ONLINE DATING HORROR STORY OF THE WEEK: AM I BEING PUNK’D?

Another Friday, another chance to feel better about your own life. And to be really, really happy that you weren’t on this date. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if you guys would rise to the occasion and send me something worthy of following up last week’s All You Can Eat saga. But luckily for me, Jana from Connecticut’s heinous romantic encounter came along at the right time.

So I’ll turn the floor over to her, and thank my lucky stars that I’ve never gone out with someone who makes me wonder if I’m on a hidden camera show. If you could use a good laugh, you’re in luck. And speaking of laughs…

Eric, the attorney: “His email showed up in my inbox one day with the subject line, “hey cutie.” I should’ve known that I was in for it right then and there, but I’d hit a bit of a dry spell lately, so I responded anyway. After a week or so of emailing, he seemed normal (aside from his love of affectionate names). So, we set up a time to meet for drinks at a low key wine bar of his choosing. When I showed up, he had considerably less hair than his profile photo. (*Miss Wingman note: Balding, it’s nature’s great equalizer. Accept it or Bic it, boys, we’ve been over this).

We sat and talked for a short time about the weather, our jobs, and whatever else. It was all superficial chit chat until we ran out of the aforementioned chatter and slammed headlong into total silence. I mean it – an awkward, drawn out pause where neither of us could think of anything to say. Until he decided to fill the silence with the first thing that came to his mind, and he blurted out, “So I used to want to be a priest when I grew up…”

I choked on an ice cube. “What?” He repeated himself. Yup, this was really happening. After I questioned him at length about why any adolescent male would ever consider voluntarily giving up sex FOR LIFE, he explained that he wanted to help people. Great, now I felt bad. Then I suggested he could do it in other ways, like volunteering at a hospital, or becoming a fireman. At least firemen were allowed to have sex.

I should’ve left the awkward silence alone, because as soon as I made the joke I realized how big a mistake I’d made. Eric laughed out loud, but it was the most high-pitched, ridiculous-sounding hyena laugh I’d ever heard. And it was deafeningly loud.

Or at least it seemed that way in a quiet wine bar, because everyone turned and stared at us. I would’ve laughed myself at how any person could even make such a noise, let alone a male, since he just hit falsetto octaves only whales and dogs could detect. But I was too busy shrinking down in my chair, paralyzed with embarrassment.

Ten minutes later he did it again, this time even louder and for a longer period of time, while we were discussing an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” I shrank down even further. Oh, and he kept calling me things like “babe,” “sweetie” and “hon” all night. It was getting worse by the minute.

I know you’re probably thinking that having a bad laugh isn’t really grounds for calling it a disaster, but I swear – no amount of describing it could ever do it justice. It was a cackle straight out of a movie.

But after two hours of awkwardness so thick you could cut it with a knife, my cue to leave came when he got out of his seat and started reenacting a scene from Episode V of “Star Wars” in front of our table. With voices and sound effects. I wish I was kidding. You can’t make this stuff up – unless it’s in an episode of “Punk’d.” I begged him to stop, and then looked for the camera – he had to be messing with me. Finally, I ended up just telling him I had an early conference call in the morning and needed to head home.

He packed up his imaginary light saber, paid our bill and walked me to my car. But not before giving me one last taste of the hyena laugh while thanking our waitress. I was spared the misery of a goodnight kiss attempt, and called my best friend on the drive home. After I told her about the date, she asked if I regretted going out with him. I told her yes, but I had an even bigger regret – that I didn’t think to record the laugh on my iPhone while I had the chance. It’s OK though, I can still hear it when I want to. In my nightmares.”

Jana: So would you say it was more Paul Rubens as Pee Wee Herman, or Janice on “Friends”? Either way it’s no laughing matter (Zing!)

But seriously, I’m glad it wasn’t me on that date because I have no poker face. A few other things I wanted to address though… 1) He said he’d considered becoming a priest at one time? Maybe that has something to do with him not trying for a goodnight kiss. Consider yourself lucky, but not lucky enough to have avoided the “Star Wars” role play. Which brings me to 2) Was it at least the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker “I’m your father” scene from The Empire Strikes Back? If you must geek out, might as well be to George Lucas’ best work.

3) Although I like your fireman suggestion, priests can have sex. Didn’t you know that? It’s just slightly more of a hassle, what with having to silence all those young boys for years afterward. (Kidding! I know, I know – in poor taste in light of the Sandusky trial, whatever). 4) I loathe cheesy terms of endearment like “sweetie” and “cutie.” Next time a relative stranger calls you one of those, remind them that women have nicknames for them, too. Only they’re a lot less affectionate.

And finally 5) I’m bummed that you didn’t have an audio file to attach with this story, but I’m more concerned that you were discussing SNL. Who watches “Saturday Night Live” anymore anyway? Next thing you’ll be telling me you watch “American Ninja Warrior,” too. Where are your standards, girl? But thanks for the story, and it sounds like you learned your lesson. For future reference, the next time you want to set up a date, make sure to do it over the phone.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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