True Stories: My Date's Nationally Broadcast Revenge

When I went on a talk show to discuss dating, I should've expected disaster.
 

By Barry Gilmore

Dating is not necessarily something you want to be an expert in. What you want is to be a lightly experienced novice. You want to go out on some dates, meet the girl of your dreams, then never go on another date ever again. An expert, on the other hand, goes on lots and lots of dates and fails lots and lots of times.

I am a dating expert. Last year, my title was made official when Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer hired me to be their Internet dating expert. Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer was a morning talk show on the Hallmark Channel, and don't feel bad that you've never heard of it — no one has. That's why it got canceled. It was hosted by Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter) and Jennifer Hutt, who were genuinely lovely people, and for that I will forgive them for tricking me into quite possibly the most awkward ten minutes of my life.

They introduced me with the self-esteem-fortifying description of "Man Who's Been On More Than 100 Internet Dates."

On the premiere episode of Whatever, they introduced me with the self-esteem-fortifying description of "Man Who's Been On More Than 100 Internet Dates," and we were off to the races. I told stories, they pointed out how ridiculous my life was, I wholeheartedly agreed, and we all had a grand time.

A few weeks later, I visited Alexis and Jennifer again, and just as the segment was ending, Jennifer snuck in a new question: "So, do you ever talk to people you went out in the past to see how you did?"

I warily replied that no, my self-esteem was low enough already, to which Jennifer said, "Well, we have a special opportunity for you then. Someone who can maybe tell you what you've been doing wrong..." At this, I began to contemplate making a break for the dressing room, when I turned around and, sure enough, a girl I went out with over a year ago was standing off-camera, grinning like a maniac.

I should have been panicking at that point, but I just beamed back at her, because I was so damn excited that I actually recognized the girl and remembered her name. You have no idea how unlikely that was. As I said, I've been on over a hundred dates. There are times when I've forgotten a girl's name twenty minutes into the first drink, and "Can I call you again sometime... chief?" generally ends an evening on a poor note. This girl's name, however, I remembered.

She was obsessed with Bette Midler, so I'll call her that. As the audience made that sort of "Ohhh, you're in trouble" sound that must not have existed before surprise guests on daytime talk shows were invented, she sauntered over to the set and sat down, looking ready to strike. I vaguely remembered that my date with Bette had been uneventful — nothing I should be ashamed of revisiting on national TV — but something about the glint in Bette's eye suggested I was in for it.

It was like someone set off a fire alarm in the place. Women were laughing, screaming, shaking their heads at me as if I couldn't see them from ten feet away.

Jennifer: "So, did you know that Barry here has gone out on a hundred dates?"

Bette: "He'll probably have to go out on a hundred more if they're as bad as mine."

With this, the audience was officially in the palm of Bette's hand. There was hooting, and also hollering. She continued, "First of all, he took me to a bar that was on the ground floor of his apartment building." The audience hissed. What sort of a lazy jerk makes his date meet him in his own building? A fair point, except the bottom floor of my apartment is a laundromat, and no matter how many times I've begged, they don't serve alcohol there. The truth was that I always try to pick a bar in my date's neighborhood, so she'll feel relaxed and comfortable. I had this time as well — Bette and I lived in the same neighborhood. But I kept quiet, because I suspected that quibbling over the facts would make me look defensive. As the audience finished grumbling, Bette leveled her second charge. "Get a load of this: when he showed up on the date, he was wearing a backpack! Who brings a backpack on a date?"

It was like someone set off a fire alarm in the place. Women were laughing, screaming, shaking their heads at me as if I couldn't see them from ten feet away.

Commentarium (30 Comments)

Sep 01 11 - 1:21am
NN

So it wasn't, in fact, nationally broadcast.

Sep 01 11 - 1:56am
duh

zing!

Sep 01 11 - 8:03am
seaghost

What a bitch. Seriously. People suck.

Sep 01 11 - 8:57am
s.s.

I do a ton of online dating (although to call myself an "expert" seems silly to me. I've been on some insane dates that make that one (which didn't sound particularly bad except for the fact that you went out with a crazy fame whore bitch) seem like paradise. I think the bottom line is that dating (meeting a stranger) can be a humbling experience and the most we can ask is that people act like decent human beings and honor the fact that everyone feels a bit vulnerable in that situation. This bitch clearly didn't get that memo.

Sep 01 11 - 2:33pm
Litsa

"I think the bottom line is that dating (meeting a stranger) can be a humbling experience and the most we can ask is that people act like decent human beings and honor the fact that everyone feels a bit vulnerable in that situation. This bitch clearly didn't get that memo." S.s., you summed it up beautifully. Barry, I'm not a fan of backpacks, either, but who gives a fuck? You didn't do anything wrong and it's fortuitous you found out early-on the woman is a self-loathing psycho. (And she probably has a burgeoning drinking problem. Seriously, who whines their date was sober and lucid?) Glad the show didn't air.

Sep 01 11 - 9:06am
Non

By now I've been on several internet first dates. None particularly bad or good. They have all felt just like you're interviewing for a job that hasn't actually been created yet. Someone in the organization insists, others don't really care, and the process goes nowhere until there's a crisis. Or that very rare serendipitous combination of chemistry and circumstances in the form of cupid's golden arrow.

Sep 01 11 - 9:24am
Lumi

There's nothing wrong with wearing a backpack to a date, or not ordering an alcoholic drink...jesus christ. She should be thanking you for showing up as you are, not pretending to be some George Clooney, which of course, only Clooney can be, and then pulling a transformation mid-relationship.

Sep 02 11 - 5:25pm
ew

Totally agree!

