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What a 'datemare.' This is a prank, right?

What a 'datemare.' This is a prank, right?
Just one word: 'Datemare.' (Priya Sundram / For The Times)

At 42, I am more than well past my marriage expiration date in most societies’ opinions, and absolutely my own, which is Indian. I’ve tried all forms of dating — speed dating, websites that cater to Indian Americans, apps, and I’ve met whomever my parents, friends and parents’ friends suggested I meet since I turned 22 and my parents began the search to have their daughter “settled.”

I’ve gone on countless dates and met nothing but frogs.

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But I recently went on a “date” that was a doozy and will go down in my personal history books as the most horrible of them all.

I met M. through a dating app within a few weeks of signing up. His pictures showed him to be nice-looking and wearing professional attire. We messaged a couple of times, but the conversation seemed stilted. I wondered if perhaps we might do better in person, so I suggested we meet. (I didn’t suggest we speak on the phone because I didn’t want to give out my phone number.) He agreed and recommended the Red Door in Toluca Lake at 6 p.m. on a Friday.

I arrived promptly at 5:55 p.m., having taken care to dress nicely and had my hair done at the Dry Bar since I’d injured my shoulder earlier that week and could barely move my arm. I took up a position near the front door to wait. By the time 6:15 p.m. rolled around, I had my phone out to see if he’d messaged about being held up for some reason. (He hadn’t.) At 6:20 p.m., the man I recognized from his profile pictures finally strolled in — although “stumbled in” would be more appropriate.

I called out his name because he looked lost and confused. As he walked toward me, I noticed his face was glistening with a thick layer of sweat, and he wore wrinkled shorts, a T-shirt underneath a similarly crumpled, half-sleeved, button-down shirt (buttons opened) and man-sandals. He also reeked of alcohol and cigarettes.

I got a whiff of his “Eau de Disgusting” when he lumbered over to me, gave me a one-armed, half-hug and said “Hey…” in a super-slow manner, looking at me with glassy eyes.

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There was no apology or explanation as to why he was 20 minutes late. I thought to myself, “Should I stay? I can go right now, pick up In-N-Out, and watch Netflix.” But I told myself, “Girl, you are 41 and not getting any younger. Maybe he’s really nice. Give him a chance to redeem himself.”

Famous last thoughts.

He ordered drinks at the bar, and when he brought them back to the table he spilled a fair portion all over my feet. Once again, I wondered if an apology or an offer to help clean up would be forthcoming, but no such luck. Instead, he asked, “Oh … did I spill on you?” in that same, slow and drowsy voice, and then he sat down and began sucking down his drink.

We began talking. Or rather, he did. I couldn’t get a word in as he talked only of himself and didn’t ask a single question about me. He first boasted how he’d burned over 3,000 calories earlier that day during an intense workout, how he was really into being fit, and tried to show me his fitness app on his phone to prove his story (I guess he thought I didn’t believe him).

But when he took his phone out, I saw a picture of him with a girl around 3 years old. Looking like a kid caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, he admitted that he’d intentionally failed to disclose on his profile that he was a dad. He said he never really wanted kids, never wanted to marry her mom … . I asked how long he’d they’d been separated. He answered uncertainly, “Maybe, like, six to 12 months?”

Since he enjoyed speaking about himself so much, I asked him about his career (he’d written “entrepreneur” on his profile). He didn’t have one. He was currently between jobs and was trying to break into the entertainment industry with a script he was writing.

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When he finally stopped his soliloquy, he asked me what I did for a living. I reminded him that I’m a lawyer, as it says on my profile. He nodded and then asked, “Um, how did we meet again?” I gaped at him for a moment before replying. “In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you I’m on lots of dating sites,” he continued. Then he added that he prefers “women of color” and that he’s almost always dated Asian girls. But I was the first Indian he had been on a date with.

Flattered was the last thing I was feeling.

He also confided that he was actually 44, although his profile said he was 41. His rationale? He didn’t want “a bunch of women in their 50s” hitting on him. Then, of course, he asked if I’d lied about my age on my profile because I looked too young to be in my early 40s and didn’t have wrinkles. While I appreciated the compliment, I ask you: What woman on God’s green earth lies up about her age?

Next, for reasons best known only to himself, he opined that he was suspicious of many of the women’s profiles he’d seen on dating sites and apps. “I just don’t think there can be that many women out there with such advanced degrees and high-powered careers. Not that I think you’re lying of course.”

This was the last straw. I actually looked across the bar, half expecting cameras and a crew to pop out and shout “You’ve been ‘Punk’d’!” because I simply could not believe this was all happening.

No such luck. This datemare was real. Luckily for me, and unbeknownst to him, I was nearing the end of it.

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By now, I’d long since finished my drink, was sober, and more than ready to leave and salvage what was left of the night. It was 7:40 p.m. and I figured it was acceptable to leave without seeming rude. He left to use the restroom and when he returned, he looked at our empty glasses and jovially announced, “Well! I think I’m ready for round two!”

As politely as I could, I replied, “No thank you. I’m actually ready to leave.” Surprise flashed across his face. He stood up and insisted on paying for the drinks, although I offered to split the check given his unemployment status.

He at least had the good manners to walk me to the parking lot. He gave me another one-armed hug and turned his head in toward me. I twisted my head away. There was no way a kiss was happening. I peeled out of the parking lot like a getaway driver after a bank robbery.

I blocked M. on the app that evening to avoid further contact. I’ve not yet had the courage to go on any other dates, but I suppose I will. Here’s hoping future dates will be better. On the bright side, it can only go up from here.

The author is an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles. She is on Instagram at @nsaxena36.

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L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.

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