"You really look lovely tonight, Kat."
"And you, Nate," I teased, "you really do need to get that Lasik surgery you've been hinting at."
We were at Fish, sharing a platter of fish and chips — well, playfully fighting over the chips — and digging on each other's slightly irreverent humor. Actually, it was more than just humor we were digging on.
Nate was smart, involved in all sorts of nonprofits, a double Dipsea runner and a century rider. The man had a bod. He'd been divorced a long time, but had several long-time relationships. Those were good signs.
Plus he had the most amazing lips. That was a good sign, too.
We'd met online and I was really starting to like him. A lot. So I was nervous.
Of course, it was our third date, and any woman who's dated a bit knows what that means.
I was wondering if he was thinking what I was thinking.
It was time to have "the talk."
"So, tell me, Nate ..." I started to say as I reached into the basket for another chip, dipping my pinky finger into the catsup in the process.
"You mean, tell you about how much I'd like to kiss you right now?" he said seductively as he reached across the table, gently took my hand, brought it up to his mouth and licked the catsup off my finger.
"Um, well, no," I said, wondering how an outdoor patio could suddenly get so hot. "I mean, yes but, um, about your marriage."
"Mmm, what about it?" he said dreamily, as he let his warm, wet, lips graze the inside of my palm.
"So, what happened?" I asked, wishing I'd worn something a little less heavy than a tank top.
"My ex? That woman's crazy."
And so for the next half hour or so, he told me stories of the woman he'd been married to for five years who certainly did sound, if not crazy, then at least a little odd.
"Well, what about Carol?" I asked of his last girlfriend, the one he'd lived with for three years.
"I broke it off. Now she was psycho."
I stopped focusing on his lips and really started to listen to what he was saying. And what I was hearing was that he sure seems to date women who have lots of emotional issues.
Then I really started to get nervous; he was on a date — with me!
But the odd thing is, he's not the only man who seems to sniff out women of questionable mental health. In my years of dating in and around Marin, most of the men I've met have been involved with psychos, lunatics, nuts, crazies, wackos, weirdos, kooks and screwballs.
I knew all about the Marin Matrons. I had no idea about Marin's Madwomen. Who were they? Where were they hiding? So the next time I saw my friend Cindy — who has more acronyms behind her name than anyone I know but I think it all adds up to being a shrink — I asked her.
"Cin, does Marin have a lot of problematic women?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, crazy women. You know."
"You mean mentally different, Kat. But, why in the world do you ask that?
It's crazy but, whenever I've asked men I've met or dated what happened to their former marriages or relationships, they almost always say that the women were, well, crazy."
"I see," she said cautiously, looking at me as if I were perhaps a woman on the verge herself and asking for help. "And how does that make you feel?"
I hate it when she does that.
But I had to admit, I do have some feelings about it, especially since I'm quite a few men's former lover and girlfriend and one man's former wife. Were they now all saying the same thing about me to some babe who's thinking she's somehow saner than I am? I know I have a few personality quirks, but I've always thought they could be considered rather endearing.
I'd never describe my ex, Rob, as crazy or psycho — not to say he didn’t have his moments — and I can't say I've ever heard any of my girlfriends talk about their exes that way, either. Controlling; impotent; deceptive; abusive; a lying, cheating drunk — sure. But never crazy or psycho.
I wondered why men see us that way. And, even more important, I wondered why men didn't realize that the fact that they married us — the crazy ones — lived with us, stayed with us for years and years just might say something about them.
Now, I know that "crazy" women exist, depending on what your definition of crazy is. My friend Dan loves to tell the story of the thirtysomething hottie he met on Match and was eager to meet in person. When he showed up at her place in Novato to head for a hike, she looked even better than her online pictures. "Let me thrown on my hiking shorts" she told him as she disappeared into her bedroom. He waited and waited and waited, and when he finally walked sheepishly into her room, he found her naked on her bed, purring that she'd like him to do certain things to her.
"So, what did you do?" I asked with a certain naïvité.
"I did what she asked. "
"Dan, you're such a guy."
"Well, I didn't want to hurt her feelings."
"Oh, c'mon! She could have been diseased, beyond the fact that's she's a little, um, off Why would you even want to be with her?"
Dan gave me a look not unlike the one I give The Kid when he's done something so obviously stupid. Crazy is always more understandable when it looks like this — pretty woman, pretty naked woman, pretty naked woman who wants to have sex, pretty naked woman who wants to have sex with you. Right then and there. No hike necessary.
But I don’t think that’s the kind of crazy the men I’ve met are talking about; they’d probably like that kind of crazy.
In fact, I would guess that many of Marin’s so-called madwomen are all pretty nice gals. Think about it — at one point the guys liked them enough to chat them up, pursue them, date them, sleep with them, become exclusive with them and maybe even marry them and have babies with them. At what point in the process did “Snookums” and “Baby-doll” become "Psycho Woman From Hell"?
Was she crazy all along and he either didn’t see it or was in denial? Did she turn crazy as soon as they moved in together? Did motherhood make her nuts? Or maybe, just maybe, he didn’t really understand her and perhaps didn’t try to. Or maybe she rejected him and it just got flipped around and convoluted enough for it to be her problem — not his or theirs.
So I knew what I had to do.
“You broke it off with hot-bod Nate?” an incredulous Sara asked me, as we shared a plate of fish and chips at Fish shortly after my date with Nate. “Kat, are you crazy?!?”
Yep, and I’m pretty sure he’d agree.