Sep 01 11 - 10:20am
Mirror

"He takes meds! And doesn't drink! Boo!" Seriously, what a bitch. Mocking you because you need medication? And because you're sensible enough not to mix meds and booze? Fuck her, fuck her hard.

Sep 01 11 - 10:29am
Joe

Could be worse. You could be a Magic: The Gathering World Champion.

Sep 01 11 - 10:47am
<3

+1

Sep 01 11 - 1:15pm
Chief

+1 !!!!!!

Sep 01 11 - 2:26pm
Alo

Hey you, Redditors! Get off my lawn!

Sep 01 11 - 4:06pm
lessthan

That story made me mad. I'd love to go on a date with a M:TG World Champion!

Sep 01 11 - 5:11pm
Thom

upvote

Sep 01 11 - 12:58pm
kewpie

It is kind of weird to openly take a pill on a date--unless you were going to elaborate and explain that you're not scarfing down Valtrex--maybe duck into the mens room to take your meds. And not drinking, while not a deal breaker, certainly paints you as a wet blanket or someone who used to party to excess (perhaps catching herpes, thereby necessitating daily suppressive therapy) but who's now a 12 stepper. I'm sure she was no prize either but little things do mean a lot.

Sep 01 11 - 4:17pm
lessthan

People are weird about pills. I'm a caffeine junkie and used to drink 3-4 energy drinks at work and nobody said a peep. When I decided to cut back, quit the drinks, and switched to a caffeine pill, suddenly I "had a problem." Never mind that it was just one pill, with much less total caffeine, and MUCH cheaper than an energy drink, my co-workers were horrified. There is nothing like being called an addict by a guy cradling his coffee mug.

Sep 02 11 - 9:47am
No drink?

I agree with lessthan..It's also the same with having drinks. By not having a drink,most people find it weird. I'm sure many would say he should have taken her out for coffee coz taking her to a bar and not drinking is not normal. I have no problems with not drinking in a bar and still have loads of fun.

Sep 06 11 - 11:47am
cc

+1. i don't really drink (can't afford it), but if i stand around with a glass of something alcoholic-looking i get hassled a lot less.
pro tip: make sure you get a lemon in your plain water or people get really weirded out. plus, then you can tell them it's just a big glass of vodka; depending on their number of drinks they'll believe you.

Sep 01 11 - 6:09pm
src

Bette sounds like an attention-whoring douche, however I do understand the overall criticism here. Most girls like to see that you're trying to impress them. Toting a backpack to a neighborhood bar and taking medication out in the open implies an overly casual attitude that's very off-putting. Your date probably spent hours preparing for the evening; the least you can do is look like you put the same effort in.

Also, inviting a girl to a bar and not ordering a drink just because you're "taking a break" is rightfully loathesome, because you set an expectation and did not fulfill it. Having drinks is meant to be a shared experience.

Sep 01 11 - 9:28pm
jcruel

I have no problem with sober dates in general, but if someone invited me to meet them in a bar and then didn't drink...I'd think he was a creep.

Sep 02 11 - 9:40am
S.S.

I wouldn't think he was a "creep" but I will grant you that if he didn't drink, he probably should have suggested a cafe or something. That being said, if I went to a bar with someone who opted not to drink and ordered a diet coke or something, I wouldn't hold it against him. Some people just assume that others want to have a drink in a first date and they think they're being considerate suggesting a bar (it's a typical first date convention) even if they themselves don't drink booze.

Sep 04 11 - 12:05am
Kevin

I dislike the taste of alcohol and pretty much never drink (I rarely drink soda either...water for me). But I usually figure alcohol will help my date relax, so I take her to a bar, I order a light beer for myself and drink about half of it (one date got put-off once because I didn't drink). If we keep dating, that'll be the most alcohol she'll ever see me consume in a year.

Sep 01 11 - 11:55pm
AlexT

Ah, first dates. (Or in this case, last dates.) This woman's recollection of their date reminds me of that scene in Not Another Teen Movie where Chris Evans is horrified at having to transform the "nerdy girl" into a hottie. "She's got GLASSES! And a PONYTAIL!"

Granted, carrying a backpack to the neighborhood watering hole and asking for a Shirley Temple to wash down your evening antihistamines does, in fact, sound like a one-way ticket to Urkel Town, or perhaps like you still sleep in a bed shaped like a racecar. You don't need to be the next Old Spice Guy, but be a little cooler than *that.*

That said, his former date sounds like a prima donna jerk who's been spoiled by oversupply. It doesn't hurt to remember that your first dates are actual human beings. You're on a first date, not judging the top 10 finalists for Miss Universe. When it comes down to it, who cares what your date drinks? Order an appetizer and share that "experience," and cut people a little slack.

Sep 04 11 - 4:42pm
Shannon

"Granted, carrying a backpack to the neighborhood watering hole and asking for a Shirley Temple to wash down your evening antihistamines does, in fact, sound like a one-way ticket to Urkel Town, or perhaps like you still sleep in a bed shaped like a racecar." This!

Sep 06 11 - 11:50am
cc

meh. one of my old dates used to drink a lot of shirley temples, i thought it was adorable and now we're married. it can work.

Sep 02 11 - 10:43pm
Tea Vee

Maybe that's why the show got cancelled: they didn't air [garbage] that everyone really wants to see.

Sep 04 11 - 12:34am
Barry

I agree, Tea Vee. I almost argued for their on sake to air it. It was truly great television.

Sep 08 11 - 4:47pm
GTO

I wore a backpack yesterday for my date. And she kissed me too.

Methinks I'll wear it for the next victim...

Apr 09 12 - 1:48pm
MMB

Hey, I'd go out with a guy with a backpack. Don't sweat it, brother. Her stuff was sooo not that bad.