(My first instance of “bad luck with a nice hotel in a strange city” actually came during a trip to Chicago on Valentine’s Day weekend last year, which I detailed here: Third-Rate Romance #1: Cross-Country Third Wheel)
So I’m not sure how I keep getting myself into would-be romantic situations that I go in thinking are assuredly platonic. I suppose I make the mistake of thinking that when I have given zero indication (and I do mean -ZEROOO-) that I am even open to the possibility of any romantic interaction with anyone at all, that they don’t assume I will be. Rather than punishing a new person for the mistakes of others I have encountered in the past, I try to take men at face value when they tell me they just want to do something nice for me or just want to spend time with me; basically, I like to believe they can be genuine human beings, as I know some outstanding men.
In February, a VU alumna introduced me to another alum (B.) who is 13 years my senior and who works at a company with which I would love to be involved for a very long time in the future. We emailed a bit and then set up a time to speak a couple weeks later (after my saga including the death in the family, initial break-up, and job snafu) when it worked with both of our schedules. We had a great, hour-long conversation by phone one afternoon during which we discussed coaching, school, careers, and related. He was very excited to do whatever he could to help out a young fellow alum, telling me about his path to his current career and the people who had helped him along his way. He told me that he had always wanted to be able to mentor someone else in a similar way, especially another Vandy grad.
So, fast-forward a little bit to this whole mess with S. in my personal life. I went off the radar for a bit after that happened (I was going to send in my application for a trainer position at the company and then get back to him), so I emailed a quick synopsis to explain that my life had been a mess and then reiterated my interest. He called me after receiving the email, and we played a bit of phone tag before connecting the next day. He told me how horrified he was while reading the email, told me how impressed he was after talking to me, and talked about my resilience and strength in the face of what would make most people become a complete mess.
B. then told me that he wished he could do anything at all to help because he felt so awful for me, and asked if I needed to get away for a couple days, since that’s what he thought he would need in that situation. He said he had points from traveling for work and he could fly me down so I could get away from everything for a little bit. I told him I would check my schedule, and when he checked in a few days later, I thanked him profusely and told him that since his points would cover it and I was free that weekend, it was a “go” for the trip. So everything was set, I was looking forward to the trip, and I had renewed confidence in people’s capacity for pure goodness, empathy, and kindness.
I flew out to Houston Friday and we did an early supper and margaritas. The conversation was great, as it had been on the phone the two times we’d spoken previously, and we discussed several thorny issues in coaching that are or have been factors for each of us professionally. He wanted to know how I was doing since finding out that I had been dating a sociopath, so we discussed that some and he talked about a heartbreak in his own past.
After that, he dropped me off at my hotel room so I could get settled. It was absolutely lovely. My first thought as I explored the room was that I could not wait to take a bubble bath and relax! (But seriously though, how can you look at this and not automatically think bubble bath?!)
And then I looked at the dresser…
Oh God. “Just Because. From B.” The flowers he’d had delivered to my room were lovely and quite fragrant, but seeing those there immediately brought my guard up. Despite that, I was still hoping that this was going to be as platonic as it had been presented and that he was just a nice guy, so I went ahead and got settled and tried to take a short nap.
I texted him when I got up and let him know that I was ready for the next excursion which was (surprise/I love food) pizza and drinks at a local dive bar. As I waited in the lobby, I began noticing and documenting the….um, eccentric…decorative theme. Like it was organic vegetable garden meets ranchhouse meets forest thicket meets chic, upscale modern hotel. And the designer must have reallyyy liked broccoli because:
The enormous fake trees in the middle of the lobby were actually quite an inspiring touch though, as far as the writer in me was concerned, and I didn’t even mind the mossy wall display (note the cowhide chairs and chess theme!):
So he got there and I mentioned the interesting decor, and we discussed that for…I don’t know, but longer than I wanted to, certainly. Perhaps he was wanting to show that he was interested in what I mentioned off-hand, but he just seemed overly excited to talk to me about something that was pretty mundane after the first minute or so. That was my next warning sign that he was interested in me in a way that I did not–and would not–reciprocate.
The food at the bar was great, and I truly and thoroughly enjoyed our discussion. He’s a cat lady (well, in a manner of speaking) too, so Mr. Max spent much time at the forefront of our conversation. We met a former University of Texas quarterback, there in all his burnt-orange attire, and were in the right place at the right time to witness all kinds of drunken theatrics and drama (dear sir in the far right corner of the bar, I’m sorry that lady said that and I assure you that there is a woman out there who thinks you would make an outstanding stripper).
But…then he started making comments about hating that such a “beautiful and sweet woman like [me] was hurting over such a jerk,” that one of my traits was “hot/attractive/etc.,” suggesting that I should go to his place sometime, and so on. And then, in the car on the way back to my hotel, he made his move. I had to gracefully but firmly pull away after he tried to grab my hand, and then left no room for questions on whether the night was ending or if I’d be going upstairs by myself. We agreed that I would turn my alarm off, sleep til I eventually woke up, and then we could reconvene.
But walking into the Westin, all I could think was, “Good God, not again. What have I gotten myself into?”
Day 2 up next/to be continued 😉