pros and cons

The fellow I met this weekend was once charged with several felony counts of aggravated assault. It’s a long story but, according to this gent, he was falsely accused and a victim of police brutality. He offered to bring along papers that show that, after a legal struggle of several years, all charges have been dropped with no conditions.

I suppose this brings up some interesting questions of personal safety — e.g. if he brought paperwork proving he was exonerated, how would I know it wasn’t forged?

At one point in our conversation, he said he was surprised I’d agreed to meet him after hearing his story over the phone. Well…he seemed genuine and honest. So I asked him how he would know if I am who I say I am, and whether he’d like to see papers proving that I am single.

The truth is that there are a lot of wing nuts out there:  sociopaths, psychopaths, professional manipulators, compulsive liars…I could go on. (My mother, who is reading a book entitled The Sociopath Next Door, might warn me to be on heightened alert.) But, at some point, you’ve got to go with your gut and give someone the benefit of the doubt, or you’ll never get out of the starting gate. By the time we’re forty, whether never married or divorced, we’ve all got a little ‘splainin’ to do. There are few among us without some sort of a past.

I think the more interesting discussion we had was about what, on the surface, might look appealing to another. Briefly, this gent’s a salesman…he was not at all shy about letting me know that I should find certain facts about him appealing:

  • He is single, never married.
  • He has no children.
  • He is financially stable and successful in his career.
  • He does not drink.

Also, to his credit, he has a southern accent, good manners, brown hair and eyes, and an infectious energy and enthusiasm for living. He is both interesting and interested.

Yet, as I told him, it would be impossible to tell whether his never having been married was truly a pro or a con. After all, I explained, divorced men — in my experience — have gone through something so incredibly humbling, something requiring such deep introspection, that they may be more prepared to know the hard work truly involved in nurturing a successful relationship. No doubt they enter new relationships with few romantic illusions.

And then there’s parenting…

He graciously conceded these points…and, then:  “I just want to find someone who’s crazy about me and who I’m crazy about!”

Alas, it could be hard not to go crazy for someone with that kind of innocent, idealistic and perhaps naive enthusiasm.

You should know that this gent didn’t give me his last name before we met, though I typically insist. While on our date, I told him that he would give me his last name before our date ended, so that I could Google the monstrous allegations against him. He cocked a brow. I smiled and said, “It’s a choice, but I think it’s one you’ll want to make.” He laughed, showed me his state-issued driver’s license and told me what to anticipate learning via my Google search.

When I did get a chance to look him up, his arrest and allegations merited only a few column inches on page five of a minor newspaper. And those allegations, as written, sounded like a bizarre fabrication anyway. I have to confess that a part of me was hoping for more…as in front page, above the fold, Miami Herald or better. Exoneration in the form of a death row pardon is, after all, far more dramatic and exciting than your run-of-the-mill dropped charges. Heck, My Cousin Vinnie looks more dramatic from my vantage point (which is not at all meant to diminish the trauma this fellow experienced at the hands of poorly trained officers of the law, a night in jail, legal fees, the stress of facing charges that could result in serious prison time, etc.).

At any rate, since we’ve talked twice and exchanged several text messages since our brief coffee date, I suspect I’ll be seeing him again. And it’s possible that all this drama and danger associated with his alleged criminal past might make it all the more interesting!

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