DATES SUCK

There was a time in my twenties, while in between graphic design jobs, I worked as a temp at Massmutual, a gigantic insurance company with offices on 42nd Street and Madison Ave (if memory serves). The commute each day was both hellish and wonderful. I had to take a bus from Jersey to the Port Authority by Times Square (the hellish part) and then walk 5 very looooong blocks to the office (the wonderful part).

I’ve always liked walking in New York, but each day to and from the office was more of a sprint than a casual stroll – you were either trying to catch the early bus home or get to work on time. See, if you hit traffic coming in, you had to make up the time difference during your walk to the office. There were times I was fairly skipping along 42nd Street in order to shave off a few minutes. I hate being late.

Anyway, one day on my ride into the city via the good old NJ Transit Bus 166, I was listening to WNEW, what was then the premier rock station in the tri-state area. They were having a contest – this dude named Ari had two tickets some huge, must-see benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, and he needed a date – hence the contest. I think the concert was to save the Rainforest and was going to feature performances by Sting, (with the Police, I think) Billy Joel, and a third performer that I can’t quite remember – maybe Bruce, maybe McCartney. Ugh – my creaky old brain malfunctions again!

As coincidence would have it, the radio station was in the same building as my office. I had to walk right past these guys to get to work. I figured there was no way they’d still be outside hunting for the perfect bachelorette by the time I arrived. I was still a good 40 minutes away. But as I approached my building, there they were still on the corner; this guy Ari and some remote radio guy with a microphone in hand.

They approached me and asked if was interested in taking part in the contest. Now, if I had said no, there’d be no story to tell, would there? I’m an adventurous gal, or at least I was back then, so I said, “sure, why not?” The thought of possibly seeing the concert appealed to me, this guy Ari wasn’t bad looking, and it would make my day that much more interesting.

I was ushered to the WNEW studios and interviewed on-air with Ari for a few minutes for all of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to hear. Afterward, I went up to my desk making my apologies to my boss for my tardiness who totally understood. A half hour later I got a call from a few floors below. Ari had chosen me for his date, and would I come back down to firm up the details. Whee! This day was turning out ok!

We decided to go out on a pre-date to make sure we were compatible. His theory was he didn’t want to waste the ticket if I turned out to be a real zero. That should’ve been my first warning sign. We played some pool and had a few beers and seemed to hit it off. I was deemed ticket-worthy.

He asked just two things of me. I was to buy him a concert shirt in return for him taking me to the concert. It seemed like a fair request to me, so I agreed. He also asked that I dress nice that night. While I don’t usually like going to concerts in skirts or dresses, I figured it wouldn’t kill me to slick myself up for a night on the town.

The night of the concert we were to meet outside his apartment – parking was good there and we could take a cab to the Garden. I was in a tight, blue mini dress – I had the body for it back then – and my hair was long and curled. I looked pretty darn good. He came out of his apartment in jeans and a woven pullover – the type a beach bum might wear. I was sorta pissed.

We took the cab ride to the Garden and found our way to our seats. He had eyed the T-shirt counters on the way in, but I told him we’d get it on the way out. We made the requisite small talk before the show began. He told me that he had a friend that was working back stage, and that he was going to walk down and say hi to him. I stood up to accompany him, but he told me to stay put – that he’d be right back.

I didn’t see him through Sting. I didn’t see him through Billy Joel. I sat alone through most of the concert. During intermission I walked around the concourse in the hopes of seeing my friend Paul who was also at the show. I managed to spot him and we chatted about how miserable my night was going thus far. I had been all but abandoned at Madison Square Garden, and I was bummed out.

Suddenly I feel someone grab my arm – it was Ari, who had magically returned from his VIP escapades back stage. But it wasn’t the Ari I had come to the concert with – this guy was on something. He was hyper and over active and embarrassing to be around. We returned to our seats and I asked him where he was for the past 90 minutes. He went on to explain what a fab time he’d had back stage and he was sorry but there was no way to get word back to me. Then the music started and he began to dance and scream and make an ass of  himself.

When the show was over I marched past every single T-shirt hawker, stand and counter. Ari kept calling after me, but I wouldn’t stop. Once out on the street he began to yell at me that I had made a deal and broken my promise. I spent the next 10 minutes setting poor, confused, delusional little Ari straight.

Then I walked away and used his T-shirt money to pay for a cab back to my car. I can be a real push over sometimes, but this turd took it way too far. It had never felt so good to just leave someone in the dust.

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