Let's be honest here, first dates are awkward. It's the time you first get to sit down with someone you're interested in and the goal is to try and impress them.
I was once a hopeless romantic that believed each first date was a step closer to finding the right person. After a failed relationship and many dates later, first dates have now become more like job interview preparation. My whole outlook has changed and for each date, I pretty much know what to expect. Dinners have become interview questions, helping me answer under pressure. For example, I'm always prepared for the infamous question:
"So, what do you like to do for fun?"
However, the harsh reality is that modern dating isn't easy. The rise of dating websites and apps have completely changed the world of dating, meaning you can scroll through people with the touch of your finger. However, I'm not saying internet dating is bad, because I surprisingly met my first boyfriend through a dating app. The thing that I've learned is that online dates have become more like a blind date that you have to take with a grain of salt. Sometimes you'll have great experiences and other times, not so much.
However, I believe that I have a story that tops off every other crazy first date story that you've heard. My story is a special story that involves a dive bar, craft beers, and a dart. Take a journey with me and look back to the night that I lost all hope in first dates.
It all started on a warm September Friday night.
I had recently downloaded a popular dating app called Bumble. I played around on the app for a few weeks, and finally matched with someone I had genuine conversations with. After chatting for a while, he told me
"Ya know, you seem like a super chill girl and I would to take you to a bar for our first time meeting".
I agreed, and thought that would take some pressure off the situation, since first dates can be quite stressful. My date told me to meet him at a bar called The Spigot. I'd never heard of this place before, but was open-minded to something new. But as I approached the lot, I was convinced that I'd gotten the wrong address.
I parked on the side of the road and texted my date to let him know I was there, but was pretty sure that I was at the wrong place. He reassured me that I was at the right bar, and he would be there in two minutes. I sat in my car and looked ahead at a red building in a bad part of town, which looked rundown and shutdown.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing this place by any means. This would be a great hangout place for a bunch of friends. Howevahhh, this is not the case on a first date. In fact, I was absolutely petrified.
I met my date, who gave me a hug hello and brought me inside the barn- I mean bar. As we entered, I was speechless. There were no windows and The Spigot wasn't serving food. It was just a bar, old men playing cards under a dim lit table, a jukebox, and professional dart boards.
My date, who I'll name Sergio for privacy reasons, just stood there and could clearly see my expressionless face. He tried to break the ice and started the conversation by saying,
"So uh- Amelia. You wanna beer...or something?"
I was internally practicing deep breathing exercises, because not only did he bring me to a dive bar on a first date, but he couldn't say my name right! I replied,
"It's actually pronounced Ah-mah-lee-ah, and yes...that would be great."
I stood there trying to be calm, cool, and collected, while forcing a Colgate toothpaste worthy smile.
He came back with two beers and darts. We played a couple of rounds of darts and got chit-chatting. We talked about what we do for fun, and the more that Sergio kept on talking, all I could see pictured in my head was this mountain man hiking for months away from civilization. As he was telling me about his mountain man adventures, all I could picture was him as Robin Williams in Jumanji asking what year is it.
This 'date' was off to a rough start and, for your reading pleasure, it got much worse. He kept talking about a variety things, from massage therapy classes and mountain biking to how to make beef jerky. I stood there nodding, wide-eyed and smiling as I chugged down my beer.
We got back to playing darts, which was something very new to me. Thanks to my liquid courage and great communication skills, I figured the date would go by quicker if I kept talking and playing darts.
After my turn to throw, I went to the board to retrieve the darts. Sergio stayed at the table and, while my back was turned, he said,
"Ya know, I bet I can make a bullseye while you're standing there."
That's when I felt a sharp pain in the back of my right thigh. I froze, and slowly turned to face Sergio.
Yes, my dear reader, you read that correctly. I, Amalia Mangiafico, was stabbed in the back of leg with a steel-tipped dart on a first date. Sergio had covered his mouth with his hands and frantically reacted,
"Oh my God, Amelia-I mean Amalia! Are you okay I am so sorry!"
I inhaled, lifted my head to look him in the eye and softly responded,
"I will be right back."
I hobbled to the ladies room with my impaled leg. I closed and locked the door, took a deep breath, and pulled out the dart, screaming internally.
I disinfected my leg, and walked out with the dart in hand. I placed the dart down in front of Sergio, looked at him dead in the eye and said,
"You have yourself a good night, I'm going home."
His eyes opened wide.
"Amalia I am so sorry it was a complete accident I swear I didn't mean-"
I cut him off and repeated myself.
"You have yourself a good night, I'm going home."
I grabbed my purse, saluted the men at the table who witnessed the best entertainment they've seen all week, and got into my car. I then speed-dialed my best friend to let her know I was on my way over her house. My best friend Morgan was excited for me to go on this date because she wanted me to put myself out there again.
"Soooo, how did the date go?"
"Oh it was lovely, I got stabbed in Hartford."
She shrieked. I told her I'd explain to her when I arrived at her house.
I reached the house where Morgan, her mom, and our other friend Nicole were waiting for me. I sat them down and told them the entire story of what went down at The Spigot. Their reaction?
They were hysterically laughing for a good while. Once they settled down, Morgan wiped her tears of laughter from her eyes and told me to get ready to go out that night. That was exactly what we did, and it was a great way to end the evening. In fact, we laughed about it the entire night, and it's still a running joke. However, Morgan has heard this story so many times she can recite it by memory.
There's a couple of lessons that I learned from this experience. First off, dating is hard. It takes a lot of effort to muster up the courage to meet someone new and get out of your comfort zone, but when you meet someone that makes the interaction feel natural, that's the best result of all. So, be patient and look at first dates as a way to meet new people and learn more about yourself. That special person will come along soon enough.
That brings me to my second point: Keep your friends close to you. Your friends are always going to be there for you to make the best memories with. My friends made me look at this experience as a hilarious story to share with others. Never lose sight of those that are always there for you, even since the beginning.
Lastly, don't go to a dive bar for a first date. The back of your leg will thank you later. Oh, and as for Sergio, he texted me a week later and asked if I wanted to go out with him again. To which I responded with, "Nah".
Savage level: Achieved.
That is my first date horror story. If you have any questions about it at all, feel free to write it down in the comments section. I hope you got a chuckle out of this!