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Unique may not be a sufficient adjective to describe this first date. This first date proves that it doesn’t matter what activity one chooses, it only matters that you have fun doing it. Even if that activity is working until your hands are blistered in a sweatshop manufacturing bike tubes. Yeah. That actually happened.
My date picked me up in time for me to experience a good hour and a half of rush hour traffic with him as we made our way to pick up another couple to join us for dinner and our date. It was my first double date (unless you count the race date where I found myself on a date with both my friend and his wife [now my friend, also] instead of the fellow I was set up with).
We went to a restaurant where there was an extreme shortage of menus (even though the place was almost completely empty), so the four of us were forced to share one. Except for the “Chef’s Specials” menu. I guess they over-ordered on those because we each got our own. The forced sharing theme continued throughout the evening as we found ourselves sharing a single salad and, eventually, a single dessert. We each received our own entrees, though, so that was good (even if the food wasn’t). Actually, my steak wasn’t awful, but I have no idea how my date managed to eat his. Who orders a steak well-done? Ew. To clarify, the sharing of food was the restaurant’s doing as well. Apparently they only randomly and sporadically provide dinner salads with dinners in order to foster a “sharing is caring” environment.
The conversation was a lot of fun, although my date did spend more time talking to the other couple than to me. It’s understandable, really. My date and I each knew the other couple independently, but really did not know one another. We met once about 100 years ago, I think, but I don’t actually remember any concrete details from that evening. I recall only vaguely that there might have been some conversation about cycling. That is also not at all surprising because all three of them cycle pretty regularly. Which is probably why what happened next is not much of a stretch.
We took a brief tour of the Razik Bicycles facility (I know a guy who knows a guy) and then proceeded to wind and consolidate bike tubes for the remainder of the evening. That probably sounds like a lot less fun than it was. The air conditioning was out (see? sweatshop), but it didn’t stop us. After all, bike tubes aren’t going to wind themselves. We listened to music, and laughed, and told stories, and worked. At the end of the evening, I had completed less than a third of one tube, and my thumb was completely blistered. I gained a whole new level of respect for those who make handcrafted, one-of-a-kind bicycles for a living. There is a lot of labor that goes into each and every one. It also made me want one even more than I did before this date. I wonder how many additional dates it would take to earn a bike. If the date had gone poorly, I would have asked for one as a consolation prize. But it didn’t; it was a lot of fun.
After “work”, my date drove me home. Even after the long night and the nearly 60-mile drive to drop me off, we still stood on the porch and talked for almost two hours. I think we said goodbye about eight times, and I know I turned the door handle to go inside more than once. Finally, when we realized it was nearing 0300 – and knowing we both had work in the morning – we said goodbye one last time. My date then clotheslined me with his arm in an attempt to give me a quick [one-armed] hug. Awkward goodbyes are getting to be a habit with me. All in all, it was another fun experience, though. I would totally do it again.
Incidentally, I actually had an opportunity to test ride a Razik Vortex a few weeks ago. They aren’t kidding when they say these bikes are light, fast, and strong. I could pick one up and hold it out using only two fingers. My two fingers. And I have weak hands. I think it weighed all of 14 pounds. And most of that was pedals. Plus, they look really freaking cool. I mean really cool. The one I tried was trimmed with orange (although it wasn’t yet painted), but they had a really awesome yellow one, too. Maybe if enough Hitchhikers order bikes, they will send me one as a way to say thank you. Quick! Everyone go order one today and tell them Stubbs sent you.
Occasionally I receive questions about my first dates from people who wonder what ever happens with these guys after our first date. So here are the answers to the first ten:
Flexor the Fl-expert in High-Pressure Dating Tactics: Seriously? Does anyone actually care what happened with this guy? He continued to text me regularly with emoticons for a couple of weeks after our first date. I politely responded as time permitted because I am not completely heartless, but his interest eventually waned as I did very little to encourage him. My guess is that he is back in his home gym, flexing his muscles in the mirror and practicing his very best lines with which to impress the first girl he can find with low self-esteem and questionable morals.
