A Day in (mentally) Handicapped Dating
A proven, certified guide
I sigh in relief at the sight of the white apple logo on my phone screen. It finally has some battery life! It’s been plugged into the portable charger I’d grabbed in the 20 seconds I had stopped by home. PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE STILL THERE, I frantically text. Just then, my Uber stops.
“We’re here. 5 stars please, Morgan!” my driver says.
“Yes of course, thank you,” I say as I stumble out of the Uber. I immediately trip on the curb while rushing to the restaurant entrance.
I realize I dropped my phone in the process of tripping and quickly bend to pick it up. During this, I somehow manage to tangle my necklace clasp in my still wet hair.
I hastily untangle the necklace and look at the restaurant door. Thursday hours: 11am - 9pm it reads. I glance down at my newly resurrected phone to check the time.
Welp at least I showered, I think.
30 hours earlier I got a text from Alaina: Speaking of which, would you be free tomorrow or Sunday? Would love to hang out (:
Alaina and I have been trying to make plans to go on a date after making out in a Jumbo Slice at 3am 2 weeks prior. That night had been a lot of fun- we’d met during a wild night out at ALOHA, the local WLW (women love women) bi/lesbian bar.
Me: Where/when tomorrow? I have a soccer game tomorrow but would love to hang after!
Her: Flexible, I can come to you since you have a game!
Me: Okay let’s do somewhere in the Citydon neighborhood at 8pm! I’ll run home to shower after the game, my place is right by there.
Dating while ADHD tip number 1: Never agree to a plan that requires events to occur consecutively. Something can and will go wrong. If something ends at 6:40pm you are NOT free until 10 o’clock.
The next day, despite having a long day of work I manage to make it to the soccer game on time. My team wins pretty solidly. I offer to drive my teammates to the bar they are heading to and plan to play a hand of giant UNO and then head to my date. I buy a round for my teammates (a mocktail for me, since I'm driving) and sit down to play a hand.
I text Alaina about halfway through: Ready to meet up in Citydon soon, let me know when you head out and I can head that way! Let’s do the Ammer restaurant?
She responds: Sure! Take your time, I am just finishing up at work then will take the metro over!
I send her a thumbs up and a smiley face. Cool, I think. I’ll finish up this hand then head out it’ll be perfect. The version of UNO had some extra rules that resulted in picking up more cards and a bit of a longer game. Eventually though, I finish the hand and head to the bar to close out my tab. I see one of the league officials sitting at the bar.
“Weren’t you on the team that won the tournament last season?” he asks.
“Yep, that’s me! I’m actually the captain! Were you there?” I responded.
“Yea, we were all so happy that you all beat that other team, they were kinda assholes- made the game not fun at all!” he says.
Soon his coworker sat down, introduced herself, and agreed with him. We chat about last season for a bit until I remember I was originally leaving for my date.
“See you all next week!” I say.
Dating while ADHD tip number 2: When someone says “take your time”, DO NOT ACTUALLY TAKE YOUR TIME. If you actually want to make it on time, learn to translate into “ADHD speak”. The phrase take your time actually translates to leave now.
Eventually I made my way to my car which was luckily parked close by. On the walk I realized my phone had 1% battery charge remaining. That’s okay, I think. I have a car charger in my car. I climb into my car and turn it on. I try to plug in my phone but accidentally pull too hard on the cable. The main part of the charger comes out of the car outlet and breaks in half. I see someone is waiting for my coveted city street parallel parking spot, so I pull out of it to the nearest stop sign and try to put the charger back together.
The bottom half slides under the seat. I try to reach for it but can’t find it. I put on my blinkers, get out, and check under the seat but quickly realize I won’t be finding or fixing the charger anytime soon. I sigh and check my back seat, hoping to see my purse with the portable battery pack I normally keep in it, but I see only my charger-free soccer bag.
Dating while ADHD tip number 3: Always, and I mean always in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, have a portable battery phone charger with you. Get one for all your bags and your car. In fact, it’s often best to have two methods of phone charging available at all times.
