting — nickel by nickel and penny by penny. She was over a dollar short. So being the nice young gentleman that I was, I made up the difference from my own funds. Actually, it was a choice between paying for them or waiting another hour while she decided which ones she didn't want. What would you have done? (I know — you would have hit the trail when she came to the door!)

Eventually, but not soon enough, we arrived back at their house. I opened the fence gate to let them back in, and then shut it again. Darlene smiled and said that she really enjoyed meeting me and hoped that we could get together again sometime. I had to make a statement, and fast. I quickly blurted, "No — I really don't think that we would be very compatible.", then jumped in my car and took off without looking back. I was cussing all the way home —"@#%&&$#@%!!!! That girl was ugly!!!"

Thankfully, I never heard from Darlene again. The one positive thing that came out of this awful blind date was a great story to tell in a bar.

Fortunately, I did meet the girl of my dreams a few months later, and now I'm very happily married. If I'm lucky, this story will be worth a trip to the Bahamas for us. If I do win, my only hope is that Darlene isn't listening to your show that morning. After suffering through an afternoon with her to avoid hurting her feelings, I'm just too nice of a guy to hurt her feelings now after all of these years.

But I'll be a jerk for once in order to go to the Bahamas.