How My First And Last Internet Dating Experience Ruined My Relationship With The Local Cab Company.

Posted on June 14, 2008

7


I come to the conclusion that this large woman at the bar must be Heather.

If it is, the picture on her profile is inaccurate.

Extremely, awfully inaccurate.

This took place in April 2008.

My short foray into the world of internet dating was a full-blown disaster. In more ways than one.

I wasn’t even really ready to date for a myriad of reasons that aren’t really important for the intent of this story. But I was going to give it a try just to see what it was like. I figured I would at least make a new friend or have some interesting experiences.

I joined a couple of the popular sites. Match. Plenty of Fish. OK Cupid. I sent out a couple of emails. I received a couple here and there. No one really appealed to me. Either the person seemed boring or they weren’t what I was looking for physically.

Sidebar: If you think that last comment was shallow, you should know that statistics show that 90% of both men’s and women’s decisions to reply to a message on internet dating sites is based solely on the picture of the person who sent them the message.

Nothing really worked out. Either the girl or I quickly lost interest for one reason or another. I was just about to drop the whole idea altogether.

And then an email arrived one day.

It was short and simple. I forget really exactly what it said. It is not important. After I read the email, I checked out the profile. I liked what I read. I liked what I saw. For the first time, the girl seemed to be interesting. She liked the same type of music and books that I did. And she fit the bill in terms of looks. She had a picture on her profile of her standing in her kitchen. She was brunette, looked about the height (not tall) and weight (not fat but not too skinny) that I usually find agreeable.

I emailed her back. She quickly responded. We set up a date for the following night at one of my all-time favorite bars: The Dark Horse. We are to meet there at midnight. We both work kind of late on Friday nights.

Here is what happened.

10:00pm

I am finally home from work. I thought I was never going to get out of there. But since most of the staff is made up of females, I played the “date card”, and they all bent over backwards to get me out of there so I could make my rendezvous downtown.

Sidebar: Women, even the bitterest ones, will help a guy out in circumstances like this. I have never figured out exactly why that it is. I use it to my advantage every chance I get.

I am not meeting “Heather” until midnight. I have some time before I have to call a cab to head downtown. I lay down on my bed. Check my emails. Watch a hockey game for a few minutes.

10:30pm

I decide to get in touch with Heather to make sure that we are still on. I have to mention a peculiar thing here. She won’t give me her cell number. She will only communicate over Gmail. She wants it this way, so that the first time she hears my voice, it will be in person. I am suspicious but I think it is kind of cool that she is thinking like that. I am a sucker for that kind of bullshit.

So, I go onto Gmail. She is online. I ask her if we are still on. She says of course. I write to her I am going to log off and start to get ready to meet up with her. She finally gives me her cell phone number just in case there are any problems. She writes me that she will see me soon.

I get in the shower. I think to myself that this is kind of weird, but in a good way. I have never been on a blind date. Well, it is not absolutely blind. I did see that picture of her standing in her kitchen. At least I know that I will like her physically.

I put on my sure-fire outfit. Green cords, white button-down, charcoal gray blazer, brown suede boots. I look good in this ensemble. I always get good feedback when I wear it.

I am ready.

11:00pm

I call my regular neighborhood cab company. I tell them my address and where I am going. I make sure to mention that I live on Cresson Street in EAST FALLS, not MANAYUNK. This has been a problem from time to time but I have experienced competent promptness from them in the past. It is Friday night and they are busy, but I am confident that nothing will go wrong. Despite my outward cynical façade, I am a consummate optimist. I am giving them about 45 minutes to come and get me. The usual wait time is about a half an hour. I figure I am well within safe and sound parameters.

I grab a beer from the kitchen and go sit out on my stoop to wait for the taxi. My roommate, Kate, comes home right after I crack my beer. We talk about her night and I explain to her where I am going. She is happy for me because I have had rotten luck in love in the past year. She wishes me good luck and goes inside.

11:30pm

I finish my beer. I decide against going inside to get another for two reasons. One, the cab should be here any minute. Two, I don’t want to smell too much like beer when I meet Heather. Sometimes I actually do make adult decisions.

11:45pm

No cab.

I am a little worried. I am supposed to meet Heather in about 15 minutes. Still, if it arrives right now, I am still good. It is only about a 10 minute drive at this time of night. I give the company a call. The dispatcher tells me that the driver is on Cresson and should be there “within a few minutes, honey.” My mind is at ease. Especially since she threw in the “honey.” Makes me feel like we are friends, or at least acquaintances.