The Awkwardly Awesome Exception: I didn’t write much about this date until several weeks after it happened. Mostly because he completely derailed me in the most unexpected ways. I totally would have given up the rest of my 50 dates for more with this one, if he’d asked, but he didn’t, so I bravely pressed forward. We actually had a second date, which I wanted to write about as its own first date because he grew a beard. Some readers said a beard counts as a secret identity, while others told me it was cheating. I didn’t end up writing about it. Unfortunately, he recently made the acquaintance of a young lady whom he erroneously seems to fancy a wee bit more than awkward little me (crazy, right?). Unrequited love… It feels so good when you start out. My head is screaming GET A GRIP, GIRL!
And Then What Happened?: I like plain bagels with plain cream cheese. And plain potato chips (kettle chips, in particular). Original Pringles. Whole milk [organic or raw]. Water. A naked steak. But not all the time. I also like curry, jalapeños, garlic, salted butter, bacon, and chocolate milk [among other things with flavor]. Oh, and I like stories that keep me engaged. I suppose this date is one of those stories with a cliffhanger… except that the writers went on strike before that episode aired and nobody even noticed. I have no idea what happened to him. He left town. Then I left town. We exchanged a couple of texts and then… nothing. To be fair, it was probably me that forgot to respond (it usually is). He was a genuinely nice guy even if he wasn’t a great storyteller.
Bob’s Big Boy: We’ve stayed in touch over text, but I’ve been traveling when he’s been home, and he’s been traveling when I’ve been home. I’m sure we’ll get the dogs together again sometime… I am just not sure when that will be. And it’s getting less and less certain by the moment. Life is funny that way. Mine in particular.
Arnold Palmer: This poor guy. I’ve been meaning to write him an actual message for weeks going on months. We exchanged a couple of texts, and my life has been insane. I haven’t even logged onto my Match account (which is where we met) since this date happened. I just don’t have the energy for it. Someday I would do well to remedy that.
The Professor from the Three-Hour Tour: This is still one of the best conversationalists with whom I’ve had the pleasure of spending time. After our first date, he went on a first date with one of my best friends. He complained mentioned to her that I had talked about some of my other dates on our date. He may not fully appreciate irony. And to be fair, he also talked about many of his dating experiences on our first date. His dating life just wasn’t organized as formally as mine. We have not been in contact since he flew back home.
Farm Boy/The Doctor: We text quite regularly. He even invited me to join him in Iceland for a few days this month. Unfortunately, time and funds being in short supply and high demand, I was unable to accept the invitation. We will see each other again. He appeals to my inner geek in a lot of ways. He is also way smarter than me, but he doesn’t act like it. That makes it fun.
Dr. Egon Spengler a.k.a. The White Rabbit: We are still in contact and will probably get together again. He recently graduated his final SF course (language training) and is preparing to relocate to his assigned group.
Spiderman vs. the Bulbous Bouffant: Considering we were friends long before this experiment ever started, and further considering I was not a whiny little girl on our first date, we are still friends. He actually came out to visit me again recently and I took him on a whirlwind tour of my childhood stomping grounds, he lead climbed Mount Olympus so I could check that off my bucket list, and I subjected him to Crochet Sunday with the ladies. Oh… and we met Sean Astin at Fantasy Con and he totally high-fived us three times. No big deal.
Run, Forrest, Run/The Flash: Who knows? Last I saw he was a giant blur running as quickly as he could in the opposite direction from me. But hey, I’m sure he’s winning and looks good doing it.
And there you have it. Can you believe that is only the first ten of 50 first dates? We have a long way to go, Hitchhikers. Stay tuned for more mayhem and madness. The next two dates will be quite unique, I assure you.
Before this date, I don’t think I’d ever had a date run away from me. This one did, and pretty early on, too. But I caught up with him eventually; he wasn’t to get out of this date so easily.
My friend set me up on this date. He’d set me up on a date once before, and it turned out to be a great experience. Based on past performance, I was actually rather looking forward to this one. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever not looked forward to a date. It’s only after the date starts that I lose my enthusiasm from time to time.
Our date wasn’t officially until Saturday, but since we were running a 13-mile Spartan race, we got together with my friend and his wife the night before to carb load on sushi. Conversation wasn’t forced, and the food was incredible; all in all it was a good introduction. The next day, I picked up my date and we met up with the rest of our team to drive to the race venue.
