Somehow or other, I managed to bounce back from the catastrophe of The Last Girl I Ever Led On relatively quickly. And by “bouce back,” I mean “found another girl.”
Before I get into all of that, however, I have to explain my headspace after Spring Semester ended that first year of college. I had overcome a lot of my own faults and had managed to finally make some really close friends. This triumph was tempered by several romantic failures.
Somehow, my failures in the girl department accompanied by my victories in the friend department made me feel like a good guy that no one was giving a chance. In short, I felt mopey and “unlovable.” This was exacerbated by the departure of the vast majority of the on-campus population for the first half of the Summer semester. It was a lot of time alone in my own head.
I felt like I was probably a catch and I wanted girls to notice how much of a keeper I was, so naturally I decided to develop flashy skills to impress them. Why couldn’t I meet a nice girl? Because I didn’t know how to give proper massages, I reasoned. Why weren’t the pretty ladies that I was so kind to interested in more than friendship? Because I wasn’t yet a master chef, of course.
Summer-long projects that began immediately after I said farewell to my friends included: learning to cook, and teaching myself the basics of massage therapy. I read an entire freaking textbook on massage and learned legitimate techniques and terminology. Then, I christened my new Resident Assistant apartment with some cheap kitchen equipment and started trying to recreate the meals that my mom raised me on (which of course she had no recipes for because she memorized the directions and eyeballed all of the measurements). These new skills would undoubtedly make me a lovable dude.
That’s when I met Meryl (not her real name, of course). She was a friend of my friend Wendy (who was part of my doomed group of friends). Both girls lived in Orlando, but Meryl went to school in Tampa (an hour south of Orlando).
After hanging out with Wendy, Meryl, and another girl one night, I got some phone numbers. These would come in handy once Wendy left for a Summer-long internship elsewhere.
I decided to test out my cooking progress by inviting Meryl and the other girl over for dinner one night. It wasn’t a date (though that would have been cool because it was two girls). We ate dinner, made dessert, and watched a movie. Other girl dozed off and eventually ended up sleeping in my bed (this was a studio apartment).
Meryl and I stayed up until like 6 AM talking while I massaged her. There was no booze, or sexy time hullabaloo involved, just pure conversation. Meryl seemed like an interesting girl and she was fun to look at, so that didn’t hurt either. Eventually they departed that next morning and I was all gooey and infatuated.
The next weekend, I went home to Alabama to see my family before the full swing of all things Resident Assistant began that semester. At one point during that trip, my grandmother randomly gave me a $100 bill for absolutely no damn reason whatsoever. I was so excited about it that I forgot to ask my mom if my grandmother was sick or gonna die or something. That’s how random this $100 bill was. Mom confirmed that everything was cool, and to this day my grandmother’s rationale for giving me that money is a mystery.
That’s not really what this story is about, though. With that Big Face Ben Franklin hot in my pocket, I decided to ramp up my courtship of Meryl. I was gonna drop that whole bill on one magical night to impress this pretty girl. Then she would HAVE to admit that I’m not “unlovable” (my word, not anything she ever said).
I began doing my research, finding out her favorite foods and flowers from Wendy and asking my guy friends for recommendations on where to take her. I was lucky enough that she agreed to let me take her on a date to begin with, so I knew that I had to really do it right so that maybe I could get a second date out of it.
For starters, I spent a solid chunk of my first paycheck as an RA to get my car washed and detailed. I went all out and did it big. Somehow it cost me $80, which is madness, but I was younger then and probably got hustled.
Now, let me lay out for you how the date proceeded:
I arrived at Meryl’s mom’s house dressed as well as I did back then (probably like khakis and a short-sleeved button down). As Meryl answered the door looking way better than I did, she was greeted by a big, beautiful Sunflower (her favorite). Looking back on it, I wish she had a different favorite flower. Sunflowers tend to come in pots of dirt (because they are big and ridiculous so they make for strange bouquets). She smiled, thanked me, took the enormous-flower-and-dirt-bucket-combo and put that sucker inside so that we could continue on our merry way.
We had early dinner reservations because those were all that were available at the California Grill atop Disney World’s Contemporary Resort. This place was NICE. Had I been able to make my reservations for later at night, we could have watched Magic Kingdom’s closing fireworks show as we dined on fancy food. Instead, we just enjoyed the awesome cuisine and atmosphere and I picked up the enormous check. If we had been over 21 at the time, I would probably still be paying off that bill today, but since we couldn’t order booze it wasn’t all that bad. This restaurant was recommended to me by my best friend, Bobby (shout out).
After dinner, we went to her favorite ice cream place. I think it was called “Twisty Treat.” I don’t really remember. It’s the chain that has buildings shaped like giant ice cream cones. You can’t miss it.
Once we finished our ice cream, I drove her out to Shaq’s neighborhood and we hung out on a playground in an enormous neighborhood of McMansions. It wasn’t technically a “fancy” thing to do, but I thought it was neat and she humored me.
Now, you may not think that this sounds all that extravagant. I have to remind you that I was 19. I’m not a terribly “together” person when it comes to things like this. I’m more the type of guy that sometimes forgets to put on pants. This was a big freaking deal for me, and Meryl seemed to notice and appreciate that every step of the way.
Until I went to drop her off.
I walked her to her door, she told me that she had a great time. I leaned in for a kiss and she dodged me, mumbling something of an apology as she countered with an awkward hug and then went the hell in her house and shut the door.
I was totally confused. I really thought that I was doing well the whole night. Meryl was a semi-religious girl, so I figured maybe she doesn’t kiss on first dates. Maybe she likes to take things slow. Like really slow. Really, really, really slow.
I was probably misogynist for thinking this way, but I really felt like I earned a kiss after that date. She didn’t even have to like me or ever go out with me again. I just needed that kiss first, then she could feel free to bring on the rejection.
I called her a couple times after that, and she never responded again. Wendy told me to give her space. Whatever happened after that was never really explained to me. We just never talked again. She had probably forgotten about me by the time that flower wilted, a symbol of our date – big, extravagant and impractical but destined to wither into nothing, leaving only a plain old pot of dirt.
It certainly didn’t chase away that feeling of being “unlovable!” I mean this was the best game that I had to offer at the time and it STILL wasn’t good enough. To this day, I still have her Elephant Man and It’s a Wonderful Life DVDs for some reason. Those are some decent films, but I’d be willing to give them back should she ever come around with an explanation for why I didn’t get a kiss after that $100 date.
On a side note, I was experiencing technical difficulties with my phone during this short courtship. It was a Motorola Razor. You know, the ones that are only seconds away from breaking irreparably the moment you take them out of the package. The hardware problems really forced me into some strange situations creatively. You see, the 2 key didn’t work and these were the olden days of texting. You texted by pushing 2 once for “a,” twice for “b,” three times for “c” and so on and so forth with the other keys and other letters.
Try texting someone without using the letters A-C. It gets weird. Quick. One time I wanted to ask her if she wanted me to come over and give her a massage. I did my best without those letters, ending up with: “Rub you in your house?” – only that didn’t work either because of the “b” in “rub.” Instead I opted to called her – but had I actually sent that text, I would at least know why she stopped talking to me!