Bad Date story #1


Most of what I share on this blog (in my shamefully sporadic output), is pretty “crunchy” technical stuff about drums, electronics, electronic-drums…and so on.

After more than half-a-dozen years teaching (in some manner or another), I’m starting to change my attitude(s) about “showing my belly.” When I first started teaching, I went straight from doing live sound to teaching college courses on science in an art school. I slipped into a “hardass” work persona too easily.

frightened, the kitten yields by showing its soft under belly.

After shifting to more work teaching 1-on-1, I realize how much a teaching or learning relationship relies on humanity and repeatability. During a drum lesson, a high-school-aged student was excited to tell me they’d gone on a horrible blind date, and so I shared my story.

The Story

I starting fishing through OkCupid after breakup of my then-longest (5 year) and most-series relationship out of college. The first match to respond seemed nice enough in pictures and chat, so we agreed to meet for a dinner/drink date, but she started sprouting red flags as soon as we met in person.


Connect Four, a game I played in from age 5-10 elementary school, and age 20-30 while drinking, but never in between.

Here’s a bullet-list, in order.

  • Upon meeting up, she looked up from my handshake and insisted I hug her.

  • She wanted to go to a bar, and while I repeatedly suggested we find the quiet corner to talk, she wanted to re-locate to the “lively areas” (where music made it hard to talk).

  • We settled on playing some rounds of Connect Four. “Best two out of three,” she volunteers, “…and if I win, you gotta buy me a shot.” So I respond, “…and if I win, I get a backrub.” I trounced her. This came of Connect was not even close. Four moves in, I started mentally rehearsing how I might smile when I say “I’ll give you 3-out-of-5.” She almost didn’t notice when I’d won, and nearly played another turn. When I told her, she studied the board, took a sip, studied the board a bit more, and say, “oh, damn.”

  • She declined continuing through “3-out-of-5” to keep playing for the fun of it. She resigned to serve the winnings, and proceeded to give the most bored, spiteful, shoulder-pinch-only office-backrub I’ve ever had. While I couldn’t hear, I could feel her sighing into my ear. These were not the cool breaths of seductive ear-blowing. These were not hot exhalations of passion. This was frustrated breathing, mostly through the nose.

  • During the backrub, when I’d say things like “yeah, right there, she seemed uninterested in taking feedback. At one point, when I realized she may not hear me taking away from her in a loud bar, I turned my head to speak, and she took this as a signal that she should stop because “…you’re obviously not enjoying this….”

  • Massage over, we have 4 minutes of cider-sipping silent treatment, then she blurts “you should buy me a shot now…”

  • The rest of the date continued in this grinding manner, devoid of sparks. Imagine trying to light a match on a chalkboard eraser.

  • At one point, in the middle of trying to tell a story that I thought might relate to work, she seemed to space out and sing along to the the house music.
  • When we came back to the station to bid farewell, we were both discussing that we had a good time, but we weren’t sure if the mix was right, and appreciate “the try,”… However as we came to the closing statements, she said “well, I’d like a another hug…,” and when I obliged, she muttered (perhaps to herself, but certainly closer to my ear than she was before) “…for enduring THAT.”

When we pulled away from the hug, she had a pleasantly-blank expression on her face, making me feel that she honestly did not think I heard her.


I’d taken the subway to the date, but I chose to walk (40 minutes) home. I had nothing better to do than unpack this.

Along the walk, I found myself wondering a few things.

  • How strained we felt in the “realtime talking” communication, versus how engaging we felt in the text chat, where it’s neither “real time” nor “face time”.
  • How much of our bad chemistry may be couched in the possibility that she may have considerable hearing damage.
  • How much, if she did have hearing damage as a young adult, that it made me sad for her, to see someone missing out on the “sound world,” and as someone who lives (and loves) so much through their ears…to almost pity her.
  • How the only real “feelings” emerged from this date/experiment were pity for her deaf ears and my own (later) shame for presuming she could only enjoy life as I did.

The Lesson

When I shared  (truncated) version of the story to my drum student, they asked,

“…so what’d you learn form that one ?” she asked.

“Try to agree before the first date on  working decibel levels.”

A chart of the relative sound-intensity level of various sound-sources of -activities, with the maximal safe duration for exposure before risk of hearing damage.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s