Friday, March 27, 2009

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Date

In early 2005 I was still fairly new to Los Angeles. I didn't have many friends there and the ones I did have were trying to fix that problem. My old internship place set me up on a friend date with their new intern. We talked a few times, maybe even went out for a meal or two. She was a local girl, finishing her last semester at USC and I was new. It was nice to meet someone who knew their way around.

After talking a few times she mentioned her sorority and how she wanted to set me up on a date for one of their big events. I agreed because I had nothing to do that night. As it turns out, they would have probably picked anyone for this girl, I just happened to be available on instant messanger at the time. After agreeing, the following things were brought to my attention.
  • It was an 80's party, so people were wearing costumes.
  • It was a mystery bus ride, meaning we met up and were bussed to a surprise location.
  • She was a college freshman who just turned 18. At the time, I was 23-years-old.
The thought of backing out was in my head, but apparently this girl was the last sister to get a date for the event already. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but in my mind this night had already been downgraded from a potential for fun to a favor for a friend. My date and I exchanged a couple of e-mails, mostly about logistics - costumes, dinner beforehand, address. There was a tiny bit of small talk and it was clear we didn't have so much in common, but that didn't prevent her from "friending" me on Facebook.

I picked her up at her dorm and we drove to the downtown California Pizza Kitchen. There were three or four other couples, all noticeably freshmen in college. It was obvious because all of the guys were mesmerized by when I ordered a beer. After the awkwardness that was dinner ended, the group went back to someones dorm room. The kids all started doing straight shots of cheap vodka. When I opted out, my date called me a party pooper. I reminded her that I had to drive us to the bus pick up. After taking her final shot, she filled a water bottle with the remaining vodka and tore the label off.

We met some place on campus and got on a yellow school bus. My date sipped occasionally from her bottle with the subtleness of carrying it in a brown paper bag, shouting to her friends all over the bus. I opened the window to get some air. It was mostly for her benefit, as she was already drunker than any 18 year old should ever be.

Upon reaching our destination, everyone got two drink tickets. I held on to one and my date grabbed the other from me. Apparently only the people distributing tickets checked IDs and the bartenders were informed to allow anyone who possessed a ticket to use them.

As concerned as I was about her slowly declining sobriety, speech patterns and ability to stand up straight, I was equally concerned that I forgot to wear a belt. This wasn't normally a huge issue, but I picked my jeans that night not based on size, but based on closeness in color to the borrowed denim jacket I wore. The winning pair happened to be my baggiest; at least one, maybe two sizes too large, bought in a time that I thought jeans had to be gigantic. The jeans weren't falling all the way off, but it was a nuisance to have to pull them up every ten seconds.

I danced with my date for a while and was actually starting to have an okay time. Then my date took my lack of wearing a belt as an indication to get handsy. I told her to take it easy and went to find the bathroom. On my way back, I stopped at the bar to look for her. I located her in the darker half of the room making out with some dude with a lot of hair gel and much closer to her age. Nothing could have made me happier. As I was still initially looking in her direction, she opened one of her eyes and caught my field of vision. She stopped making out and came over to me at the bar and asked if I wanted to come play truth or dare in the corner. I politely declined. She went back to that same guy and started going at it again. I glared at the dancefloor, looking right at the friend who set me up. She looked back and mouthed the words "I'm sorry".

I figured this was as good a time as any to use my one drink ticket. Everyone over the age of 21 was given two tickets, but my date snatched one of mine immediately. While getting a beer, I saw the girl whose apartment I subletted the previous summer and I asked if she remembered me. She didnt, and it was probably better that way.

My date was gone. My drink ticket(s) were gone. The worst part was that I couldn't leave. The return bus was still two hours away and I didn't even know where I was. It was a hotel in downtown L.A. I passed the rest of the night on the patio making desperate phone calls.

When we got back on the bus, my date sat with me and fell asleep on my shoulder. The only thought running through my head was the scene from Animal House when Pinto drops his underage date off in a shopping cart. Then I thought about where the closest Ralph's was.

During the return trip, the bus made many campus stops to let people off. My date got up for one of these stops and asked if I wanted to come with her. I said no. She said okay and I saw her walk off with hair gel dude. By the time the bus made it to the original pick up I was one of the only people left. Most of the others got off at various points along the way. I couldn't speed out of there fast enough.

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