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The Tinder Chronicles, Chapter One: The Worst First Date of All Time

One year ago this Monday, I went on the worst first date of all time. What follows is a 100% true accounting of the events of that fateful night in rough draft, stream of consciousness form, which is the only appropriate way to describe that night:

I’d been using Tinder for about 4 months at the time, and had finally started to settle into something of a rhythm. I’d put several methods of breaking the ice to spark a conversation to the test, ranging from the normal, (“Hey, how are you?”) to the nerdy (“What’s your favorite book?”) to the downright strange (“You must be my appendix, because I don’t really understand you, but I have this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that really makes me want to take you out.1). I wish I could tell you what I used to open with Megan, friends, I really and truly do, but I didn’t start making notes about such things until much later in my Tinder adventure. Regardless, whatever it was worked, and a rolling conversation that took place intermittently over a two week span began. Eventually, I was able to finagle a phone number out of her, and things progressed at a bit more rapid of a pace from that point.

Meanwhile, I had begun my investigation. Using advanced detective techniques2 I was able to discern the full name of the young lady and cull what little information I could from the public parts of her Facebook profile (You can call that weird if you want, but I think it’s more weird to walk into a date with nothing but a first name. To each their own I suppose). This being my first potential real-life Tinder date (I’d previously been cancelled on by Holly, who would months later move to Las Vegas to begin her career as a pornographic actress), I was eager to vet the subject before proceeding forward. I asked a mutual friend (we had three) about the young lady, and was able to confirm that she was every bit the cute, fun and outgoing lady I believed I’d met — er, so to speak. A date is set for Saturday at

Lakefront Brewery

7:00 pm

It’s awkward at first, which is on me. She’s all smiles, outgoing and pressing the conversation froward. I haven’t been on a date with someone I didn’t already know pretty well….ever. She tells me that she’s already “a little tipsy” because she had a couple of drinks with her co-workers after their shift ended — she’s a waitress at an area pub. Perfect. I drink like a fish, you can keep up. She also let’s me know that she’s got to up bright and early tomorrow morning — she has a brunch shift starting at 7 am. I offer my condolences.

As we sit at the table fumbling through the small talk we haven’t already covered prior to meeting, sipping our beers (she keeps poking fun at me for taking tiny child sips. I’m nervous, I’m sorry) and waiting for our tour to begin, she strikes up a conversation with what in the aftermath I interpreted as a pair of gay men. We are invited to join them, and do so for a time, chatting amiably. Later, after they have left for their tour, she again briefly strikes up conversation with another adjacent group joining us on our tour, this time an out of town bachelor party. It’s begun.

The tour proceeds, and she’s among the most vocal of the group, but not to the point of being disruptive. Good. I’m criminally shy, I need someone to push me to be more outgoing. We drink our allotted four 6-oz. pours, plus a couple extra on the house from some friends who are working behind the bar tonight. “Atta boys” are offered and gladly accepted. The world is watching tonight, Travis, and they’re rooting for you. Don’t let them down. The tour ends and we remain chatting with our new bachelor party friends.

A moment of concern: She tells the party that she’s actually just 19 years old, and in town visiting from West Virginia. I have no worries, as my previous investigation confirmed that she was a 25-year-old from the central part of southern Wisconsin. The bachelor party isn’t particularly moved to believe her tale either, and nothing comes of the yarn, which is spun then dropped in a five minute span. It’s an odd moment, notable only in retrospect as a shadow of what’s to come.

The brewery is closing and it’s time to leave. One member of the bachelor party says they’re searching for a nearby strip club, and asks if I have a recommendation for one that is especially seedy. I tell them I’ve never been to Art’s Performing Center, but it’s very close by and I’ve heard tales of it’s filthiness. They jokingly invite us to join them, and Megan jokingly accepts. In a blur, the issue escalates in a flurry of challenges and laughter. Taxis are summoned for half the group, the other half are committed to the back seat of my car, and the matter is settled. We’re going to

Art’s Performing Center

9:00 pm

It is at this point that many of you are most likely thinking, “Well, gee Travis, you didn’t have to go to this strip club on your first date. You could and should have said, ‘Well, if you’re going to head to this strip club, Megan, then I’m out, have a nice night.’ Why did you go?” The answer is very simple: had I left that night at this point, when I should have, you’d not get to read what follows. I did it for you, America. Because I love you.

