Bulwer-Lytton Contest for Dating Gaffes

It was a dark and stormy night and many couples gathered in the lounge of the Brooklyn Marriott…

It’s a seven word opening made famous by Snoopy, but written by a chap named Bulwer-Lytton (poor fella). The Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest is a celebration of the fact that it is probably the worst opening line for a novel in the history of literature.

Bulwer-Lytton had nothing on daters when it comes to bad lines, though. Most opening lines in dates are something like “I parked over there,” or “So…” or “Where to?” which can’t really get that bad. The good stuff usually gets said as the evening wanes and the conversation gets stilted and the daters desperate. When they’ve stirred the ice in their glass too many times, when they’ve already casually glanced at all the paintings, when they’ve covered everyone’s siblings and summer camp history, then the brain turns to slush and the tongue slips.

Once while dating an exceedingly reticent guy, I got tired of dragging the conversation along and resolved not to say another word until he did. He seemed perfectly ok with the lack of conversation anyway. He was looking around the room, glancing at people and items, smiling when something was nice or funny. I sipped complacently at my water and waited for him to notice that he was on a date and not at the 3D theater. “I like eavesdropping,” he finally explained. “People have the most interesting conversations.” I suppose that was my cue to just stop trying.

Then there was the friend who told me that a guy announced on their first date, “I got my stomach stapled.” Her response? “Um… that’s nice?” Well what do you answer to that?

One guy asked me, “Do your friends make fun of you?” An interesting question at any time from anyone. In this case, the context was my use of the word “dang” as an invective. Did that mean he’d prefer a “damn”? A bit shocking for a forever learner, but hey, I’ll know for next time. (He should hear the imprecations of maidels too aidel to use “dang.” Now those can get strange.)

And let’s not forget the egotistical dater who, when gently asked by his date if he wanted to know anything about her, answered, “No, not really.”

Or the guy who took his date to a lounge with a number of Renaissance-style paintings, and, after glancing around, casually wondered, “What’s with all the naked ladies?” The poor bais yaakov girl choked her Sprite back into the glass, and that kind of started things off wrong.

But there’s a definite grand prize winner among the stories I’ve heard. It was probably just a slip up, but that doesn’t make it any less disconcerting a line to hear on a first date. One guy asked a friend, a mere half-hour after they met, “So, what school do you want to send our kids to?”

Oh ouch.


43 thoughts on “Bulwer-Lytton Contest for Dating Gaffes

  1. I ran out of gas on the way back from our first date. In my own defense, my car was in the shop and I was driving a rental that had a faulty fuel gauge. The car started to sputter out just after we got on the Brookly Bridge on the way back to Brooklyn after out first date dinner at Moshe Peking (Peking Duck for two – letovers bagged up for her brother and sister with whom she shared an apartment.) I was almost in a panic, but the car made it over the bridge (barely) and I managed to roll right into an open gas station just down the block just in the nic of time.

    We still laugh about it (20th anniversay coming up next year).

  2. I just remembered another funny dating story: My date was with a VERY frum girl from Boro Park (that’s all I remember about her). I picked her up and drove to Manhattan but ran into a lot of traffic so I detoured over to the west side. Bad move. The west-bound street I turned onto was a haven for fallen-women plying their trade. Since it was summer, they we’re, uh, advertising heavily right up against my car windows, especially when I got caught at a red light on my way through. My date was VERY red-faced as she tried VERY hard to stare straight ahead while mostly naked women flashed us.

    There was no second date. 🙂

  3. Reaching back into the recesses of dating memory but there was one boy who would have made watching bread rise seem like an exciting adventure in comparison. I was sort of tuned out when he uttered the words “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Three repetitions of the self-administered Heimlich manouvers later I turned to give him a piece of my mind and he was really puzzled. “my W2 form. What did you think I meant?” Beware of fledgling CPAs with one track minds.

  4. 3rd date – in the lobby of the 4 Seasons – I managed to knock over my glass of water, soak my date and shatter the glass. EVERYONE was staring. He married me anyway. I’m still a klutz though.

