My friends have begged me to write this story down for a long time. My best friend claims it's even worth publishing.
I can't really think of a great title for this story, because honestly, the title would be as long as the story itself. It is the most dramatic bad date you'll ever hear of.
Shortly after I returned to my hometown in 1997, I moved to the local "big city" to try to make a living for myself.
I had always been into Apple Computers. Occasionally, I repaired computers for a little extra money. When I first moved to the "big city" ... I started out selling Apple Computer parts on eBay ... full time. (I still do so today) Through a few matters of circumstance, I became involved with Apple Retail Representation. Through this job, I was able to beta test the PowerBook G3 Wallstreet. This was one of the first laptops with a DVD drive. The main focus of my beta testing was for DVD video.
I loved it.
I had a CD player with a front stereo input installed into my Geo Tracker so I could listen to MP3's through my car stereo. I was pretty far ahead of the curve ... or at least I felt like I was.
I was going to Atlanta (which was about 120 miles away) 3-4 times a week. I was 23 and single. HotORNot.com rated me at 8.5 ... so I suppose you could say I looked pretty suave.
Each trip to Atlanta, I was seeing a rather high profile client to do some Apple service work for them. I charged a very fair rate and sometimes took a colleague along with me. I included a dining and entertainment budget in my compensation proposals each time I made the 240 mile roundtrip. Sometimes, I included overnight stays. Gas, at the time, in Atlanta, was 79 cents a gallon.
For a while, I had been browsing through the personals at a site called MATCH.COM. Since I was travelling a lot to both Atlanta and Charlotte, I thought I would extend my range of searches to 150 miles. This meant that MATCH.COM would return results in the Charlotte NC, Knoxville TN, Greenville SC, and Atlanta GA areas (and everywhere in between). Four states of girls to chose from.
I placed my own personal ad online. There were literally 1000's of results returned to me for my search criteria which were:
Non smokerMy personal ad was something along the lines of:
5 feet or taller
Not a party animal
Not more than an occasional drinker
Let's cut to the chase ... I have a lot of energy ... if something such as ADHD actually exists ... I have it. I like to be active. I like to run and I love to play basketball. I like to hike and I don't mind running upstairs instead of taking the elevator. Can you do any of that? If you can't at least run across a mall parking lot to miss a rain storm ... stop reading.I had a few responses and what I call "one date wonders". I'm not someone that sleeps around, so none of these dates involved sex.
As for an ideal date ... my idea of an ideal date would involve the two of us making a nice picnic, carrying it to the mountains or to a local park, taking the convertible top off my Tracker, and putting the tarp over the entire car. We would take my laptop, put in a great DVD (yes it has a DVD), connect the audio to my stereo, and have our own private drive-in theater.
You don't have to attend church, but you gotta believe in God. A couple that prays together; stays together.
I like older women too ... I have found in my brief dating experiences that women my age are unsure of themselves and a little too spunky. It's okay to have energy and be different ... it's not okay to be completely different and obnoxious.
My longest relationship lasted 5 years ... so I don't mind commitment, but I won't stay in a sour relationship either. When it's over, it's over.
One night ... I get an instant message from a female in Atlanta. We hit it off pretty quickly. We instant message for right around a month. She tells me she is 28, 138lbs, long blonde hair, and even sends pictures to back up the claims. (If you think you know where this is going ... you're right ... but bear with the story, because it gets interesting.)
After about a month of emails and instant messages, we decide to meet. I had been by a place called Dave and Buster's several times while driving through Atlanta. So, I suggested meeting there ... she said she loved D&B. It was close to another place I was visiting each trip called MediaPlay, so I knew where it was. MediaPlay was one of the first places to carry DVD videos. I bought my first DVD there.
One key element to this story was just revealed to you. I am completely directionless. I have no idea where I am at any point of the day unless I have been there or driven there myself at least 20 times. The fact that I knew where MediaPlay in correlation to Dave & Buster's is key to understanding the nature of this story.
So, after my full day of work ... I head to Dave and Buster's. I'm dressed in a nice pair of khakis, a white dress shirt, and my favorite tie.
