Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bad Date

I went out with a girl one night more than 30 years ago in what, looking back, I consider to be the worst date I've ever had. As that evening drew to a conclusion, I hoped I'd skid on icy roads and veer off the highway to end the pain of it all.

In the annals of dating, it was a bad one. But now, three decades later, I just learned that the girl recently died and the impact of that date has changed from being a disaster to a more nostalgic look at our youth.

I'm not pining over the girl by any means. I didn't even remember her last name until someone told me about her passing the other day. Instead, I guess I'm forlorn over a time when we were young and dates were an exciting venture and death was far away.

I don't remember exactly what year I went out with her. It was a one-time deal. I think I was in college and she may have been a high school senior. I know I was out of high school and able to avoid the awkward situation of meeting the girl in school in the following days.

I do remember, however, someone set us up, saying she was really nice person. And maybe she was. Just not to me.

We began the evening arguing over the song “Renegade” by Styx. She loved it; I hated it. We evolved to talking about what shows we liked on television; differing again. We were on opposite ends of which teachers we liked in the high school we attended. I mentioned I loved the New York Yankees. She hated them. When a girl hates your favorite baseball team, it's eminent that the date is doomed.

But I pressed on, despite the difficulty in conducting that fact-finding small talk you do on first dates.

We met another couple at a pizza restaurant about 15 miles from our town and the date continued to slide into a pit of despair. She flirted with the other guy in our foursome and, realizing this was heading for disaster, I didn't care. I may have even offered to drive the other guy's date home since my date and he were hitting it off so well.

The evening drew to a close and I drove her back home. There was none of that adolescent jitters of wondering if I should ask her out again, if I should walk her to her door, if I should even kiss her good night. This was one of those dates where stopping the car to let her out rather than driving by her home slowly and letting her tumble out was adequate enough.

It was the worst date I've been on and I hadn't given it any thought until just recently when I heard she died. I had not seen her since that night and I'm sure she never remembered me.

But now I find it sad that I've reached the time where people I may know are approaching the age when we begin dying. I don't know what she died of; but it happens now. It gives me the perspective of mortality, of time running out. At this age I begin wondering if this is it. Have I reached my goals, despite wanting more? Is time running out? Weird thoughts in a weird time.

So, I reflect back on that date with melancholy thoughts. If I could go back, I'd apologize to her for the date. I'd tell her that the date really didn't matter in the bigger scheme of life, that we had a long life ahead of us and we needed to take advantage of that and chalk up bad dates to youthful ignorance. I'd tell her that, really, I wasn't as bad as she probably thought I was that night and that I'm sure she wasn't the she-devil from the third level of hell, I met that night, either.

Other people have had far worse dates, I'm sure. I went to an Arkansas Razorbacks football game once on a double date with a guy whose date burped beer most of the night. Nice.

But my date with this girl was up there in bad ones. I mean, arguing about the New York Yankees?  

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