Story Sent in by Tyler:
What didn't come across online (although, in retrospect, it did the one time we spoke over the phone) was how much of a talker Nancy was. In person, she did not shut up.
At dinner, I asked her, "How was your day?"
"My day? Well, as soon as I got out of bed, I brushed my teeth, but I forgot that I hadn't had breakfast yet, so I had breakfast and then I brushed my teeth, but then I forgot whether I brushed my teeth or not, so I brushed my teeth again, then on my way to work, I remembered that I brushed my teeth three times that morning, so my teeth were already feeling sparkly fresh and ready for anything, so when they came around at work with apples for everyone, I felt like my teeth could really take it on. The apple they gave me was shiny, but I decided to go and wash it anyway and while I was in the bathroom, could you believe that I was thinking about brushing my teeth again?"
That's what it was like for everything that I asked her. Yes, I understand that she might've been nervous. Yes, in other circumstances, it might've been endearing. But she was a non-stop, literally, non-stop torrent of babble.
If I picked up my fork, she'd interrupt what she was saying with a banal anecdote, like a director commentary on a crappy film: "Okay, so where I grew up, we had only two forks for me and my two brothers, so one time we opened up the silverware drawer and there were no forks at all, and then my younger brother walked into the room with the forks taped to his hand and said, 'Hey, I'm Superman!' To this day we still ask him to tape forks to his hand and call himself Superman."
"That's–" I tried to respond.
"But that reminds me of this time when I crossed the road and when I was in the middle of the street, I stopped and thought of that old joke about the chicken that crosses the road. You know that one? So I stopped and I thought about how unlikely it would be that a chicken would just cross a road in a straight line when a Porsche came zooming at me and honked its horn! I ran across the street to the other side and that's when I thought, maybe that's how the chicken feels!"
"Then I remembered a year or two later that it wasn't a Porsche at all! It was a Land Rover. For some reason, the car-identification part of my brain thought it was a Porsche. It probably would've hurt more if I was hit by a Land Rover, huh?"
When the waitress came to take our orders, Nancy must have asked a question about, no joke, about half the items in the menu. She asked if the salad had zucchini, if the pastas were fresh, if the sauces had milk in them, and even what kind of garnish they used on their plates.
The waitress answered each of Nancy's questions, but I could tell that she was becoming more and more impatient. Finally, Nancy said, "Come back to me. Tyler, you order first."
She buried her face in her menu, and I ordered a mushroom and chicken risotto in under 10 seconds. The waitress turned her attention back to Nancy, who pointed to another salad and asked if there were zucchinis in it. The waitress started to recommend various dishes to her, hoping, I guessed, to expedite the decision process.
Nancy finally settled on shrimp scampi. The waitress hurried away, after close to a solid 15 minutes at our table. I asked Nancy, "Do you have major food allergies?"
Nancy replied, "Nope. A friend of mine does, though. He can't eat bread, shellfish, meat, vegetables, or just about anything else. He has to eat special crackers and rice and sometimes he gets a certain sauce on his birthday. Could you imagine that being your birthday present? A kind of special sauce? If he eats anything that he's allergic to, he'll swell up and maybe he'll pop. His guts would be all over the front yard."
"That is, if he was eating in the front yard. It would have to be good weather. You can't eat in your front yard if the weather is bad. Once, some friends and I were planning a picnic and it got rained out, but it's okay because we all had umbrellas and we went ahead with the picnic anyway. I didn't invite my allergic friend, though."
"Not because he was allergic, but because I didn't know him yet! I didn't know him until about three years ago, around the same time that I started college. That was before I crossed the street, thinking about the chicken. Not after. At least, I don't think so."
Any kind of conversation on my part was simply futile. I'd say, "Speaking of college, I went to the University of Maryland. I studied–"
"Oh, college! Well..." and she went on until long after her scampi arrived, long after I had finished my risotto. She didn't end up eating a thing, she talked for so long, and asked the waitress to pack it up for her.
Nancy closed out the evening by telling me about a half-dozen stories about times she had food packed up in various restaurants. About as interesting as it sounds. She gave me a great big hug goodnight, then went merrily along on her way.
She didn't do anything overtly mean, but I couldn't really see myself being happy with someone who, verbal splatter aside, didn't even have the courtesy to ask me a single thing about myself. She was way too into the minutiae of her own life for me to ask her out again.
Story Sent in by Tyler: