Tour dates

I don’t know what was more disturbing, the cab driver with the flesh-eating disease or finding out on Sunday morning that I had missed an event at Chapters in Toronto the night before. Ah, life on the road – never a dull moment. 
I’ve just been across this great country of ours promoting the latest from the Messy Bedroom Research Institute: a book called Dating: A Survival Guide from the Frontlines. Some of you might recognize yourselves in it. Much of the research and stories included in the book came from readers who answered the dating questionnaire I published in this column last summer. 
Well, the book tour was a hoot. And I felt that since many of you contributed to the creation of Dating you might like to hear about some of the stuff that happened while I was on the road promoting the book. Like the cab driver with flesh-eating disease. It was in his knee, he told me. They had to cut it out. They got it, but now sometimes he loses feeling in his foot. Uh, and does this affect your driving, I asked, as we wailed down the highway en route to the Toronto airport. “Only sometimes,” he calmly responded. Great. Uh, should I be concerned about that squealing noise? “Nah, that’s just the brakes, I had ’em fixed and now they squeal… I tell ya, the nurse who looked after me in the hospital has the most beautiful aquamarine eyes. It’s all in the eyes.” 
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, he’s also divorcing his wife, and recently bought an abandoned Burger King, which he turned into a bar as a reward for his daughter who’s been on the wagon for a year. 
All this in a 20-minute trip. 
From the cab ride from hell to one of the things a lot of people enjoy in the Dating book: the little Date From Hell stories scattered throughout. They seem to prompt people to share their own dates from hell. And man, there are some doozies out there. Like the guy in Vancouver who went to pick up a woman for their first date and then managed somehow to slam her head in the door while helping her into the car. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then managed to slam her head in the door again while trying to help her up. Double ouch! 
A doctor told me about a hell date close call. A woman called him up and asked him out saying she got his name from a colleague of his, another doctor. She sounded nice on the phone so he agreed to meet her that night. 
Later that day, he saw this colleague and mentioned he was planning to get together with this woman that evening. The colleague just looked at him, eyes wide and said, “That woman is one of my psychiatric patients. She must have called you from the psychiatric ward because today is her last day there. She was obviously planning to celebrate her release with a date with you.” Needless to say, the doctor called the woman and told her that “something suddenly came up.” 
There’s a lot of dangerous drinking and dating going on out there, it seems. Like the woman in Calgary who went out with a guy to a party as a first date. He got loaded and threw up on her. That’ll leave a good impression. 
Another woman in Vancouver said she went out with a guy who got drunk on their date and then drove them into a snow bank – twice – while driving her home. 
A woman in Vancouver said she and her date decided to go ice fishing on their first date. Sounds fun, a little different. It was quite mild however and it wasn’t safe to go out on the ice to break a hole so they threw rocks from the shore through the ice and cast their lines into the holes from shore. Unfortunately, as she was trying to reel her line in, the hook got caught on the edge of the hole and as she tugged, it suddenly came lose and the hook went sailing through the air (as if in slow motion, she said) and hooked into her cheek, worm and all. The worse thing about it, she said, was that her date seemed more interested in saving the worm intact than getting the hook out safely. 
A woman in Toronto went to a movie with this guy on a first date and, as they were leaving the theatre, a woman confronted her date in the parking lot and started screaming at him that she was pregnant with his baby. 
And you wonder why we’re sour on this whole dating thing. 
After reading the chapter in Dating entitled Death To the Pick-Up Line, many people volunteered some of the pick-up lines they’ve been privy to over the years. They ranged from the cheesy – “No words, a large smile, and twinkly eyes” – to the clever – “Hello, you move your butt like I like my martinis, slightly shaken and lightly stirred” – to the absurd – “If love were a drop of milk, you’d be a cow.” Hello. 
With this going on out there, it’s no wonder that the winner of the poetry contest we held at my event at Chapter’s in Vancouver (the one I was told about and showed up at) was the following little ditty called A Matter of Opinion (A Poem on Dating) from Lenora Gallagher of Vancouver, BC: “As teenagers dating is such fun! A chance to go out with anyone/In your twenties, you are ready/Just out there looking for your steady/At thirty, all this is such a bore I say, no more! No more! No more!/At 35, I evaluate… “Do I really want to date?”/Decide I want a man who’s tall and handsome please/ Not one that comes up to my knees/Well, now that I am forty-five Please send me one who’s still alive/No more takers? Well that’s okay… I think I’ll buy a Chevrolet.” 
Alas, before you give up all hope of finding your true love, I did see proof that some people are still managing to get it together. Driving in from the Victoria airport, I spotted a huge road-side billboard that read: “Moira, will you marry me?” According to the locals, she accepted. 
Other significant tour moments: meeting Vicky Gabereau and almost getting to smash a fake bottle over her head; meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt double in the green room of the Gabereau show (who looks like he’s had one too many bottles cracked over his head over the years); having an ex interview me in Calgary; having this same ex’s current girlfriend’s best friend and his current girlfriend’s ex-roomate also interview me (Calgary is a small town, folks); hooking up my best friend in high school in Winnipeg (who is making wonderfully suggestive ceramic sculptures – I dunno, it must have been something in the water); cable TV in all the hotel rooms; meeting readers in other cities where the column is syndicated; realizing why the very notion of Canada as a nation is rather absurd seeing as Vancouver has way more in common with Seattle than Quebec, and Alberta might as well be a 53rd state. 
It’s good to be home.