With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we at Queen City Nerve decided to do a little romantic storytelling. We reached out to some of our favorite folks in Charlotte to ask if they’d share their most cringeworthy, ridiculous or — in Brian O’Neil’s case — just straight-up scary dating experiences. For good measure, Nerve editors Ryan Pitkin and Courtney Mihocik pitched in, too. [Editor’s note: Most of these were dictated to Ryan and Courtney, which explains the conversational nature of these entries.]
Now we want our readers to pitch in and share their own dreadful memories. Send them to email@example.com and we’ll collect the best stories to post here on our website on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Be sure to let us know whether you want us to include your name or not, because as we learned with one storyteller below, that’s not always in your best interest.
MATT COMER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AT CHARLOTTE PRIDE
In the fall of 2007 I had recently moved to Charlotte from Winston-Salem, and I hadn’t much opportunity to make friends or meet people around my age. I decided that for my birthday I would try to meet somebody new, hang out, have some fun and go out to one of the nightclubs. So, I went on one of the dating websites — this was before any of the apps were around. I started chatting with this guy online for a while, and we decided that for my birthday, we’d have a little date.
He lived in Huntersville so I had to go pick him up. I drove up there and we came back to my house. We hung out for a little while, and had a couple of drinks until it was time to go to the nightclub. At the club we were hanging out, and I thought we were hitting it off. Then, after 30 or 40 minutes, a group of guys came in. Apparently they were his friends. He dashed away. I looked for him, but I did not see him the rest of the night. He just abandoned me, and it became clear to me that what he really wanted was a ride to the club from Huntersville. At first I was upset, but it turned out OK. I met some other people at the club and danced a little.
The kicker was at about 1:30 in the morning, when the club was winding down and it was time to go home, after he had ignored me the entire night, he found me and had the gall to ask if I would drive him back to Huntersville. I said absolutely not and I left him at the club. If he wanted to hang out with his friends all night, I’m sure one of them could take him back to Huntersville. I was astonished that he would do that. To pull that trick on my birthday, of all days, was pretty crappy. A couple of years later this guy saw me out and about. He came up to say hello and be friendly, as if none of that had ever happened.
COURTNEY MIHOCIK, ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF QUEEN CITY NERVE
When I moved to Charlotte at the beginning of summer 2016, I knew I was only going to be here for the duration of my internship before I went back to school in Ohio. So I thought, “Hey, why not get on Tinder and meet someone, maybe have a fling?” The first guy that I met up with ended up leading me to not even think about getting on the app for a month.
I was talking to this guy, let’s call him Dan, on Tinder for a few days when he invited me out with his friends to a couple of places Uptown. We met at his house, had a few drinks with his friends, got to know one another and then piled into a cab to check out Fahrenheit. It was my first time there, and I was absolutely enthralled by the view of Uptown. I was 21 years old and had only known the dinky little college bars from whence I came. But that would prove to be the only good part of the evening, because no one actually wanted me there in the first place.
I walked into the bathroom not long after a couple of the girls in the group did, and while I was waiting for a stall to open up, I heard them talking about me — they were not saying good things. I’ll paraphrase the conversation I accidentally eavesdropped on.
“Yeah, I don’t really like Dan’s girl. Why is she even here?” one asked the other.
“I don’t know, but she’s weird and I wish he’d date someone else instead,” the other girl replied.
In reply, I announced my presence to them in the bathroom and that I could hear everything they were saying, then just went on with my night like nothing was wrong. After that, I never saw him or his petty friends again.
ERIN BREEDEN, WRITER, CONTENT CREATER, BUSINESS OWNER AND FORMER EDITOR OF CAROLINA BRIDE
Newly divorced without a clue how to date, I polished off a bottle of wine by myself one night and downloaded Tinder. Full of liquid courage, I created my profile and started swiping left and right. Over the course of the next few weeks, I went on dates with some decent guys, received some unsolicited dick pictures that I promptly shared with all my friends, but I didn’t have a Tinder horror story until I swiped right on one particular suitor. A funny profile and a great smile, I was excited when we matched and he messaged me.
From the get-go, I could tell he was looking for a wife, whereas I was going in with no expectations. He asked me out to dinner, and although a voice in my head told me not to, after consulting my friends I said yes. You never know what can happen, right?
