Adult Onset Allergies

one night, i got home
and went to check my email
this was taking place back in the day when i was living on the edge, doing what they
call “online dating”
crazy, i know
no, it really was crazy
i mean
it got to the point where i was like, really?
as if i don’t meet enough psychotic people on any given day?
i am actually paying?
to have crazy people look at pictures of me?
and send me weird messages?
for some reason
such messages
would make me want to throw up
this is terrible of me
but true
i am, clearly, a terrible person
i learned that i despise online dating

i had the non-privilege of hanging out with my old neighbour, annie steinberg, and
her boyfriend at the time who thought it was his business to question me as to why i was single
he then told me that i should try jdate
to which
i was like, “i already have”
to which he was like, “and?”
and i was like “i hated it”
and he was like, “that’s positive”
but it was said very obnoxiously
it would be one thing
for someone who knows me
who is actually my friend
to mock my negative thought patterns
but for a complete stranger
who i had just met that night
to be ridiculing me for not liking online dating
is like
i hated him

on this particular night

i was in a bad mood
i saw that i had “a new message!!!!!” from jdate member ben goldstein!!!!!!!!!
i did not know who he was
i went to read it
it made me laugh
not like fall-off-my-chair, oh-my-god, funniest-thing-i –have-ever-read-in-my-life laugh
not even laugh a little-out-loud laugh
not even giggle laugh
and not even ha! laugh

maybe i laughed

looking back on it
i think if i laughed it was cause i was happy to get my mind taken off whatever it was
i was in a bad mood about
so anyway
i do not recall what he wrote
but it wasn’t bad
it seemed decent
and he seemed decent
i wrote back
then he wrote back
and i wrote back
and then he asked for my number
i gave it to him

the night he called, i should have known there was something wrong
cause he was like, “hiiiiiiiii!!!! this is BEN!!!!!! BEN GOLDSTEIN from JDATE!!!!!! how ARE youuuuuuu?????”
and i rationalized that he was nervous cause he was talking to a stranger

note to self
do not rationalize for strangers

he then went on to talk about his love for reality tv
which i could not understand

he then told me a “funny” joke that he heard from woody allen
i did not get it
he told me some other “funny” jokes
none of which i found funny

for some reason
i thought that if i got to know him better i would find him funny

he was like
“what do you say, we set up a BLIND DATE!!!!”

which i found strange
forgive me
but isn’t a blind date like, i don’t know. isn’t it when you get fixed up by someone, and you don’t know the person you’re meeting?
i mean i don’t know

i never heard of anyone asking someone out on a “blind date”
so i thought that was weird
as i often do
i then thought that maybe i was weird for thinking it was weird and that i should stop being a jerk and give the stranger a chance

huge, furry mistake

furry mistake?

so then
he had decided it would be fabulous were we to meet at MOMA on a saturday at like
well no
i don’t remember exactly what he had said
but he asked me to pick the time
and he had some sort of problem with 1
i don’t remember what the problem was
but he was somehow offended at my choice
i don’t remember why

so i went to meet him
he did not look like his photo.
first of all he had massive receding hairline
we’re talking massive
there is nothing wrong with receding hairlines, baldness, or hair loss
in his photo he was wearing a hat
this was deceiving
he looked good with a hat
he did not look good without it

and in addition
the receding hairline in this case was unattractive
that would be because of his face

oh, that is so mean.
god help me
but anyway
in his online photo, the photo was taken from kind of a distance
and all one could really see, looking back on it, was his smile, which was actually his best feature
a very happy one
his actual face
it didn’t really show up in the photo
and in person
i kind of just
did not like looking at him

that is TERRIBLE!!!!!
but true

he wore his pants up to the top of his chest
you know, grandpa style?
he had a backpack
and not just any backpack
he had a backpack that looked like it was stuffed with his life

in short
he was an adult. i think.
he looked like he was a prematurely aging 9 year old

we entered
The Museum

i am not sure why he picked MOMA
since he clearly hated it
had no interest in the place or any of the art or anything inside it at all
i was confused by this
one might guess
that he was more interested in me
but no
he wasn’t
we had nothing to say
i think we talked about the weather six times
which is fascinating
we were indoors
fyi, it was a cold day

we breezed through the museum
and then
i thought it was over
and that i’d get to go home
but alas
i was mistaken
he was most eager
to get coffee
in the museum
i didn’t understand why
as museum cafes are usually like ten times more expensive than real food places
and aren’t really special anyway
but i was like
i got hot chocolate
and listened to him tell me
that he did not have a job, nor did he want one
that’s right
he was sort of working as a substitute teacher in an elementary school
which to me was just screaming CHILD MOLESTER
but anyway
he was saying how he couldn’t find a full time teaching job and that even subbing was waning
and i was like, “oh, well, a teaching job will probably open up, you just have to keep looking”
and he was like, “no, i don’t want one”
and i was like
“you don’t want one?”
“but what are you going to do?”
“i don’t know, sub”
he did not seem upset or distraught or concerned
it was just like, yeah, whatever
he is probably secretly independently wealthy and perhaps i should have latched onto this
had i done that i would currently be on some cruise ship in the caribbean getting my nails done and planning an excursion to africa

i do not think he was independently wealthy
he was from new jersey
i forget what part
and he made up a story (i’m pretty sure he made it up)
about how he lived down the street from his parents
i am pretty sure he made this up since he went on to tell me about how he had to
“stop off” at his parents house to pick up all his ski equipment when he went on a ski trip
i mean
down the street?
and he has no job?
how does he pay rent?

