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“I learned that sometimes first dates are like pancakes; you have to throw the first one out and start over. “–Ali Berlinski

Today’s guest post is from a reader who had the brilliant idea that we should write, together, about one given topic. She was brave enough to pick awful first dates as the theme and her post below will blow you away! You can read my experience about one of my recent first date disasters on her site, here.

About 6 months after my ex and I broke up I decided it was time to start dating again.  I knew I wasn’t ready but I figured a distraction had to be better than sitting in my NYC apartment and crying.  Besides, wasn’t that what single 23-year-old girls were supposed to be doing, dating?

As a serial monogamist I had been in jumping from relationship to relationship since I was fourteen.  Up until that point, I had met all of my boyfriends through school.  Really, there’s no science to finding a boyfriend when you’re in college—you go out, talk about where you’re from, your classes, have a drink and then make out.  If you like the person, you do it again and again until you change your relationship status on Facebook. Going in, I knew this date wouldn’t be like the others.  It was my first post-college dating experience.  Looking back, I attribute this to being one of the many reasons why it was the worst date of my life.

Eli was a friend of a friend.  He was tall and incredibly handsome, like a young Adrien Brody.  More than attractive, he was interesting and accomplished.  As we walked to the restaurant he told me about his time in Brazil, where he learned Portuguese and worked as a photographer for A-list models.  Now back in New York, he was working as writer and musician.  I had never been out with someone so seemingly cultured.  Being 6 years older, he had already done so many things I still dreamed of doing. The more he told me about himself the more pedestrian I felt.

I was so intimidated that I started asking him questions like, “How many towels do you own?” It’s not that I find towels to be titillating, however, my mind had gone completely blank.  It was like a scene from a movie, where the person lying panics, and makes up a fake name based on the first thing they see. We passed a billboard with a robot on it and I actually asked him, “What are your feelings on robots?”

The more I tried to think of something intelligent or witty to say, the more fumbled my speech became. I sounded like Ms. South Carolina at the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant, incoherently stringing together words that sounded big, such as megalomaniac or tertiary.

Hoping to take the edge off I had a few glasses of wine at dinner.  As it happens, I was right.  Being a lightweight, I got so hammered that I completely stopped focusing on him and instead on pretending to be sober.  Quick, look like your listening.  Am I squinting?  Whatever you do, do not let him see how drunk you are when you get up to use the bathroom.

By the end of the night, I was once again sober and consequently, even more mortified.  He walked me to the street corner where we said goodbye.  Figuring I’d never hear from him again, I went in for a cordial hug but he kissed me.  Either I’m a really good kisser or he found my verbal diarrhea endearing, because he asked me out on a second date. Ultimately, I learned that sometimes first dates are like pancakes; you have to throw the first one out and start over.

About Ali: Imagine what your life would be like if you laughed through all the chaos.  Biracial, bicoastal, with a gay-deaf-brother, ex-nanny stepmother, and celebrity ex, Ali Berlinski really knows how to put the fun in dysfunctional.  Her debut book, a beautiful mess, is a collection of comedic personal essays that help people say yes to their mess.  Ali currently lives in the Spanish countryside where she teaches, writes, and eats lots of chorizo. Grab a copy of her book at


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I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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