It was New Year’s Eve Day, 2016.
I had been dating online for around a year and a half when “Steve” showed up on my list of potential matches. He met most of the suitability requirements, we spoke on the phone, and he seemed bright enough to take a chance on meeting in real life. We arranged to meet for coffee in a small coffee shop within a few miles of my home.
I arrived before he did and sat at a table to text him that I had already arrived. He messaged back that he was on his way, but was running a little late. I won’t normally wait for someone who is excessively late, but since he was communicating and it seemed he would only be about 15 minutes late, I stuck around.
When he arrived about 15 minutes late, my first impression was very good. He was decent looking, and gave me a warm but not inappropriate greeting (hand shake, hug and a kiss).
When we got our coffee, I casually asked him where he had parked since the parking at the coffee shop was minimal. He said “Oh, I came in on the train”. The train station was within walking distance of the coffee shop. I had yet to go on a date with a man who hadn’t arrived at the meeting place in his own car. I live in suburbia, after all, where having a car is pretty much a necessity. A small red flag went up, but we were having a good conversation and I liked him so I looked away from that flag. I did ask what the reason was for him riding the train, and he said he “was resting because he had a big drive the next day to Poughkeepsie to visit his ailing mother”.
I asked him what his plans were for the rest of the day, and he looked a little embarrassed and told me he was going from our date to meet another woman for coffee at another nearby coffee shop. He went on to tell me about her in more detail than I thought was necessary since I had no relationship with him. Because he was a grounds manager at a big golf course, he had extensive knowledge of plants and trees and went on to explain that his meeting with this other woman was more of a business meeting than a date. She was an organic farmer and a chef. They planned to discuss ways he might be able to help her with her farm. He told me I was prettier than she was as he had seen her photo on the same website where we had met. Her story sounded similar to the one I had heard from an ex boyfriend who had helped a chef with her organic farm. He used to refer to her as “Crazy Farmer Margaret” because he claimed she had once tried to cut off his penis. I innocently asked Steve if the woman’s name was Margaret. He said it was and was a little surprised that I seemed to know who she was. I told him that I thought I had heard about her from this ex boyfriend, but spared him the “crazy” details. We had a little “small world” laugh. I had seen Margaret at an event once with the ex boyfriend, where he was weirded out that she would see him with me, and I was indeed prettier than she was.
We sat and had coffee and very easy conversation for about an hour and a half. I felt we were making a good connection. We talked about my teenage sons’ plans to have a big party at my house that night, and my concerns about being able to supervise an unknown number of partying teenagers by myself because my husband and I had separated a year and a half ago. My husband had tentatively offered to come help supervise. Steve said if for some reason my husband didn’t show up, he was free and offered to come help, if necessary. This was going well as first dates go, in my estimation. We said goodbye with another appropriate hug and a kiss and talked about seeing each other again.
I went home to rest up for my big New Year’s Eve night. I was lying on the couch when I got confirmation from my husband that he would be able to come help supervise the party. Steve texted and told me his meeting with Margaret was finished, and wanted to know if I could recommend a good place in that area for lunch. I suggested the Gladstone Tavern which was across the street from the coffee shop where we had met earlier. Then he wanted to know if I could join him there for lunch. I really like going to The Gladstone Tavern, and I liked Steve, so I said sure.
We had a delicious lunch. I think we each had one drink. He told me a bit about the meeting with Margaret and that he didn’t think their business arrangement had potential. The conversation was smooth and easy. We were waited on by Gigi, a gregarious woman whom I had known for a while through my adventures related to becoming single, and starting to date. When I was seeing the man who had been involved with Crazy Farmer Margaret, Gigi had been our server on many occasions. She had been following my social life which was currently in a bit of a solitary phase, and I won’t say it wasn’t fun to introduce her to Steve, who was a pretty good looking guy. So, now Steve and I had been on two good dates in one day. We left things with a sense we would see each other again. He again offered to help with the New Year’s Eve party, and I told him my husband was planning to help, but thanks, anyway.
I was home by dinnertime. My sons were busy getting ready for their party. It was a tad odd to be spending New Year’s Eve with the husband who had left the year before, but since we’d been together so long, it was also like spending it with an old friend.
Steve sent a number of friendly text messages that night. He wanted to talk on the phone. I felt like a 14 year old girl when I hid in the laundry room to talk to him in private. He told me he wanted to dance with me which seemed peculiar and flattering at the same time since I use a cane to walk and he had obviously seen that I have trouble walking, but still had this fantasy of dancing with me. I still like dancing, but I am not good at it because I have a disability. It’s not something I see myself going out on a date to do.
This was all starting to add up to the beginning of something, but it didn’t go anywhere other than exchanging text messages for a few weeks. Normally, something that got off to such a brisk start would lead to another meeting fairly soon. We continued to exchange friendly messages until one day he said “I sent you a note. You deserve to know.” I didn’t understand what he meant by a note until a letter and a card arrived in my mail box one day. The return address said Steve whateverhislastnamewas. Address in a nearby town. Inside the envelope was a long, handwritten letter and a very pretty greeting card with more writing in it. The letter said to google his full name so I would know his story. When I did, I saw that there had been a court case against him in 2010 whereby he had been convicted of drunk driving and sentenced to 6 months in jail and had his license suspended for 10 years. This meant that this was his third such conviction. Looked like I had hit the jackpot yet again and met a really nice guy who had a serious drinking problem. The greeting card was full of poetry about how I was such a jewel since he had been stalking my Facebook page and was intimidated by the seeming high brow circles I moved among. I do ride horses so it may have looked like I am some sort of wealthy horsewoman, but I am not. I attend one or two glamorous events per year through the adaptive riding center where I ride. He told me he thought it was important to not remove jewels from my crown so as to make it easier for any man to carry it, including himself. I thought it was a little creepy that he stalked me like this to the point of finding my mailing address, but was reassured by the fact that he couldn’t drive. I was kind enough to reply to this deal breaking information by calling him to talk about it. I explained that I don’t tolerate being lied to at all, and I’m pretty much a one-strike and you’re out kind of a woman. I explained that if he had told me the truth about why he was on the train at that first meeting, I would have sat and politely had coffee with him, but that would have been the end of it right there. I didn’t go on about the absurdity of thinking there could be a relationship in suburbia where I am the only one with a driver’s license. Did he think I was going to be our chauffeur, always picking him up and dropping him off? I don’t think so, buddy. My opinion was it was better to tell the truth right up front, but he said he had been advised by others to wait until he knew if something was going anywhere to put such a major story about himself out there. We discussed our differing opinions for a bit, then I asked him to please not contact me again. I think I even blocked his number. That was the last contact I had with “the man on the train”.