The first red flag was the full up-and-down head-tilt he gave my body.
Going on a date itself isn't all that exceptional. I meet men fairly regularly and enjoy getting to know them over drinks or coffee. As an attractive woman in my early thirties, my dating life is typical. But this date was different.
I was hesitant to go in the first place. I met the guy on Tinder and he wasn't my normal type. I'm not sure why I swiped right, but I did. I'm not sure why I kept messaging, but I did. There was nothing concerning; he just didn't seem that, well, interesting.
He was little older than me and from what I could tell he didn't have his life together. He came off as clever and we shared some interests but I wasn't physically attracted to him and something about his word choice bothered me. He missed my jokes and anything that wasn't spelled out went over his head.
When he asked if I wanted to get coffee, I struggled with it and put him off for awhile saying I had to look at my schedule. He seemed innocuous but I was fairly certain he wasn't for me. On the other hand, I had been trying to date against or outside of my "type," as my type is toxic. Fun, but not healthy.
So that's how I found myself sitting across a table at a Starbucks one town over from mine, looking across the table at a man I would never normally go out with. I had the best of intentions. I was giving it a shot; I was giving him a shot.
The first red flag was the full up-and-down head-tilt he gave my body. Obviously, on a first date you look at person but you don't ogle and lick your lips. I didn't realize this was going to be the high point of our interaction.
After the first two minutes, it became clear he was manic. Not just first date nervous but full on manic: talking loudly and nonstop, constantly twitching, eyes darting around. He was so up that I wondered if he was on something.
He told a story about almost burning down his apartment complex with a candle while taking a bath with his girlfriend. He didn't say ex-girlfriend, just girlfriend. He discussed his time in therapy and his continued issues with defiance. On a first date. Over coffee. He told me about his constant need to break rules simply because they exist.
During all of this, he told me about how much he would love to see me "worked up" and how I'm a "firebrand" (red hair).
Just then, he declared himself a feminist. I wish I didn't see this as a warning bell but experience has taught me that men who call themselves feminists so readily are often using the label to their own advantage. My fear seemed confirmed as he continued the statement: "I'm a feminist. I empathize with how hard women have it. Maybe too much."
My eyeroll was so hard I may have pulled a muscle. He continued: "If I had a choice, I would come back as a woman. Because even though it's a man's world, women hold all the power. You (pointing at me) can manipulate men to do whatever you want."
(Riiiiight. Because that's why we have wage inequality and higher rates of domestic violence and rape, right? It's why the equal rights amendment hasn't been ratified and there continues to be legislation restricting what women can do with their bodies. Because we manipulated it that way.)
But I digress.
As I prepared to make my exit from a bad-but-not-yet-scary-date, ge disclosed he's glad he doesn't have any ties like a wife or kid because it means he can take off and do whatever he wants, like go on a vigilante-style spree.
Yeah. I went on a date with the kind of guy you see on the news after he's committed a heinous crime.
Toxic masculinity and displaced anger against women? Check.
Violent fantasies? Check.
My immediate departure and doubling back twice, as well as driving thirty minutes out of the way on my way home? Check.
Lesson learned: I'll never take a chance on someone I have a weird feeling about again. Clearly, I was put off by something in our initial interaction and my gut was right. I was foolish to have met up with him.
I spent the next week looking over my shoulder and locking my door. I also now get my coffee at a different Starbucks.