Heather O'Neill has chosen our third Stranger Than Fiction challenge winner (theme: dating disasters). She reveals her choice and offers some parting words below.
The entries for the Worst Date Ever really made me laugh. One was about a boy whose tuxedo pants fall down while dancing the Macarena. Another was about a guy who tried to pay for a movie with expired movie coupons. One was about a man who announced on the first date that he wanted a baby in that calendar year -it was February.
The winning entry goes to the story of a girl hanging out in a room that has been decorated by a boy who is either going to grow up to be a famed biologist or a serial killer. It hilariously encapsulates that feeling we have on first dates when we have no idea who the person we're with really is. Falling in a love is a leap of faith.
Thanks to everyone who took a leap of faith and sent us in their personal stories and memories. Thanks to Nino Ricci, Pasha Malla, Lynn Coady, David Bezmozgis, Elizabeth Kelly, Adam Gollner, Miguel Syjuco, Sheila Heti and Joseph Boyden. Thanks to everyone who listened and read our strange diaries entries and thoughts. It has been fun. So, until we meet again, carry on with your eccentric and wonderful lives!
The winning story: Caitlin Galway - Toronto, ON
I was careful with my feet. Daniel said there was a turtle somewhere on the floor, but it was hard to tell where. He pointed to a lizard in a huge vivarium. "That's June." I leaned in for a closer look at June, who sat there with a fat throat, clicking her tongue.
Daniel and I were watching movies in his bedroom because his father was passed out on the living room couch. I had seen him as we crossed the hallway, splayed out in a dingy green bathrobe, a glass wet with cognac about to fall out of his hand. Daniel tapped a VHS tape of cartoon women with monstrous breasts. "These can be pretty funny." I pulled out The Warriors, that camp classic with face-painted gangs in baseball uniforms. "That's my favourite," he said.
I looked around the room as he set up the movie. Dead birds lined the walls, between erotic statues with bare feet and mingling limbs. There were shelves of animal skulls, big bugs behind frames. Three lizards wrapped in grocery bags in the freezer, too, but I found those later on my own. I let him kiss me by the open window, feeling like at any moment he might push me out. It was dark but for the bloody, underwater glow of a red lava lamp. I thought for sure he was a serial killer, but he said I was so beautiful, so we dated for a year.