As I drove to meet Bill, I thought, “What could go wrong this time? Bill seemed so nice and cute on line. What could possibly go…” Sputter sputter silence. My car died in the middle of the street, a few blocks away from the bar.
I called my date. “Hey, Bill, ummm…”
“Oh no, what?” he seemed put out.
“It’s just that my car broke down. I’m pretty close to the bar…”
“That’s all? I’ll be right there,” he said, all gallant like.
Soon, a guy who slightly resembled the photo of Bill from Nerve.com, pulled up. He was my date and I could tell just from looking at him that we were not a match. I can’t explain it. It wasn’t his looks, or just that he was dressed in an early 90’s outfit, consisting of a white collarless button up shirt tucked into khakis with a braided belt, but it was more of a way about him.
Bill immediately looked under the hood
“Start it up,” he said, even before he said hello.
I tried to start the car.
“It sounds like you ran out of gas,” Bill said.
The needle wasn’t even in the red! Ug. So embarrassing.
“Let me push your car off the street then I’ll drive you to a gas station,” Bill offered.
I put my car in neutral and he pushed it to the side, with great effort.
I got into his Saturn.
“Oh my God, this is crazy,” I said. “Sorry.”
“It’s OK, it happens to everyone.”
Aw. He’s so nice. I felt bad that I didn’t like him.
“Let’s go to Arco,” he said, as we passed a Shell and a 76. “Do you have cash?” He asked.
“Sure,” I said.
I wondered if I could like him in any possible way, if I tried really hard. Like, what if he was this amazingly sexy kisser… then could I like him?
We pulled into the Arco and went into the small store area. There were red gas cans lined up on a shelf. I grabbed one and Bill stopped me. “Try to get the gas container you can rent for $2. Don’t buy one.”
“Then I’d have to bring it back?” I asked.
“Better than paying $10,” he said.
Oh the cheapness.
“Don’t you have the ones she can rent?” Bill called over to the cashier.
The cashier laughed. That was a no.
A skuzzy guy behind us, on a cell phone honed in, “I have one in my trunk I can sell you for $2.” This man was missing his two front lower teeth.
“Great, we’ll take it,” Bill told the toothless guy and looked back at me. “Just buy $1 worth of gas.”
Part of what I love about bad dates is letting the guy take the lead. If I were with a friend I’d probably say, I’m just gonna buy the $10 one, thanks… But this was Bill’s date and I was simply living in it.
I bought the gas and we went to the toothless man’s hatch back. It was filled with junk. Mr. Toothless rummaged through old TV parts, bicycle chains and random hardware. He pulled out a dirty red gas can, like the one in the store, but maybe 12 years older. It had no cap or spout.
“How would one pour into a…” I asked indicating the missing top.
The toothless guy rummaged around and found an old funnel that Bill seemed sure would work. I gave the Toothless guy $2 and we moved over to get the gas.
“I’ll do it for you,” Bill said. He made a big show of how difficult it was to fill the container – grunting and shifting his weight as he held the can between his legs. It took forever and Bill wiped his brow. We drove back to my car and Bill said, again, “I’ll do it.”
He wedged himself against my car and made a lot of noise and he tried to fill my tank. “Eeeh, this is hard,” he kept saying in a weak voice as he panted and and now I highly doubted he would be a sexy kisser. I waited as long as I could with his grunting and then just said, “Can I try?”
I filled my tank pretty quickly.
I wanted to go home. I was done. I think most people would have just said that they were wiped out, but I felt like I owed him a drink.
“So, why don’t we go find parking and I’ll meet you at the bar,” Bill said. He pointed across a busy street. “There’s some parking down that way.”
It wasn’t a great neighborhood. He was going to let me park and walk back alone.
“I’ll just valet,” I said.
“But it’s $7!”
When we were both sitting at the bar, after I valeted, I said “Thank you again for your help. I’m buying you a drink.”
“Great!” Bill said and asked the bartender about the good scotch and ordered a $21 glass of scotch, at a cheap bar.
“I love the Rambo movies,” he told me as he enjoyed the top shelf drink. “They are filled with deeper meaning and John Rambo is a killing machine but he is also a guy with strong moral values.”
“I’ve never seen the Rambo movies,” I told him. He acted like I was a horrible person and a disgrace to society. He didn’t ask me what movies I liked, but he did ask me if I was going to buy his second drink.
I reached my bad date limit.
“I’d love to buy your second drink,” I said, “but I’m exhausted.”
He whined a little about how he should be the one to be tired after doing all the manual labor with my car.
I paid the check and fake laughed. “Totally,” I agreed.
As I drove home I reflected on the date. What had I learned from tonight? Tonight, I simply learned… my gas gauge was broken.