Luckily for me, I met Matt at the end of 1997, so after the Terrible Date you've just read, I didn't have to endure too many more awful dates. The following Terrible Date actually happened just a few weeks earlier, at the end of August.
I don't remember how we were fixed up, I suppose it doesn't matter anymore, but it was definitely a fix up. We agreed to meet at the ice rink and get a bite to eat after his shift, as a Referee for a local hockey team, was over.
I arrived at the ice rink early, the game was still going on, but during a time out or between periods or some other hockey term that I don't know, he mentioned to me that it wouldn't be long, and to just hang out. The game continued, and I sat there freezing and bored (I HATE hockey, so already, our relationship was probably doomed).
Suddenly, there was excitement on the ice. A fight broke out, and all of the refs quickly skated into the middle of it to break it up. I see my date stumble and fall among them, the fight was resolved and everyone went back to their position. Everyone except my date, who hadn't yet gotten up from the ice. The refs sped back over to help him up, and I see him clutching his hand, covered in blood.
He'd been run over. Whoops.
They pulled him off the ice, unlaced his skates and brought out his street clothes from the locker room. He turned to me, pale and bleeding and said "Uh...I don't really have anyone else here who can take me to the ER. Everyone else is still playing and I probably shouldn't wait, with my finger like this..."
So instead of a nice, quiet, get-to-know-you lunch, we ran out to my Neon and sped away for the ER. Unfortunately, I wasn't in my own town, so I had NO idea where I was going, and I hastily followed his directions, speeding through yellow lights, praying I wouldn't get a ticket, wondering if this guy was going to bleed to death or lose his finger in my car. There wasn't really much conversation going on, a little small talk here and there to make sure he hadn't passed out, but mostly, he gave directions and I followed, asking "you OK?" every few moments, between red lights.
We arrived at the hospital and I sat in the waiting room, wondering what the protocol was for waiting in the ER for the person you only met 20 minutes earlier. I certainly wasn't family, and I barely qualified as "friend". After a while, a woman walked in and said "Are you Isabella? Thank you for bringing my son to the ER". While she waited to be taken back, she said I didn't need to wait. I felt bad for leaving, but it seemed strange to stay, so I left and drove home.
Three days later, he called to thank me, and wanted to make up the date that wasn't. Now, I knew I hadn't really given him a fair shake, but I'd already decided that he really wasn't my type. Regardless, it seemed rude to say no, and I agreed to meet him for dinner. I met him at East Side Mario's (his brother dropped him off) so I knew that at the very least, dinner would be fantastic.
I felt terrible - his whole hand and forearm were covered in thick, white bandages, easily 2 inches of gauze and padding. We continued the small talk until our meals came, he told me what happened on the ice, what happened at the hospital, and how his mother was so grateful that I'd driven her darling boy to the ER... Dinner arrived, and he did most of the talking, filling me in on details of his family that went a little too far. It started out simply, telling me about his brothers and growing up, then escalated into details about his abusive father and how they all dealt with his leaving them unexpectedly. It was awkward, to say the least. He took his pain meds during dinner, I can imagine how sore he must have been, and he got a little quiet at the end of the meal, I think his medicine made him drowsy.
We finished dinner and I drove us to the mall, where we sat in a crowded theater to watch "Money Talks" (his choice, I believe). At the end of the night, I drove him home and we sat in his driveway - I was anxious to get home, he was sleepy, but anxious to tell me more about his childhood. We sat for entirely too long, and eventually, I was able to use the "I've really gotta get home before my curfew" excuse (hey, I was only 16 at the time) and really mean it. He was pleasant, and I certainly felt bad for the situation, as uncomfortable as it was for both of us. He called once or twice to chat afterward, but we never went out again...