4. The Tennis Match
I met Lisa at a costume party. She was dressed like a punk rocker. When I saw her, I was immediately smitten. We struck up a conversation that eventually turned to tennis. I asked her if she wanted to play the following day. She said, “Yes.”
Unfortunately, when we got on the court, my competitive nature trumped my Southern sense of chivalry. I dropped, sliced, lobbed, smashed and taunted my way to a lopsided victory. I won the match, but most certainly lost the date.
The next day in the sports section of our college newspaper, the headlines read: “Dunbar Destroys Hill 6-0, 6-0. Hill Demands Rematch!” Somehow, the relationship still had a pulse.
With my undeserved reprieve, I came up with a new game plan: I invited Lisa to play with me in a tournament. She agreed.
At the time, I had a $200 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle, which was not exactly “super.” The floor beneath the passenger seat had rusted through. I removed the seat and covered the gaping hole with several two-by-fours. I had always wanted a convertible, so I paid a friend of mine, who was a welder a case of beer to cut off the roof with a blowtorch. When he did, the doors collapsed, so you had to climb over to get in. And, for no particular reason, I painted it to look like a ladybug.
When Lisa saw the car, I’m pretty sure she questioned my eligibility. But, being a trooper, she climbed (literally) in and sat in the back.
Lisa looked like she was ready for Wimbledon. She was wearing an adorable white tennis skirt, white Tretorns with white socks and a white visor. I looked like a ragamuffin. Nothing matched, and I had holes in my shoes. If we were ever to become a couple, I would be the Oscar to her Felix.
About halfway there, we hit a huge pothole and muddy water shot up through the repaired floorboard. From visor to Tretorns, Lisa was splattered with mud. She screamed and I downshifted. When I did, the stick shift detached from the car and Lisa screamed again. I popped the clutch, pulled up on the emergency brake and steered us into a ditch.
Once again, Lisa seriously questioned my eligibility…
Moli was a great dog. She was a cross between a Rottweiler and a pit bull mix. I took her with me to college my senior year. We were inseparable. She went to class, wrestling practice, work and parties. She was a star wherever she went.
I was taking a philosophy class at the time. (What did the philosophy major say to the engineering student? “How would you like your latte?”) The course was structured around a series of Big questions. My debating partner was a feisty pre-law major from the Midwest. She was like the angry spawn of Mary Matalin and James Carville. She could defend any side of any argument – and win.
I enjoyed our sparring so much, I asked her out on a date; which, if you think about it, is the perfect setup for a Seinfeld episode.
At dinner she gave me grief for ordering meat, espousing the many virtues of vegetarianism. At a party, she made us leave because the cover band was playing The Cars. Apparently, their music was sexist. I told her to take it up with Paulina Porizkova. During the walk to my off-campus apartment, she berated me for belonging to a fraternity. “I’m sure Bluto from Animal House is your hero,” she said.
“Yep,” I agreed. “Seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the f***ing Peace Corps!”
At my place, we found Moli splayed out in the middle of the bed.
“I’m not sleeping next to a dog,” she said.
“But it’s her bed too,” I pointed out.
“Listen,” she said, “all you do is talk about that damn dog. If we’re gonna have a relationship, you’ll have to choose between me and Moli!”
“Are you kidding?” I said. “I’ve known Moli since she was a puppy. I’ve only known you since the beginning of the semester. She’s my best friend. You’re my debating partner. There’s no argument here! I’ll call a cab…”
In the middle of the night, I woke up with Moli’s face pressed up against mine. She had really bad breath!
6. Las Cajas
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador (see Bluto quote). A colleague of mine set me up on a blind date with a woman from Cuenca. Her name was Nidia Vasquez Pesantez. We were going on a hike in Las Cajas, a national park above town.
When I saw Nidia, I immediately realized that she was out of my league. When she saw me, she immediately realized that I was not dressed for the occasion. The park was over 13,000 feet above sea level, and it was freezing cold. I was wearing shorts, a sweatshirt and a Saints baseball cap.
About halfway into the hike, it started to rain. A few minutes later, the rain turned to sleet. Soon, I lost feeling in my fingers and toes. And then, above the tree line and far from the nearest public restroom, I had to pee. But, my fingers were too numb; I couldn’t unzip my own pants. It was the perfect storm!
I figured I had two options. One was to simply go in my pants, which, no doubt, would have put a damper on the date, pun intended. The second was to ask for assistance, not from Nidia of course, but from my friend Brian. While potentially far more humiliating, it might just salvage the date. So, I opted for the second.
When I asked Bryan to help, he reluctantly agreed. He unzipped my pants, but I still couldn’t manage the equipment. My hands were frozen cod. I had to ask Brian to manipulate my junk!
He wincingly did, and it DID put a damper on the date!
Author’s Note: If there were ever a test of friendship, this was it!
Author’s 2nd Note: Bryan made me promise never to tell this story – unless of course, it was shared in an online publication many years later, after the statute of limitations had hopefully expired…
Folwell Dunbar is an educator, artist and survivor of many failed dates. He can be reached at email@example.com