Submitted by Thomas:
When I was 21, I had a job at a guitar factory. I was pretty good friends with my boss, and used to crash over at her house quite a bit. There I met Claire, the daughter of one of her friends, who was pretty damn cute and approachable.
Claire was a fitness nut, and had done a lot of martial arts. I'd studied a bit of Karate and Kenpo when I was much younger, and was thinking of picking it up again. We connected in a friendly way, and I asked her out on a casual date to go watch a Charlie Chaplin revival at the local college. She agreed with some interest, and I arranged to pick her up at work that Friday.
Friday came around, and I dropped by her workplace. She was nowhere to be seen, and when I enquired, they told me that she'd had an urgent call from a friend, and had gone home early. So I called up her home, and after a few tries over the next hour or so got her father on the phone. He told me that her sparring partner from her martial arts class had picked her up, and they'd gone out for a "talk." She'd told her father that she'd be back soon, and would still like to go out with me that night once she got back.
Well, you can probably tell where this is leading. I called a few more times that night, and she had not come home. So I gave it up, and she never got back to me with any kind of meaningful explanation or apology, I decided that I wouldn't ask her out anymore. It wasn't worth the aggravation to be stood up again. How lucky I was, as you'll see...
A couple of years later, I was read a newspaper headline: "Obsessed Stalker Arrested - Victims Hospitalized." There on the front page was the story of how Claire and her boyfriend had been assaulted by her ex-sparring partner, the same guy she'd had to go talk to on the night of our failed date. This guy was a third-dan black belt, and had been obsessed with Claire ever since they had met at the dojo years before. He'd tried to be romantic, then when she broke it off with him he'd remained a very controlling friend who tried to limit her relationships with other men (like me, apparently). Finally, when she got serious about someone, he'd stalked her and harassed her, and she had gotten a restraining order against him.
One night, he broke into her boyfriend's apartment, found them, and slugged her in the sternum with a nightstick, breaking three ribs, then struck her on the head to knock her out. Then he worked over the boyfriend, who fought back as well as he could, but was no match. Luckily, Claire regained consciousness and called the cops, who arrived at the scene in time to stop him from literally beating her boyfriend to death.
That boyfriend had been a football star at high school, and was an athletic, healthy young man in his prime. Now, he might never walk again. His kneecaps had been shattered. His spleen was ruptured. He had multiple fractures, lacerations, and a severe concussion. Though I was pretty shocked to read all this, and sad for Claire, I couldn't escape the sensation that I had been incredibly lucky to have been stood up all those years ago. I wouldn't have lasted two minutes against that guy. I'm a lover, not a fighter.
Sometimes being stood up is a good thing. At least it could teach you some humility. In my case, it likely saved my life.
As a postscript, that guy pleaded criminally insane and went to an institution for a very long time. I bumped into Claire a dozen or so years later, and sold her and her fiance (yet another guy) an old mobile home that I was getting rid of. She seemed pretty happy. I hope they never let that maniac out.
Submitted by Thomas: