July 21, 2005

Le Club des Hommes: Embarassing Dates (Late Edition)

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, for reasons now passing understanding, was much delayed in publishing this piece for the Men's Club/Divas Thursday. Indeed this topic, "Embarassing Dates" is a toughy for your Maximum Leader. He doesn't recall that many embarassing dates. Perhaps he's blocked them out. Perhaps he didn't date enough to be embarassed. Perhaps all his first dates were embarassing and he was just too egotistical to admit it.

Regardless, one date stands out as particularly bad. So he will recount that experience...

A few months after the Minister of Agriculture was lucky enough to wed the lovely Mrs. Smallholder, your Maximum Leader went to visit the happy couple at their domicile in the suburbs of Chicago. At this point, your Maximum Leader was a not-so-swingin' bachelor. The Smallholder, being a good friend, started working over Mrs. Smallholder to present him with a list of suitable young ladies who might act as a "date" for any nights out we might have during our visit.

It turns out that a college friend of Mrs. Smallholder was in also living in the area and was open to meeting your Maximum Leader. So one night during your Maximum Leader's visit, "S" joined us for dinner. As it turns out, your Maximum Leader and "S" hit it off and discovered that we had many things in common.

Your Maximum Leader returned to Virginia, but he and "S" kept in touch. Some e-mails. A note or two in the mail. And phone calls. Your Maximum Leader returned to the greater Chicagoland area and tried to pitch a little more woo in "S's" direction.

After a little while, "S" agreed to come to VA to spend a few days with your Maximum Leader. And that is where the detail of our story begins.

After picking up "S" at Dulles Airport, your Maximum Leader returned her to the great valley of the Shennendoah in Virginia. It was May (as he remembers) and the weather was great. "S" claimed to love the mountains and wanted to go and see some of the sites along Skyline Drive - a scenic route along the ridge of the mountains.

So the day after "S" arrived, your Maximum Leader took "S" up to the mountains. We resolved to go on a little hike and see the Black Water Falls. A particularly nice set of waterfalls with a nice 3 mile hike beginning and ending at a single parking area.

Your Maximum Leader had done the hike before, so he knew the grade wasn't bad and that it was a good trail on which to walk and talk and pitch a little woo. The trail wasn't so difficult or technical that one had to pay contant attention to what you were doing.

And therein lay the heart of the problem.

Your Maximum Leader and "S" drove out to the trail's beginning in your Maximum Leader's much beloved 1991 Honda Civic DX. The car was red. Got great mileage. And was fun to drive because it handled pretty well and was manual transmission.

We started out on the trail. The trail began by going downhill to the bottom of the falls. That was the really steep grade. Then there was a gentle arching path back up to the top. Your Maximum Leader and "S" did the downhill stretch in no time. We stopped at the bottom, looked at the falls. And chatted about lots of mindless subjects.

At this point your Maximum Leader started to notice that "S" wasn't quite as warm and open as she'd been in times past. Indeed she seemed a little standoffish and distant.

Your Maximum Leader, while walking and making small-talk, was going over in his mind how he might change tactics. And around that time he noticed a large tree had fallen across the path. There are a number of ways one can traverse a tree which has fallen across your path. Your Maximum Leader, breaking one of the cardinal rules of hiking, decided to take the glamourous way of traversing the fallen tree. With a few steps of a running start, he bounded over the tree. He hoped to impress "S" with this (rather minor) show of agility and prowess.

Alas and unfortunately for him, upon landing on the other side of the tree his first leg to touch down did so in a small hole covered by a flurry of leaves and blocked from view by the bulk of the tree. This leg became caught and twisted violently as the rest of your Maximum Leader's (considerable) bulk tried to gracefully and athletically finish the follow through.

It was a stroke of luck that your Maximum Leader didn't fully break his leg right then. But he severely sprained it. He fell and grimaced in pain. Indeed, he remembers doing all he could to keep from crying out in agonizing pain.

"S" while concerned, was not overly helpful. She wasn't really sure what to do. She didn't really try to investigate how she might help your striken Maximum Leader.

After a few moments of sitting on the ground and letting the pain abate somewhat your Maximum Leader realized a few things. First, he was about 1.5 miles from his car. Second, he could feel his ankle swelling badly within his shoe and sock. Third, he knew that he wasn't sure how rapidly aid would come to him if he wanted to wait for it - and aid most likely wouldn't carry him out.

So he resolved to huff it back to the car.

