Red flags, for those of you unfamiliar with the term; are those subtle and not so subtle hints that the person you’re talking to may be a) insane or b) preparing to murder you.
Of course, we still ignore these flags more often than not in the interest of lovemaking; because at our cores we’re all still just entering puberty.
It is my choosing to ignore every possible warning that was hurled in my face that ultimately resulted in me dating a girl whose parents were active members of a carnival, among other things.
One of my first jobs was at Target, like most post high school adults. It was here that I developed many of the social skills that would become so important (that I ignore) in my day to day interactions. As well as just basic rules of thumb to go by; like, ‘don’t fucking date coworkers’.
As with all things, I learned this one the hard way.
At first, this seemed in my pre-adult mind (READ: IDIOT) like love at first sight, it fit all the criteria: two star crossed lovers, separated by distance (she worked in womens fashion, I ‘worked’ in grocery), parts of two differing and clashing social groups (her friends were all long-term Target employees, my friends were all under the influence of…everything. Daily.). It seemed like a match that even the Gods couldn’t tear asunder.
So, as with all things; I approached her with all the bravery and bravado of a fat man inching along thin ice at the beginning of spring when I asked her on a date. Apparently, she had also been eyeing me as I worked my shift, hiding groceries behind other groceries and thought I was at least acceptably attractive. She said yes. I grinned like an idiot, hugged her and skipped gaily on my way.
The rest of the work week went by in a blur, iron butterflies would slam-dance their way around in my stomach with anxiousness for the coming weekend and our date with the Juliet of the Womens Department.
I told only one close friend of mine about this upcoming tryst and his response? He smiled, shook his head, put one hand on my shoulder and told me that I was in for a huge shock. That this would not be a very good idea. Apparently, these two used to be an item a while ago.
But I just shrugged off his words as sour grapes. What else could they be? Of course, he was jealous!
The night of our date finally arrived and I drove to her home in the suburbs where she lived with her parents. I knocked and as I dusted off my shirt a clown answered the door. I promptly screamed in terror.
The clown extended its gloved hand and smiled a toothy grin. “You must be Gerrimy. HI! I’m Bubbles the clown!” She released a spine tingling giggle, normally reserved for the victims she kept in the basement no doubt.
It was too late. If I wanted to date this girl, I needed to at least get into the house. I made a silent prayer as I crossed the Rubicon with Bubbles bouncing along behind me, spewing insanity with every step she made.
The interior of the home looked like an NRA members wet dream: guns on every wall, where there weren’t guns, there were pictures of guns, all of these centered around a wall art tableau of Jesus Christ in a camo hat. It looked like what would have happened if The Last Supper were painted by Larry the Cable Guy.
It was at this exact moment that a booming voice appeared behind me. “Ah see yah like mah paintin, huh?”
I realize that I am going to die here.
My body turns face to sweaty, hairy chest with what was quite possibly, a shaved Sasquatch. He looses a deep, bowel loosening laugh and hugs me; forcing my face deeping into his hirsute bosom. “Ah’m (NAME WITHHELD)’s da, yuh must be tha lucky guy huh?” He informs me that my date is still freshening up and invites me to make myself comfortable. That he and his wife, Bubbles would love to get to know me.
As they talk I learn several things:
1. The father is not wearing pants any clothes, save a pair of tattered white underwear.
2. He and his wife, Bubbles are active members of a traveling carnival. He is the Strongman and goes by Slammer.
3. Bubbles and Slammer have a combined weight of 1,000,000 pounds, as such all the furniture in the home is made of iron and soldered so as to not buckle into dust when they sit on it.
4. Bubbles and Slammer are nudists.
5. I am going to die.
6. I am going to die.
7. I am going to die.
I decide to ask if (NAME WITHHELD) is also in the carnival. They tell me that that’s a surprise, that she will show me in private if she so chooses.
As if on cue, she descends the steps. Like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. If that movie was mixed with the Devil’s Rejects. Bubbles coos happily, gushing over her beautiful daughter; Slammer nods approvingly although does voice disapproval that any of us are wearing clothes.
I desperately want to leave.
The parents decide to release us into the wild on our date at this point.
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