I Know Why the Caged Date Sings

Submitted by TheGripester:

The weirdest date I ever went on was in the early 1980s.  An older co-worker of mine, Laurie, invited me for dinner to meet her family.  She said that I’d really get along with her husband Robert, who had similar interests. Also, her 15-year-old daughter, Jenna, was a budding artist.

Laurie lived in a funky little house under some trees set back from the shore. When I knocked on the door, Robert, who I’d never met, opened it and looked at me. “Yes?” he asked, giving me a reproachful, why-are-you-bothering-me look.

I told him my name. Long silence, no reaction. Finally I said, “Laurie invited me over for dinner.”

His faced changed into a sour expression. “Laurie!” he barked over his shoulder, “Your friend is here!”

During dinner, Laurie tried to work her daughter into the conversation, but whenever Jenna was asked a question, she would would blush and look away, or mutter something inaudible and stare into her plate. Once, I asked her "Which high school do you go to?"

The sullen Robert cut in, "She’s home-schooled," and shot me a hostile, possessive look.

Laurie then told the story of how she and Robert met. Robert had rescued Laurie in the 1960s from a very cloistered life as the teenage daughter of a college professor, and they had run off together to San Francisco. Jenna had been born a year later during the Summer of Love.

At the end of the meal, Laurie suggested that Jenna show me some of her artwork. I followed Jenna to the back of the house, where she had a little workspace dedicated to her paintings.

The paintings were beautiful, but tragic and dark. One pictured a rabbit caught in a snare, another a prisoner in a cell.  It was easy to tell that Jenna was the prisoner in the cell, the rabbit in the trap.

Then it hit me: Jenna and I were about the same ages that Laurie and Robert had been when they ran off together. This whole "friendly dinner" was a setup by Laurie to fix up her lonely, isolated daughter with some older guy.

I got the hell out of there. Something very unhealthy was going on in that family, but there was nothing I could do. And no way would I ever go out with a 15-year-old.

When I met Jenna a few years later, and she seemed very happy and moderately successful as a local painter. Her paintings were a lot more positive - I hope that means that she got out of there, too.


  1. Why don't you not have a seat over there??

  2. how is that considered a date? she invited you to dinner, and you assumed she wanted you to date her 15 year old daughter? dad may have acted unfriendly because you were there for him, ever thought of that one?

  3. Anonymous 2 - The editor of the site has cut out a bit of the story which would show a little more clearly that the father rejected any attempts for me to start a conversation with him, and a bit that showed he was pretty possessive. I was there to meet the whole family- but it was clear that the mother was trying to fix her daughter up. She tried to steer us together the whole evening. There was no assuming about it, because afterwards at work, she kept bringing up her daughter and how she'd like to see me again.

    It qualifies as a date because it was the same as any "come over to dinner and meet some people" invite where your host is actually trying to set you up with a friend or relative. Except in this case, it was a kind of icky. I was 20 at the time, only 5 years older, but no chickenhawk.

    So relax, all right?

  4. Anon #2 - What do you mean by "dad may have acted unfriendly because you were there for him"? The OP wasn't there for him at all, he was there because his co-worker invited him.

  5. ^ unless it was in Iran, in which case, the girl would have been 9.

  6. If stories about clumsy attempts to set people up are not allowed on this site, that just leaves awkward situations, misanthropes, and revenge stories - especially as I am seeing very few "it-was-my-fault" stories, or "I-learned-something-about-human-nature" stories.

    It sure was a date as far as the mother was concerned.

  7. Another important bit that got cut out - when I told the girl her paintings were beautiful and sad, she started to cry. I think the father was abusing her - in what way I don't even want to guess.

  8. This isn't funny. If this is true, it's just sad and horrible. I don't come to this site to read about tragedies like this.

  9. This is a free country; people can post whatever they want, as long as it's not offensive. If it doesn't interest you, don't read it.

    To the OP, thanks for sharing.

  10. you suspected child abuse, so you just walk away?

  11. To the person above me: What the hell could he have done? Unless he witnessed the actual abuse, he couldn't exactly call the cops.

  12. I didn't "suspect" anything right away - I just thought the girl was upset about something and the dad was a jerk. Remember, I was only 20 years old, right? It wasn't until I learned more about life that I started to wonder what was going on in that situation, and then I saw that the girl was doing okay. Btw, thanks for running defense, Katie, I'm glad you get the story.

  13. You suck. That's not a date. It's just your failed attempt to write a poignant story just to entertain the gallery.

  14. Predator.



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