First off, what I initially wrote was perfectly true: Jake seemed like a nice guy, I had a reasonably enjoyable evening, and it really was the least painful first date I've ever been on. (Ten minutes into a typical first date, I realize that loathe and detest the person sitting across from me.)

So I wasn't going to post about what really happened, just in case I did end up going out with him again and it turned out that the peculiarities of the first date were a total fluke and he was actually the man of my dreams. But even a few days worth of the passage of time wears away the first blush of "He didn't seem like a bedwetter, pathological liar, or Rush Limbaugh fan! Yay!" Also, I obtained some information which threw an even harsher light on a certain memorable moment.

So here, cut for length but trust me, you really want to read this one-- here is the true story of my date with Jake.

Just to set the scene, I should mention that I have a tendency to make men who attempt to date me feel emasculated. I know this because they shoot me terrified looks, then run away, then complain to their friends. My opinion is that this is their fault, not mine, and if they were properly self-confident I would not seem threatening to them. I mean, I don't scare my guy friends.

But I do seem to scare dates-- I think my basic hostility to the dating process communicates itself-- and so I make an effort to let them pick the restaurant and otherwise not run over them like a Zamboni. Which is why I had that "here we go again" feeling when I managed to order for both of us without consulting him.

Now, this was an accident and really not typical of me. I offered to let him pick the restaurant, but he said he didn't know the area, so I took him to Nanbankan, a Japanese restaurant where all the waitresses know me and encourage me to practice my Japanese. (I now realize that the next time I walk in there, they're all going to say, "What happened to your date?" And snicker.) It was definitely my turf, not his, although I really just picked it because it has good food and a pleasant atmosphere.

You order a bunch of tiny dishes on skewers and share. I explained this to Jake, and since he was staring at the menu in confusion I went first. Now, he'd said on the phone that he had a big appetite, and he'd also said that he eats anything. So I ordered what I'd order if I was out with any other friend-- sausages with mustard, grilled onion, quail eggs, and gobo (a tangy root vegetable) rolled in ham-- "Wait, wait," says Jake. "That's too much!"

The waitress and I laughed. "The portions are very small," she explained kindly.

"Really," I said. "That's just half a meal. Now you order some things."

"One unagi roll," said Jake. "I'm not that hungry."

He proceeded to let me do most of the eating. Maybe he didn't actually like Japanese food, although I think he should have said so.

We chatted for a while, pleasant pleasant, mutual friends, we both like kids, and then he asked what I do. I was surprised that the "Japanese men have tiny penises" woman, who is the friend-of-my-friend who set us up-- actually, that sentence should have warned me-- had not mentioned this already. I said, "I'm a writer, and my first book is coming out in October. It's the true story of how my crazy hippie parents raised me on this weird ashram in India."

He said, "That's cool. You know, I have a lot of good ideas, but I'm not much of a writer, but I have good connections, so I'm sure I can sell them some day... I'll just find someone to write them for me."

I was flummoxed. He was literally the first of hundreds of people I've said that sentence to who did not immediately and sincerely say some version of, "Wow! How neat! Tell me more!" I wondered if he had spaced out and hadn't heard what I just said. Then I registered the stupid thing he had just said.

I said, "Writing isn't about ideas, writing is about writing. Ideas are a dime a dozen. A bad writer can take the best idea in the world and turn it into garbage, but a great writer can take something as cliched as "boy meets girl" and turn it into something great. if you want to be a writer, you have to write."

Then, still wondering if he'd heard the incredibly fascinating thing I'd said earlier, I worked the premise of my memoir into a continuing lecture on writing. Still no reaction. I wondered if Jake was the most self-centered person in the universe, or if there was some simple explanation for his lack of interest that I just wasn't figuring out.

Meanwhile, he's telling me about his business ventures. You all must have some archetypal image that come to your mind when you meet people who are self-employed and only work with their buddies doing a bunch of unrelated and unlikely-to-succeed business ventures which are clearly poorly researched, yet which they think will make them rich fast. My own personal archetype is "chinchilla farms." Jake, I discover, is a chinchilla farmer: he went to stunt school, he caters for movie sets, he's about to go to Portland to buy antique furniture and auction it in LA, he's going to buy a boat here and sail it to Costa Rica and sell it for a 20K profit...

