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February 13, 2006 - 10:49 pm


We get to his shop – he forms car parts out of some space-age polymer or something equally ecologically irresponsible – and he couldn’t wait to show me around. Literally. He couldn’t wait. He wouldn’t let me use his bathroom, although I’d been holding it for an hour, until I’d seen every. single. piece. of equipment. in his 7,000 square foot shop. Joy! Fiberglass car parts! For gas-guzzling performance cars, driven by rich, selfish white men in their forties! While I have to pee so bad my bladder hurts!

Finally he ALLOWS me to pee, and we unload his car, full of extra seats, wheels, etc.,*. And he LETS me have a beer out of the refrigerator. Oh, but we can’t leave until I finish my beer because the car belongs to the dealership he works for (his day job), and OH BOY would he be in big trouble for getting pulled over with an open container!!**

*I’m standing there with a heavy ass alloy wheel in my hands, and he says, “If you only knew how hot you look right now.” I was so flattered. That was such a great line.

**Remember this. It’s sort of important for later in the story.

Hmmm. What to do while I’m finishing that beer? I know!! Let’s watch a computer slide show of performance cars he’s worked on in the past… with slutty, scantily clad models draped over them! OR! OR! Let’s look up classic bible verses on the internet and talk about the WILD connection between all the names in the blood line from Adam to Noah!! That’d be insane wouldn’t it?! Yeah!! I know!!

I figured, whatever, to each his own, I guess. If it makes this life bearable for him, then who am I to judge?

I finish my one beer around 10:30, and as we fold the seats of the SUV up and get in the car to head back to civilization and FOOD – I was fucking starving and becoming more and more irritable by the second – I look at this guy and say, deadpan, “You know, you could have just told me you were busy.”

He laughs and compliments my sense of humor. I stare blankly back at him.

My Grandmother always used to say, “Never pass up an opportunity to use the bathroom.”*** Her words were ringing in my ears as I realize about 30 minutes into the return trip home that I hadn’t gone again before we left his shop, and that one beer I had was passing right through me. Fuck fuck fuck. Not again.

***My great-Grandfather always used to say, "Never run out of peanut butter." I come from a line of very practical thinkers.

I tell my gallant suitor that I really really have to pee again and ask if he’d mind stopping. He says he won’t stop, but would consider pulling over onto an exit ramp so I could go on the side of the road. That’d be HOTT! I remind him of my fastidious nature, prefering toilet paper toilet paper. He holds up a paper napkin and says in a sing-song tone, smiling broadly, “I have NAP-kins!!

It took me about a millisecond to nix the idea. I’ll just hold it, you sadistic freak.

Suddenly and without fanfare, he reaches into the center console and pulls out a little vial, unscrews the cap, sticks his pinky finger inside, and sniffs deeply. I look over and query, “Whatcha’ got goin’ on over there?”

“Just a little blow. I figured you wouldn’t want any, and besides there’s not really enough to share anyway.”

I kid you not.

Okay, let me get this straight: I can’t bring one half-empty beer into this car as a hostage passenger, but he, the captor driver, keeps a vial of coke in the console of a car belonging to the owner of the dealership he stole it from works for? Got it.

So now I have to pee, I’m starving, and I’m in the car with a driver who is growing exponentially more enthusiastic by the minute about the second coming of Jesus Christ and, in his drug-induced religious fervor, is coming within a communion wafer’s breadth of running into the concrete median that separates us from oncoming traffic on the interstate. This is doing wonders for my bladder because I’m thinking, hell, what does HE have to lose if we crash and explode into a flaming, fiery, fire-ball of burning flames? Apparently, Jesus will simply snatch his righteous ass right up out of there before you could say Jack Robinson. But what about ME? I really just don’t see Buddha intervening on my behalf, do you?

Out of nowhere, the golden arches of McDonald’s rise in the distance like so many gold-paved streets delicately traversed by the tightly bound feet of the 47 virgins in the Promised Land... Oh, wait. I’m mixing preposterous myths again, aren’t I? Anyway, Nero, apparently a big fan of McDonald’s, suggests we stop in to use the bathroom and get a quarter-pounder with cheese, expounding at length on how he begs the “black chicks” to please, please make him a fresh one whenever he comes through the drive-through. And boy there really is nothing so delicious as a fresh, hot, steaming quarter-pounder with cheese. I look him straight in his cocaine eyes and lie, “You know, I think that really would be the perfect end to the perfect date. But let’s hold out for something a little closer to home. I can wait. Honest.”

Whereupon, he reaches into the console again and takes out the supposedly empty vial of coke and takes another sniff.

I think my friend Julia really summed up this guy’s whole personality best when she said, “I’m more offended by his lack of generosity than anything else.” And I have to agree with her. I mean, while he was correct in assuming I wouldn’t want any, still, it’s the principle of the thing, right? He didn’t even offer, and here in the south, I’m sorry, but we consider that just plain rude.

So, now, out of sheer self-preservation, I begin to retreat further back into the linen closet of that Safe Place in my mind, so forgive me if the details begin to fade a bit here. I remember we arrived back into Atlanta around 11:30 and he pulls up at the only late-night restaurant we could think of close to home. Besides McDonald’s, I mean.

