Jeff Pearlman

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My worst date ever

Not sure why I’m writing about this today, except that it popped into my brain and is sorta funny.

I’ve had, in my life, many good dates, many bad dates, many forgettable dates.

There is only one awful date.

The year was 1996. The month was, I believe, June or July. I was living in Nashville, writing for The Tennessean, painfully lonely. I had broken up with my college girlfriend a few months earlier (or, I suppose, she had broken up with me), and was hurting … hurting … hurting. Oddly, I found myself hitting a lot of black dance clubs, mainly because my closest friends at the newspaper were African-American women, and, well, where they went, I followed. I actually enjoyed the nights out. A. Because the music was guaranteed to be great (no country in those joints); B. Because the company was fantastic; C. Because there was something, admittedly, cool about being the only white guy in an establishment.

Of course, that cool factor extended only as far as the dance floor. I am, at age 40, the same painfully awful and awkward dancer I was at 24. I either do the Jogging Two Step or the Try and Look Macho Knee Bend. This is embarrassing anywhere—but especially embarrassing when you’re the only white guy, and stand out like a neon sign. And you’re tall. And angular. And gawky.

I digress. One night, while out at some club, I spotted a breathtakingly gorgeous woman. When I say breathtaking gorgeous, I don’t exaggerate. She was stunning—and happened to know one of my friends. Because I lacked any sort of testicular consistency, I lacked the nerve to approach her that evening, but I did, ultimately, acquire her e-mail address. We chatted back and forth and, a couple of weeks later, decided to go out.

Before I go on, let me say once again:

1. I was 24.

2. I was painfully awkward with women.

3. All I wanted was to get laid. By anyone. Ever. Please. Dear friggin’ God.

OK. Her name was Michele. We decided to play miniature golf. I loathe miniature golf. She hit a ball in a water trap. I believe on purpose. “Get that,” she said.

“Uh, what?”

“Get my ball. Be a gentleman.”

I got the ball.

A few moments later, if memory serves, she did the same thing again. I, of course, fetched the ball.

Later on, post-golf, we stopped at a Burger King or McDonald’s. Not sure which, or why. We ordered via the drive-thru. She received her food, rolled down the window as we pulled away and tossed out her garbage.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“You see what I’m doing.”

“You just threw your garbage out the window!”

“So?”

So, indeed. She was dreadful. Sub-dreadful. But, again, really, really hot. I tried kissing her good night. She rebuffed my efforts and exited the car.

We never went out again.

  • Keith Ryan Cartwright

    The fact that you’re awkward and gawky is not the reason you never went out with her again. It’s also not the reason you didn’t get to kiss her. It’s because you let yourself believe that miniture golf was a good idea. Even if it wasn here idea it wasn’t a good idea, which is why she twice made you fetch the ball from the water. Trust me… made the same mistake around the same year and month as you. Lets just say it didn’t end well for either of us.

  • http://none A Perlman spelled correctly !

    Curiosity got the best of me here . . . is there some signiicance to the burned out SUV and the date or does it simply a metaphor for the “crash & burn” you suffered on that ill-fated day?

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life