Being divorced for almost a year now, I’ve been asked by more than one online dating website to try out their services for free and then document the resulting zany adventures on my blog. I’ve yet to take advantage of these anomalous, yet generous, offers. Not because I have an ethical standard that prohibits me from dragging innocent victims into my public sphere of wackiness (anyone is fair game, just ask my kids), but rather because I “date” just about as well as I’d perform an emergency appendectomy on you if your appendix burst while we were on the dance floor doing the Hustle. In other words, start making those funeral arrangements now.
I was married for two decades and some change. And one of the perks of matrimony, I thought, was that I’d never have to date again. Before I was married, my problem with dating was that I mistakenly assumed I could be myself when a gentleman asked me out. But as it turns out (I’ve since been told) I can be a bit hard to take. Who knew?
Backstory of a Bad Date
Before I unveil the metaphor that defines my dating disasters, I have to tell you about my toes. (This is pertinent to the story, so stay with me.) Sometimes my toes cramp up so badly they look like they’re singing the Star Spangled Banner in sign language.
I get toe cramps all the time, but not because my body lacks potassium, character, or is possessed by the Devil. No, I get toe cramps because my eyesight is really, really bad. To the point of which I can’t see the big E on an eye chart from 20 feet away, even though I tell the person testing me that I can. (Lady, I already know Line 1 is an E, so why bother asking me? One day I’m going to insist it’s a swastika just to mess with her.)
Because my eyesight’s on par with that of a rabid bat, over the years I’ve run into so many chairs and wall corners that I’ve broken all my toes repeatedly. I’ve even broken toes that were already broken. You’d think I’d put some shoes on now and again, wouldn’t you? But when you break your toes it hurts to wear shoes. As a result of all this toe trauma, my poor feet have been x-rayed and groped more times than Cat Stevens trying to get through an airport.
Today an x-ray of my toes looks like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Niagara Falls. There is no telling which end is up or which piece goes where. I suspect it’s simply ligaments holding my pitiful digits together. So every once in a while (translated, almost everyday) my toes do a spontaneous interpretive dance that would make Hulk Hogan cringe with pain.
Now on to a Typical Dysfunctional Date
Back in my early 20s I was (and still am) a decent athlete. I can do just about any sport better than average, but I’m not outstanding at any one sport. So when I met this rugged, good-looking guy who liked rappelling, mountain climbing, and back country backpacking, I said sure thing, dude, I’m in.
We’d had exactly two dates before we headed up to Big Bear for a weekend backpacking trip. On our first date he took me to a Los Angeles Kings hockey game, where he proceeded to explain the nuances of body checking. All of which I already knew, but being a first date I let him be Big-Man-on-Campus. (Quick sidebar: That condescending bullshit would NOT fly today.) On our second date he took me to dinner at El Torito. There he tried to impress me by eating about 7,000 jalapenos. But all I thought was, Man, that’s going to hurt tomorrow when those badass peppers make their encore appearance out the other end.
Date 3: Backpacking Trip
Friday night my manly date, me, and two other couples hiked into a remote, dense forest somewhere between Big Bear and Palm Springs. There we set up tents, spent the night, got up, then backpacked some more. But at about 4:00 p.m. on Saturday the moment of dating truth struck. I tripped on a root, and since I was wearing open-toed hiking sandals, I snagged the middle toe on my right foot and (wait for it…) snapped it like a twig. Actually, I dislocated the sucker, my first clue being that it was now perpendicular to my foot and hurt like a sonofabitch.
I could tell by the group’s collective dilated pupils that everyone went into shock but me. They all wanted to help, but not if they had to touch, let alone look at, my maniacal toe. Having dealt with this problem since I was a kid, I simply gritted a stick between my teeth, took hold of my gnarled toe and with one clean jerk, yanked it back into place. The damn thing “cracked” so loudly you would’ve thought I was shelling nuts for a pecan pie.
Yeah, that hurt. But at least now my toe was back in the saddle and I could walk—sort of.
I looked at the group, expecting some sort of kudos for taking the initiative. Instead they all stared back at me like I’d just sprouted an evil twin out of my left shoulder.
My date especially was not impressed. I knew this because upon making my toe correction his eyes rolled up into the back of his head, he dropped like a sack of dirt, and hit his head on a rock. (This from a man who based-jumped off cliffs and consistently one-upped Tijuana natives in chipotle-eating contests.) Everyone rushed over to him leaving me and my toe to fend for ourselves. I swear to God, blood is such an arrogant scene-stealer.
Date 4: Emergency Room Break-up
In the ER my date had five stitches in his head and I had a foot x-ray. The doctor told me I’d actually done a good job setting my toe. He taped it and said my toes looked like gravel on the inside and that I’d never be a prima ballerina. (No shit, really?)
As I drove my date home (he had a slight concussion) he told me that it wouldn’t work between us. When I asked him why he said, “You’re just too much. That toe thing really freaked me out.”
“Seriously? What was I supposed to do?” I asked. “Were you going to carry me eight miles to civilization?”
“It’s not just the toe thing. Earlier you flicked a nasty bug off your sandwich and then ate it.” The sandwich, that is, not the bug.
“So? I was hungry. Just because a beetle took a shortcut across my turkey and cheddar doesn’t mean I don’t get lunch.”
“I’m sorry. It’s nothing personal, but…” he paused and chose his words carefully. “You’re just a bit much for me.” He got out of the car and disappeared into his house.
And in that poignant moment of soul-searching and self-realization, I sat alone in the dark and reflectively thought…Jesus, what a pussy.
And to think, now that I’m divorced I get to start that wonderful process all over again. Oh yeah. I can hardly wait.
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Stacy Dymalski is the host of the hilarious TV talk show “Mother Bloggers” on FirstRun.tv. She’s also an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.
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