Before entering, I tried to imagine what this hole-in-the-wall strip club tucked in between a pizza place and a college bar might look like on the inside, and had come up with something roughly equivalent to the bar Nancy Callahan was performing in at the beginning of Sin City, with Jessica Alba replaced with someone several orders of magnitude less attractive on the stage, and the whole thing shrunk down to about 1/3rd it’s size. This proved fairly accurate, with the added element of a pervasive blue that infested every inch of the place.

Megan got set right to work, setting up the bachelor’s father with a lap dance while the rest of the party paid for a lap dance for the groom. She darted around from performer, to me, to the dad, back to me, to the groom, back to me, etc. She kissed me each time she came back and asked me if I was having fun, to which I very honestly replied that I was. She seemed at home in the club. She chatted with performers on stage about their pets.

The men of the bachelor party are not oblivious to the destruction that has been wrecked upon a previously innocent evening. This conversation happens three times:

Bachelor Party Attendee: Oh, man, Travis (we’re on a first name basis now, it’s fine), I’m so sorry, man. We totally blew up your first date.

Travis: It’s fine, man. <shrugs, laughing>

BPA: You having fun though?

Travis: Absolutely. Definitely not what I expected from the night, but I’m having a blast.

BPA: So, you’re never going to call this girl again, right?

Travis: Absolutely not.

BPA: Let’s go grab another beer.

Rounds are bought, toasts are raised, breasts are bared and a surreal night is nearing a conclusion. The bachelor party is heading out soon, in search of another venue for their tour of Brew Town debauchery.

Megan (to the group): I know a place even dirtier than this place. Much dirtier.

Travis: There’s no way that’s true.

Oh no.

What have I done.

Taxis are summoned, and I’m ushered in.

Taxi driver: Where are you all headed?

The Spotlight

11:30 pm

To her credit, Megan was absolutely right. The Spotlight was not only most assuredly dirtier than Art’s Performing Center, it just may be the single worst building I’ve ever stepped inside of. Imagine a real life version of Frank Reynolds, but add 30-50 pounds (you know, because Wisconsin), and stick a very sad looking young-ish girl wearing mostly nothing on his lap. There are three of these on one side of the bar. Throw another one of the girls up on the 6×6 stage rung with red rope lights, dancing slowly in front of the blacked-out windows at the front of the bar. The whole place smelled like that beer-water mix at the bottom of the tub a half-barrel sits in the morning after a college house party. Miller Lites cost $2.50. TWO DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS AT THE DANG TITTY BAR. The Spotlight is like if Nickleback was a place you could go visit. No one should ever go there.

One-on-ones with members of the bachelor party persist throughout the night. They’ve been drinking for a while now. They’ve grown increasingly malignant.

BPA: Bro, haha I’m sorry we took over your first date.

Travis: Hey, man, it’s all good. <shakes head, laughing> It’s been quite a night.

BPA: Totally bro. Man, Megan is drunk as F*$%! You know you gotta hit that tonight, right? You can’t date this girl, bro, she’s crazy.

Travis: Ha. Um.

BPA: Haha totally man. Hit it and quit it, man. Yeah!

Megan is sitting on one of the chair near the stage alone, swaying slowly. Frank Reynolds is chomping on pretzels at the other side of the bar, while a very sad looking young lady without a shirt on sits on his lap. I’m uncomfortable. I’ve had enough. We linger for what feels like hours, but take a taxi back toward the east side a bit after midnight: the boys are looking to keep drinking somewhere a little closer to where they’ll be staying. As soon as we get in the cab, Megan passes out on my shoulder. Good. I can get her in the car and take her home. As soon as we arrive, she wakes up.

Travis: Okay, Megan, my car’s right over there, I’ll get you home.

Megan: <to the group> Where are we going?!

