A Race to the Finish!

Well, it was bound to happen I suppose. After countless dates via the interweb, I've finally hit a new low. Now, to be fair to the guy I went out with, I've been on dates with worse guys. In fact, I've been in relationships with much worse guys...there was the guy with brain damage and there was also the con-artist cheater, but I digress. The point being, my track record for picking the "right" guy deserves some scrutiny. This date, however, reached a new low in terms of activity, chemistry (or lack thereof) and disappointment. I racked my brian last night trying to think of a worse date and while there was one (it involved a fat man with a skullet, a lazy eye and birkenstocks with white socks...), it somehow wasn't nearly as disappointing. Ben (as he will be known) and I met on a dating website which I recently discovered. He came across my profile and made an effort to contact me. He was hilarious, sarcastic and smart, all of which I am a sucker for. He was also a lawyer and seemed to have his life together. His pictures implied a "regular joe" kind of style, with baseball hats and t-shirts and a sincere smile. He was built like a football player, which is nice because quite frankly I like some meat on my man. He was balding but that isn't something I mind (my last two boyfriends were also balding and I found it to be charming) and was seemingly quite hairy everywhere else. Again, no big deal. When a guy is all smooth and hairless it's a little strange...kind of like those weird hairless cats. It just seems kind of unnatural. My point here is that I wasn't expecting some kind of Adonis. I was expecting a nice, normal guy who had a killer sense of humor and personality to match. We had an instantly comfortable and witty rapport over Instant Messenger and proceeded to joke our way through a conversation. Over the next week, we emailed, texted and talked on the phone, each interaction building a little more anticipation and excitement for the eventuality of our meeting. He finally suggested that we go out on Sunday. He had a "great idea" for our date. I was thrilled. Guys, please take note here if you find yourself surprised that his idea of a "great date" and mine were so so sadly different. I would say that most women would agree with me that a day at the Indy Car Races isn't exactly romantic. Yes, that's right. He took me to the races. Had it been the ponies, I'd have loved it. But, race cars, fanny packs, sweltering heat and nachos don't exactly scream "romance." I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, because when he suggested it, I thought it might be fun to try something new. At least it wasn't coffee or cocktails, which tend to be the norm for first dates these days. One leads to bad breath and the other can lead to unfortunate morning after scenarios. Again, I digress. The morning of the date arrived and I got on BART with high hopes and excitement. "This is going to be fun! Even if we're not a total match, how bad could this be?" Let me tell you something. When going on a blind date, never EVER ask yourself that question. Because the universe will gladly show you just how bad it really could be. Enter Ben. Now, to be fair, Ben really is a sweet guy. He means well, but Ben's profile was misleading and his personality in person was very different from his personality online or even on the phone. He pulled up in his pickup truck (not to stereotype, but have you ever met a Jewish Lawyer who liked (scratch that, loved) racing and drove a pick up truck with a tree shaped american flag air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror? I hadn't.) and I got in. I interally groaned so loudly I was afraid he might hear it. I could see the resemblence to his online pictures, but it was faint. Remember that when dating online, the right lighting and angle make all the difference in the world. So does the age of the photograph. Ben's photos were taken at least 100 pounds ago, so while I was expecting a guy with a football player's build, I was introduced to a man with a competitive eater's build and I am not refering to that skinny Japanese kid who can eat like 1000 hotdogs in one go. Not only that, but he was sweating profusely down the sides of his face and the back of his astoundingly hairy neck. It was not that hot in Oakland. This was going to be a long damn day. Did I mention that his truck was missing the front grill (he didn't think it was worth replacing) and that we were riding on a spare front tire? Well we were. The usual hour long drive to Sonoma was now doubled because Ben couldn't go over 50 miles an hour. He kept mentioning how it was more responsible of him to drive slowly anyway, regardless of the tire. The conversation that ensued for the drive up was about as dry as stale toast and just as intersting. Where was the sardonic and witty man from the phone calls and emails? He must have stayed home and sent this other guy in his place. Once we arrived in Sonoma, it was 90 degrees and dusty beyond belief. Welcome to hell. If you've never been to a car racing event of any kind, let me fill you in on some of the "need to know" elements. (A) These people are fantatics. They are fanatics with fanny packs and beer bellys. They are fanatic about America and the NRA. They say things like "Cowboy up!" and mean it. (B) There are many dining options at the races, most of which are similar to the cuisine one might find at a minor leauge ball park or carnival but they cost more than what you might pay at say, Gary Danko. I paid $4 for a small bottle of water. But I was desperate. (C) It is hot. So hot. You will sweat and no matter how much sunscreen you apply, you will feel the sun burning into your skull and feet like a hot poker. Because of the judicious amounts of sunscreen you apply, all of the dust and grime kicked up by the cars will instanly stick to your skin. (D) Bring earplugs. You will go deaf from the roaring thunder of these cars. Forget about trying to have a conversation. It will go something like this. Ben: "sdkhjliu lkdsjoiu dlkj oueld!" Me: "WHAT??" (E) Prepared to be bored. You see the same damn cars drive past you very quickly about every minute or so. That's it. The best you can hope for is a crash, but who wants to hope for that? We sat in the sun (Ben brought an umbrella, which was very thoughtful, but it was broken and completely useless) and baked. I had mentioned to him prior to our date that I was pretty sensitive to the heat and that sitting in the shade would be best, if it was an option. He said we had grandstand seats, which provide shade, but we weren't able to drink in there, so he wanted to sit in the section where drinking was allowed. He downed four Tecates in the span of an hour while I guzzled water and tried to remain calm. Finally, he said we could move. We walked for about a mile and a half to get to the grandstands, where Ben promptly donned a huge pair of headphones and a transistor radio which allowed him to listen to live commentary of the race. Obviously, even if we wanted to have a conversation over the din of the cars, the headphones made it impossible. Let me remind you once agian of the noise level. It was an overwhleming sonic boom when these cars would zip past. Despite that fact, I fell asleep. Yep. That's right. I fell asleep on a date, right in front of my date, who didn't seem to mind. He had a big bag of potato chips and beef jerky to keep him company and the commentary of some rednecks to keep him entertained. Who could ask for more? At least we were in the shade. Finally it was time to go. The ride home was silent, but for a few attempts to "flirt" with me and hold my hand. (Really???) At one point he asked me if he was what I was expecting. How do you answer that politely when all you want to do is pull a Whitney and say "helltotheno!!" I just smiled tightly and said, "Pretty much" and prayed that he would leave it at that. He did, but he also removed his hat at that point, and my oh my was that something to behold. It was simply the icing (or lack thereof) on the cake. Guys, let me ask you this. When you are SEVERELY balding, to the point where hair just does not grow on the top of your head at all, why oh why do you insist on holding onto the hair on the sides and the back of your head? Just shave it off. Please. Oh please. At the end of the day, Ben dropped me off at home, with an awkward hug goodbye and I rushed into the shower to clean the racetrack off and try to regain some composure. I went out to a lovely sushi dinner with a handsome, intelligent and funny male friend who reminded me that there are still good guys out there. They just don't hang out at the racetrack. Peace.

About the Author

Amber Milner is an independent lifestyle advocate!