"There's nothing wrong with you except that
you're picking the wrong guys," said my friend after suffering a recap of my most recent
date. If I had a nickel for every time I'd heard this phrase, I would have bought my
own football team. It always makes me wonder why my record of poor choices has remained
so perfectly flawless. This was not for lack of careful consideration. Through
experience, I had determined one type of guy to definitely avoid is the one that purports
to be nice. If he actually comes out and says, "I'm a nice guy," he's big trouble.
I was looking for someone with a penchant for words and a dark sense of
humor. These were my Phoenix years, an especially low point in my life. I would run
personal ads in The Boston Phoenix whenever they offered free ones. It was more a
creative outlet for me than anything. My ads got plenty of responses, but for some
reason, they caused concern amongst friends and family. Especially my favorite: "Fresh
Kill. Still warm. Wretched wench wants churlish rogue for intense chemistry and
intellectual sparring. No husbands, boyfriends or convicts. Smokers and ax-wielding
homicidal maniacs preferred."
"What if some total lunatic answers that?"
my friend asked with a furrowed brow.
"Come on. Any self-respecting
ax-wielding homicidal maniac would be out on the streets looking for victims," I replied.
"Well, why don't you answer a couple of ads? Let me pick some for you
and you can call the ones that sound good to you," she suggested.
sounded like an interesting experiment. She had a nice boyfriend. Maybe I was picking
the wrong ones and another set of eyes would help. I handed her my Phoenix. She returned
it an hour later with four ads circled. One seemed somewhat appealing: a romantic chef
that likes local bands. A smoker. I left a message. He called back and we talked for a
bit. He had a nice voice. We arranged to meet the following Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at
the gates in Chinatown.
Chef boy's name was Phil, and he was cute. He
had big shoulders, light brown hair and blue eyes. We walked through Chinatown. He took
me into a small Vietnamese restaurant, introduced me to the host and immediately led me
back outside. He then took me into two more restaurants, introduced me to various
employees, and again, we left immediately after the introductions. Each time I thought
we might sit down and get a drink and maybe a bite to eat, but we did not. And I found
being introduced to various restaurant employees to be a somewhat strange activity.
Perhaps he was an undercover health inspector.
We continued walking for a
long time and my feet were beginning to hurt, so I suggested that we stop somewhere for a
drink. We were near Copley Square, and he led me into a quiet Chinese restaurant. We
sat at a table in the bar and I ordered a beer. He ordered nothing. When the waitress
left, I asked him why he wasn't having anything and he admitted that he had no money. I
offered to buy him a drink and when the waitress returned with my beer, he ordered one
He spoke about his childhood. His parents were terrible and had him
committed to a mental hospital when he was 16. He had one older brother that used to
beat him up all the time. The waitress returned with his beer and I lit a cigarette.
"May I?" he asked, gesturing towards my pack of smokes.
When I asked him where he was a chef, he explained that he
didn't have a job right then. He had recently been let go from Bickfords. At one point,
my hands were folded on the table in front of me. He gently took them in his, turned
them so my palms were facing upward and ran his fingers over the insides of my wrists.
"Good," he said. "No scars."
I played along. "No, they healed years
ago," I replied.
He wistfully told me about his suicidal ex-girlfriend,
Vivian. "She was a cutter," he said.
We ordered another round and continued to
talk and smoke my cigarettes. We discussed Vivian, different methods of suicide,
alcoholism and depression. By the time we finished our drinks, my cigarette pack was
empty. It suddenly occurred to me that my date fell into the category of smokers that
prefer not to buy their own. I paid the check and we went outside.
being too picky? This didn't seem to be getting off to a very good start. I'm no gold
digger. I do not expect my dates or anyone else to carry me. And I'd been in enough
relationships where I'd done all the carrying to know that I didn't want to be
responsible for someone else. Maybe he was just nervous. I was smoking more, too. This
dating crap is nerve-wracking. I spotted a Walgreen's and told him I needed to go in and
get more cigarettes.
