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• 2530 words • 10 min •
I have been writing these Polycule episodes in chronological order, tracking my dating life steadily through fall of 2016. But in the past month I have had two of the worst dates ever. Knowing I would have to wait over a YEAR before sharing these bad dates if I followed my schedule was causing me so much anguish. I had to tell you NOW.
To fill you in on what was happening when I had this date, I was rarely ever checking in on dating sites (except to look up information for this project) but was spending a lot of time chatting with people on apps like kik and whisper. This guy – Nope – sent me a message on a dating site, and he was pretty cute and the site thought we had a lot in common, so instead of really talking to him on there, I just gave him my kik (like two weeks after his original message) and told him I rarely checked in, so if he wanted to actually talk, he’d have to do it on another app.
If you can’t tell – the last few months of dating the entire city have made my confidence levels skyrocket, and my anxiety over talking to new people on the internet completely vanish. I’ve turned into a seasoned pro (or something) and with it has come a handy bit of dismissive snark, especially regarding guys. The sheer volume of messages I receive from guys on a daily basis when I actively use dating apps/sites requires a fair amount of disinterest or else I’d just collapse under the stress of them all. (Which, by the way, is not an arrogant statement. Some of these sites are really anonymous, and the guys only have my name to go off of. Some of them are just messaging every single person they come across. Guys on dating sites are prolific. It has nothing to do with me.)
Anyway. We started messaging on kik on a fairly regular basis. The first thing Nope did that genuinely charmed me was ask my permission to hit on me. We were in the middle of chatting about video games, nerdy things, jobs, and he asked, “Do you mind if I flirt with you for a little bit?” I said yes, and he proceeded to smoothly work how cute I was into the conversation about various nerdery.
Consent is mandatory. Consent is sexy. And consent makes me blush and my tiny heart flutter.
To have a guy talk to me without hitting on me right out of the gate is refreshing. To have a guy ask permission before he even approaches any of that is charming as hell. By asking for permission first, and ostensibly being open to my saying no thank you, it gives me the space to let my guard down and enjoy a compliment for what it is, since I feel safe knowing this person is going to back down if I’m uncomfortable.
Or at least, in a split-second of reading a text message, that’s how it comes across.
It is absolutely no indicator of how that person will behave in person.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Nope was fun to talk to, hilarious, and had some eclectic hobbies for me to learn about. He was this big, tall, burly guy who worked in a warehouse messing around with heavy machinery all day… and regularly went to the opera for fun in the evenings. Who goes to the opera???? I was fascinated, even if he did like musicals (yuck). He was pretty cute, and – important – his favorite color was purple.
We were talking for a few weeks here and there, and things were definitely building to him asking me out. One night I had the evening to myself and felt restless, so I texted the two or three people I was currently Talking™ to what their plans were, and asked which of them wanted to take me out for ice cream. (Haha, compare this with the me who was so nervous e almost puked in the bushes on er first date with Axes. I’ve become a menace.)
Nope’s response was basically
He was willing to drive clear across town after his classes got out (he was going back to school! I admire people so much for that. More points in his favor.) even though I kept offering to meet him halfway.
My work friend recommended a really unique ice cream shop that does Thai style ice cream where they roll it up in tiny tubes with cute decorations. I had never heard of this style of ice cream before, but I started googling pictures when she told me about it and knew I had to go.
Pro tip for first dates: Pick someplace you would genuinely enjoy going, regardless of who you’re with. That way, if things are terrible, you at least ate some good food or did something fun.
So, the actual date. (DUN DUN DUNNN)
I arrived on my moped and as I was walking in, I learned the Spanish word for moped (or perhaps motorcycle). A little kid was pointing and shouting really excitedly at my moped and his dad (I’m assuming) kept saying it was a “moto.” Heehee. So I reached the ice cream store and saw him (looming, waiting…) and said the first thing that pops out of my mouth about half the time I meet guys from the internet: “Wow you’re so tall!” And then proceeded to babble at him incessantly about the little kid and the Spanish and how cool it is when little kids like my moped and my brilliant cheap moped insurance and how it makes me feel like a badass and oh no I still have my helmet on and WOW this place is packed and–
The whole time he was just, like, staring at me. With his hand over his mouth, clearly BEAMING.
“I’m sorry I’m talking a lot, I’m just so excited for this ice cream place! I’ve been googling pictures all day long and it looks so cool! So sorry, I’m not letting you talk.”
Cue blushing and stammering and suddenly not talking so much.
We navigated the strange, complicated process of ordering ice cream made on demand. You have to choose a base flavor, a syrup, and a filling, and then three toppings. It’s like ordering fancy coffee mixed with complex physics. And you had to do it while four other people were trying to order and the workers were shouting incomprehensible names to people whose turn it was to come watch their ice cream being made.
I eventually responded to the calls of “GABBI?? GABBI YOUR ORDER IS UP” (apparently my name is Gabbi now) and watched, starry-eyed, as they did their fancy ice cream magic.
There was a weird moment in the crowd where Nope sort of… reached over my head? Or made a point to pat my shoulder. I wasn’t sure what happened, but suddenly he was very close, and I was startled, but brushed it off as part of getting my attention in the noisy, crowded room. (HA!)
