DOUBLE DATING or DATING DOUBLE???
A True Story
By Tiferet Peterseil
I should have seen it coming…
Yes, he talked a lot. But then again, I asked him a lot of questions, didn't I? True, he didn't come up for air for over two hours and he never asked me anything after “What’s your name?” But by the time I met him I was tired of the predictable, boring blind dates, and enjoyed being the spectator, his audience.
Anyway, lots of guys are self involved.... or even just nervous when they like someone. Isn’t that true?
Yes, I noticed he couldn't hold his train of thought, beginning multiple stories, skipping from one unfinished experience to another, unwilling or unable to backtrack. Luckily, I’d had three cups of coffee and my mind cataloged each of his tales so that I was able to calmly remind him where he had left off with each story. It was like being at a debate except that one person was taking both the pros and cons. His passionate defense of each point riveted me and I kept wavering from “agree” to “disagree” as he made each clear, staccato point. His childlike mannerisms and disarming intensity were some of the reasons I didn't notice the obvious; that although he was charged with energy, and wore a constant smile -- his thoughts and feelings on the various subjects he spoke of were nothing if not bitter, and pessimistic. He was wearing a mask without even noticing it. And also -- he was good-looking.
ADHD I thought to myself? So what? I had certainly dated enough men with these symptoms, and they weren’t half as enchanting.
And yes, he mentioned a drastic life change... moving to a new location…quitting his job.... his friends and family alienating from him as he tried to re-route his life. He became vegetarian (like me) and hadn’t gone out with someone he could talk to for a very long time (like me). Wasn’t all this a sign?
Don't we all go through tough times, I reasoned. His family just couldn’t sympathize with his depressing zest for adventure. I realized this was an oxymoron, but so much of life was these days. And I wasn’t afraid of the dark, not his “dark” anyway.
Let me assure you that if you meet him (and you may), you’ll quickly become enamored with his boyish good looks, his bubbly personality, and possibly swept away to his world.... A world of spirituality, individuality and duality of thought unlike anything I had every known. He took nothing for granted, challenged all labels, and vehemently denounced mediocrity. He was a modern day Don Quixote who fought windmills at every turn.
See the red flags? You’re probably better at this than I. But you weren’t caught in the moment, his moment…his world….his universe.
You've heard the story of the good kid doing drugs, or the teenager's suicide attempt, or the really good guy caught laundering money? And everyone says "I never thought that would happen!" It doesn't matter how many warning signs of red eyes, the increasing collection of pill bottles, or the new Farari, no one thought to look for clues.
That's how I felt.
It simply had never dawned on me.
It was only when I pried into what he called "those hard times", that the picture began to change. I tried to keep him from dodging into his metaphors. Only towards the end did I finally, finally realize what was happening. He had asked too many questions of the world... and was now paying the price.
Non-sequitur: “You will agree” he said calmly, with his captivating smile, “that an intelligent person would not ignore voices of the universe. Those voices that tell you to change course. To wake up. To take charge of your life!”
“Voices?” I muttered. “You hear voices?”
"No... Just THOSE voices” he assured me. “They tell you all sorts of things. Most people simply don't have the courage to hear them. But I do. And they call me to the parallel universe. At first, I simply visited, for a fraction of the moment, and ran out. But gradually my visits became longer, as that world became more interesting. And sometime I stayed there. Sometimes…even…for a long time. Some people felt it was too long.”
His voice had dropped several decibels. He had a glazed, faraway look in his eye. My heart began to race and yes, I was afraid. He caught that.
"I can stop whenever you like. Just say it, and I will be normal. I CONTROL this. I CONTROL my visits.... and I only tell you about them because you asked. And because...." he bit his lip, tormented by whatever demons were now dancing in his head.
He looked at me. His clear brown eyes had been replaced with that of a ferocious animal. His wild, starry-eyed gaze was burning a hole in me. "Because there is no reason for me to believe you exist. To believe you are here. After all, my ASSUMPTION of your presence is merely that my eyes do indeed see you."
"But if you see me, why wouldn't I be here?"
He was disappointed. At that point I ceased to be special.
"Now you sound like everyone else. Our sight is not reliable. It is subject to our state of mind, and surroundings, and prejudices we were taught. When I dream I see, but my eyes are closed, so how could that be? Illusions are based on manipulations of our consciousness, convincing ourselves that we see something that isn’t there. So how can anyone know that they see what they see? Therefore, how could I know if anything exists? In all fairness, I believe there is only a very small chance that I even exist."
It figures, I said to myself, the best date I’ve had in over a year and he’s not sure I exist, or even if he exists! Ah, what the heck, I reasoned, if we were together he’d probably cheat on me in some time continuum and then claim “She was NOTHING to me!”
Later, my sister – a psychology student who volunteers in a mental institute—would explain to me that there are high functional schizophrenics. And that it's not uncommon for psychotic episodes or illnesses to erupt in our 20's. She would say that some of the intelligent people she's met were schizophrenics.
There it was. Brilliance gone wrong. He was funny, kind and unarguably brilliant. So why did I get up and walk away? Why was I threatened by his reality? Why would I not dare to stay even one more second in his universe?
I wanted very much to turn and wave goodbye. But.... what if he wasn't actually there??