The other night, I went out with a loon.
Yes, my friends, Miss Brianne Sloan is beginning to notice that she herself is an out-and-out magnet for drop-dead crazy men and all major forms of loony activity. Usually they’re not so bad, they just have bad breath or make me watch the Dueling Banjos scene in Deliverance four-hundred and ninety-eight times, but man, this one was a nut . . .
This one had found God.
He was nice and actually kind of cute, so when I met him one fateful Thursday (in the Denny’s parking lot after work where I was outside sitting on an electrical box writing a poem), I was so stunned to finally meet someone “normal” that I failed to notice the “I heart Jesus!” bumper sticker on the back of his Pontiac. We talked for about twenty minutes about life and love, what had brought us to St. Augustine and finally we exchanged numbers. We set up a date for the next afternoon (no drinking allowed, he was in AA!) and get this — we were going mini-golfing!
This was his idea not mine, as I know the many horrors of mini-golfing with a stranger — and it wasn’t even a “date” really, he just mentioned that his father owned a mini golf course and a skating rink and he asked me if I wanted to go. I figured, “Well, gee, I’ve given every other loser with dimples in this town a chance, so what the heck?” I was not excited about this meeting, I know better by now, but he seemed pretty cool and reasonably sane so I thought it’d at least be a nice break from the pond scum and genetic freaks I normally date.
I was in for a surprise . . . boy oh boy, was I in for a surprise!!!
When he came by to pick me up the next day, I was shocked — he was dressed nicely and was given major brownie points for actually coming to the door to get me instead of just calling me or honking the horn (and yes, guys actually do that!). We said hello, gave each other a quick hug and walked together over to his car.
This time I did notice his cheesy bumper sticker and Jesus Fish, but I just shrugged it away and thought nothing of it. It could be a fluke, I thought. A lot of people like Jesus. But when we got into his car and he turned on the stereo, I knew I was in for a L-O-N-G afternoon . . .
I like big Bibles and I cannot lie
You Christian brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with a KJV
And a book mark in Proverbs
You get stoked . . .
Please, I thought to myself as the song continued, Baby Got Book?
He looked at me to see my reaction and I did my best to cover up the fact that I’d even reacted at all. After all, Baby Got Back had once been a great little tune and why should the devil get all the best music? It was at this time I first noticed his hat, a black baseball cap with big white letters that proclaimed to the entire universe that Jesus was in fact his Homeboy.
Well, I thought to myself as I tried desperately to keep my mouth shut, at least this is new.I knew that things could have been worse and I’d been out with a lot of guys that had done much scarier things than stick a plastic fish on the back of their car and say they’d been saved. I looked straight ahead and leaned back in my seat, shutting my eyes and waiting for that inevitable question that I knew would come sooner or later: “Have you been saved?” I knew it was coming and I frantically tried to decide on what I would tell him when he finally asked me.
In the past ten years, I’ve been exposed to a great number of fanatics and even several oh-so-holy religious conferences (shhh, I just made some weird friends in high school) and since then I’ve picked up something: Having someone ask you if you’ve been saved is just like when a girl asks you if she’s fat. There is no right answer to that question! You can’t say no because that warrants a lecture, you can’t say you don’t want to discuss it because then they tell you you’re hiding something, and God forbid you tell them you’re Catholic! That’s a lecture and a half right there!
He pulled into a gas station, drove up to the pump, turned off the car then stopped and looked at me. I knew the dreaded confrontation was coming, I could feel it. His eyes grew wide, he placed his hands on the steering wheel, inhaled deeply and said, “Brianne . . . do you know how great God’s love is?”
I figured I’d make it easy for him.
“Nope,” I said. “Not at all, why don’t you tell me?” Then I just leaned back, crossed my legs and tipped my hat down over my eyes. Bring it on, I thought as I tuned him out and began to hum Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony repeatedly under my breath because I know it takes about an hour every time that I do that. I decided then and there that I’d already heard roughly everything there was hear on the subject of the almighty from these hard-headed disciples of the non-denominational persuasion — “God loves you and god is everything”, “Without the lord, you are nothing more than an empty shell floating around a bleak eternity” and (my personal favorite) “Jesus knows the exact number of hairs on your head, you’re that special to him! And he died for you!”
