My friend Judy dared me to go out with Rick. It wasn’t an idea that appealed to me since I was still hurting from a recent break-up with my beau, Alonzo. I had no business sticking a toe in the dating pool, not even my little toe. Judy had a crush on this guy, though, and she wanted me to go out with him. I know that sounds strange, but she was married and she couldn’t date him. She wanted to date him vicariously through me, I guess. After she bugged me about it for a while, I finally gave in. I thought Alonzo might get word of it and get jealous–that was the thought that finally pushed me over the edge into agreement. I had no idea how hard I would be kicking myself later for making such a foolish decision.
I ended up in this mess because of my job. Judy and I worked for a telephone message center. The owners insisted on calling it a “message center,” because they felt that “answering service” sounded too cheap and tacky. We had a lot of different clients: lawyers, doctors, a wrecker service and some apartment complexes–just to name a few.
The potential date in question, Rick, worked for an equipment repair service. He worked late at night and would often call the message center to shoot the breeze with the message center operator who was on the night shift. Judy developed a crush on him because of these late night conversations. He flirted shamelessly with the female operators and he really knew how to turn on the charm. I was immune to Rick’s charm because I still had hopes that Alonzo and I might get back together.
One night while I was relaxing at home, Judy called me from the message center. She wanted to use the system at the center in order to have a 3-way call with Rick. Just the 3 of us. How cozy! I reluctantly agreed and by the end of the conversation, I had a date with some guy I’d never even clapped an eye on. We were going out to dinner and then to the planetarium to see a laser show.
On “date night,” Rick and I met in the message center parking lot. When I saw the Rick’s vehicle, I knew there was going to be trouble. He drove a giant, “good ol’ boy” truck with a lot of toolboxes and antennas attached to it. On the back bumper were 2 stickers, barely legible through the dirt and road grime. One read: “You’ll Get My Gun When You Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers!” The other read: “Guarded by Smith & Wesson.” Oh boy.
Rick seemed nice enough, even though his truck spoke volumes. He’d had a shower recently, so I gave him credit for that. He was wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and boots. He wore his hair on the long side–just past his ears, and he sported a small mustache and goatee. I’m sure he was considered handsome by some ladies. I didn’t care one way or the other because my head was still cloudy with thoughts of Alonzo.
I breathed a sigh of relief when he agreed to use my car with me as the designated driver. That was the beginning of the trouble. Rick wasn’t happy with my driving skills. I couldn’t understand why. I followed all of the rules, except for yellow lights. It was my homage to Jeff Bridges for his role in the movie, ” Starman ,” when his character said, “Yellow means go very fast.” What was wrong with that?
Okay, so we were like oil & water as far as driving was concerned. Strike one. Next up: Mexican food. I thought we would agree on that and we did. The food wasn’t the problem. Rick was unhappy because I wasn’t drinking enough booze. I wondered about that. Why should that matter? Did he have some nefarious plans that required me to be drunk? Strike two.
We left the restaurant and headed for the planetarium. On the way, Rick talked a lot and soon it became apparent that he was a closet racist. Strike three. From that point on, the date was an endurance test for me. I felt like I should pull over and ask him to get out. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to just dump him on the side of the road, racist or not. (Thanks a lot, conscience.) The laser show was a good distraction for me because I didn’t have to talk to Rick. It was over too soon, (or not soon enough), and we headed back to his truck.
I began to fear that he would try to kiss me goodnight, even though we weren’t getting along that great. That’s how I felt about it but for all I knew, he might feel just the opposite. I was getting very nervous and sharp little fingers of panic began to tap at my brain. I was frantically trying to think of any plausible excuse so I could get out of a goodnight kiss. I finally had an idea.
We reached the message center parking lot where Rick had parked his truck. As soon as I parked, I jumped out of the car and thanked Rick for dinner and the laser show. I told him I had a stomach ache from the food. Then I ran to the door of the building and asked Judy to buzz me in, since she was working that night. As soon as I was safely inside, the automatic door locked behind me. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I walked up the stairs to find Judy. I had to tell her that “Prince Charming” was a dud. I hated to crush her illusions about Rick, but she deserved to know the truth. As I went upstairs, I said a silent prayer of thanks for being able to endure a date from hell. I also made up my mind: I would never date anyone on a dare ever again.