May 25th, 2006: While we got used to the sleepless nights and periodic bouts of projectile vomit (not all of it Torak's), I waxed lyrical for my single days. Yeah... for about nine seconds.
Well, it has been a long week of the Learning Channel for the Jenkins family. If you were wondering whether or not it is possible to commit suicide simply by staring at a TV screen, then I suggest nine hundred straight hours of the inspired predictability that is While You Were Doing Something Else on the Futility Networkâ„¢. Torak the Slayer could be found in his crib all week gurgling and trying to bite his own arm off to hold back the horror that was his nineteenth episode of A Baby Story. He would have succeeded, too, if he'd had any teeth.
Yes, chaps and chapesses... Nigh Perfect has taken over the television remote, and with it any hope I ever had of watching Spike TV and/or English Premier League Football for the rest of my natural life. The World Cup will be with us soon, and I have no doubt that while my mates are down the pub watching pay-per-view highlights I will be sitting in my kitchen trying to block out the sound of some overly enthusiastic carpenter trying to persuade some less-than enthusiastic homeowner that the correct decor for their living room is vomit green accented by lavender trim.
Heaven forbid that I go upstairs to type for a while, either... because the moment I begin to formulate a single creative thought I am brought back to earth by the sound of my wife yelling through the (locked) door:
"Hey! Hey! You've got to see this!"
"I'm trying to work! You're just going to show me one of those so-called decorating experts trying as hard as they can to piss somebody off, aren't you?"
"No, I promise!"
"I'm going to kill you right after I shoot the TV. We'll be on the New Detectives."
"It's nothing like that. No decorating shows, I promise."
"Or baby shows!"
"Or baby shows."
"No pregnancy shows, no fertility shows, no birth shows, no placenta shows, no shows about rearranging the furniture, no shows about maximizing closet space or fixing up a teenager's room to look like a spaceship?"
"None of those."
"Okay... wow. Is everything okay? Are we at war?"
"No! It's Two People Dating! Check out their reactions... I really think they like each other."
As I stood in a pile of smoking electronic parts that used to be my television this week, I paused to reflect on the wonder and joy that is the process of courtship. For those of us who do not live in our parents' basement and dress up like Klingons at conventions, it is a complex dance, a tapestry of two souls woven from the fabric of love and laughter... it is a miraculous progression through the wash and rinse cycles of life's dishwasher.
Like hell it is.
And so, without further explanation, I present the first in an occasional little spot from my bachelor days that I like to call:
Five Insane Women I Barely Escaped From
Number One - The Hairdresser
The Hairdresser is responsible for the absolute worst date I ever had. Let's say we give her a Native American name, for the sake of anonymity, and that name is: "She-Who-Communes-With-Voices-In-Her-Head."
I was introduced to this Possible Future Wife by a Scottish friend of mine named Louise, a fellow hairdresser and, as it turned out, a good friend to the mentally unstable. Louise had told me a little about her pal and suggested that we get together in a billiard hall, knowing as she did how much I like to play pool.
The Hairdresser showed up, looking pretty well put together and smartly dressed. My first clue that something was amiss was that she absolutely loathed pool and also movies, animals, sports, and people. But she had potential: she was the kind of girl you would probably take home to meet your mum. Only later did I discover that the only circumstance under which you would introduce her to your mother would be if you had recently taken out a large insurance policy on your parents and you wanted to collect the money early.
The details of the date itself are somewhat hazy, and there is a good reason for this, involving the heavy consumption of alcohol: it turned out that the Hairdresser was absolutely the most revolting harridan ever created by Satan himself, and that she was masquerading for a few years as a human being in order to learn about our ways. She hadn't learned much.
In fact, she picked a fight in the restaurant I took her to. And also in the car on the way to the movie theater. And also in the parking lot. And in the lobby. I will admit that by the time we sat down to watch her movie of choice I was a little confused about where the relationship might be headed (my sense being that we were sitting in a little metaphorical barrel near a place called Niagara, headed towards a large body of rushing water). But being British, I decided I would respond to her deliberate poking and prodding by being nice and keeping a stiff upper lip.
I asked the Hairdresser what she might like from the lobby, and she responded that she would like a cup of tea and some Swedish Fish... but only the multicolored kind. Now I don't know about you, chums, but the chances of grabbing a cup of tea in your local Regal Cinema are about the same as your chances of seeing some angry American Idol contestant stuffing a microphone into Ryan Seacrest's mouth and opening fire on the panel of judges (one can only dream) to the tune of "So You Had A Bad Day."
Nevertheless, armed with a polite smile and promising to be back soon, I rushed to a nearby Stop And Shop, where I persuaded the lady in the tea aisle to slide me a free teabag when nobody was looking. I grabbed some Swedish Fish from the candy section and--because I am a nice guy--I also bought the Hairdresser some flowers, which I placed in the car for after the movie.
Now to all you guys out there, I know... you want to know what the hell I was thinking. I mean I had been abused for two hours by a virtual stranger, and yet here I was buying flowers. Well, I can only say it was not me who bought the flowers--it was my crotch. Whether you are man, woman, animal, or none of the above, I am sure you are beginning to understand. Yes, folks... my Dating career is a lot like my Sporting career: a lot of chasing around and hurting myself, all because of balls.
