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April Fools #3: Sunday brunch

April 5, 2010

I met Matt on Match.com 4 summers ago, during which I’d paid for a 60-day membership and was determined to get my money’s worth. That summer, I went on dozen of first dates, many of which I’ll probably revisit in the next month. Out of all those, I went on 4 second dates, 2 third dates, and wound up with one crazy ex. Worst 60 bucks I’ve ever spent.

Matt and I emailed back and forth for about two weeks and then exchanged numbers, and we’d texted a few times. Then he dropped off the face of the earth for a week, which he later excused by saying he was “really busy.” He had a law degree, but was unemployed and not actively seeking a job. I don’t know how busy one can truly be in that situation, but whatever.

We finally made plans to go to brunch, and he chose the same restaurant where I’d gone to dinner a few months before with Chris from speed dating. New Brunswick–not a good town for mid-priced cuisine. There are dozens of places that are super cheap and super expensive, but not many in the middle. It was either that or Harvest Moon, and I think I’d eaten the entire menu at Harvest Moon twice by that point.

Matt and I planned to meet at a Starbucks around the corner. I poked my head inside and didn’t see anyone that looked like him. There was a guy outside on a bench but he already had a cup of coffee and a paper and didn’t look like he was waiting for anyone. I sat down near him and waited. And waited. Fifteen minutes after we were supposed to meet up, and just when I was considering leaving, Matt walked up.  Right away I could see that he didn’t really look like his pictures. In his photos he looked athletic, toned, and kind of babyfaced. In real life, he looked like he’d hit the weights a little too much lately. That, along with the telltale bad skin and facial bloating, told me that he probably wasn’t unfamiliar with steroids. This was a new situation. I’d met people who had gained weight since they took their pics, but usually it was in the form of fat, not muscle. Either way–not a pleasant surprise.

We were seated near the back of the restaurant because we weren’t going to do the Sunday brunch buffet but decided to order from the menu instead. Matt bitched about that and then bitched about the menu. I asked him if he’d rather do the buffet, but he declined.

My phone rang, and I cringed because I usually turn it off or to silent on dates. Of all people, it was my most recent ex. I sent him to voicemail.

Matt ordered a Caesar salad that he bitched about the entire time he was eating it, yet still cleaned his plate. I don’t remember a single positive thing he said during brunch. Some of his bitching took the form of witty observations that I agreed with to a point, but still…I was rather turned off by his negativity, and it was getting a little loud and embarrassing. For example, a family behind us had kids with them, and they weren’t too unruly, but he made a point of turning to look at them and then loudly pointing out how some people couldn’t control their children. I wanted to hide.

Meanwhile, my ex had called again (with the phone on vibrate this time). I didn’t think it was an emergency, but  I wondered just what on earth he could possibly want.

The waitress took a while to notice when we were ready for the check and predictably, Matt bitched loudly about the service. This was getting more than a little old.

Matt had parked at a different garage, so we said goodbye without fanfare at a street corner. I don’t think he was overwhelmingly impressed with me (or anything, really) and I wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed with him. Even though we said, “Let’s do it again sometime,” just getting this first date together had been an exercise in patience that I didn’t want to repeat.

I called my ex back as I walked to the car. “What do you want?” I asked, exasperated.

“Dude, did you see us at Rafferty’s?”

“What are you talking about?”

Turns out, my ex and his best friend had borne witness to this dud of a date, two tables over. I hadn’t seen them at all, but they saw me and Matt and managed to slip out unseen shortly before we left. It was embarrassing enough to be out in public with Mr. Simmering ‘Roid Rage, but having an ex see that? The retroactive embarrassment turned that date from “meh, wouldn’t want to do that again” to “argh, wish I could erase that memory.”

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