Philadelphia Metropolis


Internet Date from Hell, Episode 4

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By Jack Grauer

Most young people I know have experimented with online dating and can furnish some impressively gruesome stories. But, almost none argue when I tell them mine wins the marbles after they hear it. I apologize if that sounds boastful, but hear me out.

I met a girl on OKCupid, this year. She went to school in New York City and had come down for the day to visit me. We decided to go out for dinner. During the meal, she became completely quiet, stuffed her head inside of her coat and refused to respond to anything I said. I assumed that she was playing some type of coy game with me and pretended I didn't notice while continuing to eat.

Five minutes after I finished, as she hadn't touched anything she ordered, our server began to make aggravated hand signals at me over the head of my date that indicated something to the effect of "Get her out of here. We've got people waiting to sit down." I noticed that my partner had covered the lining of her jacket almost entirely with tears or some other fluid by this point. It took about five more minutes for me to convince her to stand up and leave the restaurant.

Out front, I asked what was wrong. No answer. Should I call a cab to get her back to the Chinatown bus? No answer. Did she need me to call an ambulance? She finally nodded her head.

When the ambulance arrived I imagined with some satisfaction how the lights would look through the frosted glass of the restaurant's front window and how they were probably mangling the place's ambiance. The paramedics got out and asked me about my relationship to her and if I would be accompanying her to the emergency room.

My first impulse was to say I had never seen this person before in my life. Instead, I told the paramedics what was true: We were casual acquaintances on a date. I knew little about her beyond her opinions of a handful of recent musical releases, her favorite foods, and that she found dormitory life on campus repressive.  I got all of that from her online profile, not from her in a face-to-face conversation.

They requested that I go through her purse to find identification. A mess of prescription pills fell out when I opened it. At this moment I began to give credence to the possibility that my life as a free citizen may be finite. Do prisons have special sections for the unfortunate bystanders of Internet date catastrophes?

The woman checking us in at the emergency room regarded me with a lot of squinty hostility. She seemed sure that I had done or said something to my date to precipitate all of this and I couldn't blame her. She demanded that I notify my date's parents of the situation.

I dug her phone out of her purse and dialed the number labeled "Mom." "Mom" responded on the phone with a line of composed not-niceties toward the situation and toward me by proxy. I expressed my sympathies to "Mom" and her stance on the issue and agreed with her that it was the appropriate one to take. Were the situation reversed, I told her, these sentiments of hers were ones that I would myself harbor. Tinny expletives continued to issue from the handset as I gave it back to the woman at the check-in desk.

Hospital personnel escorted my date away in a wheelchair and directed me to a waiting room where that movie was playing where Morgan Freeman played the principal of the school and I watched this film in its entirety. I called my parents to explain the situation, feeling quite convinced that it would be the last conversation I would have with them that did not involve a mediating layer of fiberglass.

A doctor came in to the waiting room and invited me back to see my OKC date about 15 minutes after the Freeman movie ended. Only at this late hour did the doctor inform me that we were in the triage section. They decided almost immediately when we came in that nothing was actually wrong with her. They had, however, given her a decent dose of Ativan, which made her behave as though she was made entirely of Jell-O. I had not yet abandoned my concern with the legal angle of all of this so I drove her to my parents' house where she proceeded to sleep for approximately 14 hours on the living room couch.

She awoke the next morning with little recollection of the prior evening's events and no explanation regarding what set her off at dinner. I never did find out what made her ill or act so strange.  I drove her to the Chinatown bus and that was the last time we spoke.


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