On the confession meme I did the other day, I had checked the box “Kissed a stranger” and then said that maybe I would tell the stories. On my categories, this will fall under What Was I Thinking (WWIT)? I am not known for my brilliant decisions when it comes to romance.

Okay, the start of our tale takes place in the nineties. I think. Maybe the eighties. I was working for Major’s at the time and this was before I had moved to Madison. Someday I am going to sit down and write a timeline for my life so I can figure out when all this stuff happened, instead of saying “Hmm, well, I think it was when I was 20 or 25? Maybe 30?”

Hey, look at that. I got distracted again. Big shock. Anyway, my friend Becky and I had gone bowling. Or dancing at the bowling alley. I’m not sure. And there was a bar. And there was alcohol. And there was Dana, feeling somewhat lonely and depressed and less than attractive. And there was a total scumbag who picked up on these feelings and swept in and started flirting with her.

Before I go farther, remember, I did say this was in the What Was I Thinking? category. This is probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done and it amazes me sometimes that I am a) not riddled with countless sexually transmitted diseases, b) the mother of many small children and c) dead because I was killed by some psycho.

So total scumbag (TS) was flirting with me, I had been drinking, I did not make a very wise decision. This decision was to leave with TS after making out with him in the bar. Because nothing says classy like public displays of affection with complete strangers. On our way to TS’s apartment, he spun me a tale of finely crafted bullshit and I fell for it. According to TS, he shared his place with a somewhat psychotic woman who was extremely jealous of any woman that he brought home. So what he was going to do, for my protection, was leave me at the Embers near his place, while he went to make sure that she was gone.

Does your brain start ringing the alarm that something’s just not right about this? That is good. That means that you’re not an idiot. My brain’s alarm obviously needed to have its batteries changed because nothing went through my mind that even slightly resembled the thought that “Hey! Moron! Maybe he’s got a girlfriend? A wife? Maybe he’s psychotic? Did you even think of that? How do you know you’re not going to be chopped up into little pieces and fed to his man-eating dogs?”

I sit at Embers for awhile. And then he returns. He takes me to his apartment which is, quite frankly, a total pit (I know I shouldn’t talk because honestly, I’m not the most clean person in the world, but even I don’t have tater tots scattered on the floor). In his efforts to seduce me, he offers me some cocaine. I am about to turn him down because I never really saw the great pleasure of cocaine when I see, on the floor, a gun. My brain now decides to start flashing an alarm. “Hey! Did you see that? That’s a gun! You can’t turn him down! He might shoot you! Oh, my God! Just snort the damn cocaine. What’s the worst that could happen?”

I’ll tell you what the worst that could happen is…you snort, figuring that nothing will happen because coke never has any effect on you and then he laughs and says “You thought that was cocaine! It’s not! It’s crank! Hahahahaha!” Yeah. That’s really funny. Thanks.

I am not going to go into much detail about my “relations” with TS, other than to say that we did not consumate our great love affair due to performance issues. Which is just as well.

So, you’d think that I would have learned from the crank incident, right? That I would have said “Hey, Dude, I need to go home now. Thanks, it’s been ever so lovely. Hope I never see you again.” No. Again, I was an idiot. So when he asked me to move in with him, I said sure. He was moving to a new place, away from his crazy psycho roommate and she didn’t know where he lived.

Yes, I know. I’m sure you’ll need time to shake your head in dismay. Perhaps slap your forehead in shock. It’s nothing less than what I’ve done myself.

So I got some things together and brought them over to his new apartment. Like my TV, the book I was reading at the time, nothing major (fortunately I left my cat and Panda at my mom’s house (which might have been why I wanted to move out so badly. I lived with my mom. (I’ve narrowed this down a bit, this was before I lived in Madison, so it was probably 1989-90))) and brought it over to his place. I also, in an act of sheer stupidity, gave him money. Because he knew a way that he could double my money. That night.

I know. If you want to come over here and slap me, it’s okay. I’ll be at the Chalet on Sunday. It’ll be nice to see you even if you’re beating me about the head.

So we’re hanging around his new place, attempting to correct his previous performance problems (perhaps if he stopped using drugs and oh, maybe get an implant, he wouldn’t have problems anymore (is that too much info?)), when there is a pounding on the door and screaming. A woman screaming. Huh. Looks like the psycho roommate figured out where his new place was. That’s not good. Somehow he manages to calm her down (wait. Did he just mention a threesome? What? I don’t think so) and tells me he is going to go back to his other apartment and get some stuff. He leaves me there.

A smart girl would have thought “Hmm. Here this guy has a psychotic roommate that seems very upset that he’s brought a girl over to the apartment she knows nothing about. Plus, there was that whole threesome thing that he brought up. I’m not interested and he is having problems with just me, how is it going to work with two women? Ohhhh. I’m definately not interested. I wonder if there is more going on between them that he told me.” A smart girl would have thought that. An idiot would decide to clean. Which, to this day, surprises me.