BPA: Um… well, we’re going to

Duke’s On Water

1:00 am

She’ll have none of this “go home” nonsense, and now my internal decision to stick this night out until the end has expired, and it’s time to reevaluate some things. Shoulder devils and angels are consulted, pros and cons are quickly debated and the decision to carry on is grudgingly made, based largely on the fact that I’m not sure this girl will ever make it home if I leave her now. She slumps onto a stool and almost immediately falls asleep sitting upright — her ability to remain on the stool while unconscious was impressive. Each time she nodded off, I advised her that it might be time to leave. She remained steadfast in her commitment to the party. You have to admire that kind of stamina.

A plan formulated in my mind to finally end the night, and I was able to convince some of the more noble remaining members of the bachelor party to assist me in making a big show of leaving the bar to head to the next venue. Once we’d gotten her outside, they circled back into Duke’s and I bid them all a silent farewell as I loaded the barely conscious young lady into the passenger seat of my Buick LeSabre (I’ve since upgraded my wheels, you guys, don’t write letters). I don’t know where those men are today, but I can assure you they’ll never forget us, and were a reunion possible I would jump at the chance. What a ride we took together.

Scraping the last gooey bits of coherence from the bottom of Megan’s fading consciousness, I was able obtain an address, somewhere back in West Milwaukee. It helped, but after dozens of “You will not believe WTF is happening to me right now” texts I’d sent out over the course of the last few hours, by phone’s battery had run dry, and I would have to make this run without the help of my trusty Google Maps. My urban navigation skills were taxed, but after a few wrong turns (thank almighty god she lived on a numbered street), I was able to locate the premises around 2:30 in the morning. Megan never woke during the drive home.

Half leading, half carrying Megan to the door, she handed me a key ring that would have made any self-respecting janitor proud, but after a half dozen educated guesses, I successfully unlocked the door and marched the shambling corpse to her bed. Leaving her keys on the table next to her bed, I was finally free to go.

I woke up the next morning to a snapchat from Megan, a selfie from work at 7:00 am: “Rough morning.”

I just bet it was.

Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. is filmed in front of a live studio audience. Any rebroadcast, re-transmission or account of this post without the express, written consent of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club is strongly encouraged and appreciated.

This worked once. I swear to god. I said this to an adult human person and later on she kissed me on purpose.

I searched for her first name through the friends list of one of our mutual friends. 

Travis’s Mailbag #1

Well hello there, folks. Guess what it’s a new feature of Bucky’s Beer Cheese Co. (that is the name of my blog but don’t worry it doesn’t matter), it’s Travis’s Mailbag. This new feature will appear pretty much every time I think it’s time to do one. It includes real questions from actual readers people I know. Some of the questions are about sports, some are not. I hope you like it. If you don’t, please send all complaints to a therapist, they’re awesome at listening.

jlaw

That analogy was in no way a thinly vieledexcuse to use a picture of JLaw.

What difference in performance will we see this weekend in the Green Bay offense against Seattle with three key scratches (Davante Adams, Bryan Bulaga and Eddie Lacy) from week one that are now available and playing well?

-Ian F., Kenosha, WI

Comparing the Packers offense in week one of 2014 to the Packers offense in, say, November, when the Packers averaged 39.5 points per game, is like comparing the attractiveness of pre-pixie cut1 Jennifer Lawrence to the burned side of Harvey Dent’s face. Sure, you can do it, but you shouldn’t, because you’ll only wear yourself out and honestly it’s irresponsible.

Green Bay’s offensive line in week one featured Derrick Sherrod, who might represent Ted Thompson’s greatest draft failure of his ten year run as the Packers GM, starting for the injured Bulaga; and Corey Linsley, a fourth round draft pick pressed into a starting role due to JC Tretter’s injury. The Packers were abused by Seattle’s defensive line; Sherrod posted a PFF grade of -6.4 for the game (an explanation of their grading process is here, but -6.4 was the lowest of the game, and among the lowest in the league that week) while being exposed repeatedly in pass protection by Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Linsley was also ineffective, which you might expect from a rookie playing his first meaningful snaps against the defending Super Bowl champions in the most hostile environment in the NFL.

