True Stories of Dates Gone Wrong
by Virginia Vitzthum
256 pages, Workman Publishing
Review by Marie Mundaca
I’ve recently become single, and being forced into the dating world at my advanced age has been a horror. I have to force myself to go on dates that I assume will either be boring or painful. Occasionally I have a good date, but then the guy isn’t interested in me. No matter what happens, I go home alone, slightly bloated and intoxicated, and usually feeling worse than I did before. Sometimes I even miss Lost. But at least none of my dates brought their soon-to-be-ex-wives. Yet.
Yes, actually occurs in one of the fifty-two stories in My Blind Date Went Blind: True Stories of Dates Gone Wrong. First, the protagonist meets a guy at a singles event and his not-yet-ex is there. That means, yes, a guy and his wife are at a singles mixer. For some crazy reason the protagonist gives him her number and they make a date. And then, for another crazy reason, he brings his wife to pick up his date. And, get this, this is nowhere near the craziest story in the collection, culled and edited by sex and relationship columnist Virginia Vitzthum. There are dates with killers, future kidnappers, people with atrocious table manners—Vitzthum really packed this collection with the funniest and most puzzling bad dates.
Blind Date is like my fave old game show, Love Connection, where people would go on blind dates and then have to dish about the date for our entertainment. Every so often there would be a “happy ending” date (not literally, but those happened too), but the best date stories were the ones where one of the daters was just insane, or the two were just ridiculously mismatched. And those are exactly the stories you’ll find in My Blind Date Went Blind. Even with a few happy endings (both kinds).
The collection features bad dates from a variety of people, from giggly teenagers who meet guys at McDonalds, to men in their sixties who travel from London to France for the possibility of romance. After reading about the guy who took his teeth out and the woman who admitted to doing time for manslaughter, my bad dates seemed almost OK.
Vitzthum shares some of her own bad dates too—she’s not an impartial observer, but a fellow sufferer. She briefly dated a guy with anger issues who suggested they go to couples counseling—on their forth date! Sounds like more than anger issues going on with him.
Many of the stories don’t really have the narrative arch I would like—it’s much closer to hearing friends tell you funny stories than it is like a short story. But the collection is meaty, and Vitzthum neatly divides the date stories into categories, like “Honesty,” “Communication,” and “It’s Medical.” Apparently some people have medical emergencies on dates, hence the titular story.
At first, I found this book incredibly depressing. There were so many bad date experiences—what hope is there for humanity to prosper? Yes, Vitzthum sprinkles some happy stories in the book, but those managed to depress me too. But as I started to talk to other people about the book, I realized that all of us single folks are in the same boat. It says something about our indefatigable spirit and desire to be coupled that we continue to endure this dreadful experience. And if we can’t laugh about it, we’ll just go postal and kill someone. And then we’ll give someone a great story to tell people after they date us.