Valentine's Day -- the Worst for a First Date

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 14th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3lirhd8b/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

I'm sure by the time a person hits 30, they've heard a gamut of horror stories about someone dating for the first time on the Lover's Holiday. But when the date is awful, and you know they still got married, well, you just have to have a little more back story...

It's just another day...

While couples in love are professing it proudly and in a way that makes you want to vomit just a little, and couples in trouble try to use this holiday to patch relationships, and the single and lonely open up a pint of Hagen-Daz and make love to their spoons, some people are just trying to get to know each other. And it's just another day. So 13 years ago, when my husband was just a nerdy science professor working on his PhD, when I was just a college senior hell-bent on saving the world from itself, and we were passing each other on the sidewalk between campus buildings, we decided to go on a date. The only day we had available was Wednesday, which happened to be THAT holiday. But we were not love-sick teenagers. We could go on a date and it would be fine. Yeah, right.

He Picked Me Up In His Pick Up Truck

First, my mother spent that day until Valentine's Day yelling at me. Didn't I know it was bad to date my professor? Former or not? Didn't I know what that made me? Didn't I? And how could he take advantage of a young student -- a girl? There was no convincing her that I was 20, and could very easily take care of myself -- had proven myself in the past -- though she didn't need to be worried with that knowledge. It wasn't my fault she had never met the guy. I pointed out that I could have lied and said I was out studying, as I had done in the past when I wanted to date, but that I wanted to do the right thing. And I didn't even know why I felt the need to play this one by the rules. Maybe I already felt guilty because he had been my teacher -- no matter how innocent that association was? Mom refused to accept that I was the experienced party here -- not the boy. It didn't matter who was older or better educated. I was more experienced -- not him.

However, for all that she trusted me to help run the household, she did not trust me to have decent taste in guys. Worse, I was planning for him to pick me up when she would not be home. It didn't matter that it was the only night either of us had free, and responsibilities related to my family were why I was often too busy to date. I decided tin that moment that all the responsibilities my mother had devised were solely to keep me from dating, and I was angry it had taken me so long to puzzle that out.

I dated.

Usually I went out with guys my girlfriends set me up with so their husbands and boyfriends would stop looking at me. I didn't think I was anything to look AT, but I was a tomboy who had more in common with guys than girls. This threatened the girls, so I went along with whomever they picked for as long as I could or until the guy dumped me. I figured at least I was getting out of the house, and they weren't all bad.

*snicker, snicker*

So by the time Mom had left the house, I was drained. I was nervous, and I couldn't eat. Which shouldn't matter because he was taking me out to dinner, right?

Dinner

Now people who are reading this and learning about me for the first time should realize that I have won awards for pickiest eater on the planet. I can't tell you the number of things I've sworn I was allergic to because it was easier to say that then admit that I didn't care for something, didn't want to try something new, and if something didn't look and smell appetizing TO ME, I wasn't putting it in my mouth. And the absolute worst thing someone else can do during a meal is talk to me about it, because I AM self-conscious about my finickiness, to whit:

As a rule, I don't eat chocolates, candy, gum, or breath mints. I don't like harsh tastes and smells.
I don't drink popular brands of soda (with the exception of my beloved Dr. Pepper).
(The many Olympic games ads talking about drinking Coke to support the athletes are not referring to me. I don't drink Pepsi, either. Or coffee, Or tea. Or alcohol. Or V8.)

I don't eat hamburgers.
I don't eat steak.
I don't eat fish.

I could live off chicken (cooked nearly any way -- as long as there is no rub, sauce, or other adornment that can't be scraped off) and one topping on a pizza (hamburger, ironically -- given my distaste for burgers. I think it's the cold condiments mixed with hot beef resulting in a soggy bun that I find most objectionable).