Now, the Packers have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, with Bulaga now healthy and Linsley, with a season’s worth of experience under his very large belt, playing like one of the top centers in the league. They also have a couple more weapons in the passing game with the emergence of Adams and Richard Rodgers, and of course they have Lacy, who looked like a Trent Richardson starter kit over the first several weeks of the season but has emerged now as one of the NFL’s premier running backs.

All of this leads us here: were Aaron Rodgers healthy, there’s nothing about the Seahawks that really scares me, and I would expect a comfortable win for Green Bay. But he’s not, and the loss of his mobility is something the Packers will miss even more against Seattle’s dangerous defensive line. Rodgers will have to be much closer to 100% than he was last Sunday for the Packers to have a legitimate chance to advance past Seattle. I don’t know if they can do it THE PACKERS ARE GOING TO WIN BY 600 POINTS.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

-Megan L. (@megan_leonard), Lake Geneva, WI

First of all, we need to define some of our terms here. The woodchuck, more commonly known as the groundhog when not starring in North American tongue twisters, is a rodent that belongs to the family of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Groundhogs, common throughout North America, are excellent swimmers and burrowers in addition to their well-documented revulsion toward their own shadows and lackluster meteorological skills. To chuck, according to Webster’s dictionary, is to toss, throw or discard something.

So how much wood would a groundhog throw, if it could throw wood? When digging it’s burrow, a groundhog moves about 35 cubic feet of dirt. The wood of a sugar maple tree weighs approximately 56 pounds per cubic foot. So a woodchuck would chuck about 1960 pounds of wood, if a woodchuck only could.

Are there hats?

-Brett H. (@bhtherightway), Madison, WI

Unfortunately, there are no hats at the present time.

Wei+Chung+Wang+Milwaukee+Brewers+Photo+Day+0JUlREp1ykVl

Despite a passing resemblance to Number Eight, it is unlikely that Wang is a Cylon.

Will Wei-Chung Wang ever develop into the pitcher the Brewers hope he will?

-Cael K. (@calejames), East Troy, WI

That depends on what sort of pitcher the Brewers hope Wang will be. At the minimum, based on their actions to date, you have to assume that the baseline is “at least the sort of pitcher that justifies torpedoing your own bullpen in a year in which you were in first place for five months as you consistently overused young pitchers in high leverage situations, causing them to burn out in June both physically and mentally, as the team played basically a man down for four months until you were able to find a doctor to lie about a phantom injury long enough to hide him on the disabled list, thus circumventing the spirit of the Rule 5 draft process.”  In that scenario, you’re looking at Wang needing to be a Cylon specifically engineered to be the greatest baseball pitcher of all time, consistently hitting 145-150 mph on the gun and treating the inside corner of the plate like the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

Do I think Wang can be that? Not really. If anything, Cylons would have been engineered to play Pyramid, which is a boring game anyway, and he has yet to exhibit the kind of mechanics that might be able to produce those kind of eye-popping fastball speeds.

Why is purple?

-Rob Z., Waukesha, WI

Oh, we got a wise guy, eh?

What is the greatest boy band of all time?

Stephanie, C., Racine, WI

What is a boy band?

-You need a collection of boys making music (you know, because words mean things)

-No instruments. If I so much as see a guitar string, you’re out (sorry, Hanson)

-If you weren’t managed by Lou Pearlman, that’s not a good sign (if you were managed by Lou Pearlman, that’s not really great either)

-No writing your own music. Are you kidding me? Out of the question. Get real.

Fine, fine, FINE. We know what this comes down to. After the jump:

p2

The Backstreet Boys are the best boy band of all time. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!! Look, N*Sync was great. The video for “Bye Bye Bye” was iconic, Tearin’ Up My Heart is a dope track, and their Christmas album is as important at holiday gatherings as the the damn cheese and crackers. But we are talking about the Backstreet Boys here. Millennium is one of the greatest albums of all time, and went Platinum 13 times in the United States. THIRTEEN DAMN TIMES! They invented Diamond, a certification better than Platinum3, in Canada because the Backstreet Boys sold too many dang records. “I Want It That Way” belongs in the Library of Congress, and if you sing it in a crowded karaoke bar it will cause all ladies within earshot to fall in love with you4.