So I’m working in the kitchen, doing the dishes, wiping down the counters, etc., when I make a discovery. There is an apartment application on top of the fridge. I look at it (yes, I am nosy). Huh. Look at that. The application is for Total Scumbag and Total Scumbag’s Wife.

WIFE! As in, he is married. And also, there’s a child listed on the application. A child. I am horrified. When he returns, I do not confront him on this (still remembering the gun) and also avoid his attempts to continue where we left off before we were so rudely interrupted by his WIFE! The conversation (what little there was because he’s not so brilliant (I may not have street smarts but dang it, I can discuss Shakespeare like no one’s business)) has become stilted. TS and I really don’t have anything in common except that I was drunk and stupid and he knew how to take advantage of that.

Soon after, he says it is time to make his transaction. He brings up the money thing again. I am still thinking of the gun so I give him some money (why I didn’t use the money to take a cab, I do not know. I could have easily left when he was gallivanting around with his WIFE!), actually all of my money. My entire paycheck.

Yeah, we’ve been over this. I was an idiot, okay. I know it, you know it, half the Internet knows it. Why do you think I have a category called What Was I Thinking?

He drops me off at some bar in North Saint Paul. Cannot remember the name. I think it was Garrity’s Lounge. He tells me he’ll be back in an hour. And I wait. And wait some more. And wait even more. Hmm. What might have happened here? Has TS abandoned me? Is it possible that a man who lied to me about being married AND having a child may have taken off with my money as well? How could that be?

There is, across the bar, a man who has taken to smiling at me periodically. Perhaps he likes the somewhat panicked aura that I am giving off. I don’t know. After about 3 hours, with no sign of TS, I look up to see the man standing there with a rose. He says something nice, something along the lines of “Hey, are you all right? You look somewhat upset.”

He sits down and we start talking. He is the Lesser of the Two Evils but we’ll just call him Les for short, okay? Les appears to be genuinely a nice guy. This is somewhat shocking to me because, and I think I’ve proven it by now, I don’t have much luck with nice guys. I will give a bit more detail on why this is later.

The bar is about to close. There is no TS. Les asks me if I want to go and get breakfast. I have poured out my soul to him about how I have no money so he indicates that he will pay. I agree and we leave, I clutching my rose and his outstretched hand, looking through the parking lot to see if there is the faintest inkling that TS might be returning to rescue me from my self imposed boredom (Because, seriously, what was I thinking that I did not bring a book with me? C’mon).

Les takes me to some restaurant that I do not remember now but I was amused to see that it was across the street from the Embers I had been the previous night. We are talking and I suddenly start shaking. Uncontrollably. I am cold or shocked or both or something. Les comes to my side of the table and puts his arm around me. This is helpful. Our breakfast arrives and then Les makes fatal mistake number 1, he starts feeding me the sausage. This is wrong on two counts. First of all, I am quite capable of eating my own breakfast, thank you very much. Two, if you are doing this as a suggestive, “Hey, I have a sausage of my own, doesn’t this just turn you on ever so much?” the correct answer would be no. If you are going to use a food to symbolize girth, I would suggest trying something a bit larger, say a bratwurst or maybe a large parsnip.

Anyway, as I’m sure you all know what is going to happen next, Les ends up bringing me to his apartment.

I know. My God, what was I thinking? Do I have any self-respect at all? Obviously not. Well, at the time. This is the only good thing about many years of celibacy, it makes you think about past “relationships” and why they were not so good. Oh, by the way, “relationship” is in quotes because what I really mean when I say relationship here is “laughingly pathetic attempt at a romantic encounter.”

We then begin what has been one of my healthier “relationships” over the years. This is not my longest “relationship” (6 months), this is not my most romantic “relationship” (with a man 7 years younger than me, remember Dane?), this is not even the “relationship” where I got engaged. Les was a good guy. He was nice, treated me well and was pretty sweet.

So what happened? Why am I not still with Les?

That’s a good question. I’d be happy to answer that for you.

I have this problem (or did. It’s been so long since I’ve been in a “relationship” that I couldn’t tell you if I still have the same problem). When I get involved with someone, I suddenly change from Dana, fun and exciting but a little flaky individual, into Dana, clinging woman who can’t make a decision all on her own and must rely on her big strong man. In short, I become a woman that I absolutely hate. A woman who cannot exist without a man in her life. I become the opposite of me. And my whole reasoning for it is that I am becoming what I think the guy wants. Why I think they want this, I don’t know. Because hey, how better than to keep a man than to completely bury the fun and exciting Dana that they met and bring out Clingy Dana? Gee, I’m amazed I’m not writing advice columns.

So Les and I simply didn’t have a chance. He was not perfect either, I will never forget the time when he became very ill and I stayed home from work to take care of him. He sent me to the store to get some medicine for him and they did not have what he wanted. I made an educated guess and purchased something else (tablets instead of liquid) and came back home (we weren’t technically living together but I did spend a lot of time over there). He was extremely cranky, somewhat understandable because he couldn’t swallow very well, had cold sores all over and inside his mouth. He saw what I had bought and threw a complete hissy fit, how did I expect him to swallow the pills? Why didn’t I get him the liquid? What was I thinking by buying orange juice? That would hurt his cold sores! Why was I so stupid? Um, excuse me? I tried being very supportive but calling me stupid does not go far towards winning my everlasting love.

