Context: I matched with ‘Catfish’ on a Sunday as I lazed on my friend’s couch, a happy beached whale from boozy brunch at Zengo. He tantalized me with talk of his taco-cooking prowess, yet he lived in College Park, MD (a grad student at UMD, presumably, at the ripe age of 26). NOT going there (ever). Thus, I convinced him to head down to my neck of the woods so I could try out El Tio, a new-to-me Mexican restaurant, free of charge. We agreed to meet there at 7 PM on a Tuesday.
I would like to preface this post by clarifying that this was the first and only time that I have ever been deliberately catfished. While I have been swindled by boys who have lied about their height, or used photos from well before the ‘Freshman Fifteen’ found them, I can always tell that the man in the pictures is, in fact, the man I am meeting.
NOT. THIS. GUY. I don’t know where he got these pictures, but when I rolled up to El Tio, I didn’t even stand a chance of recognizing my date. In fact, the boy standing in front of me was a dead ringer for Beans of Even Stevens fame. WHAT.
That’s right. Standing at all of 5’4* and armed with a pair of beady eyes that were incapable of making eye contact throughout the entire hour we were there**, it was Beans. 30 minutes late, mind you, due to some transportation issues. Exhibit A:
*My 5’10 stature is listed IN MY BIO. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE. NONE!!!
**Shortest date on record, unless you DON’T count the portion of my brunch date at Circa where the guy tried to maul my face in public.
Which led me to have this conversation in a group chat with my friends A and BP as I slowly made my way to the restaurant, a nagging feeling in my mind the whole way that I should just turn around:
Cut to the whole me-meeting-short-Beans-and-weeping-inside scenario. I should have just turned around right then and there, especially when I tried to give him a hug and he stood there stiff as a board and I awkwardly kind of missed because he was so short and allllll the people stared. Percentage of soul dead from having my new neighbors witness this situation: 70%.
We took a seat at the outdoor tables, where it quickly came to my attention that 1) my margarita had between 0 and 0.25 oz of tequila in it and 2) my date had the conversational IQ of my ficus. Most of our conversation went something like this:
J: So, what do you like to do for fun?
J: Like, hobbies?
J: …please say words.
C: MY PARENTS BELONG TO A YACHT CLUB WE SHOULD GO SAILING THEN HAVE SEX.
J: *Takes ginormous bite of sub-par taco so as to escape the situation at hand*
And, when he wasn’t trying to coerce me onto his family’s yacht, he was busy stealing my interests:
J: I went rock climbing with my friend who’s an EMT last week!
C: Me too.
J: …really? You also went rock climbing with your EMT friend?
C: No. But I want to be an EMT. Sometimes. Well, I thought about it once.
C: Also, I want to rock climb. At some point. Eventually. Maybe.
After several of these exchanges, I put him to the test.
J: Yeah, so I was hiking Mount Everest with my Nepalese Buddhist friends last month…
C: Yep mhm me too I did that too.
J: NO YOU DIDN’T! YOU LIAR! YOU SCOUNDREL! SANTA CLAUS IS WATCHING YOU, AND YOU, SIR, ARE GETTING COAL!!!!
And, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, he laid this piece of sacrilege on me:
J: Yeah, so I did boozy brunch on Sunday for my friend’s birthday!
C: You should go to Annapolis for brunch! They have the best brunch place!
J: Idk, Annapolis is pretty far away, what makes it so special?
C: They serve CHAMPAGNE. At BREAKFAST.
J: So, like, a mimosa…? There are lots of places in DC that have mimosas…
C: Yeah, whatever, but these are UNLIMITED!!!
J: *Weeps softly, blaming tears on residual pollen from Everest hike*
I couldn’t handle another second of this madness. My eyes darted around the restaurant, and the second I spotted our waitress, I set off my emergency flares to flag her down.
W: Hola! Todo es bueno?
J: BRING THE CHECK BRING IT NOW PLEASE I BEG YOU.
She handed us the check – the $60+ check, mind you, as Catfish had ordered both drinks AND an entree more expensive than mine – and I thanked God, Allah, Beyonce, and various other deities in my head. I was broken from my prayers only by Catfish’s nasally voice ringing shrilly in my ears.
C: Can we split this?
CAN WE WHAT?! The ONLY reason that I didn’t walk away right when I saw you, or – wait – when you SHOWED UP 30 MINUTES LATE, was because I thought that at the VERY LEAST I would get a free meal out of the situation! And here we are. Here we fucking are. I should have run. I should have said no and stood up and left right then. But I put my card down. Because I am an IDIOT. The waitress ran our cards, and then I straight up bolted. I stood up, said “Bye it was nice to meet you!” and ran the FUCK HOME. Idiot. Idiot idiot idiot.
I careened through the front door, merely an hour after I had left, calling desperately for my wonderful roommate, L… who wasn’t home. So, I called my mom. No answer. My grandlittle? No answer. Finally, my love and savior MC picked up her phone and listened as I ranted.
MC: Dude, you gotta Venmo charge him for what you paid.
J: There’s no chance he’ll pay, he’s a fuckwad.
MC: You’ll never know until you try!
So try, I did:
Only to receive this text message a few moments later:
…that last message being a result of a brainstorming session between myself and L (who had returned from the grocery store bearing cheese, crackers, and love) to get him to think he was in the wrong and that I was actually hurt. And it worked, for a while:
Ok, I was getting somewhere. I co-sourced language from my friend AM, who helped me draft the following:
…and then, completely out of left field, got hit with this gem:
So there you have it. The end of the ride for me and Catfish.
Well, unless you count the series of Venmo charges I’ve been sending him ever since:
I’ve never been to therapy, mostly because I self-medicate with alcohol, but this encounter has made me consider it for the first time. Do you think he’ll ignore my Venmo charge for that, too?