They should’ve known it was going to go poorly when he showed up twenty minutes late to pick them up, claiming with a grin that though it was 7:20 PM here, “it’s 4:20 somewhere”.
As Trevor Bauer arrived at T-Mobile Park to pick the Mariners up, there was a mixture of nerves and excitement. The Mariners were fresh off a few rough dates in a row and were far from sold on tonight’s match, but he seemed different. Intellectual. Detail-oriented. Industrious. His dating profile read more like a LinkedIn bio, but when you’re a hungry fisher any bite is encouraging. As they headed out to Bauer’s car, they were told dinner tonight would be “a surprise” at one of his favorite spots. Surprises can be so many things, but tonight the meal would be just one of many.
Rolling up to the Tim Timmons Cafe, Bauer informed the Mariners this would be where they’d be dining tonight. The bright red cursive lettering labeled it from a mile away, while smaller white script further decreed it a “Cafe & Bake Shop”. Bauer turned to the Mariners with a grin on his face.
“Like weed,” he chuckled.
It would be the first of many whiffs on the night. Taking a seat at their table, the Mariners felt Bauer’s eyes on them, expectantly. Meeting his gaze, they saw him glance at the center of the table. Before they could figure out the object of his focus, they were interrupted by the waiter, a formally dressed man in his early-50s.
“Good evening, and welcome to the TTC. My name is Tim and I’ll be your server tonight. Our specials are the homestyle chili and the grilled cheese. What can I get you for starters?”
Bauer immediately went off-menu, opting for the eight-cheese soup to start, baffling the Mariners and causing them to panic, asking for a garden salad that they would nibble at the corners of meagerly for the next hour or so. The Mariners were on their back foot from the start, and meekly nodded while Bauer launched into his description of what he would’ve done differently to ensure a better outcome at the latest SpaceX launch.
Tim the Server dropped by no fewer than a half-dozen times, interrupting conversation each time to take a water glass, deliver more napkins than necessary, or otherwise make things difficult for the Mariners. At one point, after the Mariners dropped their fork in the midst of Bauer’s tirade on the follies of his high school baseball teammates, Tim loudly chastised the Mariners both for dropping the fork and using the wrong utensil.
He refused to replace the fallen skewer and grabbed Bauer’s unused salad fork and thrust it in the Mariners hands instead. Previously unperturbed, Bauer was piqued, and grumbled it was time to order main dishes anyways.
Tim peered imperiously down at the duo as they placed their orders. For Bauer, the grilled cheese, extra cheddar. The Mariners normally had a healthy appetite, but nothing they saw looked right on their plate. They went with the simple single chicken sandwich, but at the last moment added an order of taters as well and hoped they could save room for dessert.
By the time the food arrived, things had taken an irredeemable turn. Bauer outlined his rules of engagement, clashing with the erratic but fun-loving Mariners on the subject of injecting emotions into relationships.
“I’ll have to be allowed to strike out other people too, of course,” Bauer insisted, while the Mariners exasperatedly tried to get Tim’s attention and find why the taters they’d ordered hadn’t come with the sandwich. As Bauer excused himself to use the restroom, their side dish finally arrived, room temperature but coated in salt.
Two servings came, an apology, the Mariners assumed, for the delay. They dug in with glee, away from their surly date’s glowering gaze.
Yet it wasn’t five minutes later before their stomach began to turn. As Bauer returned from the bathroom, he watched from a distance as the Mariners rose up, lurched forward, and retched their dinner onto the linoleum floor of the TTC. Looking up, bleary-eyed and full of embarrassment, the Mariners saw three faces staring back at them.
Server Tim barely held back his laughter as the Mariners stumbled to their feet. After what seemed like two hours of poor service, worse company, and wretched plating, the Mariners had had enough.
They sprinted out the door, hustling several blocks away before finally sheepishly calling a Lyft and getting a ride home. The night was over, another sloppy, lost evening. Someday they’d be more put together and they’d find the right match, but tonight.. tonight they just needed to go to bed.