We had met doing volunteer work, an event organized on behalf of singletons in the greater D.C. area. Hey, it was better than screaming pick-up lines into a stranger’s ear at a bar, right?
“Mary” and I clicked, albeit cautiously. She wasn’t an open book, although she did divulge right away that she had two young children. That impressed me on two levels. One, I figured other single moms might withhold that information until after a first date or two. Reel ’em in, and then drop the truth bomb.
Two, it told me she was serious about dating. Better to chase off men unable to deal with potential step-children at the start than run into the problem later.
You Love Movies, Too?
We bonded over a number of topics, including our names. I’ve always poked fun at having “Toto” as a last name, often to beat others to the punch. The famous dog. The ’80s rock band. The toilet company. She had an even quirkier name. I was trumped!
We also shared a love of movies. It made sense, then, to check out a film for our first date. I wasn’t a movie critic at the time, so I wasn’t steeped in the scene as I am today. That’s my excuse for not doing my due diligence on the movie selection.
We ended up seeing “Happiness,” the newest film from indie auteur Todd Solondz. He made his name with the disturbing “Welcome to the Dollhouse.” His newest featured interesting actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker and Jon Lovitz. That was enough for me, and Mary didn’t object.
The film opens with two characters, played by Jane Adams and Lovitz, on a date. She tells him she isn’t interested in seeing him anymore.
“Is it someone else,” a wounded Lovitz asks. “No. It’s just you,” she answers. He begins to weep. And weep. He literally crumbles before our eyes, unable to take the rejection. Uh, oh.
Lovitz’s character gives her a gift, an item he purchased immediately after their first date. He had her name, Joy, engraved on it. She adores it unconditionally.
“I’ll always treasure it,” she says. He quickly takes it back. “This is for the girl who loves me, who cares about me for who I am … not what I look like.”
“I’m champagne … and you’re s***,” he says in one final burst of indignation.
Things went downhill rapidly from there. Need a checklist of madly inappropriate first date movie themes? “Happiness” checks off all the following boxes.
- Child molestation (repeated)
- Obscene phone calls
- A dog licking up semen
Twenty minutes into the movie I leaned over to Mary and whispered, “I can’t image what’s gonna happen next.” That seemed to break the glacier between us.
We ended up dating for several months despite the profoundly inappropriate movie choice. The romance wasn’t meant to be, but that disastrous first date movie didn’t kick Cupid to the curb.
Still, I made sure to research potential date movies thoroughly from there on out.