Danielle was the first girl I can ever say that I truly dated. I only wish it had gone further. Guess that’s my penance.

After the horrific events following Mary, I was ready to be done with Ok Cupid. I was on the verge of deleting the account when a cute short girl from Ohio messaged me back something I had sent awhile ago. We began talking and she, too, was fed up with the people on this sex website that was under the guise of dating. We agreed to make each other our last ditch effort at finding someone cool and exchanged numbers. She was an architect living in Chicago for school, and I found out that she loved board games. Myself being a bit of a professional in the field, I offered up some bars that had board games readily available. She agreed to meet later on in the week but got excited enough to push the date up to that evening. After I had to confess that I didn’t have any money at the moment, she offered to buy me a drink.

Eagerly I left that night and met her off the Blue Line. She was dressed just like a city girl in winter, long trench coat and purse strap draped across her chest. We walked to the nearest bar and examined their limited selection. When I saw stratego I made a grab for it. She had never played, but I argued that it was one of the few games that has very little luck involved. We took a seat and played.

Actually played.

I had met girls before who claimed to like board games, only to find that they were lying or that they only liked Candyland or something ridiculously similar. Girls like that sort of faux played, waiting for me to let them win or for a way to playfully knock all the pieces over. Danielle, however, actually played. When I won we switched gears to an art gallery game that didn’t make any sense, and then we switched once more to battleship. I won again and she called me game master. After that we called it a night and I walked her home. In a very proper first date fashion, I said goodnight, gave her a hug and said we’d have to play again sometime, only to be interrupted by a kiss. After her wonderful forwardness, she went inside and I tucked my hands in my coat pockets, smiling and trudging through the snow onto the train and back home. I told Rob that it was a great feeling, and if that was what real dating was like, I’d be happy to do more of it.

We met up the next week for Trivia, and quickly found that we were both terrible at it. Afterwards I used Rob’s car to drive her back home and we made plans for her to come over and play more board games that weekend. Rob and Chelsea were excited to do a couples type evening and offered to cook dinner. During my stay with them I had never had better food, and it added effortless points in the win column with Danielle, so they made their own homemade sweet n sour chicken and egg rolls. We played Settlers of Catan and the night ended with an episode of Funny or Die before Rob and Chelsea went to bed. Danielle was tired and I offered her the chance to stay the night. She agreed and found quickly how bad the building was at keeping out the cold. We didn’t have sex, and she left early the next morning.

That was the last I saw her.

She soon returned home to Ohio for the summer, and when she returned to Chicago that fall she had a boyfriend. Or she had a girlfriend. I don’t know which. All I know is she said she was no longer single. I wish it had gone another way with her, but it didn’t, and it’s a waste of time to sit and fantasize about an opportunity that simply didn’t exist. She was always going to leave. All I can do is remember that she taught me how to date right, and even after that I still continue to do it wrong. Maybe it’s because I haven’t met anyone since who captured me that way. Maybe all it takes is a love of board games for me to want more than just their body. Maybe I just want someone who likes the right things about me, not just the same things. Maybe I’ll think about Danielle every time I meet another girl who seems promising.

Shitty thing to say, but I’ll always involuntary compare future board game lovers to Danielle. Hopefully one day I’ll find that one right girl who dislikes Catan almost as much as myself, and who would without hesitation pick Betrayal at the House on the Hill every time. But that first time we meet, Danielle will take over the forefront, and I’ll wonder if this relationship is as doomed as the last one. That’s when a California Earthquake will knock a pillar loose, crushing me underneath and I’ll never find out whether or not this girl was the one, or just another Danielle.


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