True Stories: My First Date, At Age Thirty-Three

It had always seemed easier to skip the formalities.

by Melanie Hamlett

At the age of thirty-three, I went on my first date. 

I met the Brazilian at a nightclub a month before I was set to leave New York City indefinitely. The fact that he danced well and wore a scarf while doing so gave him away instantly as a foreigner.

After grinding together to techno music until four in the morning, we grabbed a cab back to his apartment in Queens and swung by my place on our way. I wasn't sure what I might need, so I packed a toothbrush, a water bottle, my cell phone charger, an Edward Abbey book in case I couldn't sleep, a headlamp to read it by, and some trail mix. I hadn't ever slept over at a guy's place in New York City before, so I wanted to be prepared.

When you're a gypsy, there are no first dates, no waiting three days to call, no goodnight kisses on the porch, no porches to speak of at all, and no taking things slow. 

I was moving away soon, so of course I slept with him — there was no point in playing hard to get. Taking on a lover before leaving New York seemed like the perfect way to end that chapter in my life, especially since I didn't go on a single date in the four-and-a-half years I lived there. I always wondered what it would be like to participate in one of those classic New York moments between couples — the ones where they hold hands before jumping over a puddle, feed each other Indian food in a restaurant window, and fall asleep on one another's shoulders on the subway. I told myself I was too busy to date, that working in the film industry by day and performing in comedy clubs by night didn't allow for such luxuries.

But the truth was, I'd never gone on dates. Ever. Maybe that's because I'd spent a good deal of my adult life living in a truck. Having worked as a raft guide, ski instructor, and backpacking guide all over the country for years, I'd rarely lived anywhere long enough to actually have a relationship, even if I'd wanted one. Besides, nomadic men were just as hard to pin down as I was. Sure, I'd witnessed a few successful relationships in my world, but they usually involved a scenario like this: boy meets girl, boy sleeps in girl's truck to stay warm one night when it's exceptionally cold out, boy and girl's innocent cuddling session in truck goes too far, boy and girl have one week to decide if they're a good match before leaving for their respective rafting jobs in different states. When you're a gypsy, there are no first dates, no waiting three days to call, no goodnight kisses on the porch, no porches to speak of at all, and no taking things slow. You either move into a truck with someone who could be The One, or you do what I did and settle for the occasional fling.

So, when I got a phone call the next morning from the Brazilian, I wasn't sure what he wanted, and I let it go to voicemail, where he left the following request: "I want to take you special dinner tonight, Melanie."

I texted him back several hours later, "Sure." Not really wanting to deal with this whole dinner-date nonsense, I packed a sandwich and ate it on the subway on my way to meet him. Later at the restaurant, when I ordered a soda water with lemon for dinner, he threw a hissy-fit. "What? Why you no eat?"

"Nah, it's okay. You eat! Menu looks great."

"But I bring you here for special dinner. You no like?"

"I like. I just no hungry."

The Brazilian was visibly upset and said nothing for most of the night, just sawing off slabs of steak and looking around. I finally gave in and ate a few bites of his mashed potatoes, just to make him happy. Maybe food is really important in Brazil, I thought. Either way, I wanted to leave. After dinner, we went back to his place, where we could finally stop wasting time with such silliness and have us some fun.

I started sleeping over at the Brazilian's place more often. Every morning he left for his job as a professional dog walker around six a.m. Then, like clockwork, he'd send me some sappy text from a park bench.

"Good morning dear Mel. We see each other tonight? I wish I hugging you like pillow. :-( "

Four or five hours later I would text him back, "sure. I'll be there at 11."

Other than his annoying texts — which I suspected most women would find romantic — he was a lot of fun. Way more fun, actually, than any American dude I'd been with. For starters, he was obsessed with my butt, a butt I'd always assumed was too big for white guys in the States. He couldn't seem to keep his hands off it, sometimes grabbing it like a pile of dough and shaking it wildly while murmuring sounds of approval.

He always wanted me to strip for him too, but only so he could stare at my butt longer. I'd usually get a dollar. "I dance for you now!" he'd say, then lock his fingers behind his head and do that helicopter thing. His goofiness was strangely hot. One night he ripped off his shirt and showed me that he'd shaved his entire chest "for me." The next night it was his crotch. "Now I soft like baby for you." Everything about this relationship was weird and hilarious and amazing and I couldn't get enough of it.

