our very first date

I have been on so many Tinder dates in the last two days. I’m waiting for one right now in fact. I’ve been pretty much sitting at this table in this coffee shop, talking to dudes for like two straight days. We told the baristas that we’re running an experiment. When they were still confused we told it them it was for Tiktok hahahaha.

Julian and Neal are at the table next to me listening to these assholes talk about how much they love Tarantino movies and the Beatles and like I don’t know the stuff straight dudes talk about.

Monday I got a pretty girl makeover. We went to a thrift store and picked out a couple sun dresses I would never wear in a thousand years to make me look approachable or whatever. Julian helped me bleach my hair in the motel sink last night, and I kinda miss the grow out but the fresh toner looks so much better. I’m wearing pretty make up?? Lol I look like the not evil-twin version of myself.

And now here I am. Dating.

So here are the rules:

Any food or drink my date buys me I am not allowed to eat.

I am not allowed to give any information about myself (this became a rule because one of the guys was really cute and was a great conversationalist and I don’t see what the harm is in talking to them if they’re nice but WHATEVER)

I have to try and touch them as quickly as possible. I usually do a handshake right at the get go, and if they are willing to touch me they’re not man-eating sludge. If that’s the case I go ahead and get rid of them as quickly as possible. This is a delicate trick to pull off — like I’m not out here trying to make everyone sad, these are in general perfectly adequate straight dudes. Some of them do weird gel stuff in their hair and wear button up shirts, I feel like a monster getting rid of them so fast.

But at the end of the day sorry boys, I’m not looking for a nice guy. I’m looking for toxic sludge.

The last rules are these: if I think I found the guy I do NOT engage, I just signal the boys, and if something goes wrong I say wombat and they’ll intervene immediately.

So far it has been… fine. I mean, when you’re looking for a liver-eating monster, fine is pretty much not being dead, and good news! I’m not dead.

But also — and to me this feels almost as important — I’m very bad at dating.

Remember last time I tried to date someone? Remember how I didn’t realize that I had asked Tilly out and she almost left in the middle? Well a near death experience and several months of crippling PTSD has not made me a better dater.

The first one went so bad I didn’t even have to work to get rid of him, he was literally trying to flee after like 10 minutes all on his own. I swear Neal was like crying laughing as the poor guy scurried out of there. Even Julian laughed at me, though he tried not to bless him.

“It’s harder when people are watching me!!!” I insisted, but that only made them laugh harder.

“Have you never been on a date in your life?” Neal asked.

“I have!” I said, but even Julian looked skeptical, and listen they were right. I’ve been on one date in my entire life, and it was an ACCIDENT. “I’m totally unqualified for this,” I said.

“You’ll be fine,” Julian assured me. “You just need practice. Stand up.”

He buttoned his top collar, smoothed out his hair, and shrugged on his charming college boy persona.

“Hi,” he said, offering me his hand. “I’m Julian, it’s so nice to meet you.”

“Julian —” I began.

“Just play along, it’ll help.”

I chose the wrong Hawthorne to be hopelessly infatuated with. Julian is the obvious choice.

I put my hand in his. I said, “Uhh. I’m Shiloh?”

Neal rolled his eyes. “Why do you sound like you forgot your own name?”

Julian only smiled serenely. “Try again.”

And at that point I was pissed so I batted my eyelashes and did my best Betty Boop impression.

Neal only shrugged. “Okay, you’re at an 11, give me a 10 and we’re good to go.”

And so the coaching began. Neal about cracked a rib laughing at me and I about cracked his nose for the same reason, but the next date went significantly better.

And now I’m on like the 800th date, and it’s… fine. My next one has the whole straight dude premium package. His name is Brandon. He loves adventure and dogs and going on hikes! In one of his pictures he’s at the top of a mountain! In another he’s petting a dog! I wonder what flavor vape he prefers.

Oh shit I think this is him —

DING DING DING comrades we have a winner! This is the one! He’s toxic sludge!

When I went to shake his hand he said he couldn’t because his hands were sweaty.

“But don’t let it go to your head, it’s just hot outside,” he said.

