*This is a Salon.com series that explores the ups and downs of dating. There are different contributors every week.
He was absolutely gorgeous, but I never noticed him really -- probably because I felt he was so out of my league that I didn't even bother looking at him from across the college magazine office we both worked in. So it was a pleasant and real surprise when, one night at a fellow writer's party, he walked up to me, introduced himself and asked, "Do you want to go to Angel Island with me next week?"
I spent that night in amazement at the thought that he had actually been checking me out for a while.
The day arrived and it was pouring rain but we drove to Marin anyway, talking the whole drive. He'd been out of a long-term relationship for over a year now, was ready to date again and was very happy that I'd agreed to go out with him (swoon!). He was erudite and articulate, well versed in poetry, literature and the arts, which showed in the artsy photographs he'd taken for the magazine. We got to the loading dock for the Angel Island ferry but missed the first one because we'd snuck off to grab a quick coffee. Since the next one wasn't for another hour, we sat in the cafe and read the paper and chatted over breakfast.
The rest of the date was perfect -- we climbed around the island, took photos of birds and the ocean and ourselves, talked about our likes and dislikes, which were mind-blowingly similar. We drove home and held hands and made plans to see each other again the following day. He pulled out a silk rose from the back seat of his car and handed it to me before he kissed me on the cheek goodbye.
A few hours later, I was still smiling like an idiot and fingering the rose petals when the phone rang. All I could hear was a muffled sound -- as if someone was rubbing a towel against the receiver. I hung up.
The phone rang again. More muffled sounds but this time I could hear a man's voice yelling in the background, "Get off the phone -- don't -- wait!" and then a woman's voice: "Hi, who the hell is this? What the fuck are you doing?" then him again: "Give me the phone! Wait, I can explain -- wait!" and then a dial tone.
I found out later that his girlfriend (it seems they had not, in fact, broken up) ripped the phone out of the wall after she finally wrestled it from his grip. She was pretty upset when she found out that he had borrowed her car, without asking, to take me out on a date ... and that he'd given me the rose he'd given her just a week before.