I am often asked about an experience I had on a date about three years ago. After much pestering I finally agreed that it needs to be immortalized forever in the written word. Dates of this caliber don't happen very often. To let this one fall victim to the hands of time would be doing a great disservice to all those who revere a good story. It must be said that everything I am about to tell you about that night is exactly what happened. Some readers might not believe this actually took place, but I swear its true. I've heard it said that this date is the worst date in history. Having not been alive for all of history, I make no guarantees. But its safe to assume it ranks up there. From my perspective I will fondly remember it as one of the most strangely, entertaining stories from the filing cabinet of my life.
A number of years ago I went to a masquerade ball. If you've never attended one, let me describe what you're missing. A few hundred disguised strangers gather together to chat, become inebriated and covertly hit on each other all while remaining incognito. Wearing tuxedoes and masks around other people is a strange feeling. It's feels like a cross between being at a fancy cocktail party and dressing up to pull off a massive, 19th century style bank heist. At some point during the mayhem a female guest arrived in a white dress. The stark contrast of her white outfit against the black sea of tuxedoes and dresses made her very visible. She seemed wrongly out of place.. Much like Vanilla Ice at a Kanye West concert. However, it was a costume party so I didn't give it much thought.
I think I said about three words to her the entire evening. About a week later I got a Facebook friend request from "Sarah". At the time I didn't make the connection but I accepted anyway. About a year goes by and not a word is said. One day I get a message from her. "Hi" she said. I replied with the same. She started making conversation about the weather. I agreed that the weather had been very warm. She reminded me that we met at a party a year ago and asked if I remembered her. I confessed that I did not. She asked me if I wanted to go on a date later that evening. She wanted to go for a walk on the beach. I reluctantly agreed. I'm not sure if it was her charming meteorological acumen or her talent for stimulating conversation that convinced me to acquiesce. I agreed it would be a good idea to meet a total stranger in a dark, desolate beach at almost 9:30 at night. What could possibly go wrong?
After programming my GPS with her address I set out for the Isle of Palms. As I turned onto her street I saw something move in the middle of the street. I quickly braked and stopped. My headlights then illuminated a sight before me which will be forever burned into the deepest recesses of my mind. There standing in the middle of the street was a crazed looking woman dressed in a long white, lace dress. There was a white piece of cloth wrapped around her head. She had white, high heel shoes on. I blinked twice and sat perfectly still. I was thinking I had just been visited by the ghost of Stevie Nicks from her 1981 album Bella Donna. I quickly dismissed this however as Stevie is quite alive and probably not making late night visits to anyone. She reached to the ground and picked up a massive picnic basket and started wildly running toward my car as if she were being chased. Before I could do anything she tripped and fell right into my door. It seems sprinting in high heel shoes in the middle of the night in an oversized, antiquated dress from the 70's may have been a bad idea.
She opened the passenger door and threw the picnic basket into the back seat. She jumped in, shut the door and just sat there. Not a moment had passed before I sensed a unique and "aggressive aroma" that seemed to permeate the air. It was unlike any perfume I had experienced before. The fragrance began to titillate my olfactory sense as only a home-made cologne can. The questions were piling up. Could it instead be fragrance by T. Swift, J Lo or Beyonce? I decided that was unlikely as those perfumes were actually made by professionals.
I started driving down the street as if I had a plan. I had no plan though and she was giving me confusing directions. Turn right here.. Turn left.. Ten minutes had passed and we were not any closer to the beach. Finally she had me driving down a road which led to a dead end. We were pulling into the department of recreation parking lot. She directed me to park the car. I stopped the car and we were sitting in an almost completely dark, desolate parking lot. My only sense of safety came from my only real companion.. One lone sodium-light hovered high on a pole that was dimly illuminating a parking lot, soccer field, picnic pavilion and playground. This single, flickering light stood between me and certain impending awkwardness.
