I’ve waited a long time to tell this story. Nope, that’s not true. I’ve told this story in more bars, hair studios, restaurants, houses and parking lots than you can shake a stick at. But I’ve waited a long time to tell it to YOU.
My friends, the wait is over.
Here for your belly-laughing while simultaneously cringing pleasure is my worst date story. (And there is actual competition for that title in my dating history, so this is a doozy).
We’ll call him Willy. And you’ll call me an idiot. I promise.
I met him in a bar. (Don’t judge)
He was tall, cute and (ahem) very fun-loving. Perhaps a little too fun-loving.
But I was single and I liked to have fun too.
He asked me if I wanted to go to New Orleans Jazz Fest with him and a group of friends. I’m a big music- and festival-lover so I thought “Why not?” Worse-case scenario, he and I wouldn’t hit it off romantically but I’d see great live music and have his friends as buffers.
I called in a favor and got us free Jazz Fest tickets cuz I’m cool like that.
And then I waited.
The night before we were supposed to go, I still hadn’t heard from him and was starting to get twitchy about the whole idea. Then he called.
All of Willy’s friends had bailed but he still really wanted to go with me. He’d pick me up at 7am, we’d drive over together, get there when the gates opened and have a great time. Oh, and would I mind driving because he had a big old SUV that just ate up gas? He’d be happy to pay for the gas, of course.
Twitch, twitch, went my eyebrow.
But I said, “Ummm, okay, I guess.”
Willy showed up bright and early the next morning, raring to go. We tossed our stuff into my Honda Accord and hit the road for the 2-hour drive to New Orleans.
Just after crossing the Alabama-Mississippi border, my gaslight indicator came on and Willy told me to pull over at the BP station at the next exit so he could get us some gas. I sat in the driver’s seat listening to music while he pumped. After a surprisingly short time, I heard the pump go off. I turned to see what was happening but Willy had quickly disappeared into the store. The gas meter said, “Total: $5.00.”
Within minutes, Willy jumped back into the car with a 6-pack of beer and a bag of chips. Ahhh, the breakfast of champions.
He popped a brewskie and said “Let’s do this thing!” Then popped the CD I was listening to out and put in one of his own.
I was torn between the warning signals in my head that were saying TURN BACK and my deep-seeded dysfunctional Southern niceness. Dysfunction won, y’all and on we went.
Back on the interstate, we rolled on towards New Orleans while Willy drank his 6-pack, gnawed on chips and sang to his own choice of music whether I liked it or not. As we came to the bayous just before the city of New Orleans, the gaslight indicator began to glow again.
“We’re gonna need to get some gas here soon, Willy,” I said.
When we approached the next exit, I put on my blinker and he said, “No, keep going to the next one. I only have a BP card.”
This idiot kept going.
There was no BP at the next exit either and pretty soon, exits became few and far between, and when there was one, there was literally nothing there but bogginess and an occasional alligator. Gas stations were nowhere to be found.
We finally came to the point where we had to take our chances at the next exit regardless. We pulled off and saw nothing but swamp as far as the eye could see. But it was too late to go back. We were running on fumes.
I just chose a direction and started driving, hoping and praying for gas.
“Just find whatever kind of station you can. I have a little cash,” said Willy finally.
No shit, Sherlock.
Mercifully, we finally spotted a gas station so desolate, we were probably their first customer since the ’50s.
Willy jumped out and began to pump the gas while I exhaled for the first time in 20 minutes.
The pump turned off and he jumped back in the car. I turned to look at the meter.
Yes, of course.
We made it to the festival grounds about an hour before the gates opened and sat in the car drinking beer. I probably drank the first one a little quickly, for obvious reasons.
Once inside the festival, we ran into some friends of Willy’s. We got into a beer line and when it was time to buy, one of the guys ordered a bunch of beers and put them into a cooler and Willy said, “I’ll get the next round.” Was that an eye roll I saw? We made camp with the friends in front of one of the main stages. They all seemed nice and I thought maybe things would be better now.
Willy was very anxious to catch up with all of his friends. He went from one to another chatting and chugging. It began to seem like he’d forgotten I was even there. On my empty stomach, I’d gotten a little drunk already and climbed into some girl’s lawn chair and almost fell asleep.
In the afternoon, people were wandering off and coming back with yummy New Orlean’s vendor food like Crawfish Etouffee and red beans and rice. Willy sat there staring at each person as they ate, watching the food go from their hand to their mouth and slobbering like a labrador retriever until the person felt guilty and offered him some. Then he’d snatch the food, cram it into his mouth and swallow it whole. He never once asked me if I was hungry.
I’d like to say things began to get better but I imagine you know that’s not true.
Willy never bought a single drink yet got so drunk that as we walked around the festival, he regularly dropped his beer and then chased it around as it rolled, picking it back up so as not to waste a precious drop (or dollar). He talked about his ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t find where we’d parked the car once we’d decided to go home and left the festival grounds. When we finally found it, he gave me directions to the scariest part of town instead of back to the interstate and we were lost for at least an hour. When we needed gas again just outside of New Orleans, he put in – yep, you guessed it, $5.00 worth.
When we finally rolled back into the parking lot of my apartment in Mobile, Alabama, I was perhaps the most relieved I’d ever been in my life. I couldn’t wait to kick this asshole to the curb now that I was in the safety of my own home.
Willy hopped out of the car and then suggested we go inside, order pizza (yeah, can I put $5.00 worth of pizza on my BP card? ) and watch a movie.
I was home and I was free. I told him to get lost and within minutes, I was on the phone telling the story of the worst date in the history of time to all of my friends.
Here’s the kicker. One of them ran into Willy some time later and he told her he just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t talk to him anymore after we had such a great time on our date. And mutual acquaintances, upon hearing the story, fessed up that pretty much everyone called him “Willy the Mooch.”
NOW you tell me.
I admit, some of the horror of this date is my own fault. I was young and way too nice. A few years later if this had happened to me, I’d have seen that first $5.00 he put into the gas tank, turned the car around and headed back home while he was in the store buying his beer. And it’d have served him right.
But you know, sometimes this is just the way it goes with first dates. It’s hard to know what you’re getting. I have another doozy of a first date story — one that’ll have your mouth hanging wide open in shock. Mark presented me with something you should NEVER hand to a girl on a first date. Never, never, never, never, never.
You can read this story (and those of so many other brilliant writers) in the new book, “You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth and Other Things You’ll Only Hear From Your Friends in the Powder Room” available on amazon.com in paperback and kindle form starting today. Just click this link to get your own copy right now and if you can’t get enough of bad date stories, flip straight to mine. It’s called “Head Games.”
A word of warning: these are the kinds of scandalous stories you only tell your girlfriends when you go to the powder room together so be prepared! You’ll want to find some private time and sit down with a glass of wine (or 2) because once you start, you won’t want to stop.
You’re probably already reading In The Powder Room, but if not, get your fanny over there.
Now I have to turn it over to you. These dates were well over a decade ago and no one has ever been able to top me. Accept the worst date challenge. Tell me about yours in the comments below or do your own worst date blog post, linking to this one and then come back and put your link in the comments here so everyone can read it and weep.
But before you do anything else, get your copy of “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth…” And while you’re there, order one for all the girlfriends you tell your most scandalous secrets to in the powder room so you can talk about the humor and brave, bold honesty you’ll find in all the stories in the book.
And if you know who “Willy” really is, perhaps you can forward this story to him so he can finally stop wondering why the only dates he ever went on were first dates.