Looking for love can be rough. When you put yourself out there, sometimes you’ll feel that instant Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks spark. And sometimes all you get out of a date are some free breadsticks and a good story. Enjoy a few romantic flops that’ll make you think twice before you swipe right.
“Recently, a guy who I had been chatting with online was coming to Dallas from Denver for his high school reunion. He had rented a lake house about an hour outside of Dallas and invited me to stay at the house with him since there were plenty of extra rooms. I had never actually met this fellow and a weekend getaway with a someone you have never met sounds like a surefire way to get featured on the Dateline Special: Murder At The Lake House.
“He flew into Dallas, we went to lunch, and I determined he probably would not kill me so I reluctantly agreed to head out to the lake to get to know him better. When I arrived I quickly realized he had forgotten to mention one little detail: his whole family was also staying at the lake house. His kids, brother, nieces, nephews … his MOM. I probably should have just left, but I didn’t want to seem rude so I just spent the whole weekend hanging out with his family and accompanied him to his high school reunion. I was just relieved when it was all over that nobody had asked us how long we had known each other because I can assure you, ‘About 24 hours’ wouldn’t have been the response they were looking for.”
A Dallas entrepreneur, Whitney, got so fed up with dating apps that she made her own. (It’s called Bracket Dating. It’s like Fantasy Football but with dating.)
“In high school, I had this big group of friends and we made big plans to rent a limo for our senior prom. Sean had a crush on me and asked me to prom. He was this barrel-chested Irishman. The whole group was going; so I said yes. We went to a fancy restaurant, I ate lobster ravioli, he wore a tux—it was all really nice. But later I found out he’d started dealing drugs to afford it all. I still didn’t give him a second date.”
Paige, from Frisco, is a nurse and mother of two. She is happily married to the man of her dreams.
“Halfway through dinner he started talking in a British accent and then tried to convince me that he’d always talked like that. He was from South Dakota.”
Adrian lives in McKinney with his partner of six years. That was the last guy he dated before settling down.
“A former coworker set me up on a blind date that was a friend of her boyfriend. We made a plan to meet at a restaurant and when I got there, he was sitting with five other people. Not what I was expecting. We barely spoke because he was too busy socializing with his buddies. Anyway, everyone wanted to go back and ‘continue the party’ at his place afterwards, and against my better judgement I went.
“His house was surprisingly nice and super impressive for someone in his twenties. I mentioned that he has a really nice house, and this guy said he owed it all to his new business venture. He then started waxing on about his new business selling knives and asked if I wanted in. He had a slideshow presentation prepared! I couldn’t believe it. And his friends all seemed to think it was a great idea.
“I politely declined and hightailed it out of there as fast as I could. But not before his father walked in and I realized that it was his parents house, not his. He was a loser selling knives out of his dad’s game room. To this day, I still don’t know if his friends were genuinely interested in his business venture, or if they were all a part of the scheme to get me to buy in.”
Shelly lives in Carrollton with her soulmate and their daughter. On their first date, her husband did not ask her to invest in his business. That turned out to be a good omen.
“My younger brother’s friend invited me to prom as friends—I thought. And then, while we slow danced, he said, ‘If they had a prettiest girl contest, you’d win,’ and tried to kiss me. I had no idea how to respond so I just sort of dodged and went to hide in the bathroom. Though later, I came back out like an adult and explained to him that I just wanted to be friends.
“A couple of months later, he sent me a fictionalized account of his life that he’d written to ‘get my thoughts’ on it. He’d put me in the book under a pseudonym—Nancy—and it ended with us falling in love.”
Natalie is a proud dog and cat mom from Sachse. The book didn’t come true.
“Every morning before work, I’d grab coffee at a Starbucks near me. One guy was always there around the same time so we started saying hi every day. One day he said that we should just cut to the chase and go to lunch. A week later, we did. But before the waiter even handed us our menus he leaned in and told me, ‘I love your feet. You mind taking off your shoes and showing me your feet?’ That was our first and last date.
“Another time, during a period I spent living in Italy, I met this guy who was really keen on me. He asked me out a few times and after a while I accepted. During dinner he informed me that feminism was the cause of the increase of divorces in Italy. He said that women wanted to be autonomous and that was a problem. I told him he was a problem.”
Victoria is a teacher in Dallas. She recently married her best friend.
“Once, when I was in Rhode Island for a film festival, a girl I knew hit me up. We’d been out once before, and we’d had a pretty terrible time. But since I happened to be in Rhode Island and she was in New York, we figured we’d give it one more shot and made plans to go out for drinks and dinner with her friends. I took the train into Manhattan.
“We ended up at this cool lounge bar with dim lights, expensive martinis and tea light candles lining the bar. Her friends got a table and the two of us went up to order a few drinks for the group. She was a beautiful woman, and her best feature was her long, bone-straight blonde hair. She was really proud of it and for good reason. As we waited at the bar, she turned to ask how I’d been and as she turned, she flipped her hair. It landed straight in the candle and caught on fire immediately. It went up like a fireball, because there were so many chemicals and products in it.