Immediately she reached into the back to grab the picnic basket. Before I had any chance to protest she had spread a white table cloth across both of our laps. Then out came a candle which she lit and placed in the center of the dashboard. Next it was time for drinks. She procured wine glasses and a fresh bottle of Welches Sparkling Grape Juice of the white grape variety. We clinked glasses and began to sip. I don't often drink alcohol but at this point I was wishing for something a little heavier. Perhaps some straight vodka would be enough to take the edge off the forthcoming weirdness. We began to chat about life. She told me about her desire to teach in southern Europe. She showed me pictures of her closet of white clothes. Apparently she only wears white and finds it unacceptable to wear anything of a different color. She regaled me with stories of her life that made absolutely no sense. She spoke of princes and kings and how she was a princess and owned a crown. She spoke in sentences that tangentially morphed from one topic to the next. The white cloth that wrapped her head began to slip over one of her eyes, yet she did nothing. I began to assess the current situation and determined that sitting next to a half-blind, unstable, non-sensical Stevie Nicks impersonator while draped in a white table cloth, sipping on expensive carbonated grape juice and burning a candle inside a closed vehicle was a bit ill-advised.
I suggested that we leave the car. She was excited about this and immediately packed all of the things in the basket. Suddenly she makes a run for the picnic pavilion. My guardian angel parking lot light began to flicker with an even greater sense of urgency. As I arrived at the pavilion I realized we were in almost complete darkness. She was not deterred by this and began to spread the table cloth across the picnic table. She put the candle in the center of the table. We sat down. After a few moments of awkward silence she reached into the huge picnic basket and procured a giant silver platter. She then placed 27 Capri-Sun juice drinks on the platter, counting them each individually. She explained that 27 was her magic number and proceeded to offer me one. Although it is quite flattering to be offered juice bags from a silver platter, I declined. I explained that if we both had one to drink, then she would only have 25 left and any magic contained within them would then disappear. She seemed unmoved as she stabbed the straw into the side of the bag. There were only sounds of slurping to break the dreadful silence.
After a few moments she once again reached into the basket. She started scooping something onto the table. My nose was again overcome with a biting and somewhat pungent, yet organic bouquet, unlike any other. It was garlic. She was scooping mounds of raw garlic cloves onto the table. She began forming them with her hands. She was recreating the great pyramids of Egypt out of garlic! The architectural subtlety in her creation was impressive. She didn't say much. She could only think to offer me some Deep Woods Off for any insects. I reminded her that both mosquitoes as well as vampires don't care for garlic as we were not likely to be attacked by either. The awkward silence was deafening. I turned and looked at the full moon. I began to seriously consider this was part of the problem. Perhaps she was recreating a scene from a cheap vampire movie? I even considered the possibility that John Quinones from ABC-News may jump out of a bush somewhere. But alas there were no camera men or TV show. It was only me sitting in a dark picnic pavilion under a full moon, being stared down by a fake white princess obsessed with garlic and Capri-Sun. It was time for this date to end. One has to have a 'threshold-for-creepiness' somewhere!
I announced that it was time to leave. She packed up everything in the basket and we left. I aimed the car in the general direction of her house and started to drive furiously. Suddenly she yelled for me to stop and turn. She said I had passed the entrance. Moments later I found us sitting in a random church parking lot. She said she wanted to show me her church. It was 11pm and clearly no church was going to be open that late. She immediately grabbed a Capri-Sun and jumped out of the car and disappeared into the church yard. Minute after minute passed and no sign of her. I am beginning to consider that there is some weird ritual involving juice drinks happening in a graveyard somewhere. It's amazing where your mind will go after you've been forced to inhale garlic for 2 hours. After 25 minutes she returned to the car and announced that the church was indeed closed for business at 11:25pm. She seemed very perplexed by this. She said she was tired and just wanted me to take her back to the IOP. I inquired whether she meant the Isle Of Palms or the Institute of Psychiatry.
The rest of our drive was quiet. As I drove I remember being thankful for the sincere effort she had put into this date. Her variety in modern fashion sense was impressive. Her stories were eccentrically quirky. Her taste in carbonated beverages and bagged fruit juice was impeccable. We arrived at her home. She got out of the car, took her basket and left. I started to drive away and watched in the rear view mirror as she solemnly walked into her home and closed the door on a night I will never forget.
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Ed Reynolds is a Voice Actor in Nashville, TN. He can be found at www.AntiAnnouncer.com
He urges you to check out his site and hire him to produce any of your scripts.