I met my girlfriend on the most romantic of terms, like a Disney movie — but only if the movie was called Tinderella.
Seriously though. We did meet on Tinder. But it wasn’t an instant hookup deal.
We went on a few dates, to sushi, to a pool, to another restaurant. We had a good time right from the get-go. Chemistry is a bit like talent. If you have it, you don’t have to work too hard to be decent. We had a talent for each other.
We are both in our mid 30’s. She’s an archaeology professor. I’m a writer. We are both free thinker types. We enjoyed riffing ideas and thoughts off of each other. We also shared a sense of humor, which should almost be mandatory before getting serious with someone.
Eventually, things progressed as things normally do. She came to my house for drinks after a date and ended up staying the night.
It was a Saturday. We went to bed around midnight.
Around 3 AM, my eyes opened in the darkness. It isn’t unusual for me to wake up — I have a small bladder and usually get up at least once to go. This time, I felt no calling for the bathroom. Something else had woken me and I wasn’t sure what it was.
There was also this weird energy in the air that I couldn’t put my finger on.
I rolled my feet off the bed. It was inky dark and I was effectively blind. I shuffled over to the wall of my bedroom, reaching my hand out until I felt it. Then I used the wall to guide me to the door to the hallway.
My master bedroom is at the back of the home. The hallway goes straight through the house, passing several rooms until getting to my front door.
I stepped out into the hallway. I looked left. Through the darkness, I saw my front door — wide open. I could see my front lawn being lit up by a streetlight. I’ll never forget the feeling of the wind from the street, blowing directly through the hall. It was a haunting sensation. But I wasn’t fully alarmed, yet. I figured I may have been lazy in closing the door and it got windy outside.
I walked down the hall and pushed the door shut with a click. I double-checked to see if it was locked tight.
But as I turned around, things changed.
About 20 feet away ahead of me and to my left, I saw a faint light coming from my kitchen doorway. It was wavering, going slightly lighter and darker over and over again.
That’s when my heart beat faster. I moved forward very slowly, rolling my heels to avoid making noise.
I inched closer and closer to the kitchen, stalking slowly like a cat. My heart was thumping at this point. The light got closer and closer. Then, I leaned forward in the darkness. I peered my head slowly around the entrance to the kitchen.
What revealed itself was both of my refrigerator doors, wide open. One door was rocking back and forth, seemingly stilting by an invisible hand. That’s when my breathing got heavier. Someone was definitely in my house. I grabbed a big kitchen knife and paused to listen.
It’s incredible, how in visceral moments like this, time seems to slow down. The air goes still around you. Some primordial instinct, in the deepest recession of your mind, kicks in. You hear every minor noise. You look around you and assess the geometry of your surroundings with acute, detail.
I’m not a particularly violent person. Quite the opposite. But out of necessity, I reasoned that I was large and fairly strong. If this turned into some crazy hallway fight, and if it were just one person, and no gun. I wouldn’t go down easily. Anything more, and it would be dicey.
Still frozen like a statue, I called out into the darkness to see if anyone was there. I stood in silence and listened for movement.
Then I inched my way into the office. I leaned again around the doorway, careful not to make any noise so that he wouldn’t get the jump on me.
I stepped away. I went on to the guest bedroom, keeping my feet quiet, inching forward slowly.
I did this through several rooms and came up empty. It didn’t make sense.
A little less rattled, I checked all the doors and windows again. Then I returned to bed without waking Laura up. But that wasn’t the end of it.
The following morning. I rolled over towards her and said, “So the weirdest thing happened last night…” And went on to explain what had transpired.
A few minutes later, I got up and walked back to my living room and realized what I’d missed that night. My 60" flatscreen TV had been lifted right out of my living room, along with a few other electronics. My TV table was bare, with all the cords and accessories scattered around it.
The theft had happened right there as we’d slept. I stood there in shock, looking at the table. I’m guessing them leaving had woken me up.
There is a feeling of total violation when you realize people have come into your home.
But then I also thought, “This is a really awkward situation.”
Imagine going on several dates with a person you like. Then, they finally come over to your place to stay over.
And you get robbed.
How do you even address that?
I went back into the bedroom and said, “Yeah, so about last night…”
She came out and her eyes went as wide as mine had. We’d been watching a movie on that very TV the night before. Now, it was glaringly absent, with scattered remnants around it.
We didn’t know each other well at this point. She hung out for a few minutes before awkwardly saying, “I think I’m going to go…” I walked her out to the car. It was super embarrassing.
Later, the cops showed up and there was a whole scene with nosey ass neighbors milling around in the street. The cop was a total dick about the whole thing and I’m still not sure why.
Nobody was ever caught. I suspect it was people needing drug money, who later pawned the TV somewhere. It’s common in this part of Florida. I think one of them yanked a few beers out of the fridge, perhaps to show off to his buddies.
It’s funny because, at the time, so many people said, “The girl had to be in on it.” Like I was stupid for not realizing it.
Laura and I joke about it now. She’s the farthest thing from the type of person who would juke a TV off some guy.
A small part of me wondered if I’d see her again after that. It was just a super awkward thing and didn’t inspire feelings of safety.
But ultimately, it did nothing to slow us down. When two people have a genuine connection, you don’t usually have to worry about crazy incidents or awkward mistakes ruining things. Natural chemistry can overcome those things with ease.
The wild dating stories you hear where someone goes totally off the wall, or says something nutty, are usually during dates that were doomed anyways.
My girlfriend and I are still going strong. We’ve been together two years now. But we still bring the theft up occasionally, “I can’t believe you got robbed that first night I came over.”
It was a unique beginning to our relationship. And in a way, it’s quite appropriate. We’ve always been an unconventional pair.
I’m just glad something worse didn’t happen that night. It’s almost better I slept through it.
Make sure to lock your home tight, folks. Be safe.