My long-term absence will be explained in a future post.
When I got started in journalism, it wasn’t because I wanted to be a journalist.
It was because I wasn’t good enough to play sports at school anymore, so I sought a way to stay connected to them any way I could. Daniel Ellis invited me to attend a sports section meeting with him, and from then, I was sold.
Which is surprising, since I started out in the undesirable beats – for instance, covering our volleyball team which was riding a conference losing streak of more than 30 games.
Of course, I love volleyball, so it wasn’t really a stretch to stay interested, but there was also the spandex and the tall females I got to talk to on a weekly basis…
Maybe it wasn’t surprising, but regardless, I wouldn’t allow myself to date any of them.
I say that now and pretend like I was being an objective journalist with integrity, but it’s only because I was too afraid of them rejecting me to even ask.
We hung out and I even taught one of them to play softball (she played second base for me and went on to be an all-conference basketball and volleyball start at Emory College…my coaching claim to fame) but none of them were really interested in me.
That is, until my final semester of college.
I saw my favorite player from sophomore year who had played all four years at Natty Greene’s, just as everyone else in the bar did. A six-foot-four bombshell wearing a tiara doesn’t have to dress trashy to catch every eye in the place so when she hugged me in front of everyone, all of a sudden I felt like I was royalty.
She was hanging with her volleyball friends and I with mine, so I left her alone mostly, although I did offer to buy her a drink. She was celebrating her birthday and I gave her a Long Island Iced Tea. I picked the drink out and she was impressed with my selection so I was feeling awesome.
Side story: Some guys bought her and her friends, including the designated driver, some shots. The DD called me over and when everyone threw theirs back, she handed the shot to me. I downed it and returned it to her hand so she could slam it on the table in unison. Those guys essentially paid me back for the drink I bought Ms. Tiara — a strange concept that would repeat itself to some extent at our first date.
THAT’S RIGHT! I set up a date with her for later that month. I got excited and told my friends. Even started watching what I ate in an effort to look as good as possible while dining with a girl who put herself through college by working out and competing in Division I athletics.
The date approached, but, mistake! instead of meeting me at the restaurant after a scholar athlete event, she would be studying at the athletic center to make sure she remained a scholar athlete. Awesome, right?
Anyway, now I was going to pick her up on campus about 8:15 p.m. so I hopped in the shower about 7:30 p.m. and began putting on my long-since laid out date clothing. It was then that I noticed I had a voicemail.
The voicemail detailed how her tutor didn’t show up, so she would meet me at the restaurant.
She also just so happened to leave this message while I was in the shower.
I called her and she asked where I was. I turned the question back on her and it turned out she was sitting at the bar of the restaurant I had mentioned 15 minutes away from my house.
I sensed she was pissed when I told her I was just leaving my house — a small fib since I wasn’t even dressed yet — and rushed to the restaurant where I found her having a drink with another man who bought her a drink.
Again, the kindness of another man saved me a bit of money.
So the date got off to what you would call a bad start, but I recovered. I thrive in the noun form of awkward. (Awkwardness? Let me look it up. Yep, although awkwardity is definitely a word according to Urban Dictionary.)
So we’re talking and she’s telling me about her family back in South Carolina where her dad played sports for Clemson and such. We ordered food and our conversation took the turns and twists that first datish dinners take. I was careful to not make any further faux paus since I was already carrying one big strike (that was, arguably, her fault entirely) but it all went out the window when the food arrived.
The wait staff put the food in front of us and I took the normal precautions with napkins and such that are expected of good manners.
And then…there it was.
Ms. You’re Late slowly rolled her hand out like a carpet, gracefully extending her arm at the elbow while her fingers floated down toward the table. There they stayed, beckoning me.
My first thought was to slap it. A low five celebrating our food coming and future first date bad decisions? Hell yeah!
But it was then that my years of church-going kicked in. I placed my hand in hers and she proceeded to bless our food. She rubbed my hand and squeezed on the amen.
Praise the lord! But I was still a bit put off by her pushiness. Her bringing up her virginity countless times during the dinner (Seriously, how the hell does that come up on a first date?) didn’t help either.
In the end, I’m not sure what made that first date our last date, but it was clear when this girl who had kissed my cheek at least twice before barely eked out a side hug when we parted ways that night.
I told her we should do it again so I could buy her the drink I owed her — little did she know that, according to my count, it would be the first.
We haven’t spoken since, but the hilarity of that story — especially the elegance of her hand motion — has lived on.
It’s one of those times when the story you get to tell makes up for the suffering you endured.