My date was/is in great shape, and spends a lot of time keeping himself physically fit. He is also very competitive. Very. Competitive. I told him before the race started that if he wanted to run ahead he was under no obligation to run with the rest of our team. I didn’t want him to be bored trying to keep pace with the rest of us who were just plodding along for fun. He assured me that he would run with our team.
Our team was all dressed in superhero t-shirts, except for my friend and his wife, they were dressed as Aquaman. My date also did not participate in the traditional donning of the superhero shirt, but that was partially because he eschewed the wearing of a shirt at all. We later determined he could be “The Flesh”.
After everyone checked in, we made our way to the start line. I think the enthusiasm of the crowd started to energize my date because he decided that he wanted to compete for time. I caught a brief glimpse of a blur that I believe might have been him when the starting gun sounded.
Partway through the race, I found a new date. Her name was Chelsea. Her team was missing in action, so she joined our little group. We had a blast!
My ITBS flared up around mile 8, and by mile 10, I could hardly walk so I was forced to ditch my new date, Chelsea, and the rest of my team and run ahead to the finish line.
When I crossed the finish line, I asked the announcer to recall my date to the podium. He wasn’t going to get away that easily. He had already showered and cleaned off all the mud. And by showered, I mean he used a hose to sand blast the dried mud from his body. We hung out and waited for the rest of our team to finish the race so we could take a group photo and go out for red meat and shakes.
This was my third Spartan race this year, rounding out my Trifecta. The date itself may have been forgettable [for both of us], but the race experience wasn’t.
The lines were long for the sandblasters, so we decided to jump in the nearby reservoir to wash the mud from our skin and clothes instead. It turned out to be a brilliant decision. Between us, I think we transferred thirty or forty pounds of mud to the reservoir, leaving muddy contrails in our wakes.
My friend and his wife bought me dinner and dessert that evening because, as my friend put it, “You’re on a first date, someone should by you dinner.” For the record, I had no problem paying for myself, but I certainly appreciated the unexpected gesture.
I dropped my date back at his friend’s house and returned home to shower and ice my knee.
I meant to write this one up a while ago. I mean to do a lot of things that don’t actually get done. I suppose you could say that my life is quite meaningful.
First off, let me just say that this date was terrifying
This was one of few first dates that I didn’t have to plan. At all. This date sent me a google calendar invite. This date sent me a packing list. This date provided a Facebook countdown starting about ten days out. My phone sent me a reminder about the calendar event. It was almost too easy.
This is one of the few first dates for which I have pictorial evidence of its occurrence. The rest of these, I might actually be making up stories and people, and you would never even know. Oh my goodness! That’s brilliant! Why have I not thought of doing that before today? I could get to 50 like that <snaps fingers>! Although the energy drain of actually planning and executing imaginary dates is probably just as immense as the current energy drain of going on actual dates, and would also defeat the purpose of this exercise, which (I think if I remember correctly) is to meet people and have new experiences.
My ninth first date. Rock climbing. Seneca Rocks, WV.
I have never been rock climbing in my life. Never. Ever. Not in a rock climbing gym. Not on actual rocks. Unless you count this:
Neither those boots nor that wall (and probably not even me) were made for climbing.
I’ve known this first date for several years now. We’ve had lots of adventures together. Like that time we toured Alexander the Great’s Fortress.
And the time he came to Florida to go bouldering and we missed the ferry and he wound up climbing an outbuilding while I climbed a tree.
But for all our adventuring; we’ve never gone on an actual date. Until this one.
He has the distinction of being the first person to ask me on a first date when I first announced this endeavor (that’s a lot of firsts in the first sentence of this paragraph – totally threw that last one in there). It just took us three months to coordinate schedules because he is massively popular and also quite busy.
I flew to Washington-Dulles, where he picked me up and promptly transported me across state lines into West Virginia, while making me listen to this:
Which remained stuck in my head for the duration of our trip and continues to plague me regularly. <SMH> Canadians; there’s no accounting for them.
Time out! I am going running with my sister.
Time back in.
