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From Romance to Thriller in One Evening

The man and woman stand on the dark street. night time

Picture it: it’s the Summer before my senior year; I’m seventeen and about to go on a blind date with a boy from a neighboring town. It’s the late nineties, Adam Sandler movies are all the rage, and apparently, so is showing up for a date dressed in a faded Def Leopard T-shirt while rocking ‘jorts’ (jean shorts ala John Cena circa WWE Attitude Era) while blaring Metallica from your black, Ford F-150 truck stereo. The truck was also lifted because, of course, it was. I am a little more dressed up, but those little details mattered more to my mom than me.

After a quick pole vault into the passenger seat, we took off for the neighboring town, but not before he handed me a CD case full of every heavy metal band ever known. I was asked to pick my favorite, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is where the date officially went downhill. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with heavy metal or people who listen to it; it’s just not my thing, so declining to pick a favorite, because I didn’t have one, was not a great way to start a date with someone who had chosen that as his image.

Despite this initial faux pas, we’d made it an entire two blocks from my house when he dropped this little gem. “So, where do you see our relationship going? Do you think we’re going to make it?” (Cue uncomfortable side-eye from the passenger seat.) My dude, we literally just met a couple of minutes ago; it’s a little early to be planning the wedding, I thought as I nervously looked around for a way out. Seeing as there was none, I tried to laugh it off and quickly changed the subject to a more neutral one: the football rivalry between our schools. As I’m sure you can guess, it didn’t work. Heavy metal dude did not care about football.

Thankfully, we arrived at the movie theater, where I demanded to pay for my own ticket. Yes, he offered, but there was no way I would allow for even the slightest hint of a possibility that I ‘owed him’ later. However, this added to the growing list of awkward and uncomfortable moments between us, and only around thirty minutes had passed since we first met each other.

Inside the crowded movie theater, I did my best to ensure my body language made perfectly clear that no ‘yawn and stretch’ moves were wanted or appreciated. I sat so far away from him, you’d have thought the person to my right was my date. If it had been an aisle seat, I would have fallen into the aisle; I leaned so far away. Since he kept his hands to himself, I naively thought he had gotten the hint and realized the date was over. I was wrong. Apparently, in his mind, things were going swimmingly, and we had reached the point in our relationship where it was time to meet the family. I wish I was kidding; sadly, I am not.

Back in the truck, despite multiple attempts on my part to get this guy to take me home, remember, this is the nineties, pre-cell phones, pre-ubers, we’re now on our way to his cousin’s house. I am still about twenty minutes from home, a long stretch of highway separating me from freedom, and as I contemplate how long of a walk that would be, the cousin appears on the porch. The three of us stand around as my date now attempts to show how close we are by wrapping his unwanted arm around my waist as he introduces me to the cousin.

His aunt appears a few minutes later to take out the garbage and completely ignores my greeting. As I stood there in surprise, my ‘chivalrous’ date and his equally ‘chivalrous’ cousin laughed hysterically at my confusion. The aunt is deaf. When she reappears, the cousin explains the situation, and she laughs hysterically. Now, all three of them laugh hysterically because I said hello to a woman who could not hear me. I seriously felt like I had stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. And there was no way in Hades I was going on another date with this tool if that was the kind of thing he found funny. I mean, I wasn’t going on a second date anyway, but that really sealed the deal.

He finally agrees to take me home, and I am so over this nonsense that I sit there silently, counting the minutes until I can flee the truck for the safety of my home. As we pass field after field of row crops, this guy turns to me and says, and I quote. “I could bury you in one of those fields, and no one would ever know.” (Cue very concerned side-eye from the passenger seat)

It is unclear what exactly he meant by that. That the farmer who owned the field would never notice a burial mound amongst the corn? That his tractor would fail to unearth a shallow grave? That no one would think to question the last known person to see me alive? This was before all the legal shows became hugely popular, so maybe he didn’t know the ‘significant other’ is always the first person the police suspect. Regardless, I am now completely freaked out and try to calculate the chance of survival if I were to open the door and fling myself out of a moving vehicle.

Since I never took physics, I do not trust my math, and will myself to hang on just a little longer. To my immense relief, he doesn’t act on his statement, and I do make it home, flinging open the door and running inside as soon as the truck pulls into the driveway, where I cried/laughingly recounted the events of my ‘date’ to my mother.

You would think that was the end of it. For most people, threatening to bury your date in a field would be the end of it. To him, we were now in a relationship. He called me sixteen times the next day, and when I finally found the courage to talk to him, and of course ‘broke up’ with him, he acted completely surprised and heartbroken.

Decades later, when I tell this story, it’s usually met with laughter and shock that someone could be that unaware of reality. I don’t think there was a point when I was in real danger, though I’ll never know for sure. I think the guy was just very awkward and socially inexperienced, and it came out in strange ways.

As a romance author, I’ve had conversations with people about how fast characters get together in romance books, often going from blind date to married in days, weeks, or a few months at most. Some think it’s too fast and unrealistic, others disagree. I, on the other hand, will never forget the time when we went from blind date to till death do us part in the span of one evening.

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