Despite the awkward goodbye with the Dutchman, my faith in successful – or at least enjoyable – first dates was restored. I had planned to meet Pete a week earlier, but cancelled because I was infected with a disgusting sinus infection that left me completely unimpressive-looking and also miserable-feeling.
Pete’s reaction to my cancellation lost him points before we even met. Having texted him at 4:08pm, a solid 2.5 hours before we were set to meet, I thought I had waited long enough to see if I felt better but not so long that it was a terrible last-minute-cancellation. And I suggested a raincheck, to make it clear I wasn’t just bailing. Instead of graciously telling me to feel better, Pete begged for “just a cup of coffee.” Guys, please don’t make me detail my runny nose and phlegmy cough in an effort to convince you that I am too sick to meet you. When I explained that it really wasn’t an option to meet, he complained that he’d already been waiting for an hour. I’m sorry, you got to our date three hours early? WHY? Dude, that sucks for you, but that’s so not my problem. At all.
So anyway, I was unimpressed by Pete already. But meet we did on Friday circa 6:30pm and off we went to find a bar. I wonder – what is it with guys in London not taking the initiative to choose a place? It’s happened enough that I feel like it may be an actual cultural difference and maybe I’m not just meeting bumbling idiots. Is this a British thing? Pete asked where I wanted to go; I told him it was his city and he could choose. At which point he felt it appropriate to tell me this was the worst neighborhood we could have met in since he didn’t know his way around at all. Why did you suggest meeting here, then? We found a place, but as places tend to be on Friday evenings, it was crowded. So we moved on and went into a restaurant where he suggested we just get dessert and split a bottle of wine.
Pete seemed nervous. He hardly sipped at his wine, while I took almost-gulps, probably over-compensating for his jittery nature. Being around Pete put me on edge. He was high-strung. Most of his stories involved him getting incomprehensibly angry or frustrated at trivial things. Like, he’s the type of person who makes comments on the subway in NYC when it’s crowded. I hate those people. Everyone’s annoyed, no one likes this, but take a deep breath and deal with it.
At one point, in a conversation lull, Pete looked at me and said, “I heard you’re hilarious. Be funny.” Dude, what the fuck? You don’t say things like that, except maybe to your best friend as a joke.
Also, Pete broke some cardinal rules. He started stories with caveats like, “You’re not easily offended…are you?” and “You’re not religious…are you?” I mean, so what if I was? On a first date, your conversation should never venture into territory where that will matter! For the record, I’m not easily offended or particularly religious, but I might indignantly pretend to be if you demonstrate such disdain so early on for those qualities.
And then Pete called me fat. Well, he may have called me fat. It’s still really unclear, but I think Pete thinks he called me fat, which is enough for me. The context is actually irrelevant, but as soon as he said it (something along the lines of “She was bigger than you”) he slapped his hand over his mouth and stuttered along about being awkward and stupid and saying dumb things and being so so sorry. I had pretty much missed what he was saying so I was confused and got tired real fast of assuring him I wasn’t offended. “I mean,” I said, “Should I be offended?”
Basically, Pete was an awkward, stuttering, offensive 32-year-old mess. However, I wasn’t about to let Pete ruin my evening – it was just getting started. As the date ended, the Dutchman texted:
I noticed none of your plans tonight named me. Any chance of that? I wanna see you!