The writing advice I’ve gotten the most is to write what I know. It’s advice I’ve taken frequently. I’ve written characters that are inspired by people I’ve known, like Nico in Eclipsed. I’ve used settings that are based on places I’ve lived or visited, like the setting for Saving Wyldewood. Stories have been sparked by something I see on TV, on articles I’ve read, college assignments, even overheard conversations. And in Kissing Frogs, Cassidy’s bad dates are sadly based on my own realty! Let me tell you a story…
It was the summer of 1998, and I was 27, about to turn 28. The previous year had been hard, and in a lot of ways, I was still reeling from it all. First, I’d had a baby, and then only days later, I’d found out that my husband had been rather… free with his affection. On the heels of that, my grandfather had a catastrophic fall, and within weeks, I found myself out of the Army and home to take care of him, with two small boys and separated from my husband. My grandfather passed, my marriage ended, and I was settling into this new chapter of my life, newly divorced and romantically burned out. Was I living the dream? No, I wasn’t. But I had a good job and good friends. That was enough for me at the time.
And when I say I was romantically burned out… I mean it. I told you my ex was free with his affection, but I don’t mean he slipped up once, even twice. What I mean is that he suffered from too frequent wardrobe malfunctions in the company of women not his wife. Truly statistically impossible. Suffice it to say I was not in the market for a new man. Hard pass. Closed for business. Renovations underway. No dating for this chick.
However, several of my friends held the “get back on the horse” philosophy. And it didn’t matter how much I argued. They were going to find Kim a man, even if Kim didn’t want one.
This is the story of one of those friends. Let’s call her Petunia. Petunia decided that she wanted to set me up with a guy her boyfriend worked with. Let’s call her boyfriend Dick. Because he was a dick. Big creative stretch, I know, but trust me when I tell you the name fits. Moving on, according to Petunia, Dick thought this guy was made for me. It’s important to note that Dick liked me as much as I liked him. Not at all, which didn’t really put him high on my list of trustworthy people when it came to my romantic entanglements. To be honest, Petunia wasn’t high on that list, either, considering her questional choice in her own romantic partner. All of that being said, when she broached the subject, I responded with a hearty “Hell to the no!” I said it emphatically and often.
Petunia had zero effs to give about my feelings on the subject.
So one day, she calls me to tell me that she’s done it. She’s set me up with the guy in question. Heretofore, he shall be known as Herbert, mainly because it rhymes with “pervert,” which is apt. She’s arranged everything, dinner the following night at the Mexican place in town. Petunia went all in on this situation, so I would have no reason to argue. She called my soon-to-be-ex stepmother and arranged for her to take my kids for the night. That part was the only part of all of this that was okay. The next part was not.
Petunia gave Herbert my phone number and address, told him to pick me up at 6. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, my so-called friend gave this guy all my info to a guy I’d never met.
And as it turned out… NEITHER HAD SHE.
That’s right. Petunia set me up with a total stranger on her ass clown of a boyfriend’s recommendation only. The recommendation of a misogynist pig who couldn’t stand me and frequently even made rape jokes about me. What the ever-loving hell? I was pissed. I demanded his number so I could call and cancel, but funny thing about that. Petunia “forgot” to get it. I told her to get her ass on the phone with her boyfriend and get it for me STAT. She begrudgingly agreed. An hour later, she called me back. Without his number since she once again “forgot” to get it, despite the fact that that was supposed to be HER ENTIRE MISSION. What she did do is tell him through her boyfriend not to pick me up, that I’d meet him there. Like that kept him from knowing my address, since she’d already given it to him.
At that point, I didn’t know what to do. Yes, I could have stood him up. However, I wasn’t that far from removed from a marriage to a man who’d been next-level controlling and abusive. I didn’t know this guy, but he knew exactly where I lived, thanks to my friend. I was afraid of pissing him by not showing up. I was afraid he’d come to my house, and God knows what could happen then.
