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Sex + Relationships

Storytime: my first date in college

I just want to preface this by saying that I spent the majority of my freshman year in a quasi-relationship with a guy back home in the UK, so I didn’t really get introduced to the college dating scene at the same time as everyone else. Don't get me wrong! I was getting screwed over nonetheless, but it meant that I genuinely had no idea what the norms and customs were! And when I was thrust out there into the big, bad world of college dating, I felt like how I imagine I’d feel accidentally walking into an Orgo 2 lecture. In two words: utterly clueless.

Anyway, it’s been over a year now, and my friends have been pushing me to share this story since it happened. Apparently it’s too ridiculous to keep under wraps. It’s a long one, but here it goes:

I’m going to set the scene for you a little bit. It was one of the first weeks of the fall semester, the sun was shining and there was a bit of a breeze in the air. It was really quite lovely, and I remember feeling like the weather matched my mood perfectly. I feel like I’m pretending this is a novel or something, but I’d had a bit of an epiphany that day about my ex and really felt the weight of all the pent up frustration and hurt start to lift, so I was feeling pretty positive. I had thrown my hair up into a ponytail, taken out my contacts, and changed into my “ugly” clothes. I’d gone to the Panera on North for dinner and was walking home. The sun was shining, I was feeling great.... and then I see this guy. (pause for effect)

He was standing on the other side of the road waiting to cross at the same time as me. I couldn’t see too well in my glasses but from what I could tell, he was very cute. I don’t go around constantly scanning for potential guys, so I accepted he was good looking and then put it out of my mind. I was riding the high of being free from my ex, so guys were pretty much the last thing on my agenda as it was. I crossed the other road seeing as that light changed first, and out of the corner of my eye I see him cross it too. We’re once again on opposite sides of the road facing each other. This light changes, and I start to walk towards him. It felt like he was trying weirdly hard to make eye contact with me when we crossed, but it occurred to me that maybe I was just being narcissistic, so I kept my head down. I was right by my apartment when I saw him out of my peripheral vision walking determinedly towards me. Before you start thinking that I’m an idiot who didn’t consider the possibility that he was a threat... I did. I thought it was strange that he had essentially followed me home (bear in mind he was walking in the opposite direction to me so had to turn around to go back the way he came), so I was creeped out and just wanted to be inside ASAP.

I was almost at the entrance to my building when he was right by me. I took out a headphone and asked if I could help him. His reply? “I saw you back there and thought you were so pretty that I just had to ask for your number.”

Believe me, I was dumbfounded. Things like this don’t happen to me. They happen to my friends, they happen to people in movies, but not me.  

My mouth literally hung open. I made an indistinguishable noise and stood there in my ridiculous “Shopping is my cardio” t-shirt while my mind rushed. He jumped in again, telling me his name and that he was a student. My brain gained functionality again, and I told him my name. We went through the whole “Katie,” “Casey?” “No, KaTie,” rigmarole, which always leads to the “where are you from” conversation, ending in some kind of compliment about my accent. He then regaled me with stories of his holiday in London so we had a bit of a chat about that. It was all fairly predictable and he seemed nice. He told me he was a PhD student and asked whether I was a grad student. I actually laughed at that, being that I was in the first few weeks of my sophomore year, but at the end of the conversation he asked for my number again, and I gave it to him.

He texted me two hours later asking to see me that night, which I thought was a bit eager but who was I to judge, and we eventually settled on the day after. When I turned up for the date, he came in wearing a Canada Goose parka. A literal parka. The sun was gleaming outside, I was in a short sleeved tee carrying my jacket, and this guy came in wearing a full-blown parka. He asked if we could take the food back to his place, but all I knew about this guy were his initials, so I said I’d prefer to stay there. He got pretty huffy after that, so when I couldn’t help myself from asking about the reasoning behind the parka, he was short and said he had to take his stuff to his place but he’d be back. I considered the date over at that point, but suddenly I found myself at the front of the line so I ordered something anyway and called my best friend.

Surprisingly the guy came back (sans parka). The date after that was fine and conversation flowed, but I find it very easy to talk to people, so I’m not sure how representative this was of our chemistry. He spent a lot of time bragging about being in a certain fraternity at Alabama, but this fell on deaf ears, because I couldn’t be less knowledgeable about Greek Life if I tried. He’d already told me he had plans with friends for two hours after the date started, so when it started to get near this endtime and he didn’t appear to be going anywhere, I made up an excuse as to why I had to leave. He started to try to persuade me to cancel my plans, and I think he thought he was being flirty and charming but honestly it was just irritating. He actually tried to make me feel guilty that I wasn’t going back to his place, but it pissed me off that he thought I owed him something. Anyway, I started to back away to walk home, but he grabbed my hand to pull me back and started to kiss me. I feel like in movies this always looks romantic but trust me, it wasn’t. After a few seconds I pulled away and for want of a better thing to do.... I hugged him (I know, I know).  It really was as awkward as it sounds, but I just wanted to get home without any confrontation and it seemed like the most amicable thing to do. He looked so rejected after I pulled back, but I was already backing away, albeit much quicker this time. As I continued backing away (there was a good 10 yards between us at this point), he asked me about my weekend plans, and might have suggested that I meet his mother, but I think the look of sheer horror on my face put him off from fully committing to the idea.

A few days later, he texted me asking if I wanted to watch a movie at his place that night. I decided I didn’t want to see him again, so my friends told me to ghost him. So I did… for about a day and a half. I know I should have just left it, but I felt too rude to just not reply, so instead I made it so, so much worse. This is painfully awkward to admit, but I texted him to say I was busy at the moment and then I wished him good luck on his PhD. To this day it makes me cringe that I actually said “good luck with your PhD” as a way to tell someone I wasn’t interested, but it happened and at least now I have a tragic story to laugh about.


Photo courtesy of Katie Mercer

Katie Mercer is an International Student at the University of Michigan from London, England! She's studying Communication Studies, and hopefully Marketing and Writing. For more about Katie, follow her Instagram (@katieemercerr) or her Twitter (@katiee_mercer). Go Blue!
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