I had not been divorced long when I met him in a buffet line of a restaurant on a Sunday afternoon. He was taller than me, well groomed, and mild mannered. He was eating alone, so my mother asked if he would like to sit with us, and he seemed grateful that we asked. The conversation was normal enough that day; we discussed politics (he was republican) and the weather (it was a nice fall day). After the meal was over, he asked if I would like to run with him to find something his friend had lost. My mother offered to take the kids and I climbed into his passenger seat to find whatever object his friend was missing. We drove to the Executive Inn, which was a very large hotel in our town at the time. At this time my holy-shit-something’s-up radar had started to go off, but I pushed down the alarm and we continued to look for whatever was lost. He declared that the object in question was not findable and he drove me back to my car.
“Would you like to go out with me next Friday?”
“I would love to.” I replied.
I drove back to my parents’ house and told them about the lost item and the date that we had scheduled. I told my mother about how nervous I was and asked for advice. “Mom, it’s been forever since I went on a date. How do I act?” Her response to me was so perfectly mom that it almost brings a tear to my eye. “Oh you know, Heather, not like yourself.” I still, nearly a decade and a half later, remember that moment perfectly and I silently wondered who I needed to act like. The date day inched closer and I picked out my outfit. I wonder what we will do. I wonder what we will talk about. Will we kiss goodnight? By Friday night the nerves were over and I was more than ready for my first post-divorce date.
He picked me up and told me that we were going to dinner at a steak house. I thought, great this will give us a chance to talk some more and we all know I love to eat. At the restaurant we sat across from each other in the plastic covered booth, the plastic squeaking with every tiny move. I asked what types of hobbies he had.
“Civil War weaponry.”
“Really, how did you become interested in that?”
“My parents locked me in a shed once and I built a mace out of a hammer, duct tape, and barbwire.”
My “holy shit” radar was going off again. HE BUILT A MACE WHILE LOCKED IN A SHED!
“What do you like to do?”
“I like to read and I like tattoos.” I said.
“Well, that’s weird.”
He thought reading and tattoos were weird but he was locked in a shed and built a mace once. It was quickly becoming obvious that I was going to be murdered by the end of the night. We ordered our food and continued to talk about the civil war and just how destructive cannon fire could be. After dinner was over he announced that he would take me to the movies and that he would pay. Okay, I thought, so he likes the civil war that really isn’t that weird. I climbed into the green non-descript four door car. He turned on the radio and adjusted a dial. Out of nowhere came his blaring voice.
“YOUNG MAN, THERE’S NO NEED TO FEEL DOWN
I SAID, YOUNG MAN, PICK YOURSELF OFF OF THE GROUND.”
Okay, I thought, so he is yelling the words to YMCA at the top of his lungs. That’s not a big deal; I mean, I can rattle off the entire beginning to Let’s Go Crazy by Prince. He probably hummed YMCA while dissecting hookers, sorry, while building a mace. We just need to get to the movie so I can have a minute of silence and really think about what is happening. He bought the tickets and we took our seat, me on his left side. “Oh, I forgot to tell you that I’m deaf in my left ear.” The movie started and it was loud and stared Bruce Willis. After each movie explosion my date yelled, “What did he say!” Well, so much for decompressing on my part.
Dinner was over. Movie was over. This disaster date was coming to an end and I would be free, all I had to do was get home and get inside. As he loudly sang to the radio I wondered what was end of the date protocol. Did I just get out of the car and leave him to his weapons and 70s music? Did I let him walk me to the door? The ride passed quickly and we were once again in front of my little box apartment.
“Would you like something to drink? You probably don’t because all I have is milk and water.” I sputtered.
“I would love some milk.”
Of course he would like some milk. He followed me into my apartment that was lit by the television I left on 24 hours a day. The Dave Matthews Band was playing Crash Into Me on MTV.
“Would you like to dance?”
“Dance with me,” he whispered, because now he had developed the ability to modify the volume of his voice.
So we danced with me standing at attention trying to make sure that the only touching our bodies did was at our hands. What happened next is a blur of thoughts and emotions that I have yet to come to terms with. In what must have been a ninja like move, I was pushed onto the couch, the blue tweed rubbed against my thighs as he straddled me. His tongue quickly darted into my ear and I pushed my head into my shoulder to stop the slimy intrusion. The same tongue darted in and out of my mouth like some sort of scared lizard attempting to run across a busy intersection. His hand went up my shirt and my hand quickly pushed it back down. My thoughts ran a little something like this: “What the hell is happening? How did I get on this couch? Why does he smell like brussel sprouts; we didn’t eat brussel sprouts? Why is he breathing like that? I just don’t understand the brussel sprout thing. Do all first dates happen like this? How many f’ing hands does this guy have? He is like Durga or something; I wonder if he knows who Durga is? What is up with this guy’s breath?”
It was a little like I was floating above myself watching the odd fumbles of this man’s attempt to seduce me. For the record, I am not difficult to seduce, but this guy was a disaster in a Titanic-sized way. I was forced back into my body when I heard whispered in my ear, “Can I suckle your mammaries?” Then he moaned a light but guttural moan.
“WHAT!” My brain screamed, “Who in the hell says such a thing?”
“No, you may not,” I said audibly as I pushed him onto the floor. He crawled slightly backwards and saw my disgust as a wet spot spread across the front of his trousers. He scrambled to his feet and began apologizing for his behavior.
“I am such a cad. I am so sorry. Please forgive me.”
My brain reeled, “Who uses the word cad anymore? What the hell is this guy’s problem?”
I pushed him out the door and he promised he would call. And call he did, over and over; I even agreed to a second date because I am obviously seriously lacking in proper decision– making skills. I look back now and I can’t even remember his name, I just call him mammary boy, but I wonder what we were looking for at the hotel on that fateful Sunday. I feel pretty confident that it was the severed hand of a prostitute, but I will never be sure.