My third Tinder date was Drunky Joe (I don’t remember his real name). I have no recollection of the texting or what caused me to agree to go out with him. I think he had two kids, but that wasn’t it. He had fuzzy hair and a big nose, and I have fuzzy hair and a big nose. Maybe that was it. By this point, I was thinking, “Don’t judge, you never know.” Plus, J* was out of state and possibly never coming back (though he claimed he was going to move to my city in a few months). My friends put my personal life in receivership and told me I could not hitch my wagon to J*’s star and that I had to keep online dating.
I complied, reluctantly.
I met Drunky Joe at an Irish bar roughly near my parents’ house and in the same neighborhood where I was supposed to meet my entire family for my nephew’s birthday. I figured that would be my “automatic out” if things went badly.
I arrived, and because it was mid-afternoon, the bar was empty save for a pair of regulars and Drunky Joe, who had obviously been there for awhile. Before I even sat down, they all demanded that I tell a joke. I am terrible at telling jokes and can only remember one.
“Why did the baby cross the road?” I asked gamely.
“Because it was stapled to the chicken.”
They all laughed, because they were hammered, and I sat down. Drunky Joe was wearing white shorts, a billowy white shirt, boat shoes with no socks, and a puka shell necklace. I assure you, we were not within 100 miles of the ocean, but good for him for owning that look! He seemed pretty drunk and also like he had spent a lot of time on a barstool. He made a lot of jokes about drugs, and he asked point blank if I smoked weed. (Nope. I have my reasons, and they are entertaining. Perhaps I will tell you sometime!)
Around this time, I was trying really hard to be healthier, so I found Drunky Joe’s obsession with substance use and abuse particularly unattractive. Also, his nose wasn’t just big–I have a big nose too, remember!–but rather, in person, it was clear that it was bulbous and red, which is symptomatic of long-term alcohol abuse. Bummer, and especially sad because he had young kids.
The only other things I remember about the date are that he had really skinny legs, as though he never got any exercise; that he really wanted to go to Burning Man, which was cool and transgressive fifteen years ago, but now seems to be the province of wealthy poseurs; and that he wanted to see me again. Um, sure? I only had three online dates under my belt, so I didn’t know how to handle this suggestion gracefully.
We did the awkward hug and parted ways. I went to the restroom to–because I am totally on top of things and awesome, also–finish wrapping my nephew’s birthday gift. This was made especially difficult by the fact that I was tipsy. I’d only had two drinks, but they were on an empty stomach and, well, I can’t hold my liquor.
I lingered in the ladies’ room for an eternity, because I was trying to avoid Drunky Joe, who had gone to the men’s room. I worried he was going to want to extend the date by walking me to the birthday party. I was right. He texted me later that he waited for a long time, then figured I must have slipped out ahead of him. NOPE. Just hidin’!
The funniest thing about this date had nothing to do with me hiding in a bathroom, drunk-wrapping my nephew’s birthday present, or Drunky Joe himself. It has to do with how I got there.
The plan was for me to drop my dog off at my parents’ house so my mom could have granddog time, then I would meet “a friend” for a drink, then I would proceed to the birthday party from there, then back to my parents’ to fetch the dog. But as per usual, I was running late late late. I asked Drunky Joe to push the date back 15 minutes, and he agreed. Then I did my makeup in the car while driving to my parents’ house, like the lipstick lady in “Airplane.” I couldn’t stop sweating. Still late! I realized that if I didn’t have to look for parking–if someone could just drop me off–I would only be perhaps ten minutes late past the extension I had arranged with Drunky Joe. In desperation, I called my dad and asked if he could help me out. He’s a sweet, accommodating man, plus he’s retired and doesn’t have enough to do. He agreed.
If you’re keeping score here, my dad drove me to a Tinder date and dropped me off out front. This is one of those moments when time slows down and you realize that your life is going really well.
I didn’t have the heart to tell my dad I was meeting a stranger from the Internet, so I said it was a blind date. He said nothing. This is why I love my dad: he is the only person in my family who doesn’t judge me (at least, not to my face).
After the date, and after hiding successfully from Drunky Joe, I called J* on my walk to the birthday party. Five minutes on the phone with him was so much better than anything else I had going back then. Eighteen months later, and it probably still is.
Drunky Joe followed up on Tinder, but I didn’t reply. One of us–I can’t remember who–swiped the other into oblivion. Then, less than a year later, he showed up on Tinder again–meaning, he recreated his profile using a different email address, which gives you a second crack at all the ladies who swiped left.
He was still rocking that puka shell necklace.