"Sure," he said, and followed me
I paid for my smokes, turned around and he had disappeared. I
walked across the front of the store looking down the aisles for him when he suddenly
emerged from an aisle at the far end of the store.
We went back outside
and continued walking. He reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a bottle of dandruff
shampoo and turned it over in his hand. "This is good stuff," he said. He returned the
shampoo to his pocket and pulled out a votive candle and a toothbrush.
"Yeah, the price was right," he continued, sounding pleased with
Clearly he was trying to get a reaction from me, but I would not bite. I
just walked alongside him, undaunted, acting as if all my dates shoplift.
"Not bad," I replied nonchalantly, hoping to imply I'd seen bigger
heists. We walked further. It seemed he was navigating us
"Where are we headed?" I asked.
"My friend works
the door at Axis on Lansdowne. There's a good band playing tonight and he'll let us in
for free," he replied.
"We're walking to Lansdowne?" I
"Yeah, why not?"
"Well, my car is parked downtown
and if I don't get it out of the garage by 11:00, it's locked in for the night." I
"Then let's go get it," he said, turning in the opposite
"Maybe we should call it a night," I
"Let me at least walk ya back," he replied.
could have mentioned these plans sooner. I made a mental note to add “communicative" to
my list of adjectives to include in my next ad. Yes, a communicative ax-wielding
During the walk back, he showered me with lines.
"Beautiful hair," he said, gently tugging on a curl. "Great legs. You must spend a lot
of time at the gym," he continued, smiling. He did have a nice smile, and an innocent
As we neared the garage, he told me that he wanted to spend more
time together and at least reciprocate for the drinks and cigarettes. Would I just come
to see this band? He had a free parking spot for me right around the corner from the
club. In a burst of poor judgment, I reluctantly agreed.
When we got near
Fenway, he directed me to a small parking lot behind an apartment building. "I live here
and I have my own parking space, but no car," he explained.
I parked my
car and we made our way over to Lansdowne Street, three blocks away.
When we arrived
at Axis, it happened that his friend was not working, so we went two doors down to
Jillian's, where there was no cover.
During a brief pause between stories
of Vivian and other suicidal and/or psychotic ex-girlfriends, I yawned and told him that
I had to get up early for work and needed to start heading home.
arrived back at the parking lot, my car was gone. It had already been stolen once, and
my heart started pounding as I thought about the expense and aggravation that would lie
ahead. Visions of police reports, rental cars and smashed steering columns danced
through my head. I started to cry.
"Even if they find it, I'm going to
have to start it with a screwdriver," I told Phil through choked sobs.
patted my shoulder and told me not to worry. "Maybe it wasn't stolen," he
"Then, where is it?" I asked, wiping my nose with the back of
"I'll make some calls. Do you have any
I handed him four quarters, and he went to a nearby pay phone and
called the police. They told him that my car had been towed and gave him the address
where it could be retrieved. Phil apologized. "I don't know how this could have
happened," he said earnestly.
He flagged a cab and made a gentlemanly
offer to go with me to get my vehicle. Since surely this would involve me having to
drive him back to his house afterwards, I politely declined.
I would need
cash to pay the cab fare and retrieve my car. The first two ATMs that the cab took me to
were "temporarily out of service." Finally we found one that worked. I got my money,
proceeded to the tow lot, paid the cabbie and the lot lady and rescued my car. $140.00
later, I humbly made my way back to the comfort of my home.
I entered my
apartment and did what I always do after such dates. I poured a shot of scotch, buried
my face in my hands and wondered how many more nights like this I would have to endure
before I (or one of my well-meaning friends) stopped picking the wrong
I took a long sip of scotch and lit a cigarette. My cup was half
full. This would make for a very funny story. Tomorrow. Besides, he could have been an
ax-wielding homicidal maniac.