About a year ago, I went on my first date post-Superstar. It was an accidental date, actually.
I was volunteering at a convention because a friend of mine has a way of sucking me into these things. Sitting at the registration table, I got to see everyone coming into the convention hall. One of them was a gal I used to know when I lived in Cosmopolos. We chatted a bit, and I verbally sparred with the guy accompanying her, who took my harassment in good stride. I assumed they were together, because this gal has pheromones like nobody's business, and she always has some cute guy trailing after her.
I ran into him a few hours later at the post-convention party, and we ended up talking and quipping with one another some more. It eventually came out that he wasn't dating that gal after all - they were just friends. Hmmm...I thought. This just got a lot more interesting.
We were having such a good time talking that we hardly noticed the party clearing out. We ended up being two of the last people there, and reluctantly started making our way up the stairs and out of the building, talking all the while. We stood and chatted in the lobby for quite some time, and then he asked if I wanted to go somewhere to eat. It was 1 a.m., so the restaurant in the hotel wasn't serving food anymore, and nothing was open except for the pizza place across the street.
The restaurant isn't in the best neighbourhood. It's downtown and not overly far from the hospital that houses the psych ward. But the pizza is fantastic, it was open, and there was a cute and interesting guy involved, so I wasn't complaining.
We sat down in a booth, ordered, and commenced one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had. He told me all kinds of stories about the different places he's lived and the crazy situations he's been in. He has a black belt in karate and tends to get in the middle of conflicts because he has the ability to diffuse violent situations (not with roundhouse kicks, but with diplomacy, of course. He isn't Chuck Norris, after all.)
This does not always serve him well, however, as he has been stabbed and shot in the course of conflict diffusing. He also told me some stories about encounters with the mafia in New York. He seemed to be telling the truth, but at the same time, everything sounded so over the top and crazy that part of me started doubting him. I am pretty gullible on a good day, but this was pushing it a bit far, even for me. Then again, I've got some pretty crazy stories of my own, so it is possible that someone could always end up in the middle of these kinds of conflicts, right?
In the middle of one of his stories, he stopped and got a strange look on his face as a man walked by our table. "What's wrong?" I asked. "That guy...there's something not right about him." The man kept walking by and sat a few tables away from us, and we went back to our conversation.
He asked me the craziest thing that happened to me, so, of course I had to tell him my harrowing tale of German orthodontic fetishists stalking my blog. Strangely, he didn't seem that surprised: "I think you told me this story already," he said.
"I don't think so...I would have remembered telling you it, and it would have been too long for me to get into at the party."
"It just seems very familiar, but continue. I want to hear you tell it," he said.
When I got to the part where I sold my German orthodontist fetishist blog stalker story for broadcast on public radio, he exclaimed, "That's where I've heard it before! I listen to CBC all the time!"
Well, that was the coolest thing ever. "I've never met anyone who heard my story on the radio who I didn't force to listen to it!" I exclaimed. My ego, which was puffing up as it basked in my new-found fame, was deflated, however, by the sound of yelling near the front door of the restaurant.
Waitress: You can't leave without paying!
Man: I didn't eat your fucking food!
Waitress: It doesn't matter. You ordered it. You have to pay for it!
Man: I don't have any money. I was mugged!
Waitress: You have to pay for your food! You owe me $18.20! Give me the money!
Man: I was mugged and I can't get a job and I didn't eat your fucking food and I don't have any money and someone stole my bike!
It turns out the guy who walked by our table earlier really did have "something not right about him."
The yelling between the man and the waitress got louder and louder. He was screaming in her face and backing her up against the door to the restaurant. She kept repeating that he had to pay. The situation was quickly escalating and it began to look as if the man may get violent with the waitress, as she was the only thing standing between him and his way out.
My eyes shifted between the drama unfolding by the door and my late-night dinner companion. I could see the wheels turning in his head, and I wondered what he was going to do. As someone who had supposedly been stabbed and shot in the attempt to diffuse violent situations, he would surely do something in this case, right?
Once the yelling man had the waitress backed right against the door, my date stood up and walked over to them, pulling something out of his pocket. The angry man immediately tensed up and it looked as though the confrontation could take a nasty turn, when the guy handed a $20 bill to the waitress and said, "Here, I'll pay his bill for him." He then turned around and walked back to our table.
"I was wondering what you were going to do," I said. "Why did you decide to take that route?"
"I could tell that the guy was about to get violent. He was moments away from striking that waitress, and if I had stepped in between them, he would have definitely hit me. When I saw him walk by our table earlier, I could tell that there was something unstable about him. And then I noticed all the knives set out on the edges of tables within his reach. [Note: this restaurant has cutlery, including sharp steak knives, pre-set on all the tables instead of having them brought out with meals. Not so bright, these owners with the restaurant in the scary downtown neighbourhood near the psych ward. Not so bright at all.] I had a feeling that something horrible could happen here, so I kept an eye on him. In the end, it cost me $20 to keep someone from getting hurt. I'd rather pay that than deal with the alternative."
It was a simple solution, but it worked. The almost-violent man called, "Thanks, man, thanks. It means a lot, I was mugged" at my date, while the waitress yelled, "Get out! Don't ever come in here again!!"
It was no mafia confrontation, but dude did know how to handle weird violent situations after all. Unfortunately, we didn't get to talk about how awesome my story on the radio was, as you can't really go back after you see a bunch of screaming and almost-violence. Trust me, I tried, because I'm all narcissistic like that.
We finished our meal and he walked me back to my car at 2:30 a.m. I never saw him again. I guess violence almost breaking out on a first date isn't the best sign for a relationship. Then again, you'd think he'd be used to that by now.
Or maybe it wasn't violent enough for him?
I guess I should have told him I'm a screamer.