We stopped at the climbing shop where I discovered that my date is somewhat of a local celebrity. Everyone knew him. And they all wanted to chat. They were perfectly happy to lend gear to him (for me to use), and didn’t require the typical credit card or ID deposit for the equipment he rented.
We set up camp (in probably the nicest campground I’ve ever seen), and he set about introducing me to the world’s most confusing equipment. Nuts, big nuts, small nuts, medium nuts, nut tools, cams, other cams, more different cams, slightly offset cams, bigger cams, smaller cams, and probably a half a dozen other things I’d never seen or heard of before. He set up a course throughout the campground and taught me how to belay and rappel. We also tied about six hundred knots. Well, the same knot about six hundred times. I needed the practice.
We went to a place called Hellbender’s for massive burritos for dinner, and then went back to the campsite to sleep.
We woke up at about 0300 to find the giant air mattress we were using almost completely deflated, so I hopped out and attached the pump to refill it. Around 0500, I was rudely awaken by the most obnoxious sound: birds. Lots of them. Making all kinds of noise. I finally understood why you’d want to kill two birds with a single stone. In Afghanistan, the birds don’t chirp like that in the early morning (probably because there aren’t any… they’re likely all dead except for the few hundred living in a single tree at Bagram).
Mornings are typically not when you’ll find me at my best.
My date woke up and checked his phone a little bit later. “0600,” he said. I waited, holding my breath, praying he wouldn’t follow that up with “we’d better get moving.” He didn’t. He went back to sleep. Awesome.
We finally got moving around 0730 (which I’ve lately discovered is apparently the perfect time to wake up since I wake up at that time every day regardless of the time zone I’m in or how much/little sleep I’ve had). We went back to the climbing shop for breakfast and autograph signing and then we headed for the rocks.
We top-roped the first route (apparently that means something to climbing people). It went pretty well, although I struggled to remove one of the nuts, and almost fell once, but I caught myself with a death grip. I immediately regretted not trimming my nails shorter before the trip. My date recommended not gripping so hard. Right.
We moved on to another route and began our ascent to the summit. I did fine, as long as I never looked down or out. But on our second pitch of a multi-pitch ascent, I met my giant mental rock wall. As my date led the route, he’d shouted back that I was going to have to do some special maneuvering in a certain spot, but he was confident I could handle the challenge. I was, too… until I got there. [Actually, you know what? That's not even true, I only believed I could because I trusted his experience, but confident? Not even close.]
I fell. Twice. In the same spot. And then I clung madly to the rocks for what felt like six or seven years while thinking of all the possible outcomes. 1. Down climbing. Ha! B. Falling to my death. Unlikely, considering the equipment and my date all did what they were supposed to and each of my “falls” consisted of about two inches of lost vertical distance, and about 34 years of pride. 3. Shouting up to my date for assistance hoisting me over that section. Nope. Not happening. Okay, maybe I didn’t lose quite as much pride as I’d thought. D. Cling to the rock for the rest of my life. Combat was never this scary.
Admittedly, “D” seemed like the most sensible choice, as I clung to the rocks, paralyzed by the thoughts in my head. But then I reminded myself that I was hungry, and the quickest way to food was to get to the top of the rock formation. I looked out. And down. And adrenaline pumped through my body in unearthly amounts. I think I used a full metric ton of chalk that day. I typically like adrenaline-fueled activities. But at that moment, I thought to myself, “I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this. I don’t think it’s for me, though, and I never need to do it again.”
I adjusted my position on the rocks and rather than fail a third time, I opted to try a completely different maneuver. I think it’s the one my date recommended, but I can’t remember; I seem to have blocked that portion of the climb from my memory. That’s unfortunate… because it worked, whatever I did, and probably could have built my confidence moving forward.
The rest of the pitch was fine. I had to laugh at myself because I had no problem using both hands to remove a piece of gear while balancing on footholds, but as soon as the gear was secure, both of my hands were back on the rocks as though they were powered by giant magnets, and I worried about my stability.
Shaky hands, shaky legs… somehow I completed that pitch. And met my date at the anchor point. He casually asked, “Did you fall?” I said, “Yup.” “Twice?” “Uh huh.” “I thought so. I can always tell when people fall.”
