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Don't go away mad.


Part of a series on dating.


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Diane was brutally intelligent and a self-described "recovering cult victim". Her folks have brought her up in an extremely oppressive home and church, and stories about it reminded me of Jesus Camp, in the same way that the sponge on the bottom of the supermarket meat tray reminds you of the goriest scenes of Saving Private Ryan.

She said she'd made her great escape about five years previously, when she learned her parents had arranged a marriage for her with a wealthy forty year old church member, and fully intended for her to be "working on her second kid by twenty".

She had a lot of stories about trying to function as an adult in a world where you are expected to have things like a birth certificate and driver license, but she had not been allowed to drive, and her birth certificate was being held hostage. No bank account, no money to put in one, no job experience, home schooled, no friends or relatives that would talk to her, and totally isolated from the world until she was shocked into leaving on her own. She described it as "walking off the edge of the map".

Our fifth or sixth date, she invited me over to her place for pizza and movies, rather than go out, which had been the norm. I thought this was a good thing, as it indicated she was becoming more comfortable with me, in the context of her cult recovery process.

I will readily admit to being quite impressed, and even a little humbled, by her collection of books. I measure my books in 20 and 50 gallon denominations; what she had was more properly a library. We spent a good while just talking about books. It was good. I was in heaven. She was a six foot tall natural fiery redhead with dimples, hips, and a taste for slam poetry, natural science, and Thomas Pynchon.

There was pizza from some place that doesn't actually deliver but was only a block away, so they sent a kitchen guy running over. The movies were a disc or two of the BBC's Planet Earth, which I'd as of then yet to see. About halfway through the second disc, right about the time I was thinking to myself, "Yes, it's a bit early, but goddamn she could be the one," the conversation made an abrupt swerve, and after about fifteen minutes I realized we were arguing, but I didn't even know what it was really about. Questions like "Wait a second, what's going on?" were met with venom. I decided that it was time to leave, as I had no idea what had gone wrong.

I grabbed my jacket and went for the door, but she grabbed my hand and stood up from the couch (it was a ludicrously small apartment). She said, "Wait. Don't go away mad," and started a full-contact snog.

To say that I was surprised is a bit of an understatement. There hadn't even been a kiss goodnight yet, and now it was like the top of the bleachers at junior prom. She apologized for getting so pissy over nothing, and asked me to stay. Well, she asked me to stay while she was leading me to the bedroom with one hand and shedding her top with the other hand. Before I could figure out what the Hell was going on, there was darkness and tangled hair and the stuff that makes you embarrassed to be watching TV with your parents when you're ten.

So, uh, I stayed.

She made breakfast the next morning and apologized again.

This was to become a basic template. She would start fights of escalating severity and substance, and would go for almost-immediate makeup sex, which - to my credit, thank you - I didn't always go along with; failure, however, never seemed to deter her until I actually removed myself physically from the premises.

A dozen or so incidents like this over some months, and I finally asked her just what in the Hell was going on with this behavior. All she could do was shrug and say "I like to fuck angry."

I waited for some further explanation, and got none. Asking, "Is that all?" got me a "Yeah."

I applauded her candor, but wasn't willing to deal with it anymore, or whatever other surprises she had lurking for me down the way.



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