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Batter Out

by Chloë J. 5 months ago in Dating
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A true story

Batter Out
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

This is the story of my first ever date. A pivotal moment for anyone, but especially for a young woman who, as a junior in college, was a late bloomer by anyone's standards. Not to mention I'd spent many, many years wondering what my first date would be like, what kind of guy I'd go out with, and, as the years wore on, the increasing panic-ridden thought that I may never even have a first date at all.

Turns out, that wasn't what I should have been worried about.

It was a gloomy November evening, dark at 5:30 and cold as the Arctic tundra. At least to a Georgia girl, that is. I'd had a remarkably bad day. Such a bad day, in fact, that I'd decided to splurge on a Starbucks coffee, despite my indubitable and cliché status as a broke college student. I ordered an americano, to warm me up and give me the energy to get through what would be an inevitably long night. I waited patiently, and when the barista finally called my name, I strode up to the counter to retrieve my drink. What sat there was a vanilla bean Frappuccino, the letters of my name unmistakably written on the side of the cup. I looked at the drink, then at the overworked barista. I grabbed it and headed back out into the night. I tried a sip as I walked, and it was about as unsatisfying as I had expected. Regardless, I vowed not to let it go to waste, and as I settled myself on a bench in a deserted hallway in the student center, I started choking it down.

This was the state in which he found me.

I was about halfway through the vanilla bean disaster, headphones in, probably listening to "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter. I liked to wallow back then; honestly, I still do from time to time. I mean, if you're having a bad day, why not make it worse with some sad music? It's cathartic.

The hallway was deserted, except for me and the occasional passerby. I was sitting at one of many benches, all completely empty. Which is why I found it so annoying and strange when he sat at the same bench, not overbearingly close, but close enough to warrant my attention. Over my music, I could hear the buzz of him talking on the phone, but I couldn't make out specific words. Irritated at the interruption to my music, I bumped the volume up, in an ineffective attempt to drown him out. It didn't work. I contemplated if moving to the bench across the hall would be glaringly, obviously rude, and decided it would be, so I stayed. My song came to end, which is when I heard what he was saying.

"So, anyway, I was wondering if you'd maybe want to get coffee sometime?"

I was immediately intrigued. I also felt a little bad for my complete lack of graciousness towards him; he had clearly just worked up enough nerve to ask someone out for the first time, and that is scary business. Not that I knew from experience. I paused my music to wait to see if I could discern the reply of the party at the other end of the phone.

Silence. For quite an extended period of time. I cringed inwardly. There was no way it was going well if it was taking that long for someone to friend zone the poor guy. After a few more beats of silence, I risked a look at the guy beside me. My curiosity had gotten the better of me. Slowly, I turned my head toward him.

To find him looking directly at me. And clearly not on the phone.

Confused, I looked behind me to find out who he is talking to, ignoring the growing, terrifying thought that seemed more and more likely. I turned back, and he was still looking at me. I could no longer ignore the facts. He had been speaking to me the entire time. So I said the only thing I could have said.


What he made of the elongated silence preceding my answer, I have no idea. We exchanged numbers and tentatively agreed on the following Saturday. I figured, coffee is relatively harmless. Easy to cut short, if needed. A naïve, hopeful part of me even thought I might have a good time. That this encounter would one day be some sort of rom-com meet-cute moment. Regardless, I quickly made my excuses and vacated the premises.

Saturday morning, he texted and asked if I would be okay with doing breakfast instead. I was not okay with doing breakfast. So, naturally, I agreed to breakfast. He suggested Cracker Barrel. I wanted to go to breakfast even less. I said sure, Cracker Barrel is great. I had nothing but dread inside as I headed to my date.

It is worth noting that, by this point, I had not gotten his name and it was far, far too late to ask.

We met outside the restaurant and it was about as awkward as I dreaded it would be. There was a wait, so we lingered in the merchandise section. I pretended to be interested in a selection of tee shirts to avoid having to talk to him, all the while hating myself for being such an unforgivably socially graceless person. The hostess told us our table was ready and we made our way to the stand. He clearly knew the hostess strangely well. Well enough for him to introduce me as his girlfriend.

