The Broad Squad

CutBanana

The internet is a fantastic invention and I don’t know what I would do without it in my life at this point. I use it to search for rare health cases and symptoms like mine. I use it to communicate with my friends around the world. I watch movies and TV shows via four different streaming services while my laptop is propped over me at a tilt. I’m talking to you stranger dangers, for Pete’s sake.

One of the first ways the internet was initially used for “evil” was that producers and distributors suddenly realized how they could reach a much larger audience to pander their porn.

Another is that it is super, super easy to create a profile and an entire backstory for a person that is not at all based in truth.

Hulu has every episode for the show “Catfish: The TV Show,” produced and distributed by MTV. I was a fan of the movie, and now that I have loads of time on my hands, I am watching that show like I’m loading it up on an IV leading directly to my veins. The movie “Catfish” was made because a guy in his mid-20’s, Nev (pronounced “neev”) started an online romance with a woman long distance, and his brother and their friend taped the progress of his relationship. He is a good looking guy (dark hair and eyes, strong jaw, lovely constant 5 o’clock shadow), and the woman he thought he was talking to was gorgeous with caramel-colored hair and big turquoise eyes. Thought. Nev was crushed and confused when his journey that ended with him meeting this mystery person face-to-face. This is not how he imagined his fairy-tale story would end. Turns out the woman was a middle-aged housewife with special-needs kids who wanted to momentarily escape from her life.

Now Nev’s mission is to help others facing the same dilemma. People write to him because they have been carrying on long distance internet romances with someone who they aren’t sure is being truthful about their appearance, their job, their marital status, their gender, their location, their offspring, their names…you get the idea. “Catfish” is no longer a subject – it’s also a verb.

So, have you been catfished?

Internet dating sucks. I’ve said it many times and I’m sure I will again. At the very least, people don’t like to post their recent pictures, usually because their weight has changed from when they were 17. I get it – I would rather people see me at my best too. I actually haven’t taken any pictures of myself for the past few years because bed rest has not been kind. But I have never lied about my marital or relationship status, the city where I live, my age, my name, my gender, or any other item you can dream up. I don’t tell men up front that I’m bald, but those same men also don’t tell me if they have a 4″ dick that is bent at a right angle.

A good friend I’ll call Svetlana is still braving internet dating, and I am presenting you with just one of her stories with her permission. She had closed down a profile after feeling disgusted and defeated by the men who approached her, but she stayed in touch with a few, including one I’ll call Fernando. Up to this point she has not met him. Fernando had finally asked her out on a date, but Svetlana hadn’t had a chance to accept or decline; instead, she received this message:

Hello Svetlana, I am the girlfriend of Fernando and I don’t think you know anything about it. Since July I live in Germany. 10 days ago I came to his sister’s home in Skokie to visit him for a week, just yesterday I came home. I had seen in his phone and the text messages that he sent to you (unfortunately you are not the only one with who he communicate, at the same day another woman probably from Brasil because it was in Portugese language got from him a love message the same words that he said to me words that he said to me a lot of time, I know that because my friend translated it)…so sad because at that time I was with him, what he would do is ruthless,phony and disrespect. He used me just for his advantage and benefits, he needs european passport to stay legally in Europe and after that study in Amsterdam. He asked me to marry him, now I understand that he wanted just passport and then just cold bloody leave me for another woman. Now I know that he is just liar and cheater, he promised me never to hurt me because my ex boyfriend did it and he knew whats happened in the past to me. I am very angry, disappointed and upset what he did to me, everybody helped and like him cause he looks as innocent and lyal person but he is not like that…unfortunately not! I release my self from him. Why I send you this message? because I want to warn you, no woman deserves this pain. He promised me not to dating you when we stay together but I don’t want to share my life with somebody like him. So enjoy his company.”

First and foremost, Svetlana felt like this took a lot of courage for this woman to reach out to her and warn her. Svetlana has done the same thing when she has discovered men who have been lying and cheating, but sadly, she has had vitriol thrown back at her – other women calling her a slut, whore, desperate, and any other derogatory name you can think of. Second, she responded to the woman and thanked her for warning her, because she wanted nothing to do with men who conduct themselves in this manner. Third, she felt immense relief because this woman did not treat her badly, especially since she had not knowingly become one of many other women he was working on.

How would you react if someone contacted you to warn you that the person with whom you were conversing with or in a relationship with was being duplicitous or dishonest? Would you listen to them rationally, or would you call them names and try to shame them for telling the truth?

Svetlana suggested that she could send a message to Fernando saying, “You think you’re so clever, don’t you?” But really, I thought it would leave much less room for him to wiggle out of if she asked him when he’s planning on moving and who he is going to marry in order to get the proper passport. She did and then blocked him.

My wish is that women would stop buying into this theory and practice that we should compete against each other for the attention of men. Every woman Svetlana warned should have thanked her and cut off all ties to the liars rather than turn against her. I would love to start up a Broad Squad, where we take the time to research things like marital status, number of offspring, jobs, cities, etc., using our favorite tool, the internet (because I can’t very well drive around in disguise and take pictures). Then we warn each other. Then we believe what the other women are saying with proof to back it up. Look, I know we don’t want to think the man who is sticking his dick in us and saying very pretty words could possibly be saying the same to other women, but it’s time for the women to stop hating other women for the lying that men do. And it’s time for men to change their internal recordings from “that bitch messed up my plan, now I have to find new victims” to “I’m sorry, and I will never be a shit again.” Really, wouldn’t we all be happier if we were trying to be our best selves?

