By Nia Watson-
My dad always tells me to put myself out there. He insists that one bad date shouldn’t make me swear off the whole population. Well, I think he's incorrect and I hate everyone. Dating sucks and everyone sucks, and it took four bad dates last weekend to remind myself why.
It took four bad dates, three missed calls, two bodily injuries, and one sock—one wet sock—to remind myself why.
~ FOUR: Friday afternoon ~
I eyed the bowl of trail mix on the coffee table.
“Oh, sorry. Did you want some?” he asked.
“Maybe later.” Maybe never. I’m allergic to almonds.
I hate coffee dates in the afternoon. I already have enough trouble sleeping at night. I feel forced to ingest huge amounts of caffeine at 4pm just to avoid making eye contact with the person sitting across from me.
Speaking of which, the guy across from me was a Hinge classic: over 5 '11, interested in travel, a native New Yorker, and a lifelong photographer. Except he lied just like the rest of us. Jeff was a towering 5’ 8, and a half, who frequents Miami and just bought his first Nikon. Oh, and he’s from Staten Island. Ugh.
For thirty minutes, he had been telling me about his uncle’s take on affirmative action while unconsciously ramming his foot into my shin under the table. I could imagine the bruise that was now decorating my recently shaven leg.
I shifted my body to free my leg from its abuser. Ah, that’s better. But then in a fit of passion—whatever topic the conversation had switched to—he gripped my thigh under the table.
I gagged and slid my leg free. Again.
“That’s really cool,” I started grabbing my bag. “But I gotta dash. I’m expecting a call from a client in a few, so I need to head to the office. I’ll see you next time?” I stood up and looked out the window, hoping he would get the message that I would never be contacting him again.
Jeff took the hint (or so I thought) and stood up with me to exit the cafe. We stepped out into the cool chill of March and ducked as a man doing pull ups on the scaffolding kicked his legs up violently like a gymnast.
I side stepped a pile of hopefully dog shit. “Hey, I hope you have a great rest of your day,” I said. “It’s unfortunate about your uncle, though, I hope your aunt comes back home.”
He nodded and gave me that look that I despise. Gross, gross, gross. His eyes did that weird fish thing as he leaned in to kiss me, so I turned my face to the left last minute so that the slobber landed on my cheek.
“Would you look at that! My client is calling. Gotta run!” I tried to beeline for the F train but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
“When can I see you again?” he asked.
The street was relatively quiet, but I pretended that a large semi truck was passing by.
“What? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you!” I shouted. The bodega man standing outside looked at me like I was crazy. The street was QUIET.
“Ahh, nevermind,” he laughed awkwardly. “I’ll call you.”
And he did. Jeff called four times that night, and I did not pick up a single one.
~ THREE: Friday night ~
Sometimes when I know I have a bunch of dates coming up, I’ll purposely book all of them on the same day or back to back days. It’s my own personal form of torture. It’s better to rip the bandaid off in one go… over the span of 72 hours… as opposed to spreading it out over one week.
And now it was 9pm and I was reapplying my war paint to take on the streets. My next battle was drinks at some trendy bar in the lower east side with Cori. They picked the place, of course, and I said yes to everything because they’re hot and I’m simple.
My journey to the place was typical. Someone’s father yelled that my skirt was the perfect length and someone’s mother asked if I was cold. I only saw two rats and didn’t step in any unidentifiable substances, so I’d say it was a safe walk.
When I got there I assumed my post at the bar, sent Cori a text, and waited.
The waiting soon turned into Wordle and Temple Run because scrolling through TikTok alone in a bar is embarrassing. That was going well until my phone died. The bartender and I formed an alliance: he let me use his charger and I listened to him talk about his favorite modern poetry. It was a fairly entertaining conversation.
But then a group of older men walked up to the bar and could not help interrupting our conversation about Gwendolyn Brooks.
“Hey little girl! You could be my daughter’s age. Should you be here?” He joked to his friends. “I’m gonna tell the bouncer to kick you out.”
I should do the same, I thought in my head. But out loud I just fake smiled and turned back to my comrade behind the bar.
Well, damn. He had teleported to the opposite end of the bar to give a drunk auntie a pitcher of water. She responded by dumping its entire contents out onto the floor. I really hoped someone would clean that up.
The creepy old guy was snapping his fingers in front of me to get my attention, which he now had. I wonder who told him that was a good idea.
“Cut that shit out. It’s rude,” I said, waving him away. “Go back to the hole you crawled out of.”
He turned a few different colors, probably mad that I embarrassed him in front of his posse. Then he grumbled and sharply stomped away, but not before pulling a Tonya Harding and knocking me out of my chair.
I caught myself before hitting the floor but now my tights had a run and my left shoe was broken. I assessed the damage—the 3-inch heel was dangling off. Ugh, I just wanted to go home.
Speaking of which, where the hell was Cori?
I pulled my shoe off. I knew this was a bad idea, but it was much harder to walk with it broken. I waddled to the opposite side of the bar to get my phone from my new friend.
Then, I stepped in the puddle of water made earlier by the drunk auntie.
Now my sock was wet, my tights were ripped, and my mood was deteriorating. I turned my phone on for the first time in an hour to see two missed calls from Cori. Oh, and a few texts:
Hey, i'm so sorry but my ex just dropped by so i might be a little late. weird huh? -9:55pm
She’s still here and crying and i don't think kicking her out is a good idea -10:30pm
Hey, i'm so sorry, i can’t make it. ill text u tomorrow? -10:45pm
Except they never texted me back. Is this karma?
~ TWO: Saturday night ~
Saturday night was supposed to be movie night with the girls, but Rochelle’s boyfriend was in town and Marie had a family thing. This meant Nikki and I were left to fend for ourselves. So we went on a double date. What a nightmare.