11:55pm

Still no cab.

I am getting a little bothered now. I don’t want to call Heather and tell her that I will be late. I am afraid that her response will be that we can do it another night. Instead, I call the cab company back. Again, I get the dispatcher. She notifies me that the driver is on my street but can’t find the house because the street ends in the 3400s. I am in the 3500s. I calmly tell her that I mentioned this problem when I called. The driver is one town over in Manayunk. I am in East Falls. She apologizes for the mix-up and assures me that the driver will be here soon. I hang up. My mind is less at ease but I am still confident this will all work out.

12:05am

The cab is still not here.

Kate looks out the window at one point and expresses surprise that I am still waiting in the street. That makes two of us.

Once again, I call the cab company. I get the same dispatcher. I am less calm at this point. She informs that the driver is now coming from the other way down my street and will be there in five minutes. I say something half-threatening about if he doesn’t make it in the allotted time, I will never use their company again. She appears unfazed by this and hangs up.

I quickly call Heather to tell her my predicament. Luckily, she is more than cool with it and tells me she is at the bar reading and not to worry about it. I think this is a great sign.

12:15am

NO FUCKING CAB.

This whole time I have been in the street waiting, I have been standing right next to my car. I am now debating whether to take it or not.

I don’t take my car downtown hardly at all for two reasons. One, I hate finding parking. I am lazy and would rather pay the $15 cab fare. Two, I don’t drink and drive. And since I like to drink to excess on occasion, I go to mind-numbing lengths to make sure I don’t have to drive.

I call the cab company back one last time. I get the dispatcher. I am yelling now. She is displeased with the yelling and lets me know how she feels about it. I calm down just a little. She tells me the driver can’t find my house.

I am no longer calm. I explain to her, very loudly, that I don’t live in some secret location known only to the government. Cars are free to come and go through my neighborhood at will. I go on to tell her, still very loudly, that I am looking at about 50-60 cars right now parked around my house. They all managed to find their way here. The roads are well-lit and easily navigated with big green signs at every corner. I ask her if the company she works for is doing a special cutting-edge project experimenting with blind drivers.

Surprisingly, she hangs up on me. I think about throwing my phone into the street and watching it smash into about a dozen pieces. For once, I actually do make a good decision. I put the phone in my pocket and get into my car. Start it.

I drive off at about 90mph into the Philadelphia night.

12:30am

I am parking outside The Dark Horse. I am calmer than before. On the ride down, I have learned a few things. (1) My car’s top speed is 115mph. I think that is pretty good for a Honda Element. (2) The band Silversun Pickups makes the best music to accompany a maniacal ride to just about anywhere. (3) Life is precious. The slightest miscalculation along the way could have meant the end of me or literally anyone who was able to view my car. This includes people two or three floors up. Any person four stories or higher was probably safe.

12:35am

I walk into The Dark Horse. I look around for Heather. There is only one woman by herself. She is sitting at the bar and has her back turned to me. I decide it can’t be her because this woman is seriously overweight. I go upstairs to see if she is at one of the other bars. No one upstairs fits the bill. I go back downstairs. I come to the conclusion that this large woman at the bar must be Heather. If it is, the picture on her profile is inaccurate. Extremely, awfully inaccurate.

I have two options here. (1) I could be a total shitheel, slowly creep out of the bar, and retreat to my car. (2) I could be a good guy and at least give it a shot. She could have the best personality ever. I decide to be a good guy, for once, and walk up the heavy lady and say, “Heather?” The lady turns around and says, “Hey, Josh.”

12:40am

After the whole introductory greetings and salutations process, I order us some drinks and we move to a small table off to the side. We begin to engage in idle chit-chat. The high-top tables around the bar are unusually small. Probably about 18” in diameter. Every time she begins to talk, all I can think about is how she is much wider than the table. I, on the other hand, am right in line with it. The edges of the table match up almost perfectly with either side of my waist. I think that the gym is paying off for me.

