It had all the makings of a meet-cute tale: zoning out to Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" on my iPod on a packed train, when the cute guy next to me motioned for me to take off my headphones. Two stops later, I had a date for the following night.
Walking to the restaurant to meet him, I was giddy. I was hopeful! And an hour later, I was profusely apologizing to an angry waiter, signing a receipt for two entrees and two orders of sake.
I didn't see it coming. True, the date hadn't gone particularly well, so I was surprised when he offered to pick up the check. But he insisted. I insisted too. But he insisted once more, so I thanked him and excused myself to the ladies room. When I came out, he had his coat on, ready to go.
"Do you need change or anything?"
"Nope, I'm all set!" All set, we started to walk out. He seemed to be in a bit of rush, walking quickly a few paces ahead of me. By the time we reached the door, he had broken into a slow jog, the waiter behind us.
You guys, it took me a while to understand what had happened. Perhaps I'm a little naive, but I truly could not wrap my head around the notion that my date had attempted to (literally!) run out on the check. And my date must have found me naive as well, because when I turned to him and gave him my best WTF? face, this is what he said:
"Oh…I thought I paid, but I guess I must not have."
"I find this difficult to believe," I said. I'm a very patient person.
To his credit, he tried to make things right! In fact, he reached into his wallet, pulled out a card, and handed it to the waiter, asking him to put "$15 on this, and the rest on hers." Why $15? Oh, because it wasn't a credit card he gave to the waiter, it was one of those prepaid gift cards you can buy a grocery store checkout. But no matter, because it turned out that his gift card actually had zero dollars on it, as the waiter patiently explained when he came back. That's how he said it. "Sir, I'm sorry, but your gift card has zero dollars on it."
I paid the bill myself (with a real credit card) and went outside. I was really angry but I must have hidden it well, because when I said I was leaving, he said "Really? I was hoping we could continue hanging out tonight." And I was like, really? WHERE? But I didn't really mean it as "Indeed! Where to next?" I meant it more like "Where would we go? The ATM? Ahhhh I hate you." But I didn't say that because, like I mentioned before, I'm a very patient person. And he said, "You should come to my place in Queens."
You guys! His place in Queens. He wanted me to come to his place in Queens. And I'm sorry to keep going on like this, I really am, but this is one of those "and THEN…" stories, because and THEN he tried to kiss me. And THEN, when I pulled off a truly spectacular Matrix-style lean-back to avoid it and was like "oh, I'm not really sure this is going to work because of the running out on the check thing?" he got mad at me and called me a goody-two-shoes. And THEN he took it back and apologized and asked me out again. And THEN later that night he called me four times and left a voicemail saying he had made reservations for us for the next night.
And THEN the next day I told my friend what happened and her response was "well at least you get a story out of it?" and look, I did, and now my pain is your pain and I feel closer to you already.
Previously: Sex Tips Inspired by Women's Magazines.
Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.
Photo via Flickr