Editor’s note: When writer Emiene Wright found herself single after 21 years with the same man, she discovered that the world of dating had changed drastically in the couple of decades she’d spent away from it.
When he picked up the axe, I knew my first “first date” in 21 years would not end well. But let’s be honest: there were signs well before.
In my teens, I knew absolutely nothing about dating. I thought the point was to find a soul mate and live freakily ever after. At 41 and freshly separated from the husband I’d met at 19, I’m still clueless as ever. I’ve dated men from 27 to 48, black, white and Asian, professors to professional drug dealers.
And I found, no matter the packaging, a recurring theme: the need to trust my instincts. A healthy sex drive and a heart can be competing interests. But hey, we all like a trash fire every now and then — if we didn’t, you’d be reading the horoscopes right now.
Never trust a man who talks too much
The tall redhead approached me at a private party hosted by a friend of a friend. Physically, he was Jethro-chic — 6’1″, about 230 lbs., horn-rimmed glasses and overalls. Not exactly a chick-magnet but not a monster, either. We chatted, but his energy was a little manic.
After asking my name — which he didn’t attempt to pronounce — he launched into a stream-of-consciousness speech about himself, his hobbies, his book. I pretended to listen over the noise of speakers and after a few minutes, discreetly danced away. He caught up with me as I left and said he had a gift for me.
Despite the alarming amount of stuff packed in his car, like, an “is-this-guy-homeless” amount of stuff, he produced a signed original illustration that I liked and friended me on social. A few weeks later, he called to ask me to dinner and pitch me as his editor.
Food and potential money? We could meet.
He arrived mad late at my house, brandishing a twist-off bottle of wine. He must have been oblivious to my clutched-pearl energy because he complimented my breasts. Then he proceeded to recount tales of his latest physical fight. “You talk too much,” I told him.
“I’ve heard that before,” he replied — and then continued his monologue.
At the restaurant, between speechifying, he called over every member of the waitstaff he knew until I felt like a show pony. I told him I’d lost my appetite and prepared to fake an emergency — I needed to salvage some of my Friday night — but he begged to have at least one drink.
Against my better judgement, I went along, but the rusty axe cut everything short. It was abandoned on the sidewalk by some railroad tracks, and he grabbed it as we made our way to a nearby art bar. I was flabbergasted, as much at the massive waste of my night as by the fact that no police stopped us walking down Central Avenue with that thing.
“They’re not going to let you inside with that,” I stuttered. “I’ll just leave it by the door,” he replied.
Bet, that’s just what I’m going to do with you, I thought. I politely excused myself to the ladies room and made my way to the back door. I had to climb over an outdoor faucet to make my escape and got water all over my tights. Worth it.
Do you have any dating disasters to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about your own dumpster fires.