We were to meet at 8PM near the bar area of the main restaurant. I circled the bar noticing women who looked similar for about 45 minutes. No one stopping me, not noting anyone visibly 100% my girl.
At 8:45PM I started to get the "I've been stood up queezy" feeling. I headed for the door. Right as I reached halfway through the parking lot ... my cellphone rings.
"Rus ... this is Paula ... I am sooooooo sorry. I'm across town in the MediaPlay parking lot ... my car is stalled ... will you come get me?"It didn't hit me at the moment, but remember how I told you I go to MediaPlay with every trip to Atlanta? That plays a key role in this story later.
Kind of feeling wishy washy ... I agree and drive over to MediaPlay ... which is about 5 miles away.
Let me back up for a moment ... I was new to this whole internet dating thing. I was kind of excited, and I really thought that I ... Mr. Tech Savvy could make it work. I had this idea that of all the ways to meet women ... this would be the way I would meet my wife.
I thought my car was cool but modest. I thought my attire was business like, but casual enough. And ... I was armed with my prototype Apple laptop with DVD player.
I also have to back up and say this next part is very atypical of me and my personality. People close to me know that.
So ... I arrive at the MediaPlay parking lot ... it was late October, but because of unseasonably nice weather, I had my convertible top down. I'm kind of weaving through the parking lot when a woman walks right out in front of my car. I almost hit her and have to slam on the brakes. I lean out of the window and say,
You have to reference my frame of mind to actually know why I was so road raged. I had a long day of work, I wasn't in the most comfortable clothing, and I was slightly ticked off about being stood up.
The woman ... who I almost hit says, "Rus? Hey!"
I say, "Paula? Heyyyyy!"
Not even missing a beat and I suppose not hearing or caring that I called her a bitch, she hops in the car and says, "Well . . . give me a hug"
Now, why did I say that ... remember the description I gave you earlier?
28, 138lbs, long blonde hair, and even sends pictures to back up the claims
Well, this person is visibly 48 (or older), visibly 175 pounds or more, BLEACHED blonde hair (like with lemon juice and Clorox), those large Jewish woman sunglasses, and the worst of all ... a man's plaid shirt ... cinched at the waist with a cloth belt ... and I suppose like a leotard type material over her legs and very high heels. She had bright red lipstick and honestly ... looked nothing like her picture. Frankly, it was embarassing to even be seen with her.
I almost had decided to just call it quits right then and there ... but I was hungry and had not eaten in several hours. For me, who is a diet controlled ADHD ... this wasn't good. Besides ... I really wanted to check out Dave & Buster's ... and I just figured ... I'm game enough ... it can't get any worse ... I just won't see her again.
So ... we drive to Dave & Buster's ... we go to the main restaurant ... sit down and eat dinner. While browsing the menu ... she elects to come nudge in on the same side as me. I told her that made me feel uncomfortable. She moves back to the opposite side.
While waiting for our food she reveals the following details:
1) She is actually 46 ... not 28
2) She wanted me to call her by her online roleplay gaming name; Athena
3) She has 5 children ages: 2,3,4,5,7
4) This is something she loves to do ... meet people from online.
5) The pictures she sent were actually of her former roommate
The details would not have bothered me so much had she not lied and just told me upfront. I probably wouldn't have gone out with her again, but I would have at least gone out with her once ... just for the simple fact that we got along so well on the phone, in email, and instant message.
Plus, body type doesn't bother me, age doesn't bother me, children don't bother me (as long as you can adequately support them) and little quirks like ... calling someone Athena ... well ... I can't look past that ... that's just kooky!
We finish dinner after confronting her about several of these details ... expressing that I was little upset that she wasn't truthful about everything (or anything). She gives little mini whiney apologies.
I stretch my arms over my head and say ..."YAWNNNNNNN ... it's late, I probably should head back home."
She quickly interjects with, "But Rus, I thought you were going to show me how you win at Daytona USA?"
Not one to ever decline to show someone cool technology ... I agree to play a few video games.
