Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Error in Judgment

‘My name is David, not Dave.’ That’s how my first conversation with Mr. Perfect ended. My attempt to end our phone call in a relaxed and informal way with ‘see you on Friday night, Dave’ ruffled the feathers of this all too methodical and all too precise David.

I dated David for a few months. I had mixed feelings about him. On the one hand, his perfection drove me crazy; but on the other hand, I enjoyed his reliability. Or I did until one night in San Francisco when my own feathers ruffled –not with too much informality – but with fear.

David’s job involved traveling most of the time. He created computer manuals and formally presented them to businesses. He had asked me to join him on many of his trips, but I was not as carefree as David. He had no children. I had a nine year old son and a teaching job.

As luck would have it, during my spring break, David’s trip was to San Francisco. I was able to make arrangements to join him for two days. The plan was to meet him in San Francisco, at the Clarion Hotel. He would have a key for me at the front desk. When his work day was over, he would meet me at the room and off we would go to see the sites. I was excited to see The Golden Gate City!

I didn’t wait long before David arrived. He had our itinerary all set and as we left the room I listened to his encyclopedic knowledge of San Francisco and what he had planned for the night: first a ride on the cable cars, next we’d see the Golden Gate Bridge all lit up, and we’d end the night with a walk to the Buena Vista Restaurant for dinner. The next day, we would go to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square.

The cable car ride was fun! The sight of the Bridge was breathtaking! I couldn’t believe the late April sky colors of blazing oranges and reds, combined with soft blues and purples.

The temperature fell. I could feel it on my face. It seemed a perfect night for walking -- and I looked forward to the brisk walk and to eating a sumptuous dinner.

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Buena Vista and decided to continue walking for a while before going back to the hotel. As we walked we heard live music in the distance. Around the corner there was a saxophone player belting out his tunes for a few patrons sitting outside a café. There were two empty tables, so we sat down to enjoy the music. The waitress came over and David ordered two glasses of wine. We enjoyed the entertainment until the sax player ended thanking his audience for listening. He wished us well and a safe night home. It felt good knowing David had planned another perfect date.
We started our leisurely walk back to the hotel. We were reminiscing about the day’s events and talking about Fisherman’s Wharf. After about ten minutes, David got unusually quiet. It was then that I noticed the night creeping in with its stealthy cloak of darkness. I glanced at my watch and was shocked to see it was 1:30 in the morning! I regretted letting time slip by earlier at the café. My mind was now racing with disturbing thoughts.

Suddenly I knew we were lost. David did too. We heard shouting – jolting and loud --. Our eyes found each other’s and absolute terror found my stomach. I grabbed David’s arm so tightly that my nails dug into his skin. “Mary, let’s cross the street, NOW,” David said. Too scared to utter a single word –and still clinging to David’s arm – I followed his lead as we dashed across the street.

Before we said another word to each other, two policemen were standing right in front of us. One of them very slowly enunciated the words; “w-h-a-t t-h-e h-e-l-l a-r-e y-o-u t-w-o d- o- i- n- g?” his voice escalating with every syllable. I said as calmly as I could, “We were walking back to our hotel.” The other cop started ranting, “Don’t you know you are walking in the worst part of the city? You can’t just walk anywhere you want. You should know better. For your own safety, we will call you a cab to take you to your hotel. Let’s go.”

David was speechless until we reached our hotel. Then he said, “I can’t believe I put us in danger like that. I thought the hotel was only two blocks west from the café. How could I have made such an error in judgment?” He was sitting in a stupor, feeling less than perfect, mulling over his mistake.

As David sat brooding, I thought to myself, go ahead and brood Mr. Perfect, but there would be no more getting lost for me -- no more scares -- no more stealth darkness creeping up on me again. I said I would be right back that I was going to the corner store to get a candy bar. He didn't even acknowledge my words, preoccupied with his own perfect thoughts.

My real mission had a different purpose. I figured who better than the clerk at the corner store to know what areas of the city light up at night! The clerk supplied me with exactly what I needed to know to survive my last date with David. I picked up a map for backup. The sun would shine all day tomorrow, and into the night, I felt confident of that.



  1. I love what you are writing Mary. More, more, more. :)))

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