On date night he called me an hour before our reservation. I was expecting him to cancel, but he instead informed me that he was already at the restaurant. Knowing that he only lived 20 minutes from the restaurant, I questioned his early arrival and he told me he was too excited and didn’t want to take any chances that he may be late.
With a sense of dread in my stomach, I arrived at the restaurant. I almost canceled, but a girl’s gotta eat and it was one of my favorite places. I walked back to the table where he was talking to the server. When he saw me he exclaimed, “Here she is! I told you she was coming. She’s my better half!”
I already knew this night was going to be awful, but I was hungry. I sat down and the server gave me an “I’m so sorry” look. While he was waiting for me to arrive, my date had apparently told our server that he was meeting “the one.” I should have bolted when I saw her look.
Dinner was delicious, but the date, not so much. During the course of the meal he told me a little too much about himself and his past and talked so fast I couldn’t get a word in. Midway through the date he took a phone call. It was his mom wanting to know how the date was going. I listened to him tell his mother that he may have found the one and he winked at me. He then apologized to her for having to cancel on brunch the next day as he may have a late night and may not get much sleep (another wink). Then he asked me if I wanted to talk to his mom and passed me the phone. I politely declined. The server brought me a huge glass of red wine and told me it was on the house.
My date continued to tell me about how much I was going to love his family, how excited he was to have met someone like me and that he can tell I’m a good kisser. I ordered a slice of chocolate cake and I didn’t share. The check came and he said, “Wow, you’re expensive, but you’re worth it, my better half.” The server took the check and squeezed my shoulder in a moment of solidarity.
The date ended with him walking me to my car and trying to kiss me. I turned my head and he kissed my ear. I thanked him for dinner and got in my car. He then asked for me to drive him to his car since it was “cold.” It was almost 60 degrees. I pretended that I didn’t hear him and sped off never to see or hear from him again.
ALEX TRIBBLE AND SHARELLE BURT, COHOSTS OF HEADWRAPS AND LIPSTICKS THE PODCAST
[Sharelle Burt] I actually met him at church. We had never went out before and he asked me where I wanted to go, and I was like, “I’ve really been wanting to try this Cajun Queen spot.” He said, “OK, cool, we’ll go Sunday after church.” So it’s after church, we’re on our way and he’s just like, “Oh, I have to make a stop real quick on the way and then we’ll go.” I followed him because I wasn’t getting in the car with him. So we pull up to this house and I see this little boy running around and he’s like, “Daddy, Daddy,” and I’m like, “Oh, OK. Who’s Daddy? You’re Daddy. OK, cool.”
He comes up to my window and says, “I’ve got to go in here and pay a bill for my grandmother.” Now mind you, it’s Sunday, so I’m like, “What kind of bill do you gotta pay on a Sunday that can’t wait? Can’t you just do it afterwards?” He’s like, “It will just take me a few minutes, blah blah.”
So he goes in the house, I’m sitting outside, and the grandmother comes out of the house and starts waving me to come inside. I’m like, “No I’m good right here, thank you.” So he comes outside and puts the phone to his ear and then walks back in the house to make it seem like he was doing that, which I know he wasn’t. Basically, he went in there to get money so he could take me out.
So he comes back to my window like, “Oh, my grandmother’s in there cooking up a storm, we could always just chill here,” and I was like, “Naw, that’s not an option. We can go to Cajun Queen.” So I’m following him and I’m noticing that we’re not heading anywhere towards Cajun Queen, like we’re literally by Northlake Mall. I don’t even know what’s going on, but whatever. So we pull into the Chili’s parking lot, the one over there by the mall. So I’m like, “Why aren’t we going to Cajun Queen?” and he’s like, “Oh well, I called to see if they had reservations and I couldn’t get one, blah blah blah,” and I’m like, “Dude, I really been craving Cajun Queen for two days, but OK.”
So we get into Chili’s and we sit down and he immediately starts to order for me. I’m like, “Dude, I can order for myself, I don’t really need you to order for me.” So I ordered everything off the Chili’s menu. I ordered a presidential margarita, fajitas, I ordered everything because I was just so over it. And then afterwards we ended up going to the movies and seeing Argo which was actually really good. But we’re at the movies and he keeps trying to like slide me down and I’m like, “Dude, this is not a thing.” So I ended up having to move two seats away from him because I was so annoyed.