Most modern video game arcades have moved away from tokens and quarters to a type of credit card that you swipe at each game to play. Dave & Busters had a center kiosk to purchase these cards.
I walk up to the game card kiosk and Paula (Athena) grabs me by the arm (lovingly) and says, "Oh, I come here all the time ... I already have a card"
There were different levels of cards ranging from $5 to $20 and three premium level cards $100, $250, and $500. Guess which one she had!
I know a little trick for the arcade version of Daytona USA ... the kind where you sit in an actual cockpit with a steering wheel and the seat moves and rumbles on turns ... and you compete against others in the same setup. Anyway, the trick allows you to turn into a race horse. The race is instantly over for all drivers and the race horse car is shown on all the other players screens as the winner.
So ... I get in ... throw my tie over my shoulder and Paula (Athena) swipes her game token credit card in the slot. I select my car and start the race. I see Paula sort of walk away from my car and start to watch all the racers racing against me. I pull off my little trick, win the race, unfasten my seatbelt and get out of the car. Right as I am clear of the car, Paula races towards me ... dives with her legs towards my waist and shouts,
Now ... for my build ... I'm a pretty strong guy ... but when a 175 pound hippo comes charging towards you and you are in the path of the rampage there's little you can do ... other than fall backward. And ... that's just what happened. In the middle of the floor ... I fell flat on my back ... losing my breath.
I'm on the floor with my face turning red and gasping for breath. With a raspy, choking voice I say, "Paula get off, I can't breathe"
She's on top of me like a mechanical bull ... wildly cheering, "I love you so much I just wanna eat you up" and:
I'm looking up (flat on my back) ... lack of air has made my vision blurry ... all I can see is this wild cowgirl bucking on top of me and a crowd forming around the spectacle. Momentarily, I catch my breath as someone in the arcade pulls her off of me indicating I was choking.
I get up ... after being asked by a few people, if I was ok ... I walk away like nothing happened. The whole time I could see out of the corner of my eye ... faces of disgust and stares of carnival sideshow freakishness ... I could lip read people as I walked by them saying a very emotional, "Oh my God!".
Again, why I didn't just abruptly end the date there and just ditch her ... well ... I like to not think about that any more.
So ... we head over to the pinball games. I suggest we play the pinball game "Teed Off" ... just coincidence not sarcasm. At the time, I had this same pinball machine in my apartment ... I was quite good at it. When it came time for a match, I was almost sure I would win a free game ... I held my hand up as it matched ... fearing another episode.
After that ... I stretch my my arms over my head and say ..."YAWNNNNNNN ... it's late, I probably should head back home."
As we're leaving and heading back out to my car ... she mentions that I need to take her back to her car at MediaPlay.
I must not have had my head on straight that night ... Why didn't I realize something ... why if she had her purse would she need to go back to a stalled car? Why would I just not take her home? She had mentioned that she lived only a few miles from our present location.
Well, obviously I didn't think of that detail. So, I carry her back to the MediaPlay parking lot. We're there in a few short minutes ... on the way she's just going on and on about how well it's gone and how happy she was to have finally met me.
When I stop my car ... she gets out and says ... I'll be right back. I may be adding a little dramatic detail to her next action, but I could almost swear she went to the car just to think about things, possibly even make a quick phone call ... she looked like she was sighing and breathing hard to build up courage for something.
This whole bit where I was waiting in the car and she was fidgeting in her minivan lasted a good 10 minutes. At this point ... it was about 11 PM.
I beep my horn.
She comes to the driver side and with a pouty voice and says, "Rus, will you do me favor? See over there in the corner, will you take me there?"
Her arm with straight pointed finger was pointing out the corner of the strip mall that contained MediaPlay. I had never noticed the little nook ... with the little door that said, RENT-A-SITTER.
I said, "What is that?"
She said in a "you're a dumbass tone", "What does it look like, Silly? My Kids are there and we need to go pick them up."
I say with a sigh, "Okay"
We drive to the corner of the parking lot, she gets out and goes inside. About 15 minutes later ... she storms out of the front door cursing. In an insistent voice, she says:
"They won't let me have my kids!"