But he didn’t say any of that. Instead, he pulled his left leg up on to the dashboard and said, “Before you start thinking I’m weird or anything, I want you to know I was not always so satisfied in the lord. There was a time when I too was lost.” Then he lifted up his pant leg: “And to prove it, this is my tracking device.”
WHOA! It was the coolest looking little thing and I remembered the first time I’d seen one of those little gizmos, back in high school on the ankle of an upperclassman who’d been arrested for snorting coke and raping pigs or something.
BUT WAIT!!! Didn’t they only give those to repeat offenders and really bad people, like rapists and serial killers and whatnot? OH MY GOD, BECKY, right???
I took a deep breath and said something to the effect of, “Wow, Jason . . . were you bad?” I laughed to show him how at ease I was, but my heart was racing and I was suddenly very glad I’d brought my pepper spray.
Now it was his turn to take a deep breath. “Well,” he breathed. “I wasn’t ‘bad’, I was lost . . .”
Right, I thought. And John Wayne Gacy wasn’t the scary, psycho clown little boys see in their dreams, he just messed up a few times here and there.
I took another deep breath and accidentally swallowed my gum. As I began to cough, he looked at me with those huge baby blues of his, giggled lightly and started pounding on my back. I coughed a few more times and then smiled and asked as casually as possible, “So what’d you do?” I bit my lip and started hoping that the tracking device wasn’t real, that it was something he just wore to impress girls.
He laughed. “Don’t look so worried, nothing bad,” he explained. “Well, I guess it was kind of bad, but I didn’t kill anybody or anything. It was just that stupid crap everybody gets into when they’re a teenager.”
Whew! I breathed a deep sigh of relief and my muscles relaxed for the first time since he’d pulled up his pant leg. I had been there, I could relate! What could it be? I wondered. Drugs? Burglary? Writing threatening letters to highly publicized government officials?The possibilities were endless!
“So what’d you do?” I asked, smiling cheerfully. “Stay out too late past curfew?”
“No,” he explained, his expression growing dim. “When I was seventeen, me and a buddy were really big into drugs. One Saturday, we were drunk, like super crazy drunk, like we’d been drinking since 6 a.m. Around noon, we got a hold of some crystal meth, which totally counteracted the booze and then we were just wired, like, crazy, crazy wired!”
He was talking very fast and I could tell he was tripping down memory lane because his pupils dilated just talking about it. He continued, “Anyway we needed something to do, we like really, really needed something to do, so we went driving around and we saw this little nine-year-old girl riding her bike all by herself . . . ” He looked down. “So we abducted her and took her to Canada.”
HUH??? “Stupid crap everybody gets into when they’re a teenager“? I shook my head violently from side to side and I could feel my eyes spinning round and round in my head the way they do in Tom and Jerry.
To draw attention away from the fact that I was fumbling around for the door handle, I tried to make small talk: “Because you were bored?” I asked as casually as possible. “Or to hold her for ransom so you could buy more meth?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he replied, placing his hand on top of mine and pulling me back. “She wasn’t the Lindbergh Baby! And we didn’t really do anything with her, we didn’t rape her, we didn’t hurt her, we just kind of had her. And ya know, it wasn’t like she didn’t want to be there.”
“Oh, so now she wanted to be there!?!” I exclaimed, half wanting to run and half wanting to hear the rest of the story. “All the way to Canada???”
He explained to me how he’d lived in Michigan at the time so it wasn’t that far and he said they’d been going there anyway.
And then he pulled out the Jesus card! “Bri, it was supposed to happen, don’t you get it? It’s not *MY* tracking device, it’s the devil’s tracking device! That little girl was an angel, sent from heaven just to help me find my way back to Christianity and ultimately back to number one, the MAN Jesus Christ!”
He refused to talk about it after that, he said I was getting ”judgmental.” Whatever.
We did not go mini-golfing that night.
Looking back I can see how this “date” just may have been a good development. You see, no matter what kind of hell a man puts me through on any given date, at least I’ll know he isn’t a known felon with a tracking device. And when I think back on my teenage years and regret a lot of the stupid shit I did, at least I’ll know I never smoked a bunch of ice and kidnapped a 9-year-old to Canada!
Thank you for reading. Go in peace.