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Worst. Date. Ever.

In which Bohemian readers submit their woeful stories of romance gone awry. Happy Valentine's Day!

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We asked for your bad-date stories, and boy, did you ever deliver. With a total of 16 real-life dates gone awry, submitted by readers, we here at the Bohemian have been gifted with sad anecdotes of Febreze-in-the-face spraying; meeting for the first time on an airport tarmac in a wedding dress; asking one's daughter to call mid-date with an "emergency"; being surrounded by rowdy drunk sports fans on a bus and going to a Tommy Castro show.

But only three stories can make the cut, and we salute Flynn Alexander, Peter Danovich and Dani Burlison for bringing the goods. Congratulations to these winners, who have won their choice of a dinner at Ca'Momi in Napa, Hilltop in Novato, Downtown Joe's in Napa or Pack Jack's in Sebastopol—may it help your next date to be much better.

Also, an honorable mention goes to Mon Alisa Sydenham for her story of finding Mr. Right—and then, under his shirt, finding his swastika tattoos. Ouch.

On with the bad dates!

INSTANT JOES

By Flynn Alexander

My personals ad-venture was working too well. I'd instantly poofed up three fearlessly vulnerable, awake, strong and communicative men who were craving a peer and anxious to share their profoundly insightful, disturbing spiritual dilemmas about the female nature. I was impressed and stunned.

Ending a relationship Monday night, I had answered Joe No. 1's ad Tuesday morning:

RESTLESS FERAL PSYCHIC

Fast-walking, straight-talking, versatile wonderdude seeks dreamy angel of harmony for mischief & healing adventures in nature, art, tunes, dance, touch, LTR magic.

I was seeking quick distraction from the heartbreak of having pushed away my rare and exquisite beloved for pushing me away after every deep connection one too many times, cursing his resistance to what he so badly wanted and what his soul had kept pushing him back to me for.

I was totally unprepared to discover that the world may actually be full of aware, confident, accomplished, emotionally articulate and possibly sexually masterful men who can't find any women who match their evolvement.

Joe No. 1 had replied with a three-page, single-spaced letter describing how an anguished childhood birthed his deepest spiritual questions and blueprint for ideal love.

He drove one and a half hours and greeted me with a gift of broccoli. I said, "Oh, do you have a garden?" He said no.

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During a walk, I was impressed by his first-date audacity to tell me that my shadow made me look like a Klingon. It was obvious, though, that he had sent a picture from 10 years earlier. I guess a shamelessly exposed interior doesn't automatically imply an inhibition-free exterior.

Back indoors, musty no-chemistry permeated the air and tales of his 10-year heroin isolation evaporated any remaining cosmic edge I'd optimistically anticipated. To punctuate with finality, instead of being treated to a "soulful and Ray Charles–ish" piano performance, I had to endure torturous unfunky whining that made me struggle to keep my life force from draining as oxygen tried to flee the room.

Upon leaving, with wide eyes and effervescence, he professed how totally worthwhile it had been to make the long drive—but wasn't sure when he'd ever do it again.

This farewell was a relief but left the sour task of trying to reconcile the hard evidence for rare quality I had poofed against the harsh reality that materialized. Same with Joes No. 2 and 3.

Turns out Joe-poofing isn't that easy.

LEAVING LAS VEGAS

By Dani Burlison

About three months into a short-lived relationship, I made the mistake of going on an extended date of sorts: traveling to his sister's wedding with him. In Las Vegas. In July.

Things were already a little shaky with Mr. Anger Issues, in part because he constantly suggested I change careers (to work for him) and that maybe I give up work altogether in order to make him some babies. I made it clear that I love my career and that as much as I love the two children I already have, there was no way in hell I was having any more children. Especially when Mr. Anger Issues was unsure about whether or not he loved me (he once said I had too much student loan debt for him to fall in love with me).

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