When I was 22, I was a bit of a bonehead. I wasn’t the semi-professional woman I am now, nor was I the shy honors high-school student I was years before. Instead, I was stuck in that awkward limbo between adolescence and full-fledged womanhood and usually piss-drunk off of malt liquor because that’s all I could afford. I had no idea who I was, what I was doing, or where in the hell I was going.
I did, however, know what I wanted. Aside from discounted gallon bottles of Vladimir vodka and plastic champagne flutes, I wanted a lover.
By 22, somehow I'd managed to date three, count 'em, three self-proclaimed rappers in a row and I was tired of pretending to be awed by sterling silver “bling.” So one evening, pumped full of 211 Steel Reserve, I called out to the lover gods and asked them to grant me a real man with a real job. Was that so much to ask?
It’s not like I was looking for a husband, or even a boyfriend. I just wanted a polite gentleman with the ability to engage in an interesting conversation without mentioning the word “mixtape.” And a few good orgasms wouldn’t suck either.
And lo and behold, the very next day, there he was on my living room couch. My roommate’s friend’s brother came to pick him up from the house after work one day. He was dressed in business clothes, all wrapped up like a professional present just for me.
“I’m Seth,” he said and I’m pretty sure I melted.
He was the administrator of one of the best hospitals in the country, boyishly good looking, and a full eight years older than me, which, in my head, meant he was too old to be batshit crazy. All in all he was perfect. I didn’t hesitate to give him my number or anything else he wanted.
And while we never entered into a contractual agreement, calling him “the older man who I was in an undefined quasi relationship with” would deplete my word count, so for the sake of the argument, we’ll just call this man my boyfriend.
Because who else but a boyfriend would tolerate all my undiagnosed mood disorders and do a bunch of other things really really well? So even though Seth would occasionally (and by occasionally I mean kind of all the time) ignore my phone calls and stand me up for dates, the suit, tie and little gold name tag he wore pretty much qualified him as the man of my dreams.
So imagine my surprise when he showed up at my house during his lunch break one day in that same suit, tie and name tag plus a JanSport jammed with $50,000 dollars in cash.
“Can you grab me a pen?” he asked, and set the bag down like it was filled with algebra books.
But it wasn't. It was stuffed with cash money, wrapped up in little stacks just like the kind you see in heist movies right before the police come to haul the bad guys away.
I collected my jaw from the floor just in time to answer, “Wha?”
“A pen,” he repeated, and it sounded almost angelic this time.
I nodded and took my poker face into the next room to come up with a few not-so-reasonable explanations for why the situation wasn't as fucked up as it clearly was.
Eventually, I came back into the living room empty-handed, apologizing for not finding the pen I'd forgotten I was supposed to be looking for in the first place.
“It’s OK,” he said. “It’s all here.”
“Is there something you could do if it wasn’t all there?” I ask, tactfully trying to figure out if this money was legit or not.
Seth smiled, knowing what I’m asking without actually asking. “No,” he says. “There’s not.”
Then he gathered up his bounty and left me alone in my apartment to try to figure out if I have imagined the whole thing.
Days later, Seth ruined all my wonderful denial and confessed that he robbed a bank with the help of his cousin and his “friend” who was a teller and coincidentally even more beautiful and gullible than I was.
He told me all this while we were making love, naturally, because I guess it was supposed to turn me on. But it didn’t.
The thought of him robbing a bank (and all the potential consequences that went with it) horrified me and I told him that every chance I got. And I’m pretty sure all my heartfelt pleading worked, because he only did it like two more times that year.
A year-and-a-half later, our relationship ended (for reasons I'd need another sarcastic essay to explain) and I went months without hearing from him.
Then one day, a police officer had the nerve to pull me over for running a red light, as if there weren’t any bank robbers on the loose. As luck (?) would have it, Seth called while I was waiting for my ticket. He told me that his cousin, his literal partner in crime, had attempted to do another job that day and was killed by the police in the process. Seth decided not to go, and credited all our long conversations for his decision to finally stay behind. Then he invited me to Houlihan’s (that joke kind of writes itself). I declined.
The naïve girl he was in like with no longer existed, and the charming professional gentleman I fell in love with never really existed in the first place. So dinner and drinks with each other wouldn’t have been much of a reunion.
All that was years ago and while I haven’t talked to him, I know Seth is somewhere busy not being prison. But thanks to him and his crash course on exactly what not to do in a relationship, I’m in a great one with a wonderful and alarmingly honest man who (as far as I know) only uses ski masks for long weekends in Aspen.
But still, every time a police officer scolds me for being a little too drunk or pulls me over for driving a little too fast, I’m always tempted to tell them the story of the one that got away.