The last few posts on “Eat, Drive, F*ck” have been kinda bummers because I’ve been talking about all the negative emotions that come from traveling. But one of the best parts of really shitty experiences are the stories that come afterward. So let’s take a break from the turmoil I’ve been experiencing over the last few weeks. I’m ready to tell you one of my best dating stories of all time. It happened here in Austin. And, of course, when I say best I mean worst.
My first week here, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was ready to plow through my list of places I wanted to check out; this list is something I create the week before I move to any new city. I match with a dude on Tinder. He is very, very attractive and suggests that we go swimming. I tell him that Hamilton Pool is on my list. He says great. Let’s go.
Hamilton Pool is about an hour from where I live. At the time, I didn’t think of it, but by agreeing to go on this date, I was essentially agreeing to spend 4 hours with him (an hour drive there and back + a few hours at the pool). As he is driving up to my place, I'm like oh shit what have I gotten myself into? I didn’t really vet this man. What if he sucks?
But the GREAT thing is he doesn’t suck. At all! Our conversation in the car on the way to the pool is fabulous, I'm super attracted to him, and he is very intelligent, laid-back, and easy to talk to. I am into it. He asks if we can stop on the way to grab tallboys. I inform him that I don’t really drink, but if he wants to have a beer at the pool, have at it. As long as this guy isn’t grabbing a six-pack he plans on finishing on his own (also because he is driving me home), I truly do not care. Please go ahead and grab a beer. He does.
This detail doesn’t seem very relevant, but it will make sense later. Hold on.
After grabbing his beer, he tells me that he has a joint if I would like to partake in that instead of alcohol. I tell him thank you, kind sir, because that is exactly what I would like to do.
So we get to the pool. We’re the first people there and it is fucking magical. The conversation is still great and he is still as hot as ever. While he’s enjoying his beer on the beach, I notice something on his face.
I am a sexual health writer. I know what a herpes lesion looks like. And I know what a herpes lesion looks like in comparison to razor burn or acne or any other skin ailment. But when I look at his face, I truly cannot tell. And when you can’t tell, you should probably err on the side of caution. He also mentions that he’s just gotten over a cold, which, if you did not know—herpes outbreaks usually coincide with cold-like symptoms. I take this information and file it to the back of my mind. My brain is just like, “Dana, please just note this information.” And so I do.
Others have been arriving to the pool and we’re now around twenty or so people. My date asks if I want to hike off-trail with him and smoke that joint he brought. I say yes.
As we hike to a spot where we can smoke in peace, I ask what kind of weed it is. I have PTSD (to the point that I have to take medication to prevent nightmares) and am an everyday smoker to help with my sleep schedule (otherwise I would never sleep). If there’s anything I know better than banging recently divorced dads, it’s weed.
So I ask what we’re smoking—is it indica, sativa, hybrid, etc? Does he know the strain? And he’s like, “I honestly have no idea. I’m not really into weed. All I know is that it’s cheap.”
In my experience, cheap equals weak. And I already have a pretty high tolerance. I don’t say any of this to him, but this is something you, dear reader, should keep in mind.
Now, remember, I can’t tell if what is on this guy’s face is herpes or not. I don't want to share a joint with him while he has active lesions (if that is what they are). So I tell him, hey, I have an autoimmune disease (which is true). My immune system is weaker than other people’s. And you just got over a cold. So instead of passing the joint back and forth, could I smoke half and then pass it to you? And he says that he has such a nice buzz going from the tallboy that I can smoke as much of the joint as I want, to just save him a couple hits.
Remember—this stuff is weak and I have a high tolerance. So I suck down 85% of that joint. After all, he said that it was cheap.
It ended up not being weak. At all.
And here’s the thing—weed is a huge aphrodisiac for me. I will make out with a lamp post when I’m high. All I want to do is TOUCH THINGS. And by THINGS I mean YOUR DICK. And I’m out in nature with a beautiful man and I’m stoned and ALL I want to do is make out with him. But then I think of the small cluster of I-don’t-know-what-that-is on his face. There’s a part of me that thinks, “Dana, you’re being paranoid. Of course this person doesn’t have herpes. It looks like razor burn.” But there’s also a louder, more assertive voice in the back of my mind that says to me, “Dana, don’t do it. Don’t you fucking do it.”
And so I don’t. Even though that is literally ALL I want to do. I want to kiss this man’s face off. But I abstain. Because I am a fine, upstanding Christian woman.
I am so high that I can barely walk back to the pool. However, when we do, we go swimming again and it is incredible. Swimming there while high off your ass is a transcendent experience and I highly recommend it.
It’s been a few hours and it’s now time to leave. And honestly, it’s been a fabulous date. Truly. This guy is really cool and hot and brought me weed. What more could a gal ask for?
We now have an hour drive back to Austin. And for forty minutes, it’s just like—it’s eighty degrees outside with zero humidity, the sun is on my face, the windows are down, the music is turned up, and we’re driving through the lush Texas countryside. And I’m just chilling in the passenger’s seat, completely blissed out. I’m not talking. Neither is he. About forty minutes pass like this.