Nikki’s coworker was single and so was she, and so was I (by choice) and so was her co-worker's gym friend. So Nikki and Alin paired up and Kevin and I paired up.
Nikki and I are black. Okay, so what? Well, this was Alin and Kevin’s first time ever going on a date with black women. We wouldn’t have known this if they hadn’t told us three separate times.
I wanted to leave after the second time, but Nikki wanted to stay and I had no intention on leaving her alone with either of them. Instead, I just sat with my arms crossed at dinner and rolled my eyes whenever either of them spoke.
After twenty minutes of “your hair is so interesting!” I escaped to the bathroom to text my dad:
Nikki and I really need an out on this date. Can u call me in 10 mins and pretend it's an emergency? -8:30pm
He responded at record speed:
U got it princess! -8:31pm
I made the trek back to the table only to find Nikki in a heated argument with Alin.
“I just don’t get why we can’t say the word,” he shrugged. Oh, not this shit.
“There is no reason for you to say it. Why do you want to say it so bad?” Nikki asked him. Hello?
They went back and forth a few more times before our savior, my dad, called. My phone screen flashed on the table with the contact name “Daddy <3”. Then something I didn't see coming happened—Kevin grabbed my phone and waved it angrily in my face.
“Who the hell is this? You got a fucking sugar daddy and are still going on dates with good guys like us?”
“This is what you people do best, though,” he said, slamming my phone on the table.
So, I slammed my fist into his face. Twice.
“That first one is for cursing my father, and the second is for the “you people” comment,” I said standing up. Damn that hurt my hand.
He was laying sideways on the floor, clutching his cheek. Alin sat, stunned, in his chair.
I turned to Nikki, who was laughing hysterically, and locked arms with her before stepping over Kevin and walking out.
“Get back here! You can’t do this to me! Do you know who my father is? You stupid fucking n—”
I closed the restaurant door behind us and felt the nice cool air on my face.
“Wanna get birria tacos?” Nikki asked.
I looked down at my phone and saw the missed call from my dad and a text.
Did y’all get out of the date? How did it go? -9:10pm
“Yeah, but I’ll need some ice for my hand,” I said. I texted my dad back.
I’ll fill u in tomorrow 👀-9:12pm
~ ONE: Sunday brunch ~
I woke up with a still-bruised shin and a freshly-sprained hand. Nikki and I’s date night had ended in birria tacos, a trip to urgent care, and a Twilight marathon. One would think that I would be done with dates for the weekend, but there was still Sunday brunch with Marcus.
I wasn’t too worried about this one. We were on our third date already and he wasn’t a Hinge classic, or still hung up on his ex, or a racist. He was just Marcus from Hoboken who worked in the city and commuted five days a week. Or six in this case, for Sunday brunch.
Brunch was actually going well. It was raining non stop, but we were indoors so I didn’t pay attention to the weather.
He agreed with me that Paloma’s are better than Mimosa’s and that Rush Hour 3 is the best movie in the series. We laughed and drank and smiled and flirted. Then the server brought the check… and everything went perfectly wrong.
Why couldn’t things have just stayed well? Why did he have to go and ruin everything?
“Do you want to go split?” I asked with no intention behind it.
“No it’s okay. It’s an even $60 with tax so I’m just gonna pay cash,” he said pulling out three $20’s.
I looked down at the bill. “Oh, okay. I’ll leave the tip then! I also have cash.”
He put his hand over mine as I reached in my purse.
“What? You actually tip?” he asked, baffled.
“Yeah. You don’t?” I was starting to get worried. As someone who has worked her fair share of service jobs, I find people who don’t tip to be a huge red flag. I get it in countries outside of the US, where servers actually make a livable wage—or where it’s seen as disrespectful to leave one—but this was different. This was so very different.
“Are you from outside the US?”
“No,” he said, smirking. “I’m from Maryland.”
“And you don’t tip?”
He actually laughed in response. “Because I just don’t believe in it.”
“What do you mean you don’t believe in it?” I needed to know where this was going.
“I just think it’s stupid. The bill should include whatever the server should be making,” he said, as if it were an obvious fact.
“In a perfect world, yeah. But it doesn’t, which is why tipping is so important. The bill is not just for the food, but also the people who cooked it and served it and the business as a whole,” I tried explaining.
“Why should I have to pay for all of that?” He asked.
I was starting to get frustrated. “You shouldn’t. But tipping 15-20% of the bill isn’t gonna kill you. You and I both know you make enough to be able to afford that.”
He rolled his eyes. “Whatever. This is why I hate having these debates with women.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, suppressing the urge to beat this bitch up.
“You’re all the same. Just calm down, look pretty, and let me pay our bill so we can leave,” he whispered, waving at the server.
Oh hell no.
I grabbed the bill out of his hand, took out two of his $20’s, and put $50 in. Then I tossed his money back at him.
“I don’t have the time or patience for this bullshit,” I said standing up. I intercepted the server on her way to the table, handing her the bill.
“Thank you so much. Keep the change!” I smiled at her. Then I turned around and flipped Marcus off, just because I’m petty, and walked out.
By the time I got outside, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. The chilly March air cooled my heated nerves.
A pigeon eating half of a bacon egg and cheese on the ground looked up at me. How could I forget? I pulled out my phone and called my dad.
“I’m never going on a date again. Daddy, you would not believe what happened this weekend.”
Nia Watson is a current NYU undergraduate studying Journalism and English. She writes with dry humor, is terrified of spiders, and has never had a cavity (knock on wood). She doesn't have a pet but does have an older brother, which is quite comparable. She hosts the radio news program The Rundown on WNYU, 89.1 FM and has hosted two other podcasts over the course of her first three years on WNYU. Her Twitter and Instagram handle is niawatson16.