It was just a jacket. Most people probably wouldn’t have even noticed nor cared about such a mundane detail. But I noticed. Right away. I saw it long before I noticed the forehead that looked more like a fivehead. And before I noticed that fivehead barely cleared my chin and that his Wrangler jeans were cuffed—several times—and resting on his black shiny loafers. Before all of that, I saw the jacket. I should have run, I should have known that jacket was a harbinger of terrible things to come. But I didn’t. Instead I smiled—like a good girl does—and said, “Hi. You must be eGreg…”
eGreg was my first internet date. The fact that I even agreed to go out with him signifies that he was leaps and bounds above all the other “matches” that had been presented to me. I never subscribed to the “I’ll go out with anyone” theory. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I just couldn’t do it. It was difficult enough to participate in this online-shopping-for-a-boyfriend practice that dating has become, but I didn’t want to add insult to injury by cavorting about in public with complete losers. So I was very picky.
eGreg seemed to be less of a loser than most. He wasn’t by any means a Calvin Klein model, but he didn’t make me want to vomit. He was listed as 5’9”, which didn’t really excite me but at least he figured to be taller than me. He looked okay in his pictures and seemed to be relatively normal—he didn’t work at a morgue, didn’t provide me with his dissertation on the different forms of erotica, didn’t wear a black turtleneck in every picture. Relatively normal. He even seemed to have a sense of humor. He shared my desire to mock the whole internet dating thing, which is where our little inside joke of putting the “e” in front of our names came from. So, yes, relatively normal, thus I agreed to meet him at an Irish pub for dinner. He suggested the location since I was getting ready for a trip to Ireland. That was thoughtful. Point for him.
When I arrived, I made a lap around the bar but didn’t see anyone who fit his description. So I waited at a stand-up table for about five minutes but felt a bit silly just standing around, so I ordered a beer for myself. Right after I paid and took the beer in my hand, a jacket that had been sitting at the bar a few seats away came up behind me and smiled. Yes, a jacket. That’s all I noticed at first. This giant, puffy black leather jacket. Finally I noticed that inside this jacket was a smallish man, a midget of sorts. But for a good thirty seconds at least, all I could see was a giant, puffy black leather jacket standing in front of me. My first thought was, Thank goodness I’m meeting someone so I don’t have to talk to this loser. But when I finally noticed the smallish man/midget lurking inside the jacket, it dawned on me that this was the “someone” I was meeting. This was eGreg. And did he just wait to greet me until I’d bought my own beer? Did he really do that? Oh. My. God. Yes, yes he had. Oh, eGod. eGreat. I wanted to eRun, but that would be eRude. So I just put on my best fake smile and greeted him.
He was at best 5’6”. It’s generous to say that his giant fivehead was level with my eyes. At some point, as I looked down to hide my disgust, I noticed the shiny black loafers he was wearing. There’s nothing wrong with loafers per se, but damn if these weren’t the shiniest things I’d ever seen. Are they black patent leather? I’d wondered. My attention was brought back to the gargantuan leather bomber jacket as he motioned to follow him to our table. As I walked behind him, I just kept telling myself that it would all be over in about two hours. Just hold on, I coached myself. It’s just two hours.
Oh boy, but did it feel like two million hours. It had to be the most painful two hours of my life. We exhausted our topics of conversation before our meals even arrived. Thank goodness he had at least taken the jacket off so my attention could be diverted away from how much it swallowed up his body. Unfortunately, though, the fivehead took its place and continued to scream at me from across the table. I swear it was the biggest forehead I’ve ever seen in my life. Bigger even than that of my college film class TA, whose forehead was so big we joked that it could be used as a screen for the films we were studying.
I think I could have even gotten over the wardrobe malfunctions and physical appearance disappointments if he at least had an engaging personality. But he was nothing like the eGreg I’d been corresponding with. He had no sense of humor. Any joke I tried to make was met with a disapproving look, a reproach much like a teacher gives to the class clown. Of course most of my joking was due to the uncomfortable silences that were growing longer and longer. We hadn’t even been served our meals, so yes, I did sort of panic and probably said some slightly inappropriate things. But I had to do something to try to ease the pain of that deafening silence.
Finally food was brought, and we could both focus on our meals. He criticized my choice of fish and chips, alerting me to the fact that it was filled with fat, but remained otherwise silent during the entire meal. Finally, the waitress brought the bill, and I exhaled in relief, knowing this awful date would be over soon. But as bad as it had been, it actually got just the slightest bit worse as eGreg brought out a calculator so that he could tally up exactly what I owed. I didn’t even have a chance to extend the offer of paying, which in every other dating situation I’ve been in results in the “man”—when he is indeed acting like a man—refusing my offer and picking up the tab himself. eGreg announced my share of the bill and extended his hand. I handed over my credit card and thankfully minutes later eGreg was putting on the giant, puffy black leather jacket and we were walking out.
As the valet left to fetch my car, eGreg waited with me. He had parked on the street to avoid the valet fee. I told him it was okay, he could go on but he insisted that he wait until I was safe in my car. Really? Now he wanted to start acting like a well-mannered date? During this time, he informed me that he had a really great time and felt like we really hit it off. And he really wanted to see me again. Again, really? Had he been on the same date that I’d been on? I just kind of nodded and grunted out a “huh”. As in, “interesting….ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?”
Thankfully, my car appeared so I didn’t have to say anything more. But I was caught in the end-of-date-dilemma. I hadn’t thought I’d have to worry about an awkward kiss, but now? I wasn’t so sure. My own version of the Art of War suggests that it’s best to go on the offensive before being put on the defensive. So I leaned in for a half-hug, clearly turning my head to the side. I said, “Thanks”, not really sure what there was to thank him for but feeling the need to be polite. Unfortunately, he didn’t agree to participate in the half-hug and instead tried to swallow me up in his giant, puffy black leather jacket. He wouldn’t let go. He just kept hugging me. I looked up at the valet guy standing behind him, as if to say “Help?” and he just shook his head. Eventually I extracted myself and said goodbye. eGreg said he’d call me.
It was worse than I could have imagined, that date. I went home and cried. Not because he’d waited until I’d ordered my own beer to greet me. And not because he’d lied and said he was 5’9” when he was really a midget. And not even because he’d made me pay for my own meal.
I cried because of the giant, puffy black leather jacket.
Throughout history, cool guys, guys who are tough and hot, have worn black leather jackets. Like the Fonz in Happy Days and Dally in The Outsiders and Ryan Atwood in The O.C. And then Hugh Jackman came along in one as Wolverine, and now there’s hot Stefan and Damon in The Vampire Diaries. All hot guys looking tough in black leather jackets. But me, what do I get? I get midget eGreg swallowed up by his giant black leather marshmallow. That’s what I get. No Dally or Wolverine for me. No Damon, no Stefan for me. Just a puffy cheap midget loser.
Will I be a singleton forever? At least I will be laughing, I suppose.