Seeing all the hype about the new Batman movie, Batman Begins, reminded me of a date I had a few years back with someone who should not have left the bat cave...
As with many of my tales, this one dates back to my internet dating days. N was a candidate from eHarmony. In case you don't know, eHarmony is an online service created by psychologists. Yes, that should have been my first hint - but I was 30 and you know how delicate that age is for women. Anyhow, eHarmony requires you to take an extensive personality test and then then uses it to match you up. Then they send you personality matches and you choose whether you are interested in them or not. It's not the browsing style of the yahoo or match.com personals - it's more like being set up by a shrink that you've never met. Brilliant.
N was an early-30's divorcee whose hobbies included amusement parks, K'Nex, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and avoiding meat products. He worked as a computer tech and ran his own website that critiques on-line dating services, which he used as an excuse to sign up for all of them. We spoke on the phone a time or two then decided to meet for lunch at the now-defunct Mamma Mia's downtown. N wanted to meet in the parking lot so we could walk in together, and presumably, so I could check out his car - which he said I would "know when I saw".
I arrived on time and stood in the parking lot by my truck. A black VW Beetle approached. As it got closer I realized it was N and I saw that he was at the helm of a Fahrfegnugen-enhanced Batmobile complete with the Batman logo airbrushed in bright yellow on either side. I'm not talking a little Batman sticker here or there, I'm talking about paying a professional body shop at least a thousand dollars to put two square feet of yellow bat insignia on the sides of your turbo Beetle.
He pulled up and put the window down and inside I saw a Batman murse (man purse for the culturaly unaware) and custom yellow piping on the black leather seats and interior. Funny thing was, I didn't see Bruce Wayne, I saw N. As he found a parking spot I stifled a snicker and tried to come up with something positive to say about the car. But really, all I could think was what would compel a 34 year old man who is not paid by Marvel to:
1. Purchase a Beetle (total chick car in my book);
2. Put a yellow silhouette of a bat on the sides; and
3. Carry a child's Batman murse?
I can almost understand getting a tattoo of a cartoon character when you're 22 and drunk in Mississippi and your friends tell you it's cool. That's an hour long process. But to make an appointment, find an artist, send your car away for a day or two, and pay big bucks to have a trademark on your vehicle is inexplicable.
N eventually emerged from the Batmobile looking disappointingly mortal. I was hoping for at least a cape. He wasn't even wearing black. I tried to converse about the car - to figure out why? When? How? Then I remembered that I had found him on an internet site run by professional shrinks and that I ought not upset him so I settled for one of those "wow, that's unique" ambiguities reserved for bad dye jobs and men in capri pants.
Still, I was 30 and in that place so I tried to make the best of the date and we headed to lunch. As we perused the menu he confessed that he did not eat meat. I am always curious about why people make such decisions and he admitted that he had never eaten meat in his life because he grew up under the firm hand of the Church of Latter Day Saints. This piqued my interest but he said he was no longer a member of the LDS. Then I asked why not try meat now? He said he just never had and really didn't feel like it. With that he ordered the tortellini and I the ravioli. After some more strained conversation - it was tough for me - he drove the batmobile, grew up in a cult, owned and played with Legos, and kept telling me what a great date he was - dinner arrived and we were able to focus on the food.
About two bites in I noticed N's face pursing up as he chewed. I asked if the food was okay. He said it tasted different and I could tell he was trying to determine why. He dissected a tortellini and we determined the brownish filling must be mushroom. Looked like carnage to me but I played along and said, yes, definitely mushroom. He ate about half his plate with the Inspector Clouseauish look of a man who just can't put his finger on something. Then he asked if I would taste a piece. I popped a tortellini and my thoughts about the mystery meat were confirmed - it was definitely beef. I told him I thought it must be meat tortellini. His eyes grew wide and teared up, complexion turned green, I think I heard a slight gurgle, and then he gagged, choked, and chugged a glass of water and pushed the plate away. I just stared waiting for the world to end or something. After all, what happens to someone who has never had meat in 34 years of existence? Sadly enough, nothing happened and I ended up sitting through ice cream with him. We ralized we were not a match, parted way amicably, and never spoke again.
So this week I had to smile as I heard about the movie and pictured him happily zipping around in all the glory of the batmobile, sipping a banana smoothie, and pulling his Fandango receipts from his Batman murse. Hopefully he's found his Robin.