“I started frantically patting her down, and put it out. The whole thing only took about five seconds. But the entire left side of her hair was gone. All that was left were black little curls close to her skull. She ran to the bathroom in tears and I just stood there, shocked.
The bartender pushed our drinks over and said, ‘Dude, these are on me.’”
Brad appeared in 2014’s Boyhood, had a brief country music career in the ‘90s and recently opened his dream restaurant at The Ford Center, Sushi Marquee. There are no tealights.
“You know those proposal fails you see on Youtube where the guy gets down on one knee in front of his girl in some place public? And he gets turned down while a random onlooker films it? Yeah …”
Don’t worry; Thomas, from Allen, has since found love. When he proposed to his wife, he did it in private.
“I woke up one morning and was complaining to my girlfriend about having to work a double. She really wanted to go to the zoo and spend the day together. We had very different work schedules at the time and hadn’t been able to see each other much. But I went ahead, got up and went to Macaroni Grill to work my shift.
“Around one o’clock, my manager rushes up to me and tells me that my girlfriend is on the phone and it’s an emergency—my apartment complex is on fire and I have to get home right away. I rushed home thinking the worst, but when I got to the apartment, everything was fine. My girlfriend was waiting there with lunch on the table. She had made up some crazy story to get me off work so I could take her to the zoo. We ended up having an awesome afternoon playing hooky. I had to go back to work the next day and play it off like it was the building next to mine that had caught fire and it was all a big misunderstanding.”
Andrew is a professional waiter with many happy stories from his loving long-term relationship. (We resent him.)
“I was asked out by a guy I knew in high school and he bought us tickets to a Denver Nuggets game for our first date. I was 17 at the time and this was one of my first dates ever. I didn’t have a car so he picked me up. We drove to the game, got our seats and made small talk as the game started. Everything was going okay.
“After about 45 minutes he excused himself to use the bathroom. Ten minutes later, he wasn’t back yet and I figured there was a line at the men’s room. I sat there through halftime and finally I went back out to his car to look for him. It was gone. He’d ditched me. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure he left with some girl he’d known in the stands.”
Kailee is a hairstylist at a Frisco salon. She recently moved here with her boyfriend who has yet to leave her stranded at a sports game.
Read more: The power of red lipstick
“Fourth of July weekend, I was spending some time at my ranch with my teenage son. We invited about three or four of his church buddies to come hang out for the weekend when this woman called me up. We’d been on a couple of dates before and it wasn’t going anywhere, but she said she was by herself and asked what I was doing. I told her what I was up to and she said she’d love to come out.
“This woman, let’s call her Christie, showed up and proceeded to drink vanilla vodka straight out of the bottle. My son and all the boys were right there with us. Then, suddenly she got up on the table and started dancing like she was at a topless joint. I grabbed her hand, pulled her down and tried to get her to come away from the boys. I took her into the kitchen to get her some water, but five minutes later, she was back on the table dancing for these teenage boys. I got her back down, and took her back to the kitchen—ten minutes later, she was back on the table.
“This time I said, ‘Christie, you’re embarrassing yourself and my boys. Please don’t dance on the table anymore.’ She went nuts and just started yelling at me. By this point it was around 11 p.m. We tried to calm her down and my son was able to talk some sense into her. Around 1 in the morning I went to bed. At 3:30, my son woke me up. He’d tried to get her to go to sleep but she’d taken off into the woods.
“I got on my cell phone and called the sheriff. He sent a deputy out to collect her and take her to a hotel for the night. Around 4:30 a.m., a tow truck got her car and that was the end of that.”
Randy and his son still enjoy going to the ranch to get out of the big city. They no longer invite casual acquaintances.
“Erick and I had been dating just a few short weeks. He decided to take me to a romantic dinner at a little Italian restaurant off Greenville Avenue. It was a family owned place with dim lighting and a small candle on the table.
Toward the end of the evening I started to notice that Erick seemed to be speaking differently, as if he couldn’t quite pronounce certain letters. I assumed it was just the wine. About 10 minutes before we were to leave, Erick asked me if his face looked different. I laughed and squinted in the dim lights and told him that I was pretty sure he looked the same. I’d had a few glasses of wine myself, so my eyes were not as sharp as usual.
Outside in the parking lot, he seemed to be having a hard time walking. He was also making some odd sounds, almost grunting. He stopped walking and spun me around to ask again if his face looked funny. I turn and the street light hit his face. Well, his new face. Erick’s lips were at least four times their normal size. His eye was swollen shut.
I have never stolen keys away from someone so quickly in all of my life. Obviously, this guy was having a full blown allergic reaction. I raced to Target to get all the Benedryl I could buy. He refused to stay in the car, so I had Igor limping behind me with patrons staring at him as if they’d just seen Frankenstein and were about to get their pitchforks. I took him back to my apartment, shoving pills down his throat until he was basically about to pass out. I hauled him up the stairs, dragged him into my bed, and stayed awake most of the night to make sure he didn’t die. I liked my bed and I really didn’t want to have to toss it if some guy I had only been on a few dates with kicked the bucket.”
Nikki likes to remind Erick what a saint she is for sticking around through his tree nut allergy. Ten years later, they are married with two kids.
Originally published in Plano Profile’s February 2018 issue.