Strike one.

I said nothing, and we proceeded to our table. I ordered the cheapest thing I could find on the menu, or at least the cheapest thing I'd enjoy: a half order of pancakes. Then I listened to him tell me his entire life story. I legitimately, no exaggeration, said not a single word. He talked the entire time. I learned a lot about him, like how close he was to his sister, what made his major better than other majors, and why his car was so awesome. What I did not learn was his name. I nodded intermittently, without even smiling, but it seemed to be enough to keep him going.

Finally, the bill came. I escaped to the bathroom to text my roommate a brief version of the events that she would be fully filled in on later. We headed out to the car, and amidst his rambling, I heard a terrible phrase.

"I'm having a lot of fun; would you maybe want to head over to the botanical gardens?"

I very, very much did not want to.

I thought of every Criminal Minds episode, every Law and Order SVU episode where the girl gets taken to a secondary location and murdered. I thought it was a very, very bad idea for me to agree to go. However, I did not want to be rude. Even at risk of life and limb.

Naturally, I said:


I texted my roommate where we were going and told her that if she didn't hear from me at least every thirty minutes to call the cops. I wish I was kidding. On the drive over, he told me all about his car; how much his dad paid for it ($30,000), how fast it can go, how special it is. I do not tell him he's barking up the wrong tree. My car, I got for free from a family member with over 270,000 miles on it. Pretty much everything that isn't the gas or the brakes is broken. What matters is that it still reliably gets me from point A to point B, which is all I need it to do. I couldn't care less about his fancy car.

When we got to the botanical gardens, I decided it was time for me to flip a switch. Up until this point, I had been disengaged and monosyllabic. Not that any of this had been a deterrent to my companion. However, given the fact that I had allowed myself to be taken to a secondary location, I figured it was in my best interest to be more pleasant and to avoid offending him. I resolved to be agreeable.

No one else was at the gardens. It was cold and rainy, and I hadn't brought a jacket. I couldn't hide the fact that I was visibly shivering and he, kindly, offered me a jacket. I accepted, and he pulled a flannel out of his trunk. I went to grab it, but he said, "No, allow me!"

I did not want to allow him. However, I had decided to be agreeable.

"Sure," I responded, and I turn my back to him and hold my arms out awkwardly to the sides, expecting him to put it on one sleeve at a time from behind, like a jacket. Much to my surprise, I felt the flannel start to come from above, over my head. I failed to initially realize that the flannel was fully buttoned up. All the way to the top button. And so, despite a valiant effort on my date's part, pulling and tugging with all of his might, trying to get my head through the top of the flannel, I remained stuck, like an overgrown toddler getting dressed in too-small clothes.

Strike two.

Finally, after the longest ninety seconds of my life, my head popped through the opening, and I gasped for the fresh air, as if I had just been reborn from a flannel birth canal. Miraculously, I did not cause any of the buttons to break free of their moorings.

We walked and talked for about an hour and a half. I actually got to speak this time around, and he graciously informed me when I held an incorrect opinion. I agreed with him every time he corrected me, completely uninterested in becoming the star of an episode of 48 hours. Still, I chafed a bit at being condescended toward so much.

Strike three.

Finally, we head back to Cracker Barrel, where I left my car. Once again, he tells me how much fun he had. I do not return the sentiment. He went in for a kiss. I dodged and forced him to settle for a hug.

When he texted me the next day, I didn't respond. I didn't any of the other times he tried in the days following either. I can't blame a guy for trying. I'm sure he is a very nice guy, and I felt bad for being scared of him; I guess I watch too many cop shows.

The "real me" back then was people-pleasing, awkward, and cowardly. For not texting back, not setting boundaries, and not being willing to hold to an opinion. Now, I think I'm better at some of those things. Still messy. An imperfect work in progress. And, the same as it is for everyone else, who I "really" am evolves with time. In some ways for the better, and I think in some ways for the worse. But I'm working on it.

I'm proud to report that since this incident, I have been able to say "no" when I don't want to go out with someone.


About the author

Chloë J.

Probably not as funny as I think I am

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