Jake showed up on my doorstep one evening for a housewarming three night Lord of the Rings marathon I was throwing with my roommate. Funny thing: I don't remember inviting him. He was a vague acquaintance I had played ultimate Frisbee with for a little over a year. He came in with crazy, Gene Wilder status hair he had been growing out for months for a dorky Halloween costume (which was still 5 months away) and a plate of melted homemade banana treats tucked sideways in his backpack.
Surprised but not upset that he was there, we enjoyed his company both Thursday and Friday night. On Saturday, a group of us had planned to see a movie. Since we had discussed it in front of him the evening before, I thought it most polite to extend an invitation his way. He replied that he would like to come, but since it was a bit of a drive, he would rather just follow me around for the rest of the day than go home and come back for the third night of the party.
Showing up late to the theater, he refused the ice water I had thoughtfully gotten for him without so much as a "thank you." As the credits rolled, the afternoon of following me around commenced.
I had planned to find a place I could watch the NBA playoffs. He doesn't like basketball, but he was hungry. After an out-of-the-way jaunt to my place to drop off his motorcycle, we headed for Texas Roadhouse to appease both desires. On the way there, I informed him that the last time I'd been there, I had to pay for the boy I went with. (See "Alejandro") Once there, we found a small table where I could quietly watch the game while he proceeded to put away an impressive amount of food in record time.
During the course of the meal, a girl making balloon-animals stopped by our table to ask if we would like her to make us a heart. (She must have been tipped-off by our lack of interaction.) We quickly straightened her out, but to ease the awkwardness, I asked her to make a giraffe for me. Shortly thereafter the bill came. As the waitress walked away, Jake sheepishly looked at me and said...wait for it... "I don't have any cash..." At first I assumed he was joking based on our previous conversation. He wasn't.
After buying him dinner, he came with me to a gathering a friend was having with her family and a few friends (totally not weird for me to bring a practical stranger to) to open her mission call. As we got out of the car, he had my balloon giraffe with him. I told him that if he brought it in, we would never see it again. He decided to bring it in anyway, and promptly handed it to a child, insisting it would be fine... because, I can only assume, he's never met a child.
I did see my giraffe again... as a deflated snake.
The rest of the evening was relatively uneventful, but I had decided I was not interested in this homeless-looking, impolite giraffe killer. I didn't talk to him again until Monday when he briefly texted me. I came home from work that afternoon to find this:
A new balloon giraffe taped to the front door, along with a hilarious letter of apology and cash to pay for his dinner. (Remember that he didn't live close-by at all.) Ugh. How irritatingly thoughtful.
And that, my friends, was the beginning of the end. It would still be a little while (and several less-than-ideal date scenarios) before I'd give him any serious consideration, but the lesson I've learned is this:
Everyone has red flags. Nobody is perfect. Whether he uses a breathalyzer to start his car, confesses on your second date that he was just released from prison, or argues that he can buy your love (true stories), the key is to find the shade of red that best fits your own color wheel. (Heaven knows there are boys out there that will tell you about the time they went out with the quirky girl who kept a dating blog.) That's not to say that some aren't total lame-wads, but once in a while... one might be worth another look.
So... thanks for reading! Good luck finding your own weird forever.