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The Appearance of Threat

TREVOR: Is it… Ben?

BEN: Yes.

TREVOR: Hi. Yeah, so, I’m sorry. She’s not coming back.

BEN: I’m sorry, what?

TREVOR: Your date? We called her a cab. She left about five minutes ago.

BEN: You called her a—hold on. She ghosted me?

TREVOR: I’m sorry. She did pay her own part of the bill, so that’s taken care of, she didn’t stiff you.

BEN: Oh, whooptie-do. Did she say why?

TREVOR: I’m sorry.

BEN: Can I ask you something?

TREVOR: I… sure.

BEN: Do I look like a thug to you?

TREVOR: Um… I mean, not particularly? I don’t know. I don’t really know many thugs? So…

BEN: No, but like, seriously… Do I look like… the kinda guy…

TREVOR: OK, um… I don’t really know the specifics of your situation? That’s just, I don’t know, she didn’t say anything, but I just want to be clear, this might not be about you specifically. Was this your first date? With her, I mean?

BEN: She didn’t even know me.

TREVOR: Well, yeah. See? There you go.

BEN: You’re saying it was her?

TREVOR: Well… I’m saying that it was probably just her interpretation of whatever she was getting from you.

BEN: So it was me?

TREVOR: Well… to be clear, I’m not gonna rule that out just now.

BEN: I see.

TREVOR: How’d you meet her?

BEN: Online.

TREVOR: Like a dating site?

BEN: Facebook. Through friends.

TREVOR: Right. OK. Does your… I’m sorry, but on your profile, do you have maybe pictures of yourself? Like your profile picture?

BEN: My profile picture is a… well, it’s not me, let’s leave it at that.

TREVOR: Do you have pictures of yourself, though?

BEN: Why does this matter?

TREVOR: It’s just that… I mean, I’m not sure how this would transfer to facebook—like I said, I don’t exactly read minds—but I know that on these dating profiles, sometimes if your picture doesn’t match what you really look like, that can be a huge red flag. For some people.

BEN: She knows what I look like. Like I said, we have mutual friends.

TREVOR: Did she seem uncomfortable to you?

BEN: She really seemed like she was into it.

TREVOR: Well…

BEN: No, but like, she really seemed like she was into it. You know?

TREVOR: And you’re probably right, she probably seemed that way, to you.

BEN: You’re saying I can’t pick up on signals?

TREVOR: I’m just going with what you’re giving me here.

BEN: What I’m giving you?

TREVOR: Well, she left. It’s not like I can talk to her.

BEN: Do you think I can’t pick up on signals?

TREVOR: That’s not really something I can tell about a person just by looking at them. Listen, you wanted an explanation, I… I just don’t know, I’m just trying to be a friend here and help you work this thing out.

BEN: You’re not my friend.

TREVOR: That is true.

BEN: Why are you doing this?

TREVOR: I just didn’t want you wasting your time waiting here, when I know she’s not coming back.

BEN: Thanks.

TREVOR: Has this ever happened to you before? I mean—I don’t mean to pry, I know it’s none of my business, but you seem pretty upset about this.

BEN: Not this, specifically.

TREVOR: Do you wanna talk about it?

BEN: I thought she wanted me.

TREVOR: Look, girls are taught from a very young age that they need to appeal to men in a certain way, for all sorts of reasons.

BEN: But how could she…

TREVOR: Maybe there was some trigger for her. It’s hard to know—

BEN: So you are saying I did this?

TREVOR: Maybe not consciously—

BEN: Look, I didn’t do anything here to provoke—

TREVOR: Who said anything about provoking?

BEN: I’m the one who got ghosted, and now, what, you’re blaming me?

TREVOR: OK, I’m gonna stop you right there. Because it sounds to me like you’re trying to set up some kind of equivalency here between what you call “ghosting” and sexual assault—that’s the language that I hear coming from you. And just so we’re perfectly clear on this, that is not a thing. What happened to you here tonight, her leaving you? That was not an assault, by any stretch of the imagination—

BEN: I didn’t say that it was—

TREVOR: Really? Because that was the language you were using. Blaming the victim? I mean, really? You are not a victim here. She just left you. What’s the big deal? She doesn’t owe you anything.

BEN: But she thought I was—

TREVOR: How is she supposed to know?

BEN: Do you know how it feels? To have someone…

TREVOR: Believe it or not, I do.

BEN: Yeah, I bet you have.

TREVOR: No, I have, actually. But you know what? I got over it. Not just the rejection part, either. I realized I had done something that I was not proud of, and I got over that, too.

BEN: Now you’re telling me I should forgive myself?

TREVOR: Why? Did you do something wrong?

BEN: Well, what if I did? What if I did something wrong and I don’t even know what it was? How would I know?

TREVOR: Did she really not tell you anything?

BEN: Not that I—no, no, nothing.

TREVOR: I don’t know what to tell you.

BEN: I should send her a message.

TREVOR: Oh, I wouldn’t.

BEN: I just… I need to know! God dammit, this was a date! A blind date, maybe, but like… Why do people even go on dates?

TREVOR: Lots of reasons.

BEN: We go on dates to get laid.

TREVOR: Um…

BEN: OK, maybe not to get laid right away, that night, but I mean, that’s the endgame, right? And I’m not just talking sex, I mean, we’re all looking for someone, right? Some connection? Romantically? So you come on a date, that’s what you’re looking for, and you know that’s what he’s looking for, what I’m looking for—

TREVOR: Did you make a move?

BEN: What if I did? We were on a date!

TREVOR: Not everyone is comfortable with—

BEN: Then she should have said something!

TREVOR: It’s not always that easy.

BEN: This is a crowded restaurant! What’s gonna happen?

TREVOR: Did you make a move on her, though?

BEN: Nothing… big. It’s just, how am I supposed to know? And that was early on, even. How am I supposed to know that was what did it? What if there was something else and I didn’t even pick up on it because she’s all programmed to placate when threatened? I mean, sure, yeah, she needs to protect herself, but, like, what’s the endgame here? Does she want to end up alone? Because if she goes around judging everyone for every little thing, she’s never gonna be happy. So why even go on dates?

TREVOR: You’re… I’m sorry, is that an actual question?

BEN: What’s the endgame here?

TREVOR: A more mature, respectful society.

BEN: A more mature, respectable society. Now how are we going to achieve that if I can’t learn from my mistakes? If my mistakes aren’t even pointed out to me?

TREVOR: Honestly?

BEN: Please.

TREVOR: That shouldn’t be her responsibility. She doesn’t know you. I mean, sure, you have friends, but like, seriously? Especially if you’re talking about making her analyze, like this, while she’s that uncomfortable, that shouldn’t be on her. You’re making this all about your feelings, but it’s not even about that. This is about safety.

BEN: This is about the appearance of safety.

TREVOR: There really isn’t a difference. Not really. Not when it comes to this.

BEN: Well, I’d like to thank you anyway, for taking the time to talk to me.

TREVOR: Well, like I said, didn’t want you sitting around all night sulking, right? But you’re welcome. And I really do hope that you find an answer to what’s bothering you. Just… do yourself a favor. Keep your distance from her. For now, at least. Give her some space. If you do have mutual friends, maybe ask around, but… can you do that?

BEN: I guess if that’s a step in the right direction, then…

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About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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