HAHA

He bought me a coffee and asked what I do for a living, so I told him I was in college.

“So you’re not working?” he said.

“I mean I’m working on school work,” I said.

And he said, “I worked my way through college. I didn’t need to, I had athletic scholarships, but I just thought it was important to prove to myself that I have a strong work ethic.”

LOL k ew.

Then later he was like, “You’re prettier than you were in your pictures. I was expecting you to be like… I don’t know more out going, but you’re actually more shy. I like that.”

Uhhh k I guess.

And then he goes, “I’m so glad you agreed to come meet me! Some women are so unnecessarily fearful. I hate that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked and he shrugged.

“Oh you know,” he said. “With all this drama going on around the girls who died after dates, people are in such a panic.”

“I mean… it’s not like they’re panicking for no reason,” I pointed out. My heart was beating at like a thousand miles an hour.

He rolled his eyes. “Did you see those other girls? I doubt they were just going on like… dates, you know?” He made a suggestive brow wiggle.

I hesitated. “Uh, okay,” I said.

“Anyways, I’m just trying to compliment you. Women are so sensitive, like what you think every guy around is going to kill you?” He laughed.

I don’t think every guy is trying to kill me, but I definitely think this one is hahahaha.

“Listen, I’m starving do you want to go get a meal?” he said.

“I still have coffee,” I said.

“We can get it to go,” he said. “But I’m really hungry, lets go somewhere else. I know a great spot, I can take us over there.”

“Like in your car?” I said.

“That’s right,” he said and twisted to point out the window. “That black one is mine.”

The windows were so tinted hahahaha I was like Ah ha! Fuck no.

“No,” I said. “I have a lot of work to do later. But maybe we can meet up tomorrow night? Maybe… get some drinks or something?”

I could see on his face that he wasn’t thrilled by this solution but he forced a smile. “Yeah, okay sure,” he said. “Tomorrow night?”

I nodded.

“I can pick you up where do you live?”

“No I’ll meet you,” I said. “How about there.” I pointed at the Italian restaurant across the street. I half expected him to argue with me, but he just said, “sure okay, that’s fine.” Then he got up. The date had been going for like ten minutes.

“You’re sure you want to go later?” he said. “You won’t bail on me?”

“I won’t bail,” I said and then I reached out to take his hand on the table. He literally JERKED away from me.

“Sorry!” I said and he recovered himself quickly.

“Listen, I’ll hold your hand all you want tomorrow, sweetie,” he said, already standing up. “I’ll see you soon.”

And he was out the door.

Julian was already on his feet following him before I could even look around.

“That the one?” Neal asked.

“Oh yeah,” I replied. “Without a doubt. He was trying to get me to go get food with him.”

Neal made a face, squinting after Julian. “What did you tell him?”

“We have a date tomorrow night,” I replied. Neal smiled.

“Well done,” he said.

UGH they’re not letting me go!!!! Their plan is to ambush him on his way out of the restaurant, but like listen, there are a THOUSAND ways that could go wrong. This is a creature they can’t touch or it will turn their insides into mush!!! Not to mention, don’t you think people will notice if they like snatch a guy off the sidewalk like that? It’s obviously a terrible plan. They should let me go in, butter him up, get him off his guard and then I can bring him back somewhere safe and we can handle it there.

But noooo I could never handle something like that. I’m so frustrated. How am I supposed to learn anything if they won’t let me try stuff? Not to mention, it’s not like I’ve never knowingly walked into mortal danger in my life, like this isn’t my first rodeo!! I’m so annoyed. Stop treating me like your kid sister!!!! Julian is only 4 years older than me!!!!

I’m just frustrated because I know it can be dangerous — like OBVIOUSLY I know that, I’m like a walking PTSD billboard. But I also know that 9 times out of ten, this shit is not as dangerous as we think it is!!!! Even the literal fucking SERIAL KILLER was just like… a sad, creaky old man when it came down to it. Dangerous under some circumstances, yeah, but not under those ones. I can handle this!!! Apparently this thing is killed by fucking BLEACH!! I could kill this thing using shit I got at the grocery store lmao.

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