Well, all except the nagging. He just wouldn't drop the whole "date" thing. I couldn't figure out why on earth he felt the need to go on dates. Wasn't getting laid the whole point of guys spending money on women? If you own a house, it doesn't make sense to also pay a mortgage, does it? I usually lied and promised we would go out soon, just to get him to shut up.

On one of my last nights in town, I showed up at his place close to midnight and broke the terrible news that it was "that" time of the month.

"That's okay! I have special sheet!"

"Uh, I don't know what this period sheet is, but I want nothing to do with it."

For a few seconds, he laid there, splayed out on his bed, looking confused.

"So, I guess you're just going to have to be okay with cuddling," I said.

He lit up, clapped his hands, lifted the covers, and patted the bed for me to join him, like I was a puppy. I ate a handful of almonds from my backpack then crawled into bed, where he just stared at me with a smirk. 

Commentarium (46 Comments)

Apr 27 12 - 1:07am
kas

You agreed to go on a dinner date with him but packed a sandwich and ate that first? That's so obnoxiously passive-aggressive. You sound awful.

Apr 27 12 - 2:02am
erew

Agreed. This whole story was so obnoxious.

Apr 27 12 - 9:22am
JCF

I think that was the point, that she wrote these things to demonstrate how obnoxious she was prior to her epiphany.

Apr 27 12 - 3:39pm
src

The dinner thing also frustrated me while I read it. I've gone to dinner a few times with a guy who barely ate anything, and it made me feel like crap. However, I agree with JCF. She did a great job at portraying how awful she was, and I laughed my ass off.

Apr 27 12 - 3:40pm
src

Also - gear and rations for a sleepover? Too funny.

Apr 28 12 - 12:59am
kas

Except that she demonstrates in this article no awareness or regret for her rude actions.

Apr 28 12 - 6:16pm
nn

@kas Then I think you demonstrate no reading comprehension. She goes through a transformation in the article. That's the point of the article, is to describe how she learned a lesson. Although I do NOT think going on a dinner date and not eating anything is that terribly rude. She still kept him company, and saved him a few books.

Apr 28 12 - 8:20pm
Lizbeth

Really, with that and the handful of almonds, I just kind of assumed she was obsessed with food.

Apr 27 12 - 2:34am
sash

I liked it. I found it to be kind of fascinating actually. She's clearly scared of intimacy or something and hides behind being tough and beating guys to the punch. I know a lot of women who act this way ....just maybe not in as bizare circumstances.

Apr 27 12 - 6:35am
jg

also, please stop saying 'lovers' every seventh word. please.

Apr 27 12 - 6:41am
Alex420

I kinda wanna see her butt now.

Apr 27 12 - 6:50am
Mac

Some people have very serious trust issues for very good reasons. This story is obviously about how this person overcame some of hers, how difficult the realization was for her, and how it changed her. I think it was beautiful.

Apr 27 12 - 9:00am
DraperFan

This.

Apr 27 12 - 10:00am
ahdae

Agreed.

Apr 27 12 - 10:06am
JKlar

Ditto.

Apr 28 12 - 12:11am
yes

yes

Apr 28 12 - 11:52pm
sigtunafish

Indeed.

Apr 27 12 - 10:10am
Erin

An honest romantic story from a female that isn't a representation of stereotypes and cliches. A human story by a female. Hard to swallow for some, I see. That's what Jennifer Aniston movies are for folks ;)

Apr 27 12 - 10:13am
Meow Meow

What a gorgeous story. Letting yourself be loved and appreciated is the best gift you can give yourself. I'm going to go cuddle something now...

Apr 27 12 - 10:14am
BB

"I have special sheet" & the names like Yo Diggity made me lol. I think the article's like really sassy but honest, and I dig that.

Apr 27 12 - 10:56am
Go

"... sometimes grabbing it like a pile of dough and shaking it wildly while murmuring sounds of approval. "

T-the imagery! I can't.

Apr 27 12 - 12:06pm
KE

Surprised by the disapproval from some of the comments here. I really loved this one and made me feel better about some of my failures.

Apr 27 12 - 1:04pm
BL

Cute!

Apr 27 12 - 1:16pm
LoopdeLoop

Insufferable. The sandwich maneuver was tacky as all get-out. And as someone else noted, the constant referrals to "lovers" is vomit-inducing.

Apr 27 12 - 1:27pm
dave1976

I’m in the annoyed camp (mostly because some of this hits a little too close to home). First, the eating before going on a date was just really fucking rude. I don’t care if you have commitment issues, that doesn’t give you a pass on simple manners.