After a short break, my date started to prep for the next pitch. He pointed out some kind of rock formation behind us, but I couldn’t see it from where I sat clinging like a wet t-shirt to the rock face. He said, “You can step out a bit and see it.” I replied, “No, really I can’t.* I’m good.” I think he started to wonder then if I was going to make it. I started to wonder what would happen if he suddenly lost his balance and fell over the edge. And then I wondered if anyone had ever pushed a climbing partner to their death, and then I started imagining what that might look like. And then I started to wonder what in the world is wrong with me that I think about things like this.
*I did eventually move out to the edge to look back and see the pillar/column thing he was talking about, but that was after he’d reached the next anchor point so he totally missed my awesome display of courage.
Truth be told, the rest of the ascent was uneventful and pretty easy. There was one portion where we had to move around a corner of some sort, but even that wasn’t too bad. There were plenty of footholds.
The placement of gear was kind of a blessing and a curse. Some of the time, I was irritated, other times I was relieved. I hate removing nuts. Stupid freaking things don’t want to come out most of the time. I suppose that’s kind of the point… you know, if you fall. Which I did. Twice. [see above] Actually, I’m glad I fell. It took the mystery out of it, and the fear. Well, the fear was probably still there since I did seriously contemplate clinging to a rock face for the rest of my life, but it made it much easier to face the fear and try again.
We finally made it to the summit. The view was spectacular. I swear Seneca Rocks look like if you were to apply just the right amount of pressure in the right place, you could knock them right over. And that’s probably true. If your name is God. Or if you are one of his mountain movers.
We signed the log book and took pictures. I got a trophy.
We down climbed a little bit (way more challenging than climbing) and then made our way to one of the rappel routes on the face. I like rappelling. Although, I totally would have killed myself more than once if my date hadn’t been there to make sure I had everything hooked in and set up right. I also would have missed at least one set of anchor bolts because of my inability to spot giant, lone pine trees growing out of the rocks.
We reached solid ground, changed shoes, and went back to retrieve the rest of our gear. We went back to the “town”, but avoided the climbing shop because in my date’s words, “We’ll never get out of there.” I had no doubt he was correct. Of course, we nearly never made it out of the parking lot because we met other people who wanted to chat him up. I was beginning to think I’d never get to see the chocolate milk I was craving. By the time we made it back to camp, we were both ready to sleep. But first, we had to build a fire, prep food, cook food, eat food, wash dishes, and shower.
Showers. This campsite had showers. With hot water. Hot. I discovered, during my hot shower, that no matter how much soap you use, or how hard you scrub, you are NEVER going to be able to scrub away a bruise. Because apparently they are not made of dirt.
There was never a shortage of good conversation. I certainly enjoy it when I spend time with people who are smarter than I am. We talked until we were both less than coherent and then fell asleep. Until the air mattress started behaving more like a waterbed again, and I was compelled to get up and attach the air pump.
The next morning, we packed up the campsite and decided to forego making breakfast (mostly because I’d eaten everything that was going to be used for breakfast the night before, except the eggs) and drive to town to eat instead. We were delayed at the climbing shop, and by the time we arrived, the restaurant was no longer serving breakfast. We ordered dessert (cobbler and pie) since lunch didn’t sound good, due to its not being breakfast and all, and decided to drive to an all-day breakfast place he knew that was on the way back to the city.
On the way back, I started researching a climb I wanted to try back in Salt Lake City some time. Yeah, apparently that brief moment on the rocks where I promised myself I would not be climbing again didn’t last beyond the first rappel.
My date was kind enough to take me on a short, but emotionally charged detour to Arlington National Cemetery, so I could finally pay my respects to CPT Joe. Mister Spacely, with whose family I’d be staying that night, had invited my date and I to dinner. After dinner, dessert, and a short tour of the office headquarters, we parted ways.
This was a busy weekend, y’all. I loaded up the pups and drove to NC. We were going to attend a fundraising event for The Captain Joseph House Foundation, but since that wasn’t until Sunday, I decided to slip in a first date on Saturday. Apparently this first date was over a year in the making, too, but I didn’t remember that until my date told me so.
