It’s one thing to ghost at a strip club blasting Skrillex, but I might have gone too far this time. Tipsy after an evening of red wine in Little Portugal, I vanished into thin air at The Wallflower on a first date. Now I know what you’re thinking: I LOVE THE WALLFLOWER! Me too, the candlelight and cozy décor feels enchanting with a glass of whiskey. You might also be thinking: Wow, that’s brutal. You should be ashamed of yourself, Sarah. You’re right. I’m cringing even thinking about it. But look, as terrible as this story makes me sound, I did it: so now I’m writing this to clear my conscience and justify my actions like I haven’t done anything wrong. Because I haven’t really. So consider this an anonymous public apology to the granola I left behind in the romantic candlelight of The Wallflower. And yes, for the record: I’m a bad person.
Before you write me off as a sociopath, let me explain. My history with ghosting all started with vomit circa 2007. Flaunting fake eyelashes, three-inch heels, and a leopard-print cocktail dress, I became the poster girl for party bulimia: the drunk girl who vomits everywhere. Stumbling with the swag of a 19-year-old hood rat, I projectile vomited like it was my social responsibility to spray the world with Bacardi Breezers, beckoned by a higher righteous power of white girl drunk. Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl ruled the top 40 and nights out turned into a clockwork of barf sequences: pre-vomit at the pre-drink, sloppy vomit on the sidewalk and the season finale dance floor vomit (if I made it that far). The bigger the social gathering, the more vomit I found in my hair, purse and heels the next morning. Vomit was my excuse to leave early. And nobody ever pleads with the vomit girl to stay at the party.
The golden ages of party bulimia came to an end in my second year of university. But then I had another problem: without vomit, I didn’t have a credible excuse to leave. “But like, if you’re not vomiting – why are you leaving?” someone would ask. Out of habit, vomit always found a way back into my storyline. “Well, I’m not feeling 100% and would much rather vomit at home instead of the dance floor. I might have food poisoning or something from the Thai food I ate for lunch.” Still, my friends weren’t impressed; but that still didn’t stop me from running away. I was becoming a serial ghoster.
Now that ghosting is mainstream, I feel comfortable admitting that I might have a problem. As the years passed, I learned how to become a more reasonable person. I would text my goodbye or pre-emptively mention that I can’t physically stay up past twelve unless there are heavy drugs or Red Bull involved. Friends responded encouragingly to this and I felt as though I was on my next step to recovery. I was wrong. Months later, ghosting found a way back into my life – this time in my hilariously bad dating life.
The first incident happened three months ago. It was our first time meeting and we agreed to meet at Three Speed on a Friday afternoon that felt like Tuesday. He wasn’t what I expected at all: nervous and fidgety the way elevators make me feel. I smiled and asked more questions while he told me about his anxiety issues and insomnia. The conversation moved tirelessly as a gloomy shadow of seriousness presented itself at the table. I quickly came to realize that I was on a date with a full-time negative nancy. Patiently, I listened to him as he told me about his career confusion and medication. I would wait until we finished our first drink, then politely exit. I imagined the convicted felon hug that would follow our quick goodbye outside the bar: a chest pump like two armless human beings attempting to have a physical connection with one big rib cage thump. He asked a few questions, which I strategically diverted with other questions. The beer stirred in my stomach uneasily and I felt eager to get out as we shifted the conversation to serial killers and expensive cocktails. With my drink sips away from finishing, the bill was in the horizon of hope. But then, something awful happened.
Overeager, the waitress approached our table asking about the second round of drinks. I flinched immediately, desperately hoping the woman would pick up on my S.O.S facial cue: “HELL FUCKING NO! REPEAT: NO SECOND DRINK. GET THE BILL BEFORE HE TELLS ME ABOUT THE CAT THAT HE MURDERED!” My eyes blinked furiously like I was about to overdose on ecstasy. She didn’t look at me twice. Did she think my face was doing this naturally? I tried to be more theatrical, hoping my date wouldn’t notice I was about to spin my head into a 360 vomit fest. I tried to make a subtle finger gun, blasting my brains out all over the table. The more overdramatic the better I figured. But nothing seemed to be working. My body was a brick, paralyzed in rigor mortis as he opened his mouth to respond to the server who apparently wasn’t trained in morse-girl code.
“Definitely, let’s get two more rounds!” he insisted, smiling at me as if we were buying our first house together.