Second, she talks about this relationship like it was some big leap forward. She’s 33 years old, and managed to stay in a “relationship” for 30 days and then ditched him. The majority of the time she really never acted like she was in a relationship. At most, baby steps, but she ain’t getting a sticker and a pat on the ass from me.

Lastly, we tend to romanticize gypsy life styles like hers, but too often these people are inconsiderate assholes (here’s the hitting-home part). This is how my 25 year old sister lives, moving from state to state, country to country; pursuing her adventures and mooching off of people. I love when she criticizes my office job and straight life style, and then eats my food and crashes on my couch. I’m not saying the writer is necessarily like this, and maybe I’m just projecting; but she does annoy me just like my sister

Apr 27 12 - 3:43pm
src

You may be right about her inconsiderate personality type, but I'd like to point out that she did bring her own food and water rations to the sleepover. LOL! I'm still laughing.

May 01 12 - 3:14pm
helena

dave, who exactly romanticizes gypsy lifestyles? i'd be interested to hear your opinion. and not all gypsy-esque people are like your sister, i know plenty who are forging a life that means something to them on their own and just want you to respect and listen to them.

Apr 27 12 - 5:34pm
em

He danced well and wore a scarf in NYC. My first thought wouldn't have been "foreigner"...just saying.

Apr 29 12 - 12:02pm
shiloruh

And YOU would have been wrong.

Apr 27 12 - 8:59pm
sampo

I don't get why people are so annoyed. she's making fun of herself for being the unemotional asshole in the relationship. I like that this isn't another cliche story about women being the ones who always want commitment. at least she calls herself on her shit then does something to change. isn't that the point of a story?

Apr 27 12 - 10:10pm
Argothair

This.

Also, yes. Yes, that is the point of a story.

May 04 12 - 3:43pm
Stokely

Yeah, it was a good story. I started off thinking, man, you're fucked up, then realized she saw it herself later.

Also: Nice dialogue!

Apr 27 12 - 11:29pm
Cynthia's Name

Uh, jg and loop ... She uses the term "lovers" exactly once. You guys must have issues of your own if you call that "constant".

Apr 28 12 - 2:57pm
LoopdeLoop

Actually, it's 4 times. (And, at her peak, 3 times within 4 sentences).

Apr 27 12 - 11:35pm
AAC

"at least she calls herself on her shit"

I'm not quite sure that she grasps (or acknowledges) just how much of a passive-aggressive douchetastic move the sandwich thing was, though. That's just spectacularly bad manners, and calculated to make the other person feel like shit -- and if you're the kind of person that does that sort of thing, it doesn't go away after some pithy bedtime revelation.

I guess you could say that her description of his reaction as a "hissy fit" is some sort of unreliable narrator technique, i.e. filtering her description through the perceptions of her formerly-narcissistic self, but I don't really buy it. The impression of the author I get from this story is of yet another highly narcissistic person who glides lightly on the surface of life and thinks she's a free spirit, but is actually a self-involved coward whose happy-go-lucky nature masks the fact that she doesn't really care about anyone but herself. And if she seems to makes some progress by the end, it still seems to me that her experiences are predicated on novelty ("It turned out that getting to know one another was something people did when they're sleeping together, and it was super-interesting!"), and not depth.

Having said that, I enjoyed the article, actually! But if you meet enough people who are like what the author presents herself as being, then you realize that the world doesn't really need more fly-by-night types. There are, after all, people in the world who are inspiring and complex and pleasantly unpredictable, but also compassionate and considerate and well-mannered. Knowing that there are people out there who meet that standard, it's hard to want to support the efforts -- literary or otherwise -- of those who don't.

Jul 03 12 - 9:27pm
SS

Bingo - well said, every word

Apr 27 12 - 11:42pm
mrmaven

I don't think it's a *date* like the title suggests if they've been having sex regularly already. So I would say she still hasn't been on a date.

Apr 28 12 - 7:34pm
SaraS

Exactly my reaction. Halfway through I was like, is she going to meet someone else, or is this about the guy she dry-humped at a club until 4am? And also... clubbing until 4am at age 33? Hmmm.

Apr 28 12 - 11:18pm
JCB

I'm saying. All the thoughts, habits, and insights displayed in this article seem more likely from a 22-year-old woman.

Apr 28 12 - 10:55pm
sex in a ski town

Ha. Having ridden the snowboard and mountain bike dirtbag lifestyle too, I relate all too well to her insecurities about relationships. Seasonal men (and women) in ski towns are vagabonds, chasing the next pow storm and living for their adrenaline fix. Committing to anything more than sticking their landing after hucking off a cliff isn't exactly a shining trait among these types. And when you're surrounded by a seasonal lifestyle that's as fickle as the mountain weather ("No friends on a powder day!"), it gives you a warped sense of what constitutes a "normal" relationship...