Occasional forays include:
spaghetti (with the right meat sauce, not tomato soup paste dribbled over noodles),
beer-battered fried shrimp (occasionally breaded and fried, but no other kind),
round steak (the cheap stitched part of the cow, not unlike the SPAM of beef) --
and hot dogs (I like the ones that are mostly chicken the best, but any flame-grilled hot dog with mustard or melted American Cheese is usually edible. Just keep the ketchup and relish far away from me.).

So you get the idea.

At most fast food joints, I could order a chicken sandwich plain (hold the condiments, hold the bun) or chicken nuggets, and that was fine. Rarely could/would the guys I dated afford anything else, anyway. But my husband, before he was my husband, wanted to show me how mature people went out and had a good time. So he took me to a nice fish place. On Valentine's Day. The only available seating was right next to the noisy kitchen, which had so many overwhelming fish smells I could not breathe. And the poor guy wanted to get to know me. He wanted me to relax.

"Let's talk."

*Oh, dear.*

I looked at the menu. They had two chicken dishes -- both served over pasta covered in sauce.

"Could I just have a chicken breast?" I asked.
"Sorry, hun. They aren't doing any special orders tonight."

I was hungry. I was nauseous. The salad, which I had ordered "plain" was loaded with cheeses and croutons and sliced tomatoes and onion rings -- to the point I could not separate the lettuce (which was Romaine and Spinach, not Iceberg) from the slimy extras. I pointed to something on the menu I thought I could maybe eat, outraged at the price, hoping this guy hadn't left his wallet at home, sorry that I was making him pay for something I knew I would not enjoy -- that I might not even eat. And I was cussing myself once again for being such a baby about food. And I couldn't even go home at the end of the evening and tell anyone about it, because Mother would be "right" and I'd never hear the end of it. It's really too bad I'm not more of the suffer-in-silence type; my discomfort was plastered on my face. The harder my date tried to figure out what was wrong and make it better, the worse I felt. The smell continued to overpower me. I bolted to go to the ladies' room when the tears started falling. But wouldn't you know it -- someone had flooded the stall and no one was allowed in. I was trapped. Totally trapped. Had I been in tennis shoes and not dressed for a date, I might have left and walked home. Of all the reasons -- crying because I didn't like the food -- that's what he would think. I couldn't let him know how my mother and I had been fighting. He wasn't even important to me, not yet. But there were tables blocking every window, and he caught my eye as I searched for another exit. There wasn't one. I walked back to the table.

"I'm so sorry. The smell of fish from the kitchen just doesn't agree with me tonight."
Or any night. He clearly loved fish and I didn't want to tell him just looking at his plate and holding my lunch in was using more willpower than nature intended.

When the waitress asked if I wanted my plate in a take-home box, I cheerfully could have slapped her. I should have asked to go to a drive-thru, but I felt bad seeing the bill for food I had wasted, and didn't want to ask for more, no matter how hungry and miserable I was. If I could just get him to stop talking about food, I would be alright.

(You know that's not what happened, right? Right.)

Next Stop: Bookstore? Great!

When my husband, before he was my husband, pulled up in front of the bookstore, I was so relieved. I love books. I love to talk about books. I have favorite books. This was safe territory for me. There was just one thing I forgot.

Cookbooks.

Since I was dissatisfied with the selection at the restaurant, my husband (before he was my husband) wanted to look at cookbooks with me to see what I liked. After the fifth recipe and illustration was shoved hopefully in my face, I remembered that this bookstore HAD a bathroom.

"Excuse me!"

I bolted.

And I spent as long as I reasonably could in there. I cried. I screamed into a wad of paper towels. I scared a kid -- and an old lady. I was so upset and mad and frustrated that I was laughing -- that odd laugh of the insane that makes people cringe away from you.

A woman about my mother's age asked me what was wrong. I told her "It's Valentine's Day, and I'm on the date from Hell." She gave me a pitying look that told me this was not a unique situation. Now that I'm older, I know how right she was. She told me it was the new millennium, and I looked like someone who could take control of a situation. Now, why didn't I think of that?!