We got our treats and found a place at a long bar by the window, which was fully slathered in post-its. Nope scooted his chair really close to mine. Elbow-banging close. I shuffled my chair a little to the side. He followed me. I shoved my chair again and turned so I was facing him, and he didn’t follow.
He told me he had only downloaded kik because I told him to, and he only ever messages me on it. He also told me that he didn’t read my profile on the dating site – he just copied and pasted the same message he sends to everyone. When I responded with Shock And Also Outrage, he insisted he read the profile after I replied back, but my happy glow of excitement about this date was already tanking fast.
We stayed there for a little bit, but it was so loud and cramped, we moved outside and sat on a low wall surrounding some shrubs. He sat close enough our thighs were touching.
No thank you.
I scooted to the side, putting a good six inches between our hips.
He scooted back so we were touching.
In the middle of trying to talk pleasantly and not outright scream at him in front of an ice cream shop, I scooted again. And he followed again. And I scooted. And he followed. By now we were a solid three feet away from where we sitting originally. I finally picked up my purse and planted it in between us. He just kept beaming giddily at me, blissfully unaware of what he was doing wrong.
And then he started poking me.
There would be a lull in the conversation, or sometimes not – just in the middle of what I was saying, he would reach out and poke my arm, or my ribs – which I very adamantly told him not to do. So instead, he poked my face next. I was in the middle of telling him something and he suddenly poked me in the cheek.
“Because I can.”
Are we four? Or like?
He put his hand up for a high five at one point, and I gave it to him. But then he did it again. And again. And finally I just ignored him, kept talking while his hand was hovering directly in front of my face. He put it down, but made up another excuse to touch me – it was important that he look at my hand for some reason. “Come on, give me your hand.” I told him no three times, and he still kept trying to grab my hand. (Also, his hands were filthy. I’m not sure if they were covered in dirt or dust or oil, but the lines of his hands were caked in something dark.)
I was rapidly losing patience with this, and thankfully I had mentioned early on that I “might have to leave” at a specific time. Turns out that time is right now, Mr. Grabby Hands. He was practically bursting with happy energy, while I was severely alarmed I had agreed to meet this guy in person, and was getting ready to jump on my moped and zoom off in the opposite direction from my house so he wouldn’t know where I lived.
We reached my moped. I gave him the obligatory post-date hug – quickly – and backed away, but he didn’t. There was a lot of “Oh wow, your scooters so cute!” and “How fast does it go?” and I was answering his questions, but he was crowding me against the moped. Physically moving into my space and making me back up to the point that I was afraid I’d knock it over.
Oh dear God, I thought. He’s going to try and kiss me.
He was bouncing on his toes and trying to position himself in front of my face, but I was very firmly looking at the moped and refusing to make eye contact. I could see him fluttering in the corner of my eye like an obnoxiously tall moth, and suddenly he lunged for it, and gave me a hard kiss on my temple.
Alright. I survived that. Fine. Just let me leave.
But he was still hovering, still crowding me against the moped, and an even more awful thought dawned on me.
Holy shit, he’s going to try again.
So as fast as completely horrified lightning, I shoved my helmet onto my head and flipped the face shield down right as he made another lunge for my head. He got to smash his lips against my bug-guts-splattered helmet instead of my forehead or whatever he was trying to do.
He responded by actually whining that he didn’t want me to go yet. “Oh no,” he pouted. “You look like you’re trying to get rid of me.”
Astute observation, Sherlock.
He also gave me not one, but two shruggy side-hugs, which he probably only settled for because I was basically glued to the side of my scooter at this point and had zero range of mobility and refused to look him in the eye lest he decide to try kissing me again. I finally shuffled out from under his (large, sweaty) grasp and made it to the other side of the moped, putting an entire machine in between us.
This spawned even more pouting.
“If you don’t back up, you’re going to get run over.”
He took this as flirting and his pouting turned to sunshiney, beaming happiness, but he moved away and I finally got onto my moped, revved the engine, and bolted the fuck out of there as fast as I could go. I zoomed fast, ran a yellow light and scooted around a corner, taking a long, twisted route home and checking my mirrors the entire way there, looking for his car.
When I got home, he had already messaged me: “I hope you had as much fun as I did” and “God, you’re amazing! Would you want to do that again?”
I waited a good hour before actually responding, because I was rapidfire texting every single person I knew about how bad this date was. But finally, I told him he wouldn’t stop touching me, and it made me really uncomfortable.
Naturally, he got mad.
“I had no idea. I was just trying to be playful and flirty. If you had made it clear you didn’t want to be touched, I would have stopped. I’m a good guy, I respect people’s boundaries if I know they’re there. I can’t know what I’m doing wrong if you don’t say something. Why didn’t you tell me?”
He begged for a second chance, said he would be super respectful and not touch me at all the entire date if I would just go out with him again.
I thought about it for maybe two seconds, but like I told Cute Boy when we were talking about this – when have I ever given someone a second chance and the next date turned out well? (Spoiler alert, since we haven’t gone through All Of Them yet, but the answer is never.)
I told him I didn’t think it was a great idea. He kept messaging me every day for the rest of the week, until I eventually just blocked him.
But hey, the ice cream was delicious.