“Actually, it’s a tabard.”



I am howling at this story of Jenny Slate’s terrible blind date.


Like, lmk when you get to the phrase “[metal clanking noises]” if you’re not ded of laughing by then.

It’s very funny and well told, because she is funny and a good storyteller (and because it doesn’t end with her being called ‘Milady’ in a murder basement for the rest of her short life), but it’s also a deeply cautionary tale about how women are socialized to be nice at all costs and how some dudes have not heard “LOL, Nope!!!!” coming from the woman-shaped hole in the nearest wall as their date flees the scene nearly enough in this life.



248 thoughts on ““Actually, it’s a tabard.”

  1. OH MY GOD. “Go big or go home” is NOT AS SEXY AS YOU THINK IT IS BRO

  2. I one time stayed on a date (?) sitting on a couch that REEKED of CAT PEE watching TV in some guy’s house, trying to lean as far forward as I could, to maximize the distance between my nose and the furniture, like I REALLY CARED ABOUT SPIES IN MIAMI because I was too polite to just leave.

    1. I once stayed on a second date watching a movie at a guy’s house. He kept trying to hook up and I kept pushing him away, I told him I was not interested in being physical yet. He eventually took his junk out to “let it breathe”. And I stayed until the end of the movie at the furthest corner of the couch, because I was also too polite to get up and leave.

  3. Okay look, I’m speaking as a SCAdian here, I wear chain mail for funsies, & I’m saying it, guys, DON’T DO THIS.

    1. Me too! I started reading going, “But…but I’d love to go to the Ren Faire on a first date.” And then. Then there was the chain mail. In the restaurant. And “would you help me disrobe?” So much nope.

      1. Right, it’s not the armor or the geekiness, it’s the total lack of caring about her interests or her feelings so that he could display his pizzazz.

        1. *points up, nods vigorously* thank you for wordsing that for me, I was just stuck on NOPE DO NOT

        2. I thought that was SUCH a brilliant observation from her, and so clearly explained.

          1. It also totally explained my entire first relationship, which was with a dude who had decided that he was A Romantic and had an entire script about how His True Love was going to go.

            Also he 200% would have showed up to a first date in chainmail if he had access to chainmail which he did not.

          2. @stellanor (out of nesting)

            I have dated so many guys who have a SET IN STONE script about how their relationship is going to go. They get so mad when you go off book, but it’s kind of a bewildered sort of anger, like their both crushed, indignant, and confused all at once. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO MEEEEEE??!!?!?

          3. @stellanor – Back in the days of the pre-internet, I “met” a guy on a local BBS and agreed to meet in person. I told him I was auditioning for something at the local community theater, and I’d meet him afterward. He said he wanted to audition as well. I made a joke about knowing him by “the carnation in his buttonhole”, which was a line from something, I can’t remember what now.

            You guessed it. He showed up to the audition (I think maybe it was for “The Hobbit”?) in a three-piece suit and a carnation in his buttonhole. All my friends were like “omg who is that weirdo” and I was like “Uh … I think he’s here to see me, actually.”

        3. And I guess the tone of some of his opening lines would probably help, but I’m still not clear on whether he actually *is* Renfair geek or just Fully Committed to a joke that had long since fallen flat.

          1. The fact that the outfit was a movie costume that he bought had me thinking probably not. (Though maybe it’s different in LA where movies can be the source for period-appropriate clothing?)

    2. Right?!
      I’ve a closet full of SCA gear, and YET this date would not have pleased me in the slightest. Having the date show up in something like that would not have been a plus.

      1. I’m a SCAdian, but unless my date knew I was into that and we were at an appropriate event, I would be so off-put and displeased. I like to volunteer for the freak show; I don’t like to be shoved onstage with no warning.

        1. I go to restaurants with people wearing medieval clothing after SCA events all the time. Know what the difference is? We’re there TOGETHER, and I am wearing garb, too.
          (Carolingia, East Kingdom)

          1. Aaah, aethelmark is so close! I went to an embroidery workshop up there in April.

      1. Three Rivers! Or I will be– playing again will be my reward for finishing off three years of medical/ credit-card-from-unemployment debt. Halfway there!

  4. I’m so glad she told that story. It really, really needed to be told by someone who could create the proper mood and context and really deliver the right tone. My office mates were looking at me like I was loony because I was doing that laugh that starts out loud and then goes silent because it is so powerful? It made my stomach hurt in the best way.

    I can’t even get my brainpan around how I would have behaved in that situation. It is so weird, it is like it short circuits every normal neural pathway like the most disfunctional kind of choose-your-own-adventure story ever.

    Thank you for sharing because this totally Made. My. Day. 🙂

    1. I have this image of Nia Vardalos in the first “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when she just freezes and then leaves the table when the guy starts licking his spoon. That reaction would probably be happening in my head while I just did the freezing part on the outside.

  5. Ooohh, that one tops my story of the group date with the ghost hunting sorcerer, and I was thinking that would never happen! At least that dude left his robes at home and settled for a black shirt.

    Oh my gosh. What the actual hell.

    1. :chinhands: So, about the time you went on a group date with a ghost hunting sorcerer…

      1. Well, it’s not quite as dramatic. But a friend wanted to meet this dude but not alone, so a group of us (me and 2 other girl friends plus her and this dude) got together, conceptually to hang out but really. We were just there for this date.

        Dude was ok for a bit and we traded bad jokes and whatever. Somehow we got into the subject of ghosts. And he became super serious. Because you see one time, he met this ghost in an abandoned barn. It tossed him around and almost killed him until he managed to ‘banish’ it, and then he had to skip his last year of school because he was in the hospital.

        I’m not really doing his story justice but anyway. He then proclaimed that this ghost still haunts him and is a danger to everyone around him and would mess up our lives. I was staring blankly into my drink at this point, questioning some life choices, but dude wanted to impress all the ladies so he went around asking us about bad stuff in our lives and blaming it on ghosts and I played along because politeness.

        Then he decided he needed to cast a spell of protection on us. He stripped off his shirt, put on an identical black t-shirt from his bag (because as I said, he forgot his robes but I guess changing clothes matters to spells) and then pulled out his ‘Book of Shadows.’

        This thing. Oh gosh. It was a faux black leather notebook with a rubber skull glued to the cover. He put his hands on it and took a dramatic stance, and probably tried to look like he was concentrating but he looked constipated instead.

        And then I don’t remember the spell. I think I had a small black out from the strain of trying not to laugh. Laughing would be rude! Ghosts are see! I couldn’t look at my friends. I was sure I’d break. I think somebody whispered “is he going to blow up?” And I sort of cough-screamed.

        After that my star-struck friend with the crush went off with the guy to talk magic and ghost hunting and my other two friends and I quietly went home.

        And laughed ourselves sick.

        1. Well thank you, I’ve just discovered that it is in fact possible to snort a choc-nut cornetto out your nose.

        2. HOW do you think it’s not as dramatic??! He took off his shirt! He did a spell! I think this tops guys in chainmail for epic date disasters, personally.

  6. That was hilarious. But I did get mad at the part where she describes the guy’s ego and how she either has to be the mean one and shut it down or play along with a fantasy she never wanted to be a part of in the first place.

    I’ve been on several first dates like that. Where the guy makes it all about him. So f*cking annoying! I wish I had 40-year old me whispering in 30-year old me’s ear that it’s OK to Nope the F out of there in situations like that!

  7. *facepalm*

    I am the kind of woman who actually would totally go on a date to a Ren Fair. That sounds like a good time to me. I’m a former SCAdian. I have gone to normal restaurants dressed in medieval garb (generally in groups of people doing likewise).

    That was horrifying. Like, I can’t even find it funny horrifying. WTF.

    Also, dude was wrong, if it’s full length and it’s possible for it to get caught around his chest, it’s not a tabard, it’s a surcoat. Tabards are rectangles with a hole for your head, and are generally not longer than thigh or, at most, knee length. /pedant

    1. I’m so glad you said the surcoat thing, rewritingdeath, because I was thinking, “But… but that’s not how tabards work!” (Too bad there weren’t some Festies or SCAdians sitting nearby to immediately and loudly correct him.)

      I’m also glad for all the people here saying that it’s not the nerdery that’s icky, it’s the … ugh, what is the word for “self-centered bozo making an effort only when it’s part of his fantasies which he has never checked out with you, so then he puts you in a situation of embarrassment without even a chance for informed consent”? That. That’s the icky thing.

      1. Why am I suddenly reminded of the guy who sat down next to me at a science fiction convention, thought about it carefully a moment, and then leaned over, put his arms around me, and started nuzzing my neck.

        No, we had never met before that moment….

        1. OK, I almost jumped out of my chair while reading that statement. Gah. *full body shudder*

        2. My mouth just actualfax formed a D shape. That is HORRIFYING. What the actual fuck.

        3. Noooooooooooooooo I know freezing is super normal, but I have a hope that you broke his nose.

  8. Ughhh. Yeah, it’s not “Hahahaha this person was dressed weird what a dork who would ever date him”, but “This person wanted to play a roll at everyone else’s expense, after overlooking all signals that this was not a thing they were into.” It’s one thing to be into cosplay, or say, stand up – it’s another to show up dressed that way or arrange a date at your show and spotlight them while on stage. Weird is awesome, but it doesn’t exempt you from being mindful of others. Thanks for sharing this – I know people who do this sort of thing and I could never quite articulate what pissed me off so much about it.

    1. “Spotlight them while on stage.”

