Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Worst Date Ever or A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Spaghetti and Meatballs

This post is part of a Valentine’s Day blog hop started by the star storyteller, Nancy Kho of Midlife Mixtape. The theme is "My Worst Date Ever." Follow along with some superbly talented bloggers, you'll find them on the list at the bottom of this post. Don't miss More Tales of Dating Misery! Check them out! Happy VD everybody!

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What's a crime without a partner?

And if that partner in crime also is your date for a meal, well, then, you've just got The Worst Date Ever. 

My PIC and Worst Date Ever story happened in 1984, and it was with my brother. That's the beauty of a dysfunctional family, PIC's and dates, always within easy reach. Together, we not only kept each other company on holidays and birthdays, but we kept each other alive during my lean, hungry years in college.

My brother had gotten wind of an off-campus outreach church. This church promised free meals in exchange for church attendance. All you had to do was be there. Come, listen, and BOOM, hope your plate is stronger than Chinet brand because mac and cheese is UP! So, one night, while I counted out 99 cents for the all you can eat pancake night at IHOP, my brother suggested we try Will Go To Your Church For Food.

Brother: "It'll be easy, come on."

Me, skeptical, but hungrier: "Nope. Nothing's free."

Brother: "What could happen? We go. We walk out. Or we get fed."

Me, still skeptical still hungry: "Okay, I choose go." And I put my coins back in my hippie purse.

We walk the 1/2 block from campus to the rented out church and we soon spot two fresh faced broad-smiling young adults that we call Ken and Barbie. Ken and Barbie are opening up a sandwich board sign with a shape of a heart drawn out in chalk and the word LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, written inside it. They see us walking toward them and their faces explode into smiles, “Welcome! W E L C O M E ! Welcome to the hour of salvation. Today's soul saving message brought to you courtesy of spaghetti and meatballs!”

Throw in some garlic bread and salad, and you've just bought yourself a soul, I think to myself.
Ken and Barbie: “We invite you to join us tonight, we're glad you're here!"

My brother and I feebly smile back, partly due to low blood sugar, but mostly due to the guilt of knowing we are eating here with no intention of having our heart in their services. What we want is their food in our bellies. I can feel that this is not going to be as easy of a kill as my brother thinks.

"Hey! thanks," my brother greets the lovely duo. "We're glad to be here, too!"

Me: ::mumble mumble Crappity crap crap crap this is soooo not going to work mumble mumble::

Brother: ::hiss Shuttup. We'll be fine. Sit, listen, eat hiss::

Ken and Barbie: "You and your lady friend can join us for fellowship! We'd love to share the message of loving one another!"

I am shaking my head and I already don't like this, but we follow the couple inside anyway. How can things get any worse? I don't want these people thinking my brother is my boyfriend BUT not as bad as I don't want them to think I'm alone and hanging out with my brother. We're only half way down the stairs to the kitchen basement when we smell the meatballs simmering in tomato sauce, and our knees almost buckle. We grab plates and heap them up with steaming pasta and protein-laden meatballs. We take our seats with the rest of the crowd at the red clothed tables, and we listen.

Pasta has never tasted so good. *Side note: if you ever find yourselves bored with life, starve yourself a little. The way food tastes after 12 hours or so of not eating, makes you fall in love with life all over again.* We finish our plates, get up for more spaghetti, and we listen.

We finish our second plates, get up for a fresh salad with red, ripe tomatoes, along with some crusty bread slathered in butter, and we listen.

Dessert time comes and we load up on home-made brownies prepared at the hand of enthusiastic co-eds, along with cheap institutional coffee. We eat, we listen.

We sit and listen while our plump bellies almost lull us to sleep. And then, as we struggle to keep our bobbing heads upright, we're jolted awake. Somehow, between the meet and greet and the boxed brownies, our dinner for free has suddenly turned into the Disappearing Languages Alliance, because we begin to hear sounds unfamiliar to my ear.

Me: "Oh my god, let's go!,” I say because in addition to Nell sound-alikes, there are people collapsing to the floor and doing a stop drop and roll better than any newly fire-film trained second grader. “I think I have four quarters at the bottom of my purse," I say to my brother, "If you're still hungry, we'll go get pancakes at IHOP."

Brother: "Shit. What the heck. Let's GO."

I pick up my purse, my brother puts his shoes back on his feet. We both start sliding our bony butts out of our hard metal church chairs. We stand.

Then, silence; the hands to the skies and house-on-fire demonstrations halt. People see us getting ready to bolt. And the sale's not closed.

Church of the Almighty Meal: "Hold on, hold on, brother and sister! You've nourished your body, and now it's time to nourish your soul! Come join us in spirit and hear what your starving soul led you here today to hear. Let us feed you in a way that you have not been fed before!"

Me: ::hissing at my brother:: I knew it. What did I tell you? Now what!?

Brother: ::hissing harder back at me:: I don't know. Let's just level with them. Tell them we're Catholic and don't move when we pray.

Brother: "All right, then, friends. Fair is fair. We're all ears."

Church: "Listen to the spirit inside speak. Let us know you've heard our message today!"

Brother: ::hand to heart my brother said this:: "You guys just want to see if we've heard your message tonight, is that it?"

