How's that for a clickbait title?
Story time: It was our first date. I was just coming off another outing (with a different woman) where I was basically sexually assaulted in an elevator (a story for another day), so it would be an understatement to say that my expectations were low going in. To make matters worse, this new girl had emailed me the day before we were scheduled to go out to say that she was sick and needed to reschedule. In the online dating world, this is code for, 'I'm going out with someone I like better - you are the backup' or 'This is the last message you'll ever hear - Imabout to go ghost mode on yo ass.'
Surprisingly, she actually did reschedule with me for the following evening. A Sunday date - not prime time, but whatever. We met for sushi. It was good. So was the conversation. It wasn't love at first sight, but there were no red flags or deal-breakers tossed out. We had coffee and talked some more. Eventually it was time to call it a night.
Solid date. But there was one little thing that happened out of the ordinary: somehow the conversation had drifted to childhood television shows. My date mentioned that she liked the show Seaquest DSV, that show about a futuristic submarine that prowled around the ocean, solving mysteries and getting into scrapes. In particular, she thought that then-teen-heartthrob Jonathan Brandis was cute. In fact, she confessed, she still had a crush on him*.
You all remember Jonathan Brandis? He was in Sidekicks with Chuck Norris during the latter's mini-peak in popularity ("Chuck Norris's tears cure cancer, etc.). Then he was in Ladybugs as a cheating, cross-dressing soccer player in the Rodney Dangerfield vehicle. Then he lost his mojo**, stopped getting roles and generally ceased to exist in the public consciousness.
"His career really tailed off," my date remarked.
I thought I knew why. At that moment, I was 99% sure that Jonathan Brandis was dead. Somewhere, I'd read that he'd actually killed himself. Yeah, it was either him or the kid from Terminator 2***. Were they both dead? Or the same guy? Shit.
I had a decision to make - I could deliver the bad news. Although there was virtually no upside in doing so, I blurted out that her teen heartthrob had offed himself a few years ago and was now a cold pile of worm shit.
It was, in retrospect, a risky move. But not fatal to the evening - my date took the news well, all things considered. Disappointed, yes, but not heartbroken or (I hoped) turned off. Realizing that nothing good would come from dwelling on this, I ushered the conversation towards cheerier topics.
The next morning, I was stewing over how to proceed with my date. I wanted to go out with her again, of course. This chick was a catch. Thing was, there was competition going on; even though she really had been sick, she'd certainly been on some other dates and there were doubtless a multitude of dudes sniffing around. Even if three-quarters of them were unsuitable, I would still be facing at least one or two other comparable guys who may have better hair or ab definition. If I wasn't careful, I'd be as dead as Brandis.
As that last thought popped into my head, a unique way to re-engage occurred to me. It was so, so dangerous, yet I had a feeling that it might work on this girl.
So, following my gut instinct, I did what anyone in my position would do: I sent my date an e-sympathy card (do these even exist anymore?) commiserating over the death of her childhood crush. The message was terrible, go-straight-to-hell stuff, combining flirting and gallows humor and a little bit of self-promotion. Something to the effect of, Sorry about your loss- hopefully you can find someone new to have sexual fantasies about!
There may have been a winky-smile emoticon in there somewhere.
Did This Work?
It turns out that an underrated romantic compatibility parameter is whether or not you are amused by a dumbass sympathy card. A sizable fraction of society would consider such an overture gauche under the circumstances, while another, admittedly smaller pool of people would find it charming and, dare I say, humorous.
Turns out my date liked to swim in the same sordid pools that I inhabited - I sent that card eleven years ago and woke up next to the woman who opened it this morning.
That said, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this move.
*In doing research for this story, I confirmed that Susan did indeed fantasize about having sexual interactions with Brandis. There was no way to organically include this information in the story, but I thought you'd all want to know.
**I have no idea if he uglied up later, did drugs, etc. He was a handsome young man whose career nose-dived and I am jealous of all the ass he probably crushed. This is why I say these hurtful things.
***Edward Furlong is doing JUST FINE. But if you had a crush on him, don't look him up - he's gained some weight. Just hold on to that fantasy.
Noah's Inner Monologue
Scribblings of a man who can barely operate an idiotproof website.