This happened about a year ago.
We hadn’t been chatting online for long when I agreed to meet Matthew (obviously, not his real name). He was interesting and we had a lot in common, so meeting was a mutually appealing next step.
After a few initial timetable clashes, we eventually arranged an afternoon movie. I had a family lunch I couldn’t get out of that day, but I could leave early and because we’d already rescheduled the date twice, it was the best we could do.
Since lunch that day was a small family celebration, it was one of those roasts with the works and champagne. I didn’t eat all that much, and I only had a small glass of champers, but as I left for the movie, I wasn’t feeling the best. Perhaps I had just eaten too quickly, I thought, and sitting down for a movie would be the perfect way to digest.
I was running slightly late, so we didn’t have much time to catch up before we went into the movie, but it was long enough for me to think he was even more interesting (and attractive) than online, and I had my hopes up.
We chatted quietly through the previews, commenting on movies we’d seen or would like to see. As the theatre darkened, he took my hand.
…And then squirmed in my chair as my stomach kicked up a little protest. I didn’t want to fidget too much, but as the movie went on, and my stomach wouldn’t settle down, I started to worry.
I very rarely throw up (at that time, I hadn’t puked in years), but just as I thought about getting up and going to the toilet just in case, I suddenly knew I would never make it and all I could do was lean over to the left as my stomach attempted to purge itself of whatever it found so objectionable. Not once, but three times.
Luckily, Matthew was in the aisle seat to my right, and there was no one in the rest of the row, or in the rows directly behind or in front of us.
The instant I thought I could make it, I ran out of the theatre towards the toilets, barely registering that the aisle seat had been vacated. I stayed in the toilet for a few minutes, but nothing happened, or felt like it was going to happen again all that soon. I was safe. For now.
At this point, I thought to check my phone, and I saw it piled with Matthew’s messages.
I raced to get you tissues but you’d disappeared.
I’m guessing you are embarrassed as well as unwell. Do you want me to just go?
I think I might. Make it easy for you.
I hurriedly replied that I was waiting in the foyer. I paced the lobby, but I didn’t hear from him for a minute or so, and my stomach was starting to roll again. I tried to call, but when there was no answer, I sent off a quick text telling him I thought it was gastro, and was sorry but I couldn’t wait anymore and had to leave. I received his reply and responded as I was walking to the car.
Ok. Get well soon.
I’m so sorry!! Are you going to stay for the rest of the movie?
No, I’m going to head home in case I get that gastro bug, too. That hit you hard and fast.
I hope you don’t get it! Again, I’m sorry…
Stop worrying. Just get home to get well.
As if I needed anything else to worry about, the ticket machine in the car park didn’t give change, and I didn’t actually have any change. As I was debating the merits of going back inside the cinema to try to get my $20 note broken, a wonderful grey-haired angel offered to pay my $4 fee. I thanked her profusely (trying subtly to keep my distance so that I didn’t get my gastro breath in her vicinity) and dashed, trying not to speed, and knowing my stomach was about to announce yet again how displeased it was with current circumstances.
I made it home (without making a mess or getting a speeding fine) and to the bathroom just in time.
I spent the next 15 hours in and out of the bathroom, and I have honestly never been so sick in my life. I ached all over (do you know how painful it is to have your stomach think it needs to get rid of something in your body, but actually have nothing in it to get rid of?). I couldn’t even keep water down. I felt a little better the next day, but it took a good few days before I was able to look at more than toast, and more than a week to feel back to normal. I found out that while no one else at the family lunch felt the slightest bit ill, three other people in my workplace fell to the gastro bug that month, and it was certainly a bad one that year, as many can attest.
So, what happened with Matthew?
When I started feeling better a few days after the movie was aborted, I contacted him, apologising again, asking if he was ok, and asking if he ever wanted to give the first date a second shot. He was very polite when he said no.
I was disappointed with the way it turned out, but I think he really was a good egg. I don’t blame him for not wanting to see me again. Throwing up during your first date doesn’t exactly inspire attraction, and I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t have done the same had the tables been turned.
So, the next time you think you’ve had a bad date, I hope this story makes you feel better.