      YES. That’s a huge thing. It’s why there are some YouTube videos of proposals that are just horrific.

      1. OMgahhhh…. You’ve just articulated something about my ex that bothered me that I never could put my finger on before!

        He was extroverted, I’m definitely not. He would do this thing where he would be having ALL THE PEOPLE LOOK at him (doing his juggling, or his Jedi cosplay or whatever), and then, in a romantic gesture, he would point me out as “Look there’s my GF that I love, everyone say HAIIII!” He was putting his spotlight on me, knowing I was not into that, but it fit his romantic notions, so there we were.

  9. Oh dear.
    Oh dear.

    I do get how infuriating the situation is though. Great, I suffer through it, or Bozo thinks I’m a jerk.

    On the other hand, a satisfactory aspect of middle age is that I no longer care if Bozo thinks I’m a jerk. Also, I longer characterize shutting down this sort of self-absorbed nonsense as meanness.

    1. Yes, the part of life where you start to honestly not care what others think of you while you are taking care of your needs first is great! I want my kids to learn it now so they don’t have to go through crap like this.

        1. It really is, though.

          I think this has to be learned from experience, unfortunately.

      1. I thought I had learned it young! And compared to many young women in my age cohort I had. Even so, I give many fewer damns now than thirty years ago.

  10. Isn’t there a term for this? Like “shocking the norms” or something along those lines? And it’s a big no-no in those communities that would get together in chain mail?

    1. We called it “freaking the mundanes”. Doing it without warning to a date is a big no-no, but going to eat in garb (not usually maille, because it’s uncomfortable as fuck for things like that) either alone or in a group is totally fine, at least in my circles.

      1. Yes! That’s what I was thinking of! Thank you!

        And I absolutely did not mean that going to eat in garb is “freaking the mundanes”, rather I meant that the communities in which people wear garb, at gatherings for that purpose (in a restaurant or not) would frown on springing it on someone like Actually-its-a-Tabard Dude

  11. A date with Actually It’s A Tabard guy seems like a thing anyone who knew him *at all* would turn down, so it’s not surprising he’s resorted to having people who barely know him set him up with people they know.

    My worst date involved me hiding in a bush at the end of the night so you know it can always be worse.

    1. OK, I have to ask – were you hiding from him in that bush? From angry hordes he’d managed to infuriate? From the fuzz because he thought B&E was a great first date? Please do share!!! 🙂

      1. I was hiding from my date.

        He insisted on dropping me off at my house (I did not want him knowing where I lived). I wasn’t super worried about getting in his car, I just thought he was a little off. So I gave him an intersection about 9 blocks from where I actually lived at the time. I got out of the car and he had jumped out to try to open my door for me, and tried to kiss me. (He got a mouthful of ear.) I said bye and began walking in the direction my apartment *wasn’t*, away from the direction his car was facing, and opposite of where he would be going if he were heading straight home. I was about half a block down when there was a giant bush next to the sidewalk, and somewhat impulsively, I jumped right into the middle of it and froze.

        I was in there for maybe 90 seconds–and starting to feel foolish–when his car cruised slowly past me up the street in the direction I’d been walking, with his window down and head almost out the window looking around. I stayed in the bush for several more minutes and then cut through some back yards and pelted home. I blocked him on everything and have never seen him again.

        And that is the story of me hiding in a bush at the end of a first date.

        1. Wow. Just……wow. Kudos to you for trusting your instincts, even when that involved hiding in a bush for an extended period of time. Props to you Novel deVice.

  12. Wow. I think I would have ordered a whiskey vodka too. And I was in the SCA!

  13. Wow, what a… but at least it’s funny in retrospect.
    My worst date, a blind date of course, included racist comments, complaining that the US wasn’t bombing *civilian* populations, bragging about costing a lot of people their jobs, and complaining about his mother. If it hadn’t been a double date, I’d have gone to the rest room, climbed out the window, and hitched a ride home. He was so smitten he already planned our second date–big game hunting in Africa.

    And did I mention that he reminded me of Jabba the Hutt with Mick Jagger lips?

    The new one I tore my roommate for setting that up, she wasn’t able to sit for a month.

  14. Honestly I read this and go “that guy is exactly like me in middle school” (I’m a woman) and feel sad. There’s just a really bad combination here of “autistic-ish guy who can’t read obvious social signals” and “woman who has been socialized really hard to go along with people instead of telling them No Just Stop” and … I don’t know. It’s sad and I feel bad for him.

    I don’t blame her for not flat out saying “no that is not appropriate attire for a restaurant and I don’t like Renaissance Fairs.” It’s not like that’s easy. But my headcanon is if she’d said that, he would have said “ok we’re not a good match bye” and time and embarrassment would have been saved for everyone.

    1. Feel how you’re gonna feel?

      -The guy is not in middle school.
      -Jenny Slate was actually reasonably nice to him in the moment.
      -Nothing actually bad has happened to him?
      -She didn’t use his name when she tells the story.
      -She’s allowed to tell stories about things that happened to her.
      -She doesn’t *know* how he’d react to being told gently to calm it down. The one thing she does know is he is willing to act VERY strange in a way that violates a lot of social norms, and that he doesn’t actually listen to her.

      This dude is not tiny “you” and it’s actually not cool to assign autism to him?

      If we can’t make a little bit of fun of the dude who shows up in expensive rented chain mail to a first restaurant date (after being told “Hard no on the RenFaire my friend”), I don’t want ot even be alive anymore.

      1. I don’t see anything in elusions_of_grandeur’s comment telling us to stop finding this funny, or saying that Jenny Slate shouldn’t have told the story.

        For what it’s worth, elusions_of_grandeur, I feel the same. Stories like this make me feel sad and embarrassed, not because I think the person in Jenny Slate’s position did anything wrong or unreasonable, but because I remember being a little kid who was super excited about obscure things and didn’t always realize that other people weren’t interested in my interests, and that is a sad position to be in. It’s sad to not have friends who share your interests, and it’s extra sad to feel, in retrospect, that your isolation was entirely your own fault because you went about trying to share your interests in such a totally wrong way.

        I don’t know anything about this guy, so I don’t know if he deserves (so to speak) my sadness or sympathy. I don’t know what was actually going through his mind. I’m not trying to defend him.

        I’m not saying Jenny Slate did anything wrong, or that I’d expect anyone to do anything differently in that situation.

        I’m not saying it’s wrong to find humor in the absurdity of it. I can see the humor.

        But my totally subjective, unjustifiable, personal emotional reaction is mostly to feel bad for both of them and wish the whole thing had never happened. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the fact that that reaction outweighs the humor for me.

        1. didn’t always realize that other people weren’t interested in my interests

          If the man in question didn’t realize this, it wasn’t for lack of Slate saying so, explicitly, before the date.

          I also don’t think this is funny, apart from the “well, actually” punchline. I’m peeved men do this to women, at a rate significantly higher than geeky women do this to men and then demand a receptive audience. And the notion that this man is isolated or friendless is (a) not known, proven, or signified anywhere, (b) places an unreasonable burden on Slate and women like her (women with their own inner lives and obscure hobbies) to nurture and gatekeep for a stranger, an expectation never assigned to men. He asked her about plane rides and then pulls this; from the word go, he’s inconsiderate and uninterested in her. This wasn’t a spontaneous expression of unbridled, well-meaning enthusiasm about embarking on a possible relationship of like-minded equals, because no matter how she replied to his grooming little hints, he was always going to do this. The dialogue from his end was canned and rote, just as she said, and she saw it coming a mile away.

    2. I was diagnosed with autism at age three. I have trouble reading social signals, but that has never led to me doing anything as remotely inappropriate as what Jenny Slate’s blind date did. Nor have I ever witnessed another autistic doing anything remotely that inappropriate! I think it’s a question of “dude ignored signals on purpose.”

    3. I’m autistic. I wouldn’t invite a first date along to a date that involved a special interest unless I ascertained that they were into the thing (or at least curious about it) first.

      Firstly, I don’t want to spend the time trying to ascertain if they’re having a good time (which is difficult for me). I just want to enjoy the thing!

      Secondly, first dates are ideal when they’re low stakes affairs. I’d much rather go to a lowkey coffeeshop or bar where we can split without too much fanfare if we’re not feeling it rather than A Big Event that one of us was invested in.

      Not neurotypical != asshole. It’s possible to care about another’s feelings whilst still having difficulty ascertaining what they are. I have a feeling that if she said ‘I don’t like Renaissance Fairs’ he would have tried to argue about why they’re a good thing.

    4. Actually she did tell him she is not into this type of thing twice before the actual date.

      1. I don’t know why this posted here rather than as a new comment. WordPress commenting y u weird.

      2. Yeah, the reaction/comments to the guy on the day are totally justified, but several parts of her build-up made me cringe pretty hard too. The story I came away with was ‘two jerks of different flavours went on a date and it didn’t go well’.

        1. THIS TIMES 100.

          I get that he was inappropriate. But the mean-girl build up in the retelling turned me off just as much or more.

          (Yeah, yeah, she was nice at the time blah blah, she sounds in this story like the reason I ate lunch in the library in high school. Nice to your face, just waiting to make fun of you the moment you left.)

