Last weekend, my new friend and travel mate, Abby, thought it would be fun to do a double date. I was supposed to see a flamenco show with a guy I’d been talking to on OkCupid who was visiting Barcelona from Belgrade (our September stop–hoping to line things up in advance; I’m very pragmatic). Abby had never seen flamenco, so she hopped on her phone to find a fourth. Over lunchtime beers, this all seemed like a great plan.
By the time we were in the cab on the way to pre-flamenco drinks, our plan looked like it might be devolving into a third-wheel situation. Abby’s date was skeptical of the entire concept of the double date–perhaps it’s not so common in Spain?–sending messages like:
- “I don’t understand why we’re going out with your friend. Can’t we have a date just the two of us?”
- “Is this a group sex thing?”
But he kept promising that he was on his way–as soon as he got off work, changed his shirt, ran a couple errands…the excuses evolved over the course of the evening. Nevertheless, we soldiered on and were soon sitting across from my date, whom, to protect the privacy of the asinine, we’ll call Mark.
Allow me to be blunt: Mark was not attractive. Revisiting his profile later, I realized how strategic his photos were. So, all dolled up in my Friday night red-lipsticked best, that was disappointing. But he gave good text, so I had my fingers crossed for some scintillating conversation.
Then, ten minutes after we sat down, Mark told us about Helen, another girl he met on OkCupid, with whom he’d spent the entire week, sharing a room by night and exploring Barcelona by day. “I hope she might come by later,” he said casually, as if this were a perfectly normal thing to tell someone when you’re supposed to be on a date.
So at this point, two girls. One guy. The promise of a potential third girl. No actual dates happening. But there were mojitos on special and some delicious pesto bread, so we continued.
Getting the bill in Spain is always a process, and I wanted to regroup with Abby about our plans for the evening, so I sent Mark ahead to get seats for the flamenco show. When we were halfway there, Mark messaged to say there were no seats left; we’d arrived too late. There went the entire premise of the evening.
At this point, I was ready to bail and tried to convince Abby we should find another bar with different, better boys. It was Friday night, we were dressed up, it was Barcelona. But she was committed–to the idea that Mark could hook us up in Belgrade, to the possibility that her date (still messaging! still promising!) might come through, maybe even to the narrative itself.
So we moved to a different table on the main square of El Raval and waited for Mark to rejoin us–he seemed mysteriously committed to the evening as well. The waiter approached and asked, “Drinks? Mojitos?”
It’s like he knew us.
Mark came back and proceeded to tell us the FULL story of his romance with Helen, complete with photos. It was like a fairy tale, right up to the point where Helen apparently broke his heart the night before. Guess that’s why he decided to meet up with me? (Pro tip: don’t tell the girl you’re on a date with that she’s a consolation prize.)
Figuring this obliterated the need for any vestige of politeness, Abby and I were blatantly on our phones at this point. She started a thread on our We Roam Slack so that everyone might delight in a little schadenfreude. She also surreptitiously took photos of Mark showing us photos of Helen (they’re hilarious, but I’m too nice to post them). And we were both swiping through Tinder, still trying to make an actual double date out of the evening.
After forty-five minutes or so, I hooked one. Let’s-call-him-Diego was on his way and promised to bring a friend for Abby.
Half an hour later, Diego showed up alone. Alone and fully twenty-five years older than his late 20s-looking Tinder pics. 50 at least. Balding.
I contemplated karma as I scurried across the street to meet him, vaguely explaining that Mark was someone we’d met recently, and he was a little weird, so Diego should just ignore him. Not the world’s best cover story, but I was five or six mojitos deep.
We shared an awkward cocktail, over which Diego explained the finer points of Spain’s governmental structure, and then Abby and I agreed via WhatsApp that it was time to go.
“We have to volunteer REALLY early,” I announced as I stood up. “This has been lots of fun, but our volunteer work is so important to us.” (I’m smarmy when I’m irritated.)
But the fun wasn’t over yet. Diego offered to drive us home, we accepted, and then Mark–still in it to win it–insisted that Diego should drive him to our place as well, and it would be easy for him to walk from there.
Up to my eyeballs in bullshit, I asked Mark where he was staying, pulled up Google maps on my phone, and showed him that his Airbnb was just a ten minute walk from the square, while our place was 30 minutes farther away, and for that reason, we would be parting ways immediately. (Abby has photos of this, too.) I couldn’t have been more clear if I’d had a projector and a pointer.
He drunkenly acquiesced, and we waved goodbye as we speed walked down the street. One awkward car ride and a quick double cheek kiss later, we were free. Free to head upstairs to have a bottle of wine nightcap and regale our friends with the already legendary tale.
Instead of a double date, two dates. At one table. Both of them terrible. With a chaperone. Not exactly the romantic foreign escapade I’ve been imagining.
Was this the kind of date you all thought I’d be having in Spain? Anyone care to top my bad date anecdote? Commiserate below!