Editor's note: Names have been changed in the following dating tale.
“I have a proposition for you,” I told Steven, pulling him into my back bedroom away from 17 chattering, laughing and eating Sunday school classmates in the kitchen, den and dining room.
“What? In front of your mother?” he quipped. It was his 267th wisecrack in less than 48 hours. Though they had begun to cause physical pain, this last one — I had to admit — was funny.
What happened next was an amusing and disturbing ending to a long weekend. But let's start at the beginning: at a Red Carpet Car Wash in Oklahoma City 10 days earlier.
He was tall, well-dressed, brown-eyed and auburn-headed. It was the last attribute that grabbed my attention. A fortuneteller recently had told me I'd meet an auburn-headed man and he'd ask me to A) go swimming; B) play tennis; and C) get married.
I know. One of those three is not like the others, to quote Sesame Street. But this guy happened to be an auburn-headed man who was whistling.
“What are you so happy about?” I asked. (Sometimes fate needs a nudge.)
“What's the point in being sad?” he replied.
I dug it. It wasn't just an answer. It was sort of philosophical. Showed the guy had depth. And, it was enough of an opening to incite a lively, informative 15-minute conversation, cut short when a carwash worker waving a shammy bellowed, “Who's got the black car?”
He did. As I opened my car door, I turned to see if he was looking. He waved. I waved. And I thought, “Isn't that about par. I meet someone to whom I'm attracted, and that's that.” I didn't even know his name.
When I returned to my office and found a “Steven Davis” had phoned, I smiled.
This Dallas-based salesman had taken the only identifying information I'd revealed (“I work in PR for the phone company”) and, after several transfers, had been connected to a secretary who worked one floor down from me. She didn't release my name but told this stranger she'd pass along his name, number and message: “I want to take you to dinner tonight.”
I returned his call, and we set a date. It was a blast. We hit a brewery, a wine bar and '60s hole-in-the-wall. We talked about our short failed marriages and our mutual bad luck at the ensuing singles scene. We discussed everything from careers and his 9-year-old daughter to the pain following the sudden death of his infant son.
The only drawback was Steven was always joking. The guy literally didn't go 15 minutes without making a pun, faking a stumble — something.
Switching at times into a Chaplin imitation or English accents, Steven showed his silliness that night and, later, on phone calls. (“Ever had a good table wine?” he asked in one place, laying his head on the bar table and whining. Get it?)
I decided to discount the funning as early jitters. But when Steven returned to Oklahoma City to see me 10 days later, I quickly realized our separate ideas of humor just didn't gel. I prefer subtle wit.
When I picked him up at the airport en route to his hotel, he presented me with a Red Carpet gift certificate for a Super Wash (that was sweet) — along with a Far Side Halloween card I found downright stupid. A costumed snake was on the cover with the caption, “Trick or Treat, smell my …” Get it? Snakes don't have feet!
We had a fun weekend — from dinners to dancing. But his recurrent Brit act and accompanying blarney were giving me a bloody headache.
Saturday afternoon, I dragged Steven by a friend's new home. About the time we were leaving, Circuit City showed up with her new washer and dryer. “Let me get it!” Steven enthusiastically called out when the doorbell rang. And buttoning his double-breasted suit jacket and slipping on dark glasses, he opened the door with a stone-faced, “F-B-I.”