at this moment
i was mostly convinced that i had not been wrong to think that he was odd when i had spoken to him on the phone
he then confessed that he hadn’t written his profile and his emails, and that, indeed,
his friend had written them for him, because, you see, he was dyslexic
this explained why i had not realized
why i couldn’t tell
he was a freak of nature

i drank my hot chocolate as fast as i could
and we left
and i was just about to say goodbye!
when he was like, “do you want to walk?”
and i was like
and he was like, “yeah, it’s early, let’s take a walk”
and i was like, “a walk?”
now we have established that he was odd
i think at the same time he was not a bad person
he was clearly socially inept and troubled
but he seemed to be trying
i had nothing else to do
i was like

it was like – christmastime
so i suggested we go see the tree at rockefeller center
to which
he was like
“okay, great!”
and i was like, “okay!” and i started to walk along with my backpack-clad 9 year old,
high-waisted pants grandpa man to the tree when he slowed down and said this:
“Are there going to be a lot of lights there?”

i stopped
i just stopped
and i was like “well. um, yeah. i mean. it’s the christmas tree”

i get that ben goldstein was jewish
i mean
i don’t care what you are
if it is like, december
and you are going to see the rockefeller CHRISTMAS TREE in NEW YORK CITY
i mean
what do you THINK there is going to be??????

after i said, “well. um. yeah, i mean, it’s the christmas tree.”
he was like, “so there will be a lot of lights”
and i was like “um, yeah”
and he was like, “ohhhh okay. this may be a problem”

at this point
i started to think that maybe his secret funny side was coming out
and that maybe
by chance
he was actually really funny

he was not joking

and i was like, “really?”
and he was like, “yeah”
and i was like, “really?”
and he was like, “yeah, i may freak out”
for some reason
maybe i’m dumb
i still kind of hoped he was trying to be funny
but after 2 milliseconds
i was like “wait. do you mean you are going to freak out like, for real? like, what do you mean by freak out?”
to which he was like, “yes, i may freak out”
and i was like, “like, be bothered or, really, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT???”
to which he was like, “well, bright lights give me seizures”


i was like
“well then we should not go there!”

and he was like, “oh really, is that okay with you, are you okay with that, if we don’t go?”
and i was like, “YES”

i was like, “how about we just go to fifth avenue”
and he was like, “okay”

so then
we started to walk
he was like, “do things bother you?”
and all i could think to say was, “fyeh?”
and he was like, “do things bother you, like, do you get seizures from bright lights?”
and i was like, “well, um, no”
and he was like, “does anything bother you?”

i can be overly sensitive
but the truth is i can handle stuff
i mean
even if i’m annoyed
it’s not like i’m going to have some kind of nervous breakdown or fit or stop
breathing or have a seizure or panic attack or whatever due to “stuff”
but i felt bad for him
so i figured i’d make something up just for the sake of camaraderie
i told him that i didn’t like crowds

we get to 5th avenue
and yes
it was christmas time
5th avenue
was packed
and really
i didn’t care
i was actually kind of relieved cause it made it impossible to talk to him
flipped out
he was like – “oh, this is bad”
and i was like, “huh?”
and he was like, “this is bad for you”
and i was like, “what?”
and he was like, “this crowd! i can’t do this to you! you shouldn’t have to deal with this!”
and i was like, “no, no it’s fine”
and he was like, “NO! i must get you out of here!!!”
and he was all chivalrous
sort of
in that super awkward sort of way
and i was like, “no, really, it’s fine”
and he was like, “no this is not okay, i am not putting you through this”
and i was like, “no really”
and he was like “NO!”
and i was like, “um, you know what, it’s okay – how about we just find a subway,
and you know, i’ll just go home. i had a nice time, but, you know”
and he was like, “WHAT?”
and i was like, “it was a nice day, but, you know, it’s, um, i mean, i can just go home now, okay?”
and he was like, “you do not want DINNER????”
i was like, “dinner?”
and he was like, “DINNER”
and i was like, “um, oh, i didn’t think about dinner”
(it was 5pm)
(i had been tortured since 1)
(technically, 1:15, since he was 15 minutes late. ahem.)
so he was like, “i have a place picked out”
he pulled out a card of some restaurant
and he was like, “it is TURKISH i
t is on the upper west side!
we were going to walk there!”
and i was like, “we were?”
and he was like, “YES! i planned it all out”

he was all upset and standing there. i just remember thinking he looked like an
angry and very hurt bird

i figured
he was harmless
and really
i had nothing else to do, nowhere i had to be
i was like

that was like my 80th mistake of the day
cause then we walked, i think something like, 40 blocks
and yes
it was COLD

