FDL Late Nite: Worst. Date. Ever.
I think my worst date ever was with a gay Republican (not counting my last date with a woman, when we went to see Titanic: quite the metaphor, eh?).
The time: spring or summer of 2000. I was single in those days, and trying to move beyond the bar and club scene to meet some people for good, old fashioned dating. I'd set up a profile on one of those online singles sites, where I'd been contacted by what seemed to be an attractive guy a few years younger than me in his late 20's. Judging by his picture, he even reminded me of the first guy I dated, which for some reason I can't recall, I took at the time as some kind of a plus.
The first guy I'd ever dated was someone I'd already come to refer to among my friends as "the Hologram": he looked like a person, but there was nothing really there. Granted, since he was my first boyfriend, I had been ready to commit my life to him on the first date. I was at the time a total rookie, having wasted years of my life trying to think away the gay. Delayed adolescence is a bitch. My first boyfriend was a perpetually nervous, Tagamet-popping type who never could make up his mind about a breakfast order at a diner, let alone about anything related to dating: a pattern many local wags had observed in him even after our "relationship" went busto. I was a piker, but he was a wanker.
Did I mention that first boyfriend was a gay Republican with a political patronage job for the local Republican mayor, having worked full time as a volunteer and then a paid staffer for said mayor's campaign? He was out to his friends but oh-so-discrete around his Ashcrofty, wingnutty family in Missouri. Anyway, back to my Worst. Date. Ever.
I get this guy's email and the link to his profile. He has a master's in. . . something, I forget what. Nice. His picture looked very attractive. Nice. I don't remember what the profile said but it seemed promising enough. I should have noticed how long that profile had been active: I don't remember exactly, but it had been a looong time. If he was all that, I should have realized he would have been snatched up by now, but dating means always hoping, right?
So, we chat on the phone, yadda yadda, and set up a first date for dinner (more on that tactical error later). But he did not live far away, and his building was not far from a bunch of restaurants I knew, so I told him I'd pick him up and we'd head out. He liked American grill type food, and I knew just the place.
When he came out of the building, I experienced the whiplash all too familiar to veterans of online dating: YOU are the person in THIS picture?!!
Okay, maybe he just really, really
photoshopped photographed well. He didn't look bad, he just did not look like the beaming hottie in the picture. I was in a place where I was trying to get past surface hotness to get to know people better, so hey, it's a date, roll with it, keep an open mind. Right? Right?
During the ride to the restaurant I learned he was really into politics. A Log Cabin Republican, in fact. Friends with Rich Tafel, then the LCR president or whatever his title was. Into the political junior high of who's-in, who's out, not of the closet, but of the kool kids klub at the gay Republican lunch table. For Bush over Gore in the coming election, blithely spouting all the Washington Post talking points about Gore being a humorless, hapless phony. I learned all this in the .55 mile ride from his condo building to the restaurant. Oy.
Now, at the time, I did not have much of a political consciousness to speak of, but I knew I was for Gore over Bush. I knew Bush was a liar and an idiot, chock full of shit and no friend of the working
girl gay. But it was a date, and I was working on not prejudging people, so I met these revelations with a non-commital but generally empathetic series of statements like, "Oh, really?", "You don't say?", "Well, I never would have thought of that!"
Evidently, I must have done a good job of making him feel safe, safe enough to unleash his true self by the time our waiter, a wonderfully dishy ex-drag queen whom I'd never known to suffer bouts of speechless self-restraint, came to take our drink order. Here's what happened:
Waiter: Can I get you anything to drink?
My date: (Bill Clinton voice) I'll just have a ruummm and coke.
I heard it. The waiter heard it. He was doing a Bill Clinton impersonation, in that kind of semi-gravelly southern sweet chocolate milkshake kind of voice, the way all the late nite teevee comedians of the time had done when impersonating the finger wagging, "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky" thing. As impersonations go, it was good enough to be recognizable, but just off-key enough to be unspeakably dorky, not to mention about as socially appropriate as a loud, long, wet fart: FFFFFTTTTTTHHHHHHBBBBBBBBTTTTT!. It was like the wingnut version of a dweeby Ninja Turtle yell or something. I faked careless amusement as my date beamed back at me, eyes locked on mine, exceedingly pleased and impressed with himself. This, I knew, was his claim to fame among the Log Cabin Republican set. Oy.
Waiter: (Deadpan) Okay, rum and coke it is. . . And you, sir?
My drag queen waiter friend shot a look at me like he'd just totally busted me, read me out up and down in .07 seconds flat, daggers in his eyes, but outwardly an air of forced, professional detachment. Brutal.
Me: Ah, I'll have a Ketel One on the rocks, with lime.
My date: (Bill Clinton voice) That sounds real good! (snorts and guffaws).
Me: Uh, two limes, please. Make it a double.
Exit Waiter, turning smartly, never looking back.
My date kept up with the Clinton impersonation throughout the meal, explaining that, indeed, it was a riotous hit among his friends. He kept at it. It was like a date with the ventriloquist's dummy. This guy could not get out of "character." I ordered a Caesar salad with grilled chicken, quickest from the kitchen. He foiled me by ordering. . . something else that took longer, I forget what. I was busy visualizing rolling surf and soothing beaches, trying to escape the nightmare gay Republican nerd-o-rama sitting directly across from me. After dinner, I made up a lame excuse for making an early night of it and stayed sober enough to get his crazy ass home right away, .55 miles at 60 mph. And then I stopped home long enough to change into a trashy, tight muscle tee before heading to the clubs.
I learned a few things from this. First, always, always, always set up a first date for drinks or coffee, not dinner, so you can make a quicker escape if necessary. Second, never, never, never date a gay Republican. They harbor a deep core of shame and self-hate, and must compartmentalize their lives to such a degree that they by definition lack emotional health and integrity: