Holy. Smokes. This is date forty-one. Admittedly not state forty-one due to a few doubling up, but seriously. Forty-one dates!! This one’s a two-parter too.
North Carolina Mike, as I affectionately titled him in my phone after we started corresponding via text, was a mere sixty-one percent match (and thirty-two percent my enemy) according to the seemingly omni-knowing love algorithm of OkCupid. But, he was cute, had trusting eyes, and seemed very “typical guy”. Besides, the point of this project is partly to prove you can go on a date with anyone, and have a reasonably enjoyable time. So I asked him out, and he said sure. Then, I asked him if he’d like to hit the go-kart track and he said sure. Then I mentioned I was really bad at go-karting having only done it once before (back in Missouri on this trip, actually). He didn’t say sure to this, instead saying, how about like any real date, if we have fun we’ll grab a drink after?*
It’s funny, at first handshake I don’t think I was much to Mike’s liking and truth be told, he was not my usual taste. We fumbled through chit-chat. When you don’t know the rhythm of another person’s speech, you stumble over on another, break each other’s cadence and engage in a lot of false starts. It’s a weird sociological study in who wins the right the speak (and how they do it) while being exceptionally awkward because you’re making a first impression. Eventually, it was time to sit down and watch a training video about how to go-kart safely.
This video is where the whole mood of the date shifted. We sat down and started making jokes, though I was also absorbing instructions as I’m wont to do. When the video finished, I started commenting on what we’d just learned, and Mike just laughed that I had paid such strict attention, leading me out to gear up in a helmet.** I selected mine based on color (pink!) and quickly realized it was the wrong size, meaning Mike got to witness helmet hair before we’d even driven anywhere. More laughing ensued as we buckled in to the karts. And then, we were off!
While in the throes of helmet selection, I mentioned to Mike that I am very bad at go-karting. As in, the last time I had karted I had not realized we were supposed to be racing, and while I got that point now, it might not do much to change my speed, and he should feel no remorse squealing his tires as he passed me by. So when I say, “we were off” I mean, Mike, Megan, and the other karters were off. I putt-putted politely and tried not to run into any bumpers.
I mention this because it came to my surprise after my first lap that someone was trailing me. They were right behind me and not passing me by. I used my real-driver hand gesture of waving, hoping to okay the pass, and still they waited. Pressing my brakes even more, I attempted to encourage them to zip off (this resulted in them bumping into me). Finally I gave up and kept driving, watching Megs whiz about, screech her go-kart at crazy angles, fly into a full stop, take video, and keep moving all before I had gone twenty feet. Flags waved and yellow lights flashed, and all drivers returned our cars single file, like books loading onto a shelf. One look to my right and the mystery tailgater: yeah, that was Mike. Though I pressed him for the answer as to why he hadn’t passed me, he just shrugged and smiled.***
“Want to get a cup of coffee?” Mike asked. That initial nervousness and awkward-boundary was gone. Without hesitation, I agreed.
* Rad statement. No miscommunication, no expectations, low stakes, and good intention.
**I know, helmets for go-karts sounds weird, right? But these were turbo-charged beasts that could go 45 miles an hour.
***Later pressing resulted in him saying he thought it was charming just how bad at driving I was, and enjoyed sitting back. Megan’s theory: He was being uber polite (which scored him points whichever is true in her book).