Anyway... where was I? Oh, yes. Being abused.
By the time I arrived back inside the theater, the previews were in full swing. The Hairdresser scowled at me for taking too long just before she snatched the gifts from my grasp. I sat down next to her, making a mental note of all the exits.
The movie, as I recall, was about some evil doctors and it starred Hugh Grant. Anyone who knows anything about me could probably make a shrewd guess that watching a Hugh Grant movie ranks somewhere up there with Leaping from a Speeding Train on my list of Things Not To Do Before I Die. After a few moments, the Hairdresser turned to me with a new challenge:
"What do you think's going to happen?" she asked.
"Uh... wow... I don't know. We're only a few minutes in--"
"Who did it? Do you think it was the guy's boss? I think it was the guy's boss."
"I guess so. Maybe--"
"Oh, great! Thanks for spoiling it for me."
And with this, She-Who-Communes-With-Voices-In-Her-Head launched into a tirade, the gist of which was that I had an annoying habit of giving away the end of movies. Since this was the first movie we had ever watched together--and since it was the first day of its opening weekend--I felt obliged to compliment her on her precognitive abilities. I had obviously stumbled quite by chance into the "Menstrual Humor" section of the Candid Camera Show and I was being tested to see if I could hold my nerve. I was not going down without a fight.
I decided to look at the screen and keep my mouth shut. I could feel Looney Toon's eyes boring into the side of my head but I pretended to be really interested in the outcome of the movie, although I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Frankly, I couldn't concentrate: I kept laughing out loud during the murder scenes and crying during the credits--this woman had completely thrown my timing off.
To cut a long story short, She-Who-Communes-With-Voices kept this up for another full hour until I dropped her off with a smile and a wave (and flowers!) at her house, at which point I booked it like a frightened gazelle back to my apartment and went down the pub.
I then got very, very drunk. I remember moaning to my soccer mates something to the effect that I was going to spend a year in the company of men only because the whole woman thing wasn't working. I remember drinking by myself for the rest of the night... I do not remember much about walking home but I do remember I was absolutely certain that the Hairdresser was going to have left a message for me, apologizing for her behavior. I just knew it... and boy did I call that one right. The message machine sounded something like this:
(Muffled Sobs) "Hi, Paul... this is [Crazy Bitch]... Oh, God... I am so sorry for the way I treated you tonight. It's just... I really like you and I got nervous about where we were going with this thing. Will you ever forgive me?"
I will admit I hadn't considered where this "thing" was going... probably on account of it being our first sodding date! Nevertheless, this is where the Gods of Divine Intervention decided they would step in on my side, just for a change. As I was listening to the Harpy Hairdresser rant on about her hopes and fears and dreams and her twelve-step program, I got another phone call from one of the soccer guys. He was worried about me, mostly because we had a game the next day and he wanted to know if I was going to show up. I moaned about women for a few minutes, turned out the lights, and stumbled off to bed, thinking no more about it.
For the next week or so I began to receive strange messages on my answering machine:
"Yo, Jenkins! Dude... what did you do to that girl? Damn!"
"Hey, Jenks! Wow... I thought my love life was screwed up!"
And so on. The strange thing was, word of my dating exploits seemed to have spread across the comic world. John Ney Reiber (of Books of Magic fame) called to ask if I was doing okay. Various editors and fellow professionals would leave messages to the effect that they were truly impressed by how depraved my personal life seemed to be. It was weird. How did they know?
Then I got a message from the Hairdresser:
"You bastard! How could you do this to me? I knew you were evil! EVIL! Aaargh!"
She was nothing if not consistent.
Now what I did not know--I swear to my dying day that I did not know this--was that my answering machine had a little glitch. It turned out that if you were listening to an incoming message and you received a phone call during that time, the incoming message would be magically transformed into your outgoing message!
In other words, while I had been listening to the Hairdresser's sobbing apology, I had received a phone call from my soccer friend, and that had triggered her lunatic cry for help as my outgoing message. Now, when people called me, all they would hear was the poor woman's pitiful admission that she was, in fact, a psychopath.
This became legendary amongst my mates. They would call me up and leave little sobbing messages on my phone, all in the vain hope that I would use their joke as my outgoing message, which I kept on my machine for years.
The Hairdresser, though, never spoke to me again, to which I will always say...
"Thankyew, Baby Jesus!"
Stay tuned for more in this occasional series:
Okay... let's head off at the pass any claim that I am practicing some form of misogyny here, lest I receive a bunch of angry emails from people who would love for that to be true. I think we've pretty much determined that Nigh Perfect is, well, nigh perfect. As is my mum, and every single other woman in the entire world except for the four other basket cases on this list. Women are great, men are pigs. Got it?
Should you disagree, feel free to share your tales of dating woe on our message board. I'd love to hear about the worst date of your life--man or woman, straight, gay, or made of plastic--because I seriously want to know if this kind of bizarre and convoluted stuff only happens to me.