I don’t recall what his profile said. It was short and uninspired. But his photo caught my eye. A tall, burly, blond, guy. He looked like an aging fraternity boy. Kinda fun . . .
He was standing on a beach with a drink in his hand and the deck of a beach house in the background. Was this Mid Life Ken . . . in front of the old Malibu dream house, I wondered?
We texted for a few days and agreed to meet on Friday. If he’s to be believed, he’s a VP with his company, loves travel and is an avid golfer. Very cool.
His texts made me laugh out loud. He was boyish. He couldn’t spell to save his life and punctuation was a rarity. He’s either drunk texting or doesn’t give a damn. (does everyone know what foreshadowing is . . .? )
MidLife Ken texted me on Friday, about a half an hour before we were supposed to meet, worried that the place we were planned on would be too crowded to find a table to sit and talk. He suggested another place nearer to him that’s “always quiet on a Friday night” (red flag #1), and has a conveniently placed liquor store right beside it (kind of a red flag).
I didn’t mind the change of venue and went along with the new plan. I set aside the red flag(s) and thought his suggestion of a less crowed venue was thoughtful.
Another evening of getting ready . . .borrowed a fun dress from Rita, hair, make up, dusting of honey dust (hopeful), and ready. A text from Alpha asking about my week popped in as I was leaving. He was sitting at a bar having a drink. One for me, one for him. I let it go. I’m trying to stay in my lane. . . .that was the deal.
As I got in the car and started to back out, Alpha’s song came on the radio. Yes he has a song. No, I’m not telling you what it is. Alpha. Damn. But that’s a whole other story.
I pulled up on time and parked. As I was getting out of the car I got a text from MidLife Ken “Waiting for the Lyft. Be there soon.” Not sure why he wasn’t driving himself. That could be considered red flag #2. I grabbed an outside table and waited.
For 30 minutes. Red flag #3.
Finally a tap on my shoulder. I stood and turned and caught him . . . . . as his knees buckled. Flag on the play. Game over.
Drunk. He was 30 minutes late and drunk.
And overhead, a bad, local band was playing “Another one bites the dust.” How fitting is that? My entire evening had a movie score . . .
Middle Aged Ken was Drunken Ken, and it wasn’t pretty. Neither was he. He was scarred, with crooked teeth and a nose that has clearly been broken a time or two. He was just haggard looking. His hair was askew and his ill-fitting, wrinkled shirt was the oddest color I’ve ever seen. This aging Ken doll had been in a toy box that fell off a moving truck and was run over along the highway.
He slowly eased himself into the chair and stared at me. “Wow . . .” was all he could manage for a few minutes.
Then he started talking. “Nice to meet you. Sorry I’m late. Damn Lyft drivers. Beautiful night.” Three f-bombs and two references to his “batshit crazy psycho ex wife #1” in the first 4 minutes. Seriously.
He got up to order drinks and I looked to the curb. I honestly thought about making a bolt for my car. We were at an outside table. I was in (cute) flat shoes. I could be at my car in less than 20 seconds . . . That would be an obnoxious thing to do. Inexcusable, really. But I considered it.
But for some reason, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt (don’t ask me why). I decided to get through one drink and be done. Every now and then, he would say something genuinely funny and smart and insightful. And I wondered about the guy that was deep inside there, somewhere.
I wanted him to keep talking. He’d drink less if he was talking, as not to compound this mess. And I could finish my wine sooner. So, I teed up questions.
As it turns out he’s a football fan. Loves the Saints. He talked about football for ages. To show me how much he loved the Saints, he leaned down to grab the hem of his pant leg and pulled it up to his knee.
Once my eyes adjusted to the near blinding while glare of his leg, I was transfixed at the sight of his ankle-high, black cowboy boots, complete with the pointy toe. And no socks. Seriously. Ankle-high cowboy boots. They were the damnedest thing I had ever seen. Where the hell does a grown man buy such a thing? And why? Not sober, that’s for sure.
But his intent was not to befuddle me with his footwear. He wanted me to see the worst tattoo ever, in the general shape of a fleur de lis . . .for the Saints, I assume. It was more Rorschach test than a football logo.
“Oh my . . . .” was all I could honestly muster.
He gazed down at his leg with great admiration. He was very proud of the whole thing . .. the tattoo, the blinding white leg and the ankle boots.
I was trying to keep the conversation going. Football . . . I told him I was a Packer fan and he got up, looked at me and said “Nice knowing you.” And walked away.
He was gone for a few minutes. I wasn’t sure what the hell happened. I thought about my car again. Surely he didn’t leave me there. Maybe he did. Maybe he was gone . . . .
My car was right there . . .
But he was back. With a vivid description of the men’s room. And another round for both of us. Damn.
I should have made a run for my car when I had the chance.
But no matter what I asked Drunken Ken about, to keep him talking, while I sipped the worst wine in America, his reply came back to:
- His “batshit crazy psycho ex wife #1 who hit him with the toaster upside the head.”
- His “deranged, cold as ice, bitch ex wife #2 who won’t let him back in the house to get his gun.”
- Stories of his recent move to his new apartment, behind the grocery story and the king sized mattress he has on the floor in his room.
- His worry over the scary neighbors running a meth lab in the unit next to his.
- One of his many DUI’s.
- And why he opted for time in jail as opposed to community service.
How long does someone have to be in jail to be considered an ex con? I found myself wondering, as it dawned on me that I was sitting at a table with ExCon Ken.
I think he had visions of us stumbling into the conveniently located liquor store, a purposeful ride in my car back to his new pad behind the SafeWay and a quick fumble up the stairs, tumbling towards that aforementioned mattress.
Not in your Malibu dreams.