>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
March 11, 2007

Ever been on a really bad date? I’m not referring to the time you had to sit through an hour of dull conversation with Boris the Brain. Or the time your date got sick and said she had to leave early, only to discover her doing shots with her friends later at another bar hanging on the arm of another guy. I’m talking about a date where everything that can go wrong did go wrong. Where it seems like the universe is deliberately seeking to destroy not your self-esteem but your very existence. This is a true story about my worst date ever. It even trumps the date I got so drunk I peed on myself—but not by much.

The day started out quite ordinarily. I got a call from my friend, “Callie,” whose boyfriend, “Dan,” had a friend in town, “Jack.” She asked me to come over that night on a double date. Callie described Jack as, “A charming, slightly funny, works in advertising, good looking, in town for the weekend only, good looking, and unlike most of the hockey guys you date, has all of his teeth.” Sold. Sign me up. After all, it’s just cocktails, dinner, and a show. How bad could it possibly be?

It’s Chicago, summertime. I am a vision in a light green dress, tan sandals, and a dazzling smile. Like Jack, I have all my teeth as well. I get out of the cab, give myself a once over in the window and begin walking toward the restaurant. Like most trendy, overpriced, sushi restaurants, they’re using only the bare minimum of electricity to light the place up. It takes a couple of moments for my eyes to adjust, but my pupils don’t catch up to my feet and where I suspect there is solid floor beneath me there is actually one stair. One. And down I go.

“I suddenly turn into a magician. From my bosoms emerge several clumps of white rice and chunks of spicy tuna.”

It takes me about a full half minute to realize that I am lying ass up on the floor. I feel a cool breeze on my behind and someone pull my dress from over my head and back over my butt. Dazed and startled my immediate thought is, “What the hell happened and where is my other shoe?” The snooty host looks at me with disdain as I lift myself up and start looking around for my missing sandal. Callie rushes up to my side and asks if I’m alright. With the wind still knocked out of me I manage to sputter out, “Shoe.” I repeat this as if calling for a lost puppy dog. The host asks if I need anything—a glass of water, a cup of coffee, a seeing eye dog. I reassure him several times that I don’t need anything, and that I am not drunk. Just clumsy. He looks on unconvinced.

Callie retrieves my shoe that landed a good ten feet from where I fell and discovers that the heel has broken off it. It can’t be fixed. We rush to the bathroom to come up with a game plan and readjust myself. Always the realist, Callie says to me, “Let’s jump in a cab for two blocks, buy some new shoes at Marshall Fields and come back.” Great idea in theory, but my bank account balance does not runneth over. If I buy shoes, I can’t stay for dinner. If I stay for dinner, I’ll be walking around with a severe limp and mocked by the entire Chicago community for my bad shoe fortune.

I insist that I should just go home and start over when suddenly the bathroom door swings open and for a moment I catch a glimpse of Jack at the bar. To say that Jack is slightly good looking is like looking at the Mona Lisa and saying, “Eh. I could paint better.” Because Jack looked like he was ripped from the pages of an Abercrombie advertisement, with the charm and handsome oozing right out of every pour of his smooth, slightly tan skin. Fuck the broken shoe. Give me a Sharpie marker and I’ll draw an outline of a shoe on my feet if it means spending an evening with him. I turn to Callie who is now trying to reattach the heel to the shoe using small amounts of saliva. I pull off my one good shoe and break the other heel off it by slamming it on the bathroom counter. Voila! No severe limpage for me tonight.

Several re-adjustments of my dress and hair later I am ready to re-enter society. My shoes are still uncomfortably uneven but it’s not too terrible. Dan and Jack both get up from the bar to greet us. Jack gives me the once over and says, “I thought you said she was blonde.” Huh? Am I a show pony? I recover quickly from the insult and blurt out, “Callie probably said I was graceful too, but not so much,” then cock my head to the side and laughlightly. He responds with a blank look, except for his furrowed brow that let’s me know he’s trying to imagine what I would look like blonde and wearing shoes that don’t scratch up the polished wood floors.

Our table is ready. Dan pulls out the chair for Callie. Jack sits down next to Callie and immediately asserts himself on the wine list. Dan offers me a reassuring smile, and I use the flicker of hope left in me to salvage the night with my stellar conversational skills. Jack orders a carafe of sake wine for the table. Ten minutes and two glasses later I am bright, bubbly, and full of hope again. I am pouring my third glass when Dan, in the middle of his story telling, bumps my right elbow with his left arm and knocks the rest of the sake all over my crotch.

Clicking wildly on the floor and looking like I had wet myself, I flail to the bathroom to dry myself off. There’s no hand dryer to speed up the process, so I am forced to head back to the table with a sake-soaked ensemble. Dan apologizes profusely; I place my napkin on my lap insisting it’s fine. Our sushi had arrived since my last trip to the bathroom. I pick up the chopsticks and get the first two pieces of spicy tuna roll in my mouth successfully. On the third piece I misplace my grip and half of the sushi rice falls onto the top part of my dress. The other half falls straight down my dress. I am a Japanese smorgasbord.

I quickly start dabbing at the soy sauce with a wet napkin. Jack stares at me open-mouthed as my hand reaches into my bosom and I suddenly turn into a magician. Only instead of pulling a cute rabbit from a hat, from my bosoms emerge several clumps of white rice and chunks of spicy tuna. I glance at my reflection in the window next to me. Now, not only does it look like I have urinated all over myself and chewed off my shoes, but it appears as though I am lactating from my left breast and left breast only.

I’d like this to be the part where I say Jack sees past my misfortune and dark brown hair to see the real, funny, pulled together, me. But fate is not on my side, for he slipped his card to the platinum blonde waitress right in front of me. I return to the bathroom once again with Callie, plop myself down on the toilet in one of the stalls, and start feeling sorry for myself. Callie, armed only with optimistic encouragement, tells me that Jack has a tiny penis and ridiculously huge testes. I laugh and get up off the toilet. Immediately I feel the back of my legs soaked with water. I turn around to look at my backside. It seems that while sitting on the toilet, the back bottom of my dress slipped into it. Callie starts to laugh hysterically, as sake wine soaks into my crotch, soy sauce continues to oil my boob, and toilet water drips off my backside. Why pay to see an improv show when you can watch me humiliate myself for free?

Enough was enough. I dump my shoes in the garbage, walk out of the restaurant barefoot and covered in wet stains, jump into a cab and watch the rest of Chicago enjoy their evening from the car window.

Currently, Callie and Dan are engaged. They spend their weekends picking out IKEA furniture and tell this story at dinner parties to very amused crowds of people. That waitress ended up enjoying Jack’s enormous testes because they continue to date to this day. The dress, much like my self-esteem, was ruined, and never fully recovered.

So, regardless of how bad your bad day has been, remember that somewhere out there the universe is trying to turn some poor hopeful girl into a Japanese meal, and then succeeding in dunking her into the toilet when that fails.