I seized upon the stunt school, which I found most interesting and least likely to make the words, "You're going to lose your shirt" or "Have you thoroughly researched this?" slip from my lips. And that was when the date with Jake went from "enjoyable evening with someone I'll probably never see again" to taking up a high position in the pantheon of "Rachel's hilarious dating stories."

"But what I really want to do," said Jake...

"Is direct?" I asked-- actually, I didn't say that, but I did think it.

"... Is set the world record for jumping out of a plane at 20 thousand feet without a parachute and landing on an airbag, and I can get a TV station to film it and they'll pay me a million dollars!"

"Has anyone ever done that?" I asked.

"No--"

"Don't you think there's a reason for that?"

"But I'd make a million dollars!"

"You wouldn't make a million dollars," I said. "Believe me."

"It's not that crazy," protested Jake. "I have a plan for training for it and everything. See, I'll have people standing on the ground with different colors of helium balloons, and then they'll release them at intervals, and I'll skydive out and bump them with my chest, and that's how I'll know my trajectory is accurate!"

"Has anyone ever done that?"

"No, but I think it would work!"

At this point I had a blinding flash: he's pulling my leg. "Are you serious about this?"

He chuckled. "Well, I'm not planning to do it next month. But yeah... well... if I had terminal cancer, then I'd definitely do it... and I know something like Fox would just jump on it, and-- hey-- it's really not that crazy. My stunt instructor, who was Burt Reynolds' stunt double, jumped out of a plane without a parachute-- not that high, of course-- and he survived!"

"Did he make a million dollars?"

"Well, no..."

"You see!"

Jake returned me to my house, where I let him in to collect his motorcycle helmet that he'd left in my closet. "You sure have a lot of books," he said. "Mine are all still in Idaho."

"When did you move to LA?" I asked.

"Oh, when I was twenty." He's thirty-six.

We exchanged pleasantries, and he said, "When I get back from Portland-- I'm going there with a buddy to buy chinchillas--" (Actually, what he said was "antique furniture") "--I'd love to take you hiking in Topanga."

For some unknown reason but probably influenced by the thought that I'd love to go hiking in Topanga-- like with my friend Jeremy-- I said, "I'd love that."

Then he hugged me in a brotherly manner and left.

The other night I told this story to [livejournal.com profile] branna, the physicist, and [livejournal.com profile] tweedkitten before we all watched "Fruits Basket." Branna whipped out a pen and said, "Let's see how hard he'd hit-- how high was the plane supposed to be, and how much would you estimate he weighs?"

"Mmm... About twenty thousand feet, and Jake's about 6' 1", medium build..."

Branna said, "Let's just assume 150 pounds. So..." She begins scribbling on the back of a Mapquest printout. "...Square root of nine is approximately three..."

I added, "He said he'd achieve escape velocity... no, wait, that can't have been what he said, that means he'd go into orbit, right?"

"I don't think you should go hiking with this guy," said TK.

(I now think he either said or meant "terminal velocity," because he had said that after a certain point he'd achieve maximum velocity and then he'd just keep falling at the same speed.)

Three minutes of calculations later, Branna announced, "He'd hit with two thousand pounds of force."

I said, "Or, in layperson's terms: the equations equal squish."

The next day I looked up Jake's stunt school instructor, the one he said had leaped out of a plane without a parachute on to an airbag and survived (but didn't make a million dollars), the one whose record Jake wanted to break.

