He took me to a beautiful French restaurant in Los Angeles for dinner on a crisp fall evening in 2007. He had approached me at the coffee shop the week before and asked me out, after chatting me up while we both sipped pumpkin spice lattes. He was friendly and sported the salt and pepper hair that hinted he was probably a touch older than the men I usually dated, but I agreed to a date because I wanted to give it a chance. I wore a sexy wrap dress and he arrived wearing black pants and a nice jacket. We were led to a secluded table in a dimly lit corner of the restaurant. It had the romantic ambience you can appreciate on a date. I silently gave him props for the choice. As we perused the menu, he let out a deep sigh.
“Is something wrong?” I asked him. He replied without looking up, “These are some pretty steep prices.” I glanced back at the menu. As a vegetarian, I usually have to ask the chef to make something special for me or I order from the sides, appetizers, and salads, since the entrees are most often meat-centric. The Watercress Salad with apples, spiced walnuts, and Roquefort was $11. The Pommes Frites and Gruyure Macaroni and Cheese were only $7 each. However, the items he was probably salivating over were comparatively more expensive. The Petit Cut Filet Mignon was $30, the Rack of Lamb was $40, and the Boeuf Stroganoff was $26. They were reasonable prices for the place, I thought.
While waiting for our drinks, we shared our stories about what brought us to California, how long we’d lived there, and I noticed he frequently interrupted me to either condescendingly talk over me or change the subject altogether. Then he mentioned he went to medical school before becoming a sculptor.
“Oh, wow. What made you quit medical school?” I naturally inquired, as our drinks arrived. “Well, I realized I really just don’t like people enough to take care of them”, he replied, stone-faced. “Most people are a giant pain in the ass”, he chuckled, as he took a swig of his dirty martini.
It was increasingly becoming clear he found himself far more interesting than he found me. Twice during conversation I had to remind him of something about myself that I know I had already disclosed, and he went on lengthy monologues about his beliefs and views of the world, never showing the slightest interest in my point of view.
Our sweet and attentive server dropped off the check and he quickly glanced at it and put it off to the side to continue telling me about the laws of the universe and why he was destined to sculpt frogs. She returned to pick up the check book, thinking he had put money in it, but took three steps and turned around to place it back on the table because she found the book empty. He reluctantly took out his wallet to pull out some cash and stuffed the book before placing it, peculiarly, on the table against the wall, furthest from the server’s reach.
Before leaving, we both stopped to use the restrooms. When we met back up in the lobby, the restaurant’s finely dressed manager was at the host desk and asked us how our dinner was. I casually answered “Oh, everything was great”. Then with a face that denoted contempt, he said “Your server said you left her a bad tip.”
My head snapped toward my date in horror. “You did?!” I asked him, clearly outraged and embarrassed. My date, looking mortified, stammered to the manager “No, I left her $9.” I just stared at the manager, shocked that he actually called a customer out on his atrocious tipping. The manager said “The bill was $70, and she said you gave her $5. I just want to make sure the tip wasn’t a reflection of your experience dining with us tonight.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My date, trying to save face, said “No, I gave her $9! Maybe the four singles fell out and someone else swiped them.” My poor date had no clue that he wasn’t saving face by claiming he left a $9 tip on a $70 tab. I suspected he was lying.
We were silent as we walked to our cars. I’m sure I’m not shocking anyone when I say that I said “No” to a second date when he asked “So…movies next weekend?”
For those of you curious about the date that was worse than this one, click here!