Practice Makes Perfecter

Story Sent in by Donald:

One evening, Helen and I were on our first date, walking on a hillside boardwalk that ran alongside a local beach. It was just after sunset: warm and breezy. She let her hair down, and it was a beautiful moment. I'm not sure why I liked her so much and so soon, but that's how I felt.

As we walked, she turned to the walkway's wooden railing, the side that faced the beach, and she slid under it to land on the beach itself. She turned back to me, tapped my foot through the railing, and asked, "You coming?"

I ducked down and lowered myself to her level. The walkway was sandy and had some muddy patches, so I used one of my hands to push myself up from the boards and another to hang from the railing. I leaned towards her and we shared a kiss.

It was a moment right out of a storybook. No one else was close by. What a terrific first da–

My lower arm involuntarily buckled, sending me off of her mouth and right to the boardwalk. I slammed down on it, then scrambled up, slid through the railing, and stood with her on the beach. "Sorry," I said, a bit ashamed to have ruined our first kiss.

I had expected her to laugh, or to at least be some sort of okay with it. "This isn't going to work," she said, "This isn't how I pictured it."

"Pictured it? What are you talking about?"

"That was our first kiss? I'm sorry. I can't be stuck long term to a guy who messes something that simple up."

"Are you serious? We can forget that one. Should we try another?"

She opened her mouth and looked aghast, like I had asked if I could have sex with her sister. She said, "When Morton, Pippa, and Alexander ask me how our first kiss went, I'm supposed to tell them, 'well, he was a clumsy oaf'?"

"Those your friends?"

"My kids."

My turn to be shocked. She had never mentioned children. "You have kids?"

"No, you idiot. My future kids! They'll ask me how our first date went and I wouldn't know what to tell them."

I said, "You'd tell them, 'Dad was charming and awkward,' in any case, but why are you even talking about your future kids on a first date?"

"It's all planned," she said, "And I don't feel comfortable with you being part of the plan, anymore. I want to be alone, now."

I stared, hoping that she was playing an elaborate trick. She pointed at the beach, over my shoulder. She said, "You can walk down the beach that way. Good way to end it. I'm sorry. That just can't be my memory of a first kiss. If it was meant to be, it would've been perfecter."


"The beach is that way."

Sad to see a once-pleasant evening dissolve into a puddle of crazy, I left her alone and took a walk down the beach. I thought that perhaps she needed some time to cool down, and at least we could talk about it a bit after a little while.

When I returned to the incident site at the boardwalk, she was gone. I looked up and down the beach. It was dark, and I didn't see a sign of anyone.

Upon return to my car (we had driven separately), I discovered a short pile of sticks and twigs encircling it, and it hadn't been there when I had parked. I guessed that Helen had done it, and I don't know what it meant to convey, but I climbed back into my car, drove over it, and went home. My theory is that she had done it as a way to symbolically "wall me off." I'll likely never know.


  1. I think it sounds like a really sweet first kiss, fall included, if she'd've asked you if you were ok instead of getting huffy.

  2. Even if this had gone well, the fact that she had a plan all set out for you to follow along with would have nearly guaranteed that the relationship wouldn't have gone much further.

  3. Creepy, Blair Witch style!

  4. It's "more perfect" not "perfecter." That is all.

  5. "The beach is that way."

    "Yes, but my car is the other way. Later, PSYCHO!"


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