It’s every girl’s dream — four dates in one evening. But these aren’t just any dates. What begins with a mullet and a pack of cinnamon-flavored Dick Tax (penis shaped Tic Tacs, get it?) will end with an arm-wrestling match in front of stunned ABP customers. Just like the real Elimidate, Meredith Dearborn ’04, will have to choose one guy to eliminate at the end of every date, until only one lucky winner is left.
The night begins promptly at 7 p.m. when Burt Helm ’04, Ed Sasinowski ’05, Ricardo Cortes ’06 and Meredith show up for dinner at Samurai. The four introduce themselves and order drinks while we wait for the missing date to arrive.
Meredith is a blonde literature major who has told me there’s no particular type of guy she goes for — it’s all about chemistry for her, although she admits that curly hair and height is an advantage. She seems composed as she chats with the three guys about their hometowns and spring break plans.
The most punctual of the group is Burt, who arrives about thirty seconds before the others. He seems upbeat but relaxed.
Ed is on the heavyweight crew team and likes to talk about it. Despite the flood of crew-related anecdotes, Ed has his height going for him.
The lone freshman, Ricardo adds an exotic — Guatemalan, to be specific — element to the group. It turns out that he actually knows Meredith from a FOOT interview.
Finally, at 7:10, the final contestant arrives. Tom Ray Smith ’04 has a thick, curly brown mullet, wears aviator sunglasses and speaks with an accent reminiscent of his native Texas. He attracts stares from the four non-Elimidate customers in the restaurant.
“My buddies call me Maverick and then my better buddies, they call me Mav,” he says. “About 60 percent of the people in Texas are called Mav.”
The waitress asks Mav if he would like anything to drink. To everyone’s surprise, he declares that he has brought his own and pulls a can of Bud from a plastic shopping bag.
When Meredith inquires about her dates’ interests, Mav says his passion lies with music.
“I’m just here with my band,” he says. “It’s a rap band called Phandango.”
Ed seems to feel threatened by Mav and enjoys challenging him by asking about his favorite NASCAR drivers.
Mav, though, really has it in for Burt. As Burt tells Meredith about his interest in physics, Mav lets out a huge belch, then launches into a description of a “special date” he would like to have with Meredith.
“I’d take you on a date to a Japanese restaurant or something, and Burt would probably get elimidated,” he says.
Now it’s time for Meredith to get to know her dates better. She begins a line of questions that will only get more interesting as the evening progresses.
“If you were a natural disaster, which natural disaster would you be?” she asks.
Ricardo, the first to answer, replies that he would be a forest fire because it has “heat and passion.” Meredith seems pleased with the response and the two get into a discussion of their zodiac signs. The other dates had better watch out for Ricardo.
Burt answers next, saying he would be a drought. The group waits in suspense for Mav’s response.
“I think I’d be a big crab,” he says. “You know, like in those horror movies where there’s a big crab and it comes out of the ocean and destroys everything.”
After a few moments of puzzled discussion about the movie Mav is talking about, it’s Ed’s turn. True to his nature as a rower, he says he would be a flood because “they’re big and powerful.”
“They’re really not that big and exciting, they just kind of ruin people’s basements,” Burt says, countering Ed’s bravado.
“A flood can end a drought,” Ed shoots back.
As the food is served, it becomes clear that Mav has no experience with sushi. He has ordered a Ninja roll because “Ninjas are great.”
When everyone except poor Burt has been served, Mav yells across the table.
“Hey Burt, where’s your food?” he asks. “You must’ve been elimidated!”
Without missing a beat, Mav turns to Meredith.
“You’re a genuine treasure, like a pot of gold at the end of a pirate’s rainbow,” he says.
Burt and Ed begin to talk to Meredith about their spring break plans. Ed will be sweating in Tampa with his crew of heavyweights; Burt begins to explain his plans — a road trip through Cali with a stop in L.A. and camping in the redwoods — but Mav interrupts.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m livin’ a lie,” he says. “Then I wake up and realize how awesome I am.”
Mav puts his arm around Meredith and edges closer; he’s almost on the edge of his chair.
“Where do you live?” he asks. “Tell me or I’ll elimidate myself!”
Meredith tenses up and tells Mav to get to his side of the table. Mav tells her that he “just sits big.” The conversation is clearly out of control, so Meredith asks another question.
“If you had a superpower, what would it be?” she asks.
Ed’s answer is pretty standard: invincibility, so he could help people. Meredith seems impressed by the nobility of this ambition. The group braces itself for Mav’s response.
“I would have the power to metamorphose into a giant crab,” he says. But he isn’t sure — he changes his answer to flying, then to the ability to switch between superpowers, like Wolverine.
Ricardo answers that he would like to have the power of “teletransportation,” while Burt spices up the conversation by saying that he would like to have a 12-inch penis.