Here's what I found:

"The highest jump made by a movie stuntman without a parachute is 70.71 m. (232 ft.), by A.J. Bakunas doubling for Burt Reynolds in Hooper (USA, 1978). He fell onto an air mattress. Born in 1950, A.J. Bakunas was regarded in Hollywood as one of the best stuntmen around. Specializing in high falls, he appeared in Dog Day Afternoon (USA, 1977), The Car (USA, 1978), Go Tell The Spartans (USA, 1978) Hooper (USA, 1978), The Warriors (USA, 1979) and The Stuntman (USA, 1980). On September 9, 1980, when doubling for the actor George Kennedy during the filming of Steel, Bakunas fell from the top of a construction site in Lexington, Kentucky, but the jump resulted in the stuntman’s tragic death when the air bag he landed on split."

Jake didn't mention the part where the guy DIED.

So I'm hoping the brotherly hug meant that he'll never call me again. Assuming he manages to return from Portland without breaking his neck.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu


I know a guy who I thought was a chinchilla farmer, but has in the time I've known him gone from kayaking down the coast of Central and South America, to getting married and holding down a real job. They're building a house now and expecting their first child.

But I'm pretty sure that he never planned anything where the equations meant squish.

From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com


He said, "That's cool. You know, I have a lot of good ideas, but I'm not much of a writer, but I have good connections, so I'm sure I can sell them some day... I'll just find someone to write them for me."

I'm not a dating person and I admit my reaction to this guy, from here especially but including the rest of the bits you recount, is: Deeply. Stupid. :-] Especially failing to pick up on your deeply interesting memoir! The cad.

From: [identity profile] copperwise.livejournal.com


Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Rachel, honey, this guy is the dating equivalent of The Sight. Run away, run away!

From: [identity profile] lnhammer.livejournal.com


Very few airbags can survive an impact from a body at terminal velocity. For that matter, few bodies can -- that's very short distance to stop a lot of inertia. All the high altitude jumps without parachutes where the person survived, they landed on snowy slopes and slid long distances, so drawing the force of impact out. They also got fairly beat up.

---L.

From: [identity profile] desayunoencama.livejournal.com


Um, this was the least painful date you've been on?

Ouch!

###

I did once let a boy I wasn't particularly interested in invite me up to his terrace to meet his chinchilla. Who liked me. Which the boy tried to use as an excuse that we were meant to stay together because the chinchilla usually was afraid of strangers and etc. Points for effort, and cute fuzzies, but no go.

Of course, I met him at a time when he'd already decided to sell his apartment (the one we were in), unburden himself of worldly posessions, and move to Bali, which he proceeded to do three weeks later.

A friend of his took the chinchilla.

I wound up with a handful of videos.

(Mind you, I don't own a video player or TV, but...)

From: [identity profile] telophase.livejournal.com


Would that be a squish or a splash from that altitude?

--S, feeling morbid

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com


you really want to read this one

No kidding!

if they were properly self-confident I would not seem threatening to them. [...] I think my basic hostility to the dating process communicates itself

Hm. I'm trying to imagine how I would react to such a commanding and forceful presence. (Note to self: Remember that the woman might be uncomfortable, too, and thus, like me, not necessarily at her best.) I think intimidated would be a better description than threatened. I should perhaps mention that often I am passive and easygoing about decisions. I don't think that I would be put out by my date choosing the restaurant and ordering for me. Of course, it helps that I *do* have a big appetite and *do* eat pretty much anything.

I probably do need to work on my table manners. On the other hand, I still find it hard to believe that when I ate my skirt steak with my bare hands, my friends I was with at the time were upset I was not using silverware: Dudes, we fart openly in front of each other (probably another thing not to do on a date), why are you getting upset by *this*?

"Japanese men have tiny penises" woman, who is the friend-of-my-friend who set us up-- actually, that sentence should have warned me

Heh heh heh.

"That's cool. You know, I have a lot of good ideas, but I'm not much of a writer, but I have good connections, so I'm sure I can sell them some day... I'll just find someone to write them for me."

Hee hee hee! To be fair, how many people in the general public realize that writing is hard work, and that just having good ideas or an opening paragraph is not enough? (I remember a guy on RASFC kept posting openings, until Graydon asked him WTF he was getting out of that. I think he might have asked something like, -"Have you gotten even one finished short story, let alone something publishable?"- The first guy stopped or greatly cut back on those posts.) On the other hand, I'd still expect a general member of the public, upon hearing that someone has written a book, would ask about it, especially if it is autobiographical and they are on a date.