On Saturday morning, I went to breakfast with two of my friends at a little place called Marvin’s Fresh Farmhouse or Farmhouse Fresh or something about freshness and farming named after a bloke named Marvin. It’s a great little local joint in Mount Pleasant, where they source all their food from local farmers in the state. Be warned; however, as the menu is deceptive. I ordered a two-egg omelette and it wound up being twice the size of my head. I think they might use ostrich eggs because it was way more omelette than I ever get out of two eggs. Because of this, I went ahead and ordered a side of bacon (actually, I would have done that anyway), and an order of waffles with strawberries and whipped cream.
That picture doesn’t even do it justice. Those plates were huge. Oh my goodness, but it was delicious. Until I had about three-quarters of a waffle to go. And that’s when the peer pressure started [by peer pressure, I mean totally self-induced]. I looked at the plate and thought about how much I wanted to just get up and walk away, but I’m no quitter. So I kept going.
I got up and walked around a bit. I did trunk twists. I shook my legs (to move the food into the hollow portion). And I kept going. And going. And going. And going.
It would not have even fazed me if I’d run my 10 miles that morning. But I didn’t. And so it did. It might have been one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. But I couldn’t stop myself; indeed, I encouraged myself. I didn’t even get a free t-shirt at the end. Dumb.
Fast forward a couple of hours and I was grazing at a dog social trying to finalize plans with my date that evening. It wasn’t going well. He wound up being about three hours late for our date, but at least he showed up (not like the would-be first date who completely stood me up… twice).
And this first date is one for the books, so I’m really glad he did. Remember that time I toured the haunted clinic and vowed I’d come back and stay the night? I did. With my first date. And my dogs. And a paranormal investigator and his date. It was epic.
Of course, I didn’t remember to bring my camera, so I have no pictures from that night (all the pictures are from the first visit). I planned to exchange information with the paranormal investigator and get a few of his pictures, but he and his date left around 0500, and I was sound asleep by then. Oops. He’d brought all kinds of equipment with him: audio recorders, thermometers, EMF detectors, and some kind of laser grid set-up that I stared at, mesmerized, for hours.
I was most interested to watch Marty and Joe react that night. Joe didn’t. He pretty well followed me around and slept at my feet. Marty was far more engaged.
When he first walked into the house, Marty went straight into the exam room where they used to administer shots, and immediately started goofing around, play bowing, and being silly with nothing that I could see. He came bounding out and went running up the stairs, checking out all the rooms.
Outside, Marty began pursuing what I thought might be a rabbit or something. He chased whatever it was around the pecan tree in the front yard and back toward where we were standing, but when he came around, none of us could see anything. He could, though, because he kept right on pursuing for a bit longer before he gave up.
In the basement, Marty vacillated between trying to climb to the top of the stairs to whine at the door to leave, and looking around the room with fascination. He didn’t like Majesty’s flashlight on the stairs, though.
Upstairs, he spent most of his time in Phillip’s room (the surgery), and growled a little at nothing. Dogs were barking outside, but it wasn’t Marty’s typical “dogs are barking outside” reaction… which is far more vocal and energetic and which he did the next morning. This was just a low growl, but it’s entirely possible it was just the dogs that set him off.
The ghosts were quite active; moreso than during the first visit. In the basement we had Majesty, Jimmy, Dr. Trivette, and two ladies (whose names escape me right now); upstairs was David, Phillip, Bill, and Vicky. Majesty played ball with me a couple of times, and Vicky touched my hand. My date might have started a fight between Phillip and Vicky because Vicky wanted him to spend the night in her room. She touched his hand, too.
We watched the original 1979 version of The Amityville Horror [on VHS no less]; although, truth be told, my date and I both slept through most of it. I must have been tired because I slept like the dead that night. And not like the dead who call the Trivette Clinic home. Like the dead that don’t stick around to haunt the living.
The next morning, everyone left us. The hosts, the paranormal investigator and his date, and even the ghosts, it seemed. We hung around for a while chatting about life before we both had to get on the road. I would definitely go on a second date with this one, too. I might have to write a follow-on blog… 15 Second Dates?
It was a great night, and a really fun first date. I highly recommend going to see Doug and Tim at the Trivette Clinic if you are ever in NC. It’s well worth the trip. They tell great stories, and are fantastic hosts (even if they do leave you alone in a haunted house).