It had been a lackluster few months of dating last summer.
And then I met the lumbersexual.
A lumbersexual, for the uninitiated, is a modern day version of the Brawny man. Typically in his 20s or 30s, the lumbersexual likes plaid button downs and trim jeans. He probably owns an assortment of Leatherman’s and throws axes for fun. He spends his mornings doing Crossfit and his evenings drinking craft beer. His could probably be seen talking about building a tiny home or taxidermying squirrels for his Etsy store. Chances are good he likes artisanal charcuterie and Bon Iver. He has some kind of come to Jesus devotion for hair care. Full beard in tow, he spends a large amount of money purchasing salves, gels, shampoos and potions to maintain its lustrous appearance.
My lumbersexual’s name was Mark. He had a beard so long it rivaled my own hair. His black hair, shaved on the sides and pulled into a man bun rounded out the look. He had a strong, well-built frame and a kind smile. Looks aside, Mark claimed to be a musician running his own music studio. He seemed friendly and we both loved to cook, so we set up a time to meet at my house and make dinner.
“My house” is a bit of a misnomer. It was actually my aunt’s home that I was renting from her, fully furnished. Imagine, if you will, walking into a home draped in creams and golds, chenille, granite and dark wood and lots of oriental rugs. With enough candelabras to rival the Phantom of the Opera’s lair.
And angels. My aunt has a special kind of devotion to angels. They can be found in abundance: on hooks, walls, candles, fabrics, drapes, jars, wash cloths and toilet paper.
It’s part neoclassical museum, angel sanctuary and Pottery Barn, all rolled into one.
Mark arrived a few nights later, brown grocery bag in hand with fixings for the main meal he’d be cooking. He walked in the foyer and began to take off his shoes, while I was trying to corral my barking dog, Violet, steps away. He had barely gotten one shoe off when a blood-curdling scream escaped his mouth.
It rang through the house. Violet redoubled her efforts, initially unsure of this new visitor and now definitely disapproving.
He had no answer. And just as he opened his mouth, presumably to explain what the fuck was going on, another cry came out. This time louder. His back arched and his head fell back. He was buckling under the pain of something extreme – I just didn’t know what.
Was there a nail on the floor?
Did he step on a tack or a pine needle?
Was he having a seizure?
“WHAT IS IT!”
“I just stabbed myself!”
Hold up. What?
“You stabbed yourself? How? You just walked in the door!”
“My bag. There’s a chef’s knife in it. It’s my favorite knife to cook with and I just sharpened it before coming over here.”
“Didn’t you have it sheathed?”
As Mark was taking off his shoe, the paper bag still in hand, swung at his side and the knife cleanly tore through it and stabbed him in the leg — repeatedly.
I was dumbfounded. And also in shock. I helped Mark hop to the kitchen table where we could examine the extent of his stabbings.
Blood dripped down his leg, nearly hitting the cream fabric of the kitchen chair, and I ran to look for a first aid kit.
“Don’t move! And don’t touch anything! We can’t ruin the house!”
If there was anyplace not to stab oneself, it was my aunt’s angel sanctuary.
I ran upstairs, frantically looking for band-aids and rubbing alcohol. Supplies in hand, I returned to the kitchen only to see the paper towel turning a deep ruby red and drops of blood dotting the kitchen floor like a gory Rorschach test.
A band-aid ain’t going to fix this.
“I think we’re going to need to go to the hospital,” he said.
No shit, Sherlock.
Mark cleaned up his leg with the rubbing alcohol, and I applied fresh paper towel and masking tape. He hobbled into my car.
“Where are you insured?” I asked.
“I can go to any ER. I’m on Medicaid.”
Say what? I thought this guy was a successful musician?
“How is that possible? Don’t you have to be below the poverty line?”
I guess we had different ideas of success.
I rolled up to the entrance of the nearest ER and he hopped towards the automatic doors. I parked, ran in and found the nurse leading Mark to a bed. I followed along, not really sure what the appropriate protocol is for when your first date stabs himself.
And I can’t just leave; his shoe is at my house.
I sat at Mark’s side when the nurse came in to give him a tetanus shot. She took hold of his right arm and he stopped her.
“I need you to use a different insertion point. My right arm is all used up.”
WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?
Is this guy some kind of heroin junkie?
“I am on hormone replacement therapy.”
WHAT? Is this guy trans? Wouldn’t that be something you share in advance of meeting?
“I take testosterone shots. It helps with my biking performance and physique.”
Pardon me while my eyes roll out of the back of my head.
Also, I’m beginning to feel the shock set in from our little adventure. Can someone hook me up to a Klonipin drip?
It took about 90 minutes to get out of the hospital, Mark complaining bitterly of how the stitches might affect his recreational cycling. Yeah, let me pour one out for you, buddy.
“Man I’m really hungry, Laura. Let’s go cook dinner.”
Are you fucking kidding me?
Now, I am fully aware that any sane person would turn down this offer. But I’m a storyteller and I’d just struck gold. If the first 5 minutes of our date were this surreal, I could only imagine what the next two hours would be like.
We drove home and I expected to have to clean up drops of dried blood left during our hasty exit. But no, either the angels had been hard at work or Violet had licked it all up.
Well isn’t that just dandy.
Mark cleaned off his bloodied chef’s knife and started to work on the main dish – pasta carbonara, which I just want to point out, is a recipe in which having a chef’s knife is completely unnecessary. It’s pasta, cream, eggs and bacon.
While Mark cooked, I proceeded to down a bottle of wine.
It did nothing to calm my nerves, but Mark had brought weed (this remains the highlight of an otherwise horrific date – thanks, Mark!), and that hit the spot. My anxiety faded away, and I just sat and listened as he began to deliver a monologue that detailed all his life’s troubles.
And by all his life’s troubles, it felt like we started in utero and went from there. It was a two-hour saga.
I later learned this is called “trauma bonding”. People share the sad and sorry circumstances of their life, looking to connect with others through their pain and suffering.
Well, I’m already traumatized from the stabbing a couple hours earlier. Isn’t that enough trauma bonding for one evening?
Many of his stories kept coming back to people he’d had sex with. And unprompted by me, he dropped this gem:
“Like the first time I gave a woman a g-spot orgasm was nuts. It was like an anaconda chewing and swallowing my hand.”
I’m not sure if Mark thought he was turning me on, or what the point of sharing that anecdote was, but I could feel an iron curtain shuttering around my vagina.
I was also sobering up, recording the events of the evening to write this story. So as any good reporter, I asked:
“Can you repeat that? I want to make sure I quote you correctly.”
Mark happily repeated it, seemingly thrilled to make it into one of my stories.
The night ended not long after that, as I ushered Mark out to his car.
“I had a really great evening, Laura.”
Not exactly a shared sentiment, but I’m glad to know even I can make a self-inflicted stab wound and the subsequent rush to the hospital a good old time.