Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Year of the Red Flag

I don't even know how to tell this story without laughing hysterically before I even get through the first paragraph.  You know, as we've taken this journey together through my own personal hell Singledom, I've oftentimes thought that there was nothing new out there to surprise me.  No man would be able to come up with any feat amazing enough to catch me off guard, or even odd enough to generate the slightest chuckle.  No matter how many times I think I have hit the tip top of shocking triumphs, I have been proven wrong many times over the course of the last year, one of which came last evening.

As I sat quietly reading in my room waiting for a friend to call for dinner plans, my phone rang.  In its usual place about six inches from my grasp, I glanced down at it to see an unknown Atlanta phone number.  Most people wouldn't find that out of place, but having a cell phone number with an area code from the city that I grew up in, it is rare that I get numbers from Atlanta that aren't specifically looking for me.  Being the call screener that I am, I sent it to voice mail.  Once the little chime rang, I checked it and wish that I had had a video camera on my face as I listened to the entire message.  I'm sure my facial expressions went from inquisitiveness, to confusion, to shock, to laughter, all in about thirty seconds.

The voice on the other end of the receiver immediately identified himself as Tony, the friend/neighbor of Mr. Gunslinger from the bar Saturday night.  Rushing through his message, he told me politely that he was sorry to bother me, but that Mr. Gunslinger had asked him to get in touch with me (if I cared, I would have noted the 72-hour gap here, but I don't, so...moving on...).  Apparently, or so Tony claimed, Mr. Gunslinger recently "left the country" and isn't able to get in touch with me himself.  "So, he said for you to email him," Tony told me, and then provided me with Mr. Gunslinger's email address.

Never in all my life have I ever gotten such a voicemail:  the Wing Man calling the target over three days after the meeting.  I was shocked.  I sat there cackling to myself at not only Mr. Gunslinger's feeble attempt to communicate with me without communicating with me, but also his obvious influence over this friend/neighbor to convince him to call someone on his behalf to establish a "romantic" connection.  Thirdly, I realized at that moment I had reached an all-time new low.  Although I am not interested in pursuing or being pursued by Mr. Gunslinger, I was impressed with my ability to move quickly to the point of phone number exchanging when presented with a real-world dating situation, unlike the recent monotonous drag of online and email communication.  But, I've honestly never heard of someone exchanging phone numbers simply to then communicate via email!  I quickly surmised that this process would indeed be taking a step backwards and, as I said, I would have been disappointed had I had the slightest glimmer of interest in Mr. Gunslinger.

As I shared this story with the friend I was meeting for dinner, I started making a list of all the red flags that occurred over the course of the actual evening with Mr. Gunslinger and the follow-up voicemail I received.  She told me that she thinks that I'm a bit blind to these things when I'm actually in the moment and need to get better at recognizing some of the (eh-hem) "tricks of the trade."

Red Flags During Evening with Mr. Gunslinger (and follow-up voicemail): 
  1. He repeatedly shared his history as a member of law enforcement and reminded me several times that he was an Executive Bodyguard (or something along those lines).  Although this could have been true (I'm doubting his anecdote about escorting Keanu Reeves to a local Atlanta club, though.  I don't think Keanu frequents the ATL.), it immediately felt as though he was trying to establish a common sense of ease and allow us to let our guard down.  Plus, I can't imagine Executive Protection is especially lucrative unless you're in New York or Los Angeles.  Really wished I'd asked him why he wasn't a police officer anymore...  A girl can never be too cautious.
  2. He told me several times that he had a truck in the parking lot, but was going to walk home so his friends/neighbors with him could drive it.  What?  This doesn't even make sense.  If you live in the same apartment complex and rode there together, why can't you all ride back together?  The screeching tires of "his" truck as his friend/neighbor sped away from the parking lot with him still standing there were probably an indicator that he was lying and in fact, does not have a vehicle.
  3. His repeated use of the phrase "love of my life."  Oh, please.  We just met five minutes ago.  At least laugh about it or imply that you aren't a lunatic are kidding.
  4. My body's physical reaction when he touched me.  Whenever his hand happened to graze my knee or be purposefully placed on my arm or elbow, my entire body would tense up.  I'm no good at covering up things like that and should listen more carefully to my own instincts.  And I'm pretty positive he noticed it too, but judging from how he read me throughout the course of the night, I'm sure he thought it was fate jolting me full of romantic currents.  Blah.
  5. His eagerness and willingness to volunteer his friend to drive me home.  First, men, please don't do this.  Respectable women that you just met are not going to want you to make the offer because it immediately puts us in protection mode.  And we will not accept.  At least this respectable girl will not, no matter how gentlemanly you make it sound.  Second, because he said this before we got in the parking lot and did not offer to drive me home himself, this just proves Red Flag #2.
  6. His recent "trip" abroad.  First of all, let's say you meet a wonderful girl/guy at a bar.  You're really interested.  You want his/her phone number.  Oh, yes! You get it!  OH, but wait!  You're leaving to go out of the country within the next two days.  Damn.  Oh, you can give him/her your email address right now!  Come can't tell me that this guy who basically said he works when work is available and who told us every other tiny detail about his life forgot to tell us that he was leaving the country in the next two days?!
  7. His Wing-Man approach.  I get the need and benefit of a wing-person, believe me.  Remember, I had the fullest intentions of using both of my non-Singleton friends as Wing Women throughout the course of the same evening.  But, wing-status stops when you leave the bar/restaurant/person-meeting-establishment.  Am I supposed to be impressed that he's so interested in me that he had his friend call me?  How did he get in touch with the friend to tell him to call me if his phone is off the market when he's gone international?  Can he not cough up the $.85 for an international text message? How long is he going to be gone that he thinks he can't just wait to call me himself?  All this does is establish to me that he's yet another man who can't take the initiative to call me; I would have to be the one to do the initial communicating.  You know, if I cared.
So, there we have it.  Seven major red flags that I didn't see until I took a closer look and realized that I am sort of setting myself up for disaster.  I need to be more aware of the possibility of attacks from outside of the Realm of Normalcy (where red flags are strictly forbidden and if caught with one in your possession, you could face punishment up to death).  You'd think that after all this time and exposure to abnormal with online men, I would be more apt to recognize it when it sat down at the table with me.  I'm thinking that, for Christmas, I'd like someone to get me a little red flag on a stick.  I can carry it with  me, say in my purse, and have it at the ready.  When things are laid out that the flag obviously would apply to, I can shoot it straight into the air and allow the person talking to me the opportunity to explain away the necessity of the red flag alert.  Hmm... I bet I could market that...


  1. i think you did not notice because you were trying to be optimistic and that is something you cannot afford to lose.

  2. That's probably true, Joanna. I do tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. You're right, I don't need to lose the optimism, just be more aware that not everybody is completely on the up-and-up all the time. I'm also bad at reading when people are interested in me. I know it's rooted in my days of being a wallflower, but if I'm in a group, I always chalk up male attention to the fabulousness of my friends.

  3. didn't give all the details of this man or Joanna would understand that there was nothing to be optimistic about. LOL

  4. Definitely trust your instincts!


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