“Does that mean I’m already a superhero?” Ed asks.
Soon dinner is finished and it’s time for the first elimination. Mav predicts that Burt will be the first to go — but of course the choice is Meredith’s.
“I’m threatened by your violent nature,” she tells Mav. “I’m not sure you’re my type.”
Mav seems to take the news reasonably well, although he does ask Ricardo to hand him one of the samurai swords sitting above the mantle behind him.
“My girlfriend would be pissed, so I guess it’s better off this way,” Mav says.
Before he leaves the restaurant, I get a word with him at another table.
“She was a hot piece of ass,” Mav says of Meredith. Still, he says Meredith is too concerned with “helping people” and that he is a loner anyway.
“If I could, I’d marry myself,” he says. “It’s all ok, I know where she lives.”
And with that, Mav is history.
The next stop for Meredith and her remaining three dates is Nu Haven Book and Video, where each of the guys will have $5 to buy her a present.
“Sweet, I was just there this afternoon,” says Burt when he learns where we’re headed. Apparently Meredith goes for that kind of guy, because she and Burt seem to hit it off particularly well on the walk to the porn shop.
Once inside the store, the guys get down to the business of hunting for gifts. I catch up with Ed, who notes the 10 percent Yale student discount and rejoices in his increased purchasing power. He is, after all, an econ major.
After a few minutes, each guy makes his purchases. Burt, on a quest for the perfect gift with which to express his true feelings for Meredith, but not quite ready to pull the trigger, takes five longer than everyone else.
Finally, it’s time for the guys to present their gifts. Ed produces a green satin g-string and pina colada-flavored lubricant — a present which Meredith terms “very economical.” Ricardo, who says he wants Meredith to have a “useful and eye-appealing” gift, presents her with a pack of penis-shaped, cinnamon Dick Tax. Burt calls his gift, a Condom Comic, an “icebreaker.”
It’s that time again: but before Meredith eliminates the next guy, she asks another question.
“If you had to give up cheese or oral sex for the rest of your life, which would it be?”
Only Ricardo says he would give up cheese.
l unable to decide, Meredith then asks which vegetable each date would most like to be. Determining that Ricardo will remain in the running because of his honest answer to her previous question, she must decide between Ed, who would be a sweet bell pepper, and Burt, who would be a potato.
“They’re underground, soft-spoken, but I have to say they’re solid,” Burt says of his choice.
Burt’s answer wins Meredith over, and she breaks the news to Ed that he has been eliminated.
Talking after elimination, Ed seems disappointed. He says Meredith is “really cool, pretty, down-to-earth and easy to talk to.” He tries to save face by saying goodbye as cheerfully as possible.
At Ashley’s, the final stop of the evening, we all order ice cream and then relocate to Au Bon Pain because of a lack of table space. The competition is getting down to the wire and both guys seem to be focusing all their strength on appearing as witty as possible.
When asked where they’d most like to live if they had to stay in one place for five years, Ricardo shows off his sophistication by saying he would choose Tibet because he wants to become immersed in the culture and learn Chinese.
“Definitely Bruegger’s Bagels, hands down,” Burt says. We’re all rather surprised, but he explains his decision.
“I’m sure the back area is bigger than you think it is. Bruegger’s would be fine,” he says. “I’m not trying to be eccentric or anything, I’m being serious.”
Eventually 9:30 rolls around and it’s time for Meredith to make her final choice, she’s torn.
“Tibet wins over Bruegger’s Bagels, but you can’t always lose to the Latin lover,” she says.
Something else must be done before she can decide. There’s only one way to settle this: an arm wrestling contest.
The contestants prepare themselves and settle into a table near the front door. Our photographer walks in the door, and patrons begin to stare.
Standing behind Burt (a sign?) Meredith tells the two arch-rivals to get set.
Ricardo tries his best, squirming in his chair as he struggles violently against Burt, the self-professed arm wrestling champion. As he begins to grunt, his face turns red and his arm inches toward the table.
Brute strength takes the day and the pretty boy is vanquished: Burt wins after a long minute of intense struggle.
After his defeat, Ricardo admits he liked Meredith and thought she was “really cool.” But he also saw that she likes “manly men, men who protect her,” while he is more easygoing. He seems concerned with his hand.
“It hurts quite a bit, I just hope it goes back to normal eventually,” he says.
The happy couple remains seated at the table for a couple more minutes. Asked exactly how she feels about the results, Meredith replies that “Fair is fair!”
Against all odds — from Mav’s dogged efforts to unsettle him, to Ed’s square-jawed athleticism, to Ricardo’s exotic charm — nice guy Burt has triumphed. Almost three hours after the beginning of their date, Meredith and Burt leave ABP together and head out into the night.