When I think of a worst date, I imagine some creepy guy with overwhelmingly greasy hair and a horrible stench arriving at my front door scratching himself…all the while grinning through horribly placed gold teeth. Another scenario would be the guy who introduces you to his family as his wife on the first date…his mother measuring you for a wedding gown as you try making it through introductions. (I’ve experienced the latter of the aforementioned scenarios). As horrible as that may sound, my worst date almost signified my death…literally.
Years ago, I found myself dating an older guy (all but one of my past love interests were). This guy was possessive with a capital “P.” At first, I didn’t notice his issues with being in control. The signs came in subtle waves of annoyance…the careful nudge to walk faster, when guys were in the vicinity…the “thoughtful” phone call urging me to stay at home, instead of hanging out with friends…after all, “it [wasn’t] good for an attached woman to hang out with girls who [were] in search of a man.” He came with the lines and I bought them all…hook, line and sinker. (There’s something about young love that seems to place women and men alike in the lower percentile of intelligent people).
After becoming increasingly annoyed by the father figure in the form of my new love interest, the voices of my family members became a resounding chorus in my ears. “There’s something not right about him,” they told me. “He’s a control freak.” Under the precautious eyes of my bloodline, the monster lurking beneath the surface was bound to be revealed.
Yet, I had been struck by the bug and was good at ignoring the signs. So, this guy I was dating would always make comments about how he “didn’t want me going outside without him” and “didn’t want me talking to other guys.” Every time he made those comments, though; he was laughing. I thought he was joking and was hoping that he was not actually a possessive lunatic. Every shred of my being seemed to be crying out “please don’t let this guy be crazy…deranged.” I didn’t want to find myself living a remake of Martin Lawrence’s comedy depiction of some brother you just couldn’t shake no matter how hard you tried. One of those “call your crazy Uncle Bootsie and have him round up the troops” types of brothers.
Unfortunately, in spite of his jealous rage, I was young and turned on by the fact that he expressed interest in me. Whether it was that borderline psychotic kind of interest is another story. That’s the fun and sometimes dangerous element behind being young and naïve. You always seem to think that the other person is operating on your behalf. In my case, instead of summoning common sense, I thought it was attractive that he wanted me all to himself. Not once did I think his possessive nature would cause him to do me bodily harm. However, his sometimes scary behavior went on for longer than I thought it would and, after a while; I began to view his attitude towards me in the same manner that my family and friends did.
I had definitely landed myself in a horrible web of destruction. I got to the point where I knew I had to get out of the relationship…and fast. This was not just a simple scenario where the boyfriend got an attitude and stopped speaking to me for days. This was clearly an instance where staying in the relationship could cost me everything. I talked to my friends about leaving him and how I had the gut wrenching feeling that making the decision to leave him would mean danger. My intuition told me that this guy was several screws short and that reality totally escaped him. I could imagine him doing something crazy, upon me revealing my overwhelming need to call it quits.
All things aside, I didn’t want to lead him on and he needed to know that we were not going to work out. I had no grand delusions of us marrying and having several children who would probably grow up to be just as creepy as him. I wanted o-u-t! I had planned to tell him, during
what was supposed to be our last date. Coincidentally, during my time of considering giving him the boot; I had fallen for the man that I eventually married years later. I informed him of how I felt trapped in a relationship with a guy who made me feel like going into the witness protection program…changing my name to Abdullah X or something. I didn’t want to enter into a new relationship, without calling the present one off.
My day of awakening came, after weeks of considering the outcome of letting my crazed companion down easy. We were supposed to go to see a movie but stopped off at his place prior to, because he wanted to check something on his car…the muffler, tires…I don’t know…it was all the same to me. I nervously went through different scenarios in my head, searching for the right words. I mean, I couldn’t very well tell him that I was calling it quits, because he made me want to get a restraining order…double-bolt my doors, hang crosses over my bedroom window and sprinkle holy water on all the doorposts. This brother was scary and I knew I had to choose my words carefully.
So, we were back at his house and were standing alongside his car. I don’t remember when the little light above my head came on but I was suddenly inspired to dump him. “I’ve decided we aren’t right for one another,” I told him. I gave examples of why I felt we weren’t compatible. I must have sounded like the droning voice from Charlie Brown; because he barely blinked. All the while, he was tinkering at something under the hood. He shook something and gave something a final check and then let down the hood of the car. Up until this point, he had never responded. I found myself feeling relieved and thinking “maybe he doesn’t care, after all.” The break-up was going smoother than anticipated until I got optimistic and uttered the seven words that caused his eyes to roll into the back of his head. “I want to be with someone else,” I said in somewhat of a whisper but loud enough for him to hear.
