When I was 24 I lived in LA and spent a year going on first dates, which is best place to go on first dates because the men always pay and everyone lies about themselves to seem more interesting. I don’t care if it’s not true, I want to be titillated. And fed. I loved going on first dates so much it became obsession. I needed my fix. I was having a first date nearly every day. Tinder with a wide age range, customers in the bar I worked at, guys at the gas station. No one was safe. I wasn’t going on them in the hope of a relationship, or even a second date. It was never about that. Addicts always talk about chasing that feeling of the first hit. I never had to do that. I had first hits every fucking day.
Most men aren’t creeps. I don’t want to be anti-feminist, but they aren’t. At least not on a first date. The only first date I ever left early due to creepy vibes was a doctor who was very smart and I knew that because he kept telling me his IQ. He grabbed my wrists underneath the table at a rooftop restaurant in the Ritz Carlton, and said he wanted to see how much pain I could handle. It’s hard to describe exactly the look on his face but I did think this man is going to murder me. So I got up and left. I was a bit fuming because I had ordered Wagu steak which is my favourite first date food because it’s so extravagantly expensive I get to pretend I’m a dictator with gout. It’s steak made from Japanese cows that get massaged every day and given beer to drink and then are killed in some beautiful sex orgy so the meat is really tender. It was my Sophie’s Choice- a $250 piece of Japanese sex cow or my personal safety. Fuck me, it’s so hard to be a woman. (Shit, am I also a sex cow?).
He walked me to the elevator like the doctor gentleman he was (very high IQ too!), and then grabbed my wrists again and said this was my last chance otherwise it was goodbye forever. He stared at me so intensely when he said it that I think I could have filed a police report on that alone. I laughed about it going down the elevator, then ran the two miles home because I was afraid he’d chase me down.
I went on one first date to a vegan restaurant called café gratitude, where the waiter asked what are you grateful for today? when taking the order. I ordered the I AM MAGICAL-a veggie burger on sprouted wheat with fermented hope, hold the cashew mustard sauce. I told my date that my whole family were dead. They’re not, I just wanted to try it on for size. He told me I was very brave, then yelled at the waiter for bringing me my I AM MAGICAL with the cashew mustard sauce. So embarrassing. If you yell in a vegan restaurant over a dish called I AM MAGICAL, I bet you also wear a Bluetooth headset and your favourite film is The Passion of the Christ. I blocked his number as soon as I got home, but at least I had an extra I AM MAGICAL, without cashew mustard, the next morning when I Skyped my mum.
Another first date was with an Egyptian who owned restaurants in Long Beach. I wore a white shirt that my friends called my tit top ( it showed my tits, duh). It wasn’t slutty though because I have no tits. It was art. He took a look at it and handed me a jumper belonging to his 15 year old daughter to cover up. Everyone in the this town knows me. Oh daddy! We had lobster and tequila, and went back to his waterfront house where we fucked on the couch. He took off his glasses for the first time and as he was thrusting (gross) on top of me I stared into his eyes and noticed something amiss. I couldn’t quite place it. He noticed. It’s a glass eye. Don’t look at it. Look at my good eye. Then I pretended to cum. He had lost it as a child when an American soldier accidentally shot him. Huh. I couldn’t sleep that entire night. Not because of the glass eye. I can’t sleep next to someone I don’t love. I was too far away from home to leave. I felt trapped. My throat was closed. I was breathing in gasps. He told me to knock it off. I have to be up early to go to my restaurants. Anytime he turned near me in the bed I wanted to scream. Maybe I thought he was going to steal one of my good eyes. We didn’t see each other again. Not because of the glass eye. Can we be clear on that? I loved the glass eye. It was so…resilient.
My favourite thing about first dates is that you get to talk about yourself. To someone you don’t know, and they receive what you say based on their own life experiences. You get to view yourself in a new way for each person. So I guess my favourite thing about first dates is myself. My second is the food. My third is how easy it is to trick yourself into liking someone. I can have a good time with anyone, as long as I’m there. God I’m fucking fun, I think as I order the Crème Brule. I don’t even like Crème Brule! It’s hard to love someone else when you’re so in love with yourself.
One guy was in an open marriage. He gave me a line of coke in the bathroom of The Ace Hotel and then asked to make love to me. He actually said can I make love to you?. I said sure, and felt the same feeling I feel when I smile at an old person or let someone go ahead of me in Tesco because they only have a pint of milk Jesus Christ I’m a good person. We sloppy kissed outside the hotel. I wondered what his wife smelled like. I wonder if she knew she was in an open marriage. I let him go down on me for 20 minutes until I came. Then I got up and left. He text me and said it was the best night he had in recent memory. I didn’t save his number because I couldn’t remember his name. We didn’t see each other again.
It might seem I’m taking advantage of these men for a free dinner but they’re taking advantage right back. Except I’m the free dinner. I’ve been setting the women’s movement back for years, I know. But look how far we’ve come. Is it really so bad to be a commodity when you’re Wagu steak?
