Bad With Men: Riding In Cars With (Unemployed) Boys

This was originally published at In Our Words: A Salon For Queers & Co. Republished here with permission.

Dana Norris once went on 71 internet dates. This was date number 14 (we posted date number 13 here).

My third date with Benji is on my 30th birthday. He calls me in the morning, sings me “Happy Birthday” and asks, “You sure you want to ruin your birthday hanging out with me?” Yes, yes I do. A friend from college, Lori, is visiting from New Mexico and she makes fun of me after I hang up the phone, “You’re glowing! Dana, girl, you like this guy.” I agree and then I tell her to shut up, it’s no big deal, my new maybe boyfriend is taking me out on my birthday and we might have hot sex and I think I might pass out because my stomach is so fluttery but I am totally cool and whatever. I drop Lori off at Midway and head to the north side for my hot birthday date.

Benji and I start by going for a walk along the lakefront. There are lots of geese, which we’ve already established are the assholes of the bird world. We and the geese exchange looks of mutual disdain. Benji starts talking to me about astrology—not that he believes in it or anything, but he asks what my sign is. Aries on the cusp of Pisces, which astrologically translates to me being ridiculously aggressive but then realizing that I’m an asshole and apologizing. I know that no one brings up astrology unless they want you to ask them about their sign, so I do. “What’s your sign?” He just chuckles and shakes his head. I find this annoying. “You don’t want to tell me?”

“No, it’s just, most people act differently after they know.”

I list the astrological signs in my head. Is one of them a bi-polar drug addict? “Just tell me.”

“I’m a Scorpio.”

Oh. I have no idea what that means. “What does that mean?”

“Scorpios are known for being sexual. Very sexual. Aggressively sexual.”

So there’s an astrological sign for rapists and he’s one of them. “Are you trying to tell me something about yourself?”

“Just that, I’m highly sexual.”

I start laughing. I know this is not the reaction he was going for but it’s all so ridiculous. The entire time we’ve been walking he hasn’t even tried to hold my hand. This is our third date and we haven’t kissed yet. Maybe for him “highly sexual” means that he spends six hours a day watching porn, but in the context of this new relationship it’s like a baby saying “I’m on meth.”

He takes being laughed at well, which I like. I ask him what else he can tell about himself from the stars and he reveals that he knows how to make star charts. “Tell me what time you were born and I’ll make one for you. I’ll give it to you the next time we hang out.” Already planning the fourth date. Nice.

We’re hungry and I suggest going to The Hopleaf for dinner. They have Belgium mussels and pomme frites (french fries that make you feel European because they’re served in a cone). They also have 400 kids of beer. We have mussels and sausages and frites and lots of tasty, tasty beer. We’ve split the bill on every date so far so when the check comes I pull out my wallet. Benji smiles at me and takes the check out of my hands, “You know, I’m going to pay a little more this time, because it’s your birthday.” How sweet. I put my wallet away and smile.

I look back up and he’s frowning. “I um, meant, that I’ll pay more than my half, but I don’t have enough for the whole thing, so…” Right. He’s unemployed. He pays for himself + $10 of mine and I try to make myself quit blushing with embarrassment.

I drive him home—he lives in a place off of Damen, near a baseball field. He invites me in and I demure because today has been so great and I don’t know if I’m ready to have sex with this guy yet and that doesn’t even really matter because I’m on my period and I will avoid the “you can’t put your penis there because it’s already full of tampon” discussion at all costs. We sit in my car and chat for a bit and then he kisses me. Nice. Then he unbuckles my seatbelt and suddenly we have a hot car birthday makeout on our hands. He keeps trying to get into the driver’s seat with me which doesn’t work because: steering wheel. So he settles for awkwardly feeling me up from the passenger seat. He attempts to remove some clothing but I remind him that I’m 30 and thus not going topless in a parked car. Then he tries to stick his hand down my pants. I grab his hands, put them back on his own lap, and announce that the makeout is over.

“Go home,” I say.

“Come inside,” he counters.

Tempting, but no. His house looks dirty from the outside and I want to sleep in a nice bed tonight. “No. Go inside. I’ll see you later.”

He kisses me. “Can I see you next weekend?”


“Come inside.” And he kisses me again.

I kiss him back for a moment and then push his face away with both hands, playfully. “Get the fuck out of my car.”

He smiles and leaves.

I drive home at 3am with all of the car windows down, the radio turned way up. I’m 30 years old and I just made out with an unemployed man in my car. I feel amazing.

Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club, a monthly show for stories. She has served as the Nonfiction Editor and Managing Editor of TriQuarterly Online. She performs around Chicago with Mortified!The KatesEssay Fiesta, Stories at the Store, This Much is TrueBeast Women, Waiting for the Bus and Cafe Cabaret. Her stories have been published in Tampa Review, Partner Dance Press, and been featured on (89.5 FM). Dana received a Bachelors in Creative Writing and Religion and from Wittenberg University and a Masters in Religious Studies from The University of Chicago. She has a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University.

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