This is a new series called "Perfect Gentlemen," wherein we feature stories from women (or men!) who've gone out on dates with professional athletes and had altogether positive experiences. Unfortunately, today's installment features Lawrence Taylor.
This was submitted well before any of the rape allegations. Her story is below.
When I was 19, I worked one December in Delray Beach, Fla. Of an evening, my buddies and I would hang out at a sports bar where I — ignorant of and frankly rather uninterested in the ways of American sports — would pretend not to be offended when my guy friends stared over my head at the big screens while ostensibly carrying on a conversation with me.
One evening, the bar was quiet. Then the door opened and in walked a very large black man, and very short Italian-American, and a leggy blond. No joke. The bar started buzzing and my drinking companions started whispering "Oh my god, oh my god — it's him".
Who? I said.
"Only the greatest linebacker that ever lived," said Jim.
"It's L.T. Lawrence Taylor. He's a god. Plays for the Giants. Hall of Fame. You know!"
"Er, I have no idea what you are talking about, says I. So why don't you go get his autograph, if you love him so much?"
"Oh no! He famously doesn't sign autographs," said Jim, dejectedly.
"That's silly. I'll get you one." And with that, I got up and walked over to the bar, where a shiny halo of bright space surrounded our three friends. I tapped LT on the shoulder. He turned, and looked at me expectantly.
"Yes?" LT said.
"Oh, hi. Excuse me, but I heard that you play a bit of football. Like you teach kids or something? And I'm really clueless about the game, and getting rather sick of watching it with this lot and not knowing what's going on. I wondered if you'd be willing to teach me the rules?"
It helped that I was 19, blonde, and had an Australian accent...
He looked at me for a long minute and then smiled.
"Ok," he said.
And so he got out a napkin, started drawing out the field, labeling the positions, and talking me through the rules. After about 20 minutes, I stopped him.
"LT? Thanks, I really appreciate this, but you know, I have realized I don't really care about American football and it is going in one ear and out the other. So I won't waste any more of your time. Really, thank you, it was a pleasure to meet you."
As I turned to walk away, LT put his hand out and touched my shoulder.
"Wait, he said. Don't go. Would you like to have dinner with me and my friends tomorrow night?"
"Why yes," I said. "That would be very nice."
And so we swapped numbers and he promised to call me at 7 p.m. the next evening when he got off the golf course.
I went back to my table, where Jim and Steve were agog, and then dismissive when I told them I had a date.
"He'll never call," they scoffed.
The next evening, 7p.m. came and went. At 7.15pm, Jim called and asked if I was coming to the pub. I said I was waiting for LT to call. Jim laughed, told me to dream on. I said if he hadn't called by 8 p.m. I would join him in the pub.
At 7.30pm the phone rang. "Hi, it's LT. Sorry, our golf game ran late. Are you still on for dinner?"
"Sure," I said.
"I will send a limo to pick you up."
And so we went for dinner, LT, me, his buddy and his buddy's wife. LT was utterly charming, and funny, and sweet, and we had a good time. At the end of the dinner we all left and went back to their hotel, where some other friends (or hangers-on, I guess) join us at the bar for drinks. Then it's late, and last orders are called. I've never seen so many people slip away into the night so quickly in my life: one minute there is a crowd of us, and the next, it is just me and LT sitting there in the bar.
LT turns to me and says "Would you like a nightcap in my suite?"
The world stopped dead. Since the previous night, I knew a lot more about LT from my friends — the drug problems, the violence, etc. I was someone who thought I could handle myself. But suddenly, I felt very young and very nervous, and the only thing that was running through my head over and over again was "Mike Tyson, Desiree Washington; Mike Tyson, Desiree Washington". And suddenly I just didn't want to be there anymore.
"Thanks, LT, but you know I think I will pass. It's late, and I have to get up early tomorrow. But it has been a lovely evening and I'm really glad to have met you."
He looked at me and said, "You know, that's totally OK, I get it. Let me take you home."
"No no, I can take a cab, I said.
"No, I insist. Please."
And so he called up his driver, who got out his limo from the garage, and then he sent his driver home and he got in the car and drove me home himself. At my house, he turned to me and said,
"Thank you for a delightful evening. You take care of yourself."
I popped a kiss on his cheek and disappeared inside.
Two days later it was Christmas Eve, and the phone rang. I answered.
"Hello there, it's LT." That gravelly voice was unmistakable. "I was just calling to wish you a merry Christmas and to say that I really enjoyed meeting you."
"Why, that's sweet, LT. Thank you, I feel the same. Listen, if you are ever in my town, London, you call me and I will take you out for dinner to myfavorite place."
"It's a deal,"he said, and with that, rang off.
When I told this story to friends on moving to the States some years later, half the guys said "Jeez, it would be a much better story if you'd slept with him."
No. I think it is a much better story that I didn't, and that he behaved like a perfect gentlemen towards me throughout.
If you also have a good story about a date with a pro athlete (preferably one who has not allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl) please submit them to email@example.com/subject: "Perfect Gentlemen."