I just experienced one of the most awkward, cringe-inducing, sweet-baby-Jesus-get-me-the-FUCK-outta-here moments of my entire life:
I was ambush dated.
My inclination is to believe that most women already know what an "ambush date" is, having been mercilessly subjected to one at some point in their lives. But just in case you don't, here's a handy definition:
(ambush date) n.
1. When you agree to meet someone under non-date circumstances only to find yourself an active participant in a romantic outing that you did not, nor would not, ever consent to. Highly socially awkward.
— to ambush date
— ambush dating; ambush dated
My tale of woe unfolds thusly:
You've all seen my e-mail address at the top of this page, right? Ever since I put that up, I've gotten messages at a pretty frequent clip that basically take the form of a Mad Lib:
My name is [First Name]. I found your blog through [Website], and I [Positive Adjective] it! Dating in this city is [Negative Adjective], and I totally relate to your experiences. Would you be interested in getting a drink sometime?
It's for that reason that I started throwing happy hours; it seemed to me that there were a lot of people out there looking for an excuse to drink on a school night, and I was overjoyed to provide one.
And regarding that subject, you've also probably noticed I haven't put together a happy hour in a while. It's because my life took a turn for the emotionally turbulent (cough entrepreneur cough) and, bottom line, I simply hadn't felt up to faking a smile and organizing one.*
It's the confluence of those issues (the e-mails, the lack of a happy hour) that led to my agreeing to meet a gentleman -- let's just call him That Guy -- at PS7's in Chinatown for their incredible Monday happy hour deals (half-price burgers and drink specials until closing time -- it's hard to get a seat, but seriously, you gotta check that out!).
I'd checked my e-mail one day last month, and, lo and behold, a message not unlike the one composed above was waiting for me. That Guy told me he wanted to meet me, framing it in the context of commiserating about dating being a necessary evil in this world. Knowing I wasn't going to throw a happy hour and therefore wouldn't have a ready-made opportunity to meet him otherwise, I said sure.
Now, to clarify: In no way did this man actually ask me on a date. Nor did he use wording that could ever be construed as such on a second reading. I have a dating blog. At this point, when guys e-mail me, they immediately clarify whether it will be romantic or platonic. And adamantly so, in most cases.
Nay, That Guy wrote that he was dating again after a painful breakup, and that he had questions to ask me about the process. If anything, the relationship with me he was cultivating was Teacher-Student.
And, oddly enough, the hour that I spent with him can be summed up as a manual for what not to do on a date.
So, That Guy was already waiting for me at the bar when I got there. I sidled up next to him and introduced myself, preparing for a chat. That Guy immediately hugged me.
In and of itself, that's not a horrible affront. While I wouldn't necessarily recommend a hug as a greeting on a first meeting, many people I've met are of the "huggy" variety and are comfortable with that level of physicality with perfect strangers.
However, That Guy hugged me for an inordinately long amount of time. Like, a solid 30 seconds of a hug. And I realize that 30 seconds doesn't seem like it's that long... but trust me, when you've just met somebody and you haven't even gotten your purse situated and you're half on/half off your barstool and the busy bartender is side-eyeing you, 30 seconds feels like 30 hours.
Obviously, the hug threw me off a little bit. But as That Guy had expressed his emotions over a recent breakup to me, I wasn't about to lambaste him for it. I figured he needed the hug. I merely shook it off, took my seat and ordered a cocktail while asking him how his day was.
Our initial small talk made it seem that this would be an evening like any other. But then, it took a turn for the weird again! As we finally delved into the subject of dating, That Guy began asking me questions as promised.
"So, what is the best first date?" That Guy inquired.
"Well, in my experience, it's usu --"
There's a reason that sentence stops so abruptly.
"I'll tell you, my best first date was with my ex," That Guy began.
He may as well have started with "Call me Ishmael." What followed was the longest, most rambling monologue I have ever been witness to.