So I just left after the movie was over and I was like, “This will never happen.” So I guess he didn’t get the hint. He texted me two days later. Of course we had gone to the same church, so that Sunday, he texted me like, “Do you mind telling me why you haven’t responded to any of my texts?” It was just horrible. The date was horrible, he was horrible, and I haven’t seen him since. He don’t even go to my church anymore.
[Alex Tribble] I was a junior in college [at NC A&T] and I had met this guy in class, and we were feeling each other’s vibes in class, so I invited him over for some Netflix and chill — before Netflix and chill was a thing, and I dressed up all nice. He came in, he was real cool, everything was going fine and perfect. We started watching movies and at the time I had my hair mohawked — like it was shaved on the sides, and the hair on top was sticking out, like a mohawk — and the whole night he kept trying to run his fingers through my hair. I kept grabbing his hand away from my head. Mind you we had never hung out, we weren’t tight like that, this was our first time even hanging out and talking. But he kept trying to touch my hair, it was so strange. So once the movie was over I was like, “So, are you about ready to go?” He was like, “No,” and he stayed for another hour. It was so awkward. So it was like an hour and a half before I got him to leave, and it was the worst night ever.
RYAN PITKIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF QUEEN CITY NERVE
All I wanted was to see Kate Winslet naked. Little middle school me was super excited to go check out Titanic in January 1998, not only because I was fully aware that Winslet had bared it all just as I was hitting puberty the hardest, but because it was a night out with a bunch of friends, including my girlfriend Alaina. Mind you, this was sixth grade, an age when dating someone meant passing notes between classes and, if I was lucky, blushingly kissing her on the cheek before heading off to gym. So a night out at the movies was sort of a big deal.
The first sign that the night was not going to go as planned was when we got to the theater and found out that Titanic was sold out. No full-grown boobs for these preteen eyes. The girls decided we’d check out the newly released Spice World instead, as the guys begrudgingly agreed. Once inside the movie, I sat with Alaina on my left with my buddy Drew on my right. Drew didn’t have a girlfriend at the time, so that dork started getting in my ear about what sort of moves I should make. His peer pressure was actually quite conservative. Forget about first base, he kept me in the batter’s box, telling me that if I was going to be sitting next to my girlfriend at the movies I had to hold her hand. So in all my smoothness, I loudly asked Alaina if she would hold my hand (it’s called consent, people!), and she said yes.
She slipped her hand into mine and I did not let go — not through the military training scene, the alien scene, or when Posh Spice wakes a boy from a coma by screaming into his ear. Despite the fact that one hour into this cinematic masterpiece both of our hands were sweating like a Trump administration member in court, I never let go. In fact, at that point we might as well have been Jack and Rose, holding hands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, with no rescue in sight.
But alas, rescue came in the form of Bond, James Bond. Just as things reached their most uncomfortable, ol’ Drew — who got me into this situation — told me he was going to sneak into Tomorrow Never Dies, which was showing in a theater next door. He asked if I wanted to join him, so I sheepishly loosened my clammy death grip on Alaina’s hand and told her I’d be back later. Somehow she fought the urge to grab hold of me and demand that I continue to hold her now-soaking fingers. I learned my lesson about the right and wrong time for hand-holding that night, and every single date I’ve ever been on since has gone absolutely swimmingly. I swear.
LAUREN LEVINE AND ALI WASHBURN, COHOSTS OF THE MARGARITA CONFESSIONALS PODCAST
[Lauren Levine] It was so awkward I try to block it out. We were at dinner at Whiskey Warehouse, just eating dinner normally and I thought it was going OK — not amazingly, but it was going fine — and he gets up to go to the bathroom and I’m like, that’s OK, you can do that. So all of the sudden I realize that he’s been gone for like — this is not a joke — for like 20 minutes. I’m like, “Oh man, is he having stomach problems? That’s really embarrassing, I would hate if that were me.”