I take a deep breath. This sucks, but I can just map my way home real quick and memorize it before my phone dies- my thought is immediately interrupted as I watch my phone screen turn black. I realize at this point I have two options- try to make it home without directions or go back to the bar and borrow a teammate’s or bartender’s charger.
I make a quick mental pros/cons list. I am only a few blocks from the bar right now. I could likely make it back to the bar by memory, find a charger and figure out where I am going. I could also text Alaina to let her know my status. However, if I return to the bar, there is no guarantee that my parking spot will still be there. This also would require backtracking which would make me even later since I am still in a sweaty soccer jersey and have no change of clothes with me so need to stop by home.
Also, though I am in a neighborhood I am unfamiliar with, I have lived in the general metro area for about 4 years at this point. I should be able to recognize some roads and landmarks that would get me home.
I glance at the clock. It says 7:54pm.
Good thing I have it set 6 minutes fast so it’s actually 7:49pm. I might still be close to on time but I definitely don’t have time to backtrack to the bar and borrow a charger, I think.
So I decide to set off in the general direction of my home.
Dating while ADHD tip number 4: Never leave a location without a clear destination in mind. Additionally, look at a map before leaving so you know where you are going. This applies even if you have been to the destination before. It might be the technological age, but figuring out where you are going while going there is still a BAD plan.
My trust in my directional abilities was quite misplaced. I try to recognize street numbers and letters but they don’t go like I thought they do. I eventually see a tall building in the city center and start driving towards it. If I can get to the diagonal cross street I should pass on the way I will have some idea where I am going. Eventually, after making a couple haphazard right turns, I ended up on campus at Ginny Warnerton University in the city. At least I know I am heading in relatively the right direction, I think. I am still confused as to how to get home though, since I must cross a very specific bridge.
Luckily, at that exact moment I drove by a GWU campus map. Excitedly, I pull my car to the side of the road and hop out to take a look. I quickly memorize some key details for what roads to take to get to the bridge I need. Unfortunately, it’s a bit confusing because you have to go on what looks like an underpass to get to it. I actually can't tell if the road connects to the interstate based on the map. I sigh and jump back in my car while glancing at my car clock.
So it’s actually 8:18, I think. Maybe I can still be less than half an hour late- she did say take your time. I drive to the point I memorized. I quickly realize the map I looked at did, of course, not specify I needed to be in a specific lane to get on the bridge. I try to make a u-turn to get in the proper lane. Just as I am realizing I cannot do that and will have to take the long way around, I hear a ding ding sound. I look at the control panel behind my steering wheel.
Fuel low the screen reads. The bright yellow light between the fuel gauge seems to mock me as it points to the “E” for empty. I mentally cross my fingers hoping I have enough gas to make it onto the bridge and home. Or that I pass a gas station and have enough time to use it.
For any God or gods out there please just let me not run out of gas and make it home, I pray.
Dating while ADHD tip number 5: Always mentally subtract a quarter tank from the amount of gas you think you have. Fill up at a quarter tank- do not wait for your empty light to come on.
I roll into the driveway of my house with a major sigh of relief. At least I am not stranded on the side of the road. The clock now reads 8:44pm. Okay so it’s 8:38pm, my god I hope she doesn’t think I stood her up. I so badly wanted this to go well, I think with a dejected sigh. I open the door and sprint up the stairs quickly.
“Emmanuellll,” I yell out towards my roommate’s closed door. “Can you pretty please call me an Uber to my date at Ammer? My car and phone are both out of commission. I’ll Venmo you.”
“You’re out of gas again?!? When do you need the Uber?” he asks.
“Now please thank you, so so much,” I called out from my room. My door is closed and I am already half naked with the shower running. I am in and out of the shower in under 2 minutes. I then quickly tug a brush through my hair.
“How far is the Uber?” I shout.
“5 minutes” he says.
