(an entry for the OnDisplay
collab. February's topic was "disaster dates")
3 February 2003
I suppose there are several ways to take a subject like "disaster dates." My
immediate thought was to go against expectation and take it literally. July 14, 1986, May
18, 1996, April 20, 1999....February 2, 2003. The dates when death hit, and hit
hard. But I've done death...well, to death in this journal and I'm sure I can be a
bit more creative than rehashing old material, as tempting as that might be.
So I started thinking about my dating life, such as it was. When you go to an all
girls' school and are shy there aren't a lot of opportunities to learn about dating. We
were forbidden to mix with the boys' school two blocks away (though the "normal"
girls did, and took detention when caught). I began dating Bill when I was 13, because he
was the nephew of our next door neighbor. I dated him for 3 years, which took the pressure
off of having to learn the whole flirting-and-dating scene. It was a nice predictable
relationship. We'd talk on the phone once or twice during the week, maybe see each other
on the weekends once--not every weekend. And that was fine with me. It was all very
He entered the seminary at the end of my junior year in high school, which left me
unattached. For my Senior Prom, I invited the next door neighbor. It wasn't exactly a
"disaster date," but a real "nothing date." I don't even remember
dancing with him.
Toward the end of my senior year, I landed the romantic lead in the school play. We
always had to import guys for the male roles from the aforementioned boys' school. But
they couldn't find my romantic lead, so expanded the search to the public schools and
Randy showed up. In my naivete, it never occurred to me that he was gay (a fact I pieced
together, in retrospect, thinking of the things that had been "wrong" with us),
but obviously the gaydar that became honed in later years was humming because we hit it
off right away and we "dated" (I'm sure I made a good cover for him) for several
months until I started college.
When I moved to Berkeley to begin school, I chose the smallest dorm on campus. They had
just built new dorm complexes with multi-hundred rooms and huge dining facilities. I chose
the 60 room unit at the top of the long hill. The Smyth-Fernwall complex. (Lord--was I in
Smyth or Fernwall...I'm sure Char, who was our grad resident, will remind me!)
There was a men's dorm in the complex as well and we did get together in the dining
I don't remember how I happened to be talking to him. I don't remember his name. And I
don't remember anything about him except that he might have played football, because he
had that build. He was obviously sizing up the new freshman and I wasn't too bad to look
at in those days.
There was a hayride coming up and he invited me to go with him. It seemed all very
strange. I'd never had casual dates before. I'd only dated three people to that
time--Bill, the one date with the neighbor, and gay Randy.
In truth, I wasn't sure I wanted to date him, but I never learned how to say
"no," so the date was arranged.
Then the tittering began in my dorm. Apparently this guy was a real lothario and preyed
on unsuspecting innocents like me. I don't know how much of that was true--maybe he really
was a nice guy--but as the day of the hay ride grew closer, my panic level rose and I was
terrified. I don't remember even talking to him between the time he invited me to
go to the hayride with him and the actual night of the date.
If that guy were writing this piece, he'd very definitely be talking about that night
as his very worst date ever. Char, my now-good friend, was along on the hayride as a
chaperon and I really don't remember how the evening progressed but I stuck to her like
glue (ruining her date as well!). Not only did my "date" not get to first
base, he never even got out of the dugout. I kept a wide distance between us, I looked for
excuses to be elsewhere. I hated every single minute and was terrified if he even looked
Needless to say, I was never invited on a date by any other guy in the men's dorm in
the year and a half I lived there. And that was just fine with me.
I never did become expert at the dating scene. Just never learned how it was done. But
by the time I discovered the Newman Club, we began traveling in packs, going everywhere in
groups and that was decidedly more comfortable.
(And I've never gone on another hayride!)