by: Dana Norris
Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club. She once went on 71 internet dates. Originally, when asked to estimate how many internet dates she had gone on she guessed “120” because that sounded about right. But the other night she sat down and made list of each of the dates that she can recall, in exact order, using an excel spreadsheet. And she found that the total is actually 71. She apologizes for having lied in previous issues of this column – from now on she will keep it real.
I meet Patrick on Match.com. He piques my interest because he messages me first and he has a nice profile picture. Usually guys who message me don’t have a profile picture at all, which I take to mean:
1) They have tiny vestigial heads attached to their regular heads
2) They are hill people
But Patrick’s picture shows only one head and his message calls me “cute” and “a funny chick who knows how to have a good time.” I’m flattered but I also think he’s wrong. I do have good times but I know that my good times aren’t the good times typically recognized by sororities and the network E! In that I consider the latest Gilmore Girls Netflix DVD to be a good time.
But Patrick seems like he knows how to have a “good time” as well. One of his profile pictures shows him dressed up for Halloween – his face is green and he’s wearing a green wig and a tweed jacket with elbow patches and he’s smoking a pipe. I ask him over email what he’s supposed to be. He answers “esteemed broccoli” and I immediately decide to go out with him.
I aim for an afternoon date because I figure it’ll be more casual and I won’t have to flat iron my hair. We meet at The Huttenbar, the German bar just below my apartment where I’ve recently gotten on head nod terms with the bouncer. I deliberately show up a few minutes late because, even though I’m recognized on sight by the bouncer, I still have a phobia about sitting by myself at a bar. I’m not sure what I think is going to happen if I sit at the bar alone. A strange man might talk to me? Isn’t that what every single girl dreams of? Not this single girl, apparently. My ploy works and Patrick is sitting at the bar when I arrive. He‘s a bit older than me and kind of hunky. I start the small talk and ask him where he works. “Playboy.”
Wow. That is a super interesting answer. I start asking him questions – what are the playmates like? Have you met Hef? Are you living the frat boy dream? He works in the IT department and he says that most of the playmates look weird in person and are boring and that he has never met Hef. I appreciate the comment about the playmates because, even though we’ve just met, the idea that he gets to interact with the supposed feminine ideal on a daily basis does make me feel a bit insecure. But I tell myself to chill out – the man has eyes and can clearly see me and I’m wearing shorts so he knows what’s up.
Patrick chats away and the conversation keeps moving with very little effort from me. He’s quite outgoing. He talks about how he used to be a huge partier and his friends still party a lot and some of them live with him but it’s cool. And he keeps on ordering us beers – we’ve been here for 45 minutes and we’re already on beer #3. Then he asks me if I do drugs. I’m a control freak so the answer is no, unless you count pills that keep me from caring about whether or not I die when I fly. I follow up and ask him if he does drugs and he replies, “Some of my friends still do coke but I don’t really do it anymore.”
Previously, when I was in my 20s, I would have listened to this answer and thought, “Oh, so you used to do coke but now you don’t.” But now I am in my 30s and I listen to his answer and I think, “Oh, so you do a lot of coke.”
He asks if I want a shot and – sure, why not? We have a shot and another beer and there’s a Cubs game on and we’re watching it and talking and I am having a blast, just a really great time. But as time goes by and he keeps ordering beers I’m realizing that I can’t keep up with this guy. I turn down my fifth beer and opt for water instead.
There’s a woman sitting at the bar by herself. She’s wearing a maxi dress and a lot of makeup and she constantly leaves to go outside to have a cigarette and keeps asking us to watch her beer. I can’t remember her name so I’ll call her Tabby. After the fifth cigarette break/request for us to watch her beer she casually joins our conversation, commenting on the Cubs game. And then Patrick says, “Is there a convenience store near here? I need to go pickup some chewing tobacco.” Which: yes there is, just down the street, and also: that is fairly gross. He leaves to go get the chewing tobacco and now I am a girl sitting at the bar by herself, but I’m fairly wasted so I’m OK with it. I just watch the TV and sip my water and Tabby and I start chatting. She asks me, “Are you on a date with that guy?”
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a first internet date, so not really, but kind of.”
“How’s it going?”
“Well, he left to get chewing tobacco and he’s been gone for 20 minutes and I’m pretty drunk so – OK?”
Patrick returns and joins our conversation. He buys another round, including Tabby. And I find that him and Tabby are now talking more than him and I are talking. And even though he just bought some chew he’s going outside with her to have a cigarette and I’m watching both of their beers. I think this date is starting to get away from me. And I do enjoy Patrick. I vow to step up my game when he comes back inside – like, touch his arm or something. Maybe I should order us all shots to show him that I can hang. Maybe I could develop a temporary drinking problem, just for a few months, just to go on a few more dates with him and see where it goes.
Oh, hell. Those are crazy thoughts. I should go home.
Patrick comes back inside the bar with Tabby and I announce that I have to work tomorrow so I should go home. I ask Patrick, “Want to walk me home?” which is a joke since I live 30 seconds from this bar stool. Patrick does walk me home, slowly smoking another cigarette that he bummed from Tabby. He hugs me goodbye and I stand there, waiting to see if he’s going to try for a kiss. He doesn’t and he tells me, “You know, I’m not done drinking so I’m going to go back to the bar and have another with Tabby.”
I go upstairs and go to bed and he goes back to the bar with Tabby and I never hear from him again.
Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club, a monthly show for stories. She performs around Chicago with The Paper Machete, Write Club, Mortified!, The Kates, Essay Fiesta, This Much is True, and many others.