And then something interesting happened. Sometime during dinner, listening to Nero describe his deepest, most perverse sexual fantasies (many involving several very young girls), his best drug trips, and the miracle of Jesus’ suffering on the cross for all of us, the night had become a parody of itself. I was past the shock, past the horror, past the feeling of needing to escape, and I began to laugh out loud. Maybe it was giddiness brought on by being so hungry for so long and then having that sandwich and beer, but I couldn’t keep a straight face and was laughing like a maniac. Everything this guy said in that endless stream of consciousness way of his was fucking hilarious. It was purely surreal, and I was rolling with it. Jesus and trip-hop, internet porn and paint rooms, marijuana and race cars, the Muslim conspiracy and Catholic school girls, all began to run together into a disjointed view of the world I’d never considered before. It was fascinating.

Eventually, of course, he tells me more about the Rapture. He’s going on and on about how perfect it will be, how all the Believers will be lifted out of this world (leaving their clothing behind, I understand…how convenient that he’ll be able to see those Catholic school girls naked) and will be carried to another life in a perfect place, free of hypocritical non-believers. “Life after life,” he reiterated, “and you really can’t beat that, can you?”

I agree, barely stifling my laughter, “Yeah!! It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?!” To which he responds without missing a beat (or picking up on the sarcasm), "I know!! It’s a stoner’s dream!! Because it sounds too good to be true…BUT IT IS TRUE! It’s a trip, man."

That’s the other thing: he kept calling me “man” the whole night although I so clearly do not look anything like a man.

I scarf down half a club sandwich, an order of fries, and a beer as quickly as possible so as to end this strange nightmare before someone lost an eye. Or had their extremities nailed to something just to make them shut the hell up. I began to think seriously that those Romans may have been onto something with that whole thing, because if Jesus was anything at all like this overzealous follower of His…well, really, who could blame them?

Dinner ends, and, as odd as it may sound, I decline his offer to head somewhere else for a night cap. We arrive at my house, and – god forbid – I invite him in.

I know. What the hell was I thinking? I’ll tell you. I think I so wanted the date to have a happy ending (not like that, you sickos), that I was willing to give this guy a chance to at least be a good kisser. Like maybe, maybe if he was really great at making out, it would somehow have been worth the hell I’d endured…I’d get something enjoyable out of this date besides a good story. Anyway, I think that’s the rationale I used to convince myself at the time that what I was about to do was okay.

So I put in a nature documentary so that we can at least pretend to watch something while we’re making out, and he leans in to kiss me.

It was bad. Beyond bad. Awful. That’s when I resigned myself that there would be no saving this date.

I let it go on just for a moment, just long enough not to be rude, and said, “Okay, well, I have to get up to pack in just a couple of hours, so thanks for…”

He cuts me off with a rough kiss and a grope to the breast.

I immediately stand up and say, “That’s enough. You need to go now.”

He reaches around behind my head and grabs me by my hair and pulls me back down onto the couch and starts trying to kiss me again. I turn my head away and shove him off of me with my feet, and as soon as he’s off enough that I can get up, I spring to the front door, open it and say, “Okay. This date is over. Goodbye.”

But now, I’m really afraid. No more laughing, no more bewildered amusement. I’m afraid. This guy is not just eccentric, he’s crazy, and I’m afraid to piss him off because I’m not sure what he’s going to do. So I’m walking that woman’s tightrope of being guarded but non-threatening, firm but polite, cautious without appearing afraid, afraid but smiling. It’s a difficult walk, but if you do it right, it can save your life.

He comes over to the door, and I walk with him outside in my socks, trying to make sure he goes all the way to his car. But then halfway there, he notices I’m not wearing shoes and positively INSISTS on carrying me back to the house to get them…on his back.

Oh, did I forget to mention he told me earlier that he has a piggy-back ride fetish? Well, he has a piggy-back ride fetish. And he wouldn’t put me down to get my shoes until I agreed to let him ride me around the house on his back one time.

I shit you not.

I could tell by the look in his eye that protesting would not have gone well for me. He was upset I'd asked him to leave and wanted me to know he was physically strong. I was afraid and more than a little freaked out. He rode me back to the kitchen and then to the T.V. room and around the coffee table a couple of times. He put me down in the living room, I slipped my boots on quickly, and I escorted him to his car. Once he was in the car and his door was closed, I ran back in the house, locked the door, and sat down on the floor and cried.

I sat there crying for at least an hour, wondering why I’m so generous with myself and why he had to be such an asshole, but mostly wondering how it is I can be halfway intelligent and so fucking stupid at the same time. Like so many otherwise competent, capable women, I can’t seem to accept that some people are just bad and don’t deserve my time. I continually give people the benefit of the doubt, one more chance, a little more time, it takes all kinds, whatever, whether they deserve it or not…because…how can you tell? How do you know if you’re being cold and bitchy to someone you just don’t see eye to eye with or protecting yourself from a bad person? And why do so many other women just like me have such a hard time recognizing the difference? We give freely until someone completely steals from us. Steals our time, steals a kiss, steals our trust. Why do so many of us feel the need to “be nice” no matter what? As much of an asshole as that guy was, the hardest part was realizing it was my own fault for letting him in the goddamn door.

Thankfully, I didn’t hear from him for a month. Then he emailed me a couple of days ago with this:

>>Hey cutie!
>>whats been up... how was the weekend trip and how are you doing?

Yeah, his first name is Nick and his last name is Greek, beginning (aptly enough) with ‘Despot’, and ending with a very typical Greek suffix, and he grew up in the Chicago area. So if anyone out there knows him, tell him for me that I said to fuck off because I’ll be damned if I give him one more moment of my own time.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.


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