“Oh, I don’t watch television,” he laughed, taking a sip of his Australian wine. He turned to the waitress, a short Mexican woman in her sixties.”What, exactly, is in this salad?” he asked her. As she listed off the ingredients he requested she repeat herself several times, sighing audibly at her thick accent.
I shifted nervously and rubbed my temples wondering if I should apologize for his rude behavior right now, or privately under the pretense of using the bathroom. She looked embarrassed enough so I opted for privacy. Later, in the tan-tiled hallway she would shake her head nonchalantly as I told her what an ass he was.
“Your husband?” she asked.
“Oh God, no.” I laughed, “Just a really fucking awful date.”
“You are too pretty to swear.” she admonished.
“Sorry.” I said, suddenly ashamed in the presence of her maternal scolding. She reminded me of my grandmother. A woman who had worked into her late 70s so her blisters could help make ends meet.
I walked back to the table suddenly filled with more fury than shame. That woman ought to be sitting at home right now, relaxing and eating something delicious her grandchildren cooked her. Instead she was on her feet, shuffling around to one WASPy ingrate after another, who, as she rolled her “˜R’s and thickly drawled her “˜H’s, raised their eyebrows as though this were the first accent they ever had the displeasure of hearing.
Suddenly my date’s voice sliced into my anger. “So while I sometimes use Hulu or other online sites to stream really interesting shows, I find most television toxic. More wine?” He was still smiling pleasantly at me. I stared at him blankly, as though an electrical storm weren’t snaking its way around my brain. For a moment I almost felt bad for him. Then I saw the grandmother out of the corner of my eye.
“So what is the difference,” I asked him, “between watching actual television and watching television shows on a computer?” He tilted his head quizzically, but I was on a roll. Somewhere in the background, I could hear the roar of the avalanche. Bright neon lights began flashing through my cerebral cortex and they had only one message: Take Him Down.
When I was younger, my mother used to yell at me for deliberately boxing people into corners to prove a point. “If you’re going to be so disagreeable, become a lawyer so at least you can get paid for it,” she’d tell me. Yet law school proved far too competitive for me. I was more of a single agent on the move looking for proper inspiration to unleash upon. And there was no stopping me now. I could sense his reaction and I carefully chose my words so he’d spring neatly into my trap. This, I told myself, was for exhausted abuelas everywhere.
“Furthermore,” I continued, “what is it about television that makes it so worthy of your disdain? Isn’t is just another medium in which artists present ideas and work? How is it different than, say, books?” I inflected innocuously.
He snort-laughed. “What do you mean, how is it different than a book? Certainly you cannot be serious. Books are works of art and you’re comparing that to Rock of Love?”
“Oh, I assure you I am.” I began, feeling a chill go up my spine. “But what I mean is, books come in all forms, like television programs. Some shows are well-produced, sourced, and thought-out like, say, an award-winning documentary on the Discovery Channel. Others are trash that are put together quickly and with little thought. Well, how is the publishing industry all that different? Some books are awful, with terrible premises, bullshit morals, failing logic, and yet just because they are made of paper and ink they are somehow superior? Because if that’s what you’re saying, you should realize you’re positing that The Carol Burnett Show has less social worth than, say, Ann Coulter’s latest book. Do you even realize the skill it takes to write something that will translate into visual comedy? Have you ever tried? Because you cannot sit there and tell me that The X-Files or Arrested Development ain’t got nothing on the No Spin Zone or Steve Harvey’s latest masterpiece because of the simple fact that one medium is always superior to the other. Because that is some lofty pretentious bullshit to peddle. Unless that isn’t truly what you are saying. To me. Right now. At this table.”
I realized my voice had risen considerably during my diatribe. Patrons were hushed around me but the horrified look on his face soothed any shame I might have felt. He was flustered, gobsmacked, and had grown a tad pale. The low roar of the dining room returned, and he stared at me in silence for what seemed like forever. Finally he took a sip of wine to ease the recovery.
“I like that you think,” he said unconvincingly. “I also think you’re beautiful, although clearly a bit full of herself. So hey, I have [indie band] tickets for next week. What do you think? Do you want to go?”
“I would totally go, but I’m afraid I only watch music on my TV. I don’t believe in the live music medium.” I snorted and threw down some bills. “I’ve got to run.” He protested as I grabbed my things and got away from that table as fast as I could. I turned around as I hit the door just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. From the saloon-style double doors that partitioned the kitchen from the dining room the abuela stood, watching me go, slight smile playing on her lips.
“Goodnight!” she called as I hustled out and into the night.
23 replies on “Social Terrors: My Worst Date Ever”
Oh My GOD, I LOVE that you threw down some bills on the table, and left him sitting there to ponder what he had said wrong to lose the company of such a witty, vivacious and clearly more intelligent and well mannered human being!!!!
I recently had a missed date (the idiot asked me out, we set up a time and I text him at the time to find out where he’s at and he’s still at work — didn’t even bother to call.)