          Also, I’m on the spectrum (adult woman) and I have a son who is also spectrum and it terrifies me that he’s going to do this kind of thing someday because of not understanding what other people find funny/endearing/memorable vs. dorky/creepy. For everyone who’s like, “I’m on the spectrum and I’ve never done this!” um… Me neither and what does that have to do with anything? Just because he’s not your particular flavor of socially awkward doesn’t mean he’s not a flavor. Even if he’s not spectrum, he’s SO far outside the norm of run-of-the-mill douchey, I feel like there has to be some type of disability going on there.

          I get he was totally inappropriate, fine, I just find it a lot more sad than funny. I hope someday he shows up in his armor on a blind date to find the woman he is meeting has decided to surprise him in full period costume and they have a long, happy, super-weird life together. *headcanon*

          1. Please think very hard about why when you hear someone acts like an enormous asshole (“Hey, I’m gonna non-consensually include you in my weird knight fantasy the first time I meet you!”) your first thought is automatically congurent with “Welp, he probably has some kind of disability. We should feel bad for him, including the person who was subjected to his strange behavior, and who at the time, had no idea what else he would do.”

            P.S. If you don’t want people to tell stories about your weird ass dates, don’t rent a complicated knight costume!

          2. Okay, I am just noticing something here:

            Guy is socially unlikeable and makes things uncomfortable and embarrassing for other people: “We should feel sorry for him, it can’t be his fault, there must be some reason he’s not responsible!”

            Girl is socially unlikeable and does not make things uncomfortable and vents later without causing public humiliation: “What a mean girl, I like her less than I like him, no I am 100% not interested in her reasons or feelings or maybe discussing whether she’s autistic and din’t know she had to send different signals!”

            I get the feeling these things are not being weighed equally.

      3. Actually, I think that’s exactly why this article fell so flat for me. I’m sure the actual circumstance was hilarious, but a lot of her build-up to it came off as…kind of small and mean-spirited.

        1. Count me as another one the article didn’t totally work for. It felt to me as if… her sense of humour is not my sense of humour, and that’s fine! She’s making a good living as a comic, her comedy appeals to many people, she’s not going to miss one. But I read the article thinking ‘Hey, if you’re feeling very, very not positive about dating someone your friends want to set you up with based on the small talk they’ve been trying to make with you via text, IT IS TOTALLY OK TO NOT GO ON A DATE WITH THAT PERSON. You have the right to hold out for someone who gets you! I, a person who does not get you and would sooner date a person who brought their own Iron Throne to the restaurant and arranged for me to be serenaded by a trio of dragons playing the kazoo than someone who critiqued my texts for their lack of appropriate edginess, confirm this basic human right upon you!’

          (For context, I noped out of Game Of Thrones early due to being in a place in my life with no room for added grimdark)

          1. It is in fact okay to not go on a date with that person! It’s also okay to hope for the best and try, esp. since it’s a friend set-up. Like, not saying no to a “meh, I don’t know” date doesn’t mean you signed up for everything weird that happened to you as a result. Or obligate you to be nice in the aftermath.

          2. This reminds me of the wide variety of responses to the TV show “The Big Bang.” Some people think it’s funny, some think it’s mean. Both opinions are actually okay.

        2. Thank the great goddesd Fuck, I thought I was alone. I love the article’s rhythm, and its message, but I can’t dance to it. Shrugs. Obviously well-written, but what turns me off is the squirmy feeling that she’s convincing herself with the bitchy build-up, when noping the hell out was good and right. Masterful exercise in framing, though, and is it wrong that I sorta-kinda want a whiskey vodka now?

          1. Sorry, Cap. Looks like this story is the LunaCup of my mind. Glad it works for you and those many who also enjoy it, though.

        3. Yeah. Like, yes he was a jerk, but apparently if he hadn’t been a jerk she would’ve laughed at him for…wearing a hat? Like, any kind of hat at all?

  15. Yeah, men are all such twats and women never make cunts of themselves.

    For fuck’s sake. I thought you were better than this.

    1. Wow, did you read a different article? But because it doesn’t seem like there’s much to justify that in the one posted. The whole ‘reacting to a specific criticism with SO EVERYTHING/NOTHING IS LIKE THAT?!?!?’ really ages poorly as a rhetorical tactic (rhetorical tantrum might be a better term for it) the farther you get into double digit years. Grown ass adults don’t hear ‘Hey, it would be nice if people didn’t talk with their mouths full of food’ and respond with ‘So no one should ever open their mouths ever, not even to breathe or to call for help in an emergency?!?!?’.

      1. Wish there was a giant, neon “LIKE” button or something I could click here for you Hithere. Since there is not, I give you all the +1’s I have at my disposal.

    2. I’m a dude and I thought the article was hysterical and the Captain’s (and commentariat’s) remarks were fine.

      But you do you. If you don’t like the site anymore, there’s a whole awful lot of Internet out there for you to explore.

    3. Welp, I’ve got a theory about why *this* charmer is taking this so personally in the absence of a single word about how all men are the worst.

    4. When was Captain Awkward Dot Com Enterprises not a blog where women get to talk about the gendered aspects of their awesomely bad dates with dudes? I’ve been here since two weeks after the blog started, and it’s been like this the entire time.

      1. I thought that was one of the perks? That’s supposed to be a downside? O.o

      1. I don’t even really drink and I want one now.

        Though I suppose the standard slang for a nonalcoholic cocktail does work amusingly well for “I am so clearly not taking my date home tonight and possibly not dating ever again”.

    1. In France we have high-speed trains called the TGV, and so everywhere you can get a TGV cocktail – tequila, gin, vodka. That train gets you to Nopetown reeeeeal fast.

      1. ooopf that sounds like a pukey hangover in the making! but also I kinda want to try it now

  16. Hands down my worst first/last date was when I met up with the guy only to have to follow along with him on some “stops” first. Turned out he was a drug dealer and needed to make some sales first in so he could be “chivalrous” and pay for our dinner and movie. At the first stop he decided to spend an hour partaking with the customers before I just cut and left.

    1. wow…he couldn’t just…sell the stuff before he picked you up on your date?….I mean, even if I liked the person’s profession I would never want the first part of the first date to be…hey let’s just go to my work real quick

    2. You dodged a bullet by peacing out on that date, raegungirl! You could have ended up in jail as an accessory (or something) if the cops had caught him!

      1. Exactly! Like the fact that he didn’t even feel it necessary to tell me what we were doing and ask if it was okay if I come along was super uncoolon so many levels.

        1. Guess I should be glad my ex had stopped dealing drugs by the time we started dating… Although he did make a big point of telling me he had been the better type of dealer (that is, he sold to other dealers not on the street). It wasn’t a distinction that impressed me.

        2. OMG were you dating my high-school crush? TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE TIMES.

          (I’m fine. He’s fine. We’re both old and married now–NOT to each other!–and everything’s fine.)

  17. The part that made me cringe hardest was where Ms. Slate said she was afraid of being “alone forever” if she didn’t humor Sir Chainmail and others like him. Can we please kill the cultural narrative that going through life without a romantic partner is The Worst Possible Outcome? So many people would be so much happier without it.

    1. THANK YOU. Single by choice over here and totally fucking loving it. That being said, she’s entitled to worry about that if being alone is a thing *she* doesn’t want. I hear you about that all-too-common single (desperate) female narrative but at the same time, if sharing her life with a partner is a thing she wants but didn’t have at the time, that’s cool for *her*. I didn’t necessarily read any more into it than it was something she was feeling at the time that played into her decision. Culture may influence us to feel that way – which is super shitty – but it’s also not an unreasonable thing to say I want to have someone to share my life with and thinking that it might not happen for me is a thing which makes me sad or scared or whatever.

  18. I kind of wish the male podcaster hadn’t spent the opening of her story mansplaining about how it’s not always your place to tell people the honest truth about how they’re acting. It’s not in the transcript, but she talks about the power of knowing herself, that part of her skillset as an actress is pretending but that she knew she was pretending to enjoy herself and that this Horrible Date was one of the only experiences in her entire adulthood that was completely performative. And podcaster is all, “Whenever anyone says ‘I’m just being honest,’ what you’re really saying is, ‘I’m being an asshole.'”

    He didn’t need to tell a successful woman that honesty is assholery. Especially when the microphone was hers.

  19. Throwing my “worst blind date” story into the mix. Because I *loved* reading this and I’m loving this thread.

    I was a freshly minted teenage vegan, and got set up through someone I barely knew on a totally blind date with a fella that also was vegan. We obviously were going to have everything I’m common!

    Narrator: they in fact had very little in common, very little indeed.

    Over dinner I got aggressively mansplained to about the finer points of my newly defined convictions. And then, in a surprise turn of events, he drew the comparison between the cruelties of factory farming and abortion. My friends, this dude was *very* pro-life, and It actually hadn’t occurred to me up until that moment that it was a thing anyone would care about if they couldn’t get pregnant. I was shocked into mostly silence for the remainder of the meal.

    The date was awkward silences of varying lengths until I was dropped off at home. 🙂

    1. Ugh! That sounds terrible…reminds me a bit of that guy I sorta briefly dated who was so “progressive” and “liberally minded” “feminist” telling me the story about this girl he was still in love with (the were long since broken up) who then got pregnant with someone else and had an abortion and I felt the full weight of his judgement on her. He was like “I didn’t think she was the type of person who would do THAT” and he gave her the advice (tw cuz it’s just mean) [tw] “if you want to murder your fetus that’s up to you”[/tw]

      1. There is an overabundance of “progressive” men who really hate abortion for some reason. Can’t tell if it’s rooted in unexamined misogyny or just plain hating the idea that someone else gets to decide whether babies happen or not.

