courtesy of

courtesy of

My first sign should’ve been the text messages.

Larry (name changed) was incessant with texting me. We’d met at a bonfire of hundreds; in retrospect, how he picked me out of the darkened crowd is suspicious, and why I caved in and gave him my number is rueful.

The guy had some audacity — you had to give him that. But texting me every day quickly became uncomfortable, and it wasn’t long after that when he asked me if I’d “be down for chillin,’” which was his awkward way of asking me out on a date.

My Christian upbringing has led me to believe that most of the time, guys that try should be given a fair chance. After all, I know I’d want one. But sometimes mercy is very, very stupid. And because I believed in being fair, I walked willingly right into the worst date of my life.

Larry came late to my apartment that night. He’d been very unclear about what the plan was when we’d spoken before; when I asked where we were going, he shrugged. I finally suggested, “Are you hungry?” He scratched his chin. “Yeah, do you think we should get some dinner?”

I suggested Tepanyaki in Provo. For dinner conversation, I wanted to know what Larry was studying, but he felt like boasting about getting fired from a gas station and various bar stories (the former of which involved illegal behavior and the latter involving vomiting).

After giving the waitress a lousy tip, he led us back out to his car and climbing in, said, “What do we do now? I should get you back before midnight but I want to spend as much time with you as I can.”

Larry proceeded to drive aimlessly throughout Provo, to Spanish Fork, backtracked to Lindon and American Fork, and all over Utah County for over an hour. The conversation? His suicidal tendencies in high school and his recent experience as a Marine in Iraq. Prefacing nearly every sentence with, “Imagine, if you will,” Larry painted an extremely vivid memory of having to shoot a child in the face with his rifle — concluded by asking “Wouldn’t YOU shoot him?” — and then explained being on four different anti-psychotics for his mental health problems.

I couldn’t handle it anymore. I started texting my roommate Lindsey for help. As Larry continued to talk, I described the situation and eventually got a phone call. Theatrically begging her to please calm down, everything would be just fine, then hanging up, I explained that she needed to be relieved from a guy who’d been following her to the bus stop after class and had recently appeared in our neighborhood.

When he drove me back, Larry wanted to come in. “Oh, I can take on anybody,” he said. I reassured him the night would be fine without him as a watchdog.

Standing in the doorway, I held out my hand as a goodbye gesture; Larry took my whole arm and pulled me in for what felt like an eternity of hugging before slowly pulling away … and then leaning his face in …
“Well, good night, Larry!” I said quickly. And sidestepping into my living room, I shut the door.

So: moral of the story? First, mercy will get you nowhere, so pay attention to the signs that say a date will go south. Second, set up something in advance with a friend. It’s classic and ultimately a bit rude … but it might save you from an alcoholic loony.