Ragazzi: Diego

The perfect guy who never existed.

illustration of me, by me, for you.

Diego* was the perfect guy who never existed. At least, it feels that way. I can’t reach him. It was like he’d never even came into my life at all. He could’ve been an alien sent to visit me once and only once. But there was no probing involved so perhaps not. Maybe he was a ghost the entire time? Whatever he was, I can assure you he was perfect and we went out. I swear.

I always end my workouts with thirty minutes on the StairMaster. (Not relevant to the story. Just a flex.) It’s rigorous and always kicks my ass. I try to distract myself with a good podcast, book, or swipe session on Bumble. This time I had chosen to give my thumbs a good workout in addition to my quads and glutes.

He was tall (at least his profile said he was), had a great smile, and looked like the Mexican version of Max Greenfield except with thicker eyebrows. There were photos of him at a museum, at a wedding, and at a bar with a group of friends. That’s enough for me to assess that he seemed well rounded, gave enough of a fuck to tailor his suits, and was just normal enough to convince six other people to hang out with him. Okay, sure. Swipe.

“Diego, 29”

“Boom! It’s a match!”

I messaged him with my sweaty little thumbs and we hit it off.

We played message pong for a while before taking the conversation to the next level: a phone call. We talked about important things like: growing up latin@, language, weed, his career in the medical field, sous vides, and ISIS. You know, the important things. Casually, he would mention four different times that he was “just a little lit off [his] ninth beer right now.” We spent nearly two hours on the phone swinging back and forth in banter. We had decent conversational chemistry, so we decided to meet up the following evening.

***

There Diego was, standing outside of [REDACTED]. He leaned alongside building like he belonged there. He had his hands in his pockets — thumbs poking out — looking like a bootleg James Dean. He was relaxed, confident, and not to mention way better in person. He smiled and shot me a quick wave as I crossed the street over to him. He greeted me with a warm hug, slightly suffocating me with his towering athletic frame. I didn’t mind at all. I was too distracted by his cologne. Armani. Nice.

I should’ve known it would be off to a bad start when the restaurant I chose for us was too packed. But, Diego thought quickly and gently suggested we go to a Korean restaurant I had never heard of before. A king with quick thinking and initiative? I like it.

The dinner went well. He had an air of sexiness embedded in the way he ate his spicy bulgogi and the way he maintained eye contact while doing so. Our conversations were even better in person. We were spit-balling back and forth like we had known each other forever, a rare feeling you hope to have more often than not especially on a first date. There was definitely a chemistry and I wasn’t mad about it!

I remember navigating my bibimbap bowl and thinking that he definitely had qualities my grandparents would’ve been stoked about. He was successful, well-educated, had banging ass body, and most importantly, spoke perfect the Mexican Spanish. I would’ve certainly won the Ay, Mija, Que Bueno! Award at Christmas next year.

I quickly dismissed that thought because first off, it’s a little nuts. Second, not even in the same universe could that fantasy occur. He would have to exist and like I said, he doesn’t.

After we ate dinner, we both decided to keep the party going and go get some drinks like two strangers from the Internet do. I suggested my favorite bar, he suggested we take Bird scooters there. Fun!

“This is my first time on a Bird scooter,” I said to him, as if it wasn’t obvious my scared ass was death gripping the handles out of pure fear.
“Is it really?” 
“Diego, I wouldn’t lie to you.” 
“Ha. Neither would I.”

Convincing a stranger that you’re trustworthy on the first date is crucial. You’ve got to start with the lighthearted stuff, I think.

Shorty, we arrived at [REDACTED] and found ourselves tucked away in a quiet corner, tangoing with our chemically bonded senses of humor. We laughed at the same jokes. If I thought our pleasant dinner conversations about our childhoods or, how he “hoped to make an impact on people’s lives through medical science” were rich, then you can imagine how I felt when we decided to douse our conversations in alcohol.

Somehow, we got to the point where we discussed authenticity, how much Bad Bunny rules, and debated on what Mexican cartel video was the worst of the worst. We shared the nearly same Holy Trinity of interests.

“Well, what’s up? You trying to go dance to some reggaetón or what?” he asked me, flashing teeth that could only belong in a Colgate ad.

Um. First of all, you don’t need to ask me twice with your beautiful teeth having ass. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to ask me at all because the answer is always yes. By this point I’m tipsy. Tipsy, stoked, and totally charmed. I’m fully convinced there’s no way this guy can suck.

We walked hand in hand down the street to the function, but were met with a slight problem. The line to get into the venue was way too long and at this rate, we wouldn’t get in until last call. So, we settled on the bar next door.

This bar was the complete antithesis to what we were originally looking for. There couldn’t’ve been more than six people in there, sitting in an oddly lit bar with no music playing. The patrons looked dead, even the bartenders, and this was a Saturday night! Now I know it’s entirely possible for a bar to feel like an employee break room. Whatever. I thought the calm could give us an opportunity to talk to each other more. After all, it was the first date.