I wondered if Jake was the most self-centered person in the universe, or if there was some simple explanation for his lack of interest that I just wasn't figuring out.

He sounds self-centered and maybe willfully stupid. Did you ever come to conclusion about his lack of interest?

For some unknown reason [...] I said, "I'd love that."

I'm programmed to tend to act in a way that I think will be polite. I hope I can unlearn some of that.

I now think he either said or meant "terminal velocity,"

Yup. (I'm reminded that there was a study that showed that cats fared less well at a certain lower range of height than a higher range because they had time to react, reorient themselves, and maybe brace themselves, and that a greater height had little effect because they were reaching terminal velocity. Some readers were upset because they didn't realize the study used accident reports; the upset people thought researchers were purposely tossing cats out of buildings.)

Jake didn't mention the part where the guy DIED.

Yahbut, it wasn't from the highest jump. I guess it would be in bad taste to snicker.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I've been known to eat anything, including salad, with my fingers. I try not to do it on dates, though.

From: [identity profile] minnow1212.livejournal.com


>"You sure have a lot of books," he said.<

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Oh dear. People who are stymied/bemused by the number of books one owns, instead of fascinated and jealous and immediately drawn to scan the bookshelves--well, I've loved some of those people dearly, and liked some of them quite well, but...there's a gap of understanding there.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com

Terminal velocity


I'm too lazy to figure out how [livejournal.com profile] branna figured out the force of impact. Instead, I'm curious what the terminal velocity is. I'm too lazy to figure that out, too, so instead I'll use Google.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/airfri2.html#c3

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/JianHuang.shtml

Sounds like: Over 120 mph. I had misremembered his harebrained plan as using the helium balloons both to verify his trajectory and also to slow him down. Either way is dumb, dumb, dumb, but I wonder what kind of airbag he thought would save him from the equivalent of two cars colliding full speed on the highway. Yes, yes, he was not planning on use car airbags, but still....

From: [identity profile] branna.livejournal.com

Re: Terminal velocity


There are lots of ways to do this actually, although my original
number was a bit off. It really depends on how tall the airbag
is.

If you want to just know the average force he experiences (as if
the airbag exerted a constant force), the easiest way to do it
is just to use conservation of energy (you can also do it other
ways, and I did first, but this is the nicest).

His kinetic energy when he hits the top of the airbag is
1
K= -mv^2 where v is the terminal velocity (about 60m/s)
2

Let's assume he's stopped when he hits the ground, and loses
all his kinetic energy. So that K has to equal the work
done on him by the airbag, F*d, where d=h (the height of the
airbag above the ground).

So F = K/h = mv^2
----
2h

v = 60 m/s, m for an adult male is about 70 kg, so

F = 12600/h N

Now, for an airbag 60m tall (180 ft), that's F = 2100 N which is
approximately 500 lbs of force.

For an airbag tnat's only 30m tall (90 ft) that's F = 4200 N
which is approximately 900 lbs of force.

For an airbag that's only 15m tall (45 ft), he experiences about 1800 lbs. That's about a 2.5 to 3 story building, I think, as far
as the height of the airbag is concerned.

I don't think he's going to find the experience pleasant.

Feel free to check my numbers, I've got a raging headache at the
moment :P

From: [identity profile] branna.livejournal.com

Re: Terminal velocity


Damn, the formatting came out very messed up on this one.


That should be K = mv^2/2 and F= mv^2/2h

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com

Re: Terminal velocity


as if the airbag exerted a constant force

I am an idiot. I should have thought of that assumption. I did think of conservation of energy and kinetic energy, and then got stymied. Actually, I have forgotten enough physics that even with an assumption fo constant force I would have been stuck.

Don't tell my father! (He's a physicist.)

