When I was in my mid-twenties, I was still living at home with my mom. Working full-time at Disneyland…and definitely stirring up trouble with my friends at the local bars.
I met Nate at the Orange County equivalent of The Dresden from Swingers, but not as cool.
I was with friends; he was with friends. He was cute. We swapped numbers.
After the obligatory two-day waiting period (thanks, Swingers), I got a call.
Remember kids—this was around 2008. Texting and social media still weren’t what they are today. We chatted for a bit, and he asked to pick me up and take me to dinner that Friday. I agreed. That was that.
Friday rolls around, and 15 minutes early, my doorbell rings. My mom and aunt were inside getting ready to go to the movies, so when I opened the door and said: “Can you wait outside?” Nate wondered why.
“My mom and my aunt are inside. I figured it would be weird for you to wait in there with them.”
Nate said, “No, I’d love to meet your mom!” That should have been a sign.
He walks in and gives a hug—yes, a hug—to my mom and aunt. See footnote (1) below. They chat for a minute while I grab my stuff and then we head outside to his truck.
I made some snarky comment about his Indianapolis Colts license plate holder, and he says “Oh, you’re a sports fan?”
Ashley: “Yeah, we talked about this for like 15 minutes when we met.”
Nate: “Oh, that’s right. You’re a Jets fan.”
Ashley: “Nope. I’m a Patriots fan.”
Nate: “Oh…that must’ve been someone else I was talking to.”
Again, this story is my fault for failing to recognize the signs. It gets even more apparent as the evening continues. Trust me.
When he asked me to dinner, he did say that he was open to ideas for where to go to eat. I suggested a nearby Italian spot that seemed like it had good ambiance for a first date. Plus it was well lit so as not to encourage unwanted advances.
We walk inside, get seated, and tell the server our drink orders. Without losing a beat, Nate immediately asks the server for a double Jack and Coke.
Now, I am all for equality between the sexes. Equal pay for equal work. But I was taught that men showed courtesy to women like holding doors and having them order first. This sort of thing goes a long way with me when I’m dating someone.
So far, Nate was batting .000, having neither gotten the car door for me earlier and now usurping the order of ceremony when it comes to drinks and food.
To be fair, at this point I was keeping track of his failings. I already knew I’d probably never see him again after the night.
Our drinks arrived, we ordered our food, and before dinner landed at the table, Nate had polished off two double Jack and Coke’s and ordered a third. This was beginning to concern me, but after our food had arrived he seemed to slow down.
We ordered dessert and coffee, and then I waited to see what his next move was.
“What do you want to do now?” he asked me. “It’s still pretty early. Do you want to go to a bar?”
I thought about it and realized it wasn’t so much that I wanted to continue the date but that I didn’t want to go home at 9 pm on a Friday night.
At this time in my life, I was going line dancing at a local country bar three nights a week. Friday’s were always good, plus tons of regulars who I knew would be there, so it was a safe choice.
“We can head over to the country bar for a little bit if that sounds good,” I suggested.
He was game and suggested inviting his roommate and the roommate’s girlfriend to join us. I figured there was safety in numbers, so off we went to the bar.
I walked in, and of course spotted 10 people I knew within the first 15 minutes we were there. There was also a guy, Brandon, I knew and we’d been on-and-off for a bit. We were currently off, but we still maintained a friendship.
While Nate was at the bar ordering a drink, I went out and hit the dancefloor for a bit. When I came back, his roommate and the girlfriend had arrived, so we exchanged introductions and chatted for a while.
Nate made a run to the bathroom at one point, and that’s when Brandon walked up to me.
“What’s with the guy?” He asked.
I laughed, “He’s a bad first date who wanted to keep the night going. I figured I’d come here and do some dancing.”
“That’s funny,” he smiled at me. “I’m in a similar situation. There’s a girl over there that’s trying to get in my pants, and it’s awkward.”
“Well, you know the drill, if you need me, catch my eye and give me the signal,” I said. “I’ll do what I can to help out.” (See footnote (2) below)
We each went our separate ways, and within the next 30 minutes, the shit show began.
Upon his return from the bathroom, Nate and his roommate begun aggressively slamming back shots. And then…more shots. And then, yet again, more shots.
By 11 pm, he was blitzed—and I no longer had a ride home because I sure-as-hell wasn’t getting in the car with him behind the wheel.
I was coming back off of the dance floor from a set of line dance songs, and I saw him talking to someone at the bar. He saw me, pointed, and at the top of his lungs started shouting “That’s my girl over there!! That’s my girl!!!”
I believe at this point, I had a deer-in-headlights look on my face and I know for a fact I started shaking my head no. I was definitely not his girl, but it was clearly time for me to get out of there and away from Nate. I looked around for Brandon, hoping to use the rent-a-girlfriend signal, and we made eye contact.
At the same time, we both reached up and tugged on an ear. Yep, we were fucked.
All I could do at that point was shrug it off and try to make the best of a super-ridiculously awkward situation. Needless to say, I was prepared to call a cab to take me home.
He tried to put his arm around me and missed, ended up almost clocking a woman standing next to me. I looked at his roommate’s girlfriend and said, “Ok, I think that the night is over.”
She agreed with me, and we started to round up the drunk boys.
Nate was trying his best to keep the drunk passes going, but I’d had enough. He and his roommate were instructed by me, and the girlfriend, to sit down at a nearby table while we figured out what we were going to do next.
Since she and her boyfriend had also driven over, we had the two cars and only one driver problem. I’d had enough to drink that I wasn’t about to get behind the wheel, plus I didn’t feel like doing any favors for Nate.
Yeah, I can be a bitch like that. I’ll own it.
After a brief discussion, she decided to drive us home in the roommate’s car. Nate could go back in the morning to get his car after he sobered up.
Yep, started a date with Nate, ended being driven home by his roommate’s girlfriend because he was too wasted.
When we got to my house, I dashed out of the car and said thank you, before Nate could follow me to the door. I figured, he’d probably fall over and into my house and I’d somehow become responsible.
In fairness, the date could have gone worse. But holy shit did that guy get hammered.
The moral of the story?
I took from this one was a girl should always drive herself to a first date. Even if Chris Evans— Captain America himself— is your date. You still drive yourself. See footnote (3).
And if a guy orders a double to start the evening, sit back and prepare yourself for the shit show.
 Have I mentioned how terrible I am at reading giant flashing neon signs of crazy? Yeah. I’m the worst.
 I offered rent-a-girlfriend services to all of my guy friends, whether we’d dated or not. We agreed if either of us was in need of a diversion, we’d make eye contact with the other person and tug on an ear. Easy-peasy. And effective.
 But I promise not to judge you if you don’t take my advice on that one. I think we’d all make an exception for Chris Evans. He’s adorable.