I’m going to call this one “Todd” because I think that’s a good generic boyfriend name. Like my clump of roosters, The Todd Nebula. I dated a Todd once, and I will have to call him Todd as well in a different story so I don’t reveal him as the real Todd.

I met Todd at a cafe and I was on the outs with my current boyfriend, so when he asked me out, I said “sure, why not?” I was in that perfect window to say yes to something like that–a week on either side, and I might not have. I think I was excited that he had a car (or access to his mother’s), was a couple of years older, and didn’t really know anyone from my high school. At this point I was making a big push to get to know other people and older people. He talked a good game and hadn’t lost his job yet, so I couldn’t tell that he was kind of a scrub. I also didn’t know what a terrible, terrible driver he was.

We hung out that night, but I was with a friend. Todd and I got along well and he was the first person I had ever met who was a casual and persistent hugger, which is a daily part of my life on the West Coast now (ugh), but at the time was kind of novel and foreign. He asked me out for the next week and I agreed.

Since it was the 90s (this is my all-purpose excuse for my youth now: “It was the NIIIIINETIES!”) we decided that our first date was going to be to get piercings. What? Yeah. You know how when you start dating someone if things go well there’s a lot of tab A into slot B, or some configuration of slots and tabs going on? Let’s get piercings so it will hurt to have sex and there will probably be crust and weeping. And the piercing experience we would have would have been like this, because the 90s had not yet arrived in my shitty town. God I was stupid…er.

It was February and snowing, but I think it had melted into awful grey sludge that day, or at least wasn’t snowing heavily. He picked me up and we drove across town while trying to banter and get to know each other in that first date way. He tried to hook a left in one of those “yield to oncoming traffic” lanes…but did not yield. A car going at least 40 slammed into us on the front/right side of the car, breaking the axle and crumpling the front end. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly I didn’t really have time to react, so I think maybe I tensed up less than I would have if I was braced for impact. My knees slammed into the dashboard and bruised heavily, but as stupid as I was then, at least I was wearing a seat belt.

The passenger in the other car was not so lucky. She was not wearing a seat belt and I could see the horrible spider web in the windshield where her head had cracked it. An ambulance came to take her away. I kind of hung back since I wasn’t the driver and there wasn’t much I could do. I was adrenalined out and not thinking, so I actually asked the cop if I could smoke IN HIS PATROL CAR. “Are you even OLD ENOUGH to be smoking?” he asked me. Answer in my head: “As long as you can work the lighter you’re old enough.” What I said out loud: nothing. Real answer: No.

So, 20 minutes in, the date appeared to be over. The cop wanted to take us home, but Todd had other plans. “Let’s have him drop us off at my friend’s house,” he whispered. Uh…was this normal? Don’t you usually go home after a car crash? I didn’t know. I did know if I told my mother about any of this, it would become my fault somehow and I would never be allowed to go out with Todd again, so when I came home that night she was in bed and I said nothing. I wonder what it’s like to have a mother you can actually share life events with?

We went to the friend’s house, where there was a small party in progress, and now we had a story to tell. I sort of felt like we should go home and have a quiet thinking period about the girl and her smashed head. All of this made me uneasy, the moving on and partying but that was my time to learn what I was okay with and what I was not. That’s important at 16 if you’re dating or not, I know. More on this time to come, whenceforth he will be known as Car Crash Todd.

First Date with SeaFed: Second Base, Third Base, Homerun

You know what’s even more fun than a bag full of rabid hamsters? Dating rules. You know what’s actually fun, though, for serious? BREAKING DATING RULES. SeaFed was a flagrant violation of at least one of the top ten “dating rules” (and probably three or more actually): do not date coworkers, or more elegantly put, don’t get your meat where you get your bread. I was never good at keeping kosher.

I interviewed for the job on Halloween. It was a record store with a good rep, which is to say they played their music loudly, their clerks ranged from stoned, asleep, to Jack Black-snotty, and the selection was good. I had only worked in one music department before, as a Best Buy Smurf, but I have always had a good hustle and talked a good game, so they were willing to try me out. My future (male) boss, who was interviewing me, was dressed in drag for Halloween, not even drag-queeny, but with an unappealing shade of coral inexpertly smeared across his small lips and leaking into his perpetual stubble. He briefly mentioned that there was a jazz section upstairs and that it pretty much belonged to one clerk–SeaFed.

On my first day I was introduced around to the other clerks. SeaFed came breezing through the breakroom pushing his bike and my boss, now in his regular uniform of a threadbare tee shirt and holey jeans, introduced me to him. “This is SeaFed. He runs the jazz department and thinks that American jazz from 1955 to 1968 is the only legitimate form of music, so heads up on that.”

“Hello,” he said, and winked at me. He had a nice voice. He still has a nice phone voice, albeit with that grating Seattle/PNW accent. You don’t put a dagger in a bag, you put the “dayger” in the “beg.” The stuff that goes on pancakes is see-rup, not “sir-up.” The accent is subtle, to me, but I hear it.