Oh dear god. I could feel the vomit surfacing in my throat. I debated my options for the easiest escape: Find the nearest fire alarm, “accidentally” throw my glass of beer on the ground like a clumsy woman….GO TO THE WASHROOM! Wait, yes. That’s it. I’ll go to the bathroom! Suddenly, as if saved by the urine gods, I politely excused myself for “a quick tinkle” in my fairy godmother voice. Moments later, I tiptoed out of the front door and sprinted down Bloor Street West like I was a half-naked actress in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Four blocks later at Northwood, I caught my breath and thought about the negative nancy I left behind. I felt relieved and impressed with myself for running so fast. It was over now and I promised myself I would never run in a jean jacket again. Oh, and I’d never ghost from another date again. Because, it’s terrible and totally not okay to leave in the middle of a date. It was wrong, but it felt so right. Okay fine, maybe I’m a sociopath. But whatever, I felt really uncomfortable and needed to leave. I’m a feminist AND a sociopath.
But then, it happened again three months later. This time, I was on a date with a stylish interrogator. Within ten seconds, my date had asked me roughly one million questions: Where are you from? What elementary school did you go to? How long was your last relationship? What’s your SIN number? Are your parents still alive? Do you have a real job? How much money is in your chequing account? Do you like coffee? Ever been to Montreal? Are you a vegan? Do you own a car? Do you snore at night? Any siblings? Any ex-husbands? Ever had a threesome? Are you allergic to nuts? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Are you motivated? Wait, are you depressed? What do you write about? Have you watched Mad Max yet? Does God exist?
I couldn’t think straight. Questions cornered me into a factory of pre-made responses: I am normal human being. I am normal human being. I am normal human being. My social battery was losing power like an iPhone with 900 apps open; I was losing strength without a moment to charge. He hit me with more questions, then more and more. Question marks slapped me in the face. I hallucinated questions he didn’t even ask. Was I interviewing for a job or…a relationship? I didn’t bring my resume and I was already drunk off red wine. Maybe I’d connect with him on LinkedIn when this was all over. But maybe he wasn’t who he said he was: maybe he was an alien in a man suit. A seasoned private investigator wearing Frank and Oak like a basic bitch dude in the GTA. The only thing he was missing was a man bun and Converse.
What felt like 300 years in an interrogation room was actually a two-minute walk from Dufferin and Dundas to The Wallflower. Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but c’mon, it was painful. By the time we got to the bar, I knew I had to leave ASAP. I promised myself I would never do this again. But here I was, doing this again. Time ticked by. I started to panic and debated staying to be a kind, normal, human girl. Ugh, being an adult is so difficult sometimes.
He looked over at me, “What do you want to drink?”. I purposely took my time, scanning the drink menu again, and again like I was a beer snob from Germany. I needed an excuse to get outside the bar (immediately) because there was only one exit, in view of every single person in the bar. Before I could even think of a good excuse to leave, verbal diarrhea emerged through my throat.
“I need to call my dad, like right now” I blurted out.
Side note: WHY DID I SAY THIS? I DON’T KNOW.
He didn’t know what else to say, so of course he asked another nine trillion question – “Is everything okay? Do you want me to go outside with you? How old is your dad? Is your dad British too? Why is your dad calling you right now? What does your dad do for work? Is he retired?”
For christ’s sakes. Can’t a girl call her dad in the middle of a date?
I mean, looking back at this, I could have literally said ANYTHING. But of course, I decided to go for the “I’m a girl and I have a weird-family-relationship” route. Maybe it would have sounded a little less weird if I had mentioned my grandfather? I don’t know. But my grandparents are dead. I would feel much weirder lying about calling a dead person versus my dad. I could feel the stress mounting on my twitching eyelid. But there was no going back now, so I smiled and told him I’d only be a few minutes. And by minutes, I meant FOREVER.
That’s when I fled. This time I imagined I was Easy-E in a drug bust, running away from the police in Compton. With my hair in the wind, I sprinted faster than I had ever sprinted in any athletic sport, like ever. I darted into a side street, embarrassed that I had once again ghosted on a first date. Rest assured, there was no vomit. But the guilt weighed heavy on my shoulders. I almost felt like laughing. I would never have to answer another one of his questions again. With my battery at 0% and the glow of red wine drunk, I went home to eat Avocado on toast.
So there you have it. I’m addicted to ghosting and can’t stop. I’ve ghosted on birthday parties, work parties, staff parties, clubs and now two first dates. I’ve french exited on strangers, half-strangers, acquaintances, family members, colleagues, Instagram celebrities, and best friends. I want to stop, but I can’t. I have no control and I’m really working on it.
I’m addicted to ghosting.