Thanks for enlightening me :)

From: [identity profile] lalouve.livejournal.com


Goodness. Stupid comments on writing, stupid comments on books, and a desire to die young, making a rather disgusting corpse in the process? I am overwhelmed by gratitude that I live in a culture that doesn't date. He sounds like a MFTH-guy, as in "make for the hills."

From: [identity profile] loligo.livejournal.com


"See, I'll have people standing on the ground with different colors of helium balloons, and then they'll release them at intervals, and I'll skydive out and bump them with my chest, and that's how I'll know my trajectory is accurate!"

Even if you never say anything interesting in your journal ever again, friending you will have been worth it for being introduced to the wonder of Jake.

(Am tempted to suggest that you go out with him again just to see what else he'll say!)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


A reaction like that is why I decided that I just had to post this story. But no, I don't think we'll go out again.

From: [identity profile] copperwise.livejournal.com


Also, this reminds me of the time my college physics professor assigned the Thanksgiving equation: how many times would you have to drop a frozen turkey from a cliff in order for the transferred heat from impact to cook it thoroughly?

My ex had a friend who was a chinchilla farmer, btw. Wyatt was going to salvage and sell all of the cars driven off piers and such into the ocean or into the Columbia river. Because, as he said, "metal doesn't rust underwater because there's no air."

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Ha-ha-ha-ha! How many cars get driven off piers, anyway?

I like your college prof, though.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com


Did he give a bonus for taking into account the heat lost through radiation (and convection?)?

From: [identity profile] tanuki-green.livejournal.com


Oh. Please. I must insist that you run screaming! Please. If he ever calls to make that next date, you must insist that you'd have to pass as you had plans on shampooing the badger you found under your steps the other day. Tell him that you have to have all the nails in your house filed down. Tell him anything... Just drop this loser. I'm begging you.

From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com


even a few days worth of the passage of time wears away the first blush of "He didn't seem like a bedwetter, pathological liar, or Rush Limbaugh fan! Yay!"

((snicker))

"That's cool. You know, I have a lot of good ideas, but I'm not much of a writer, but I have good connections, so I'm sure I can sell them some day... I'll just find someone to write them for me."

Oh, my fucking ghod. Not only does he NOT pick up on yr memoir news (was he not listening, or just too jealous to comment?) he has to make one of those stupid, stupid "Gee I'm not a writer but I know I could be one" comments. AAAAAAAAAGH.

"Writing isn't about ideas, writing is about writing. Ideas are a dime a dozen. A bad writer can take the best idea in the world and turn it into garbage, but a great writer can take something as cliched as "boy meets girl" and turn it into something great. if you want to be a writer, you have to write."

Whoo! I may memorize that to have it in hand for a retort at my next cocktail party. Of course, encountering stupid people is just one reason why I don't go to cocktail parties, but still.

"... Is set the world record for jumping out of a plane at 20 thousand feet without a parachute and landing on an airbag, and I can get a TV station to film it and they'll pay me a million dollars!"

....

....

I don't think you should go hiking with this turnip-brain, either.

"You sure have a lot of books," he said. "Mine are all still in Idaho."

NAIL IN COFFIN

Oh, chica, I'm sorry. At least you got a hilarious dating story out of it. And please, please, never do any kind of physical activity with this guy.

From: [identity profile] boniblithe.livejournal.com


He sounds like a completely insane kind of guy. But on the upside, I bet the sex would have been really ... interesting. If you wore a safety harness. And possibly a hard hat.

From: [identity profile] majinkarp.livejournal.com


Well, at least he made for an entertaining story, so the evening wasn't a total waste.

From: [identity profile] rushthatspeaks.livejournal.com


... wow. The Darwin Awards were invented for people like him. In fact, it sounds as though the Darwin Awards may have been invented to commemmorate him, personally.

On the other hand, he may simply be trying to cause his exterior to match what sounds like a fairly flat personality.

From: [identity profile] klwilliams.livejournal.com


"Mine are all still in Idaho."

This speaks volumes to me. Run away.

Actually, I think that [livejournal.com profile] branna should have a party and invite interesting single male physicists, and you and me. Her boyfriend can invite his interesting single male friends, too.
.

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