When we were scheduled together for the first few days I tried to figure out what his deal was. He was always flirting with me, but he seemed to be always flirting with everybody–customers, our boss, other clerks, men, women, trash cans, it did not seem to matter. He just oozed charm.

I came home and told my roommate about him. “He has the most intense blue eyes,” I said. “Hmmp,” she said, which is what she usually said about guys I was interested in until she found a way to sleep with some of them, then I presume she found more to say to them, at least. (More on her during another first date story.)

I started to get the vibe that he was gay for some reason. And this is not a “ha, ha, I thought my ex-husband was gay when I first met him” part of the story, obviously. I just did. I had to ask around, because I was curious about him. A couple of co-workers were of the opinion that he was straight, and while they could not recall him dating since starting at the store six months before me, they did remember him talking about girls or something. I decided to flirt with him more, just to see what would happen, and since I was only dating a couple of people very casually at the time.

After a couple of weeks, he asked me out, in that low-key way that the very young work things out. “Soooo you want to hang out or something?” he asked.

“When?” I said.

“How about tonight?”

“Sure,” I said, pretending to be calm.

He gave me his number and told me to call him at 10 that night. WHOA THAT WAS SERIOUS, MAN. You have to be completely cool to start a date at ten. I had been in Seattle for three months and had been 18 for only a couple of weeks. Having a very late-night date felt very big city and grown up, so obviously I still had the bruise from where I landed when I fell off the turnip truck.

I transferred SeaFed’s phone number off the back of my hand to the mirror with my eyeliner, so I wouldn’t lose it in the shower. I got ready, showering, dressing, and putting makeup on very carefully. At the appointed hour I called–no answer. I called back a few minutes later–still no answer. I left a voicemail. After an hour, I realized I had been blown off and gave up.

I saw him at work the next day and was cool to him. “Uh…so,” he said. I gave him the eyebrow of mild indifference. “Sorry about last night. Can I make it up to you tonight?” He smiled his sexy “I’m not exactly Jude Law, but Jude Law isn’t here, is he” smiles and I broke yet another one of those dating rules–don’t give someone who dogs you out another chance. He didn’t even have a good excuse as to why he blew me off. It was 10:30 at night–I can’t imagine he was so busy. Nor did he claim emergency. I am a recovering dumbass so I decided it didn’t matter.

We were set for him to pick me up at my place and he arrived right on time, pressing my buzzer, which made my heart leap. “This could be fun,” I thought. I emerged from my building to see his friend in the front seat. “Maybe SeaFed’s dropping him off,” I assumed.

NOPE. The friend, who was an asshat I saw a lot more of after that, unfortunately, was along for the ride. I told myself we were just “hanging out,” as he’d said, and this wasn’t a date as I’d assumed. We picked up a bottle of wine and went back to his house. Was I supposed to be doing this, going back to the house of a man I barely knew with his friend? Probably not. Luckily for me, typical SeaFed in those days was more unthinking and tuned out than malicious.

I chatted with both him and his friend for a while and got very tipsy. The friend told embarrassing stories about SeaFed. I didn’t know it at the time, but being a superior pompous ass was kind of his trademark. He told me that SeaFed used to smoke American Spirits because he misread the label as “non-addictive” instead of “no additives.” I hardly noticed when his friend disappeared off to bed (it turned out he was living with SeaFed for a bit), since SeaFed was the one who was interesting to me.

He moved fast. I stood up, probably to get some more water to mitigate the after effects of the red wine. He stood with me, and leaned in to kiss me. He was assertive, but not rough. I was relieved he was taking the lead because none of our attempts at dating had gone the way I had expected real actual dates to go.

Before him I had fuckbuddies and people I pined after who would sleep with me once and a while and the kind of relationships you had in high school–I had higher standards for the way we would get to know each other, for some reason.

The sex was okay. On the scale of all the sex, it rates a “hmm…meh.” On the scale of first date sex, I think we can say it was your pretty typical tipsy young people hetero first date sex. No one achieved enlightenment, but no one ended up with an accidental wang in the ear. He was your typical pasty skinny white boy thing, with extraordinarily large and well-defined thighs from all his bike riding. No other tattoos or identifying marks.

After it was over, my crotch felt funny, and not in a typical “I just had ill-advised sex, I know, because I can see my bad idea pants on the floor from over here, and boy condoms are still kind of irritating” way. I put my hand to my baby cannon and kind of gave it the once over…HO my labia piercing was missing. It had gotten knocked out during the humpenation in the humpery.

“Oh no!” SeaFed said when I told him.

“It’s okay, it never really healed right,” I said.

If that’s not sexy, I don’t know what is. You bring a girl home and she tells you that her genital piercing never really healed right. Rawr! After that, we saw each other most nights.