Then I start getting worried. Did something happen? I didn’t think I was going to see this guy again but I still didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. So I walk around the restaurant to see, did he fall, what’s going on? All of a sudden, I see him in a group surrounded by four or five girls just chatting, and I was like, “Oh, OK, welp, I guess our date’s over. Cool, I’m going to rock ‘n’ roll now.” I walked up and said to him, “Hey, that’s not so cool, what’s the deal, you can’t do that.” He actually seemed apologetic. He was like, “Oh, I’m really sorry. I played football in college so I’m not used to having a date. This is all new to me.” That’s fine if you didn’t date in college, but don’t be that guy. Come on now. I was just like, “Alright, goodnight and good luck. Go forth and conquer,” and I left.
[Ali Washburn] I had been talking with a guy that I met on Tinder, and his age on Tinder said that he was 35. That wasn’t too old for me, I was probably 28 at the time, and I knew he had two kids and we just had been chatting and that was fine. He started telling me a lot of stuff that he had done in his younger years, like, “I went to this place and I lived in this place and I’ve done this job,” and I was like, “Wow, you’ve done a lot for only being 35.” I specifically remember saying that to him, and he was like, “Oh, yeah,” and agreed with me.
So we set up a date and we were going to meet at Selwyn Pub, and I get there and he is clearly, like, lit. But not drunk, more so like on some sort of pills or something. So he proceeds to be drinking on pills, tells me he has some sort of back problem so he’d been taking Vicodin, so he’s sloppy, sloppy drunk, or whatever he is. We talk and talk, and he’s like, “How old do you think I am?” which is the most annoying thing anybody can ever say, and I say, “Well, I assume you’re the age that you have on your dating profile.” It says it right there when you swipe on somebody how old they are. And he said no, he’s actually 46 and he uses his brother’s birthday to lie about his age because he doesn’t like the girls that he matches with when he puts his real age on the app. So not only was he sloppy and drunk and high or another, but he also was lying about his age.
So, needless to say, I finished my drink and left the building.
BRIAN O’NEIL, COMEDIAN
This story comes from my early days of separation from my ex-wife. Up to that point I had never utilized dating apps because I was in an eight-year monogamous relationship. I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings on Tinder, so I swiped right on almost every profile that came up. I came across this one lady who looked attractive but had some red flags on her profile. For one, her profile picture was of her wearing a gas mask filled with weed smoke. At no point did it register to me that this woman was someone to avoid.
She contacted me after we matched, calling me “Handsome” and “Baby” pretty early in the conversation. My untrained eye thought she was just giving me compliments, but soon I realized this was part of her game. Within two days of talking she was trying to sell me on a story about how she was down on her luck and needed a place to stay since she was being evicted soon. She kept hinting for me to let her move in with me. I lied and said I lived with my parents and that it wouldn’t be possible. She would constantly call me saying she was on Xanax and wanted me to come over to smoke with her. I never actually met her in person because the one time we FaceTimed I could tell there was another guy with her telling her what to say to me.
My guess is that they were going to rob me if I ever decided to meet up with her. Eventually, I blocked her number and I haven’t heard from her since. Let’s hope Gas Mask Girl is doing better than she was back then, or at the very least has a home.
After hearing this guy’s story, we’re hiding his identity for the professional and social safety of everyone involved.
I swiped across this girl on Tinder, and she was OK, we had an alright conversation or whatever, and we set up a time to go hang out and watch a movie. This is when A Quiet Place came out, the quietest movie of the 20th and 21st centuries. And so, in any situation where you’re watching a movie you shut up and you watch the movie — well not her. It’s cool if you’re adding commentary, but all of her conversations were about stuff that had nothing to do with the movie whatsoever, these were all real-life scenarios.
So she’s chit-chatting away, and everybody in the movie theater can hear us. She’s trying to have this conversation where somebody speaks to you and they want you to be looking at them and engaged in the conversation, not just making little quips about everything. But I would not turn my head and look at her at all, and she was getting super upset about it. So I turned to her in the middle of the movie and I’m like, “Can you shut the fuck up?” And she was like, “What is your problem? Why don’t you want to talk to me?” and I was like, “Because we’re watching a movie that’s literally called A Quiet Place.”
So we get back into her apartment and I’m like, alright finally, I can say goodbye and go home. Well, she pulled out a bag of cocaine. And I’m not one to say no to drugs. And so we started doing the cocaine and all of a sudden it’s 7:30 in the morning and the sun was coming up. And I had to go to my job the next day, actually an hour and a half from then, so I said, “Goddamn, all right I need to get out of here.”