Home > Bad at Love(8)

Bad at Love(8)
Author: Karina Halle

“It doesn’t hurt?”

I shrug. “It hurts less and less over time.”

“Because your body is building up a resistance to the venom,” he says.

“Exactly,” I tell him with a smile, loving when he goes into doctor mode. “I just hate that they die after they sting me. I don’t like to lose any of them.”

He adjusts the glasses on the bridge of his nose and gives me a curious look. I’ve seen that look before. It’s the “I’m not sure what to do with this person” look. Honestly, I’m a little surprised he’s still giving it to me after two dates already. He should know who he’s dealing with.

Maybe calm down and stop talking so fast, I remind myself. All that excess caffeine has not done me any favors. I’ve been bouncing in my chair and tapping my sandals on the floor for the majority of the steak tartare appetizer.

“More wine?” the waiter says, appearing with the bottle.

“Yes, more,” I cry out, immediately holding out my glass. I know that the doctor is giving me yet another one of those looks but I ignore it. Wine will counteract the racing heart.

The waiter fills it up, and I try and pace myself as I have a few gulps.

Except I finish the whole glass.

It’s red wine, too. Not exactly chuggable.

David is watching me with mild horror.

“I’ve had a rough day,” I explain to him, even though it’s a lie. I’m not about to tell him that this whole date is making me inexplicably nervous.

“Looks like it,” he says, staring at my welts.

Right, well I guess I’ll just blame it all on the bees.

“This restaurant has very high ratings on Yelp,” David goes on, clearing his throat.

I just smile and catch the eye of the waiter, subtly beckoning him over. And by subtle, I mean I’m jerking my head violently.

“Something wrong?” David asks.

“Do you want to split a bottle?” I ask him. “I think all these glasses of wine are going to add up.”

He opens his mouth to say something. Then closes it and nods. “Sure.”


I get a bottle of red and then proceed to drink most of it, David only having a glass and tiny sips.

Shit. He doesn’t like me. He thinks I’m annoying. He thinks I’m a prude. He thinks I’m a drunk. He doesn’t think I’m pretty.

All these thoughts start bombarding my head.

“Hey,” I say to him. “Tell me about the worst break-up you’ve ever had.”

He frowns at me. “Is that appropriate conversation for a date?”

I shrug and have another swallow of wine. “Probably not. Who cares?”

“Are you all right?”

“I’ll tell you mine,” I tell him. “I’ve never actually been dumped! Can you believe it? No, you probably can’t.”

“You’re very lucky,” he says, his words measured.

“Lucky?” I laugh. “I’m not lucky. It just means I’ve never actually been in a proper relationship. Can you believe that? I make it to the third date and then guys just ghost. You do know we’re on our third date right now, don’t you?”

He clears his throat, looking totally uncomfortable. “I am aware.”

“Right. So after this, you’ll ghost, you’ll do what they all do. You won’t even tell me that you don’t want to see me anymore, you’ll just stop returning my calls and texts, and if we finally do speak and I bring up plans, you’ll be busy. That’s the way it goes. Look, okay, sometimes I’ve gone on more than three dates but it always ends the same way.”

He stares at me in such a way that reminds me of my aunt when she was trying to deal with my panic attacks. “I think you’ve had a bit too much to drink.”

I laugh. “I’m fine. Seriously. Too much coffee is what it is.”

I reach for my glass but he puts his hand out to stop me. “Marina, it’s okay. We’re just having dinner. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

“Nervous?” I squeak. “Who said I was nervous?”

Okay, I’m aware I’m starting to slur a bit. I attempt to correct it. “I. Am. Totally. Fine. And. Sober,” I say, extra-enunciating my words. “This. Is. A. Great. Date.”

Then the waiter comes by, putting down our plates of pasta.

It’s like I’ve never seen food in my entire life. I start wolfing it down, going through the linguine like I might never eat again.




The pasta is not going down.

It’s stuck in my throat.

Ohmigod, am I choking?

I glance at David with wide eyes.

Keep calm, keep calm, see if you can get through this without anyone knowing.

“Marina?” David asks.

I nod, my face going red, cheeks puffing out, trying to swallow down the pasta but shit, shit, shit, it’s not moving.

I’m choking.

I point at my throat as in, a little help here?

“Oh my god!” David exclaims, loud enough for everyone in the restaurant to look at me and erupt into murmurs of “Good gracious!” and “I think that girl is choking!” At any moment I expect Mrs. Doubtfire to come running across the restaurant to tackle me.

But instead it’s David, who, rather calmly I might add, comes around the back of the chair, pulls me to my feet, and starts doing the Heimlich.

Thanks to his skills, it only takes two thrusts of his fist into my abdomen before I’m choking up the linguine all over my shirt.

On one hand, yay I’m alive and I think my date just saved my life.

On the other, everyone is staring at me expectantly. The entire restaurant is in a hush. I start picking off the linguine like it’s lint and then turn to face everyone with a big smile. Because I’m fine.


They need to stop staring.

“Hey, did you know that bees communicate to each other through the waggle dance?” I say to the patrons, hoping they find this fascinating. “It goes a little bit like this.”

And then I try and imitate the figure eight and circular movement of a bee’s waggle dance, shaking my butt all over the place.

“Marina,” David says, grabbing my elbow and interrupting me mid-waggle. “You should sit down.”

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