What was I thinking? I probably could have said anything but that and escaped his wrath. He quickly walked towards me with that nervous twitch you get when you are lying or about to explode. It was as if my heart was beating in my throat. “What did you say?” he asked. I gulped just before replying as a child would who has done something wrong. “I want to be with someone else,” I repeated. The look in his eyes brought all of my families’ warnings back to remembrance. He drew back and cold-cocked me with an open palm. The sting sent tension through my entire body. The tears came quickly and I began threatening to have my brothers “whip his ***.” (There was a time when the profanity outweighed the sweetness). I guess this angered him, because he began shouting at me. “You’d better shut your mouth!”
“Your brother’s aren’t going to do anything…punks!” I hurried away. I cut through the alley where he was parked and started a half-run down the pavement.
I remember people sitting on their porches and observing me as I scurried past. I could hear him shouting “come back here,” as I made my escape. I was halfway looking back, when I heard footsteps coming quickly behind me. He grabbed me by the arm and began pulling me down the street. The skin on my arm whimpered beneath his fingertips and I struggled to get loose. It was as if people pretended not to notice. No one wanted to get involved. They probably made assumptions that this was a lover’s quarrel and we would make up soon. With each attempt to break his grip, his nails drove into my skin like nails into cheap wood. A spray of blood traveled down my arm, as he pulled me back to his car.
“I should pistol whip you,” he said through clenched teeth. I thought he was just speaking from anger and would calm down. I was sadly mistaken, because he jerked me by my arm and pulled me to the passenger side of his Buick. Reaching into the glove box, he pulled out a very big gun.
I didn’t spend time trying to figure out whether or not he would use it. I became as humble as a lamb…started crying like a newborn baby. He held the gun up and I could see the makings of the barrel. My life flashed before me, as I stood paralyzed from fear. Just when I thought the gunshot would resound across the neighborhood, he went into the most bizarre portrayal of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. “I’m…I’m s-sorry,” he said stuttering.
“I’ll never hit you again.”
“It only happened once.” He tried to make sense of his behavior. To him, striking me once didn’t mean he would ever lay a hand on me in the future. He tried convincing me that something must have taken a hold of him, because he didn’t know why he pulled out the gun and…
It really didn’t matter to me. I was happy to be alive. I told him that “it was okay.” I needed to say what he wanted to hear. He told me that he would take me home and I wasn’t going to question anything, for fear of him falling back into the role of maniac. The ride home was a test of my will to not grab the steering wheel and place us both in a ditch. I stared out the window, to keep myself from launching a full-fledged frontal attack on his frontal lobe. I had never been struck before. Needless to say, I had never had a date go so horribly wrong. I could have lost my life, on account of letting all the signs of an emotionally unstable person fly.
When we pulled up in front of my brick home, it was the sweetest sight I knew. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked. I led him to believe everything was fine and that it would all go back to normal at the dawning of a new day…a day I almost never saw. My family was on high alert…my mom paced the floor in anger and my brothers could taste blood. I was sure that he wouldn’t have the courage to show his face again. For a week or so, it was as if he had fallen off the face of the planet. Until, one day; he resurfaced at my place of employment. I was a Pharmacy Technician and was working the “In” window where customers could drop off prescriptions.
I was in the middle of inputting some information and could feel the air of someone standing over me. “I’ll be right with you,” I said; without looking up but gesturing with my hands. A few moments later, I looked up only to have the eyes of a mad man staring into my soul. I tried signaling to someone for help but, at the same time; didn’t want him to make a scene. A woman of medium build, about 5 “5” in height was standing close behind. “Why haven’t you called me?” he asked in a demented sounding voice. I failed to reply, because I didn’t know what to say, at the time.
“I’m not leaving until you give me an answer,” he said. I’m not sure why I didn’t start screaming and flailing my arms like a crazed lunatic but I didn’t. I felt that I had to find closure. He would never leave me alone, if I didn’t give him what he wanted. I asked to, momentarily; be excused. He would be waiting in the parking lot. I had promised to come out and speak with him. Before exiting, I notified security and Mel (my current husband). I was relieved that Mel was working that day and our friend, a Chicago Police Officer; was aware of the problem I had. They stood just inside the doors to Osco Drug, as I walked towards the car of a madman.
I sat down and kept the door cracked…just in case I had to make a quick exit. I failed to consider the fact that he might have brought the gun he’d used to threaten me with, prior to today. However, it was as if I was certain that it wouldn’t come to that. I was still nervous, though. We talked and he told me how he “knew it was over.” I didn’t understand why he had let me go that day…hadn’t taken my life. Beyond his madness, he had made the decision to spare my life. Some inner voice had convinced him to leave me alone. We said our goodbyes and I walked timidly away…never looking back…hoping to never find myself a vivid snapshot through the barrel of a gun.