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The Man with One Blue Shoe

Oct 7, 2013

Much to my mother's disdain (direct quote from Facebook message: "Mary on line.....are you CRAZY!"), I decided I needed to get out there and get back to dating.

As I mentioned last week, the easiest way to do this is online -- not to say I haven't been asked out the natural way several times in the past month, but this way provides me a little more control over who asks me out. And, if I want to run for the hills when he does, I can just stop talking to him.

I'm not mean, people. It happens to everyone. It's a doggy dog world out there, okay? (Translation: A beautiful world filled with puppies.) 

The first fine fellow to nail down a date with me will henceforth be known as "Shoe Guy," and the way he asked me out went something like this:

Are you free Friday? 14th Street area? 8ish?

Uhhhhhhgggggggh. Shoe Guy was also Indecisive Guy.

Listen up, fellas! It's exceedingly easy to impress a girl in this town. 

Step 1: Ask her if she's free this weekend at least three days before the weekend. 
Step 2: Suggest a restaurant that has the best [fill in the blank]. 
Step 3: Make a reservation.
Step 4: Don't assume you're just getting drinks. Ask if she'd like to order dinner. Have in mind something to recommend she order.
Step 5: Pounce on the check when it arrives and tell a funny story while you do it so you don't have that awkward moment where she's reaching for her purse.

If you follow these five, simple steps, you are 99% guaranteed a second date. If you don't want a second date, she will rave about you to her friends and your gentlemanly behavior will become an urban legend that single girls discuss for the next year. However, if you do not follow all five steps, you will still receive points for following any of them. 

Shoe Guy did two of these, so he wasn't all bad, but certainly on par with Hipster Guy

I told him sure and waited for him to suggest a place, and he finally came up with Marvin, famous for its mussels and rooftop bar. At 7:40 p.m. Friday he texted me: I'm here. On the roof. I texted back I'd see him at 8. Not my fault he couldn't set a firm time!

When I arrived, the rooftop was already busy and the music was loud. I sat next to him and ordered a drink, as I saw he had a beer. 

"WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?" I yelled over Janet Jackson and ever-so-slightly moved my hips along to the beat when he responded. All I heard was "tag football" and "we are a part of a rhythm nation." 

"NICE! I LIKE WATCHING FOOTBALL, JUST NEVER REALLY UNDERSTOOD IT. I GUESS I'M NOT THAT GREAT AT MATH," I offered, trying to give him an in and playing dumb. (It was a rookie move. I won't do that again.)

"I MEAN, I COULD TEACH YOU..." he started. I smiled and nodded enthusiastically. "...BUT IF YOU HAVEN'T FIGURED IT OUT BY NOW, I FEEL LIKE THERE'S NOT MUCH I CAN SAY." 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening. We made some other small talk, and, right before he ordered another drink, he told me, "I CAN ONLY HEAR ABOUT 50 PERCENT OF WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. IT'S REALLY LOUD IN HERE."

I played How Long Can I Let the Awkward Silence Last? while he finished his beer. Finally he suggested we go somewhere not as loud. I was getting really hungry, so I mentioned Ted's Bulletin.

"Do you like diner food?" I asked as we walked down 14th Street. "They have fantastic milkshakes."

"I love diner food!" he said, showing an expression other than boredom for the first time. 

"They make these crab hushpuppies too, I highly recommend them," I said.

"Oh, I'm not hungry. I went to Marvin early so I could eat something."

So it came as no surprise to me when we secured two seats at the bar and the bartender asked, "Food or just drinks?" and he said, "Just drinks." *womp womp*

At Ted's, we mostly argued about anything that came up in conversation. He had a Breaking Bad theory that was different than mine, so he passionately told me I was wrong. (Remember when I told you how happy I was to find he was wrong?) He insisted he was a Southerner because he was from Bethesda. For some reason he was using every charming conversation item I had in my arsenal and turning it into an argument. Which is why I found myself bragging, "You know, I'm actually great at math. How high did you score on your SATs?"

