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I’m a funny, free-thinking girl who loves philosophy, disco dancing to 70′s music, going on spontaneous adventures, and living life to the fullest. I love dogs and have an inexplicable affection for elephants. I know who I am and I know what I want out of life.

WORST DATE EVER

Like most tragedies, this one started on Tinder. Her name was Audrey or Valerie or Kris—it’s irrelevant now. Now she is remembered only as “My Worst Date Ever.” I will say, she had some stiff competition (more on that later), but ultimately she took the crown.

She looked vaguely like Ruby Rose, and as a general rule, I swipe right for anyone that looks vaguely like Ruby Rose. We texted for four days, and in hindsight, there were some red flags: She had gone to a Christian fundamentalist college I’d never heard of; she had tried alcohol for the first time the week before; and she paid $175 for a rough-looking thrift store dresser and bragged about it kind of incessantly (Seriously, in what world is that a bargain?).

We set a date for that weekend. She said she was “obsessed with dive-bars,” so I recommended a dive-bar near my house. She sent me some selfies, in which she looked progressively less like Ruby Rose, but I was in it now—it was too late.

Then there was a snow storm. I live in North Carolina, so I was pretty sure this was a solid out. Unfortunately, her cult-like college was located in the mountains of somewhere with a much higher threshold for winter.

Her: LOL it’s hilarious to me how NC just shuts-down because of two inches of snow!

Me: LOL I know, right? But seriously though, we should probably reschedule.

Unfortunately, my former life as a New Englander has instilled in me, an irrational desire to prove that I am stronger than winter. So, I set out to meet her, not because I wanted to, but to prove that I COULD.

My driveway was coated in about two inches of impenetrable ice, so driving was out of the question—children were literally using the road in front of my house as an ice skating rink. I began my 1.5 mile trek to the bar in a mini-dress, snow boots, and all of my jackets. Once I butt-scooted, shuffled, and crawled my way to the main road, the sidewalks were piled high with 3-foot tall hills of tightly-packed, iced-over snow, so I walked in the road. As I watched cars slide and skid way too close to me, I cursed my inner-Bostonian, which of course, cursed right back at me—It’s wicked cold, ya faackin idiot.

I arrived first and got a booth in the back. I was the only one in the bar (all reasonable North Carolinians having stayed at home), so it was easy to tell when she arrived. I got up and immediately noticed that she looked nothing like I had expected. She was like 4’11 and distinctly rat-faced. I watched her walk the length of the bar and noted a growing look of disappointment on her face—HER face. She had the nerve to be disappointed with me? Me, who my friends have all agreed under only modest duress, looks exactly like my Tinder profile pictures? Ugh. Whatever. I re-grouped and decided to prove how awesome I was (a plan that never fails except for catastrophically).

I went in for a hug. She stepped back and extended a hand for me to shake. The bartender cringed. I wanted to die.

We sat silently on opposite sides of the booth. It was the kind of silence that you know you will regret breaking. We both looked down at our laps. After probably 30-45 of the longest seconds of my life, she shrugged and said, with more apathy than I could ever possibly convey in text, “So…did you have any New Year’s resolutions?” (Topical, right? For context, it was late February.)

Me: Yeah, getting in shape. But that’s what everyone says, right? haha

Her (dead-pan): Not me. I’m in shape.

Me: Oh, yeah, totally.

[both look at our laps]

Me: I’m writing a screenplay.

Her: What’s it about?

Me: It’s funny—about the crazy things that happen in the Title IX realm of higher education. Like for instance, in one episode, “stalking” is defined in the school policy as “repeated, unwanted attention,” so a student brings a stalking claim against her professor for emailing her a few times about a low test score.

[silence]

Her: …Right. Because he emailed her more than once…and she didn’t want him to email her.

Me: Yep….funny right?

[silence]

Her: I actually only like historical science fiction. Everything else…it just…doesn’t make sense to me.

Me: Historical science fiction? Is that like…Abraham Lincoln is killed by an alien?

Her (as she scrunches up her rate face): That is offensive.

[Brain: My. God.] 

Waiter (mercifully): Can I get y’all apps or anything?

Me: Do you want to try the sweet potato tots? They’re great here.

Her (ignoring me): Do you have a green salad?

