Red Flags and Car Tags

I was interviewing an artist once. The formal interview had long since ended, as we began discussing issues of the day. (That happens often to me, when I’m interviewing interesting people.) While I packed up my things, one of Artist’s friends stopped by the studio. He was cute. Tall, slender, dressed like a mature prepster, with is square-framed glasses perched in the center of his nose. The conversation Artist and I were having restarted and now included Prep.

When I noticed it was nearly 11 o’clock and I was sitting at a studio on the “other side of town” with two men I didn’t really know, I thought it best to leave. I readied again for my exit. Prep asked if he could walk me to the car. I obliged, pleased, honestly, that he’d asked.

At the car, we exchanged cards. He told me he had some ideas about improving the community he’d love to run by someone who was as “on it” as I was and wondered if it would be OK for him to call me. I said, “Please do.” And two days later, he did.

“Hey. This is Prep. Remember me from the other night?”

“Of course, I do! How are you? What’s up?”

“Well, I meant to call you yesterday, but I got caught up with some unexpected stuff. Sorry about that.”

“It’s OK,” I said. “After all, I didn’t know you planned to call me yesterday, so it’s all good.”

He laughs and then said, “I wanted to finish our conversation from the other day. And I hope I’m not asking too much, but I’d love to get together this evening for a while and talk about that stuff, but I’d also like to start learning more about you.”

I thought quickly, then agreed.

We met a couple hours later. Sitting on a blanket by a lake, I listened to him talk about what children needed and how those in power weren’t interested in doing what they’d been elected to, like serve the people. And then he started to tell me about himself. This, my friends, was red flag number, one despite the beautiful scenery—65-degree weather, cozy blanket, lulling water, setting sun—he was telling me everything about himself, not asking me a question about myself when he said just four hours earlier he wanted to get to know more about me. (Reminder: If he’s not asking, he’s not interested.)

After that evening together, we started spending time together a few times per week. He’d stop by my office and see me when he left work for lunch and movie nights with popcorn and innocent kisses were a part of our routine. One day, though, I started thinking about the fact that we never went anywhere together. Red flag number two. I know what you’re thinking, and no, he wasn’t married. (I’m not sure what this red flag indicates, actually, but it means something specific, and when I figure it out, I’ll let you know.)

So one night, during a commercial break of “Lost,” his favorite television show, I said, “Hey! You know what’s weird? I just realized we never go anywhere. We’re always at my house. What’s up with that?”

“I don’t know. You want to go somewhere?”

Stupid questions typically get sarcastic answers from me, but I took it easy and said, “Yeah. I would. That’s what people do in these kind of situations.”

The next day, he called and asked when I was going to lunch, and I told him I didn’t know.

“Let’s go to lunch.”

I quickly agreed.

When he picked me up, he asked where I wanted to go. I tried to consider the facts: at this point, we’d been talking for several weeks, and we’d not gone out; he constantly talked about being broke (third red flag), and the vehicle he’d been driving since we’d met still didn’t have a tag on it (fourth red flag and a thing I can’t stand; see here); the list goes on. I decided Fazoli’s would be a nice place—cheap, tasty and low key. Off we went.

We stand at the counter and order. He, chicken parmesan and a drink; me, a child’s dinner which was a slice of pizza and a drink. The total was $10.69 (before food and beverage tax in the city went up to 9 percent). Mine alone would have been $3.21. (This information will be important soon.) He stuck his hand in his pocket and handed the girl at the cash register $11.

Food prepared, we walked quietly to a booth, sat and didn’t talk. He was visibly annoyed.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“First of all, they didn’t fix my food right.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“They gave me breaded chicken. It’s ‘sposed to be grilled. Chicken parmesan don’t have breaded chicken. It’s grilled. What kind of place is this?”

He was mad. Really mad. And wrong.

“Chicken parmesan is typically breaded chicken,” I said, adding that “typically” in to stop myself from saying, “You don’t eat a lot of Italian food, huh? Who grills chicken for chicken parm, unless you’re fixing a Weight Watchers recipe?”

I’d started losing interest in him anyway, and this was just another know on the “this probably won’t” post I’d made. Call me an elitist, if you will (I rather like the description), but it sometimes bothers me when people don’t know things I think they should.

“No. The chicken is supposed to be grilled. I know,” he said with venom.

“Whatever,” I replied. “There’s something else bothering you, though.” I didn’t care really, but I thought it only right to ask.

“I can’t be spending all this money like this. Next time, YOU PAYING.”

I choked on the sweet tea I’d just slurped up through my straw. I didn’t say anything. Just choked and finished eating my one slice of cheese pizza in silence. After the final bite I said, “I’d better get back to work,” even though no one really cared when you went and came in my office. He packed up his breaded chicken parmesan and we walked to the car. He didn’t open the car door this time but that was fine.

We pulled up to the office and I got out of the car.

“I’ll talk to you later,” he said.

“Bye,” was my response.

I’d like to say I never saw or spoke to this guy again. If I said that, I’d be lying. I saw him twice more. The next time, he was driving a different car, sans tag. Regardless of this breach of my personal code of conduct, we … well, that’s a story I’m not willing to tell right now. It wasn’t pleasant, though and ended with me putting him out of my house. A few weeks later, he called and against my better judgment, I answered. He came over in yet another car, sans tag. After about five minutes, I lied and said I had to go.

“Where you gotta go?”

“Back inside. I’ve got some stuff I need to do,” I said and then thought, “Like try to find my dignity.”

The moral of the story is this: Never trust a guy who talks about tears up when he talks about Tupac Shakur. Oh yeah. And never ignore red flags.

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~ by MsInklination on January 26, 2010.

3 Responses to “Red Flags and Car Tags”

  1. wow… 3.21?!… dude that is like nothing for a decent meal these days..
    definitely will keep those red flags in mind. 🙂

  2. LOL at him sobbing over Tupac Shakur like it was his brother!! This is really hilarious. Did you give him his $3.00 he could’ve put that toward the purchase of a car tag. 🙂

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