God save me from Little Boys, I bemoaned my fate, but I can’t imagine what would have happened if I ACTUALLY went out on the date!!! Amazing that he asked you out while you were cutting him down to size. Why do they always assume that you’d WANT to go out with them again?
You know, how a person treats people in the helping professions (waitress/waiters, maids, etc.) is often a red flag for if they have an abusive personality. This guy certainly, at the very least sounded like a snob, a hypocritical one at that.
But listen, I have to say: I don’t watch T.V.!!!
I swear, not really. I mean I loved Big Love, and I just watched the marathon of Real Housewives of Orange County for like eight hours. I can watch A&E’s I Should Have Died all day and night, and I have a secret love for Animal Plant’s “Animal Hoarders”.
Okay, yeah, I watch T.V. — lol!!!!!
Who set you up with this dewsh? You should chop that person in the neck.
Also… sorry for this guy. We’re not all that bad.
I liked that, rather than run, you chose to harass and corner him. Well played. That made me like you.
Then you referenced the X-Files, which I’ve been watching the shit out of, and I went from ‘like’ to ‘love.’ Congrats.
This brilliant post simultaneously made me happy and a little sad that I no longer date. Happy, because I no longer have to deal with this kind of douchebaggery. Sad, because I no longer have funnily awful stories like this to tell.
I like that you think? I like that you think!
My invisible hat is off to you … bravo for giving him the verbal smackdown of awesome.
Bravo!! Most excellent :)
We are kindred spirits. I, too, have been admonished to go into law so I would have an outlet for my argumentative tongue-as-weapon nature.
I was on a date recently where the guy told me he didn’t go to the movies, preferring instead to watch documentaries on netflix. I should have known then how boring he would turn out to be.
Well, Olivia, you’ve just become my new favorite person. That’s was awesome.
I like that you think, too.
That was seven tons of brilliant. Bravo.
FIST PUMPING OVER HERE. Although what’s bad about Australian wine? I’m no connoisseur, can somebody enlighten me as to its apparently douchebaggy cachet?
Bravo!!! This was such an awesome story.
“I like that you think.” … WHAT IS THAT? Who says that??
I am a complete, unapologetic Olivia fangirl after this piece. When I first read this, I was yelling back at the screen. I’m glad you left him with his ego flapping in the wind and I hope somebody sneezed in his wine.
You’ve earned some kind of extra special merit badge for this.
Phrases that act as warning signals on dates:
1. I don’t watch TV
2. I only listen to classical music
3. I’m a nice guy, really
4. Ex-girlfriend A, B, C, & D were all crazy
5. I only read non-fiction
6. I hate cats
7. I like that you think.
8. You’re beautiful but full of yourself.
9. I don’t read.
10. I don’t go to new movies/watch new shows/read new books. They’re always so much worse than the classics.
7. You know what I hate about women?
8. You remind me of my cousin.
9. Since you’re a feminist you’re gonna pay, right?
I’ll add, “My last girlfriend was [insert any Asian nationality other than mine]” to the list.
I don’t watch TV. I pay others to watch it and describe it to me. “Survivor” becomes more palatable when it’s described to me by a man with a voice that sounds like Orson Welles mixed with tequila.
So much applause for this. How many times do we (ok, “I”) sit in situations like this, silently stewing. Kudos to publically calling him out on his BS.
Yeah, in my experience folks who claim they never watch TV are trying to come off as intellectually superior and smug. It is irritating. I don’t watch MUCH tv, but I happily admit to my True Blood fixation and addiction to all things Food Network. And you can pry PBS from my cold, dead fingers. Also, I am watching Idol this season because of Steven Tyler. So yeah.
I may steal your argument for the next time some idiot tells me that they despise television.
Why is it that everyone who ever tells me “I don’t watch TV” then forgets they spouted that shit to me and tells me about a show they like later? “I don’t watch TV” is asshole for “I am a douche. You’ve been warned.”
You are awesome.
One of my worst dates also began with “I don’t watch television.” He also told me that he didn’t watch “mainstream films. Only foriegn and black and white.” However, my very worst date ended with the offender trying to kiss me in the front seat of his car, and my only response was to make sort of a “Yaaaghgg” noise, cover his face with my hands, launch myself out of his vehicle, and run down a strange street as fast my my legs would carry.
I got your two stories mixed together in my head, so I imagined that you were so disgusted with a date telling you that “he didn’t watch ‘mainstream films. Only foreign and black and white'” that you made a “Yaaaghagg” sound, covered his mouth to keep him from speaking more bullshit, and fled. Which would have been awesome.
Love it! I get so irritated with the holier-than-thou “I never watch TV, it’s so low-brow!” types. I’d much rather watch Mad Men or the Wire than talk to them about their non-viewing habits.
My roommate is like this. I pity her for she knows not the joys of The Wire, Dexter, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Simpsons, Top Chef, Nurse Jackie, The Tudors, Project Runway, and is only mildly interested in Glee. She’s also a pretentious little hipster. Coincidence? I think not.