My Date Was Arrested for Luring a Minor
Due diligence and cynicism are my saviors.
We liked each other’s profiles. It took weeks before we contacted each other. I had been beaten down by attempts at a love life, twice this week, and was doing everything I could to maintain optimism. To not shut myself out from the world. To have faith that there is a greater good.
I sent him a message after realizing we liked the same places and same movies.
He responded and we had a lot in common. My profile would lead one to assume I’m ready to settle down. I’m not. I actually have little interest in pouring a lot of emotional investment into something. I just don’t have it in me. But, I crave companionship.
He mentioned he wanted casual. He’s not in a commitment place either. I let him know I was not interested in a one time fling. That’s not my thing. He wasn’t looking for that either. We both wanted someone smart to talk to who we had chemistry with. Someone with shared similar interests that we could see once a week.
Boundaries and respect are good. Unnecessary expectations are not. Definitions be damned.
We live in the same area and he invited me for coffee or tea at a Starbucks halfway between our homes that early afternoon. Innocent enough. I readily agreed.
I spotted him upon walking in. He looked handsome despite an exceptionally casual appearance he had forewarned me about. We hugged hello and he smelled wonderful. He was nice. Charming. Very, very intelligent. Well read. We talked about books and wine for an hour, discussing authors we liked and arguing ones we disagreed on. He loves Charles Dickens. I hate Charles Dickens. I recommended George Saunders. He had not heard of him.
When we finished our teas, he walked me to my car and kissed me in the rain before we got in our respective cars and parted ways.
I felt hopeful. It would be nice to spend time with someone without the unbearable burden of fighting for a future. I’ve had enough of that after being stood up for a third date with a man I quite liked, never to hear from him again, and after having a rekindled old flame pop back into my life and then disappear. I was ready to take it easy.
It’s New Year’s Eve. I opted to stay home on my couch and read an Anne Lamott book and drink a ’97 Brut I bought just for the night. I’d been bouncing back and forth between texting friends and reading my book. I read well wishes from those who missed me being out and about with them. I didn’t have it in me to go out, either.
I told my best friend about my coffee date. Then, I immediately regretted it. Like I shouldn’t even have mentioned it. I hadn’t vetted him yet. I always do.
I had no information about this man except his first name. Until I realized he gave me his phone number.
I plugged his number into a Google search thinking I would find a last name. I do this to make sure people aren’t actually still married or certifiably crazy people on social media. It’s a standard course of action for any single woman who doesn’t want to end up in someone’s basement, chained to a wall. The results are usually harmless.
The first search result stopped my heart. I stared at it. I didn’t click on it right away. I just stared at it with my stomach falling out of my body.
Six years ago, my coffee date was arrested for attempting to lure not one but two minors to engage in a sexual act. I have a 14 year old daughter. The same age as one of the girls he was arranging to meet. He was given probation.
I didn’t get angry. I didn’t cry. I didn’t lash out at anyone. I sent him a message explaining my due diligence, telling him there would be no further contact and wishing him well. For whatever reason, I felt that was the right thing to do even though I owed him nothing. He may have his side of the story but it didn’t matter to me. I was honest and respectful. I can hang my hat on that.
Still, I don’t know what bothers me more: the fact that this happened or that I feel numb about it. At this point, I am not the least bit surprised. Nothing, and I mean nothing, seems like it would shock me at this point.
My date was a potential sex offender and maybe a pedophile? Okay. Am I going to reheat last week’s spaghetti or soup for dinner?
And I turn inward. I wonder what it is about me that can’t figure these things out beforehand. What did I step into? Do I bring this on myself? Do I invite this in? How do I keep it out? Am I broken?
I’m thankful I have enough cynicism in my body to know not to trust a good smelling stranger no matter if he knows who Raymond Carver is or not. I wish I didn’t have to keep that cynicism so tight in the core of my being. But, I know it’s going to be there for a good long while.