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December 10, 2013

Dating Chronicles pt. 1.: The Awkward Date

There are times in a woman’s life when she makes a cardinal decision to open herself up to the possibilities around her. For me, this time happened during my late 20s. I mentioned in my last piece going on a date with “nasal spray,” so I thought I’d elaborate a bit on that story. It is rather amusing and actually precedes the LouisvilleMojo.com era.

I wish I remembered the circumstances of meeting this fellow before we went on a now infamous movie date. I’m sure I spoke with him online and somehow felt comfortable enough to meet in a public place. I also wish I remembered his name. I do not. Hopefully, the name I give him for the sake of this piece isn’t his real name, because if his mother named him “Nasal Spray,” he’s got bigger problems than rhinitis.

On the night I met Nasal Spray, I arrived early at the Baxter Avenue Theatres. It was my rule to always be early so I could see the prospect before he saw me. I did the same to my husband at ear X-tacy, crouched behind a rack of CDs. If he was creepy or my gut said to leave, I had planned perfect exit strategies. I am a great actress when it is necessary.

At the theater, people were filing in, getting tickets and standing in line for refreshments. The popcorn smell that always mesmerizes me filled the air with its rich buttery and roasty scent. We were going to see “Waking Life,” a film about lucid dreaming and philosophy. As I waited for my “date” outside the theater, a blue truck passed while I looked down at my tiny cell phone for the time. When the truck parked at the back of the lot, a very tall guy got out of it. He saw me, apparently, and dashed across the parking lot toward the building.

Let me pause here. When I say he dashed, I mean he ran. He ran toward me, and though I hadn’t met him, my suspicion said, “Shit, this is my date.” It was an awkward moment, and he was definitely my date. He was lanky and not at all graceful as a runner — more giraffe than gazelle.

We exchanged greetings.

Feeling embarrassed by his run across the lot, I tried to make small talk and crack jokes to alleviate the inelegance of a cold introduction. I generally enjoy meeting new people, and, although most of the time it involves awkward small talk, I still manage to find a way to use my humor to relax.

We got our tickets, found seats near the front and the movie began. “Waking Life” is something of a fever dream, and with much of it being about dreaming, it is an immersive experience. I was fully involved in the film when I saw him pull a small bottle from his pocket. On the bottle was one word: “Afrin.” I smiled slyly. Surely he pulled this spray out to change from awkward frog to Prince Charming.

“Surely he is not going to use this spray,” I thought. He unscrewed the cap and held one nostril closed.

At times, I have Southern Belle tendencies, and when I saw the nasal spray, I expected him to excuse himself to the little boy’s room to use it. He did not.

For the rest of the movie, I could not help but think about him and the spray. He sprayed it a couple more times, and away it went into the black of a theater and what was surely a warm pocket lined with tissues and chapstick.

I giggled, not at the film but at the nerve of this young man to have rhinitis and treat it whilst I tried to watch the screen. I giggled because it was yet another awkward moment in what had suddenly become one of my oddest encounters with the opposite sex in the space known as “dating.”

When the film ended, Nasal Spray and I walked out. He asked if I was interested in getting a drink. I smiled, feigned exhaustion and said I had an early work schedule. I did have to work early, but I needed, more than anything, to get away so I could process what had happened.

He was a perfect gentleman and, in some ways, the nasal spray wasn’t that big of a deal. He was polite, and I was mining the male population for writing material. He fit.