In March of 2008, my friend Dave and I posted a video on YouTube in which we asked women to double date us. Ultimately, our cry for love resulted in close to two hundred double dates – many of which became fodder for a live comedy show we eventually took on the road. Over the last three years, we’ve received our fair share of interesting proposals (all-male foursome, anyone?). But it was one of the most innocuous emails to grace our inbox which led to what was perhaps the most unbearable of interactions:
To Ethan and Dave-
Don't know how much I'm into the love part, but I am interested in picking your brain (Brains plural, I guess?) about comedy—I'm about a year into the stand-up scene myself—Let me know if you might be around for some coffee….Oh, P.S. I do have a comedy page on myspace with a little 5 min reel and photo to prove that I'm not a creeper….Hope to hear from you soon!
While the message didn’t include a photo, a cursory Facebook search revealed a fairly attractive girl. But quickly chiding such shallow instincts (that is, after scrolling through various albums for at least ten minutes), I reminded myself that this girl had contacted us for professional purposes. Her looks should be irrelevant.
So we play phone tag back and forth for close to two weeks until we finally lock in plans. She tells me she'll be in my neighborhood on Friday night, and I should meet her at a bar by my apartment when I get back from a show around 11PM. Sure, she had upped the ante from coffee to alcohol, but a late night drink to discuss the comedy scene sounded harmless to me.
Which brings me to my first lesson learned:
There is no such thing as an 11PM business meeting.
And there is certainly no such thing as an 11PM business meeting with a single female, on a Friday night, at a bar, steps from your apartment, when you’re a comedian…specifically known for serial dating women.
When she arrives, she’s already noticeably drunk. With slurred words, she tells me that she just came from the pub she used to work at where they still serve her for free. Five minutes later, she's giving me sex eyes. As if the story I'm telling about the first time I puked in New York City is the most romantic tale a man has told. Staring intensely as I finish, she can only respond silently with a desperate gaze that, I have learned by now, means, “As long as you don't reveal that you are a serial killer, I will blow you in the bathroom.”
No, this was certainly no business meeting. But hey, if anyone can handle an impromptu date with a drunk chick, I can.
Lesson number two:
Never trust the internet.
Fuck you, Facebook. Fuck your enabling of lying and deception. If the photos on Bunny’s profile came even close to representing how she looked in real life, I might as well replace mine with portraits of Ryan Reynolds. Her main pic was, I now realize, a heavily Photoshopped acting headshot. In real life, she looked like the spawn of Joe Camel and a pre-Proactiv Jessica Simpson.
And so, once she realizes that her crush is unrequited, her true nature begins to surface. She starts by tearing me apart: my hair, my clothes, my tattoos. She can't stop talking about how she doesn't want a tattoo, and “never has, never will.” She “can’t understand the appeal.” They’re “trashy” and “common.” Yet, she's apparently fascinated by what mine could possibly mean.
Thankfully, experience had already taught me lesson number three:
Passive aggressive attacks are not an acceptable form of flirtation.
“They were a frat prank,” I deadpan.
“What!?” she replies incredulously, mouth agape.
“Yeah, to be honest, I'm not sure what these tattoos mean. In college, I woke up one morning after a long night of drinking, and there they were.”
“Are you serious?”
“OK, so what do they really mean?”
“Why do you want to know if you hate them so much?”
“I want to understand what would drive someone to do…that.”
“I'm part Native American. They're tribal.”
“No they're not!”
“No, they're not.”
“Ugh, just tell me the truth!”
“The truth is, you’re starting to annoy me.”
And then, she starts to cry.
Actually, she’s babbling incoherently at length about her frustrated dating history before the tears begin to flow. First she’s talking about some other guy with tattoos, and then the generally brutal nature of dating in New York City, until she's off and running, convulsing with choked sobs as she rambles on about how she knows she's not the prettiest girl, but has a lot to offer, and wants someone to love her for her intellect, not just for her looks, or more specifically, her fantastic breasts…
Lesson number four:
Never bait a drunk girl.
Making matters worse, the bartender at this joint happens to know her as well, so as she’s weeping into her dwindling rocks glass, he’s continuously pouring complimentary refills of straight Jameson. The girl is slugging back Irish whiskey and tears like a transsexual sailor in the middle of a menopausal meltdown. (I believe the official name for the cocktail is an “Irish Funeral.”)
