Since I'm a Singleton this Valentine's Day -- and I confirmed last night that The Ex is, in fact, seeing someone new and she is blonde and he met her on Tinder and I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry so I'm just going to talk to some cinnamon rolls about this -- I thought it would be fitting to pull a good story out of the vault to share with y'all.
It was Winter 2003 and my roommate somehow convinced me to go to an Irish pub where people mainly drink beer, or Guinness, to be exact. I have never been a beer drinker, except that one time when I was 16 and stole a bunch of Bud Lights with my lake friend to chug under the dock because we didn't know any better. The next morning wasn't pretty.
When I moved out of my parents' house to live the college dream, my mother's parting words to me were: "Just don't drink beer, whatever you do. You'll get fat!"
I was perfectly fine ordering Sex on the Beaches because it made me feel really risqué and cosmopolitan. In reality, I was maybe the least risqué of my friends. While they were flirting it up with cute boys from Georgia Tech, I was making friends with the bartender to see how much free stuff I could get. (Some things don't change.)
I know what you're thinking -- I hate girls like you, Mary El! UGH.
Fine. But in my defense, bartenders oftentimes end up being really interesting and way more fun than the beer-drinking dudes hitting on my friends. (Reason No. 5,862 Why I'm Still Single)
My roommate ordered an Amstel Light; I ordered a Pinot Grigio that was basically vinegar because it had been open so long. I didn't complain because no one goes to an Irish pub and orders wine. The dudes were getting rowdy and I was so not into it. It was entirely too loud to talk to the bartender, so I stepped outside and made friends with the bouncer.
Larry was in chiropractor school, working at the pub to pay rent, and enjoyed playing rugby in his spare time. He was about 6'4" and built like a linebacker, and he had longish chestnut hair that curled at the ends. He laughed at everything I said, asked me for my number, and invited me to come watch him play sometime.
We talked on the phone a few times and finally found a Friday that I was free and he was playing -- February 14th. Since that was kind of awkward, we met for drinks beforehand so our first date wouldn't be on Valentine's Day. We had a great time and I imagined what our babies would look like (tall, strong and with luscious hair).
It was overcast and drizzling that Friday afternoon, so it was kind of miserable to sit outside for two hours watching dudes ram into each other, and we didn't even have Twitter back then so I couldn't take pictures and complain about how cold it was while making other girls jealous that the guy I was dating was a rugby player! Uhh! (#firstworldproblems #whitegirlproblems #singlegirlproblems -- in that order)
Afterwards we all went to an Irish pub (double ugh) and I sipped on a Guinness to look cool in front of all the rugby dudes. Larry had told me beforehand that he had made dinner plans for us, and after a couple of beers (him, not me -- only a couple of sips for me), he leaned over and said, "I'm going to cook you dinner. Did you want to go home first and change into dry clothes?"
Cook me dinner? On a second date? On Valentine's Day? I gasped, feigned delight, and told him that yes, going home first would be a good idea. As I drove home, the drizzling turned to hard rain, and I wondered if that was enough of an excuse to cancel on him. I mean, I liked him, but it just seemed a little much. By the time I'd reached my apartment, I had talked myself into going. Because really, what guy had ever done something so nice for me before? I hadn't had a great track record up to that point, so, as uncomfortable as it felt, I just couldn't reject a guy for being sweet. That didn't make any sense.
I changed, re-curled my hair and touched up my makeup. As I drove to his house, I reminded myself of the losers I'd dated most recently. In November I'd been casually seeing Gary, a guy from my screenwriting class. Gary was intellectual and a writer like me, but he was a little too flashy with his money, which wasn't even his but his mom's who'd come into it after his cheating step-father had left her, so after the semester ended I stopped returning his phone calls.
At the beginning of that semester I'd entertained the thought of Barry, a friend of a friend who I'd met at a party and who was, in my mind, a mumbling oaf who told our mutual friend how much he liked me but never used my number to tell me, and eventually we'd had an entire relationship without ever communicating, and I ended up looking picky and stuck up.
And then it hit me -- I've been dating guys whose names rhyme with mine!
I worried it was an omen but tried not to read into it because I was pulling into Larry's driveway.
I sprinted from my car to his front door so as not to ruin yet another outfit. I knocked, but he didn't answer. I knocked again and nothing. The door was unlocked so I walked in. The door led straight into his kitchen, where I saw a dozen roses in a vase and a card with my name on it on a table set for two.
Oh HELP, I thought. We're actually doing Valentine's Day?!
"Larry?" I called.
"Just got out of the shower!" he yelled back. "Make yourself at home!"
I found my way to his living room and sat down on his sofa. I pretended to be interested in the basketball game that was on until he finally made an entrance.
"Hey!" I said, getting up and giving him a hug. When I stepped back I noticed he was wearing a stained t-shirt and blue and white plaid pajama pants with a hole in the crotch. A hole. In the crotch.
"Dinner's still cooking. Can I get you a beer? Wine?" he said.
"WINE!" I blurted out enthusiastically.
A minute later he had a glass of red for me...and he had brought in the roses. "These are for you!"
I was trying to pump myself up for it, to be open and appreciative of his romantic gestures. I thanked him and opened the card. It was blank.
"I never know what to put on cards so I just didn't," he explained.
Why even have the card?! I thought. But I laughed it off and thanked him again, and he told me to relax while he finished cooking dinner. I could hear things clunking around in the kitchen. It smelled great, and I was getting hungry. I finished my wine and wandered into the kitchen to pour myself another glass.
"Need any help?" I asked.
"Nope! Just a few more minutes!" he replied.
About 20 minutes later he walked in holding two plates and a pan of something smothered with marinara sauce.
"Oh, are we eating in here?" I asked.
"Yeah, I mean, I'd rather watch the game anyway," he said, setting the plates on the coffee table. "No one really eats at tables anymore, right? You'd rather eat in here. Right?"
Then why even set the... I thought but stopped myself and just smiled. "Yep, this is fine."
"Veal Parmesan!" he announced proudly, slopping big cuts of meat onto the plates, sauce landing on my white shirt.
We hunched over the table and ate without talking. The romance was dwindling faster than I could pour wine. I finished my veal and asked if there was salad or anything that I should bring in. No. There wasn't. That was it. Did I want more? No. I didn't. Just more wine please.
After he'd finished two more plates, he asked if I wanted to watch a movie. My choices were a bunch of Adam Sandler comedies and Scary Movie 4. I suggested looking on TV to see what was on and he said, "Scary Movie 4 it is! You'll love it."
I did not love it. Within 15 minutes we'd seen a penis and vomit and heard the f bomb several times. He was cracking up. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, where I intended to stay for at least half an hour. I sat down on the toilet and noticed some magazines next to it. Perfect, maybe I'll stay longer. But they were all Playboys. I was done.
I watched another 30 minutes then pretended to fall asleep. I "woke up" and let him know I should probably go.
"You can't go yet! I wanted to give you an adjustment!" he said, jumping off the couch and running out of the room. He came back with a chiropractor's table that he quickly unfolded, and he motioned for me to lie on it.
"Face down," he said.
If there's a shred of a chance for the night to be saved, this would be it, I told myself. But there was nothing remotely sexy about that adjustment. He pushed on my back and twisted me around into extremely uncomfortable positions for 10 minutes. No careless whispers into my ear. No sensual massage. No attempt at a kiss.
It was time to go.
I took my flowers, gave him a hug good-bye, and never heard from him again. And I haven't dated a dude with "arry" in his name since.
But, uh, Prince Harry, if you're reading this, I would totally make an exception.
Treat yoself today, lovelies!