I washed and dried my face and reapplied some make-up (I actually wore it back then) and re-joined my date. I told him I wasn't interested in cookbooks -- no, not at all -- and took him to my favorite section of the bookstore -- the fantasy section. He told me he would buy me whatever book I wanted. I had just landed on a collection of short stories edited by my favorite fantasy author. "This one." I said. It was $7.99. A scandal to pay that much for a paperback, in my humble opinion. Still, he said any one I wanted. It didn't even occur to me that I could have gotten any number of "lobsters" of books -- hard-backed tomes costing $20 to $30 or more. Now I know that my husband is as good as his word -- if I really want something, he will find a way to afford it. However, my husband loves the fact that I am frugal and shrewd. I will not ask for things I can afford to buy myself, or that I could get cheaper in a few months when they are less new, less popular, less in style, or I can get a perfectly acceptable used version for half the price. In the coming year, he would learn that a date to McDonald's would satisfy me, that I was very comfortable making a budget stretch, and that I wouldn't allow his "friends" to continue to mooch off him. But that night, I felt very frivolous holding my eight-dollar book.

And he was still talking about food.

What's "Dinner & A Movie" Without the Movie?

He drove to the movie theater. I don't know who suggested the movie. Him? Me? One of his friends trying to give him bad advice on purpose?

I wasn't sure what to think about the strange movie we watched: Saving Silverman. Pretty sure it was not meant to be a Valentine's Day date movie -- since the guys were doing everything they could to keep their friend from the girl he wanted to marry. The movie was so bad. I mean, it was terrible. Roger Ebert sums it up pretty well here, basically by paraphrasing another critic: at least the whole movie wasn't farting jokes. However, it was funny in bits and I loved Neil Diamond's songs and cameo.

It was a relief to laugh and pretend like my date wasn't trying to hold my hand or touch me as we both reached into the popcorn bucket. Saving Silverman wasn't a romantic comedy or a romantic anything -- Saving Silverman was exactly the kind of movie you went to watch when you were single on Valentine's Day and hate everyone.who is in love. It is probably not a movie you would take someone to that you ever wanted to date again. Unless you knew the other person enjoyed the type of humor associated with the American Pie (movie, not Don MacLean song) franchise.

The Drive Home ... Or Is It?

Having laughed and sung along a good bit, my husband (who wasn't my husband then) was more relaxed. And I was trying not to think too hard about what I would say if he thought the date went well enough that he would ask me out again. Because surely he knew it was a disaster, right? I mean, certainly? I knew, however, that he had admitted he had only gone on a handful of first dates -- and zero second dates. I knew he claimed he had never kissed a girl. By comparison, my casual (and infrequent) dating had made me quite worldly.

Trying to pay attention to him and not think the thoughts going through my mind, I didn't realize that we were taking the long way home. I did notice when we missed a second, third, and fourth turn-off to my house (I did live out of the way, on an unpaved county road outside of town). But I reasoned that surely he knew where he was going, because he arrived to pick me up -- surely he knew where to take me BACK. SO I just knew I was being kidnapped by the guy who had never kissed a girl and wouldn't know what to do with one. I thought I ought to be afraid, but I was too busy trying not to laugh at this insane idea. When we had passed every back road leading to my front door, I finally told him -- "turn left at the light." We had driven to a whole other city. Luckily, it was a city I knew well -- better than the college town where I knew only the college campus and the route to/from home. I still thought he was just stalling. I didn't realize he didn't remember where my house was -- and I didn't believe him when he finally admitted it to me. (I found his getting lost ironic because the subject he was earning his PhD in was geography - which to him meant rocks and weathering and to me meant map-making and the knowledge of locations.)

We finally made it home and he walked me to the door. My mother had left the light on, but did not come outside, for which I was mostly grateful. We exchanged awkward goodbyes, and he did not ask if he could see me again, so I decided that he could. I might want him to buy me another extravagant book. He had spent well over $100 on our evening, and treated me like a lady the entire time. I had behaved boorishly and there was no reason any sane person would ever want to go on a second date with me.