  5. I was lol too hard for decorum…
    You guys are ruining my shidduchim!
    That’s it, I quit. 😉

  6. I was one of those loose tongues, lol, but my wife put up with me and my mouth and we are happily married. I had my fair shair of girls who analyzed every comment out of my mouth.It takes a real special girl to be able to overlook the slip of the mouth. 🙂

  7. Wagger –

    That might be the best comment on this blog to date. The intolerance that goes into dating is part of what is causing the “crisis.”

    After an investigation into your date that the Justice Depatment would be proud of, one slip of a tongue leads to bizzare conclusions and the termination of the relationship.

    My wife said some very odd things to me on our dates, I deciced to ignore them. I’ve been happy since.

  8. WS and Wagger, you decided to ignore the “weird stuff” because you liked her.
    When people harp on small details of a date and decide not to continue, it is usually because they do not really want to continue dating the person so they have to find a reason to terminate.

  9. My husband took me bowling on a date. My fingers got stuck in the bowling ball. When I pulled my hand back, the ball when straight for my husband. I was mortified.

  10. I don’t think anyone said “no” to a second date for any of the guys quoted above who just gabbled faster than they could think. The one who just happened to spout one classic line as part of an evening of unpleasantness were.

  11. On the phone call before the date the guy told me he got hair implants and offered to show me where they took the hair from and where they put it- NASTY- TMI

    Another guy told me he HAD to go out with me b/c i work in _______ (Generally very luctrative financial field where ppl are pretty much dying to get jobs). He proceeded to talk abt how amazing my job is and how he would DIE to get int the field the ENTIRE date. Although he did also berate me for a while abt why Im at my current job if i could be making MUCH (he was wrong abt this even though he didnt believe me) more money else where in a job where id be working many more hours…he didnt get my appreciation for a work life balance.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg ive had guys say the craziest things…

  12. “WS and Wagger, you decided to ignore the “weird stuff” because you liked her.”

    No – some of the weird stuff was on the initial phone call. I had considered calling it off right there and then and some of her family was concerned I might also.

  13. Let’s not forget the guy who matter-of-factly told me, at the tender young age of 22, that he has nothing to work on.

  14. i could right a book about the innapropriate things that have been said to me on dates. starting with the guy who when we went mini -golfing (he went first…quite the chivalrous one.) right before my turn, he asked me to pick up his ball (he was tall, the ground was too far away) which would have been bad/rude enough, but then he tries to make it better (at least i think thats what he was doing…) by saying “not that your my slave or anything”
    really?!?! im still trying to figure out what he could have meant by that.
    this came after a whole slew of other rude and egotistical remarks….
    on the plus side, i have SO many good stories from dating that guy.

  15. To 21- I agree.


    Gallant is the word- after all the talk about Jane Austen on the other post, they’re getting an idea of what we like… 🙂

  16. No, we aren’t gallant, we are practical. We don’t infer what a comment means, we take it at face value. We don’t use intuition to “feel” out a girl. If she says something rude we make light of it, not internalize it. I think that sums up the difference between males and females.

  17. Hmmm… Girl Gaffes?

    1. Girl lives on the West Side and suggests trying to get last minutes tickets at Lincoln Center. Naturally, I dress for the occassion (jacket and tie). She shows up in jeans and a tshirt and wearing enough perfume to kill a moose. We couldn’t find parking anywhere so we end up going to a movie in Queens. Get stuck in traffic for hours. I have to keep the window open to keep from suffocating. Did I mention it’s December? I had to have the car fumigated. My sister go a laugh out of it when I drove her to the subway the next morning.

    2. Get to Brooklyn to pick up date (this is a first date). Girl invites me in (she’s in the middle of doing her laundry). Then she asks me if I would mind keeping the date local as it’s “that time of the month” and she’s a bit under the weather. I don’t think my cringe was visible.

    3. Pick up girl and go to comedy club (I think the place was called Dairy Planet – a kosher place that went comedy club on Sat. night – this was a long time ago). Girl is VERY touchy. She keeps touching me all night. Now I’m not a saint, but I thought it a bit much for a first date. In retrospect, I guess I didn’t respond as she had hoped, but hey, I’m a gentleman.

  18. I went out with a young lady who used a word or two of profanity. Casually. She didn’t apologize for it – I think it either was normal for her or she was testing me. Now, while I didn’t react, and overall don’t care about the occasional use of lashon shelo naki, I did feel it was rather odd for a frum-girl-on-a-first-date.

