Bad With Men: Are You My Next Boyfriend?

Dana Norris went on 71 Internet dates. This was one of them. (You can find some of her previous dates in this series here, here and here.)

So I go home with this guy named Patrick because he’s cute and it’s late and riding the train out to his suburban apartment seems easier than waiting for a cab. The evening began as a birthday party for a mutual friend but it’s ending as a drunken late night date. When we get to Patrick’s place we have a snack, drink some more, talk, play his favorite zombie video game, and make out. This man is 10 years older than me but I feel like I’m finally having that reckless high school night of debauchery I was too nervous to enjoy when I was 17.  

I’m still in my fancy party clothes, a pencil skirt and high heels. Patrick gives me a T-shirt of his to sleep in and at 4am we both finally climb into bed. We had agreed to a sexless sleepover earlier when I had awkwardly stopped our make out session to inform Patrick that there would be no sex tonight because 1) tired, 2) drunk, 3) just met, and the unspoken reason, 4) after my last sex debacle (where I had unsatisfactory sex followed by not hearing from the man for two weeks), I’ve decided that from now on I am only doing the penis-in-vagina business with people who are my professed boyfriend.   

I find it hard to fall asleep because Patrick has a twin-sized bed that appears to be an extra-narrow. Patrick’s breathing is loud, and he has his arm around me, it’s very warm in his un-air-conditioned room, and I have a boner in my back. I spend all night failing to get comfortable, and because I don’t know this guy I’m hesitant to move too much and disturb him. I hold a position for as long as I can and then finally shift, at which point he shifts too, which means he’s probably awake and uncomfortable and maybe I should say something but what if he’s asleep and I don’t want to disturb him and where should I put my arm—above my head? Sure. Let’s try that.

When the sun rises, Patrick’s warm room becomes incredibly hot. We’re both sweating onto the sheets and we smell like we’re leaking booze from our pores. I decide that, even though it’s only 7am, it’s time for me to leave. But I’m out in the suburbs without no car and impractical footwear. I really don’t want to be the person limping onto the train station first thing on a Saturday morning in high heels. It would be a walk of shame where the shame was my poor planning.

I suppose that since I’m newly single, this may be my life from now on. I vow to always keep a pair of yoga pants and ballet flats in my purse from now on. 

I’m friends with Patrick’s female roommate so I go to her room. She’s not home so I text her as I rifle through her closet: “I spent the night at your apartment and now I’m stealing your sandals & pants.” She writes back immediately: “Best text ever.” Patrick wakes up as I get dressed in his roommate’s clothes. He says he had a great night with me and kisses me goodbye. 

I walk to the train station, constantly checking the map on my phone to make sure I’m headed in the right direction. His roommate’s sandals don’t quite fit me so it’s more of a shuffle than a walk. Twenty five minutes later I find the station and begin to prepare myself mentally for the hour-long train ride back to my apartment. Because the more I move the more I am realizing that I am hungover. Quite hungover. The train will surely be loud and swaying and, based on the current rate at which my hangover is escalating, I will definitely be the person on the train who’s puking on her borrowed clothes.

But wait: cabs! There’s a line of cabs outside of the station! I do math in my head: a $2.25 train ride that will be miserable or a $40 cab ride that will also be miserable but will end faster. I can’t afford the $40. I jump in the cab anyway.

Two hours later Patrick calls me. “Man! That was a shit night of sleep, wasn’t it?” I agree and we laugh. He asks about how I got home and I admit to being weak and taking a cab. He makes fun of my inability to hang with the Blue Line, says he loved having me over, and that he wants to see me again. I am joyous and glowing. This is my next boyfriend for sure. 

The next day is the fourth of July and I go to my best friend Erin’s house for a BBQ. We’re sitting on her front porch, sipping cocktails, and I start gushing to her about Patrick. How he used to be a Marine and doesn’t take my crap and how opposites attract and he’s older and that’s sexy and he’s a trainer so he can show me proper lifting techniques and he’s so into me and maybe I might not hang out with her all day like I had planned because if he calls me I’m totally going to run to wherever he is to hang out. Erin purses her lips.

“I don’t like this.”

“Don’t like what?”

“Like, you just started seeing him. Yesterday. It’s good that you’re excited, but maybe slow it down?”

I blink at her. I’m confused. Because isn’t this what new relationships are about? Meeting your next boyfriend and becoming completely obsessed with him and then, instead of slowing down, speeding up, leaning into it, cultivating your obsession like it’s an exotic plant, taking every moment you have to yourself to cultivate your obsession by thinking about him, remembering him, anticipating him, conjuring him so you always feel this way, this high, these endorphins coursing through you telling you that yes, this man is the man and you should always be trying to go to him?

I tell Erin that I disagree and prove it by immediately calling Patrick. He answers and it’s noisy where he is. He’s at a pool party somewhere in the suburbs, which he describes as being “Nice. Lots of girls in bikinis.” I congratulate him and wait to be invited. He says, “Well, you have fun. Talk to you later!” before hanging up. 

I am sad and Erin is kind enough to not bring up that maybe she is right and I am ridiculous. 

It starts to get dark so we move the party to the roof of a movie theater parking garage so we can watch fireworks. The roof of the garage is open and tall enough that we can see the entire city horizon all around us. We stand on the concrete and look out across Chicago and sip rum punch from a thermos and gasp as hundreds of families’ fireworks pop all along the horizon. It’s a private 360-degree fireworks show and, even though a security guard comes up and tells us to put the rum away, it’s beautiful.   

I look at the bright explosions and try not to be too disappointed that I’m not seeing Patrick tonight. I will see him again soon. I am in no way deterred.

Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club, a monthly show for stories in Chicago. She has been published in Tampa Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Rumpus. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University. She performs around Chicago you may find a list of upcoming shows at

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