#MyWorstDate: High School, Snow, and Jellyfish
My High School Self Attempts to Go on a Date
My worst date was my very first date. Late to the game of understanding social cues in how to speak to boys and grasping any idea on how to manage a boy “like liking” me, my first date didn’t happen until I was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. Jittery and anxious, I had found out that this boy had somehow developed feelings for my awkward, shy self. Memory fails to recollect how I found out about his intent to take me on a date, but I remember glancing at him in the school hallways and receiving sporadic text messages from him on my Samsung flip phone. I had never been better at T9 text messaging. All of this was happening before I grew out of this awkward stage, so I was ecstatic, but probably more nervous than anything, when I knew I was finally going on my first date.
I lived in the snow tundra of South Dakota, where my parents owned a house 20 miles outside the town where we commuted to school and work. The driveway to our house stretched about 500 yards from the back road to our house’s front door. Living in the middle of nowhere in the northern part of the country meant staying home from school when a blizzard arrived now and then; the snow removal on county highways was non-existent and the amount of times I reluctantly drove into the ditch attempting to get out of our snow-piled driveway are too many to count. South Dakotans are stubborn when it comes to snowy weather: we’ll always attempt to drive in intense snow conditions, since it’s just what we deal with for most of the year. I wasn’t any different, and thanks to my and others’ willingness to just try risky driving, the events that happened on this day ensued.
At 16, I wasn’t driving on my own quite yet; the boy who asked me to go to a movie and who was a year older than I was offered to pick me up as he lived on a dairy farm close by. (Yes, it's okay to think we were stereotypical South Dakotans). We planned to then drive into our small town to see the Will Smith movie, Seven Pounds, at the theater. On the day of the date, I woke up early, putting makeup on and staring outside my bedroom window to anticipate his arrival and to ponder how to somehow be less shy than usual on this date. “What will I talk about?” “How should I act?” “Will we hold hands?” The questions were pounding in my head, since this was all happening during a time in my life where being social and confident around other people didn’t come to me as easily as it does now. It was imperative that my awkwardness did not come out as much as it usually does; otherwise, he may never text me again.
I saw through my window that he was finally arriving in his red, two-wheeled drive Oldsmobile Alero, making it to the end of our driveway and closer to my house. I left the house and went into his car; my nerves calmed knowing that he hadn’t stood me up — it was bane reality that I was going on my first date! However, as I buckled my seat belt and sat in the car, the unpredictable happened. As he was trying to drive away, he turned around and his car slowly slid into a large snow patch near the garage, giving in to mother nature’s white, glistening trap. The snow build-up engulfed his car and it sat in the blanket of snow, a red splatter of color in the sparkling, crisp whiteness. We figured we could try to get out, but the wheels spun in place and we made little progress in moving forward even an inch.
“No, this cannot be happening,” I had thought to myself. I had thought through this date in my head for the week leading up to this moment and immobility was not part of the plan. My dad witnessed this incident and trudged through the snow to the car and stated he could drag out the car with his truck. I felt mortified as this had to be the moment that this boy met my father for the first time and I waited there painfully as he hooked up the rope from the car to the back of the truck and then attempted to pull the car out. Each time my father slammed on the gas, I was agonizing over the suspense of whether we'd be successful. After 20 minutes of revving the truck engine, the truck spun its wheels and with a big thrust, the red car jerked forward and onto the area of the driveway with a thinner blanket of snow.
“Finally, we’re out.” I had thought to myself that although this obstacle made things not go as planned, at least it didn’t last very long and we made it out. Now, we can continue this date.
I was relieved too soon, however. As this boy drove a little farther down the driveway, he stated that his brakes weren’t working as he aggressively patted on the brake with his foot. Luckily, the car stopped on its own into another, but smaller, snowbank. We didn’t know what had necessarily caused it: the towing, the snow, or if the brakes, out of all the times that they could’ve given out, decided at this time in particular to stop working.
We told my dad about this and my dad offered the last thing I wanted him to say: that he could drive us into town for the movie. We didn’t really have any other options; even if Uber existed at this time, there’d be no way to get a ride from my house to our town.
And so there I was. On my very first date, this boy and I sat in complete silence in the back of my dad’s car for 20 miles on the flat back roads of rural South Dakota. No one said a single word in the car and I thought about the fact that my dad had to drive us around like were were children. My humiliation kept me from being able to make light of the situation and breaking the awkward nothingness in the air. Although I look back at this incident and know it really wasn’t as bad as I thought at the time, one must understand that at 16 years old, I had to prove to this boy that I was capable of being a bold, put-together person who could make a date fun and enjoyable. Now we were being driven around by a parent, while we both stared outside the windows to dodge each other's glances. Other students at my high school had already known me as someone with a gawky demeanor, lacking the ability to thrive in dating situations. This definitely hurt my cause and I wanted to bury my head in the very snow that created this incident. I was already anticipating the chance that this boy was probably never going to speak to me again.
We were about an hour late to the movie and the seriousness of the dramatic film didn’t help alleviate any feelings of stiffness we had as a result of what just happened. I don’t remember much of the movie, except for jellyfish and Will Smith stinging himself with one while sitting in a bathtub. I wanted to sting myself with a jellyfish as well, allowing me to escape what felt like an utter catastrophe.
I can’t remember how we returned back to our houses after the movie finished. If I were then who I am now, I would’ve offered to go somewhere else after the movie, like check out stores downtown or go to a coffee shop to give myself somewhat of a “second chance.” But I was perhaps too immature to realize that I didn’t need to be defeated. I kept thinking that while friends of mine were making it to third base, I had to say that we got stuck in snow and driven to the theater by my dad.
Eight years later, I've experienced years of boyfriends, heartbreak, and dating. I now realize that although dating started out rough, it didn’t define the rest of my dating life. I now think of this incident as hilarious and thankfully I’ve also had very good dates where snow did not impact any part of them. And if something like this ever does happen again, I will probably be able to handle it much better now.