"1050, I think?"

"Yeah? Well I got an 1170. And I scored higher in math than in English."

He chuckled condescendingly. "What's six times six?"


"What's 20 percent of 60?"


"What's 20 percent off 60, I meant?"

"48. You're giving me really easy stuff here."

"Okay, what's the square root of 845?"

"That's not real-world math. Nobody knows that without a calculator."

He shifted uncomfortably on his bar stool. And then the bartender walked past him and put two milkshakes in front of the people next to him. His eyes followed the milkshakes and locked in on them for a good seven seconds. When he turned back to me, he seemed dazed. My stomach growled. I saw an opportunity to get some nutrition.

"Looks gooooood doesn't it? Should we get one to share?"

"Nah," he scowled. "If I drink a milkshake I'll be f@#$ing all night." 

(Editor's note: In my childhood household, the f word that rhymes with cart and means "to pass gas" was the worst of the four-letter words. To this day I cannot say it out loud, and there's absolutely no way I'll write it on a public blog post.)

Well. That was the nail in the coffin of our date. I should have known he had a couple more up his sleeve. 

Next up? We're talking about football again, and he tells me he hurt his ankle the previous weekend. Seeing as I recently had surgery on my ankle from a running injury, I encouraged him to go see a doctor, and as I did he crossed the injured, left ankle over his right knee and began rubbing it.

"Man, talking about it is really making my ankle throb. I think it needs to breathe," he said. 

I wasn't sure what he meant by that, so I decided to keep my mouth shut. I took a sip of my drink, and by the time I set it back on the counter, he had removed his shoe (it was blue) and was handing it to me. I looked at the shoe and instinctively plugged my nose, fearful of catching of whiff of Man Foot Funk. He pushed the shoe toward me, as if to say, Take it! I kept my hands firmly gripped around my glass, as if to say, Not a chance, weirdo, and breathed through my mouth. 

Looking confused and lost, he waved the shoe around, trying to figure out what to do with it. Since I wouldn't hold it for him, he decided the next best option was setting it on the back of my bar stool. And then he began unwrapping the Ace bandage. Mortified, I turned to the people next to me and talked to them about their food for a couple of minutes. When I turned back to Shoe Guy, he started up some other conversation that I can't remember now, and I'm sure we argued for a while, and then, after I'd made my point and was waiting for his reply, he said, "I gotta go pee."

When he returned from his pee, he paid the check (good effort but not enough to save the date) and put on his shoe (or maybe he put on his shoe before he went pee? I can't remember, I was feeling faint), and we left. I was walking home (with plans to stop at Subway for a $5 footlong first), and he walked along with me. I had nothing left to say, so we didn't talk. About a minute in he stopped and said, "Are we going somewhere else or going home?"

"I'm going home," I said declaritively. 

"Oh. Okay. Nice meeting you." He gave me an awkward hug (why do we feel the need to do that after dates, by the way?) and walked away. 

And then I went to Subway and got hit on right outside of it. (Please, let me take you to dinner, the stranger said. I came thisclose to saying, Yes! Anything my love! Take me away from here to food land! but I got a text right before I could say all of that and he walked away. Probably divine intervention.)


  1. #5 is genius and SO TRUE. And people from the North who think they are from the South are my FAVORITE! This post brings back a lot of memories.

  2. OMG Mary El-your real life stories crack me up. Blue shoe guy does sound like a real hell of a guy and I know you'll miss his company. Don't you wonder how some people were raised-or not raised?

  3. Because I know and love you, I know everything you write is true although some of your amazing stories are pretty out there! Blue shoe guy sounds like a complete loser. Don't you wonder how some people were raised or not raised??

  4. Ew! This guy sounds super gross taking his shoe off like that in a public place and then expecting you to hold it! I think I would have left right then!