Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I don’t understand why anyone posts decade old profile photos. I’m a curvy girl. If a guy isn’t into that, I’d much rather he politely ignore my first contact email than do a disgusted double take when he first sees me. Gentlemen, it doesn’t matter how good you looked ten years ago when you had more hair and less belly. If your photo is so out of date a woman can’t recognize you, I promise there is no hope she will look past your flabby exterior and see the shining human being within. Instead she’s going to take one look at you and assume everything you’ve told her is a lie.
Don’t be that guy.
Officer Creepy was succinct, flattering, and interested in meeting over dinner, his treat. At the time, I thought any excuse to visit one of Bardstown Road’s tastier houses of meaty delights was a good one, so I agreed to meet him on a nice, unromantic Tuesday.
Based on his profile, I expected a slightly straight lacked, pleasantly plump, curly haired man 8-10 years my senior. When I showed up the restaurant was full of the usual Bardstown Road crowd of hipsters on dates, young professionals out for a night of adventure, and cheerful tables full of heavily tattooed and pierced people who work on the strip.
I took a seat by the bar and let the waitress know if I was here for a first date. If he stood me up I’d order some empanadas to take home.
“Internet date?” She leaned in conspiratorially. “Is there a special rescue signal I should know about?” This is one of the reasons I loved first dates on Bardstown. I grinned and gave her the Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” Salute.
Suddenly, a hand clapped on my shoulder. “Let’s take this outside.”
The bald, jowly stranger behind me was older than my father. “Excuse me?”
“Chris-Rachael and I will take a large carafe of sangria and a table outside,” he told the waitress.
Okay, he knew my name. Either this was my date or I was finally about to be recruited into a secret government agency. C’mon, S.H.I.E.L.D.! Please be real. I’ve always wanted to live on a Helicarrier.
Sadly, it was my date.
He carried the sangria out and poured for me. I drank nervously while looking over the menu. He silently topped me off, carefully watching me drink.
“You look a little different than I expected,” I said.
He looked at me like I’d just revealed a state secret. “They said to use my best photo.”
“Um, when was that one taken?” In the photo, he leaned over the edge of a boat floating in front of some mountains. Now, I suspected he’d have a heart attack if he tried to hike a mountain and would sink straight to the bottom of a lake if he tried to swim.
“When I was 42.”’
“What year was that?” His profile said he was 44. The last two years must’ve been very hard on him.
He glared at me. “1996.”
I sighed. He was older than my father.
He topped off my glass again. “What do you think I do for a living?”
“I really couldn’t guess. A desk job?” He obviously didn’t get much exercise.
He crossed his arms. “I’ll give you a hint. You wouldn’t be here if you knew.”
“Garbage collector?” I guessed.
“I’m serious,” he growled.
“So am I. I suck at this game. Just tell me what do you do for a living.”
“I’m a police officer.” He refilled my sangria. I noticed he hadn’t taken a sip of his own.
Great. He topped off my glass every time I took a sip. I tried to gauge whether or not I’d had a whole glass yet. Just to be safe, I knew I was trapped for at least 2 hours if I didn’t want to risk him accusing me of drinking and driving. I reached into my purse to try and summon a rescue.
“Turn off your cellphone. I don’t want you texting all through dinner.” There went my primary lifeline. Moving very slowly, I did as I was told.
The waitress emerged to take our orders. I tried holding up my Vulcan Salute slightly behind his head, but his eyes flickered to my reflection in the restaurant’s window. He pulled out his badge and showed it to the waitress. “Bring us a pitcher of water and come back for our order in 15 minutes.” She promptly disappeared, avoiding eye contact with us both.
Once she was gone, he got down to business. “I took down your plates after I saw you get out of your car. Let’s get something straight. I’ve seen your blog. You’re not writing about me. If you do, I’m sure a girl like you has done things you regret. You don’t want to regret them more.”
My eyes widened in shock. Nothing makes a date go better than liquoring a girl up and threatening her.
“I only write about the bad dates,” I reminded him. “Honestly, most of my dates are just plain conversation. We don’t really feel a spark. We go our separate ways. No harm done.” I gave him an optimistic smile.
He laughed bitterly. “How a date ends is always up to the woman.” I couldn’t quite tell if that was a threat, a suggestion or both. He topped off my sangria again then looked me in the eyes. “You’d regret writing about me. It’s a bad idea. Now take a drink. Relax.”
I dutifully put the glass to my lips.
Over the next two hours I learned that after his upcoming retirement he fantasized about building an isolated house on a cliff face in Chile where supplies would be delivered by donkey once a week and no one would bother him. I pointed out I’m a city girl who loves living in a walkable neighborhood with my own corner bookstore, restaurant and bar where the staff knows me. I learned he resented people with advanced education because, according to him, the only purpose of an academic degree was to indoctrinate people into the liberal agenda. I pointed out I listed my MA in History on my online profile. I learned he thought the space program was a stupid waste of money. I pointed out I follow the X-Prize religiously and covet stock in Bigelow Aerospace.
Under other circumstances I would’ve left over an hour earlier, but I wasn’t sure how to get away from Officer Creepy without being accused of a DUI. I hadn’t touched my Sangria since his revelation.
After awhile, I had to know “Listen,” I asked, as politely as I could. “I’m pretty honest on my profile. I’m a liberal, overeducated, geeky city girl. We don’t have anything in common. Why did you write to me?”
“Girls on OK Cupid put out.”
The horror in my face must have phased him. He grunted and looked away. “Never mind. You’re fatter than I expected.”
That was the first good news I’d heard all night. I’d rub mud in my hair and roll around in trash if it would get me out of this horrifying date. I like lanky tech nerds built like a sack of hangars. This conservative cop was not only older than my father and willing to lie about his age and interests to con a woman into meeting him, but he had the graceless figure of an over ripe pumpkin.
I scrambled to come up with an appropriate response that would save face for him without resulting in retribution for me. “It was really interesting meeting you, but I’m looking for a relationship, not a one night stand. I’m sorry you wasted your evening. Let me buy dinner.”
“Get the Sangria, too.” The carafe sat untouched since he revealed he was secretly a cop. I felt lucky he didn’t tell me to buy him a gift certificate and a box of donuts.
I waited silently while the waitress boxed up both our dinners for him to take home.
“This better not show up on your blog.” While I waited to sign the debit card receipt, he huffed off to find some other women to intimidate.
Once he was gone the waitress topped off my carafe of sangria before sealing it with aluminum foil and a rubber band. “Take it home.” She gave my shoulder a sympathetic squeeze. “You look like you could use it.”