Never date a man who imagines
ways to rape you
He sounded great on the phone. Urbane, sophisticated, and most important, the man was funny. He called himself "Clark" and me he called "Lois." He promised me he couldn't leap tall buildings but he assured me that when I saw what he could achieve during our fist meeting, I wouldn't be disappointed.
An architect, he hinted that some of his most recent designs were in the Bandanna Square neighborhood of St. Paul. He asked if I like jazz, and offered to meet me at the Dakota, an upscale bar where people our age gather for drinks, excellent aperitifs and the cool sounds of our generation.
I spent two hours getting ready. The day before I stopped at the salon for a quick touch-up on my hair color. I told my children that I may have met a man I could take seriously; a fellow with a sense of humor and light touch.
"Be home before midnight," my fourteen-year-old daughter warned. "You don't know this guy, mom."
Didn't know him? Nonsense. His laugh was as familiar as my own; his quiet "good night" before he hung up after our late-night calls was as comforting as a father's promise that all would be well.
I arrived a bit late; not on purpose but I decided a dramatic entrance wouldn't hurt. I looked pretty good for a fifty-one-year-old woman. My short navy skirt accentuated my tan legs, and my striped tank top complimented my recent weight loss to showcase my waist, trim arms and straight shoulders.
He was a big man - he told me in advance, so I was prepared. When I saw him I was surprised; he was taller than anyone else in the room. Other men lied to me about their height; this guy was well over six-and-a-half feet. His large, elegant head was covered with white-gray hair that I could tell had once been blond; perhaps strawberry. His eyebrows were large, bushy, his eyes bright blue and his smile was broad.
I stared at him, I'm sure. I know I stared at him when we first met, face-to-face. It seemed, I thought, too good to be true. Too good and too easy. After three, four years of dating I was at last in the presence of a man who was amusing, bright, and attractive. I felt intoxicated, hopeful.
We sat at a round bistro table on two tall, tipsy stools and ordered old fashions.
Then it happened.
"I'm worried about you, Kristine," he said.
"Whatever for?" I asked and felt my eyelashes flutter. A tall, attractive, successful architect was worried about me. Oh, my.
"You're too attractive to be dating online."
"That's sweet," I said as I twirled the ice cubes in my drink. "But I'm average." I lied. "Plain old Minnesota Scandinavian. Blond, blue, tall. . . variations on a theme."
"You're going to get hurt," he said.
:My glass froze on the way to my lips.
"What ever do you mean?"
"Raped." he said. He sat back in his chair and his eyes connected, dead and cold, with mine. I shivered.
"I'm not getting raped," I laughed and tossed my head. "Who would want to rape me? I'm an old woman, for God's sake. A feeble, lonely old woman."
"You're not old," he hissed and leaned across the table. My right foot, perched on the tippy rung slipped. I banged my foot the floor and the table slid with me. As I struggled to regain my balance on the cafe stool he continued.
"You're hot," he whispered; loud enough for the two women at the table next us to hear. Their heads rotated in unison at the word. "Too hot for this kind of stuff."
"What kind of stuff?" I asked, my heart pounding in my chest, my face growing hot with a wild, frightened blush.
He gestured to my chest, my legs, my face. "This," he said. "This kind of stuff. The great legs, the blond hair. This is what will get you raped."
"You're creeping me out," I laughed and took a deep gulp of my cocktail. This could not be happening to me. But of course, it was. Of course. It was.
"I don't mean to creep you out," he leaned back and licked his lips. "I only mean to tell you what's bound to happen. You're taking too many chances for a beautiful woman. You shouldn't be doing this, Kristine. You're bound to get raped."
"Ridiculous," I said and finished the old fashioned. The cold booze lodged in the back of my throat and I coughed. "Look where we are. Surrounded by people. What self-respecting rapist would jump a woman in a classy place like this."
"That don't mean shit," he said.
"Nope. Anyone could get you. If I wanted to rape you tonight, I'd rape you in a heart beat. No one would stop me."
I glanced around the night club, filled with baby-boomer and their partners. The women next to me were wide-eyed, shocked at this conversation. No one else seemed aware of the fact that I was across the table from a full-blown psycho.
Who, I thought, would rise to help me if this pig pounced?
"Ridiculous," I coughed. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't I?" he smiled. "Let's assume after two, maybe three of these drinks, you decide to use the ladies' room."
"Okay. . . "
"Check it out," he said. "Check where it is."
I glanced, and saw the icon of a woman's form on a door to the left.
"So?" I said. "So what? So, there's the bathroom. So what about it?"
"Shadows.," he whispered.
"Pardon?" I leaned closer, reluctant but curious to catch every word.
:"It's in the shadows. You didn't even notice, did you?" He laughed the same delightful giggle I'd heard on the phone the night before. Why didn't I recognize the sinister sounds underneath? " I'd hide, right there," he pointed to a dark corner beside the restroom door, "you'd come out of the bathroom, and you wouldn't suspect a thing."
"But what would you. . ."
"I'd wrap your mouth so you couldn't scream, and drag you. It wouldn't be any trouble at all. You're what, 140 pounds at the most?"
"One thirty, but that's neither here nor. . ."
"The parking lot is eight steps from that shadow. I counted."
I slammed down the rest of my drink and stood beside my chair, shoulders back, stretching to my full height.
"Well, then," I announced, glaring into his face. "I think this evening has come to an end."
"What do you mean?" he rose, and his full height dominated me as I remembered how big he was.
"I'm off," my voice was louder than I intended. "Must get home. It's been a pleasure."
"Wait," he reached for my arm and I felt the force behind his grip. "Let me walk you to your car."
The bouncer at the Dakota is smaller than the architect who wanted to rape me. The bouncer has a face peppered with acne scars and his shoes were scuffed. He needs a hair cut and a good teeth cleaning. If he had been my date at the nightclub, I would have taken one look at him and left.
But that night, as the short, stocky Dakota bouncer opened the door to my car, deposited me behind the wheel and waited until I was locked and safe, I looked into his milky, be-speckled blue eyes and began to cry.
He was beautiful; the most powerful, decent and handsome man in all of St. Paul. And I was on my way home, long before midnight.