I search my floor and find a turtleneck sweater I wore to brunch last weekend. I sniff it. It smells acceptable enough. I put it on and looked around frantically for deodorant. I finally find it under a pile of laundry, then swiftly throw on pants and put my eyeliner and mascara in one pocket and a necklace and some earrings in the other.
Dating while ADHD tip number 6: Never be at a location without bringing clothes that are appropriate for your next destination in case your planned timelines fall apart. Also, find an awesome roommate who will call cars for you.
I sprint down the stairs, plug my phone into the portable battery charger in my purse, and grab my leather jacket and some shoes. My roommate shouts down the stairs: “Your Uber is outside!”
I thank him again, tell him I’ll pay him when my phone turns on, and hop in my Uber to head to the restaurant.
Welp at least I showered, I think and plop down on the curb I had just tripped on. And I did some makeup in the car. My thoughts quickly spiral. All the mistakes I made tonight are mistakes I have made before. Why do I never learn? I just need to figure out how to be a little more prepared. How am I a gainfully employed adult who can’t charge my phone, put gas in my car, or show up to a date on time? Maybe my ex, Sondil, was right. He always said the bad things that happened to me were my fault. I was lazy, immature, and irresponsible. I dress like a teenager, act like a teenager, and am not qualified to be promoted to management at work so long as ‘behave the way I do’. Maybe I WAS responsible for getting my phone stolen because I just can’t pay attention. Maybe I AM dumber than I think I am. Why do I always prove him right?
Suddenly, my phone lights up with a text. Alaina has responded to me.
She says: Yea I’m still here, what’s going on? I’m about to leave the restaurant. Do you need to reschedule?
I reply: So so so sorry I got lost and my phone died but I just got out of the Uber. We can reschedule if you want.
Then, I feel a hand on my shoulder.
I turn around to see a pretty girl with sparkling blue eyes and raven black hair looking back at me. She smells faintly of a tropical perfume.
“Hi Alaina! I am so so so so sorry.”
“No worries! Glad you are okay. If you are here we might as well go for it and find some food or a drink! We’ll have to go somewhere else though, this place is closing”
She sits by me on the curb.
“Where you feeling?” she asks.
“Hmm let’s see what’s still open- there’s a bar a block over but I know they don’t serve food after 9pm. There’s a McDonald’s on the way though. First date at McDonald’s- classy as always,” I reply with a chuckle. Her responding laugh is contagious- full of life. I feel immediately at ease.
“Sounds great to me, let’s get walking,” she says. Then she sheepishly adds, “By the way... you look so pretty.”
I grin. If only she knew what my getting ready process was like. Once we get to McDonald’s, we grab some carry out McChickens and finish them on a bench outside while chatting.
“-anyways so I told my therapist that it was wild. Oh damn am I oversharing? By saying I have a therapist. I have ADHD. I promise I’m like fine and stable and stuff.” Alaina says.
“No no no please don’t worry about it at all. I also have ADHD and a therapist. I scarily relate to most of the stuff you just said,” I reply.
I am impressed with how quickly I am comfortable enough with her to admit that. Normally, my therapist is kind of my “dirty little secret”. Even though I want to help destigmatize mental health care- there is just something hard about admitting I personally need it. Especially on a first date. I flash Alaina a big smile.
“I actually don’t admit that very often. You finished with your sandwich yet?” I ask.
“Yep! You tired or would you want to grab a drink at that bar over there?”
“Naw I’m not tired, let’s grab a drink!” I smiled and laced my fingers in hers and we walked hand and hand into the bar.
while ADHD while human tip(s): Date people who value you as you are and like you even when you are “quirky” or “inconvenient”. Date people who want to support you, not tear you down. Date people who want to help you, rather than criticize you. And most importantly learn to forgive and love yourself even when you don’t live up to all your ideas of what you should be or how you should be. In the words of RuPaul, “If you don’t love yourself, then how the hell are you gonna love somebody else.”
Inspired by the true story of a standard ADHD Thursday