In a sort of doubletake way, I said, "What! Whatta you mean they won't let you have them?"
"They won't let me have my kids!", she repeats.
So, leaving the car running, I march inside. The kids are being prepared for departure with their coats and other accessories being draped on them from cubby holes.
I go up to a large "I used to be man" type woman and say, "What's the deal? Why can't we have the kids?"
RENT-A-SITTER Drill Sergeant says, "Paula can't pay AGAIN!"
I turn to Paula and huff and give her the evil squinty eye look.
Wanting to just end this nightmare ... I ask how much it is.
RENT-A-SITTER Drill Sergeant says, "Six hundred forty dollars!"
I was outraged, I was actually prepared to shell out $80 - $100.
After several attempts trying to run her credit card for almost any amount ... I try to negotiate the price down. With not much budging I start to turn to the offensive ... and inform the RENT-A SITTER lady that they can't keep the children. She shows me a Georgia law about child neglect blah blah blah.
To make a long story even longer ... basically I swiped my credit card for $580. That total was 5 children at $20 per hour for ... get this ... 5 hours and a $15 fee per child for picking them up after 11PM and I believe I was charged something like $5 for something extra one of them ate. Somehow, this was discounted.
I slammed the signed receipt back on the counter and informed Paula I would be in the car.
Again, I suppose I should have just sped off. But ... I waited.
Coming out of RENT-A-SITTER ... the kids seemed like ants climbing an ant hill as they piled one by one into my car. The littlest girl, I suppose the 4 year old comes up to me and says in a cute voice, "Thank you Uncle Rusty!"
In a disgusted but sarcastic kind of voice I say, "I'm not your Uncle Rusty" and help her climb with her siblings into the back of the car.
At this point ... details of reality start to flood my head. I say to Paula,
"We can't transport these kids without safety seats"
Her reply, "Oh, I don't have enough for all of them"
Now midnight and beyond ... I suppose I'm just delirious at this point.
I say, "Well, I'm not carrying them out in the open ... it's close to Halloween, we'll put my tarp over them and they can look like ghosts!
The last thing I wanted to do was get a ticket for "lack of child restraint".
Oddly, she agrees that this is somehow a good plan. So, tarp over children ... good ... and we're off. Vent holes and tears in the tarp made eye holes for some of the taller children. I tucked the tarp in tight around their bodies ... it was a good costume effect.
We only had a few miles to go ... but it was kind of nippy in the air at this point. The kids were whimpering:
"Mommy I'm cold!"
"Mommy it's dark!"
"Mommy I'm scared!"
Perspective: these kids are in the back seat of the car pictured above in 55 degree weather with a 45 mile an hour wind; with a nasty tarp over their heads. If I was a child ... I'd be scarred for life. I think I am.
We arrive at her apartment complex ... I help unload the kids quickly.
I stretch my arms over my head and say with wide eyes and a sarcastic tone..."YAWNNNNNNN ... it's late, I probably should head back home."
She interjects ... like she was using Kryptonite on me and said,
"But Rus, I thought you were going to show me the DVD on your laptop? Show me just like you said you would in your personal ad ... puhlease!!!"
Reference ... at the time I had very few if any people interested in DVDs and the multitude of portable players didn't exist as they do today. It was truly amazing ... especially for a movie buff like me.
Still ... I insisted no ... "the date" was over.
With her whining in the parking lot and realizing that I might literally pass out from exhaustion (and possibly near death strangulation) if I were to drive home ... I figured I'd play along and possibly get a small rest.
I tell her to be no more than 15 minutes putting the children to bed. I set up the car.
I plugged my Wallstreet G3 laptop into my car stereo ... check. I set the Powerbook on the dashmount I made for it ... check. I pulled the tarp from around the children and draped it over my Tracker ... check.
Sort of dark in the car ... the movie started. I only had a few movies ... I decided on The Game w/ Micheal Douglas & Sean Penn.
Titlewise ... I wasn't thinking ... I just liked the movie. Well ... about 20 minutes pass. I'm in and out of conciousness (drift sleeping).