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The Ex from Tex(as)

You know that saying about how you shouldn’t take a dip in the company pool when it comes to dating? (Or maybe the more succinct way of putting that is not to shit where you eat.) Well, I’ve broken that rule many, many times. How are we as adults supposed to meet anyone? And my field was traditionally dominated by men, so it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

I was in the same extremely small department at a large bank (280,000 employees worldwide) for nine of my eleven years with the same employer, and I saw a lot of changes in personnel and practices. My seat was in Arizona; my boss was in California, her boss was in Texas, and we had team members in Mumbai, India. It was decided that our group would add two more people in Texas to take calls from managers and give it the very important name of Escalation Desk so as to give the impression that fires would be lit under the people handling time-sensitive problems. We added these two people at a time that I was doing the work of 2-3 people and another co-worker, also in Arizona, was being pulled to perform special projects.

One of the two people was Mr. Texas. He and another woman were located in our Texas office, and for almost a year, they sat idle because managers weren’t calling in for expedited assistance. After my Arizona teammate and I consistently asked for overtime to complete our work, the boss decided it was time to train the Texas people in our jobs. That was how I met Mr. Texas.

He was infuriating because he was not the type of person to offer help – he preferred to just sit at his desk and do nothing. When we would have our weekly phone-in meetings, he would not participate, and if he was forced to answer questions, Mr. Texas always sounded like we were disturbing his nap.

My work group was pretty relaxed, and it was not rare for us to spill some personal info on our conference calls. We also traded pictures of volunteering and life events. When I finally saw a picture of Mr. Texas, he didn’t look anything like what I thought he would (though I don’t know what I expected at that point). He is about 6’4″, very muscular, and very tan. After he heard some of the team members tease me about my dating woes, Mr. Texas started privately conversing with me on the company instant messenger. We had quite a few “Me too!” revelations about our dating experiences. Eventually we traded phone numbers and started talking and texting during our off hours.

I still remember the first phone call. It was awkward as hell. Here I was talking to this co-worker who drove me crazy with his laziness. I’m not even sure if he picked up on that about me, or if he did, if he actively chose to disregard it because chasing a piece of ass was more important. Obviously I didn’t let that stop me either – I love tall men, especially handsome ones.

We graduated to sexting and hot and heavy phone sessions. I miss those days! It was like making out, or as close as two people could get to that while a whole state separated us. Mr. Texas and I planned our first encounter, which involved him flying over to Arizona and us getting a hotel room (because I had a roommate). At some point it was revealed to me that when he was 15, he and his friends were stupid – they were playing jumping on and off trains, and wouldn’t you know it, his leg got caught under a train. Mr. Texas only had about 4 inches left of his right femur and wore a very long prosthetic that strapped around his hips. He walks very stiff legged because he does not have enough of his femur left to maneuver a leg with a working knee joint.

Mr. Texas and I had a great first weekend together. It was not a hindrance at all that he was missing a leg, because it actually made room for me if I wanted to get my face in his junk. He was very muscular because he was a serious weightlifter. Mr. Texas’ skin felt just like what I imagined one of those hunks in a beefcake calendar would. I was still very self-conscious about my lack of hair, so he never saw me with my wig off, but the fact that two people with prosthetics actually hooked up was hilarious to me. The only time I had to look away for fear of cracking up was when he got up in the middle of the night to pee. Mr. Texas did not strap on his leg just to go a short distance to the bathroom, but instead he hopped there. Imagine this if you can, but this 6’4″ guy was hopping on one massive tree trunk leg across the room to the toilet. I guessed that he kept on his tighty whitey underwear expressly for the same reason women wear sport bras when they are active – his choice of underwear probably kept his dick and balls from bouncing around.

I made the trek to his state the next visit. He has a very large white cat with some black patches named Sugar, and of course I’m deathly allergic, so we got a hotel room. At the end of my visit, we sat on his couch and watched some TV to kill time in between having to check out of the hotel and go to the airport. I had my head in his lap, gasping and growing hives like weeds all over my face and neck. Sugar came over and at first tried to “clean” my hair (my wig!), and when she started getting frustrated by the long fibers, she completely sat on my head. Mr. Texas thought it was rip-roaring funny and refused to shoo her off of my head. By the time we left for the airport, I had looked like I was punched in both eyes and I was snotting copiously, which wasn’t at all attractive.

We took turns visiting each other, alternating who paid for the plane ticket and who paid for the hotel. It was harder to be snappy with him at work because we had been intimate, though I tried hard to remain neutral if someone else in the work group would fight with him. We even talked marriage; he’s never been married, and neither have I, but it was something we discussed as a possibility for us down the road. Mr. Texas was twelve years older than me and held onto this idealized wedding for about thirty years. I remember it had something to do with having twelve groomsmen and twelve bridesmaids, and he wanted the ceremony to be in his parents’ church (which also happened to be where Chuck Norris would attend) – they were hardcore southern Baptists.

Unfortunately, I started feeling like he wasn’t emotionally invested in me. He seemed uninterested in my life away from work and didn’t have much to say to me when we weren’t banging. Mr. Texas also used to complain that the claim “spiritual but not religious” was not a valid belief system; you either attended church or you didn’t – and I didn’t! That shot his big church wedding to pieces.

So one week when I felt like a single woman anyway because of his disinterest, I called it off. Unfortunately, two days later the bank laid him off.

I didn’t hear from him for a couple of years, but then he started texting me again. This time around I know there is no emotional connection at all, he just likes talking about his penis and where he’s going to put it. Mr. Texas also sends pictures of his fat sassy cat Sugar, sometimes even videos of her purring, always signing off by saying that he’d like to pet my kitty. In a way it’s flattering, but in another way it’s exhausting. He doesn’t have any concept at all of what I’m going through. I can’t get excited about Mr. Texas and his dirty talk when my abdomen feels like it’s being stabbed for six hours straight.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to fly to a lover again.