Illustration by the amazingly talented Kelcey Vossen.
Going on a sober date is difficult enough.
Going on a sober date with a 45 year-old photographer who is chugging down Mezcal like he’s on his first Cancun Spring Break, while projecting the sins of his Russian ex-wife on you, is difficult on an altogether new level, best categorized as Dante’s Malebolge.
Papi Mezcal and I met as a result of a fleeting experimental mood in which I temporarily tampered with my Raya age settings, one of those momentary lapses of judgment that comes from looking at too much Birkin-Gainsbourg paraphernalia. To my credit, he was a young-looking 45, with a punchy slideshow that advertised his numerous tattoos, globetrotting adventures, and overall affinity towards all things cool and colorful. Numbers were exchanged, and, by some technological glitch that I still cannot comprehend, he suddenly appeared on my Snapchat feed (Follow me! marinakhorosh! I’m awesome at it!), the yellow hole of procrastination where nobody’s life mundanities go unnoticed. This is when I discovered that Papi Mezcal was a rare Snapchat wunderkind way beyond (or, in this case, before) his years. Picture Snapchat videos of ample-bodied security guards, walking backwards in slow-motion with emoji donuts in their hands and turds on their behinds – an imagination level that, for normal people, only comes by way of Cannabis but, for Papi Mezcal, seemed to come via steady flow of creative genius.
Creative genius or not, the guy was clearly off his rocker, regularly displaying sociopathic tendencies, such as when he “jokingly” promised to bring roofies on our date (see for yourself) or got unreasonably angry at me for cancelling a coffee meeting at the last-minute. Unable to get rid of the lingering sense of unease I had about him, I decided to file him away in the ‘missed connections’ file.. That is, until we found ourselves in Miami on the same, mind-numbingly boring weekend in late January. My sources of entertainment being limited to my parental unit (quite close to Papi’s generation, when you think about it), I began responding to Papi Mezcal’s weird Snaps with weird Snaps of my own, and soon found myself agreeing to accompany him to a concert at the Faena hotel on Friday evening.
Feeling like I had nothing to lose, I asked him to pick me up. Two minutes after I sent the text, the phone rang.
“Sugar, have you ever heard of Uber? It’s this thing they invented, it’s great. Really cheap in Miami. I’ll send you one.” He had the voice of an old Jewish grandmother from Staten Island.
“It’s ok, I just figured you wanted to be chivalrous, since you are of the older set..” PAM. I decided to hit it where the Botox hurts.
“Sugar, you must be really hot. Because only a really hot babe talks like that.”
“Nope, just an inflated sense of self-worth. Also, I’m Russian.”
“My ex-wife is Russian. I hate you already.” We were off to a great start.
The pressure was on – now I actually had to look hot! Measures were taken, Prada pumps were borrowed from a family friend, hair was straightened, cheekbones were defined via Charlotte Tilbury magic. I arrived to the Faena (in my own Uber, thank you very much) and was greeted by my date, who materialized in a puff of Chanel Allure Homme, hitting every wannabe-youngster cliché in the book. Black suit, white Common Projects sneakers, subtle Botox in the face, an appraising up-and-down stare that made me feel more naked than I should have, given that I was wearing jeans a ginormous silk Rag & Bone pajama shirt as outerwear. We headed to the bar, where Papi earned his full nickname by ordering a Mezcal. I explained to him that I was doing Dry January in an effort to start off the year on a healthy note. “So, what does that mean for me?” he inquired. Knowing that douche is best met with douche, I told him that it meant that my promiscuity levels were nonexistent. “I see,” he said, taking a swing of Mezcal before, I kid you not, ordering a second one right away. “It’s ok. You seem a little lesbian-y anyway.” Lesbian-y? While I had never before heard these words uttered in my direction, I took it like a champ, thinking of Cara and Ruby Rose and all the other beautiful girls I would gladly go lesbian for – before hooking up with him, at least.
