How not to date

A long time ago, a photographer took a picture of me at an event, and gave me his business card. I did not think much of it. Little did I know, that photographer would become the most entertaining dating fail of my repertoire! 

worst date fail

It was a normal Saturday afternoon and I just came home from school. My mother told me there was some sort of anime and manga event in a near town. That sounded like the perfect occasion to dress up in anything that could vaguely be called Gothic Lolita for the very first time.

To be fair it wasn’t even a good outfit, but I felt cute as heck!

I was awkwardly standing in a corner, as one does when a supposed manga and figurines market turns out to be a cosplay event, when a photographer approached me and took a picture with a giant camera covering his face. Very important detail that will influence future decisions. Then he quickly left his business card and moved along. After all, taking photos of all five cosplayers was undoubtedly a hard task.

After a few days, I retrieved his card from my bag and decided to check out the photo. Against all odds, it turned out nice and, as it was my first picture in Lolita clothes, I saved it and sent a brief thank you e-mail to him at his official e-mail address ‘smalltownphotographerwithbigdreams@pleasehireme.it’. We ended up exchanging a few words.

Just a quick reminder that my e-mail address was, and still sort of is, something like ‘x_blackscarlet_666@itsnotaphase.goff’, and my nickname was a whole paragraph of Marilyn Manson lyrics. Another key piece of information.

Next thing I know, he invited me out for a coffee the following weekend, and I accepted. 

Looking back now, there is a lot of foreshadowing to this story which nineteen year-old me did not see at all. But let's continue.

On the next Saturday afternoon, I drove to his town, parked in the only parking lot I knew around the area, and paid for two hour parking. Two hours seemed a reasonable amount of time to have a relaxed coffee and a handy escape if needed. As I was waiting for him, I realised I could not remember his face. I had plenty of time to evaluate my options before he got there. Should I hide and check him out? Should I go back to my car and be the one showing up late? Should I just go? What if he can’t recognise me and we both stand across the square squinting at each other? We had no other way to contact each other other than via e-mail, and smartphones hadn't been invented yet.

When he finally showed up, he did not look as I remembered, as I literally had never seen his full face before. Then again, he probably was looking forward to seeing a cute Lolita, not a multi-layered blob of black clothes. It's safe to say we catfished each other, just  a little bit.

He orders his triple hot cocoa with whipped cream, and is about to order one for me too when I stop him and ask for a glass of water. I was on a pretty strict diet, at that time, and it took all my self-restraint to drink that water. Not only that, but he made fun of my choice of beverage, without asking anything about my lifestyle, then proceeded to tell me about all the cameras he has, and his jobs, and his new place above his parent’s garage, and how much money he makes at weddings.

Halfway through his hot cocoa, he looks up to me and asks: “By the way, what’s your name?

At this point I may act all shocked and in disbelief but, to be fully honest with you, I barely knew his. It was either 'Mark or Mike'. 

I did not tell him my name under some 'mystery and fascination' presumption. He did not insist.

He finished his drink while arguing that's perfectly normal to ask "would you live in Japan" to someone who has never been there nor moved out from their parents' house yet. He deemed it impossible that I had no answer to his question. Mind you, he never showed interest in knowing about my life, goals, studies, etc.

It was clear to me that a second date was completely out of the picture. This could be ironic, for a photographer!

About one hour in, he dug up the last spoonful of cocoa from his cup, I stood up with the parking ticket excuse, said goodbye, and I am almost sure I told him I wouldn't have internet for a while. I am glad water was free because I could not have endured another debate on idealised situations such as living in Japan or paying for an unsatisfying date.

Unsurprisingly, there was no e-mail follow-up after this date. 

I have always thought of this date as a massive fail, strangely blaming everything on him. It makes for a fun story to share with girlfriends and a bottle of wine, I cannot lie. However, I would not be surprised if he told the same story and his friends were laughing at me. I wonder if he thought I was trying to talk only about myself, that's why he never had to ask anything, and his passion was both his job and his hobby, so there wasn't much else on his mind, other than Japan, which was the only thing we had in common. Cherry on top, I might have made him pay for his own triple hot cocoa while I was trying to become model size overnight, clearly unsuccessfully.

Luckily, we managed not to cross each other’s path, despite attending the same Japanese course and how close our mountain villages were, until years later. On a national forum, a girl, from a completely different city, posted a video of this crazy lame Italian guy who was known for flirting with all the girls on a Japanese related forum, then married a Japanese girl, allegedly for Visa reasons, and was trying so hard to be funny and become a Youtuber in Japan with a strange mountain dialect, his name was Mark, or Mike.

Image: via

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