May 01 12 - 3:19pm
helena

i had a similar ambivalent reaction towards this piece as many of the commenters--at first, i couldn't understand why she was so difficult on her date even though she had agreed to go on it. and did it really take her 33 years to figure out that people sleeping together/in any sort of relationship (physical or emotional) often take time to get to know each other? that scares me, especially since she spent 4.5 years in one place and could have taken advantage of no longer being a nomad. but, at the same time, it's a fascinating exploration of self in relation to others. this is clearly a woman who prides herself on being adventurous and discovering who she is, and i applaud her for that.

May 02 12 - 9:22am
Popsy

The woman who wrote this has serious lack of self-esteem.

May 02 12 - 12:54pm
leh

Wow. I am amazed at the conclusions you can all come to after reading one short story. Is this a panel for mind readers? Truly no one can fully understand the authors motivations or personality or make statements about how this author feels about herself after a two page article that captures ONE instance from one month of her life. How do we know she is an asshole? How do you know she is selfish? How do you know what she has really learned about herself other than what she acknowledges in her piece? Can anyone really say they know what the author is all about except the author? Sure, maybe if you read her autobiography you could start to draw some conclusions, but after a tiny window into someone's life can you really determine her worth? What would it look like if we critiqued your whole life after 2 pages of one story?

Girl, I know there is way more to you than what is here in this story. And the people who matter do as well. Keeping putting yourself out there and get yourself a massive shield from all this judgement.

By the way, I LOVE that the thing people who have written seem most upset about is the SANDWICH!!!! Not the graphic sex, not sleeping around. The height of rudeness apparently is eating a Sandwich before you go out!!!!!

May 02 12 - 2:37pm
Jilz

I think some of the people responding to this have some serious issues themselves. Jesus! The author is clearly working through her issues but based on some of the person attacks to her character (instead of the piece she wrote), I'd be willing to bet some of the readers havent worked through a lot of their own shit themselves. Personally, I liked this piece. It's funny and thought-provoking. For a 2 page essay, I think this woman did a great job of hitting on some deep shit while making us laugh. Those of you who took the time to count how many times she uses the word "lovers" need to try taking up another hobby that incolves something more productive than tearing people down.

May 02 12 - 4:57pm
AAC

Both this response and the one above fall victim to the "Who are YOU to say?" fallacy. That's the one where you question Person A's authority to have a negative opinion about Person B's behavior, character, or work. People will often do it to protect someone with whom they identify from criticism (and somehow, I'm guessing the last two posters wouldn't have leapt to a male author's defense).

But the thing is, when you write something about yourself, then you subject both yourself and your work to criticism. People react to the person you present yourself as being, and if you behave badly and don't seem fully aware of it (in the voice of an author writing after the fact), they're often going to react negatively. As I repeatedly stated in my own comment above, I'm put off by *the person whom the author presents herself as being* -- a person who still doesn't seem fully aware of why her behavior was unkind and inconsiderate. If she's not really that person -- if she realizes what a douche move it was to eat before a fancy dinner, thereby deliberately ruining the occasion -- then it's her job as a writer to make that clear.

If someone wants to write about behaving badly and not be criticized for it, then there are these wonderful things called "diaries" and "private blogs". Otherwise, criticism is part of being a published writer. No one who can't handle that should attempt to publish anything anywhere.

May 02 12 - 11:43pm
Jill

Whatevs AAC. I'll defend any author I like, male or female. I still don't understand why you picked the sandwhich thing to get hung up on. One detail. But you raise a good point .....only now we're talking about the writing and her lack of explaining her motive behind eating the sandwhich. This is much different than some of the comments above that say things like "an awful person." I think we should definitely criticize the writing, but personal jabs are pointless. I bet the author has an explanation for the sandwhich and maybe If she actually reads all these comments she'll see that this was a detail she shouldn't have left out. As for publishing, who says she can't handle it? We're the ones bitching about the comments. I hope for her sake she's not reading them.. It just makes me angry reading how stupid some of these comments are b/c I too would like to publish stories one day but I hate to think that readers can be so cruel and the comments on nerve always make me reconsider. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there, especially when people can leave anonymous comments about your character based on the opinions we've formed from reading a 2 page essay.

If the author is reading this, please don't stop writing personal stuff just because of this crap.