“C’mon sugar, let’s take a look at the Hirst,” Papi ushered me out of the bar and towards the garden, expertly balancing two Mezcals in one hand while touching the small of my (lesbian-y) back with the other. After collectively Snapping about 200 pictures of Damien Hirst’s (very impressive) golden mammoth, we descended into the basement, where the “secret” concert was taking place. This is where I realized that Papi Mezcal was a popular man at the Faena, as he happened to know about 50% of the guests in attendance. Coincidentally, I also happened to receive a work email that demanded immediate attention, preventing me from dynamically conversing with all the people I was being introduced to, most of which were either women my age or men 15 years my senior. Papi was not happy. “Are you going to be on your phone all night?” he sternly demanded, making me feel like a disobedient child and forcing me to tuck away my phone and smile at his buddies over my tap water. I soon found myself in conversation with an older gentleman, weighting roughly 400 pounds, who found it necessary to inform me that he was renting out an entire floor at the St. Regis hotel as he waited for his mansion to be completed. Looking at him, I decided that I would rather live in my old 400-square foot Parisian apartment with my smelliest Parisian hipster ex-boyfriend until the day I kicked it, rather than live at the St. Regis in his vicinity. He also told me that he was on a strict diet but occasionally had a cheat day, recounting every single food item he had consumed during the last one – roughly the entire food court of a standard American mall. Lastly, he informed me his next cheat day was scheduled for February 21 and to call him if I was in town, so that we could enjoy it together. At this point, even Papi Mezcal almost chocked on his tequila.
The concert started. I had no idea who was performing and never got a chance to find out, because Papi declared that he was hungry. Mezcal No. 8 had clearly hit his brain and given him the munchies, so he ushered me out of the hotel and whisked me off to dinner at the Freehand, his only saving grace in the trajectory of the night. “So, what’s good here?” I inquired, excited to try out the restaurant. “Sugar, let me just order for us.” I chose not to protest as it finally started to dawn on me that I was sitting on Dbag Dating gold and should just let the events pan out naturally. (Contrary to popular opinion, not all my dates make it on this blog!)
To his credit, Papi was an excellent ordered, and we were soon sharing a giant fish and discussing modern technology and its interaction with art, the latter being a topic he was deeply knowledgeable about. Curious about his opinion, I mentioned that I often felt that the art industry was exclusive and pretentious, somewhat similarly to fashion. Papi stared at me as though I had just directly insulted his mother.
“That was really stupid. I will pretend that you never said that.”
I attempted to argue my point but soon gave up and switched into Revenge Gear, asking him what had happened with the Russian ex-wife. By his vague response it was clear that she had taken him for all he was worth. Part of me mentally high-fived my compatriot, while the (Zen Buddhist) part of me felt sorry for the poor schmuck, who was clearly his own biggest enemy. He seemed kind of sad, in that way that angry and bitter people often seem sad – as if, by hurting others, they are only hurting themselves (insert Vivaldi violin solo here!) Yet, this feeling of altruistic compassion progressively faded throughout the night, as Papi Mezcal informed me of 4 things he thought I needed to know about myself:
- I am difficult. This came as a surprise, considering I had done nothing but smile and act like a goddamn pajama-clad Saint that entire night. Fine, next..
- I am a lesbian (AGAIN!) and the shirt isn’t helping my cause.
- I am also, most likely, frigid. Why? Because most Russian women are frigid, of course!
- I have 3 good years left to me. As a Russian girl who has been told since the age of 13 that life ends at 30, this is the kind of stuff that usually seamlessly rolls off my back. And yet, I would like to point out that it takes a special kind of chauvinistic old prick to utter these words to a person they are meeting for the first time in their life.
“Life ends at 30.” Illustration by Kelcey Vossen
And still, I didn’t hate him. He was just old and pathetic and clearly overly committed to Neil Strauss’s The Game, with its outdated ‘backhand insult’ tactics that any woman past the age of 25 can smell from a mile away. After dinner, he asked me to come with him to another party at the Thompson. “Just for fun,” he said, cupping my ass. I reminded him about my non-promiscuity kick. “That’s fine, I don’t like you anyway.” Uh-oh, why not? “I don’t know, there is just something about you that is highly dislikable.” That was the moment all the nastiness of the evening finally hit me, and I told him that I was going to order myself an Uber. Hearing this, he whipped out another classic move that men use to make us feel crazy after being dicks: “Don’t be dramatic.” Before I knew it, I was heading to the Thompson, where I stayed for precisely 15 minutes, before coming to my senses and getting the hell out of Dodge – or, in this case, out of South Beach.
The next morning, I received a text message from Papi Mezcal, inviting me to join me on a boat. See for yourself below.
Apparently, despite being a highly dislikable, difficult, asexual, pajama-wearing lesbian, I had succeeded in evoking a number of conflicting emotions within Papi Mezcal, a true badge of honor that I probably have another three years to wear with pride, until I rot like an expired can of Campbells.
FYI, he still Snaps me every day, but the frigid lesbian in me is simply not that into it.