Diego went to the bar to order us another round of drinks before walking back over to me with the kind of swagger only a man with a new haircut and a perfectly fitted peacoat could have. What a babe. He cleared his throat before setting the two Collins glasses down on the table.

Maybe it was the unexpected venue change. Maybe it was the miserable time the couple next to us seemed to be having. Maybe it was because we could hear “Te Boté” muffled through the walls coming from the place we were supposed to be at. Whatever it was, it changed everything. We weren’t volleying fun banter anymore. Eventually, he looked down and began fidgeting with his garnish and straw. Before I could ask him what was up, he casually said he had a confession.
 
“Look, I cheated on my last girlfriend of a year for seven consecutive months. I just thought you should know.”

Hold on. Hold up.

I’m sorry but, what the fuck? Let’s take a step back for a second because this is a lot to unpack and this fourth drink is officially hitting. Excuse me, sir?

What do I even say to that? Do I take a moral stance and rip him a new one for being unfaithful? Not only that, but unfaithful for so long? Seven months is a long time to be creeping around. At what point did he stop? At what point did the guilt hit? Did it ever hit? Why didn’t you just break up? Why are you telling me this right now? Should I be thankful you’re telling me this? Okay, yes, I should but why do I also feel shock? Is this a date or are you using me as a therapist to manage your guilt? Am I supposed to “be your peace?” Is this all because we couldn’t get into the club?!

At this point, I’m looking at a Madden style playbook of routes I could run the conversation that just took a complete left turn.

The “That’s Cool” Route
This would be the safest and quickest reply but would absolutely make me look like a passive, dumb bitch with no code or moral backbone; two things I am not. No. Next.

The “Hey, Me Too!” Route
I could pretend to relate, but I would just look like a liar who is applauding this behavior. It’s bad enough we bonded over dark humor and gory videos. I look like enough of a psychopath on paper. Next.

The “You’re an Asshole!” Route
Regardless if I was ever going to see this guy again, is he worth the risk making a scene in the bar? The answer is no. It’s always no.

Because I had sat frozen silence for so long, time had ran out and all I could do was run a Hail Mary pass.

He asked me to say something but all I could say was, “Wow, that’s crazy.”

“Wow, that’s crazy.” That’s the same phrase you use when you haven’t been paying attention. It’s also the same phrase you use after the clock strikes midnight, your Bird scooter turns back into a pumpkin, and Prince Charming turns back into what he truly is: a slimy-ass, gross-ass, cheating frog.

The conversation went absolutely nowhere. He didn’t know what to say and neither did I. We eventually decided it was best to leave. Believe me when I tell you that was the quietest and most uncomfortable Uber ride I had ever taken. We literally didn’t speak until he walked me to my car and wished me a goodnight in a way only a man who had just confessed to serial cheating could do: awkwardly as fuck.

I sat silently in my car for a good hour, reflecting on my date that went from a great time to a sensory deprivation chamber of awkwardness in a matter of two sentences.

The best way to deal with unexpected turns is to consider all perspectives and search for potential positives. The confession could’ve been way worse. He could’ve said, “I beat the shit out of my last girlfriend for seven months straight.” Not only is this situation terrible, but the night would’ve ended in me catching a case for throwing two glasses at his gorgeous, chiseled jawline. Again, not worth the risk.

Looking back, he never gave an explanation for his marathon infidelity. He didn’t even try to make up some transparent and bullshit justification for what he did. He simply just did it. So, what is he trying to achieve now? Is him dropping this bombshell of a confession on first dates his initial litmus test to see how much he can get away with? Or is it a way to ease his culpability? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. I’m can’t be his peace. I can’t trust him. He’s not the one and neither am I.

Still, I considered his feelings and how he may have felt after delivering the words that shattered a great night into a million pieces. In a perverse act of kindness, I decided to send him a text apologizing for my grim silence and thanking him for an otherwise pleasant evening. I crafted a nice and graceful goodbye for someone I had no intentions of ever seeing again and hit send.

In an act of pure masochism, I went to see if we were still matched on Bumble. Nope.

Unmatched.
Instagram blocked.
Text turned green.

Boom.

I knew I didn’t want to see him again and just like that, the digital fingerprints he had left in my phone were gone. He was gone. He disappeared. He was a fairytale character in another sordid story from the recesses of my mind. He was the ghost of a man who could’ve been but never really was. A man who never even existed to begin with and yet he lives.

Still, I wonder why he blocked me so vehemently. My dude here had to take time to open three different apps and block me on each one. That’s a lot of effort for someone who never disrespected him or cheated on him for seven months straight. Maybe he knew I never wanted to see him again and spared me the labor of blocking him myself. That’s very kind of him.

It does sadden me to say that he was just another classic example of if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I mean, come on. A person that perfect on paper just has to suck. Nobody’s that good. You can’t have it all.

In the end, I’ve got to hand it to him. What he did took bravery. Admitting you’re a piece of shit on the first date is worth some kind merit. These days, honest pieces of shit are too hard to come by.

* not his real name