Talking about my worst first date in the last post has made me reminisce about all of the first dates I’ve been on. While none have been as memorable as the triple nipple debacle, another one does stand out in my mind quite loudly.
It was 2007 and I was living in the Florida Keys, working my dream job as a dolphin training intern. Life in the Florida Keys was interesting, the way I assume living anywhere people are constantly vacationing is. I had two jobs, as most of us did, and worked 60 hours a week to be able to afford the high cost of living, so any free time I had was usually spent sleeping or watching movies. The locals would occasionally partake in beach bumming and bar crawling, but usually we were just too exhausted from dealing with the public all day.
Needless to say, I got to know the people who worked at the local Blockbuster fairly well. One guy in particular, I’ll call him Joe, always seemed to be working, and we became friendly rather quickly. He would suggest movies and I would rent them and report back with my reviews. Talking turned to flirting and one day, he asked me if I wanted to go out sometime. I didn’t have to think twice– he was a tall, dark-haired, sun-tanned, Florida Keys local who I already knew shared my same taste in movies. Plus, island living didn’t exactly produce an overwhelming assortment of men to choose from, so I was thrilled to be asked out by a man who A) didn’t appear to be on drugs B) wasn’t running from the law, as so many Florida Keys inhabitants were C) wasn’t in town for spring break D) was tall, dark, and handsome.
Later that week, Joe and I decided we would go to dinner. The morning of our date, Joe texted me and said “do you mind driving tonight? I don’t have my car right now.” I told him no problem, I’d pick him up around 6:30. When I pulled up to his house, I tried to suppress my inner gold-digger, but his huge, ocean-front, beautiful home was putting a lot of crazy, impulsive thoughts into my head. Like, maybe I should marry him tonight? We could elope!! I could quit working and just live in this beautiful home and ride in his shiny boat parked in the driveway. I could practically feel the weight of my diamond rings and gold necklaces on my body as he strutted over to my car and slid into the passenger seat. Who was this guy? Maybe he was one of the few lucky people who didn’t need to work because he had family money, and simply worked at Blockbuster for the social interaction. Hah, right. That should have been my first red flag.
We decided to go to Taco Bell for dinner, which maybe should have been my second red flag. But in reality, I am not a picky person and neither of us felt like going somewhere fancy. And a cheesy gordita crunch was calling my name.
I was halfway through my cheesy gordita crunch and thoroughly enjoying our date when Joe looked at me very seriously and said, “I have to tell you something.” I wiped a cheese string from my face and carefully said, “okay, what is it?” With obvious embarrassment Joe replied, “I know I told you that I don’t have my car right now, but the truth is, I don’t have a car.”
My heart melted a little bit and I assured him that it wasn’t a big deal, there was no reason to be embarrassed! A part of me wondered if it was DUI or drug related, but he didn’t seem to fit the part so instead I told myself that he was simply “between cars.”
Looking like he was going to throw up his nachos any minute, Joe continued on. “See, I don’t have a car because I can’t have a car. And I can’t have a car because I’m not technically old enough to have a car.”
Suddenly, I was the one about to blow chunks O’ Taco Bell. I set my food down and asked him to please clarify, and quickly. Joe told me that he was 15 years old, and I started laughing thinking this was some sort of joke. I actually liked it, I appreciated his sense of humor! I said “shut up” and punched him in the arm. But Joe wasn’t laughing, and he was staring at me with the saddest puppy dog eyes.
“Oh no, you’re serious aren’t you?” I reluctantly said. I then asked for his driver’s license to verify and he reminded me that it was just his driving permit. Of course it was. I was on a date with a 15 year old
man boy when I was almost 21 years old. When you are older, late 20’s and up I’d say, a 6-year difference isn’t a problem. But when you are younger and one of those people has just crossed the puberty finish line and is most likely still sleeping in a race car bed next to mommy and daddy’s room, it’s a problem.
I told him to finish his dinner and then I would be taking him home. I fought the urge to ask him if he needed to go pee pee in the potty before we left, and if he needed a silly straw for his sippy cup. I had lost my appetite, so I sat there trying to decide whether to cry or laugh as Joe, my sweet little minor, finished his nachos. It just didn’t make sense. He looked like he was older than I was, I put him somewhere between 23 and 30! I even said to him at one point, “but you have facial hair!”, trying my hardest to not feel like a complete idiot/child abductor/cradle robber.
I drove Joe home to his mommy and daddy’s beautiful, ocean-front home and said “goodbye” in a way that made it clear we would never see each other again. Driving home, I felt sad as I realized that Blockbuster was no longer going to be a weekly pit stop for me…better find some TV shows to get into. And preferably not Dateline: To Catch a Predator.