Church: "Yes, brother, show us you have been fed in all the ways you need to be fed."

And then I watch. Horrified. My brother bends his knees and then chest first, drops to the ground. He rolls around as if Texas Red Fire Ants are on him. He goes rigid and starts clicking the roof of his mouth while staring blindly into space.

I stay standing, not knowing what is going to happen next, and then, my brother has the nerve, mid-roll, to lock eyes on me. He whispers, "You. Now. On the ground. And don't be a lady about it."

I am scared and desperate and guilty enough. He's right, I owe them this. I put my purse down. Then I do it. And based on my brother's reaction, pathetically.

"Eyes to the back of the head! More moaning, let it come from your throat!," my brother roars while he turns himself into a human rolling pin.

I give it all I've got, I mean, as much as I can with one hand holding my dress down, and the other one reaching for the heavens.

We must've earned our noodles because suddenly hands are helping us up and patting us on the back. The soul rockers seem satisfied that they have rocked our souls. We stand up, bewildered. I brush the carpet lint off my clothes, smooth my hair down. Everyone files out of the church as if nothing has happened.

They invite us back next week Wednesday. Italian night!, they tell us. Because evidently a carbo load is what's needed when you've worked your soul into a frenzy.
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The list here includes some of the funniest women I have ever read. Don't miss out on these awesome storytellers. (And tell me of your Valentine's Day plans, my plans this year include ordering myself up one of those love poems that you usually request for someone else. I'm having them call me.) 

Hop on over to these sites for Dating Woes you can't help but love:


Earth Mother just means I’m dusty

The Mama Bird Diaries

Midlife Mixtape

Ann’s Rants

Wendi Aarons


  1. I've seen people do more for less food :)

  2. You surely need the carbs if you're going to flail around like that. Wouldn't you do at least that for a Klondike bar?

  3. "We're Catholic and we don't move when we pray." I love it.

  4. Thank god for good memories. They make everything an adventure.

  5. BWUAHAHAHAHAHAHA, omg, Alexandra. Well, you certainly earned your spaghetti and meatballs that day :) WOW, I have absolutely NO idea what I would have done in your shoes but I commend you for your Oscar-winning performance.

    In high school I once had a friend coerce me into going to a "high school born again-ers" meeting. She told me it was just a place to meet new people. Thankfully, I didn't have to roll on the ground for that one so I'm thinking I got off easy :)

  6. hahahahaha oh my
    i have some church stories...
    we went to this church once...we were searching...and a friend told me i would fit right in...so we show up...to an all black church...which is not a problem for me...so we sat where they put us, on the front row, right before the pulpit (red flag)...worships starts...its upbeat, which i like...and then the conga line starts...no joke...the whole crowd...and as they go by my friend grabs me...as we come back around i figure i will grab my wife...and we will escape...but she is gone...after about 5 more revolutions of the church...i see her....slid all the way down the pew...refusing to look at me....so an hour later worship end and i have an amazing cardio work out...too winded to run, i sit through 90 minutes of sermon...almost catch my breath by the time the healing ceremony starts...almost 3 hours in at this point...yeah, we never returned....

    and what happened at the church we visited the next week...well that is a story for another day....ha.

  7. Brian, oh my gosh. I have ANOTHER church story. I was there TWO hours and thought how in the heck does this keep happening to me??? The people were my ride and now I see it was their way of having me have to stay. It was ridiculous....

  8. What an adventure! Can you send some spaghetti and meatballs here to Sicily? It's almost lunchtime:)


  9. Oh my goodness - "Can we go then?" after we've finished writhing on the floor as if in pain?

    That is priceless. I hope the sauce was good.

    1. Andrea, though I tell this quickly, the night truly was the night that would never end.

  10. Right now it's 3:15 - smack dab between lunch and dinner.

    So I *might* trade my soul for some garlic bread.

  11. WHOA. I MEAN...(fresh tomatoes??)

    1. Ann, the tomatoes: they were fresh. The bread: it was squishy. The food: it was DELICIOUS. Small price to pay, don't you think?

  12. I guess the real question is: did you go back?

  13. I guess the real question is: did you go back?

  14. I love how you can make a story funny and cringy all at once.

    1. Thanks, Liz. That's a great compliment. I can't wait to see your new blog!!

  15. Proving that garlic bread is almighty powerful. xo

  16. Crying. This is just too much. :-)

    The things we will do for food! ha ha ha

  17. Lady Jennie: I have MORE stories. A woman from work kept insisting I attend church with her. We went, and again, the church things, where I sit stunned while I watch things happen and wonder what in the world. In this case, everyone began running around the church. Like we were playing tag.

  18. I would absolutely listen to their bs for a plate of spaghetti and meatballs and salad and brownies RIGHT NOW! At 9 am. Do they deliver?

  19. MIssed this last week...but glad to catch it now! So glad the days of bad dates are gone. My worst was a frat boy who asked me to a dance so that he could prove he was actually a nice guy. He didn't order dinner (so he could get drunk fast), he told me a story about having to sit naked on a cold cookie sheet for a frat event and what that did to the part of his anatomy that made contact with the sheet, he dropped me on the dance floor and a bottle fell out of his pocket and hit me on the head when he tried to help me up, and then he got mad at me when I left without him to go home!



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