Waiter: Uh, I mean, I’m sure we could make one, out of like, the lettuce we put under the wings—we’re really more about…normal bar food.

Me: The sweet potat—

Her: —A green salad would be great.

Me: Where did we land on the sweet potato tots?

[Brain: STOP FUCKING MENTIONING THE SWEET POTATO TOTS]

Me: I can order the sweet potato tots…if you want…to share…the sweet potato tots…

[silence]

Me: Cool, yeah, seems like we’re all on board. An order of sweet potato tots. For whoever may or may not want them.

[Brain: Nailed it.] 

Waiter: Anything to drink?

Me: I’ll have the cider on tap.

Her: Do you have wine? Red wine? It has to be red.

Waiter: Um, yes?

Her: Anything from before 1999 would be great.

Waiter (as he backs away from the table, baffled): I’ll check on that…

[Brain pleading to Waiter: Take me with you.]

Me (somewhat sarcastically): Come to dive bars often?

Her: You know what’s ironic, is that your New Year’s resolution was to get in shape, but you ordered sweet potato tots.

[Brain (in Fat Albert voice): OH HELL NO]

Me: Is that ironic…or just a really bitchy thing to say?

[tense silence]

Waiter: Sorry i forgot to ask—did you want those tots loaded with cheese and bacon?

Me: No thanks, I’m vegan.

[silence]

Her: You know plant protein is a myth, right?

[Brain: What. Is. Happening.]

Me: It’s uh…no…no it’s not.

Her: You would literally die within weeks of going without meat.

Me: I’ve actually never eaten meat, and—not to brag—but, I am currently not dead.

Her: You’ve never eaten meat? Were you like really poor as a child?

Me: What? I…

Her: I mean, if that’s what you want for yourself that’s fine. I just want to be strong as an ox.

Me: Well, oxen only eat plants, so.

[tense. fucking. silence.]

The waiter places the sweet potato tots and green salad on our table. The silence is so intense that I can hear the soft tap of the red plastic app basket when it’s  placed on the wooden table.

Her: I thought this came with salmon.

[…]

[Brain: She might actually be insane.] 

Waiter: It wasn’t on the menu…you created this order, so…I have no idea why you would think that.

Her: Do you have salmon?

Waiter: I’ll check?

Me: You really want dive-bar salmon?

Her: You have to take a chance on something, sometime, Kenley.

Me: Mmm. Wise words. Who was it that said that originally?

Her: Pinterest.

[Brain explodes] 

I eat a sweet potato tot.

Her: Those tater tots are so small and cute you forget they have calories!

I eat another one and as I do, she says, “Oops! 30 calories!”

I eat another one, and again she says, “Oops! 30 calories!”

At that point, I decide to do the rational and mature thing, and slowly stuff my mouth with as many sweet potato tots as will fit, while maintaining constant, unblinking eye-contact.

I’m probably at like tot number 14—I have chipmunk cheeks full of tots, when she says…

“Kenley, let me ask you a question…

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”

Tots spewed out of my mouth.

“Irrr grrringgg to use the rrrrrsssstroom,” I said as best I could, with my mouth packed full of tot.

I went into the bathroom and leaned against the closed door.

Was this a set-up? Was it Gay Punked? Is there a Gay Punked? If there was it would be on LOGO…probably hosted by Sean Hayes. I don’t have LOGO. WHY DO I NOT HAVE CABLE!? When I decided to move cable out of the “necessities” column on my budget spreadsheet, I clearly had not considered situations like this.

Was it a trap to convert pretty gay girls to Christian fundamentalism? Could that happen to me twice in one year? (#gayinthebiblebelt)

WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

I was hunched over with a hand on each knee, as if in an invisible football huddle. 

[Brain: Ok, Sport. This has been rough. It’s time to re-group and GTFO of here.] 

I took some deep breaths, coughed up some tot, and went back into the bar.

Almost immediately, I crashed into the waiter, and genius struck. Worst Date Ever had driven about 20 minutes to the bar. I gave the waiter $5 and asked him to come over to our booth and tell us that the roads were freezing over and that if we had to drive home we needed to get going.

Waiter: Hey, if you all drove here—

Me [picking up my purse and standing]: Oh no!

Waiter: —You may want to get going. The roads are freezing over.

Me (halfway to the exit): Oh no! Guess I better get going!

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