After blind date, Gina looks forward to mothering 23,904 cats

Gina Van Thomme, 16, Faribault High School
Gina Van Thomme, 16, of Faribault High School. Photo courtesy of Gina Van Thomme.
"Your card has been declined," she announced to the world and my date, who was once again looking romantically interested in his cellular device.

Before the date

It’s a good day when: a stranger gives you free candy; there is a spontaneous tornado drill during your pop quiz; or you don’t find a random hair in the middle of your mystery meat hot-dish.

It’s a bad day when: you go to start your car and it makes a noise similar to a choking puppy; it snows and you are wearing flip-flops; or you get set up on a really awkward double date.

This past April, I had a not-so-hot day regarding a double date. I consider myself to be a genuine person with many quality personality traits. The problem is my two most prominent personality traits are my sarcasm and pessimism, which basically makes me the worst nightmare of any matchmaker.

So when a friend told me that she had set me up on a blind date with the male equivalent of me, I was skeptical. Even though this was going to be just a casual meet-and-greet, pre-date type of deal, there is nothing worse than being an awkward person thrust into an awkward situation.

During the date

When our two from-out-of-town dates arrived at my friend’s house, we all just stood there (sorry in advance about the over-use of this adjective) awkwardly. My date was checking out his phone like it had just revealed the cure for cancer. I examined him as he texted and was alarmed to find he looked kind of like a leprechaun. I tried using my charm to lure him away from his phone but when that didn’t work, my expectations for the night deflated.

Not having a game plan when you go into situations like this can result in the same feeling of horror that a pop quiz brings, or what every day of my life is like in math class.

The four of us stood there in unbearable silence, complete with chirping crickets and ticking watches. Finally, my stomach spoke up and we decided to go eat at our local diner. After I had ordered my meal, I watched the two guys and my friend order just beverages. Shoot. It was already bad enough trying to make conversation with my date without having a mouth full of corn dog.

His lack of speaking during the meal was driving me slightly insane, so I spent most of the dinner divided between talking to my friend’s date and wondering if my blind date was also deaf.

It was a great meal until it came time to pay. Since this night seemed like less of a date and more of a bad reality TV show, I didn’t think twice before paying for my own meal. The hostess ran my card and then looked at me with the same disapproval my mom uses after I admit to putting my dirty dishes in the clean dishwasher.

“Your card has been declined,” she announced to the world, and my date, who was once again looking romantically interested in his cellular device.

At this point, I was sure hoping that this wasn’t the same impression I made on my matchmaking friend. Was this the kind of person she really thought I was?

As it turned out, money had been transferred out of my checking account to pay for prom (which is a whole different story) and I didn’t have enough money to pay for my 99-cent corn dog. It would have been embarrassing if it hadn’t been so funny. Before I had to go wash dishes to earn my lavish corndog, my pal gave me the one seventh of minimum wage it took to cover my meal and we were on our way out.

Some might think that the noble and chivalrous thing for my date to do would have been to offer to pay. I, on the other hand, saw nothing wrong with paying for my own meal, especially considering it was debatable this guy even had a pulse.

This still left the problem of what to do with the rest of the evening. I was aimlessly trying to make small talk and throwing out more one-liners than Chelsea Handler can on Jay Leno, all to no avail. We went back to my friend’s house where she recommended we play games outside. If you have never played the “Throw-A-Stick-In-The-Grass-Then-Find-It” game, you are seriously missing out on the one minute and seven seconds worth of entertainment it provides.

After two complete minutes outside with minimal conversation, we all herded inside to do what teenagers do best: searching for videos of ourselves on YouTube. After that, we started a movie and settled into a state of exhausted relief as we let Shia LeBeouf do all the talking.

While the other half of the double date was doing just fine, my date and I sat on opposite sides of the room and tried to imagine we were doing something more productive with our Friday night. After the movie passed the opening credits, I grabbed my keys and stood up. Unlike cute 80s movies, there was no sweet goodbye exchanged as I high-tailed it to my car.

After the date

After all was said and done, my friend and I had a good laugh. Turns out when she met my blind date, he seemed a lot more relaxed and life-like. There was no follow-up phone call from my date or even a casual Facebook add, but there were no hard feelings on my part — you didn’t see me rushing for the ‘Friend’ button either.

The moral of this tale is vague and if you can find one, it is probably just a pathetic tribute to my life of open passenger seats and long romantic drives — by myself. But, considering everything, it was actually a pretty fun night because of the things that make adolescence so great: incompatibility, awkwardness, and running out of things to say during crucial moments.

Many people enjoy casual romance. As for me, I can only hope that someday I’ll grow into my role as the mother of 23,904 cats.