Petunia knew all this and didn’t care. She told me I was being a drama queen. Very supportive.
So I went. Fortunately, it was a place where I knew a lot of people, including my brother, who was one of the cooks. Thank goodness. I also knew the hostess. I took her aside to tell her what the deal was, arranged a signal, and asked her to tell my brother to keep an eye out for me. That was the best I could do.
So there I stood in the middle of the restaurant’s lobby, waiting for a date I didn’t want with a guy I didn’t know. And I had no idea who I was even looking for since I knew nothing other than his name. Herbert had refused to give Petunia a photo to show me. Hello… RED FLAG!!! But she’d showed him a picture of me, so that was cool. Not.
Finally, a guy came up to me and put his hand on the small of my back. Which is a nice way of saying his hand was half on my ass. Then he leaned over my shoulder and… licked my ear before whispering my name. This was the guy. He wasn’t bad looking, but he could have been Jensen Ackles in the flesh, and I would have still felt like I’d been licked by Ted Bundy. Blech.
Dinner was… interesting. He talked about himself the entire time. I got lurid descriptions of the event of his deflowering. I heard the deets on every kink he had, including a 15-minute lecture on Japanese bondage tying. Cool, bro. I mean, you do you, but do I need to hear about it on the first date? Especially when he made sure to let me know how much he inflicted pain and that safe words were for “pussies.” I will never forget what he said next. It was chilling.
“I like my women to scream. There’s something about the sound of a woman in pain that gets my motor running.”
What?! No. Hard pass.
That was when I politely excused myself to go to the bathroom, gave the hostess the signal. She waited a beat and came down the hall where the bathrooms were, only to tell me he was walking toward the back, apparently following me. She thumbed in the code to the employees’ area in lightning speed and shoved me through. I waited there and, a few minutes later, my brother appeared, the hostess having called upstairs. One of his buddies was with him, and the guy took my keys, went out and got my car to pull it around back. So I ghosted him out the back door and headed home.
HOWEVER… the dude caught up to me. Somehow, he figured out pretty quickly what I’d done. So he came after me. I got stuck at a traffic light and happened to glance back to see him seven or eight cars behind me. I went around the block to the police station, but there wasn’t a single open spot to park.
I didn’t want to go home, because he knew where I lived. So I drove aimlessly, trying to lose him. Eventually, his car was nowhere in sight so I went to my grandmother’s house. I spent the night there, and the next morning, I felt safe to go home. But just as I reached the door to my apartment building, he pulled into the guest parking spot. I ran. My apartment was on the first floor, the back right corner of four. I unlocked the door, went inside, and locked it behind. He was at my door within seconds, pounding on the door. This went on for a good fifteen minutes with no sign of stopping. And the pounds and words became more aggressive by the moment. I tried to call the cops, only to find my cordless dead. Of all the times to have forgotten to charge it.
So, I changed clothes and yeeted out my bedroom window. I slunk along the back of the building to the apartment across the hall and knocked on the kitchen window. The old lady who lived there was a bird lady, and the damn birds went insane. But fortunately, she liked me, so she let me in and let me use her phone. I called the cops, and then I called my dad. They showed up at the same time, and Herbert was still pounding on the door.
They arrested him for harrassment, and he spent the night in jail. He was arraigned the next day and posted bail. By that afternoon, he was calling nonstop, emailing, messaging me on Yahoo! Messenger. It was a nightmare. And there was nothing anyone could do. He stalked me for weeks, accosting me and leaving me creepy and often threatening “gifts.” Unfortunately, there were no stalking laws then. The first stalking laws came the next year, so yay for me. He did end up getting community service for harrassing me, but that was it. And he got fired, but not because of me. He apparently beat up a girlfriend a couple years after me.
What a guy.
Sadly, he was but one inspiration for Cassidy’s so sad dating life!
Read more about Kissing Frogs and find buy links here!