Psycho Killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est

I went on a first date tonight. I was convinced he was a psycho killer. I went anyways.

I don’t waste a lot of time online. If I write to someone and they write back using proper grammar, spellcheck, and capitalization, then I suggest we meet for coffee or a drink. I don’t want to spend all my time writing back and forth just to realize that there is no chemistry when we meet.

At the bottom of his profile, in the “You should message me if” section, he’d added

Do not message me if:

You don’t believe we ever landed on the moon.
You don’t believe we are related to monkeys.
You vote Republican.
You watch Fox news.
You go to church more than twice a year.
You take yourself too seriously.

And as you all know, those are some of my exact same pet peeves. So I had to write him. I told him that my siblings could also recite all the lyrics to the score of Rent, so they would get along. I asked him where his favorite place to travel has been. I’d sent the email in November of 2010. He responded on Thursday. Then he closed that account and wrote again from a new account.

Today we decided to meet for wine this evening in downtown Palo Alto. He said he was having dinner with his parents there and we could meet after. I almost joked that I should meet them for dinner and get the awkward part over before we even began.

We arranged where and when to meet. And he asked me if I could meet him by his car and help him with his crutches. I said sure.

Then I made whoopie pies. Today is the Whoopie Pie Festival in my hometown in Maine. In honor of it, I made some at home. While I was baking, I was watching Brokedown Palace and I got to thinking. What if I’m being manipulated like the Australian guy in the movie. Here is a guy who responded to me four years later. He’s forty-something and having dinner with his parents. And he wants me to meet him by his car to “help” him. What if he is lying about the spinal cord injury and is just trying to get me to his car before anyone sees us together so he can kidnap me? What if he deleted his old account because he’d killed the last girl and needed to cover his tracks?

I freaked. I’d stopped by The Bean Scene to get coffee earlier today and had been singing along to the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” while sipping my latte and unable to move off the couch after a 17-mile bike ride this morning. We’d climbed the hill to IBM’s Almaden Research Center. I hadn’t been there since Houda had been an intern there. That was a lifetime ago.

I told him I wouldn’t be able to help and if he couldn’t make it we could reschedule for something that would be easier for him. He said he could be “beaten to a pulp by an 80-year-old with one leg.” What if he is just trying to guilt me into a trap! What if I was the nameless girl in the beginning of the horror flick. You know it is a horror flick as you are watching, so when you see all the signs, you yell at her and tell her how stupid she is for not seeing them herself. Then she dies.

Then he says, “Don’t stand me up please…we’ll have fun”.  Is that “we” will have fun or “he” will have fun dismembering me? O. M. G. He has a medical degree according to his profile—that I am now taking not just with a grain of salt but with a whole shaker. I can probably avoid going to his car, but what if he drugs me? Then he’ll claim he is a doctor and that I have some crazy medical condition and he’ll take me from the restaurant when he can’t get me to come directly to his car.

I am reminded that I have a very active imagination.

I get to the restaurant and am freaked out. But I’ve convinced myself that there are two outcomes. Either he really is who his profile says he is and this will all be a romantic comedy, or he is a serial killer and I’ll avoid being alone with him or taking my eyes off my wine. Then I can write a book about him after he is caught and talk about how charismatic and charming he was as we sipped wine and I narrowly avoided being one of his victims.

I walked inside. There was a guy sitting at the bar. I didn’t see any crutches, but maybe they were on the other side. I asked if he was who I was looking for. He said, “No, but you are welcome to join me.”

“Thanks, but I need to keep looking.” What if he is the guy? Now he knows I am here and what I look like. He can follow me home and kill me there. And no one will ever connect us.

I walked through to the back where the live music was playing. A waitress asked if she could help me. I told her I was looking for a guy that I was supposed to be meeting. She said she didn’t think there was anyone there, but we could walk through and look.

They were all couples. No single people. She asked what he looked like. I said it was a blind date, so I didn’t know. She just kept apologizing. I told her it wasn’t her fault. I could have cut the pity with a knife. A butter knife. I don’t need to provide any weapons here.

I walked back out to the front and sat outside on the porch of the little restaurant house. I sent him a message that I didn’t see him and he must have decided to stand me up instead.

Then he called. I tried to answer, but I heard nothing. Not even breathing on the other end of the line. I’d regretted giving him my phone number. What if he started sending harassing phone calls?

I tried hanging up the phone, but my phone was hung. I had to reboot. Comedy of errors is all this is, right? Romantic comedy, not horror.

When the phone finally rebooted, there was a text message saying he was in the white SUV across the street and that he was just grabbing his crutches. Another trick to lure me away and throw me in a creepy white van to take me away and tie me up and steal my kidneys!

But the text message showed me an email address. So I googled the name. And sure enough, there was a picture of him on a page for the website for his employer. And it looked like the photos that were on OKCupid. It was looking promising.

He waved to me. I tentatively walked across the street to the parking lot. It was still daylight out, but that might not be enough to stop him. I walked in a wide circle around his Mercedes SUV. Not a creepy white van. His face matched the photos I’d seen. And he really did have crutches and was having difficulty using them.

Romantic comedy. Not horror.

We sat in the backyard of the restaurant house in the glow of miniature lights, warmed by a fire pit, listening to live music, sipping wine (once the waitress realized we were there), and laughed about the ridiculous story I had invented in my head. We talked about traveling and languages and freak accidents. The evening ended with the sounds of fireworks in the distance. I walked him back to his car and helped put his crutches away.

Not a serial killer. At least not yet.

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