It’s been a while since I tossed a Thursday question out to the cosmos… But it was fun and I need to come out of my cave a little, so let’s try one of these and see what happens. I’m rusty, out of practice, and yes, I know it’s Friday. But Friday is traditionally date night, so let’s take that idea and run with it with First Date Fail.
Not because the relationship failed, not because you never called them again, but because, in hindsight, that particular date maybe didn’t go as well as you had planned, hoped, or expected the universe to write for you like a hollywood moment. Yeah, that date.
While not every relationship succeeds, they all have a unique beginning. From a 50-year marriage to a blind date you can’t wait to forget, they all have some shred of a story to tell. Here’s your chance. Let me oil these squeaky hinges and give you a giggle before I bat my eyelashes and ask you to entertain me back.
A boy once asked me out while I was working—while I was at work. I said no. He asked again an hour later. I said no. He told me we could just go to a graduation party for a mutual friend and nothing else, just spend time together. I hemmed and hawed and said “Fine. But I have to be back here by 2am.” After all, my car was parked there at work and I would need it. Eventually. Right?
So we went to the party, talked to other people more than each other, and got back in the truck. We did not go back to my car. Instead, we decided we hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk to each other, so we drove around. Now mind you, I was new to this town and within five minutes was completely lost on the backroads he seemed to wander down like he had personally named them. I didn’t know if he was a serial killer taking me to my final resting place or not, and caught myself sizing him up to see if there was a chance I could take him. I didn’t think so. I was doomed. And the conversation continued as he distracted my pessimistic thoughts with interesting topics and comments that made me laugh. It was actually going fairly well…
Until the rabbit.
Those backroads were dark. The wildlife doesn’t understand roads are for vehicles, not them. And before I could gasp and he could brake, there was a *thump thump* as the front and back driver’s tires turned bunny foo-foo into road pizza. Now, things happen. Animals get hit. It’s not unusual. But when he stopped to make sure it was dead, to which I found him chivalrous as he didn’t want the animal to suffer, I learned this was not only unusual but the chivalry was questionable.
He got out and reached into the bed of the truck, pulling free a mini baseball bat.
“What is that?” I’m pretty sure my eyes were about the size of the moon.
“My little thumper.”
“Your what? What’s that for?” (Did you know if you furrow your eyebrows hard enough it actually hurts?)
“In case it’s not dead.”
“You’re going to kill it again?”
I’m pretty sure he answered, but in the years since, it has become part of the blur that followed. I buried my face in my hands and began rethinking the serial killer questions. I tried to block the world out, but from outside the truck I heard *KER-RACK!* followed by a slew of profanity and the most horrible noise I’ve ever heard.
A dying bunny does NOT make a happy noise. Nor can it just die quietly like an over-acting B-movie star hoping to get noticed. Oh no. It makes this hideous cry and sounds like rubber bands snapping against rocks inside the throat of a child being throttled while their toddler sibling stands nearby screaming at the top of their tiny lungs. To reiterate, it is NOT a pleasant noise. There was another *thump* sound and the horrific noises stopped.
A double bang in the bed of the truck and the door slamming pulled me from the happy place I had forced myself to go.
“Oh my god.” I looked at this boy. He was tall, he was dark, he was nice, and he had just destroyed an animal on our first date.
“I know, right? Pisses me off.”
“What?” I was so confused at that point I likely looked like a teenage boy in the girl’s locker room—both confused and intrigued.
So it turned out, the *ker-rack* I had heard was him missing the bunny, hitting the road with his “thumper” instead of hitting Thumper, and breaking it in two. He was mad because he broke his little critter club. He hit it cleanly with the second attempt and only half the bat, thus putting it out of it’s misery.
I nervously laughed about the whole thing and we drove on, getting me back to my car eventually—though 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. are not the same thing. I nervously laughed about it for a couple years actually. Eventually, I started wondering if that hadn’t been my warning, my red flags, my runanddonotlookback moment for this relationship. But then I wouldn’t have my two beautiful children. Yeah… that was their dad for those of you who know him. For those of you who only know “of” him, you’re not shocked, so don’t pretend.
I don’t remember much of that first date, other than the sound of a dying bunny and the truly deep-seated desire that developed to never ever ever hear that noise again. Red flags I ignored? Blood, murder, mayhem, and the possibility of being victim to a serial killer? Yeah, I’m going to call that ‘first date fail.’ But it makes for a fun story, sorta.
Now then, entertain me… red flags missed on a first date? Horrible first date you ran from and never looked back? You know you’ve had at least one horrible evening you may have actually paid for the privilege to have. Share with the class…
Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire burn, and caldron bubble
~ Shakespeare (Macbeth — witches’ spell)
A long time ago, in a land far far away, I was a kid who loved Halloween. I loved all things spooky and ooky and on that one glorious day of the year, I was allowed to act it out any way I wanted to—costumes, parties, movies, you name it. Over the years, I’ve had a veritable cornucopia of costumes—my earliest memory is the sheet-ghost, in which I face-planted in a mud puddle and accidentally turned into a swamp monster. As a young adult, I still dressed up but went to parties instead of trick-or-treating. Then I had two little creatures of my very own and Halloween became about their costumes, even though I was still dressing up with them to chaperone their candy-begging activities at strange houses which were suddenly deemed safe just because the owner has a porch light on and a bucket full of fun-sized* chocolate bars.
I often started their costumes in July. After all, this was Halloween, and that meant serious business. My little creatures were every classic monster over the years, as in the picture—some amazing, some I still get grief for (how many times can I apologize for the mummy vs. hot glue incident?). They dabbled in modern horror, with Carrie and Edward Scissorhands. They enjoyed the trick-or-treating, the costumes, the decorating (as my mother once said, “only in your house is it normal to hear someone scold a child and tell them to get out of a coffin”). They loved all of it with me. The spooky, the ooky… the energy.
And then they grew up. My daughter is celebrating her first Halloween as a mother this year. She’s in charge of the costumes and trick-or-treating now. My son is back in that land far far away for the season, third year running unfortunately. And I’m here. Buying candy and preparing to sit on the porch and ooh and ahh at all the little costumed monsters who come begging for my wares. I’ve got a costume to wear while I peddle my fun-sized treats. And while there’s some minor decoration, I was out of town for a good chunk of October, so for the first time in what feels like my entire life, there is no graveyard in my dying grass.
It’s Halloween. It’s October. It’s horror madness 24/7. But something just doesn’t feel right, and it’s not the lack of a graveyard. It hasn’t felt right for a couple years. Last night, I finally figured it out. I have empty pumpkin syndrome. I’ve entered the next stage of Halloween and find I have no idea how to celebrate. It’s a strange feeling. I don’t like it. I have no monsters to dress up and take trick-or-treating. I have no parties to attend. I feel as if I’m celebrating the same holiday as everyone else, but from a strange bubble. If I’m lucky, in the next 24 hours, I’ll figure out how to feel like I’m a part of the holiday I love, rather than feeling like a bystander. An interloper. A ghost.
In the meantime, it’s still my favorite holiday. I won’t go to the day job on this sacred day (I’ll work Christmas, I do not work on Halloween). I’ll watch the traditional movies during the day while I’m setting up, and end the night with my beloved Michael Myers. In between, I’ll hand out candy and take pictures of the best costumes… and in case I don’t come online again until November, may all of you have a magnificent Halloween — full of costumes and candy and that one moment when you truly jump at something, because after all, “It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”
*Nod to my nephew, who once claimed Halloween candy is NOT fun-sized. “If it were the size of my house, then it would be fun size!” He had a point and I’ll never forget that comment.