What To Do When Your Second Date Turns Into a Pop Quiz on David Foster Wallace

Elizabeth Teets, Contributor

We’ve all been there. You went to a bar or an art opening, or maybe you just opened Tinder and got lucky for once. You met a relatively smart, attractive man. He seems moderately successful. Maybe he is a copywriter or he works in social media for some company that does…well, you’re not sure what. You two start talking and hit it off. You go on a date. There is a bottle of wine and a discussion of whatever HBO show is popular right now. You think about going home with him but don’t. Maybe this could be a real thing?

A day goes by. You text more. He wants to take you out again. Maybe, just maybe, this could be something?

The restaurant is nice. He is wearing a nice blazer. This is going to be a lovely evening, you think.

And then it happens. Part of you knew it would. The blazer is too Jared Kushner and he used the word “esoteric” twice on the first date. The waitress takes your order. He looks deep into your eyes, and says it.

“Hey, how do you feel about David Foster Wallace?”

Your body goes tense. Fight or flight kicks in. There are many things you could do that aren’t immediately calling an Uber to come get you. Sure, maybe that is the wisest decision, but it is also the coward’s way out. Plus, you really want the Bulgogi you ordered.

Option One: Say you have never read anything by that author and listen to his sounds of disbelief as you flag down a waiter to bring you an extra dry martini.

Option Two: Go to the restroom and pull up the Wikipedia article for Infinite Jest. You started that massive book in college, but we know you didn’t finish because literally no one but MRAs and weirdos who think they are smarter than everyone in the room ever did. Also read the list of notable quotations that come up when you Google DFW so you can casually use one in conversation.

Option Three: Pretend to be interested. Sometimes, we all have to pretend to be interested in things boys like. At least it’s not comics books. Oh man, is he talking about Foster Wallace’s nonfiction work now? I wish it were comic books.

Option Four: You saw End of the Tour three times in the theater because Jason Segel is so damn likable and sexy in a you-deserve a-nice-guy-for-once kind of way. Try to move the conversation toward the famous David Lipsky book because seeing the movie is basically reading it.

Option 4: Try to talk about authors you like even though we know he won’t listen. Oh crap, he is mentioning how even Zadie Smith loved David Foster Wallace.

Your Only Realistic Option: Be talked at for an hour. Because truth be told, you didn’t have another option anyway. But know that this date is a surprisingly fun thing you will never do again.

Elizabeth Teets is a Portland-based writer and comedian. She is the host of Queens of Hollywood on X-Ray FM, where she shares the gospels of John Waters and Legally Blonde. She is asleep on the couch in the lobby of the Hollywood Theater if you need her for any reason.