It started out as the perfect night for a twenty-something girl jaded by the New York dating scene. We’d met for the first time in 2013 and had dinner one-on-one right before his summer internship was ending and he was leaving the city. When we matched on a dating app a little more than two years later, I offered to reconnect over dinner, and he agreed. It was early February, the dead of winter, at a Thai restaurant in the West Village. The guy was handsome, charismatic, and ambitious—the kind of traits I hadn’t seen much of in my fellow 24-year-olds. Dinner was full of intelligent conversation, and we were both in media, so we understood each other’s day-to-day life.
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He proposed a walk along Hudson River Park after dinner, and I was not about to object to my favorite thing: Walking ridiculously long distances with good company. At 40th street, we saw literal fireworks. (It was for the Chinese New Year.) He stopped to Snapchat them, and I felt convinced we were in the middle of a rom com. We continued walking north from 40th, and we were so engrossed in conversation that we were a little lax with the path we were walking. The bike path wasn’t very clearly marked, and it was dark. A bike bell started ringing behind us. My date stepped to the right. I stepped to the left. Suddenly, I was on the ground.
I’d fallen on my left knee, right hand, cheek, and left arm. There was no blood, no head cracking, no dislodged bones, no tragic injury. Many layers of tights and outerwear cushioned what would have been a hard fall onto pavement.
The guy and biker rushed up to me. “Are you okay? Let me help you up,” they both said, as I started to process the pain. I just got hit by a bike, my mind told me. What hurts? What doesn’t? What am I supposed to do? Go to an emergency room? Shit, I’m with this poor guy I barely know, and I don’t want to make him take me there. I can’t do that to him.
I pulled myself up and said I was fine; I wasn’t, but I’d convinced myself I was. The pain was starting to dissipate anyway. So we kept walking and talking, our charming, intellectual conversation continued with politics and talk of Trump. But at this point, I was only half-listening, half-gauging my pain. Why did my arm hurt so much? I kept smiling on the outside because I wanted to come off cool, unfazed by the embarrassing collision.
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Eventually we got to his subway station. “This was wonderful,” I said genuinely, and he agreed. “Let’s do this again soon.” He went for a hug, and I extended my left arm and gave the weakest one back. Then he was gone, and I walked home, trying to figure out my arm was okay.
It was not. The next morning, I woke up, noticed my arm was still badly injured, and went to an urgent care office. I told the doctor this happened on a date, and oh my god, it’s such a funny story. We laughed and laughed… until another doctor told me I might need surgery. The x-rays came back and showed I’d broken a bone in my shoulder, so they put me in a sling and sent me on my way with the promise that it would heal in a few months.
I decided to text the guy and tell him what happen. We were definitely friends by this point, and friends can talk about this sort of thing. I wrote, “I had a wonderful time; funny story: I broke my shoulder.” He responded, oh my god, is it in a cast or sling? I told him it’s in a sling, it’s my dominant arm, and it really stinks.
HE NEVER RESPONDED.
“He’s busy,” I told my shocked friends. I swear, I said, he’s not a villain. “He’s settling into the city and making a career switch. He told me that night I was one of the first people he went out with—and yes, I know, there’s no future with this one since I broke my arm and he ghosted me, but—” No, my friends assured me, he’s just an asshole.
He thrived in the city, of course. According to Facebook, he got a girlfriend shortly after our date. No surprise there: he’s charming, charismatic, and can make friends with anyone, anywhere. Unless they get hit by a bike.