I made a cosmic bargain the year I turned 30. Awash in wedding invitations and aware of my ever-dwindling pool of single pals, I vowed to get serious about the business of dating. I would accept dates with the first 20 people who asked, no matter what. I would be bold, fearless and receptive, and in return, the universe would reward me with someone smart, substantial, funny and tall. I’d meet some nice people, check out some new coffee shops, and no one would lose a limb.
Well, until someone did.
I met date No. 1 in a dark bar on the hottest day of the year. Outside the sun was blinding, and when my eyes adjusted I felt a little jolt of surprise. A co-worker set up and arranged this date, and she didn’t tell me much about the person I was meeting beyond a cursory physical description and some details about his job at the company where we all worked. But I recognized him instantly.
“Phil” was an avid cyclist with an artificial leg who biked around town with a spare leg poking out of his backpack. The leg he pedaled with was a high-tech-looking metal affair designed for cycling, while the other leg was more conventional looking, and the one I had seen him wearing at work while dressed in shorts and gym shoes like all the other tech bros.
Phil was a card-carrying badass, and I liked his toughness and wit. In addition to working for the same Seattle high-tech megalith, we discovered that we had several mutual acquaintances. But as the evening wore on, his sarcasm and hipster superiority began to work like reverse beer goggles and I was ready to go home by midnight.
As we made our way to the door, Phil asked me to give him a ride home. I agreed, even though it was far out of my way. Once we arrived at his apartment, he asked me to come in and I declined. Phil was insistent, saying he really wanted to show me his photography collection, so I agreed to come up for a few minutes only.
Inside, things got weird fast. His art collection consisted of numerous photos of naked women covered in red paint, intended to look like blood. After taking a quick look, I was ready to make my escape, but that’s when Phil mentioned that he was going to head over to an underground sex club near my neighborhood and that he would like me to come along. He said something about flogging. My knee-jerk politeness collapsed at that point, and I got up and marched out the door feeling creeped out and ready to scratch date No. 1 off my list.
A few days later, I was heading into work very early to prepare for a presentation I was giving in the afternoon. My commute took me right past Phil’s apartment, but I didn’t give him much thought as I drove by. It was dark and I didn’t notice the rolled up newspaper in the road until I drove over it and realized that it was too solid to be a newspaper. I backed up to get a better look, and realized that the object I had just run over was an artificial leg — the one sometimes seen poking out of a backpack, but most recently worn by my awful date.
Loathe to see Phil again, I left the leg in the road and mentioned it to a security guard when I got to work. Didn’t say a word about running it over.
As for that cosmic bargain, I got through date No. 20, adopted a pair of rabbits and decided to be happy alone. Shortly after, I was in a bar and met someone who was smart, substantial, funny and tall. And 11 months later, I married him.