“Do you want to go on a double date?” This was an uncommon request coming from someone I met on Tinder. Initially, I thought Melvin* wanted to bring a friend along because he was very shy.
Undeterred, I agreed. I had gone on many terrible one-on-one Tinder dates and figured the change of script might be interesting. I was about to ask one of my girl friends to come with me when he said that he already made arrangements with a couple that he knew.
Okay, now it felt a little awkward - was I going to be the odd man out? But Melvin assured me that it would be really casual, no pressure at all, and his friends would be very cool. We arranged to meet for lunch at a quaint little café tucked away in a very quiet part of Singapore. This put me at ease, because I had been there before so I knew I would enjoy the ambience and the food.
On the day itself, I decided dress up a little and put on a nice white dress and a pair of wedges. Nothing too try-hard, of course. But right before we were supposed to meet, Melvin suddenly told me to meet him at East Coast Park instead. Great, East Coast Park was halfway across the island from the cafe and I was already headed in the wrong direction.
Not wanting to be a wet blanket, I complied, I arrived at the park already starting to sweat from the hot afternoon breeze that swept strands of hair into my face. It took several minutes of marching up and down the long walking track along the beach before I managed to locate Melvin… and his very excitable golden retriever.
I lit up momentarily. What a cutie! The dog, not the human, I mean. But before we could even properly introduce ourselves, the dog bounded towards me, its tail wagging in anticipation. In a split second, it had foisted its entire weight on me. I stumbled backwards. Melvin smiled sheepishly as he reined his animal in.
“I was not expecting this,” I began, making the apprehension in my voice apparent.
“You mentioned that you really liked dogs,” was his reply, stroking the crazed pup writhing about in his arms. Well yes, I thought, but a little warning would have been nice. I was pretty annoyed because I was not at all beach-ready, let alone dog-ready. I watched Melvin wrangle with his dog for a while, wondering why I agreed to meet a man who displayed neither the ability to handle furry pets nor interact with humans. He had barely breathed a word to me since we’d met.
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With the dog finally under control, Melvin led me to the spot where he had set up a picnic mat, complete with a neatly-packed lunch.
That’s when I saw the other couple. And their five dogs. One big dog might have been a handful, but six was pure chaos. We couldn’t have exchanged more than a brief hello before the couple whipped back around to tend to their pack like frazzled parents at their toddler’s birthday party. Melvin too, was engrossed with his goldie. Inundated with shed fur, slobber and sweat, I retreated to the corner of the mat, and sat there dumbly as a spectator to my date’s public display of affection for his pet. The other couple were equally occupied with their animals. It was as if I wasn’t even there.
I contemplated leaving several times in the span of a few minutes.
“Why don’t you help yourself to the food?” The girl in the couple suggested this kindly, probably detecting the regret all over my face.With a sigh, I reached into the picnic basket and pulled out a single sandwich that had been neatly packed into a ziplock bag.
Melvin’s dog perked up at the sight of food. He instantly came charging in my direction and landed in my lap, paws slamming into my chest. In one fell swoop, he snatched the sandwich out of my hands. Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, the dog lifted one leg.
Oh, my God, I thought. I tried to get up but it was too late.
A steady stream of pee burst forth from the animal – and all over my white dress. Melvin leaped into action and peeled the dog off of me, apologising repeatedly. But I was too horrified to respond.
My pretty white dress was now a dirty yellow. No matter how I tried to mop up the mess with napkins, it would remain so. The other couple offered me a cardigan to cover up the pee stains, but the stench lingered.
Like a real trooper, I soldiered on through the date even though I reeked of pee. This was a learning experience, I said to myself. If anything, it taught me that maybe it was best to stick to one-on-one dates after all.
*Names have been changed.