I gave up dating as well as alcohol for Lent and after an almost three-month hiatus from the increasingly popular Bumble app, I had dozens of matches to choose from upon my return. As I started swiping enthusiastically, the 1996 classic “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison was playing in my head. Then the record started scratching and fell silent because unfortunately for me my first post-Lenten outing was a definite dating fail―a classic blunder in the online dating game.
It all starts innocently enough with clever texting and a provocative bikini photo. The poolside bikini picture is further enhanced with Linda sporting a bright red “Make America Great Again” cap, so you knew that she either had a sense of humor or courage―or perhaps both. Linda is Southern, in her mid-30s, and holds a law degree, which leads me to believe that if nothing else, she will not be a dunce. In that regard at least, I turn out to be right.
She arrives before me at the local dive bar we decided on for our first meeting. I walk through the door and spot a blond woman standing toward the back with her phone in her hand. Please God, this cannot be her―I think to myself. She looks at least a decade older than her age and Bumble profile pictures. I already want to head home and cut my losses, but I go in for the awkward “nice to meet you” hug and follow her outside to the deck. I make yet another mental note to be much more skeptical about the photos that women post in their dating profiles.
We find a table outside and I quickly learn why she looks and sounds so much older when she lights up the first of the half-a-pack of cigarettes she is to smoke in my company in the two long hours we spend together. Nashville allows smoking in certain outdoor bar areas, which doesn’t typically bother me, but it is another story when someone at your table is puffing away without a care in the world. Needless to say, there was no mention of her smoking habit in her profile.
Linda and I go on to have decent conversation for the first hour while she sucks down her vodka sodas without missing a beat. Linda orders her third vodka soda before I can finish my first bottle of Stella. Goodness me, why do some of these women drink this much and on a Saturday afternoon to boot? The situation gets even better when a distant cousin of hers surfaces and stops by for a quick chat.
During the second hour she asks me if I want to go out later with one of her girlfriends. When I hesitate, Linda concedes that she can tell that I’m not interested in her. It does appear that all that alcohol has not diminished her perspicacity. I evade and try to think of how I can get out of this increasingly uncomfortable situation. How do I get myself in these tough spots?
Linda is on her fifth vodka soda when the aforementioned girlfriend makes an appearance with some of her friends. Is there anyone at this bar that this woman does not know? Luckily for me, I only get a cursory introduction and since their plans for the evening have been abandoned, we take our leave.
I hope to finally make my escape, but once outside I learn that Linda took an Uber to get to the bar. Since she lives near me I offer to drive her home. On the way to my car, she runs into someone else she knows, but luckily Linda keeps her greeting short and doesn’t bother with introducing yours truly.
When I pull up in front of her house she tells me that she would invite me in, but I’m acting weird. Well, sweetheart, the truth of the matter is that I have been eagerly awaiting the end of our disappointing date for the past two hours. I wish her a good night and I attempt to drive off without coming across as if I’m fleeing a crime scene.
Thankfully, I’m alone at last. What a way to return to the Nashville singles circuit after my three-month break. I tell myself that the good news is that things can only get better from here on out, but remain unconvinced by my unusual optimism.
Disclaimer: The name of my date has been changed to protect what is left of her privacy in the age of Google, Faceberg, GPS, and the random Russian hacker.