The 4 Most Panic-Inducing Dates I’ve Ever Endured

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Get ready for International Panic Day everybody! That’s right: June 18th is reserved for this lovely holiday in which we’re given the chance to celebrate all the things that kick our anxiety levels into overdrive: Death, taxes, cellulite, the possibility we’ve started balding. Parents, children, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends. And, of course, first dates. So it is that in celebration of International Panic Day, I’ve compiled a list of the most panic-inducing dates and near-dates I’ve ever endured.

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The Little Person: I’d been online dating hard. I’d been hitting that biz as aggressively as anyone ever has in the history of the interwebs. We’re talking, like, a date a night for a month. On this, two things: 1) If you’re wondering where I found the time, allow me to recommend freelance writing as career choice. 2) If you’re wondering how/why there were that many dudes who wanted to date me, it’s because my profile photo featured yours truly in a backless shirt, tight jeans, and ridiculous straw fedora. In hindsight, I do believe I looked that pitch-perfect amount of promiscuous. Anyhooz, it was amidst this whirlwind dating fiesta that I wound up on a date with a dwarf. Yes, a dwarf. I’d been waiting at the bar of his choosing (I always arrive early to dates, internet and otherwise, so as to have time to primp in the bathroom, as well as manage any unsavory sweating that’s taking place) when suddenly I felt a tiny hand slip into my hand. “Sara?” he asked. And I turned around, and there he was. Looking kind of like he did in his profile photo, but a good two feet shorter than he’d claimed.

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The hardest thing about learning to rollerblade? Letting your parents know you’re gay: So one time I was set up with a friend of a friend named Josh, and Josh, prior to meeting, suggested our first date ought to be in Central Park. I thought this sounded terribly romantic, a serious step up from all the ironically-served PBR’s I’d endured on any number of other first dates. So there I was waiting at the northern side of Bethesda Fountain, when a guy flew toward me on rollerblades. UNANTICIPATED ROLLERBLADES. I said, “Oh! Are we… rollerblading?” This, bee-tee-dubs, was three years ago: 2009. Josh said, “Well, you certainly don’t have to. But I just like to have ‘em on me whenever I’m in the park. Don’t worry, though, I’ll go at a slow place so you can keep up.”

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I want to burn you, man: In my humble opinion, the world can be divided into a few different groups: People who go “Sorry!” when someone accidentally opens the door on them in a public restroom vs. people who shout, “Someone’s in here!” People who say “Work hard, play hard,” vs. people who find that turn of phrase inexplicably fratty and grotesque. People who love Burning Man vs. people who think Burning Man is hell on earth. I fall squarely in that latter group. Honestly, I’d rather camp out in Auschwitz than spend a night at Burning Man. So it was that when I found myself on yet another in a series of fix-ups, and the guy — a pharmaceutical copy-writer with a pair of Oakley shades propped up on his head — started waxing poetic on his recent trip to Burning Man, I experienced a wave of panic/disappointment so severe, I had to excuse myself to the ladies’ room to manage my unladylike gastro-intestinal problems.

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Mask (not starring Cher): I met a guy, Avi, at a friend’s party once, and several days later Avi Facebooked me to see if I wanted to go out. At first I was flattered. He’d seemed like a nice guy, and this, his niceness, more than made up for the fact that he wore a pinky ring. Which as far as I’m concerned, is great if you’re Tony Soprano, but otherwise, no gracias. But anyway, I accepted Avi’s offer. I wrote back, “I’d love to go out! When do you have in mind?” And Avi wrote back, “Tuesday?” And I wrote back, “Great! What shall we do?” And Avi wrote back, “Well, do you want to have a normal date in an abnormal environment, or an abnormal date in a normal environment?” And I wrote back, “Sorry, what?” So Avi repeated himself, “Normal date in abnormal environment, or abnormal date in a normal environment?”

I thought for a moment. And then I wrote, “Abnormal date, I guess?  In a normal environment?” Then Avi told me that what he’d like to do, in that case, was go for a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, but wearing wool ski masks.

“Right,” I wrote back. “Thing is, I just realized I’m busy Tuesday.”

Sara Barron is the author of People Are Unappealing and the forthcoming Eating While Peeing: and other adventures.