But we all know how that turned out...

Credit/Blame

Connie told me that the misadventures of my first date with my husband would make a good article. I've told this story so many times and to so many people that it's funny to me now, but I wasn't laughing happily then. I hope you enjoyed it.

Be sure to check out my other articles -- if you've had your heart broken this Valentine's Day, Heartless might be something you'd enjoy. If you want to read more about movies, you might try this article on for size. I've also written some 'episodes' of romantic comedy you might enjoy, with 25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane. You can find them on my website, or go here.

To see all my articles -- or as many as will display, click on my name at the top or just above the comments section. For help, see the image for this section.

Also, don't forget Frigid February Following Frenzy is still going on -- if you are looking for followers to follow you, go to this article, leave a comment, and follow everyone else who did. Chances are good they will follow you back. And I certainly will. Good luck! Just two weeks left in the frenzy!

Tags

Bad Experience, Boyfriend, Dating, Girlfriend, Holidays, Relationship, Valentines Day

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Hazel Campbell
14th Feb 2014 (#)

entertaining

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author avatar acrogodess
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Oh wow. I never had a date Valentine or otherwise like this one. And you married him? Happy anniversary to your first date!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Yes, acrogodess, I did. And thank you. In his defense, he's quite a good husband and father, so long as I take the reins on the dating plans and buy my own gifts. He is a great Ying to my Yang and we complement each other well, believe it or not.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Thank you, Hazel.

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author avatar Retired
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Phyl, reading about your Valentine's Day date made me think of my misspent days as a bachelor. I just realised that I have never actually taken a girl out on a 'proper' date, although (bragging) I was rarely short of female company. Now, after 25 years of being married to my special lady I think it's time I asked her out on a date, just to set things right.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
15th Feb 2014 (#)

Good evening, Mike - a ditty, flowers, candy and a date all seem appropriate after 25 years :) ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
15th Feb 2014 (#)

I will do that, Marilyn. Thank you.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Amusing for sure.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Yes, Mike -- never too late, and I'm sure she'll appreciate it more than I did back then. :)

Thanks, Jerry.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
14th Feb 2014 (#)

howfun isthis...and now we know your eating things...

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author avatar n.c.radomes
14th Feb 2014 (#)

I see love and affection for the opposite sex is akin riding in a ferris wheel with its ups and down.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Phyl, this was so much fun and so enjoyable to read. Thanks for taking my suggestion. Now this is a great Valentine's Day story.

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author avatar Kingwell
14th Feb 2014 (#)

Happy anniversary of your first date - Happy Valentine's day too.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, all!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
15th Feb 2014 (#)

Good evening, Phyl. Wonderfully done. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks!

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
15th Feb 2014 (#)

Nice post Phyl and interesting as well!

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
15th Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting share.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Randhir!

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author avatar Bangkit Tensai
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Wow.,.,.
interesting ...

Nice post phyl

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks BT!

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author avatar Retired
16th Feb 2014 (#)

Great share :)

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Mizz Panda!

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author avatar Retired
17th Feb 2014 (#)

Interesting post

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Deden!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Feb 2014 (#)

Life is to be enjoyed and we should also laugh at ourselves and our shortcomings. When I am in deep trouble I tend to critically evaluate how I confront the issue at hand as an onlooker! Entertaining read Phyl, thank you - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
18th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks, Siva. I hope over the years, I am able to give a more balanced view of the date. I certainly am not a perfect person, and learning to love my husband's flaws as they complement mine I think has been part of the fun.

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author avatar Songbird B
9th Mar 2014 (#)

I thought this was a really enjoyable read Phyl, and I came here through one of your other links..so glad that I did! Great read..\0/x

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
10th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks, Songbird. It was fun to write and recollect!

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author avatar Souvik
13th Mar 2014 (#)

Very good article Phyl. I liked it.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks, Souvik.

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