The last time I saw Les, he had agreed to go to my friend Illya’s party with me. Illya’s first name was Louis but everyone called him Illya (cool name, huh?). He was born on New Year’s Day at 12:10 and his parties were a blast. Some facts about Illya: He spoke Russian, used to have his own cable show (humor, his sense of humor was quite bizarre), liked the Beatles and, if I remember right, wanted to be a clown (I forgave him for that). He is the guy who told me once when we were playing a game we had kind of made up ourselves that if I was a movie, I would be a romantic porno and that when I found the right guy, I was going to explode with love all over him and he would be the luckiest guy in the world. Sweet, huh?

So I went all out, I had this really gorgeous dress that I was going to wear (olive green jumper with kind of a sexy overalls look), garter belt, thigh high nylons, new shoes, etc. I did my makeup perfectly and looked great. I had spoken to Les at about 6 PM and he told me he would be there to pick me up at 7 PM. And then I waited. And waited some more. I went outside and had a few cigarettes. My New Year’s Resolution was to quit smoking and I wanted to get as many in as possible before I had to give them up. I should state right here that this wasn’t my choice. Les hated the fact that I smoked and so I was quitting for him.

I know. Not for myself. Him.

7:30 came around. I tried calling. No answer. Well, obviously he’s on his way and is just running late.

8:00. No Les. No answer.

9:00. WTF is going on here? Where is he?

Nineish. Call over to Illya’s. Ask to talk to Becky. Tell Becky that I’ve obviously been stood up and that I’m going to bed. I am holding back the tears. Becky can tell.

Becky says “There is no way I am leaving you alone on New Year’s Eve. I’m coming to get you.”

She proceeds to drive from Minneapolis to Mahtomedi on New Year’s Eve. Isn’t that great? That was the perfect way to help me feel better, knowing that my friend cared enough to come and get me so I didn’t have to be alone. I loved her for that.

When she picked me up, I was upset but, after talking to her on the car ride back to Illya’s, decided that I was better off without Les. It didn’t take very long for me to shed the Clinging Dana personality and go back to my normal personality, the Dana that did what she wanted and damn the consequences. This Dana is the one that decided that “Hey! Screw this quitting smoking thing. I have decided to make my New Year’s resolution something fun and exciting.”

I bet you’ll never be able to guess what I chose. Go ahead. Try guessing.

I decided my New Year’s resolution was to kiss every man in the apartment.

It was probably one of the best nights of my life. There is a video of the whole evening and you can see me, my face flushed, laughing with my friends and planning my next stage of attack. I sparkled, Les was forgotten and I had such a great time. I think I even kissed the really creepy guy that no one knew. Not positive.

I never did hear or see from Les again. I did, however, hear from TS. About a week or two after he abandoned me, I received a phone call at the bowling alley. He tried to weasel his way into seeing me again. I told him no way in hell. I should have said yes, shown up with a ton of my male friends and got my money and stuff back but I wrote him off as a learning experience. Learning experience would be “Don’t trust everyone you meet, you door knob!”

Now that I’ve had the enforced years of celibacy (which may not actually be 8 years. I’m bad with the math and I think Beth and I figured it might only be six or seven. But I laugh at these numbers (MWAHAHAHAHA) and say six, seven or eight, it’s still a really freakin’ long time), I like to think that I’ve learned a lot and become someone who doesn’t believe I need a man in my life to make me happy*. The What Was I Thinking? train has pulled into the station and I feel no need to board it again.

*That’s not saying that it wouldn’t be nice if Gil looked at me one day and was filled with an uncontrollable desire to freakin’ kiss me already!

Title, of course, comes from George Michael. I’m not sure who the fool was in my tale, perhaps me, perhaps TS and Les. Maybe all three of us? You decide.

Kissing A Fool – George Michael

You are far
When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death, and from my heart
Strange that you were strong enough
To even make a start
But you’ll never find
Peace of mind
Til you listen to your heart

You can never change the way they feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will
If you let them
Steal your heart from you

Will always make a lover feel a fool
But you knew I loved you
We could have shown them all
We should have seen love through

Fooled me with the tears in your eyes
Covered me with kisses and lies
So goodbye
But please don’t take my heart

You are far
I’m never gonna be your star
I’ll pick up the pieces
And mend my heart
Maybe I’ll be strong enough
I don’t know where to start
But I’ll never find
Peace of mind
While I listen to my heart

You can never change the way they feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will
If you let them
Steal your heart

And people
Will always make a lover feel a fool
But you knew I loved you
We could have shown them all

But remember this
Every other kiss
That you ever give
Long as we both live
When you need the hand of another man
One you really can surrender with
I will wait for you
Like I always do
There’s something there
That can’t compete with any other

You are far
When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death, and from my heart
Strange that I was wrong enough
To think you’d love me too
I guess you were kissing a fool
You must have been kissing a fool