during this walk
we had nothing to talk about
and that was when
he said
“do you have any adult onset allergies?”
and i was like, “what?”
and he was like, “do you have any adult onset allergies?”
and i was like, “um, no?”
and he was like, “nothing? no allergies?”
and i was like, “well. i’m allergic to mango”
and he was like, “mango! wow. at what age did you realize you were allergic to mango???”
and i was like, “i think i was 12”
and he was like, “12! that’s not adult onset”
and i was like, “no”

then i counted the cracks in the sidewalk
i did this until we got to the restaurant
but really i lost count
i did not count the cracks in the sidewalk
that is a lie
for effect

then we got to the restaurant
and the waitress put bread on the table
and ben pushed the basket to me
and i took a piece

i should note here
it really wasn’t that bad
i mean
i felt like i was babysitting
and once i rationalized it that way, it was okay

so then
the bread was good
and i was like “oh, this is good bread! have some!”
and he was like, “no”
and i was like, “it’s REALLY good”
(it really was)
i kept trying to convince him to have some bread
he told me
he couldn’t
and i was like, “you can’t”
and he was like “no”
and i was like, “oh. how come?”
and he goes, “allergic to yeast”
and i was like, “oh, yeast?”
and he was like, “yeah”
and i was like, “oh, that sucks”
and he was like, “yeah, i miss pizza”
and i was like, “you weren’t always allergic to yeast?”
and he was like “adult onset allergy”
and i was like “ohhhhhhhh”

so then he couldn’t eat anything
i mean
the waitress came over
and everything he was like, “does that have yeast in it?”
he ended up with some chicken kabobs
yeast free

and just to be polite
out of curiosity
i was like, “so, what happens to you, if you eat yeast?”
and he was like, “oh, you don’t want to know”
so i accepted that

but then
he couldn’t resist
so he told me
and it was like this story he was telling that he was clearly very proud of
like he thought, “she’s gonna LOVE this one”
and he was like:

“okay. SO. i was in costa rica, on a “Jewish Singles Adventure”. and there were these
chips and i was like, you know, i’m on vacation, i should let loose. And. You see,
I KNOW, that if I give myself a certain amount of time to get from the eating process,
to the TOILET! i will be okay!!!! and so (insert ‘i’m such a wise-guy’ laugh) i ate the
chips. And then (wise-guy laugh) i went back to my room. Well. I couldn’t unlock
the door!!!! (wise-guy laugh, followed by, a, you’re really gonna love this next part
transitionary breath and hand gesture) (really) So there I am, struggling to get into
my room and my BOWELS are just, BOILING! and i’m DYING and i know that it’s all
just gonna come out at any second and there i am STRUGGLING with the key. So i
RAN to the front desk and i told them, I was like, ‘Listen, you have to help me get
into my room’ and they were like, ‘just a minute sir’ and i was like, ‘no, you don’t
understand, i have a serious bowel issue and if i don’t get into my room right now i
am just going to have an EXPLOSION OF FECES on the floor’ And they helped me
and I got to the toilet JUST in time.”

um, yeah

i sort of sat there
random people were looking at me like, “where’d you find this one?”
i know they were looking
i didn’t look back
i was too embarrassed
at THIS moment
i was strongly considering becoming either a lesbian or a nun
i asked the only thing i could think to ask
which was
“why couldn’t you unlock your door?”
to which he had to tell me, “i didn’t know how to use the key card”

i ate as fast as i could
we left
he wanted to go to some jewish club after
and i was like, “no”
and then
he was like
“i have something for you”
and i was like “you do?”

and he pulls out of his mega backpack a box of chocolate

this is bad
cause i love chocolate
i mean
i love chocolate
and i was really happy about this
but i was really like, hi, i am never going to talk to you again for the rest of my life
and if i ever see you on the street i AM going to hide
i mean
how does one turn away a box of chocolates?
i took it
and figured that i would make it less bad if i offered him some chocolate
he didn’t want to take it
but then he did
and he was happy about this
then i got on the subway
and went home
and ate the entire box
it was good

two days later
my phone rang
i did not answer it
the message
went like this
“hiiiiIIIIIIIIII it’s BEN GOLDSTEIN!!!! how ARE you? i had a GREAT time with you the
other night and i think we should go on a SECOND blind date”

(again – i don’t get these “blind date” references, but i digress. he went on to say:)

“You don’t have to call me BACK i will call you AGAIN in a few days!!!! byeeeeeee!!”

i was very happy that he told me i did not have to call him back
i did not call him back

a few days later
he called again
and i did not answer my phone
and the message went like this:

“hiiii Ben GOLDSTEIN again! i haven’t HEARD from youuuuu. i’m getting a little
concerned about this. not sure what this means! this could mean you do not LIKE
me!!! i hope that’s not the CASE????!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!? i really hope to HEAR
from you. okay? okay? okay bye? okay? okay, i’m hanging up now. okay bye okay.
talk to you soon. bye”

i did not call him back
i never heard from ben goldstein again
at least the chocolate was good
it was

Shoshana Rubin is a television news writer and Emmy Award-winning producer living in New York. She likes to make people laugh with the stories she writes