        1. I still regret the time a male acquaintance solemnly told me ‘I think abortion should be safe, legal and rare’ in a tone that suggested this was the first time anyone had ever reached that precise level of manly wisdom, and I didn’t think to reply ‘I think men thinking they have any say in who gets an abortion should be safe, legal and rare’ until after he’d left. Next time.

          1. The urge to blandly respond with, “Thanks you, William Jefferson” would be way too high for me, but yours is better! (I mean, if you’re going to quote the Democratic party line from the early 90s…)

    2. Now I think we need a word for that moment when one awkward silence ends and a new one begins.

      1. I’m trying to riff on “segue” but the difference in spelling and pronunciation is killing my puns 😦 I mean does anyone actually want to parse the etymology of “segwon’t”?

        I got nothin lol

        1. “Segwon’t”. Heh. That was definitely chuckle worthy this Monday morning. Thanks for that! 🙂

  20. omg, I just remembered a story from like… middle school? high school?
    I was on a date with this guy, and after watching a movie, I remember the mall had this weird christmas tree display with pharmacy products on the trees. the guy went over to the trees and started taking down boxes to see if any actual pills were inside (there weren’t). I was weirded out enough to start walking to the bus stop without him, but too young to trust the alarm bells going off in my head, so I ended up dating him for several weeks (months?) in which he also tried to go through my mum’s prescription bottles, and stole a small amount of money from me.

    kid did *not* have a good home life, so mostly I just feel bad for him. :/

  21. I’ve always stored up this weird shame about the horrible dates I’ve had with dudes like this. As if they were somehow my fault for not having the assertiveness to speak up, or the skill to make the dude stop being weird. Like these dates are a sign something is off with me and my desirability.

    Reading through has helped me see that I’m not responsible for all that rudeness.

    1. You are not alone. I once went to coffee with a guy I was explicitly just trying to be friends with (I was in a monogamous relationship). I felt like I needed more friends in new city. Turns out he blew past all my hard explicit not dating words and immediately tried controlling me, asked to massage my feet, then shared that he had a foot fetish like it was nbd and didn’t just negate the whole “Yes I will be your friend and massage your feet platonically” concept…and don’t I let my friends massage my feet? and talked about himself the whole time interspersed with comments on my appearance. I hung out with him the whole time. Trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. Continuously saying “that’s not how friends act” and “no you can’t give me a foot massage”

      I also hung out with him one more time after that!!!! Because maybe he just didn’t understand how creepy he was acting? He was not from my country so maybe the language barrier was a thing? I met up with him the second time at a park where he was walking his dog (safe right?) when I had an appointment right after (yay strategy) so I would leave quickly and couldn’t be manipulated into something else. The second hangout was actually far far worse than the first. I still played along. At one point he literally hooked the side of my underwear out of my shorts to look at the color and commented on it. I was still polite. Shocked, I said stop and that was not cool and don’t ever do that again….but I was still sitting there with a frozen smile on my face and I think I maybe even sorta hugged him goodbye.

      1. That is so invasive and horrible! (He pulled on your underwear to see what color it was!?!?)
        None of that was your fault, and meeting him a second time was not an ok for that kind of touching. So sorry it happened.

        1. yeah…I knew at the time the red flags where everywhere but I was so shocked it was even happening I was frozen. I now joke that he was my wannabe stalker because luckily he never knew where I lived but he did have my phone number and he barraged me with texts for a while that I would just ignore. I sent him one cease and desist text to not contact me. He responded all hurt and said he would “ask next time before he grabbed my underwear” (wtf?) so I sent one more text detailing all the ways he was super creepy and never contact me again….then he barraged me with texts for a while but I ignored them. I did not know the blocking concept then. He kept periodically texting every few months then every few years trying weird lines like…”new phone who are you?” or “this is Michael” when his name is not Michael but similar.

    2. I felt immense shame about bad dates when I was younger.

      When I started dating again in my 30s after my husband died, I was all :chinhands: during bad dates because I love storytelling and everyone, EVERYONE, loves stories about bad first dates. I also have what I think of as the fatal flaw of the novel reader, which is that if I’m in a situation that’s going super bizarre but not in a way that I feel concerned for my safety I just let it unfold because I can’t *wait* to see what happens next.

      1. I love this. That is such a good way to put it. People Behaving Bizarrely around me? I sort of ride it like a wave. My husband, though, just can’t bring himself to do that and will reach increasing levels of frustration. Recently there was an issue with our neighborhood watch captain taking her role to like, film noir levels of seriousness. My husband was getting grumpy about it and I’m like, “Can we just do this one my way, please?! What if she really cracks the case!”

      2. This is how I date now. I’m out and about, doing something I truly want to do, so I’m happy. If my date is clueless to equality (my generation might as well be my grandparents’ generation for all the fleas) its pure entertainment, and I will hang around and give them the opportunity to dive headfirst into embarrassment. Doesn’t bother me and after all, they’re out trying to be social as well. The only big mistake they can make is asking what I think of them, because I *will* tell them.

        1. That works for me until I realize that I’d rather be in that place alone, and then I can’t end the date fast enough. I’d rather do a LOT of things alone, actually.

      3. I’m so sorry your husband died. I have the same perspective with dates. I actually like dating and my terrible dates make for fantastic stories.

        Like the time I got asked out by a cage dancer at a men’s gay club (I’m a female), and on our first date he tried to get me drunk on vodka and kept asking me to rub his six pack stomach while dancing. Or the guy who spent our. entire. date. talking about how he was bull and showed me his online dating profiles and told me stories about his sexual adventures.

        I mean, most of my dates are “eh, we chatted a bit and it was fine but he/she was kind of irritating.” But then you get those gems where it’s like “girl, I am texting you from the bathroom what a dumpster fire this date is. THIS IS GLORIOUS”

  22. I want to highlight this comment:

    <i<You’ve now put me in a heightened version of a position that women are put in all the time. A man gets an idea of himself, puts himself in this narrative, drags a woman into it because he’s the focal point. Now you’re just dragged in against your own will, and either your choice is to crush his dreams and be a c***, or be like a dream girl by being positive and supporting him in this thing that you are not a part of and you don’t care about and is totally about him. It’s the worst.

    When this happened to me, I unknowingly went on a date with a man unfettered by time. I was going to see an old movie being shown at the local library (only 1 night, no short subjects or intro material) on the night he wanted to go out. I told him what I was doing, that he could come along, or we could go out another evening. He said he was up for it. This is before there were so many places to see old movies and I’d been looking forward to this evening for a while. We agreed to meet early, go to dinner, then the movie.

    He was late, then later, then later, then later until now there was no time to go to dinner (and I was starved) and as I was deciding to leave to go to the movie (I made the mistake of having him pick me up at my apartment) when he arrived. When I said, “Wow, you’re really late!” He said, “Yeah, sorry, I don’t wear a watch. I feel like time is like a strangle hold on you and I’m more of a free spirit.” So he gets to be laid-back guy and I get to be the bitch who’s obsessed with schedules but no! I’m chill! I don’t rip him a new one and we go to the movie (during and after which he makes fun of it) then he takes me to late dinner at a horrible Chinese restaurant. After we’re served and I’m trying to eat this re-heated Chun King masterpiece he tells me it’s his favorite Chinese restaurant and he comes here all the time. It’s the mall Chinese restaurant. He then spends the moments between scarfing his order down with long tales about his life and thoughts. On the ride home he tells me that he had a wonderful time and he can’t wait to see me again. I say it’s too soon for me after a recent breakup because I’m already the bitch that isn’t a free spirit so I can’t be the bitch that just says no. Then he tries to argue me out of feeling like that and the strain of being ‘nice’ while holding back what are now almost full-body shudders makes me burst into tears. I cry all the way to the door and I don’t even remember what he said to me after that but he never called again. So now I’m the crazy bitch who cried at the end of a great night out.

    THIS WAS THE CHOICE to crush his dreams and be a c***, or be like a dream girl by being positive and supporting him in this thing that you are not a part of and you don’t care about and is totally about him. and I couldn’t do it without having my body just revolt. It did cure me of trying too hard to protect them, though. Her date was more flamboyantly awful, but we both should have just noped out of there. For me I would still have been the crazy bitch but my evening would have been saved.

    I’ve told this story before but I never had the language to describe it so perfectly. Jenny Slate is a true gem.

    1. Argh that thing where you get put in a position of having to perform being chill about a definitely-not-cool thing, because otherwise you will only prove them right that you’re not chill about anything ever! Hate that trap!

      1. Ha! Just snorted out loud.

        I am feeling the tension of being stuck in awful dates with full female social conditioning and cultural expectations, and this just cracked my shit up. 🙂

  23. OMG this is horrifying and funny…and kind of sad? I read it thinking “why didn’t she just leave? Oh wait, women are conditioned to be nice, that’s why.” I wondered how I would have handled it and then I started thinking about my dating days and realized that I likely would have done exactly what she did. I know this because I actually did stay for the entirety of an awful first date. The date was at a busy pool hall with a guy I had met online. We had clicked during the online talking part, but the actual date? He spoke a total of 10 words. He said “hello” at the start of the date and “this was fun, lets do it again soon ok?” at the end of the date. We were there for 2 hours!!!! Oh, and I am a fill in the silence with chatter kind of person when I am nervous and it being a first date with a guy who wasn’t talking at all made me pretty nervous!!!! It was so bad that a group of people on a double date at the next table sent over an order of fries to me with a message that said if I waved at them they’d come over and save me. I wanted to do it so badly but didn’t because it would’ve been rude.

