This has to do with two seemingly unrelated stories. Story Number One: On Monday, July 20th, I arrived at work and read the local newspaper as usual. The top headline was about a hostage situation the previous day in a relatively affluent neighborhood. I say “relatively affluent” because it’s a “planned community”. A planned community in the best sense of the word, in my view. The developers did a good job in this case. They didn’t develop a gated community, where the rich are insulated from the riffraff. There are million dollar homes there, but they exist side by side with more modest homes, townhouses, and even apartments. It’s more “real world”.
The hostage situation described a standoff in one of the apartments, where a woman had allowed a man she knew from the Internet to move into her apartment. The initial report said he had hit her in the face with a shotgun, but she managed to escape and was taken to the hospital and treated for “minor injuries”, then released. Hold up, here. How do you get minor injuries after being hit in the face with a shotgun? I’m thinking broken cheekbone, broken nose, broken eyesocket, missing teeth. One of two things happened here–the newspaper got it wrong, or she exaggerated what happened. Maybe both. In any case, after she escaped, the guy barricaded himself in the apartment for 3 1/2 hours but was finally talked out by the police department’s tactical team.
Story Number Two. About 15 minutes after I finished reading this story, “Brian” walks into my office. “Brian” is a guy I previously made famous in my Flirting With Fakename series. He’s been out of town since June 26, and he hoped to be gone permanently, but due to a glitch in the project he was in charge of, he has had to return. Before he left, he told me he planned to spend a week in British Columbia, which I assumed was a vacation. In the interim, a third party informed me that it was not exactly that…”Brian” was performing a chivalrous deed by accompanying a woman of his acquaintance to British Columbia where she was getting a divorce from a Canadian citizen. She needed moral support. I said, “I’m having a hard time putting ‘Brian’ and ‘chivalry’ in the same sentence.” Third party guy says,”You think? I think he is very chivalrous.” Let that be a lesson in trusting other men to define what is and is not chivalry.
My first words to “Brian” were, How was British Columbia? His eyes got all shifty. At last he says, British Columbia was beautiful, but the trip was hell. He explains that he went with this woman to provide moral support while she got a divorce. And he went because he said she isn’t “wrapped too tightly” and “never could have done this on her own” and needed help. During the course of the story, it becomes clear that he paid for her plane ticket and hotel room for a week.
That’s another of your Hold up, Here moments. How do you get a man to fly with you over 3,000 miles to a different country, and pay for it, and you are only acquaintances? And you’re crazy too? I myself am only mildly crazy, and I can’t even get a man to take me to Starbucks!
Of course, you don’t. At the conclusion of the week in BC, she announced that he was next….that if he did not accede to her wishes, she was going to accuse him of being abusive toward her, just like she had just done with her husband during the divorce. He handled that by never being alone with her, and by reporting to security at every airport they landed at during the long trip home. Then he said, Did you read the article in the newspaper this morning? It was the same woman. He said, I don’t know all the details, but I suspect she had something to do with driving that train.
Later in the week, more details emerged. She alleges that the man in her apartment did not hit her in the face with the shotgun, but instead stuck the barrel in her mouth and asked if she was ready to die. They met in an online support group for cancer victims: she is a breast cancer survivor, and his ex-wife recently died of cancer. He was clearly depressed and maybe suicidal, as several postings on his Facebook account implied. She was just trying to do him a favor. According to him, the whole incident began when she asked him to help her move a table. When he refused, she began slapping him repeatedly. Not that there is any excuse for what he did, but it’s probably not a good idea to provoke unstable people.
So now we know why “Brian” never asked me out for a drink. He was “busy”. If he ever does, I will have to decline, on the grounds of not being crazy enough for him. I think he should take up hang-gliding or bungee-jumping, or some other less dangerous sport.