“Ahoyyy!” my phone screen lit up with the curiously piratic greeting. Oh no. No, it couldn’t be. I groaned aloud as I continued to read the rest of the long-winded text message from the latest Match.com suitor whom I had yet to meet. And he was doing so well! By well, I mean that he hadn’t bugged me after we made plans to meet up for 6 p.m. “drinks” at a restaurant near his home turf – I should have known I was sailing into stormy seas. I began to hear Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” playing softly in the distance. As I shared the swashbuckling message with some of my coworkers, they immediately began screaming, “Cancel! Cancel!”
Meanwhile, I was still dumbfounded as to why, out of ALL the greetings in the world to send to someone you haven’t met, “Ahoy” would top the list. I imagined him, with an I’m-so-clever smirk on his face as he crafted the text, muttering, “Bet she hasn’t heard this one before…” Well, cap’n, there’s a reason for that.
Let’s rewind, shall we? I began talking to the pirate approximately a week prior, and despite being overly enthusiastic in his e-mails – not to mention, responding to all of mine mere minutes after I had pressed “reply” – he gave me no cause for concern. Well, other than the fact that his profile stated his height at 5’6″ (I feared even shorter) and that he had possibly dangerous sideburns. Also, that he used pirate-speak to say hello.
Yet, knowing my notoriously bad habit of picking people apart, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he had just watched Hook (Dustin Hoffman was pretty bad ass). Maybe this was a new slang term I had yet to catch wind of and I was so two-thousand and late. Or maybe, just maybe, he was drinking rum at the time of said message. Lots and lots of rum. That had to be it.
Stomach gurgling with both hunger and fear, I swallowed my pride and drove to the location of our drinks date after work. As I approached the restaurant, a short, squat, baseball-cap-wearing figure came into view, and it took all I had not to turn around and run away. Jack Sparrow was approximately my height – 5’4″ – with full-on mutton chops that triggered my gag reflex and planted Elvis tunes in my head all at once. As I struggled to compose myself and reached a shaky hand out toward him, he began to speak, “Hey, how’s it goinghrmrmhrm.” Come again, Mumbles? This was going to be one long night, and not in the good way.
As we entered the restaurant, we were promptly seated at a booth and perused the menu while we placed our drink orders: a Blue Moon for him, a glass of Riesling for me. “So, were you planning on getting anything to eat?” I asked rhetorically… or so I thought.
“Oh, no, I’m not really hungry. But you can get something if you want!” Right. Because I’ll totally scarf down some shrimp scampi while you watch and judge me. That’ll happen. “Actually, funny story… I got a really bad case of food poisoning last night,” he added, trailing off into some sort of deranged mumble-laugh hybrid. A seasick pirate? Be still my beating heart!
The wine started to kick in. As Blackbeard droned on about how his band once played at a Bickford’s restaurant, declared that he absolutely hated my favorite local trivia spot, and expressed his genuine surprise that he didn’t know anyone here at the restaurant tonight (he’s kind of a big deal in the Boston suburbs), my increasingly glazed-over gaze wandered to the unused salad fork on my left. Wasn’t he supposed to be getting better as I drank? I briefly contemplated poking myself in the eye, just to mix things up a bit.
Miraculously, sustenance soon arrived in the form of Italian bread, which I gnawed on at a feverish pace as the waitress shot us a confused, annoyed look. Realizing that I’d completely checked out of the one-sided conversation at this point, I tuned in from my incredibly delicious bread feast to catch “…and we have a pool at my house…”
I was bored enough, and the remaining loaf was fortunately tempering some of my eye-gouging fantasies, so I feigned interest, “You live with roommates? Or…”
He bristled, “At my house. I live at home. With my parents.” Easy there, tiger!
Accepting defeat, I chugged the rest of my Riesling as my oh-so-charming “dinner” partner ironically began griping about how his mother thinks he’s a functioning alcoholic. So what if he only likes to drink after work? Every day? And while gambling at Foxwoods every weekend with his “boys”? What does she expect him to do, sit around and read books? “Oh, I’m sorry,” he muttered, “you’re in a book club, right?” I let out a giggle, momentarily picturing myself cloistered in a library while I watch friends do Jell-O shots outside my window.
After another uncomfortable waitress encounter, during which the poor girl took, “We’re all set” to mean, “We’re ready to order” instead of, “We’re just sitting at a booth and not getting food,” Smee rose abruptly. “I’m going to the bathroom,” he declared. Saved by the bladder! Still mumble-chuckling, he continued. “If you’re not here when I get back, I’ll understand!” Yow – apparently my bitch vibes were more potent than I realized.
I probably should have hightailed it out of there while I had the chance, but I breathed a loud sigh of relief as the check came. I did the ol’ purse reach, but the scallywag was already on it. “What kind of fool do you take me for?” he guffawed, slapping down his card. After starving me and making a show of paying for my $5 glass of wine, I don’t think you really want me to answer that, matey. Practically sprinting out of the door and lurching awkwardly toward him in a sort of disgusted hug, I could barely contain my excitement about the next hot date I had that night.
With the McDonald’s drive-thru.