He then turns to me and is like, “Hey, I’m so sorry I haven’t been talking! I hope you don’t think I’m being rude—I’m just super content and relaxed right now.” And I’m like, “Dude! I feel exactly the same way! I was just thinking how I hope you weren’t thinking I was being rude.” We share a laugh. It is comfortable. And then he says to me:
“Do you want to hear my poetry?”
Please remember that I am incredibly high when he asks me this. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I heard him correctly. I don’t even know what year it is.
Without me saying anything, he fiddles with his phone, which has been hanging in a cradle attached to his rear-view mirror. I think to myself if this guy is going to read his poetry off the Notes app in his phone, I am going to shut this down. That is essentially texting and driving and that is dangerous. I also hope that is what he is doing because then I have an automatic out from listening to his poetry.
That was not what he was doing.
What he was doing was connecting his phone to the audio system of his car because he had already recorded himself reading the poetry.
Now, one thing you should know about me is that an ex of mine once wrote a poem about us after our breakup in which, at the end of it, I drown. So poetry is a bit of a sore spot for ol’ Dana Hamilton. But I would have gladly taken another poem about me drowning over what happened next.
Because I thought: he’s going to read a poem. How long could this possibly be? It takes 90 seconds to read a few stanzas, yeah?
You guys, it was five to seven full minutes of rhyming slam poetry.
If you’re thinking to yourself, hey, didn’t people stop doing rhyming slam poetry in the late 90s, I get it. I’ve asked that very question myself. But I’m here to tell you that that is indeed not the case.
I am so high that all I keep thinking is am I hallucinating this or is this really happening. The only thing I remember doing is clenching my hands so hard that I could break pencils in them. I keep waiting for it to be over and yet it keeps going. This man has a lot of shit to rhyme.
When, finally, mercifully, it is indeed over, I am frozen in place. I honestly don’t even believe that just happened. I’m also violently high. He looks over at me. I don’t say anything. And so he proceeds to say the worst possible thing he could have said in this moment, which is:
That’s right. What did this guy follow up a 5 to 7-minute rhyming slam poetry reading with? Another fucking rhyming slam poem. Surprising no one, this poem is worse than the first one.
[Later, when I tell this story to my friends, two of them said I should have opened the door and tucked and rolled. Another said, “He held you hostage in a car and forced you to listen to his poetry? He is a terrorist.”]
Now here’s the thing, you guys. I worked really fucking hard to become a writer. I take my work very seriously—and part of the work is workshopping and analyzing and critiquing my own work and others’. That’s what you do when you’re a writer. I've had friends whose books, before they were published by top houses, were once manuscripts I saw and covered in notes. I try to push my friends to be the best they can be. I was also an editor for ten years. And so, as a result, I do not give false praise. Ever.
So after that second god awful poem, when he looked over to me, the best I could do was say: “I like that you like it.”
THIS IS ANOTHER REMINDER THAT I AM ALSO HIGH AS SHIT AT THE TIME
But yes, that is what I say. And he is confused and I try to backpedal and be like I like that you feel comfortable enough with me to share your work and I like people who are proud of what they do and it was very vulnerable of you to let me listen to your poetry and blah blah blah I barely remember what I said because, again, I am so high I could have questioned the very spelling of my own name at this point.
We arrive at my place and I thank GOD all of this transpired within the last fifteen minutes of a 4-hour date and not a moment sooner. I thank him for driving and for agreeing to go to Hamilton Pool with me and then get out of the car. When I open the latch of the gate in front of my condo, he asks if I want to check him out at his place of work later on that week. I hesitate. The question catches me off guard and this latch to my door feels like a fuckin’ Rubik’s cube at this point. (It also took me a solid four minutes to figure out which keys opened my front door, that’s how high I am.)
When I hesitate to answer him, he just says, “Think about it.” And then he drives off like a villain in a teenage 80s flick.
I get inside my condo, strip off all my clothes, and get the shower running. I call my friend Sophie and essentially yell this entire story at her in disbelief. It's hard for me to grapple with the idea that any of this even happened. But it has and after the story is over, I realize something.
I was very tempted to make out with that man. Very, very tempted. And I almost did. I almost threw caution to the wind because I wanted to act on a sexual impulse. I was thinking with my clit instead of my brain, but, thankfully, my brain took over.
And listen. I loathe the stigmas surrounding STIs. They are dumb. 67% of the world’s population has herpes. It is an incredibly common and benign STI. I’ve even had an STI before (chlamydia). But in that moment, while I’m talking on the phone with my friend, it hit me that I could have contracted herpes from a slam poet.
Would herpes be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my life? No. I take all precautions I can to prevent contracting any STI, but I know that contracting something wouldn’t mean that my life was over or that I wasn’t worthy of love or respect. I know those things. But to have, with every outbreak, a reminder that I once made out with a slam poet? This blog post would probably be the last time you ever heard from me. Because I would totally Lance Bass it and make plans to move to the moon.
And so, yeah, that is my worst dating story from Austin.
Passionate about everything having to do with the body, Dana Hamilton writes about sex, dating, relationships, body image, and eating disorder recovery. She is a regular contributor to Playboy and her work has appeared in VICE, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and SELF, among other publications.