Of course part of me felt bad for her. She was clearly down and out, and probably just in need of a little attention. But put yourself in my shoes for a minute, and remember I was hijacked into this…date. Yes, I should have seen the switcheroo coming. And yes, I might have been more inclined to let her “pick my brain” because I had initially thought she was cute…. But I’m a guy, dammit, and THIS IS HOW WE WORK, okay? We fall for this shit. It’s just what we do. And when you’re dealing with an emotionally unstable woman whom you are not only unattracted to, but didn’t know you were going out with in the first place, your tolerance starts to wear thin by the two hour mark.
So four beers deep, I can take no more. I ask her where she needs to go to get home, and she tells me the F train. Always the gentleman, I offer to walk her there, but she dismisses my proposal. Instead, she demands to see my apartment, which she knows is around the corner. Apparently, the “F train” she plans on taking isn’t the one that runs underground.
“You know,” I reason, “it’s been a long day. I think I just want to go to sleep.”
“Oh, come onnnnnnnnnnnn,” she whines. “You can sleep tomorrow.”
“No, I’m really exhausted.”
“Just for a little bit!”
“Maybe another time…”
“Don’t be such a fag!”
A few more volleys like these, and I’m forced to switch tactics, abandoning all niceties. “Bunny, I don’t think you understand,” I break it down for her, as if talking to a kindergartner in Reading Group D. “I’m done. I do not want to hang any further.”
“Wow. I cannot believe you’re not going to bring an attractive girl up to your apartment,” she persists, shockingly. “Let’s go, I want a tour.”
And this is the moment in which I lose what little sympathy I still had for her. She has now taken a depressing, annoying situation into aggressive, intrusive territory. My thoughts and opinions have been written off as meaningless footnotes in her evening, which was planned out long before I ever had any say. Ignoring my clear expressions of disinterest, and denying my requests for release again and again, she has finally succeeded at stripping me of my manhood. This has gone too far, Bunny. Too far, indeed. And to preserve the honor of my fellow men across the world, I must take action. I must take a stand. For they may take our lives, but they'll never take… OUR FREEDOM!
Leading her upstairs like a whipped mule, I sheepishly mumble that she has five minutes.
As soon as she's inside, Bunny takes off her coat and shoes.
“Cool, make yourself at home,” I say dryly, nodding.
Of course, it didn’t matter — she was already on autopilot. At this point I could have told her, “You can sit on my couch, but it seconds as my toilet,” and she still would have taken a seat.
“I’m telling you this because I have to go to the bathroom right now,” I’d explain.
“That’s fine, don’t worry about it,” she would affirm.
“I had Mexican for lunch.”
“I love refried beans!”
After a cursory “tour” of my apartment (which she criticizes with a stream of quips such as “What's with the kitchen?” and “Nice perv mirror in your bedroom,” and “Your cat is gay.”) — I tell her it is absolutely time to leave. (She did, incidentally, compliment one thing: my 6 foot glass liquor cabinet, stocked with plenty of whiskey.) However, instead of exiting the apartment, she decides this is the perfect time to lie across the foot of my bed.
“Or, you can just lie on my bed,” I say, taking another hopeless jab.
“Yeah, but I feel like you said before that you have to go to sleep…which sucks.”
No, what sucks is that you are completely unable to interpret the words and actions of other human beings, I think to myself. But somehow I manage to hold it in, and after five more minutes of haggling and cajoling, I come to realize the ultimate lesson of the evening:
Dating is not charity.
Eyes fixed with an icy cold stare, I point at the door and sternly deliver one final direct order: “Get. Out.”
At last, she dresses and departs.
Relieved, I collapse into the couch with a loud sigh, simultaneously reaching for the remote control and a nearby bottle of scotch.
An hour later, I receive a text:
“Nice meeting you! Your cat hearts me, P.S. that means you like me.”
What planet was this message written on? What planet is this supposedly 20-something WOMAN on? How has she not yet comprehended the fact that I am in no way, shape, or form, interested in her? Is she acting out of desperation or delusion?
The next morning, as I logged into Facebook, I couldn't help but notice her new status, which showed up on my news feed:
“Bunny is starting to think there is something wrong with her. ”
I'm proud of you, Bunny. It looks like we’ve both learned a thing or two.