In your opinion, why, when Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Bjork worked together, did they not call Byorke or Thom Bjork or anything like that?

-Adam G. (@AmadJames), Milwaukee, WI

First of all, let’s clarify something. Nothing read here is “my opinion”; this collection of molten-hot takes is comprised entirely of verified, indisputable facts4. Now, I don’t know anything about either of these artists. The only thing I know about Radiohead is that they are Scott Tenorman’s favorite band, which means I absolutely want nothing to do with them, because Scott Tenorman sucks. The entire sum of my knowledge of Bjork and her work comes from the following classic Celebrity Jeopardy clip from SNL, which you will now watch before continuing with my mailbag (if you don’t watch it, I’ll know).

Anyway, the answer to your question, most likely, is poor management. In the high-stakes business of Icelandic folk rock, it’s important to brand your image correctly, and this was obviously a missed opportunity.

Why isn’t Flint Flossy everyone’s favorite rapper?

-Jesse D., Whitewater, WI

It’s Flynt, Jesse, and he is. Ladies love F dot Floss, Flynt Flo double, Internatioknown, ya feel me. You know better than that. Ol’ McFlossy had a freak so E I E I E I E I OHH.

Who was your favorite obese Brewers bullpen pitcher, and why?

-Cael K. (@calejames), East Troy, WI

This one’s easy: Ray King. My boy was 6’1″ and listed at 225 pounds (yeah…naw), and the hefty lefty (h/t Jared Lorenzen) mowed fools down in his first season with the Crew in 2000. His strong debut and our shared southpaw status made Burger a fan favorite in the Sarandos household.

20150113_232833

The hat I’m talking about. It is real and it definitely exists.

My fun story involving Ray: my dad took me to the MLB Fan Fest when the All-Star game came to Milwaukee in 2001. We hopped in line at the Fox Sports North booth, where Ben Sheets was on hand to tape faux Sports Center-type clips with young fans along with a couple other players and the Brewers TV broadcast team. I had my hat5, signed by both Sheets and Ray King, who was at the time my favorite player. As we made our way through the line, Bill Schroeder asked me if I wanted his autograph as well. I really didn’t, but 14-year-old me had the grace to not shoot the poor guy down, so Rock signed the hat too. I then went on to make my on-screen debut. The almost certain fact that the video of me awkwardly reading a fake sports highlight clip next to Ben Sheets is going to re-surface during my wedding reception remains a constant source of anxiety for me.

What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?

-Matt H., Salt Lake City, UT

We never get to marry Mallory Voelker. We don’t even date. However, she does invite us to play four square once in 5th grade. You’ll be shocked to learn that she knows your name, even though there’s only 25 dang kids in your class, and it will be the highlight of your time at Magee Elementary. Other things that may upset you to learn: the Brewers still haven’t won the World Series, they made a The Lion King 2 and it’s just awful, and we’re going back to school at age 27 on purpose.

What is love, and why does Haddaway keep asking that after all these years?

-Stephen J. (@johnsonsd04), Rockford, IL

Love is when her favorite girl from The Bachelor doesn’t get a rose, and she’s crying she’s so upset about it, and you pretend like that’s not absolutely insane. The reverse of this is any woman tolerating our reaction to every sports game ever. Haddaway only keeps asking that question because you keep listening to that song, which is really only acceptable if you’re watching 1990s SNL. Get your life together, son, that’s my advice to you. Start listening to better music. Like Taylor Swift.

Travis’s Mailbag was filmed in front of a live studio audience. Any rebroadcast, re-transmission or account of this mailbag without the express, written consent of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club is strongly encouraged and appreciated.

1Pixie cuts are awful. “BUT THAT’S SEXIST WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO DO THEIR HAIR THE ‘CORRECT’ WAY JUST TO PLEASE YOU!” No you don’t that’s correct but I don’t have to like what you like. I also don’t like mayonnaise or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Please note: post-pixie cut JLaw is still an absolute smoke show.

2Yes it was.

3I don’t know if Canada invented the Diamond certification specifically for the Backstreet Boys. Probably not.

4This is not true.

5The existence of this hat does not contradict the answer to Brett’s question, in which I state that no hats exist at the current time.