Whenever my sons’ friends visit, they always join me in the family room to catch a cautionary dating tale from my high school and college days. While taking mental notes, they constantly remind me that I need to commit these stories to print, preferably a book. Will that happen? Who knows. Doesn’t mean I can’t blog about it though. That being said, time to start a new blog series which I’ll call “Damaged Dates” (“Dates From Hell” is played out). So let’s kick it off with-
“Once, Twice, Three Times The Ladies”
Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida – 1989
It was a simple mix-up; improbable, but not impossible. I walked into Wheatley Hall, one of the girl’s dorms with my roommate Willie to pick up my date. I took a seat in the lobby and sank into an Al Bundy “couch slouch” position because I was 15 minutes early for my date (for purposes of anonymity, I’ll call her “Tammy“). I had already called up to the room to let her know I was early and she embarrassingly answered that she was running way behind, but would try to speed it up. I told her to take her time, not admitting that it would give me plenty of time to watch the girls come and go through the main hallway. Hey, I’m a typical male. She told me I was a sweetheart and said she’d try to be ready in 30, which would have only made her about 15 minutes late. No biggie, we were going out to eat and these were the years when hunger didn’t dictate my mood. Willie walked back outside, saying he’d return in a few minutes.
Pay close attention to the times and names, folks.
Recap: I arrived at 6:45 p.m. for a 7:00 date with an anticipated departure time of 7:15.
I struck up a conversation with a girl from McGuinn Hall who was waiting for her friend to come down. Having seen her on many occasions at her dorm and around campus, I had been looking for an opportunity to talk to her and possibly ask her out. This wasn’t the time, but I figured I could set the stage for a future conversation. Since I wasn’t officially dating anyone, I saw nothing wrong with getting her number to call her at a later date and time. She had no problem with it either.
Understand that I made two promises to myself in college.
- Unlike high school, I would no longer live in fear of asking girls out or being up front about my feelings.
- If I was with someone, I would be faithfully committed to that person. Until then, all bets were off. Date who I please and don’t question who any of these people date.
#2 really came into effect for me after having recently experienced a heart-shattering episode with someone I had fallen for completely. When I say shattered, I mean she totally crushed me. But I digress.
You know what? I think I WILL add this story to the book I’m writing after all.
While laughing with my new friend, I noticed a woman in the corner of my eye, standing with her hands on her hips, head cocked to the side. It was Vanessa (another alias for this tale).
“When were you going to tell me that you got here?” she frustratingly asked. “I figured you stood me up. If you were running late, you could have at least CALLED me. I was just about to change clothes and get something to eat.”
Vanessa looked at my new friend. “Is that why you’re late?”
“Nooooo,” I quickly covered. “We had a bunch of problems and I couldn’t get to the phone to call you. I’m sorry. I-“
“Just stop,” she interrupted. “Let me go upstairs and get my purse. You can explain later. I’m hungry. Give me 15 minutes.” Her mood WAS dictated by her level of hunger.
Vanessa disappeared as my new friend (let’s call her) Portia looked at me quizzically.
“I thought you said your DATE was late,” Portia asked as if interrogating me.
“I DID,” I answered. “That ain’t my date. Well, that is. It was, I mean it IS… …I think I scheduled two dates for the same day!!”
“The same DAY? How about the same TIME?” Portia laughed, knowing I was in hot water.
Recap: So I’d arrived at 6:45 p.m., late for a 6:00 date that I had scheduled over a week prior.
[Like I said – Improbable, but not impossible.]
Keep in mind that this is the pre-smartphone era. We had appointment books and calendars.
Before I could reply, my roommate Willie returned to the lobby. He had been outside, talking to the girls while waiting for my date to come down.
Portia sat there smiling as I explained my developing predicament to Willie, who replied to my explanation with a twangy southern “Daaaaaaaang Kennnn, whatchu gonnn’ do?”
As I clamored to conjure a solution, two girls passing through the lobby stopped suddenly. One of them, Lisa (yet ANOTHER alias), yelled over, “Hey Zoot!”
I froze, probing my mind for information, failing miserably.
“Oh God, no…” I muttered softly, hoping that my feared realization was incorrect.
“Why are you here so early? I thought you said you’d be here at 8!”
[We now upgrade to DEFCON 4: Improbable just became impossible.]
“Daaaaang” Willie whispered in a deep, resonant tone.
“I-I-I was dropping something off,” I lied as Portia fought to contain what would have been boisterous laughter.
“It’s cool. I can be ready in about 30 minutes if you want to leave early.”
Recap: So, I had arrived at 6:45 p.m., late for a 6:00 date, early for a 7:00 date with an anticipated departure time of 7:15, early for a date at 8:00.