    Anyway, she was more not-interested than I was in going out again.

  19. I went out with a very Frum BY girl, sat down at a hotel lounge and promptly felt my pants rip down the seam. Luckily I picked a table ( girls seem more comfortable with them, it ends the skirt tugging marathon for the next two hours). I prayed she would go the bathroom- which she did – I ran – pants ripped – to the hotel gift shop and bought safety pins. Right there I pinned myself back together and sat down. We went out four more times. (Of course, then there was the time I went into a men’s room during a packed night at a hotel at JFK and there are two other obvious daters. And one fellow looked at us and said “I hope yours is going better then mine” It grada was. I got engaged two days later)

  20. There was a guy who I had been talking with on the phone for several months. I was a pretty new B’T and he was in a different state than me. He said one day, ” you know if we keep talking, we’re going to get married.” It freaked me out so bad I didn’t call him for 3 days, and then next thing you know, I called and said, “OK. Now what?” We’ve been married nearly 4 years now.

  21. That’s not bad. I had a frummed out friend who said “Cats!” because “rats!” was too coarse.

  22. On my first date ever, I was wearing heels. Forgetting how loud they were, we decided to walk down five flights of steps. I was so uncomfortable with the noise from my shoes, I asked the boy if he would mind if I did something silly. After he said no, I promptly took my shoes off to walk the rest of the way in just my stockings. And then I wondered why he couldn’t tell it was my first ever date …

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  24. I remember I was on a date with a girl, and somehow, we got talking about etiqette or fashion or something. Somehow, something came out to the effect that I was different in this regard (viz. etiquette or fashion or whatever) whenever I was physically in my yeshiva. I don’t remember the details, but the point is that my standards were a bit laxer while in yeshiva.

    I explained: “In yeshiva, I’m surrounded by guys, and frankly, unlike with you, I’m not trying to get anything from them.”

    I immediately realized my gaffe. I awkwardly stumbled something like, “Err..not *that*…you know what I mean right? I don’t care what guys think about me, because…yeah…err…”. Luckily, by this time, she knew me well enough to know that I’m simply an awkward geeky nerdy klutz, and not a pervert.

    We went on two or three more dates before we both realized that our relationship was completely platonic. The problem was that we had so many personality traits and hobbies in common, that we didn’t realize there was no romance whatsoever.

  25. If it’s not to late to contribute…

    I was driving in 4 hours to go out with a girl. My friend suggested her and my first cousin independently suggested her. I called her before the first date and she said, “I’m busy right now; call me in two hours and I will definitely be available.” Ok, nothing wrong with that. I called back in two hours; at 11PM. She answered and said immediately that she’d like to go out at 11AM the following day. Ok, totally fine- and she was aware that I had to drive in 4 hours. By the way, the phone conversation lasted less than two minutes- she dismissed me. The day of the date, she calls me at 9AM, after I have been driving two hours, and asks if she can change the date to 1PM. “Sure,” I said. “No problem.” I arrived in her hometown and constructively used my time until 1PM. On the dot, I was at her door at 1PM. When we got into the car, she said, “Can you have me back in 2 hours because I planned with my friend this morning that we’d go out for ice-cream at 3PM.”

    Look, if a girl does not act like she is interested, then why the heck is she even wasting my time???

    Further, she was wearing a very pilly wool sweater that had holes under her under arms (she played with her hair a lot and constantly lifted her arms to facilitate that conduct). It seemed she put no effort at all into the date.

    That was my worst dating experience, thankfully.

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  27. I’ve made my fair share of dating gaffes. The worst was when I asked a girl if we could go to my hotel room so I could use the bathroom. I wasn’t staying at a hotel and she knew that, I meant to ask if we could stop at the hotel it was just a slip of the tongue (maybe a freudian slip).

    A girl once asked me if I enjoyed spending shabbos at my husband’s house, she meant to say cousin’s (another freudian slip?).

  28. If it’s again not too late:

    “So, what school do you want to send our kids to?”

    Actually , the first girl I dated popped that on me on our first date. After an hour of arguing the subject, we still went out again.

    And on the second date, I got a nosebleed in the middle of supper – had to run to the washroom. We still went out one more time before mutually calling it off. After we agreed to this, we both admitted this was our first try. And then opened up a lot more once we had relaxed…

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