The swim was bad enough, with both children glowering at the grownups from their pool chairs. But lunch was worse. No sooner had the waiter taken our order than the girl seized one of the action figures from her brother's fist and threw it across the restaurant. The boy screamed in outrage, hit his sister with the other action figure, then ran over to get the first one so he could hit her with that, too. As the sister returned fire with her fists, I turned to see what D— would do. "Now, come on, children," she said gently, lovingly, pleadingly. "Now, come on ... ."
Ten years (and one marriage) ago, I would have excused all this somehow, put it aside, and pressed on with a next date, because the mother, after all, was hot. No more. Well, all right, to be perfectly honest, I did ask her out on one more date, hoping her demon children would be more agreeable in their city home. They weren't. So that was that. After decades of ignoring red flags, only to sail into disaster each time, I've finally realized that no matter how gorgeous and alluring the new stranger is, you have to quit when a red flag goes up. As soon as it goes up.