As she disappeared from site, Portia leaned towards me with one hand on her thigh while the opposite elbow rested against the knee of her other leg.
“You mean to tell me-” she began.
“Don’t say it!” I interrupted as she laughed again, this time, only harder.
She got up and patted me on the shoulder, saying goodbye as she walked away with her friend who had just arrived. “Girllll, let me tell you what happened…”
I could still hear her laughing in the distance through her re-telling of my dilemma to her friend as Willie continued with his “Daaaaaang”.
“I’m so screwed,” I muttered in deep despondence, face in hands, elbows on knees.
“Whatchu gon’ do, Ken?” he asked again.
“How the hell should I know?” I snapped, still trying to wrap my mind around the self-induced trauma.
“How you manage to to ask THREE girls out… …on the same NIGHT?”
“ZOOOOOOT!” a voice yelled as my friend Charity (yes, yet another girl and another alias) came running and jumped into my arms to hug me. I half-smiled as she released herself.
“Uh-oh,” she began. “I’ve never seen that face before. What’s wrong, baby?”
“Ken got three women coming downstairs to go out with him.” Willie joyfully mocked. To here the words emitting from his mouth, you would think that I had it going on. We all know that wasn’t it. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t look that way.
For those who don’t know, asking a woman out to dinner in college does not necessarily mean you have any romantic intentions. Not on paper. It’s just a meal, however, it could set the stage at a later date, as is usually the intention. Conversely, a woman’s acceptance of said invitation is definitely not a leading indicator of any harbored feelings. More often than not, it IS just a meal and you better not get your hopes up. (Man Mistakes 101 – an elective course)
“You datin’ THREE women? Daaaaaang!” Charity surmised with a smile, shaking her head.
“No, I scheduled three different women for the same night.” I said worriedly, looking at my Casio watch. I quickly explained the times with a status update for each woman. “It’s only by the grace of God that none of them are at the same time.”
Willie added, “They might as WELL be the same time, FOOL. They’re the same DAY!”
“Shut up, dude.” I snapped, knowing he was correct and that I deserved to be called much worse.”
“Whatchu gon’ do?” she asked through a giggle? “Leave with the first one to come down?”
“Should I?” I asked desperately, bereft of solutions.
“I’ll be in the car,” Willie concluded. “As much as I want to see what happens, I don’t want my name attached to this.”
Charity stood by my side and waved at Willie before putting her arm around my waist and looking up.
“Why don’t you just take ME out and forget all three?” she suggested in bubbly fashion.
“Are you kidding? Are you SERIOUS?”
“You gonna stand here wondering if I’m serious or are you gonna wait for one of them to come down? Or ALL of them?”
In both the warning and wisdom of her words, I swear I could actually hear “ticking” coming from my digital watch.
I looked at the lobby entrance to the dorm rooms…
…then back at Charity…
…and we bolted out of the front door.
And how was the date, you ask? Well, PRIOR to that night we were “just friends”. That term was no longer applicable.
Did I learn anything else? Oh yeah. The moral(s) of the story:
- If you have a Daytime Planner, don’t just use it as a “little black book”. Populate the calendar section with actual appointments (and TIMES).
- Check your answering machine daily (in this case, nightly) and clear the messages immediately. My roommate’s mother came over to visit from Jacksonville the following morning and he pulled up the messages with her in the room. She, a pastor, got to hear me getting cursed out in three different languages: English, Ebonics and straight up Evil!
- If a church leader (especially Southern Baptist) tells you that she’s concerned that your soul is in jeopardy of damnation, never answer with, “I’m already going to hell, no need to worry.” They have a different sense of humor than you do. And on a Saturday morning, they’ve got nothing but time to counsel you accordingly…
- Never, ever, contact someone you jilted for a second chance.
- Never, NEVER return to the scene of the crime. God only knows what happened in that lobby shortly after I ran out. Imagine if I had been stupid enough to go back…
My new friend Portia (the girl that walked off, laughing) actually called a few days later, just to laugh (again) about what happened. She was also curious about how the night ended. I made it clear that I wasn’t dating any of them, per se. Still, I admitted that it was no excuse for my deplorable schedule keeping efforts.
Surprisingly, she asked me if I wanted to go out sometime. When I asked what on earth could possibly make her decide to go out with me, she told me that her curiosity had been piqued and she wanted to know what these women actually saw in me.
One thing’s for sure, it damn sure wasn’t my organizational skills.
To this day, I regret not taking her up on her offer, though we did become fast friends. I guess I was too afraid of what could have gone wrong if I’d gone out with her.
And I DEFINITELY didnt want to find out.
Cause that might have been ANOTHER “Damaged Date”.
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