One time, on the worst date in history, my twin sister’s date asked her for tips on how to flirt with the server.

“Am I supposed to be your wingman?” Joy responded.

Mark was the first person Joy had gone out with since moving to South Carolina from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. It was their second date.
Mark was mildly cute, lived on a sailboat and went to law school.

“Oh, hey Marrrrrk!” the server said in a syrupy voice when she came up to their table. She was young, also mildly cute.

“Hey, uh, hey how’s it going?” Mark asked nervously — so nervously that Joy raised one eyebrow suspiciously.
“Do you know her?” Joy asked, once she walked away.

“Oh, I met her last weekend,” Marrrrrk said casually. “She said she gets off early on Tuesdays, and told me I should come visit her.”
Joy paused.
“But, today is Tuesday.”
“Yea, I know!” he said excitedly. “Do you have, like, any advice for me?”

Joy paused.
“I’m sorry…but…seriously??? You’re seriously asking me how to hit on the server? Am I supposed to be your wing man??”

Before he could say anything, Joy added, “You know what? I’m gonna call Jenny and have her come pick me up.”
Mark pleaded with her not to do that, and then made a beeline for the bathroom.

“I’m ready to be picked up now,” Joy told me when I answered.
“What the hell?” I asked. “You left like 15 minutes ago.”
“I’m. Ready. To. Be. Picked. Up. Now.”

(This was the phrase our mother told us to say to her if we ever got into a hairy situation, and it meant no-questions-asked-threat-level-red-help-me-now.
It came into existence when we started going to Mardi Gras parades by ourselves, and we always found it dorky.)

“I’ll be there in less than five minutes,” I said, knowing Joy meant business since she wasn’t hysterically laughing.

Three minutes later, Mark had not returned from the bathroom, and Joy sat alone, mortified, staring at the two drinks the server brought over to the table, condensation dripping making rings on the wood.
Joy’s phone buzzed in her clutched hand and she picked up quickly thinking it was me, outside. It wasn’t.

“Heeeey,” Mark said on the other end.
“What?” Joy asked in a confused, bitchy tone. “Mark? Where…are you?”
“The bathroom,” he said.
“OK, that’s weird.”

“Do you, like, think I’m being a dick or something?” Mark asked, his voice echoing against the empty bathroom stalls.

“I just called my friend from back home, and she said I’m being a dick to you right now.”
What?? You called your friend from the bathroom?
“Why don’t you come OUT of the bathroom and talk to me face to face?”
“I don’t know.”

Joy hung up and left the restaurant, right as I pulled up front.

Over the next few weeks, Mark sent Joy text messages about nothing — the weather and sports. She never responded. Once he sent ME a text message asking “if Joy was still mad at him,” and of course I didn’t respond, which meant, YES, DICK.

Mark is an example of why our mother always tells us to “try people on” before getting too invested.

I like to imagine him still in the bathroom of that restaurant (that has long been shut down). Perhaps he slipped and broke his leg and was forgotten on the cold, tile floor, alone, with no battery left in his phone.

Miserable, sad and no wingman for miles.


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