Upper Eastside Date From Hell, Part One

In honor of Valentine's Day, Short Order offers a three-part story on a date gone wrong. This one is by writer Camille Lamb. Regular columnist Riki Altman will be back Friday with Part 2 of Lesbian Lady Love at Bourbon Steak..

My last boyfriend came into my life as a breezy hippie drummer. He quickly revealed himself as a border-line sociopathic deadbeat who continuously drained my income, threw furniture in eye-rolling anger fits, cheated on me with a coke-fiend VIP-bottle service waitress, and even stole the engraved iPod my sister had given me for Christmas (it literally had my freaking name on it!) before I finally succeeded in kicking him out.

Once the trauma abated, I decided it was time to get a little less romantic and a little more scientific in my approach to men. Up went the OkCupid.com profile.

Amid the dreck in my inbox, I eventually found a message from a guy who liked Kurt Vonnegut books and Alfred Hitchcock films. Ken's e-mails were eloquent and thoughtful. Having recently completed my first marathon, I was impressed that he was a tri-athlete and a kite surfer. His father was a physicist and his mother a stay-at-home wife (still married!). At any given time, he wrote, he was reading two different books. He liked to cook and was inquisitive about my diet. (I'm a vegan.)

At home during Thanksgiving, my younger sisters and I pored over his pictures and essays. They mostly approved. "Hmm, he sounds good. But look at his photos," Ava, my 25-year-old sis poked. "Doesn't he look like he's posing behind the desk, not like he's actually working there? I mean, look at the paintings on the wall. No one actually has paintings like that in their office."  

She had a point. The "paintings" were generic mauve decorator prints, the type found in very cheap motel rooms and the back shelves of Wal-Mart. And other than a computer, the desk was topped by nothing more than a ballpoint pen. The kite-surfing photos showing my potential date flying upside-down, ten feet over the water, were of professional quality. I suppressed the troubling suspicion that this otherwise qualified candidate had paid someone to take flattering photos of him for his OkCupid.com profile.

"Well anyway, our answers to compatibility questions are almost completely in line," I said.

"Almost?" Chloe, my 17-year-old sister, prodded.

"Well... there is one weird thing. To the question, 'How important is it that your date has a good sense of humor,' he responded 'Not very important.'"

"Whoaaa, what? That is really weird," they warned.  

But hey, he was health conscious, attractive, gainfully employed, and polite... the kind of guy I should be dating.

A few days later, he e-mailed a terse invitation to dinner. I accepted.

Read Part 2 here

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Camille Lamb Guzman is a journalist who writes on wellness, travel, and culture. She is also finishing a book of creative nonfiction.