He exhorted "S" to look around and try and find a reasonably straight tree branch that was still green enough to be used as a support as he walked. Your Maximum Leader had, on previous occasions, been able to find such walking sticks in abundance on previous visits to the same area. But it took "S" about 20 minutes and 2 failed attempts before she found a branch both long enough and green enough to support any of your Maximum Leader's weight as he walked.

That 1.5 miles was most likely the most painful 1.5 miles your Maximum Leader has ever walked. He couldn't make it more than a few steps before he was nearly blinded by pain. So it took a while.

During the walk, "S" stayed a few steps ahead. And silent. Granted at this point your Maximum Leader probably wasn't in top conversational form, but he would have gladly made a self-deprecating quip from time to time. (Which in fact he remember doing in a feeble attempt to engage in some sort of conversation.)

After a painful interval of walking, we finally reached the car. Whereupon "S" stated firmly and clearly that she didn't know how to drive a stick. Your Maximum Leader offered up that is was unlikely that he could operate the clutch on the car as his left ankle had now swollen to roughly twice it's normal size and was a dark violet colour. He asked if she'd like to learn. It wasn't hard...

"S" didn't want to learn. She didn't want to try to learn.

So. Your Maximum Leader drove 25 some miles along curvy mountainy roads all the while using his bad leg to operate the clutch and perform engine breaking and shifting to control the car. "S" busied herself with making sure the radio was on and playing rather upbeat pop music.

Your Maximum Leader drove to the emergency room at the local hospital. "S" indicated she'd be happy to wait in the waiting room while he was being seen. Your Maximum Leader's foot and ankle were packed in ice and his shoe and sock cut off. It wasn't a pretty site. Indeed at first your Maximum Leader thought he wouldn't be surprised if the foot just withered and fell off below the ankle. It looked that bad.

The doctor asked if "your girlfriend can drive you home?" To which your Maximum Leader responded, "No." The doctor laughed as if your Maximum Leader was joking. Then he became rather grave and said that your Maximum Leader should stay off the leg for 2-3 days.

Well, upon being discharged, your Maximum Leader drove himself (and "S") to his apartment.

Upon arriving at his residence he ordered pizza, got a beer, and took a painkiller.

It was at this point that "S" decided to "have a talk" with your Maximum Leader. She said that although she did come all the way from Chicago to see him, she really wasn't interested in moving forward in the relationship. If she had left it at that, it would have been a little better. But she continued that she had this "friend" in Chicago who she really trusted. It turns out this "friend" was a man. He informed her that your Maximum Leader was just a horny bastard and only out to get in her pants. Now admittedly, that thought had crossed your Maximum Leader's mind at some point. But that thought was far from his mind as he nursed his beer and wondered to himself how long it was going to be before the painkiller kicked in.

Then "S" proceeded to describe her history with this "friend." As she went in to more and more detail it became clear to your Maximum Leader that "S" was actually completely smitten with this "friend." And the "friend" - from his actions - didn't give a damn about her, except insomuch as he didn't want her to see anyone else. And oddly, at some level "S" knew and understood that too.

As the beer and painkillers were beginning to take affect, your Maximum Leader decided since it was obvious that this "date" had long since gone to hell he might as well be honest. So your Maximum Leader informed "S" that she could have very well told him this information over the phone, in a letter, or even an e-mail. "S" said she wasn't sure about any of this until she talked to her "friend" the night before she came to visit. So she didn't know until she arrived.

At this point your Maximum Leader suggested that the conversation was at an end and that we should get some sleep. He slept on the sofa. She in his bed.

The next morning your Maximum Leader awoke to discover "S" completely packed and on the phone. She was calling an aunt in the DC area asking if she could come over and spend a few days with her. Upon hanging up she asked your now roused Maximum Leader if he would mind her cutting the "weekend" short and driving her to her aunt's house.

Your Maximum Leader, being a gentleman and all, agreed it would be best. He made a few calls to see if he could borrow an automatic transmission car from on of his friends to make this journey. Much to his chagrin and surprise he discovered that none of his friends drove automatic transmission cars. (Which is very odd considering the automatic/manual ratio in this great nation.)

So your Maximum Leader drove "S" to her aunt's house. 3 hours away. Luckily for your Maximum Leader his grandparents lived just two miles from "S's" aunt.

Upon arriving your Maximum Leader excused himself for not getting out of the car and walking "S" to the door. "S" said that she'd be in touch. To which your Maximum Leader remembers responding, "Don't bother."

For other tales of dates gone wrong check out: Phin, The Wizard, Sadie, Chrissy, Kathy, and Silk.

Carry on.


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