In the words of the late Paul Harvey, “And now, the rest of the story…”
I was supposed to meet BroLightEyes at Tyson’s Corner one evening after work for an early dinner and a movie. We had chatted on the phone a few times, and I immediately was drawn to him because of his smooth, baritone voice. In his online photo, BroLightEyes had captivatingly hazel eyes and a great smile. I could not wait to meet him. On that fateful day, I drove to Tyson’s Corner, parked the car strategically facing the incoming traffic and primped in the mirror while I waited. I was dressed to impress, well-coiffed hair, lip gloss gleaming. BroLightEyes wouldn’t be able to resist me.
I sensed disaster when I spotted a beat-up white car sputtering around the corner. My heart sank. It was BroLightEyes. How did I know? Those hazel eyes were blazing. He was studying me as if I was his prey. BroLightEyes parked his car and got out, and as he approached, he chucked a hocking wad of spit across the parking lot. Everything I thought was attractive about him dissipated. He had on a brown leather bomber jacket, and a dull brown shirt-and-tie ensemble. It was 90 degrees outside! He adjusted his hanging work badge around his neck just so that I was able to see that BroLightEyes was Mel Jones, Jr., a Network Security contractor with Lockheed Martin. I supposed he expected that would turn me on. As I watched him shuffle towards my car, my hopes for the date evaporated in the warm, late spring air.
Mel seemed much older and wearier than he appeared in his pictures online, about a decade or two older than what he had put in his profile. He walked like “old Arthur” was getting the best of him, yet he was trying to strut like he was some hip cat from the 70s. Totally deflated yet compelled to go through with the date, I trudged along as Mel wandered through department stores looking for furniture for his new apartment.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Mel warbled along with Sam Cooke whose voice floated from the store speakers. I could tell by Mel’s stupid grin and his winking eye, it was going to be a long time going.
During our aimless walk through Tyson’s Corner, Mel made several attempts to grab my hand. My mother taught me never to hold hands with strangers. And so I didn’t.
While I was silently suffering, Mel was happy to have a companion he could drone on to about the ex-wife, the son she won’t let him see, the roommate with the vomit-spewing cat, the arthritic knee and persistent back pain, eye problems, knee problems, the on-again-off-again love affair with cigarettes, and a whole lot of other stuff I wasn’t listening to.
“I can’t believe it,” Mel said. “In a couple of weeks, I can’t wait to move into my very own apartment.”
Then he pumped his fist in the air with an awkwardness and utter lack of coordination that made me want to hide myself in the clearance bin.
“Finally!” He cheered.
What the eff?
Mel, who looked like he was old enough to have had a couple of his “very own apartments” already, didn’t have his own place? Never had his own place?
Mel grinned sheepishly and tried to tell me in his deep Mr. Smooth voice that he never had his own apartment. He sounded like Mr. Magoo.
“How old are you?” I blurted out, not caring what he thought of me asking such a question right behind his overdue declaration of independence.
“Well,” Mel sighed. “There’s something I need to tell you…”
I already figured it out, Mel, I thought. The good angel on my left shoulder was trying to tell me that Mel was just a year or two older than his profile stated. But the bad angel, who had become my best friend over the past hour, bet the good angel that Mel was much older than that. My money was with the bad angel.
The bad one was right.
Mel’s profile claimed he was 36. The joker admitted to being 49. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being 49. It’s a great age. But not for Mel. He actually could pass for much older.
As he talked and gestured, the big, dangling gold earring from his left ear bothered me. No man with the amount of gray hair that Mel had should be allowed to wear an earring that big or a leather bomber jacket in 80-degree weather.
“So did you want to grab some dinner?” Mel asked, gesturing towards The Cheesecake Factory. That was the first question he asked me the entire time we were together.
The Cheesecake Factory would have been a wonderful place to go for dinner with a date, but just not this date. Besides, it was Wednesday, Results Night on “American Idol.” Simon needed me. America needed me. And that became my perfect excuse to escape.
On the drive back to Baltimore, I reflected on my streak of bad luck with men I’ve met online and restaurants. There was a pattern here, a dangerous one.
Now MrBrandMan2U had a slightly skewed view of the world. He considered Horn & Horn and Red Lobster to be “upscale restaurants.” When he went out to for dinner, he brought his own special blend of Old Bay Seasoning and crushed Cayenne Peppers to restaurants and would send a little container in the back for the cook to season his crab legs with. He was so well-known throughout the restaurants in the area for being a BYOS (Bring Your Own Seasoning) patron, that they usually accommodated him.
I realized for sure that this cat wasn’t the one when he took me to a breakfast restaurant: Happy Family Restaurant. The name was a misnomer. Nothing was happy about that dump. It was a bland, blah-looking eatery, its style harkened back to the days of Howard Johnson and your local diner trapped in the 70s. Our server’s name was Velma, typical server name, I’d guess. She was a plump, surly-looking woman stuffed in an old-school pink waitress uniform complete with the frilly lace ruffles. She snarled at us as a form of welcoming us, and took our orders.
MrBrandMan2U was giddy. “This is going to be so much fun,” he chirped.
He asked for his milk to come out with his breakfast platter. Velma replied, “Oh you’re one of those types, huh?” Then she rolled her eyes and sauntered up to the counter. Stunned, I asked him if he thought she was being rude. Apparently, he didn’t.
“It’s part of the gimmick,” he said bouncing in his seat like a 4-year-old.
When our food came out, she slammed our plates on the table.
“Excuse me, you forgot our syrup,” MrBrandMan2U giggled like a third-grader.
“Go up to the counter and get it your damn self,” Velma barked, and walked off in a huff.
He was laughing hysterically. “That’s what they do here! They’re rude. On purpose!” MrBrandMan2U popped out of his seat, amused and very animated. “If you ask for anything extra, they make you go get it!”
Then Velma came stomping back to collect the tip from the people at the next table who seemed to enjoy being insulted as much as my date did.
“You forgot my milk,” he was on the edge of his seat waiting to be insulted.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in my life.
Velma put one hand on the table and the other on her hip, and assumed the I-Am-Black-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar stance.
She leaned in, and in a low voice filled with attitude, “Just like you took your happy ass up to the counter to get your damn syrup, you can carry your happy ass back up there to get your damn ‘I want it with my meal’ milk. It’s that simple.”
I lost my appetite.
MrBrandMan2U bounced and ate as the sound of rude waitresses insulting patrons ricocheted off the walls. He later said that was the best date he ever had at the Happy Family Restaurant. And not because of me. But because Velma cursed him out.
And he left her a tip!
The next morning, I logged into Scratch.com, clicked on “cancel profile”, and the computer screen frowned. “Are you sure you want to leave Scratch.com?” I clicked the “yes” button. “We will miss you,” the next screen chirped. “Are you sure?” I clicked “yes” again. “We can make your profile inactive in case you want to take some time off from the dating scene,” the screen chimed. “Are you sure you want to leave Scratch.com permanently?” Underneath the question was some syrupy blurb about being patient, remaining hopeful, and giving Scratch.com another chance. Once again, Scratch.com asked if I wanted to leave. I didn’t see a “Hell yes” button on the screen, so I just clicked “yes.”
And with that, Mocha1Mocha and her legion of online suitors – MillionaireBy40, BroLightEyes, SuaveRev007 and MrBrandMan2U – vanished. I was looking for Mr. Right, not Mr. Will-Do, Mr. Liquid-Crack-Seller-Slash-What-Does-He-Do-Anyway? or Mr. I-Am-Just-Getting-My-Own-Apartment-At-Age-One-Hundred-and-Six. It was obvious to me that Mr. Right wasn’t online. On a site like Scratch.com, he didn’t stand a chance again