    1. Once I gave myself permission to leave dates if I wanted to, I found that I was more willing to stay and let the guy take all the rope he needed. Once I *could* leave, I found I often didn’t want to, because I wanted to *soak up* all that awkward and all his ridiculousness and really enjoy the absurdity of it all.

    2. I used to be mistress of the “didn’t know this was a date ” date; the worst was with a guy who was an ex-roommate of mine. We stayed in touch mostly (on my side) so he could tell me if any mail turned up for me. I didn’t think of him as date material as we had diametrically opposed views on everything- he was strongly Christian from a very patriarchal society and I am a bisexual atheist feminist. Pretty much all of our conversations were disagreements.
      So one day he asks me if I want to have dinner and I say fine. We’re at the restaurant and he starts telling me how he’s always liked me but his religion doesn’t allow him to hit on his roommates. I’ve moved out though, so….
      I try to let him down easy, and say that I am not interested in him that way and I don’t think my feelings are going to change. At this point he tells me that I am wrong, and if I think about it I will realise he is right.
      Once I’ve extricated myself I block his number. I still do not understand why he thought I was interested in him…

      1. For one hot second I thought you meant “in case any chain mail turned up for me.”

    3. That group of folks sound awesome, it reaffirms my faith that there are at least some kind strangers out there.

    4. Wow. When total strangers are offering you escape routes from your date, that’s Visible from Space levels of bad.

    5. OMG, I love those people, and so much sympathy foe the conditioning that didn’t let you take them up on their offer.

  24. To tease out the issues: There’s nothing wrong with cosplay, it’s the

    a) standard (not themed) restaurant +
    b) first date +
    c) without having gotten her prior consent to the outfit +
    d) assuming she’d help him undress
    that’s the issue.

    If you’re going to wear an outfit that will make you and your date centre-stage (and need their help to get the outfit off!), maybe check with them first that they’re ok with that?

    I mean, what if she’d had social anxiety and wasn’t okay with being the centre of attention for the whole restaurant?

    and what was his plan if she’d said “Nope, not comfortable doing that!” when he said the chain mail was digging into him and would she help him undress.

    I quite like cosplay! I would very happily date a cosplayer! I would still be VERY annoyed if someone had sprung this on me on a first date without warning.

  25. I have to chime in again to say I’m so happy there are SCAdians here. Also this story is hilariously cringey and reminiscent of middle school Mshiiken, bless her young heart.

  26. There was this older man who would come up to me quoting Shakespeare. The first time I laughed it off. The second time I was all “Oh no, this is becoming a Thing.” For the next couple years whenever I’d see him coming I’d gracefully and silently move elsewhere. The third year he was visibly pissed and genuinely upset that I stopped Playing Along! I’d say, “Shake it up, would ya? Yates! Whitman! Something!” Now whenever I run into him he ignores ME and I say, “Hey, Shakespeare!” Like what was I supposed to do? Grimace politely for all time??

    1. haha! My first boyfriend “wooed” me with lines from Shakespeare. It was weird…it worked just cuz I wanted a boyfriend and we were young but even at the time I thought it was a bit weird? off? a line?…it would never work today.

      1. Omg, pickup lines and being inexperienced enough to think they’re supposed to “work” on you (i.e. you play along/laugh/go on the bad date)… I remember middle-school-aged Saturnalia reading a book of pickup lines and deciding which ones she’d allow to “work” and which she thought should be treated as a “sign” about the person using line. Tooooootally different view on that biz now. It’s all a sign, a terrible sign with bold lettered WRONG WAY all over it

        1. haha yeah, he basically cast me as Juliette and “the sun” for that whole Romeo at the balcony scene. Also he delivered them after eating birthday cake with blue frosting which turned his teeth green.

  27. I’m in the minority, but I didn’t find the article funny — in fact, I was having major difficulties making out what actually happened vs. her comical riffs on the events (he said Ren Faire and she jumps to tar pits), and I’m scratching my head. I’m remembering the phrase “Men fear that women will laugh at them; women fear that men will kill them.” This was about being laughed at, soo . . . why is it worse?

    Yes, the guy was definitely an embarrassing idiot. Yes, he was clueless and stupid in public. I’m just not seeing why this was the Worst Date Ever (which is the title of the piece). I guess that for me, the Worst Date Ever would involve an actual threat of something much worse than embarrassment — finding out the guy has a loaded gun, listening to a sermon about how [group] is Evil and should All Die Naow when you are actually a member of [group], listening to a data dump of all the evil ex-girlfriends the dude has had, having to fight off Dr. Octopus by the end of the evening, etc.

    If this piece had not been titled “Worst Date Ever”, I wouldn’t be making this kind of point — but it was.

    1. So, Jenny didn’t write the article…and maybe it was HER worst date ever? After Captain America anyone’s gonna look pretty bad. It’s cool if you don’t find it funny!

    2. Just as a potentially interesting tidbit, in the full podcast after she finished the story the (male) interviewer suggested that “it can only go up from here” for her, date-wise, and she replied “well, there’s always being assaulted.” It sounded like she was fully aware that this was not the worst date ever — her intention was to prove a point about feeling compelled to perform for others, and the “worst date ever” narrative got grafted onto it later on.

      1. And this is why I hate that “worst date ever” has become a Standard First Date topic.

        I’m proud to say I’ve become the jerk who makes it uncomfortable, though – I say things like “you mean the worst one that was funny or the actual worst one?” or “the worst one where nobody tried to physically hurt me or the actual worst one?” – and then we just … sit in it.

    3. There’s definitely a hint of Schrödinger’s Rapist, here, though. If he’s willing to ignore the social contract (and consent) to the extent of forcing her into his fantasy—and then icing the cake by asking her to help him take his clothes off—? (No, nothing at all metaphorical there….)

      I sure caught a whiff of Winter’s Chill here.

      1. Exactly. This kind of behavior is indicative of someone who is not opposed to ignoring his date’s stated preferences. It’s creepy because he might actually be dangerous.

  28. Huh, well now I feel a bit better about my faux pas the other day when i was talking to a lady at a bar and i complimented a floral shirt she was wearing and said i liked the “Japanese flowers” on it. I had been on my third pint at that point, so it wasnt until i got home, went to bed, woke up the next morning and was brushing my teeth that I realized that the word i was looking for was “Cherry Blossoms”.

    That whole conversation was a clusterfudge from the beginning, i think she was just there to meet friends, but I kept it up for about 15 minutes before i realized how hard she was trying to ignore me while remaining polite.

  29. When my boyfriend (now husband) took me to the Ren Faire, it was:
    –After we’d been dating for 6 months;
    –With my full and enthusiastic interest and consent; and
    –He wore his kilt and accoutrements at the Faire, but did not try and talk me into garb or repeatedly ask if I was having a good time. Which I was, and I am now a full-on Faire Wench who owns multiple corsets, but the part where he didn’t FORCE any aspect of it on me was several points in his favor.

    And my single quasi-blind date story, which put me off dating entirely for several months. I was taking a swing class, and one of the men in the class asked me to dinner. He was at least 10 years older than me but he seemed nice, and he could dance, so I said sure, and we agreed on dinner and then dancing at a local ballroom. As we were seated at the restaurant, he reached across the table, took my hand, and said with a smile “My ex would just hate you.” He then proceeded to talk about his horrible ex-wife throughout dinner, how she didn’t understand him, how she almost ruined his faith in love, etc. I was ready to bail by halfway through dinner, but, Niceness. So he offers to drive to the ballroom, which is pretty close to the restaurant. Again, Niceness, and I accept. Only to realize when he pulls out of the parking lot that we are going in the opposite direction.

    Me: Um, the ballroom’s back that way.
    Him: Oh, I know, but we don’t want to be early. Besides, I want to show you something.

    He drives me out to a half-finished subdivision, to an empty lot on a hill, and starts rhapsodizing about the dream house he wants to build, the floor plans, the countertops (seriously!), and of course the wife and kids he’d share it with. Multiple kids. He loves kids. Minimum of four. I never say a single word, and he never notices. Finally, he decides we can go dancing, and I go along because he’s driving and at this point, I figured I might as well get some dance time in on an otherwise wasted evening. There are several other dance-class acquaintances there, and so I am no longer alone. After one dance, his phone rings. He has to take this, it’s work, he won’t be long. ONE HOUR LATER, I have danced with every last (sympathetic) acquaintance, and he is still sitting in the corner yammering about something. Finally, one of the older ladies from dance class walked up and stood over him, and when he glanced up at her, she said “Dance with your date in the Voice of Doom. Two more dances, then I ostentatiously checked my phone and declared it was time for me to get home. He offered to drive me, I said I didn’t want to leave my car in the restaurant parking lot all night. He did not, thankfully, follow me home.

    At the next (and final) dance class, he said he’d had a lovely time and would love to “have me to himself” again sometime. I shrugged off the chains of Niceness and said “I’d prefer to wait until your issues at work are over–I heard a great deal about them the other night.”

    1. Gah. The house-and-family-plans reminds me of a guy I started dating during the summer between high school and my first year of college. We had this lovely long-distance relationship all summer, and then within a couple of weeks of me starting college, he started to get SERIOUS about me. See, it was his last year of college, so it was time for him to THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE. So, despite the fact that 1) it was my first year of college, 2) we had spent less than a month of days together in the total of our relationship, and 3) I had never given any indication of even wanting to have a Big Future Plans discussion yet at all (much less actually, ya know, MAKE the plans…he started talking about how we would get married right after I graduated from college. And raise our (many) children Catholic (I am not Catholic.) Oh, and he was ROTC heading for the Army after his college graduation. And he planned on staying in the Army until retirement. So I should major in something that leads to a “portable” career, because we’ll be moving a lot.

      He was SHOCKED when I broke up with him after about 2 weeks of me trying to explain that even talking about the possibility of making such huge decisions about my life was something I wasn’t ready for.

    2. This wasn’t perchance in Alabama, was it? This is eeeeerily similar to a date I had – older guy, swing dancing, fixated on ex – except he took me out to the Tennessee River for “the view” despite my objections. The whole way there I was convinced I was going to be a future episode of Forensic Files.

  30. Okay I explicitly went on a date with a guy who’s OK cupid profile had him in a real suit of armor and chain mail and this is…..

    This is not how you introduce that to people.

    Cuz I dated that dude for 3 years and we’re still tight. But just… showing up at a regular bar? In full chainmail?????? Whaaaaat

  31. I loved this story by the amazing Jenny Slate because I’ve been living this hard recently (the worst: a first date non-consentually licked my armpit during clothed kissing in a car, then held my arm aloft after I safe worded, and argued with me for over 5 minutes as to why he was going to “taste all of me” whether I liked it or not *lolsob*)

    This also reminds me of one of the catchphrases of my favorite podcasts, My Favorite Murder (*waves at Murderinos*): “F**k politeness”. It’s better to be rude and apologize then ignore the instincts that are keeping you safe. No victim blaming if you freeze up/acquiesce (I’ve done it a lot), because between extreme socialization and instinct it’s hard not to, but more permission to nope-tapus across the floor of the bullshit ocean away from the situation.

      1. I think my neck went into my shoulders like I was a turtle…*shudders*

      1. I’ve started to watch that talk, and it’s fascinating, but I’m _surprised_ that humans should be the odd ones out in this.

      2. Thank you for posting this! I always thought my freezing was just from my history of traumas, so I’m super interested to hear that this is literally my brain doing what it’s wired to do.

      3. Yeah, I think it was here that I first read about freeze/fawn (or flatter) being the alternative to fight/flight, and I am SO that person. Freeze and do nothing or flatter and be extremely polite just to get it over with. Very helpful to reframe my reactions that way instead of just “ugh why didn’t I DO something!”

  32. I’ll also add, it’s stuff like this why I ALWAYS meet for coffee or *a* drink as the first date.

  33. Hi! Long time reader, etc. etc. Had to chime in. I’m usually the woman who is too nice to say no, but one time I was the mean girl who didn’t play along. I’m not sure the results were any better. I’m mid-30s, been divorced for several years. Mostly I’m happily single, but I occasionally give in to the urge to see what’s out there. Once, I made myself go to wine night at the local art museum and picked up a man! I was pretty proud of myself actually. He was attractive, polite, smart, passionate career, able to hold a good conversation through the museum for an hour. Good, right?
    First coffee date, he seemed nice, if…earnest, eager, always turned up to 11? It was something I noticed, but I liked him and I was trying to put myself out there, or give him a chance, or not just default to no right away? Whatever it was that my coupled girlfriends were telling me I should be doing.
    Because of my schedule, the second date had to wait for a while. There were text convos and phone calls which were…fine, but always longer and more intense than I liked. During one of these text conversations, he mentioned that when he told his mother about meeting me at an art museum, she mailed him the DVD box set of Upstairs/Downstairs. I thought we were flirting/teasing, etc. I told him I thought that was funny. (Also, we’d met less than two weeks prior and been on one date, but he’s telling his mother about me already…? OK, fine.) He jokes that I’m now obligated to watch the whole thing with him. I’m like, “Ha ha, nope. You’re on your own with that one.” He then says (I thought, flirty, jokey), “If you’re abandoning me to my DVDs, then I’m wearing a monocle and tails to our next date.” I respond, “That would be totally hot.” I thought the sarcasm/hyperbole was clear. (Spoiler: It was not.)
    Second date at a cute French restaurant. By this time there have been a couple more phone convos that have pushed my boundaries a bit (which I had used my words about!) and I’m feeling guarded. The waiter give us the menus and he goes, “Boy it’s dim in here, I can’t really read this menu,” and pulls a monocle out of his breast pocket and puts it on. And looks at me, and I…do not laugh. I’m not intentionally being mean, I didn’t consciously choose not to laugh, but I’m just not amused at that point. He recovers pretty well, but keeps bringing it up through the rest of dinner that I didn’t laugh…even though I said it would be hot…and he had special ordered the monocle from a novelty website…which cost $50…and was authentic and prescription…and he had paid double to have it overnighted in time for the date…and I DIDN’T LAUGH. We got through dinner but I was so ready to go home at the end. He walked me to my car and announced that he wanted to kiss me but was choosing not to because our first kiss shouldn’t be in a parking lot.
    I went on one more date with him and then ended it. In a conversation that took an hour because he kept trying to argue me out of it. I think he just really wanted a serious relationship and had decided we were it. My not playing along seemed to have a lot less of an effect on that conclusion than it should have.

    1. I, too, spent a lot of time swinging between “Should I be too nice to say no, or be the mean girl who doesn’t play along?” But I think the most powerful thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter. It’s not on us to find that elusive, perfectly-pitched reaction that will somehow force a guy to care about what we want from the situation.

      Give one “no”. It doesn’t matter what kind — an apologetic “I’d rather not, sorry” is as good as a firm “No, thank you.” That one “no” is all you should need, and if it’s not respected, that’s not on you. Beyond that point, we’re not discussing politeness, we’re discussing survival tactics, and you can do whatever you need to in order to get yourself out of there.

  34. Oh, are we sharing bad dating stories in here? Because if so, let me tell you a thing!

    So a few years back, I decided to go on at least three dates that year, just to get myself out there. Just to see, since I’m not big on dates and S.O.s (as it turns out, I’m asexual who is kiss-averse, but didn’t know it at the time).

    Well, a trusted co-workers of mine was like, “Dude, my friend is single!” And that’s cool, because I like this coworker, she’s rad, so her friends probably are too. So I add him on skype and we decide to get coffee that weekend.

    So timejump, it’s the weekend, we go get coffee. and it’s nice. He wore a trillby, which was his only defining characteristic I can really remember but it’s just…he’s just nice. Interesting to talk to, but no spark. I am unsurprised. We part ways, and he messages me later that night, asking for another date. And I tell him straight up “No thanks. I think you’d be a great friend, but I have no desire for cuddles and smooches with you.”

    And here’s where it got weird. I had told him, during the date, about my three-dates-for-the-year goal, so he apparently latched onto that and was like “But that wasn’t a date. Not a real one, it was just coffee” and starts sending me links to articles that ‘proved’ a coffee date didn’t count, so I couldn’t use it as one of my three dates!

    Like, oh man, my bad! Let’s go on ANOTHER DATE so it counts, and you can totally change my mind that I’m not attracted to you!
    He argued with me for about ten minutes about how I need to go on a REAL date with him until I realized I wasn’t going to ‘win’. But it also didn’t matter what he thought. So I told him so. I say it counts, and I’m the one keeping score here, so If you ever want to be friends, awesome, but until then, don’t contact me again.

    And blocked him.

    And went into work that Monday like WTF [co-worker]?!
    (She was apologetic, she had no idea, and harbors no ill will towards me)

    1. Sheesh, like you couldn’t just go on three more dates with people who weren’t him whether or not your date with him counted. Or did he hope to convince you that you wouldn’t find anyone else to go on three more dates with?

      1. That’s actually a very good question. The idea that other men existed and may or may not be available to me didn’t even come up!
        It was just a very matter-of-fact “That wasn’t a real date, you need to go on a REAL date with me.”

        I’m not sure what was going on in his head, but I’d really like to know. He didn’t put me down or call me names or pull any of the ‘nice guy’ moves you hear about so often. He was just very aggressive and adamant that I needed to go out with him again.

        1. Oh, right — he probably wasn’t thinking that far ahead at all, just doing that not-comprehending-that-you-might-have-preferences thing. “You want A Date, and here I am offering you A Date, so what’s the problem? Whaddaya mean you don’t want this date?”

  35. I’ve never found a reason to respond to a column because everyone is so much more eloquent and brilliant than I am at these things, but man, I will forever be grateful to my roommate in college who, was very very different from me and we actually didn’t get along super well (she had some issues that she wasn’t aware of until later in the semester and they included some mood swingy type things that we argued about) but she was also very blunt and to the point and, to my chagrin, would often just say the unvarnished truth without a single crystal of sugar coating.

    In any event, I had just broken up with a terrible (TERRIBLE. I can’t make the word any bigger) boyfriend that I’d been with for four years and was actually single in college for the first time ever. As it happened, there was a cute boy in my Russian language class that, believe it or not, was flirting with me (I’d never gotten any attention in highschool and my bad boyfriend had convinced me that he was doing me a favor by dating me because I was so weird and a little fat). Anyway, I made a straight up, old school date with this guy…we were going to get ice cream. So cute. It was fun, we enjoyed ice cream, but I started to notice little things like “Oh, I only have a $100 bill, I wonder if they can break it” and “I’m not used to this kind of ice cream, my family goes to special place in Troy (he’s from Troy Michigan, have I heard of it? It’s a VERY upscale community). But I put it aside because maybe he’s just trying to impress me and also he’s a good kisser.