One guy told me I didn’t look like my online photos while we sat al fresco in a bougie hotel in Venice. He smelled of vinegar. I ordered two crab sandwiches. I ate one and got the other to go. A little trick I picked up. I didn’t even realise it was a diss until walking home. Fuck him. I suppose I had gained 20lb from when I took the photos. All these first dates were making me fat. That’s the price of business. The crab didn’t keep well so I threw it out the next day. Also the price of business. When I was tossing it my crazy 39 year old roommate told me not to touch the cucumber on the counter. I hadn’t even been near it. A guy fucked me in the ass with that last night. I dry heaved. Fucking LA. She then asked me to go down to the liquor store on our street to get her a bottle of wine. She didn’t like to buy more than one a day from them in case the neighbours started talking. I offered her my crab sandwich. No thanks, I’m not eating today. Fucking LA.
The men always paid for the first date (of course). But that was their currency. Mine was youth. Or acceptance? I’m not sure what it was (it might have been sex), but I know it was something (it was definitely sex). I paid my half, is what I’m saying.
My best friend was sick in bed when I was getting ready for one first date. Matching lingerie, and no deodorant. Me, not him. He had some STD I think. Or the flu. I forget. But he was sweating and puking and shaking. I got him a wet towel and used it to correct my lipstick before placing it on his head. I’m Florence fucking nightingale. I weakly offered to cancel the date. Oh no no a reservation at Bestia is impossible to get. You have to go, he reassured me. Ciao! I had oysters and braised lamb and the guy told me I was obnoxious because I admitted I didn’t recycle. You can’t win them all. During a shared brownie dessert I asked him if he wanted to have sex with me. He told me he appreciated meeting me because it made him realise this isn’t what he wanted. I wanted to ask what “this” was, but he said it with such significance I nodded along like he was giving a powerful Ted talk.
These first dates became a part of who I was. They were my routine. Like brushing my teeth. Expect most times I forget to do that at night. I sleep with my mouth open because I suck my thumb so my breath is always rancid in the morning. Really, really bad. Like a sewage rat (the worst of all the rats). The first guy I loved told me how bad it was. We were 20, sleeping in his basement room in Chicago. I’d write him Bukowski poems and try to pass them off as my own. Fucking 20 year olds. I bought this special mouthwash that you had to mix yourself and it was supposed to last for 12 hours. It never lasted though. It never does. I’ll still love him forever, even if I forget what he smells like and mispronounce his last name now. I bet his new girlfriend has breath like angel cum. I bet they have morning sex and he’ll kiss her, open mouth. I’m happy for him. If you’ve loved someone for even a second, you’ll love them for the rest of your life. How exhausting. He didn’t approve of all the first dates I went on. You used to be special, because you were mine. And now you’re everybody else’s. We never went on a first date, that was our problem. We just fell in love. Well, I fell in love then I dragged him along, kicking and screaming. I didn’t even know what Wagu was when we went out. Once you’ve tasted Wagu it’s hard to go back to slices of turkey. (Oh wow! Comparing men to meat. Have I solved the wage gap?)
One first date was a rich Beverly hills 43 year old. I asked him what he did for a living and he proudly told me nothing. That’s when I learned truly rich people don’t work. They just get money every month. From stocks or their grandmother. We went to a darkly lit bar where cocktails cost $30 and he watched me eat a plate of pasta. I slurped it with my mouth open. He named dropped C list celebrities and I pretended I didn’t know who they were. It was driving him crazy. You know who Michelle Rodigraz is. I dribbled a bit of pasta onto my dress and grabbed it up with my hand back into my mouth. It left a stain. He drove me back to his penthouse apartment in his Tesla and put his hand up my dress. I like it rough, I told him. I didn’t really mean it. It was just something to say. As he opened his door he turned around, kissed me softly, and slapped me across the face. Not with full force, but the sting of the shock made me start to cry. I thought you liked it rough. Not like that, you dumb decaying bitch, I wanted to say. We still had sex. I didn’t cum. He text me a few weeks later to say I’d given him chlamydia. I said if he gave me five grand I’d take it back off him. He responded asking me what I was wearing. Sometimes, I look at his kid’s Instagram. He’s very cute for 17.
One guy was 63. YES. 63 years old. He was a director of really bad films. Like Fast and The Furious 6 type of bad. I actually think that was one of his. We had a lunch on Santa Monica pier and I got crab legs with extra butter. I love crab legs. They remind me of pussy. Oh mama! He drove me home in his Maserati which is so cliched it’s almost not, and told me I was too young for him, then tried to French kiss me. It felt like I was being strangled by an octopus. I ran into my apartment and laughed so hard a bit of pee came out. We have that in common. I sometimes wonder if he’s dead yet. RIP.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t find these men especially pathetic. I do find all men a bit pathetic, and that isn’t my fault. It’s because I had an alcoholic father. But I didn’t find them men more pathetic than I find my dad or David Attenbourgh or Gandi. In fact, I found parts of all of them to like. Just never enough to see again. I also found parts of all of myself to like. Ah how beautiful! Except self-love isn’t always a good thing. Too much will kill you. Or make you fat.
I don’t go on first dates anymore because I’m in love again. I’m in love, but sometimes I see my own death in his eyes. Are you hungry? I’m fucking starving. So I close my eyes and remember how to eat.