Dating, I decided looking at the man sitting across from me, is not for the weak of mind. While my nervousness in meeting this stranger for lunch had manifested in shaking hands and a bit of semi-uncharacteristic clumsiness, he was much worse for the wear.
Sweat beaded his forehead, dripping down his temples as if he had run a marathon rather than order Pad Thai. I tried not to notice the dark circles under his arms where his shirt clung to his body – and not in a sexy romance novel way. He was talking, for some odd reason, about sea urchins.
Sea urchins had not been a part of the conversation. There had been no segue; we’d not talked about tide pools or even the ocean. I’d merely asked if he liked seafood, which, I suppose was related though not quite what I’d had in mind when I’d mentioned the restaurant had a delicious fish soup. I listened with a smile, nodding my head. It was, after all, confirmation that I’m not always the most awkward person at the table.
At this point in my romantic life, I’m not surprised by the discomfort brought on by making conversation with a stranger over food or coffee. What does surprise me is the range.
There was the man who leaned towards me, nearly knocking over my barely touched drink, to stage whisper over the musician leading the room in a cover of “American Pie”, “Why don’t we just kiss and get this awkward stage over,” as he slid his hand up my arm in a way guaranteed to have me escaping through the bathroom window. Or, as actually happened, the side exit.
There was the poor man who didn’t utter a single multi-word sentence during our two-hour dinner date. While I love comfortable silences, there’s something decidedly uncomfortable about holding a one-sided conversation over appetizers and dessert.
I’ll never forget the man who cried into his pasta over his ex while I awkwardly patted his arm and softly suggested they try counseling. It had been a fantastic date until the soft music being played over the sound system had switched to “their” song and triggered an emotional breakdown. Servers looked at me with curious looks while the table next to us whispered and tried not to stare. The man wiped his face with the oversized napkin and spent the rest of the evening telling me how amazing his ex-wife was.
I'm not alone. One of my single girlfriends came home from a recent date with the pronouncement, “I now know everything there is to know about hydroponics.” While I excitedly pumped her for details of this amazing system of growing plants, she rolled her eyes and said, “No, I mean, he didn’t talk about anything else.” She speared me with a look. “At all.”
For every amazing date, it seems I have four awkward ones. There’s something about expectations combined with discomfort and nerves and swirled with a dash of bizarre to bring out the worst in an experience. What was your most awkward date?