    So on our second date we go to the theatre. Which is cool because he found out I was a theatre major and asked me if I wanted to go to the school’s latest production. I thought that was thoughtful. However, beforehand he told me that we could hold hands but “please don’t touch my jacket, it’s worth $300”. I openly laughed because honestly, it’s the sort of joke I would make “Please don’t use this pencil, it’s a priceless artifact”. But he just gave me a pitiful smile and said. “I’m not joking. Just, please don’t touch my jacket.” Bigger, more dramatic red flags are raised on the battlements.

    He didn’t want to stay after the show to meet my friends because “they aren’t his type” (he’s never met them). Then he tells me that if we were to get married one day (SECOND DATE) he would take me away from all of this because I’d never have to work. K. I’m done.

    But because I’m not an experienced dater and also sort of conflict avoidant and because I DIDN’T WANT TO BE MEAN I just started ignoring his calls. (this was back in the 90s when your dorm room had a phone to share). He would call all the time and leave messages and I just wouldn’t call back and I told the story to my roommate who was grossed out, of course. So the next time he called she answered the phone with me sitting right there and said,

    “She’s too nice to say this to you, but I will..you came on way too strong and she’s just not attracted to you. You will not be dating her again, so stop calling.”

    WOAH! It was so succint and there was no argument to be brooked and in fact, when I went back to Russian class (with my heart in my throat) he was completely nonchalant about it. It was like ripping off a bandaid. And I was so conditioned to “give him another chance” or “maybe you’re the one with the problem” that I would have wasted months on this guy just because it was wrong for a girl to be mean or actually it was wrong for a girl to just “not be interested”. Someone above said that she would only qualify a bad date as something that put her in actual harm or a guy who was dangerous or threatening. But you know what? It’s also ok to just..not feel it. To not get their humor, to not like their cologne, to not have good conversations.

    Anyway Michelle, if you’re out there…thanks.

    1. BEST break-up I ever had: guy I really liked, after our second or third date, said, “Sorry, not really feeling it. If we’d hit it off better maybe. But no, I’m done.”

      To my chagrin, I tried, “But I have a really hard time finding people to date…?”

      “I’m sorry to hear that, but that’s not really my problem. Good luck!”

      Sat around after the call for two or three hours waiting for the anvil to crush me.

      Kept waiting.

      Kept waiting.

      Finally started to wonder…was the anvil not actually going to drop…?

      And no, it never did!

      By far the most painless end to a romantic relationship I’d ever had. Still count the guy as a friend, even!

    2. “But you know what? It’s also ok to just..not feel it.” Yay! Thanks for that. I´m kind of, sort of, completely, gut-wrenchingly terrified of getting into another relationship. I finally started therapy and one of the things that just made me bawl my eyes out was when I realized that I don´t have to be able to explain WHY a relationship is bad. It doesn´t have to be objectively, clearly, satisfy-anyone-you-meet-in-one-sentence horrifying for me to be allowed to leave.

  36. late to the party on sharing bad blind/I didn’t know this was a date stories, but I am still getting a lot of mileage out of the guy I met up with to talk 80s music harmlessly in a pub – no hint of romance on my part – who began the afternoon by grabbing hold of my hair and telling me he just couldn’t help himself (#nah) and then took me for early dinner, over the course of which he revealed…

    * he had a fetish for Margaret Thatcher and was already picturing me in a mask dressed as her

    * he felt it was his intellectual right to ignore safewords if they applied to something he thought it was unreasonable to safeword on, so met my ‘I don’t let anybody spank me’ with insistence every ten minutes that ‘when I take you home I’m going to spank you because I have to’

    * his penchant for graphically describing ways he had “pleasured women” while I was just trying to eat my goddamn dinner thanks

    * that he used to have beautiful long hair but he’d had it all shaved off recently and MADE INTO FLOGGERS, WHICH HE HAD GIVEN AS SURPRISE GIFTS TO HIS NON-KINKY FRIENDS, who I’m sure were thrilled

    * his ex had a restraining order out against him which was obviously TOTALLY unfair and in order to prove the unfairness he’d started a blog telling her he was watching her every movement and cataloguing every time he got off with the silk pyjamas she’d left in his house

    I bailed at that point and he chased me down the street all the way to my bus stop, calling out ‘but what about the spankings?’

    1. Margaret Thatcher Mask Hair Flogger Guy who conveniently doesn’t believe in safe words who chased you down the street. Pay that restraining order no mind, it’s just that he has to obsessively clock everything about his ex girlfriend. Well, this seems like a perfectly normal, fun, safe evening out with a person!

      1. right??? I will say that of my dating history across that time period, to be honest that one was one of the safer and more fun evenings (but those stories make for less amusing anecdotes) but it was still the kind of night you spend just going ‘…but if I leave, I won’t get to find out what absolutely batshit insane thing he’s going to say NEXT’

    2. oh…. oh wow… with each point i made an Anxious Theremin Noise, ascending the scale in horror until i became a tea kettle

      i’m, so sorry,

      1. I didn’t actually make the noises you describe, but they were happening in my head!


        1. whoops, sorry, that first emoji was meant to be an amused face and not an angry one! I’m not used to commenting here yet…!

      2. I love this reaction so much 😡

        it has at least become a GREAT anecdote and honestly, the one good thing my dating history has left me with is the ability to create a fun ‘which one of these did NOT happen to me’ game at parties, eg:

        * dated a guy whose fursona was a sheep which turned out to love white power music (the sheep. the sheep was the fascist)

        * slept over at my boyfriend’s house for the first time only to be woken up at 4am by him complaining I was sleeping on his astral tail

        * went on a date with a dude who mansplained to me after revealing he’d never been interested in me that it was my fault I’d misunderstood his flirting because ‘flirting is binary, and thus when you flirted I had no choice but to flirt back to close the loop’

        * had to end a relationship suddenly when guy I’d been dating for a while suddenly brought a sword out of his closet and declared ‘I’ve realised who I was all this time! it’s [video game character I don't remember because I was too busy thinking 'holy shit he's serious']!’

        (just kidding, ALL of those happened to me)

        1. … no choice but to flirt back to close the loop?
          *gawps at screen like fish for a while*


          omg kheldara i have similar stories! solidarity. i had a slightly older boyfriend who angsted lengthily about his dragon tail bursting through his trousers and was really worried about DEMONS IN THIS REALM. he used multiple MSN messenger accounts to play out these demons, including a demon who said he was watching me and was going to do horrible things to me. it actually terrified me at the time.

          it is mainly for this reason he is memorable. that, and he sent me a recording of himself singing james blunt’s ‘you’re beautiful’ in an attempt to win me back. it was–unsuccessful.

    3. OH DEAR GOD what a garbage fire of a human being!!! The internet is over now, I’ve seen it all.

      I’ll be over here with my Long Island Iced Nope.

      1. “But what about the spankings?” ……. distant voice trailing off ….. “and I’ll grow some new hair so you can have your very own flogger” ….

    4. Scraping my jaw off the floor now… This might take a while. I mean, when I cut off my (misguided) dreadlocks I sent one to my sister, but we joke gross like that. Human hair floggers for non-kink friends had my eyes popping. THIS F’N GUY

      Although I’m also reminded of the guy who, upon hearing that I hate having my feet touched, told me of his foot fetish and how he’d tie me up and [do stuff to feet] … I’m thinking “great now I can’t trust you with my beloved bondage stuff” 😡

      1. ugh what is it with feet guys and deciding your boundaries don’t matter over their sense of entitlement?

  37. First experience of being expected to play a part in a male’s narrative: first grade, a boy named Andy had the task of passing out straws for milk and dropped a ring in my open lunch box without talking to me about it. Andy, just…no. I hid the ring in my boot and I was terrified it meant we were married and his parents would come to my house and take me away to live with him. Andy why did you do that to me?

  38. I have been on so many terrible dates. So many. There was the dude who took a call from his mom mid-dessert and talked to her for 10 minutes about Christmas decorations. There were the *several* guys who openly flirted with our servers in front of me. And if I had a dollar for every time I ended something with a dude because they wanted to know if I had ever hooked up with my then-best friend (who is a lesbian), I would have a *lot* less student loan debt than I do right now.

    Every time I read about dates from hell I tell my husband that if things ever go south with him I’m staying single forever.

  39. This is a fairly tame story compared to some, but I’ll share it here because 10 years later it still makes me cringe-laugh.

    During my sophomore year in college, my roommate Michelle had a class with a dude I’ll call Neville. Neville had a bit of a crush on her and managed to corner her into getting dinner together after class one evening. Michelle was in a serious relationship at the time and told him so during dinner, and in a sane world the story would end there. But we don’t live in that place. Neville, as I would later learn, shares a kinship with those kiosk salesmen who want to rub hand lotion on you and there is no escape for Michelle until, in what I can only imagine is a combination of desperation and awkwardness, she informs him that I, her beloved roommate, am single.


    Let me be clear: Neville has not actually been invited. Neville and Michelle are not friends. And Michelle sacrificed me upon this particular altar because she had no other idea of how to make the definitely-not-a-dinner-date end.

    So here I am, standing in my dorm with my roommate making panic/apology faces at me while a complete stranger tries to convince me to go to dinner next week. It becomes clear that he knows 3 things about me:

    -I am single
    -I have short hair
    -I am a percussionist

    He has apparently put these three facts together and decided that I am, and I am literally quoting 10 years post-encounter, “a cool Keith Moon drummer chick.”