1:00am

I learn that Heather is a personal concierge for a very exclusive condominium building that houses all kinds of local celebrities. Ballplayers. Local anchorpersons. Those sorts of people. She is very hush-hush about who exactly lives there. She treats it like she is guarding some international secrets and if she even utters the first name of one of the tenants, we will be swarmed by black-op government operatives. Normally, I would try to pry some names out of her, just to prove to myself that, once again, I can talk people into anything. I decide against it because I think it will prolong the conversation. It is a conversation that I am not enjoying all that much. But I press on. It is only about 40 minutes to last call. Then I will be able to get the hell out of here.

1:20am

“Angel of Harlem” by U2 comes over the speakers in the bar. Heather just about falls out of her stool with excitement. Her voice gets high as she proclaims her love for U2 and especially Bono. Fucking great.

Sidebar: For about 15 years now, I have told anyone that will listen that U2 is one of the most overrated bands of all time. I can usually stretch an argument about this band to uncomfortable lengths.

She says, “Don’t you just love U2?” I should just agree with her. But I don’t. I say, “Not really.” I am not going into my profuse hatred of U2 with her, but I am letting her know that they are not exactly my cup of tea. I figure this is a good way to play it. I am wrong. Heather tries to try to convert me in a very original way.

She begins to sing along with the Bono at the top of her lungs. She is not a good singer by any stretch of the imagination. She is belting out the words. Each syllable that comes out of her mouth is hitting me like a freight train dropped from The Empire State Building. I am trying not to make eye contact. I am afraid that if I do, something bad will happen. So, I patiently wait. A radio station is playing, after all, and they are not going to play two U2 songs back-to-back, right?

Wrong.

1:24am

“One” by U2 comes over the speakers. I wonder to myself how in the fucking world did I not see that coming. Being kind of a music snob, I am always cognizant of the music around me. I have been listening to the songs while Heather has been going on about her cloak-and-dagger operation at the condominium building. The entire time I have been listening, there were never once back-to-back songs by any music artist. Until now. I am so displeased. Just another reason to hate the radio.

“One” is Heather’s favorite U2 song. She is about to share with me just how much of a favorite of hers that it is.

She gets out of her seat and stands up. Gets closer to me and starts singing the song about 6 inches from my face. My period of unhappiness is coming to a close. My period of rage is just a few seconds away. I play it cool, though. I look around the bar. Every last person is watching us intently. I give them all a kind of “I have no idea” look. I gave them all this look because I really don’t have any fucking idea why this woman is standing right up in my grill singing this song to me. When the song ends, she sits back down and says, “Now what do you think of U2?” I matter-of-factly state that I still don’t like them.

Sidebar: And the real truth is that she has sent my hatred of this band to new depths from which they will never emerge.

1:30am

The bartender calls “last call.” When he does this, it feels like the high school bell is ringing at the end of 8th period on the last day of my senior year. Sweet motherfucking freedom. This is the kind of freedom that Mel Gibson was talking about in Braveheart. Even though I am not a fighter by any means, I would have gladly followed William Wallace into battle for freedom like this.

1:45am

We step outside. It is raining. She asks me if I smoke. I tell her I do. She asks to bum one. I oblige her. I light up one for each of us. I start the whole wind down process. Yawning. Stretching my arms. Looking at my watch. As we finish our cigarettes, it starts to rain. Hard. I tell her that I am going to run to my car and step into give her hug. As I hug her, I lie and tell her I will get in touch with her in the next couple of days. She says OK. And then she says the most awful thing she has said all night. “It sucks its raining because I have to walk like 23 blocks.” Deep down, I am a nice guy. I offer to drive her home. She readily agrees. So much for freedom.

2:00am

Despite the fact that every bar in the city is letting out right now, I make it 23 blocks in just less than ten minutes. Again, I am proud of my driving skills. She is less so. She looks worried the entire time. I tell her that I am one of those really fast drivers. We get to her house. She invites me in. I tell her I have to get home because I have dogs. That is another lie. The dogs are my roommate’s. Heather gets out of my car. I wave to her and she waves back. Thankfully, that is how I will always get to remember her. Waving goodbye.

She wrote me an email a couple of days later asking if I wanted to get together the next weekend. I emailed her back and told her that I didn’t think we had a connection and wished her luck on her search for the right guy.

Will I do internet dating again? Yeah, maybe, but I am going to have to see updated pictures that are authenticated by a notary public. But, as of this minute, I am on a self-imposed embargo from dating while I work on my book. Sorry, ladies. It will be several months until I am ready to embark on my next failed relationship.

I can’t use the cab company anymore, either. My angry tirade that night has earned me a lifetime ban.

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