Scaredy Kat by
(135 Stories)

Prompted By Dating

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The years between between entering graduate school in January of 1979 and meeting Valerie, who later became my first wife, in the summer of 1982 were a time of excess; excessive partying and drinking, and insufficient studying and research. The demise of my relationship with Maria had left me corrosively cynical, easily hurt and mistrustful of anyone, including myself. I spent this time desperately trying, once again, to become an emotionally detached nihilist. Clearly, I “had issues.”

And a very fetching cat she was

Being unable to trust anyone, especially any woman I might be attracted to, and in possession of a hair-trigger reflex to avoid being rejected again is not a recipe for dating success. They were few, and often unpleasant. But one was sort of funny.

Her name was Donna, but for some reason people called her “Kat.” She worked in the front office of our Department. Cute, short, with bobbed dark hair. Much like Maria, in fact. One of several similar-looking women whom I became interested in during that time; in retrospect, it is obvious that I was seeking a replacement. Kat was funny, friendly and I saw her fairly often so I knew we could converse. On Halloween of 1979 she, in an homage to her nickname, dressed as a cat. And a very fetching cat she was, in a black Danskin, with pointy little black crepe-paper ears, and whiskers drawn on her upper lip. My first cosplay crush.

Eventually I screwed up enough courage to approach her, but I did some research first. It turned out that a fellow student, Vinnie, had dated her for a short time, but it didn’t last. He did tell me that her father was not living with them and that her Mom was…odd. Christian in the hyper-religious Old-testament you’re-all-going-to-Hell mode. And that some of that had rubbed off on Donna. Sex was probably out, but she was cute and I was lonely, so in I dove.

I took her to a movie. I now think that movies are usually terrible for first dates. You don’t look at each other, you don’t talk. Drinks or coffee or a meal are all far better. But a movie it was.

I don’t recall what movie we saw. But afterwards she said that she had had a nice time but she really needed to go home. OK. I took her home.

I don’t know what she thought might happen. Hell, I don’t recall what I was hoping for, a goodnight kiss, a few minutes of hot make-out? Nothing? Knowing me, nothing was probably it. I drove up to her house, parked, turned off the car.

And she was gone.

Vanished. Bolted out of the car without a word, as if she had suddenly realized that she was alone with some vicious combination of Charlie Manson and Ted Bundy. I just stared in amazement at her retreating form as she literally sprinted through the rain to her front door and disappeared into the house. As one who prides himself on being essentially harmless, I felt a bit insulted.

The next time I saw her in the department office she acted as if nothing had happened, not even the date. I considered, briefly, asking her why the hell she had acted the way she did, but decided that it really didn’t matter.

Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.

Characterizations: right on!, well written


  1. A strange cat at that Dave, and altho you’re right and it really doesn’t matter now, the memory and your emotions at the time have stayed with you it seems!

    But now it’s been good fodder for a Retro story, thanx!

  2. Marian says:

    As you found out, Dave, some dates are inscrutable, even when you have a bit of background on the person. Occasionally you just need to shrug … Thanks for sharing this odd experience with us.

  3. Suzy says:

    That was an interesting date all right. Amazing not only that she bolted out of the car, but that she then acted as if it had never happened.

    Re her mother and your Old Testament reference: that’s the Jewish Bible, so it’s hard to imagine being Christian in an Old Testament way. Also, Jews don’t believe in Hell, so the you’re-all-going-to-Hell mode would have to be from the New Testament. Not crucial to the story, but I thought you should know.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Waah! How distressing—funny but not ha ha. Agreed that movies are not good ways to get to know someone. For me, the more casual and less expensive, the better to defuse the artificiality and expectations of the “date”. So glad things finally settled down. It gets better, usually, fortunately.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    She does sound cute, but weird. Did you ever ask her out again? I went on a lot of movie dates in high school, but they were always followed with some sort of food after, so there could be some conversation. Sorry that yours ended with none of that. You deserved better.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I think we have all had dates with similar outcomes. It was always a mystery to me when someone “ghosted” me (as my grandkids would say) after a first date that seemed ok. It hurts but better this than investing time in a hopeless relationship. Great date story, Dave.

  7. An odd duck…I mean Kat. Wonder what happened to her. She probably met someone equally odd and, who knows, maybe they lived happily ever after. Seems there’s someone for everyone, if you can just find them!

  8. Ouch! A clear, honest, and painful tale, Dave, and certainly one that I can relate to. I would guess that the odd mom had as plenty to do with her response, but there she was, living at home. What was the movie? Maybe that blew her mind. And yes, movies are a terrible forum for getting acquainted!

    • Dave Ventre says:

      I have no recollection what the movie was. I had not thought about Donna for many many years. I actually remembered another dating story, prompted by Betsy Pfau’s tale of Gordon. It also involves fear. When I was young, I never considered how a date can be frightening for a woman in the sense of her physical safety. She has to go away, usually in a car, alone, with someone she may not know that well, who is probably larger and stronger than she is, and who grew up in a society that doesn’t really discourage men taking what they desire. If Donna was afraid of me, it wasn’t because of anything I’d done. In my second memory, it WAS something I had done that invoked fear, albeit completely by accident. I’m working on it and hope the Retrospect community will forgive a double post….

  9. John Shutkin says:

    Tough story, Dave — and well told. And it reinforces, albeit unfairly, my prejudice about cats and their sheer unreliability. (Give me unconditional dog love instead.) On the bright side, things probably would have just gotten weirder with Kat. Best to have the whole experiences in one’s rear view mirror ASAP.

    Also, I am hardly a theologian, Jewish or otherwise, but, as Suzy noted, Kat’s family sounds New Testament-y to me.

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