    Readers, I am none of those things. I am PROUDLY none of those things.

    The rest of the story is fairly anti-climactic. After about five minutes, I managed to stammer enough excuses about my double major workload and dedication to the practice rooms to convince him that I was not going to say anything resembling a “yes,” and he left fairly harmlessly. The reason I bothered to type this whole thing out is to try to convey how utterly, gut-wrenchingly *surreal* it was to have a complete stranger stand in the place where I lived and tell me who they had decided I was. The universe tilted. It was like I was invisible, like nothing I said to this guy mattered because he would never really hear *me* say it. He wasn’t interacting with me, he was interacting with his idea of me and to him she was more real that I was. There was a small part of me that was afraid I would end up going out with this guy because he had decided it was going to happen.

    I spent 5 minutes with Neville. I was never in any physical danger, or even in danger of going on a bad date (I may be awkward and shy, but I am stubborn). I don’t even remember his real name. But sitting here thinking about those 5 minutes still makes me feel twisted and hollow inside.

    1. The whole having someone else decide who you are and just treat you like that regardless of the actual human being standing in front of them is so painfully familiar.

      ” It was like I was invisible, like nothing I said to this guy mattered because he would never really hear *me* say it. He wasn’t interacting with me, he was interacting with his idea of me and to him she was more real that I was.”

      In the longer interview, Jenny Slate talks a lot about her identity and finding out who she actually is and becoming comfortable with it and discovering that who she is inherently can be like “enough” And that she’s done a lot of it just recently. The male interviewer seemed….idk, surprised? intrigued? like he didn’t really get it. And he was sort of surprised to hear that she was thinking about this and going through it all really super recently. And I was like surprised by his surprise? Because I totally understand it, she was in a 9 year relationship and then an intense year long relationship and now she’s single and probably trying to separate out who SHE actually is and the parts of herself that she was with her past SOs.

      Like….I guess I felt like that sort of identity introspection happens after the end of any sort of long term relationship because parts of you tend to become defined by who you’re with. But registering the interviewer’s surprise I realize that the only friends I know who do that sort of thing are women. Because men don’t really get defined by their romantic partners, but women do. We’re constantly told who to be so we’re always having to check in and reevaluate our own identity and I feel like men don’t have to do that as much? At least not in the context of other people.

    2. I had a friend my freshman year of college who was married and poly and had a boyfriend. About two months after I met her, she tried to break up with the boyfriend and he stopped being her boyfriend and started being her stalker. She promptly set us up (I knew she had a boyfriend, I didn’t know the guy she set me up with was also the boyfriend) and I went on one date with him and was…super weirded out by many of his mannerisms, but at that age I wasn’t good at a lot of things including boundaries, and agreed to a second date. Some days before the second date, I was talking on the phone with my friend, who said she was sorry it hadn’t worked out with dude. I was like, what do you mean, we’re supposed to go out again this weekend. She said “Uh”. Turns out he went straight back to her after the date and said it hadn’t gone well and he intended to continue dating her. (She was also bad at boundaries.)

      She ended up having to get a restraining order, and when I called him to break our date, he said “You can’t break our date, I’m falling in love with you” which oddly was not super convincing to me that we should go out a second time!

The story was hilarious, but the comments here is what really caught me. Especially the discussion about feeling bad for him. So much uncovering on stuff that goes on behind the curtains of my brain that I hadn’t even realised. Because I felt bad for him too, until I read those. (I mean, I still feel bad for him in a sort of “ouch, if you suddenly gained some self-insight it would probably hurt” way)

    Because I’ve been the autistic kid (undiagnosed until really recently) who went to high school in medieval dresses. And I’m still the autistic kid who shows up at dates in long gingham skirts and a nifty pocket-bag that looks like part of a folk costume, because that’s what I generally wear. And I had a moment of Utter Dread that maybe that means I’m just the same as him, and then my brain scrambles to figure out if that means I’m just as bad, or if it means he’s misunderstood and everyone’s just being really mean and probably ablist.
…and then I realised that I *am* feeling for him because I’m autistic, but not in the way I thought. It’s not the great kinship of autistic and socially awkward people (also, not saying that he is autistic or that it would make that big a difference if he was). 

    It’s the black and white thinking that I do a lot of because of the way I process stuff. Just because the general description is the same – dates, dorky person, non-standard clothing – doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lot of difference in, uh, *intensity*. And I’m actually allowed to say “when I do this, it’s fine, even though it sounds slightly the same”. 
…and I’m a whole lot better att figuring out the tone of the date by subtle clues like someone going “What? No.”

    (disclaimer to say that this is how *my* brain works, and I’m not trying to imply that this is how everyone who felt bad for him are actually thinking)

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I think most people would agree there’s a universe of difference between long gingham skirt with nifty pocket-bag and a full suit of chain mail.
      The difference between having a style that’s not dictated by trends and what-in-the-actual-fuck-was-he-thinking wearing a costume of battle armor from 1000 years ago that’s really damn uncomfortable?

      I don’t have any gingham, but long skirts FTW!

    2. Thank you for breaking that down so well – I think you have a good sense of how your behavior differs from this guy’s behavior. You seem fine.

  41. My favorite bad-date story, since we’re sharing, is All My Fault:

    My college housemate met someone at our local mall. They went out on a couple of dates, and he asked if she had any single friends, since his best friend was also. I was six inches from the train wreck of trains carrying dumpsters full of tire fires that was My College Relationship, so V. was like, “as a matter of fact, I do,” and said, “TAR, come with us to the movies!” So we went. V.’s date was way cuter than mine, and inexplicably kept making flirty jokes at ME. I kept very pointedly saying, “Oh, that’s neat! You know who’s really neat? V!”

    They dropped us off at home, and I was like, “V. My date had an axe in his Jeep. Because he ‘wanted to be a fireman.’ And your date kept FLIRTING with me, right in front of you.”

    And (you guessed it, didn’t you), V. said, “Ah… TAR, the one with the axe was my date… you were on a date with the other guy.”

    I had been on a date with the wrong guy.

    If it had worked out, it would have been the best meet-cute of all time, but… well.

    Just learn from my cautionary tale. “Double-blind” is great for science, but less so for experimenting, as I was, with heterosexuality.

    1. Have you seen my head around here anywhere? it rolled away when I laughed it off.

  42. Apart from the boyfriend who tried to get me drunk at his cousin’s wedding so that I’d stop saying no to sex (AWOOGA: also, he started dating me by telling me that I had been flirting with him (didn’t know until later that I was just a magnet for those guys and not actually flirting without realizing it) and that was why he had broken up with his girlfriend to go out to me. AWOOGA), and the guy who took 5 hours to convince that no meant no, and not “try again in 5 minutes”, both of which are really more horrific than hilarious, my best worst date thing was actually a worst not-a-date thing.

    There was this transfer student I met during freshman orientation, when we sat the same language placement exam. I turned him down for a date, but was up for friendship, in theory. He started showing up to talk to me at the library where I worked and waiting for me every week on the day I had a 10pm closing shift and convincing me (or trying to, it only sometimes worked) to go get something to drink at the student coffee place (I was teetotal at the time, and also underage) before going to bed. I’m convinced that The Annoying Transfer Student Who Sticks Like Glue (that’s what I called him to my roommate and friends) was trying to date me. Through *counts on fingers* three casual relationships, a fling, and a friend-with-benefits on my side AND me telling him repeatedly that I wasn’t interested, right on into the start of a serious relationship (lol, that dude became my stalker story after I broke up with him, but seemed harmless at the time).

    Also TATSWSLG was very very determined to tell me at length and repeatedly how as Bob Dylan had the greatest singing voice of all time. Objectively. There were other points to his conversation, I’m sure, but that’s the ONLY bit I remember. (NB: he steamrollered over my own opinion that Dylan was a great lyricist with a meh voice.) Most of a school year, this lasted. I think my boyfriend had to start coming to meet me at the end of my shift to get him to stop.

    1. Oh shit I’m seriously wondering if TATSWSLG is my college boyfriend… I had that exact Bob Dylan conversation with him dozens of times, and he later transferred to a different college so the transfer student thing checks out. Then again, I think Bob Dylan is a popular topic for these types of dudes.

  43. I didn’t find it funny at all. I found it kind of upsetting actually – like, I see from the comments lots of geeky folks would have been appalled by this, so I suppose the guy did do something most people find upset… And I’m upset because I only understood what the hell that would be after reading multiple comments here.

    I think the issue is being embarrassed by being with the guy. I mean, I believe you guys if you say you’d be embarrassed by it, but I don’t think I would be and it hadn’t occurred to me others would; so when reading I couldn’t understand why she was so unhappy with him. There was that line, “Either I’m a c*** who tells him she’s not interested or I go along with something I’m not interested in”. I guess I didn’t have the experience of feeling bad about telling people I’m not interested in what they’re doing (I got called tactless a lot for that).

    (For the record, I’m agender and usually read as a woman)

    I think I’m also upset because it feels like there’s arbitrary lines between “if you don’t share this interest you don’t care about me” and “if you expect others to care about this without prior explicit consent you’re a douche”. A lot of geeky communities unfairly shift this to “you must care about everything your friends care about”.

    I would rather an opposite shift, where my friend’s lack of interest in my fanfic and my lack of interest in her interactions with her students are judged as equally “okay, you don’t have to be into that, we can find something we both care about to discuss.”

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