A few weeks ago, I saw artisanal black cherry soda for sale at an ice cream parlor in Los Angeles. I was reminded, like I always am when I see black cherry soda, of the time a guy texted me and asked if I wanted to come over that weekend to “help [him] cat-sit and make black cherry soda.” This was six years ago.
He and I had been on one not-too-terrible OkCupid date – my first ever – a few months earlier and while he continued to, every so often, text me to see if I wanted to hang out, I hadn’t seen him since then. I would have gone on a second date with him if he had asked soon after our first one and with a specific plan. But the further away from that first date we got without seeing each other, the more I thought about the things I hadn’t liked about him. He was late and he mentioned his ex-girlfriend multiple times and he didn’t have cash when it came time to pay our dinner bill. And then when he did contact me after our date, he always texted me on like, Friday at 4 o’clock to ask what I was up to that night. After he did that a few times, I was annoyed, but always responded with something like “maybe another time” instead of just asking him to make plans with me in advance.
By the time he texted me about cat-sitting and black cherry soda, I had lost interest in hanging out with him at all. I had known that for some time. However, I was reluctant to cut ties with him, as his was the only male attention I’d been receiving regularly. I was also nervous to tell him that I didn’t want to date him. So I told him that while I still wanted to be friends, I was dating someone else. All of this, of course, was untrue.
He asked me why I hadn’t told him that earlier. I said that it – my starting to “see” my imaginary boyfriend – had “just happened.” He said he was disappointed but also wanted to be friends. Actually, I could be making that up. He definitely wasn’t hostile though. But after his last text, I blocked him on Gchat and hoped that he wouldn’t text me again. He didn’t.
“Maybe I should have gone on that date,” I said to my friend Stephanie, as we sat at the Los Angeles ice cream parlor. I had just related the story to her. “It’s definitely the most creative date I’ve ever been asked on. I’d like, die to be asked to do anything now that wasn’t just grabbing a drink or whatever.”
“Maybe you should have gone,” she said, dipping her spoon back into our bowl of vanilla and espresso ice cream.
“But I don’t even like black cherry flavor.” And then I remembered something. “Oh my God, but also,” I said. “I heard later – maybe a year later – that this guy was dating a friend of a friend of mine and that he was horrible. Like emotionally abusive.”
We both expressed our dismay and agreed that perhaps I’d dodged a bullet. But I still feel guilty about lying to him. That was a dumb thing to do.