Warning Signs from the Fast Lane

{Book Excerpt from Coffee, God, and Gardening}

**The following post depicts acts of verbal and physical abuse that could possibly be a trigger for some people**

Friday’s date went off without a hitch, or so it seemed. She was surprised that he seemed like a perfect gentleman. Most guys that she dated were nice, but sometimes lacking in social etiquette.

He had shown up on time, opened the car door for her, pulled the chair out for her at the restaurant, and didn’t try anything forward during the movies. When he dropped her off at home, he walked her up to her apartment, shook her hand, and left on a pleasant “Good night”.

During diner, they had talked about his missed drumming career, her college night-classes, classic cars, movie and music preferences, and (much to her surprise) Christianity. She had no objection to it. She went to church every Sunday and was Christian. It just wasn’t something that usually came up on the first date….or tenth.

And it really wasn’t something that was a high priority in a date, for her at least. She was accepting of most everyone’s beliefs. But it was kind of nice to spend time discussing theology with someone new. Although, she did have to admit that it seemed a little odd when he mentioned that he “couldn’t marry a girl unless she was a Christian” and he wouldn’t sleep with a woman until they were married. Definitely not your typical mid-meal topic.

Regardless, she thought the evening went well and had enjoyed his company. Enough so, that when he called mid-week, she agreed to see him again the following weekend. He mentioned about keeping it low-key, so she suggested that she drive down to his end of the county to see him. During their first date, he mentioned that he lived close to the PA/MD line with his grandparents to help them take care of the property. She thought it was a little strange for a 29 year old man to be living with his grandparents, but she loved long drives and was interested in seeing a part of the county she hadn’t seen before. (When she looked back on that drive later, she wished that she would have followed her instinct. The drive was 45 minutes, and on several occasions she almost turned around and went home because she thought she was lost.)

After that, they were almost inseparable. She would get home from work and he would be there waiting for her. She thought it was sweet because work day ended only a little earlier in the afternoon than hers, and then he had the 45 minute drive. She would either cook for the two of them or they would go out and grab cheese steaks. They would spend hours walking in parks in the dark and discussing Christianity and what they wanted from life. After their first kiss, he mentioned that he hated cigarettes, so she quit smoking. Even her dumpster-rescue kitty, Charlie, took to him.

With two weeks they had slept together, in spite of his first date decree. Within three weeks they were engaged.

That’s when he stopped “sucking in his gut”. It was mild at first. Small comments here and there. She had once told him that she had started smoking when she started taking college courses. Her parents had been smokers and she did find that it calmed her nerves a bit. For years afterwards, she would hear it told over and over that she had learned to smoke at HACK; his spin on H.A.C.C. (Harrisburg Area Community College).

Then there was the small incident when they were hiking. He prided himself on the fact that he was a decent artist. A couple of days prior to their hike, he had given her a card with a hand decorated envelope. She gave him a big smile and a kiss, and thanked him. Apparently, that wasn’t the reaction that he expected.

They were 20 minutes into their hike when out of nowhere, he grabbed a dead branch from the ground, smashed it against a tree, and gave her this long rant about how previous girls had burst into tears of joy over the cards and drawings he gave them. She was dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say, or how to feel. She knew that wasn’t the type of person she was, and she didn’t think he realized that he just hinted to her that she was possibly another of a long line of women….and he didn’t have any new moves.

The real warning came about a month into their relationship. And it was over the simplest of situations. One night as they were getting ready for bed, he started “making his moves” and she gently told him that she wasn’t in the mood. He jumped out of bed and threw on the light. The next thing she knew, he shoved her off the bed and the mattress went flying.

“Who else are you fucking?!” he demanded of her. “Is it someone you work with?”

It took her several hours and finally conceding to his desires to calm him down. Once he was asleep, she laid there and wondered what the hell it was that she was getting into.


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