It struck me as odd that he'd ask me a question, and then interrupt me to provide his own answer. But what was even WEIRDER about it was how precisely detailed That Guy got in his description of the date. How they'd gone to dinner at Rasika. How she'd laughed at his cheesy jokes. That she was wearing a pink strapless top that "really showed off her breasts."
Yeah, That Guy actually said that to me.
I didn't know how to respond to that, aside from simply smiling and softly saying, "That sounds nice."
Apparently, that response was an invitation. That Guy grinned, batted his eyelashes demurely, touched my bare shoulder (I'd been wearing a tank top -- it was muggy out) and ran his fingertips down the length of my arm.
Does this guy think this is a date? I thought to myself. In past experiences, date situations result in physical contact like that; there is an imaginary line of demarcation between two people not on a date. I wasn't sure how in one breath he could be telling me about his ex-girlfriend's breasts and in the next he'd be making flirty eyes at me and touching my arm, but I've been out with some weirdos before so I just sort of sighed and dealt with it.
I crossed my arms and hoped my body language symbol for "closed" would do the trick, and that we could keep talking without That Guy making another swipe on me.
But yet again, our conversation became a That Guy Soliloquy. The pattern was infuriating! He would ask me a question, I would start to answer, and WITHOUT FAIL, he would interrupt me to tell his own story.
That Guy: "So where did you grow up?"
Me: "I'm originally from Cincinna--"
That Guy: "I grew up in Chicago mostly, but my parents divorced so I kind of bounced between there and Waterloo, Indiana, when my dad moved there..."
(Insert long-ass story about Indiana here)
That Guy: "When did you and your second ex-boyfriend break up again?"
Me: "October Two-Thousand Ni--"
That Guy: "You know, I still can't believe Kelly dumped me."
(Insert long-ass story about being dumped here)
That Guy: "So, you lost a lot of weight, right? How do you stay fit?"
Me: "Well, I run ALL the ti--"
That Guy: "I got really into snowboarding last year."
(Insert long-ass story about snowboarding here)
***Guys reading this: If you ask a girl a question, LET HER ANSWER.
That Guy also kept laughing at his own jokes. They weren't funny. I didn't know what to do, so I just smiled and nodded.
And again, apparently, that response was an invitation: That Guy ran his fingers through my hair.
He ran his fingers through my hair.
Keep in mind -- we've only been in each other's presence for about 30 minutes at this point. And he ran his fingers though my hair.
THAT'S NOT OK. I assumed the "Don't Rape Me" pose -- I crossed my arms tighter, and crossed my legs, too.
But for SOME REASON, the "Don't Rape Me" pose represented the beginning of the deluge: As he continued talking to me, That Guy just started touching me all over my body. Running his fingers though my hair. Unhooking my arms to take my hand. Running his hands down my thigh to my knee.
He DOES think this is a date! my brain screamed. Why else would he be touching me like this? No one touches "just a friend" all over her body, do they!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!??!?!
Before you ask -- no, I didn't say anything out loud to him. I realize that I probably should have told him to stop. But I figured my resolute body language -- my arms and legs were TIGHTLY CROSSED, and I wasn't returning ANY of his touches -- would suffice. And I was so shocked, I was rendered speechless anyway!!!
(Here's another tip for dudes: Learning to read body language is highly beneficial. If you see a girl doing the "Don't Rape Me" pose, she's probably not into you.)
The whole thing came to a head, literally -- after all the hair-finger-running and the arm and leg rubbing, That Guy put his head in my lap.
I excused myself, went to the restroom, then came back to pay my tab and say I needed to get going home. That Guy walked me to the Metro, gave me another uncomfortably long hug, then walked in the opposite direction.
Sweet relief was a Yellow Line train to Huntington.
It was one of the weirder hours of my life. I'm just not sure what motivated him to do all that -- why he wouldn't just tell me he wanted a date with me instead of asking me out under pretenses of learning about dating and then not really care what I had to say. And I'm not really sure in what universe it's OK to feel up someone you've only met mere minutes previously, but I'm not going to make an effort to find out.
The bottom line is this: This blog entry is a PSA.
Don't be That Guy.
*One's coming this month, though -- I promise.