Parents Talk Back by Aisha Sultan

Single During the Holidays? It Could Be Worse

If you’re single during the holidays, someone is bound to point it out. It might be your great-aunt Bertha, your overly concerned mother or even a well-intentioned married friend.

But being alone is better than being miserable in a relationship or suffering through a bad date. To prove this, I surveyed a selection of A-lister singles: all attractive, intelligent, funny people. My interviewees were a writer, a graduate student, a former television news anchor and a lawyer. Two men and two women, ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-40s, all willing to share their hilarious bad-date experiences.

The next time someone gives you a sympathetic, pitying or snide comment, laugh and be thankful.

The lawyer was working in a Latin American country when he met a bombshell. She didn’t speak any English, but his Spanish was good enough to score a date. They decided to go to a casino. She was driving them there when another car pulled up directly behind them.

The woman started muttering, slammed the gas pedal in her SUV and took off. She sped down a major thoroughfare, going at least 90 mph, blowing through intersections.

The lawyer started negotiating and pleading -- while wondering if they were being pursued by some underworld mafia hitmen -- but to no avail, as the chase continued. She turned into a secluded residential area, the other car still in hot pursuit. They barely missed a pedestrian and almost flipped the Montero.

The chase continued for about 15 minutes, until he insisted that she pull over at a gas station.

Both vehicles parked, and a blond woman jumped out of the other car and started screaming. The lawyer only caught a few words of the rapid-fire exchange.

“They were some sort of middle-school rivals,” he recalled. “I thought she was going to bust my window out.”

Finally, the screaming match ended. His date declared the other woman crazy, got back in the car, and they resumed their drive to the casino.

The writer noticed him at a Super Bowl party and found him intriguing. He asked for her number, which led to a few engaging phone conversations. She agreed to a date.

They were having dinner at a romantic restaurant when she asked, “So, what do you do for fun?”

“I have a confession: I really like to sing karaoke,” he said.

She tried to cover her surprise. (“That’s my worst nightmare,” she explained to me. “I don’t even watch ‘American Idol.’“)

Her nightmare was about to get much worse.

He asked her about her favorite songs, and she mentioned Stevie Wonder’s classic “They Won’t Go When I Go.”

To her surprise, the date started singing “Superstition” at the table. Loudly. He may have been channeling Rupert Everett or Tom Cruise, but it did not unfold like a restaurant singalong in the movies. No one else joined in.

Undeterred, he tried again. The first song was followed by another R&B ballad. Then a country-western number.

There may have been another song in the set, but the writer seems to have blocked out memories past that point.

She tried to interrupt him after a stanza ended, but he could not be stopped.

“I have not been that mortified in a very long time,” she said. “He wouldn’t stop singing.”

The former TV news anchor said it was hard to get back into the dating pool after a 16-year marriage. So after his divorce, he ventured into the world of online dating. He met a seemingly nice woman, and they arranged to meet for dinner.

He expected a 34-year-old brunette, about 5-foot-6.

He didn’t expect she would be six months pregnant.

“I wanted to tell you,” she said. “But you were so nice. I thought if I told you, you wouldn’t show up.”

Unsure of the protocol in such a situation, he stuck around for dinner and tried to make the best of it.

“I never saw her again,” the anchor said, “but I did get pictures of a newborn emailed to me a few months later.”

The graduate student was watching a movie with her family and a young man who was courting her. She was sitting in a slightly awkward position, on a couch across from her date. She shifted, and to her horror, a rather loud sound escaped from her.

“I was so shocked,” she recalled.

The noise startled her father, who immediately tried to take the fall.

“Uhhh, I have a bad pain in my stomach. I just had some fiber,” he fibbed. “At this age, it’s hard to control.”

The boy called him out.

“No, sir,” he said. “It came from there,” pointing in her direction.

With no other options (or dignity) remaining, she laughed.

“My poor, poor father. Him taking responsibility was almost the worst part,” she said. “I’m still haunted.”