Strangers on a Train


I had been living in DC for almost two years before it finally happened to me: I got picked up on the Metro. Normally I avoid all human contact on the train. Most of it comes in the form of street harassment or a general disgust/regard for my booty. But this guy was wearing a NASA shirt and complimented me on my tote bag (it has a giant Peep on it and is amazing), so I figured he was harmless. Plus I had gone through a string of fairly awful OK Cupid dates, so I was willing to try meeting men the way my mom wants me to (“On the subway! Or in the grocery store!”). Oh, Mom. Sure I’ll go out with the cute space nerd. Who knows, he could have been my very own Astronaut Mike Dexter.

He suggested getting a drink at a faux Irish pub in Chinatown. I agreed, and made sure to grab a quick dinner before our date. I met him there and he was just as cute and friendly as he was on the train. But he immediately ordered a whole meal. Having just eaten, I only ordered a beer. It was a little weird, but I decided to roll with it.

The space nerd had seen plenty of Earth, too: He spent the whole date talking about the year he spent at the Antarctic research station, which was pretty amazing. He had pictures, which he wouldn’t let me put down.

“Here’s us drinking beer inside the station,” he said, “and here’s me with snow in my beard.” Dude, it’s cool at first, but if you don’t show me some penguins, eventually I’ll get bored.

I nursed my beer as he continued to talk about his travels, which, you know, FINE, but I’m like Toby Keith, in that occasionally, I wanna talk about me. We didn’t get there.

And then the bill came. He threw down a twenty and said, “Can you get the rest?” Man, I had ONE BEER, and you want me to pick up the rest of the more than $40 tab? I’d been slightly annoyed all during his soliloquy, and miffed that what was supposed to be a drink was a meal, but now I was supposed to pay for it?

This was the day I learned to always have enough cash for my drinks and a cab home.

I was basically confounded at this, so I threw down my debit card in a daze. But if that wasn’t enough, the space nerd followed me into the Metro and had the gall to move in for a kiss while I was still talking. I think he got all teeth. I know the people around us on the platform heard me say “UGH!” as I turned to catch my train. He asked if he could see me again, and I made a noncommittal noise. Astronaut Mike Dexter, he was not.

Bonus: A year later, he found me on OK Cupid and said, “We never followed through on that second date. When can we get together?” Never, thanks.

Bio: Lindsey is a health writer based in Washington, D.C. She got a cat to avoid going on bad dates. So far it hasn't helped much. You can read some of her stories on, or follow along in realtime on Twitter: @lindseywoho.