II: Missing The Early Off-Ramp

After our weekend of instant smit, Keith and I made plans to spend the entire next weekend together at my apartment.

He arrived at my place after work that Friday night and we reunited like a soldier and his war bride.

We planned a night out and our first stop was my usual spot where I went to dance my ass off every Friday night. It felt special to show him a little piece of my world and to imagine integrating him into my usually-solo lifestyle.

We found seats at the bar and– though he told me he “wasn’t much of a drinker,”– he ordered doubles and gulped them down like a pelican swallowing a fish whole.

He got really drunk, really fast and started slurring his speech and losing his balance as well as his charm.

I didn’t know what to make of this rapid decline, but I have a lot of experience babysitting drunks, so I decided it was time for us to leave before things got out of hand.

However, it was really early and I didn’t want his foolishness to ruin my night, so as we headed out the door I suggested we make one more stop.

Fatal error.

About fifteen minutes later we arrived at my other favorite bar and Keith seemed a bit better.

We ordered drinks and were feeding dollars into the jukebox when and saw that I was suddenly standing alone.

Keith had walked back to the bar and was now falling into everyone and being held upright by people who were, to my great relief, not about to kick his ass.

I rushed toward the bar to intervene and apologize and as I did, I got the high sign from the bartender to get him the fuck out.

I’m a big, tall girl, so I was able to drag him out. We got through the first set of exit doors and I was relieved to no longer be a spectacle.

My relief was brief, though, because without warning he collapsed to the ground, landed in a heap, and his head slammed off the vestibule wall.

It sounded bad, but he didn’t react and I was focused on getting him up and getting us the fuck out.

I struggled to get him back to his feet and then both of us up the hilly sidewalk to my car. I was wearing him like a backpack, trying to get him to cooperate and to keep us both on our feet, but before we could get to the sanctuary of the car, he knocked us to the ground.

I’d had enough.

I yelled at him for being a drunken ass and also saw then that his head was badly gashed and bleeding from his fall in the bar doorway, which only made me more irritated in the moment.

It was a fucking mess.

My veil of romantic fantasy was harshly lifted and he felt like the stranger he was.

“I’m not much of a drinker,” my ass.

When we got to my apartment, I put him in my bed where he promptly passed out with his clothes and shoes on and I fell asleep next to a man I didn’t know and didn’t like very much.

The next morning, expecting a hungover, miserable guy, I was shocked to find him feeling no effects from his heavy drinking.

What sorcery was this?

He should have been sick as a dog and he deserved to be.

Even though he was mysteriously perky, he had almost total amnesia of the previous night, so I filled him in and showed him a picture I’d thoughtfully taken the of his bloody head.

He was embarrassed, he said, and hoped I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t angry, per se, but I was concerned, and exhausted and, I asked, what happened to “not being a drinker?”

He told me that he honestly wasn’t, but he drank too much that night to be “cool” because I was cool and he wanted to fit in (gentle reminder that we’re in our mid-thirties).

Then he nervously revealed that the reason he got so drunk so fast is because of a gastric bypass he’d had a decade earlier (something I already gathered from seeing him naked, but hadn’t mentioned of course) and which he didn’t like to talk about.

I reassured him that I didn’t judge at all and it actually made the night before make a lot more sense and feel less alarming.

So, good, great. That’s that, then, right?

NOPE.

That one revelation opened the flood gates of “confession” for some reason and for the next several hours, he told me an overtly untrue story about the end of his marriage, which I’ll mercifully give the Cliff’s Notes version:

His ex-wife tried to murder him–twice!

The first attempted murder was with a knife, which wasn’t successful because his toddler walked in and said, “Mommy, don’t!”

The second attempt came after she had recently upped his life insurance.

She then forced him to take an entire bottle of Xanax, staging the scene to look like a suicide by having him call his family and say goodbye.

That one ended in his arrest for assaulting the police officer who came to the house after his wife called 911, and then a 302 (involuntary psych hold) at the hospital.

In the months following the 302, he had several actual suicide attempts.

I was beside myself with total fucking horror that a living, breathing episode of Dateline NBC was laying in my bed next to me.

The tale only grew more ridiculous when he added details.

For example: When he was on the psych hold, ALL the doctors saw through his wife’s ruse and agreed that Keith was totally mentally healthy and that it was really his wife who was mentally ill.

They only kept him in the hospital to protect him from her!

Then, when he was discharged from the hospital, the therapist he was ordered to see said he didn’t need any help and refused to see him.

The next therapist he saw, he started fucking because women are very attracted to him.

And so on and so on and so on for hours.

I was next to him in disbelief.

Did he really think I believed these stories?

I was giving some passive responses and occasionally asking skeptical questions, but mostly I was thinking about the fact that I had gone from starry-eyed smit a few days ago to a now-frantic feeling of wanting him out of my house immediately.

But it was only Saturday afternoon and we were going to be together another 24 torturous hours.

I started messaging my BFF to tell her that things had gone off the goddamn rails.

She asked if I was going to end our weekend early, but for some totally out-of-character reason, I didn’t feel like I could ask him to leave.

I hated every second of the rest of that afternoon and time felt like it was barely moving. I desperately wanted evening to arrive so we could go out socially and not be stuck with just each other.

He, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying himself, oblivious to my discomfort, which only made me more sure he was deranged.

After 3000 hours, evening finally came.

We went to a punk show where I blessedly ran into someone I knew.

I introduced Keith as, “Keith.” Not friend, not date, just, “here is a person, this is his name.”

He probably wasn’t even doing anything annoying, but I had emotionally checked out and I couldn’t check back in.

The next morning, Sunday, I woke up excited because it was the day he was leaving.

When he finally left, I experienced relief, like escaping a kidnapper.

Except, of course, I could have asked him to leave at any time and didn’t, so my suffering was self inflicted and I was the asshole, not him.

All the same, on Monday evening, I after work, I called him and told him that the stories he shared were simply too much, that I had a hard time believing all of it and I didn’t want to jump in to the middle of such a “complicated situation.”

I was expecting high drama, hysteria even, but he just resolutely said that he understood. He was afraid he’d revealed too much too soon, but wanted me to know the truth about his life, which is indeed complicated, and he hoped we could remain friends.

A normal, mature reaction caught me off-guard and I immediately second-guessed myself. Was he actually the sweet person I thought originally and I was jumping to conclusions? Had I just been suffocated and overwrought during the weekend because I wasn’t used to having someone around 24/7?

NO! I trusted myself and let him go.

A week passed with no communication and all was well.

Then, the next Saturday, in the midst of a big fundraiser for my job, I checked my phone and there it was: a text from Keith telling me that he may have forgotten how to act in a relationship when he overshared, but he really liked me, thought we had a sincere connection and believed he could make me happy if I’d give him a chance. Would I give him a call to talk?

Later that day, this time choosing to trust him instead of myself, I ended up back at his apartment to talk about trying again.

I made it about 5 minutes into my plan of being cautious and guarded before he had me back to the melty, smitten kitten I’d been two weekends before on our first date.

Being around him when he was That Guy was like being emotionally roofied.

So I said, okay, let’s try again.

I missed the early off-ramp and got right back on the Crazy Train.

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