Friday, June 05, 2009

Buttercup to Bubbles in one date

After putting it off for almost a week, I finally picked up the phone to call Buttercup. It was weird not being overwhelmed with anxiety. Maybe this was to my advantage. Since I'd never met Buttercup, it was impossible to come to the conclusion that she was a goddess who belonged on a pedestal. All I knew about Buttercup was that her roommate went to high school with Indiana Jones.

I read over my pre-written answering machine statement one last time and punched in her number. Our hero had entered the game again.

"Hello," sang an angel. With a calming phone voice like that, I could talk to her all day!

"Hi," I said. "Is Buttercup there?" Please be Buttercup! Please be Buttercup!

"One sec, I'll get her. Who is this?"

"It's Debacle." Damn, there's no way Buttercup could compete with that voice. I preferred her roommate already!

"Buttercup, Debacle's on the phone!" announced the voice of sweet Rapunzel.

"I'll be right there," replied a troll. I imagined an eight foot tall Buttercup wielding a club in one hand and yanking the phone away with the other. "Hi Debacle, how's it going," grunted Buttercup.

Buttercup's voice really wasn't so bad that it sounded like she belonged under a bridge. However, compared to her roommate, it was deep and coarse. Why was I making such a fuss about what she sounded like? I guess there wasn't anything else to be over-analytical about... yet. "Not bad. How about yourself?"

"I'm good," said Buttercup.

What was I supposed to talk about? Should I have been making idle chit chat? Is this a getting to know you call or should I just set up a date and bail? "So, how's the Ace Deuce treating you?"

"Getting used it."

"That's good," I said. This was brutal. What are you supposed to say to someone you've never met? Maybe I was jumping the gun, but it was time to wrap this up. "Ummm... so do you want to grab lunch on Sunday?"

"Sure. Can we get it near south campus? I have a study group in the afternoon."

"No problem," I said. "Let's see... over there you've got China House, Pizza Gate and Great Lakes Deli."

"Those all sound good."

"Where do you want to grab it at?" I realized the double-entendre as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

Buttercup laughed uncomfortably. Our hero was back in familiar territory.

* * *

I was glad that Buttercup selected China House. Its quaint but crowded atmosphere gave it an informal feel, making it an ideal location for a blind lunch date. The only complaint I ever had about that restaurant was that after you finished eating, the wait staff would sometimes give you dirty looks until you gave up your table. I supposed that wasn't so terrible - if Buttercup displayed any troll-like tendencies, I'd have an excuse to head out.

As I approached China House, I spotted a short girl with frizzy dark hark standing outside the door.
"Are you Debacle?" she asked, voice sounding far more normal than I'd expected.

"Buttercup?" " I asked.

She nodded.

"Nice to meet you," I said, extending my hand. Maybe you weren't supposed to start a blind date with a handshake, because she hesitated for a moment before clasping my hand. Ugh, Here we go again...

Thankfully, at barely over five feet, Buttercup bore no resemblance to a troll. I like to pretend I'm not overly superficial, but I doubt it would work with an eight foot tall woman who looked like an evil fairy tale creature - especially if she ate General Tso's chicken off her club.

Once we'd ordered, I asked Buttercup all about the school of Public Health. She went over all kinds of horrible scenarios in which super viruses and bacteria could mutate and destroy us all. Eventually, Buttercup wanted to get a job with the CDC where she could help to prevent the destruction of civilization.

I wasn't particularly attracted to her, but that could change as we spent more time together. Did I want to? Apocalyptic diseases made for interesting conversation. Around the time the waitress dropped off the check, I decided that Buttercup had made it to round two.

She looked at her watch. "I've got to meet my group soon."

"Okay," I said as I inspected the bill. Paying for a first date could be awkward. Some girls' egalitarian sensibilities would be insulted by a guy who insisted upon picking up the check. Others would accept nothing less than a chivalrous treat. It was up to the dude to figure out the least offensive way to handle the bill.

I pulled my wallet out.

"How much do I owe?" Buttercup asked. Her polite opening was as standard as leading with the king's pawn. The payment dance was on.

"I've got it," I countered. Her next move would show her hand.

She shook her head. "No, that's okay. How much do I owe?"

Egalitarian it was. "It's 16 total," I said. "So, eight each plus tip. Tip is ummm... about three bucks"

"But mine cost more - yours was vegetarian."

"By less than a dollar," I said. "We can call it even."

She yanked the bill out of my hand and poured over it. Geez, she could've just asked me for it.

At least I could still take care of tip. I threw down two singles on the table.

"Now you're paying more than me for tip!" she exclaimed. Buttercup got up and darted to the register, dodging waitresses and patrons along the way. I wasn't sure what to do, so I followed. "We want to pay separately," she said, startling a waitress as she ran a customer's credit card.

If it was this difficult to figure out a check, I hated to think how Buttercup would react if I burnt some popcorn or left the toilet seat up. So much for round two. Oh well - I was planning on going out with Bubbles soon anyway.

I was a bit embarrassed about how I met Bubbles. After returning from The City of Wind, I put up a profile on this online dating website called Tribe Date. When I first heard about Tribe Date, it seemed like a place for desperate losers to advertise how lonely they were. Still, I felt that the best way to get past The Axis of Evil was to put myself out there - even if it meant joining the ranks of the desperate losers.

The opening of my two paragraph long profile had turned into an all Saturday afternoon activity. I tried to think up clever ways to make myself sound like an easygoing, nice Tribal dude. After numerous attempts, I gave up on trying to be subtle and settled on:

I've been described as the quintessential nice Tribal boy. I work really hard, but make a point of enjoying the hilarious moments that make up each day.

From there - I went into how I'm looking for someone who can challenge me, put up with my college football obsession and tolerate how I relate every waking moment to a Seinfeld episode.

Giving money to a service in order to get a date was a little too close to prostitution for my taste. I went the free route which allowed me to get emails from paying members, but didn't allow me to contact anyone. Even though there was no way to get in touch with anyone on the site, I spent a while looking at profiles. How was I supposed to determine if I wanted to date someone from a picture and a few paragraphs? Low maintenance could in reality be absurdly high maintenance. What if their face had been touched up or the picture had been taken before they began eating half a dozen doughnuts for breakfast every morning. Would someone who claimed to be down to earth realize it if they weren't? How did I know I was actually looking at a girl's profile? Some dude could be playing a practical joke. For that matter, who's to say the MCP from Tron wasn't having a little fun?

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