I want to stress a few things again. I don't sleep around. So if you think I was trying to salvage some sex out of this ... think again. I also don't drink. So no alchohol influence was involved here either. I had just never thought anything like this was possible or could get worse. If there's one thing I have finally learned this year ... it is this ... it can always get worse, but usually the bad things in life are lessons in maturity.
Back to the story ... after about 20 minutes ... she comes back to the car, lifts up the tarp, closes the door, and quickly adjusts her seat reclined.
Right about that time, (onscreen) Micheal Douglas takes a blonde into his arms and starts to make wild love to her in a remote cabin.
Inspiration to Paula, she leaps over the center console and wedges herself between me and the steering wheel.
"What are you doing?", I say angrily.
"I love you so much I just wanna eat you up" she keeps repeating as she's wet kissing me with open mouthed dog tongued kisses.
I don't know what to do ... I force my forearm to her throat. Which was hard to maneuver anyway. I keep saying, "Paula get off of me" I start to say it louder and with a little more pressure.
Which reminds me of another Micheal Douglas film.
Right then ...
"KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK ... open up please!"
*On the window from outside through the tarp
I suppose it sounded like wild love making ... the short wheel base and weight of what was going on was rocking the car.
I figured it was the police. I started to whisper for Paula to get off of me.
I say, "Who is it?"
"KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK ... open up please!"
*On the window from outside through the tarp
Again, "Who is it?"
"Just open up!"
*I hear from outside through the tarp and driver window
"Hold on a sec!"
With the Titanic on top of me ... I reach with my left hand for the window crank and roll down the window. I reach outside and pull up the tarp.
A guy says, "Honey, when are you gonna bring him up?"
I had had enough!!!!
With more strength and adrenaline than I think I have ever had in my whole life ... I opened the door ... unwedged her and literally threw her down into the parking lot. There was cursing in that somewhere I'm sure.
I threw my Tracker into reverse and sped out of the parking lot ... running over the curb as I peeled out. My laptop flew off the dash, the tarp flew out into the parking lot like a parachute off my car.
I immediately called my best friend from high school to tell him the news. He couldn't believe it. I told him I was coming to see him ... he agreed that I needed the therapy.
I drove all the way from Atlanta Georgia to Charlotte NC at 1:30AM that night.
I arrived at my best friends house having been on the phone with him for the 4 hour trip. I quickly fall asleep at his place and then head back home around 10AM or so to my hometown about 100 miles away.
When I arrive back at my apartment which was very close to an interstate ... all over my door are post it notes:
"RUSTY I LOVE YOU"
"RUSTY I MISS YOU"
Spelled out on individual post its: "R-U-S ... I L-U-V U"
"RUSTY MY LEG IS OKAY"
"RUS MY PHONE NUMBER IS .............."
"RUSTY I'M ACROSS THE STREET AT THE MICROTEL HOTEL"
I decide to walk out of my place carefully (snooping and afraid) ... I walk the long way to see the Microtel Hotel. Sure enough ... same Minivan from the night prior that was "stalled" ... sitting right there in the parking lot.
I call the cops. I watch from across the street with a police officer as they question her in the parking lot. They radio over and ask me to positive ID her. I say, "Yes that's her!"
The police officer suggests I take out a restraining order. I do so (for $35).
Over the next 2 1/2 months I receive daily emails from different free email domains ... same messages as on the door. Some of them clarifying details about "recruiting" people from the internet for threesomes with her and her husband, the bump that I thought was "the curb" when I peeled out of the parking lot ... was actually her leg, etc etc.
I blocked as many of the email addresses in my yahoo account as I could. I eventually just switched to a slightly different spelling of my email alias.
That was some good therapy.... hope you enjoyed the story ... all true, with no exaggerations.
Please feel free to gimme some of your worst date stories or how being geeky has helped you find Mr. or Ms. Right!
[UPDATE March 2007] I'm very happy to report that this story won "Best Of Technology Writing 2007" and was published in a collection … buy it here: