Cheap dates are the worst dates.
I spotted him the moment I walked into the 30-and-up club. Clean-cut, well-dressed and being eye-balled by every broad in the joint. A girl dancing with him, which allowed me to pull one of my gutsiest moves to date: shimmy on over and take him away from her, smack-dab on the dance floor.
After an exchange of numbers, we began texting regularly. I learned that he graduated with a degree in business administration and hoped to run his own business. Then, I learned he worked for the airline as a ticket agent. Not an office job, but certainly a good, honest living. As someone working in Corporate America, he wasn't my financial equal, but I was willing to overlook it - who knows? He might be my soul equal.
The signs came early: On our first date, he was dressed nicely in a smart sweater and dressy jeans, but wore sneakers. He asked me how much my car cost. When I mentioned over the phone that I was cooking, he joked about stopping by to get a to-go plate. Then he admitted that he wasn't an airline ticket agent at all, but actually worked in baggage claim.
Nonetheless, we agreed to go on a second date. He asked me to drive because he hadn't paid his car insurance, even though he'd just come back from a weekend trip out of state. It felt irresponsible to me, and the red flags were now at full staff, but it was the impending dinner that would add eventually seal our fate.
We arrived at the chain restaurant on a busy Friday night. We sat down, recounting our days at work when the waitress approached. And that’s when it happened.
"I'm Lisa, I'll be your server tonight," the smiling waitress said. "Do you have any questions about the menu?"
"Yes," he said, digging in his back pocket. "What this do?"
I was immediately appalled by his bad grammar, but that paled in comparison to the utter mortification I felt as he pulled out a crumpled, bright red card in his hand. It was a coupon. The room started closing in; I melted into my chair. Why didn't he warn me? Why didn't he say something? This could have all been prevented!
"This is a reusable coupon," she said. "You either get 20 percent off your meal or one entrée free. Your choice."
He tried to figure out which was the better value, while I desperately tried to assess how I could exit the situation in the most efficient way possible.
"It's probably the 20 percent off," I said, hoping my voice wouldn't audibly crack.
"Yeah, that's because you ordered that appetizer. It was $7.99. You should pay me back that $7.99."
"I'll purchase my own appetizer," I snapped back.
"You seem upset that I used a coupon. You’re obviously too 'bougie' for that."
Bougie - a term used to describe affluent, arrogant people - was the holy grail of insults. That's when I created a new rule on the spot: automatic elimination for any man who toiled out that word during a first date.
We finished dinner, he got his god d*mn 20 percent off, which allowed him to pay for my meal and appetizer, and I drove him to his car. That would be the last time I saw him; my calendar was suddenly booked full.
I figured (and hoped) I'd never him from again, until I received a text one evening. "I lost my wallet, can you give me $20?" it read. Jaw agape, I shut off my phone, before making up yet another rule on the spot: if a guy asks you for money and you don't even know where he lives yet, he is done. Period.
The following week, I returned to the original restaurant and paid in full for my own meal, INCLUDING an appetizer. It tasted good and damn, it felt even better.