Put Some Warrior In You

Whenever you are feeling a little down, do a little haka in your living room. Guaranteed to make you feel invincible.

(Bring your neighbors cookies afterwards to apologize.)

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Cupcake or Cesspool?

I reactivated my profile on OKCupid in a fit of…well, frustration, loneliness and boredom, I suppose. I hate being stuck in my apartment. I used to travel extensively, host happy hours, go to art and music festivals, take swing dancing lessons and volunteer. I know it’s possible to find someone who has the same interests, especially since it’s so easy to connect with shop for people over the internet. I’m not looking for someone to be my sole source of entertainment and am trying to keep an open mind because of my unique situation. But I’m also reminded of why a lot of these guys have been on the site for over a year, or two, or four – because they can’t act like normal human beings.

Following are some of the exchanges I’ve had, word-for-word, in the last 24 hours.

First there’s the one who was born the year I graduated high school:

23-Year-Old Guy: Your really cute! 🙂 How are you?
Me: Thank you, you’re really cute too – but I’m much older than you!
Him: That’s fine with me! Are you okay with it?
Me: Well, I am kind of laughing – when I was 22 I was dating a 48-year-old. Now that the roles are reversed, I’m not so sure about it.
Him: So where do you work?
Me: I don’t work because I’m dealing with some major health issues.
Him: So you dated an old man when you were young? LOL
Me: I did! He was pretty wealthy so I joked that he was my sugar daddy, but I only let him buy me dinners.
Him: Haha your kinky! So how was the sex?
Me: What??? Why would you say I’m kinky?
Him: Did you guys have sex?

At this point I let this conversation drop. I’m still not sure how letting someone buy me dinner translates to kinkiness, but I didn’t feel like I had the patience to find out.

So here’s one from someone who is clearly going to try to scam me out of my life savings:

45-year-old Man from Louisiana (supposedly):
Him: Hello, how are doing today
I am Kelly William from United State and you
like to get acquaintance with you

Blocked. It’s obvious there’s some Google Translate going on there.

Here’s a quick one from California:

25-Year-Old Guy: Your a sexy gorgeous mama! 😉 U got kik?

<sigh> No, little boy, I don’t. I’ve got OKCupid and I don’t want to see your penis.

This one claims to be currently in the U.K., working on a film project, but due back in two weeks:

43-Year-Old Man: What are you looking for on this site? As for me I’m looking for a relationship that will lead to marriage.
Me: I would like a serious relationship too, but only with someone who is truly a match.
Him: Yeah you are right we can get to meet soon, what are you looking for in a woman? As for me am looking for honesty and a GOD fearing woman, a woman that is caring and knows how to treat her man right.
Me: We are going to seriously clash on religion. I don’t believe in religion or “God.”
Him: Thats okay. When I get back we can meet. Where do you live?

Um, no, Stranger Danger – go back to your 1950’s household. There’s a FetLife group for that and I’m not in it. I’m also not looking for a woman.

How could I possibly turn the next one down? He’s very determined:

44-Year-Old Man in California: Your attractive looking and I’m interested in you. I am willing to relocate.
Me: Thank you, although we would clash on religion. (Another bible thumper.)
Him: I would go to your church with you.
Me: I don’t believe in religion or church. (WTH, man, read my profile! I spell it out.)
Him: I would shovel snow for you. I would buy a snowblower for you.
Me: That’s not necessary, I don’t have to take care of snow removal.
Him: We could go to dinner out or we could order pizza.
Me: Is dating difficult in your area?
Him: Yes

Clearly, Creeptastic Man.

And then there’s the one who can’t figure out why he’s bored and lonely:

41-Year-Old Guy: Hi
Me: Hi
Him: I’m bored and lonely.
Me: Have you heard of MeetUp? They have events every day, lots to choose from.
Him: Where do you work?
Me: I don’t work, I am dealing with some major health issues.
Him: Can I come over? I’m bored and lonely.
Me: No, we don’t know each other so I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.
Two days later:
Him: Hi
Me: Hi
Him: Where do you work?
Me: I don’t work right now, I’m not well enough.
Him: Oh yeah. Can I come over?
Three days later:
Him: Hi
Me: Hi
Him: Where do you work?

<SIGH>

So here’s my take on OKCupid: The cupcake part of it is that it’s packaged to be very cute and friendly, like your very own serving of happiness topped with sugary frosting and sprinkles. The algorithm gives you the probability of being a match with someone according to your likes, dislikes and answers to hundreds of questions. I don’t think I’m alone when I see someone actually has a 90% or higher compatibility score with me and I get a little jolt of hope. The cesspool part is that all of these guys don’t know the difference between your and you’re (and I’m pretty sure yore would blow their minds), there’s money scammers, desperate men who are offering to relocate without actually meeting in person first, boys who want to talk about and show off their penises, and bulldozers who WILL MAKE YOU FIND RELIGION. I keep hearing about these fabled people who met their spouses online, but how did they get past the creepy, stinky cesspool??

I added another paragraph to my profile that states:
“If you are going to hit me up to chat, you’ll have more success if you talk about our common interests. If you just say “hello,” or you copy and paste a standard message that obviously is sent to everyone you contact, or you want to talk about your penis, I’m already not interested. No, really, put that away.”

And since I signed in for a few seconds to copy that paragraph, I got five new messages saying “Hi” – and that’s all.

<SIGH>

The Weirdness Of You

Let your freak flag fly.

The hardest thing to do is to find someone who loves your weirdness.

This week I initiated another person into FetLife. My Friday date has a pantyhose and toe fetish and before coming over, he put in very specific requests for dark red toenail polish and nude pantyhose/stockings. I asked him if he had a profile on Fet. He had to look it up! I would not be surprised if he suddenly appeared. However, his fetish does not seem to be hardcore – he enjoys other acts as well, thank goodness. Main reason: I’m not a foot model. In fact, some have called my feet “Flintstone feet,” not exactly drool-worthy. All of this week I have been soaking, scrubbing and grinding away calluses because I was very aware that these toes could end up in his mouth – and they did.

As far as fetishes go, his is pretty harmless. However, I still had to accommodate him and find pantyhose and nail polish. I didn’t give him a list of anything that I required. But so far, he has won points with me because he isn’t telling me that I’m not doing “enough” to get better, or making me feel like a loser for not being able to work or really, just leave the apartment for more than 30 minutes. He also didn’t freak out when I told him that I had to wear wigs. That one is a big one! The real test will be to see if he sticks around and/or comes back again in the near future.

Something strange is happening with my body. I’ve been dealing with these crazy symptoms since my shunt failed on April 10th, but for the past three days without changing my medications, diet or supplements, I have been able to be upright for hours. HOURS. Like a normal person. I’m still having some issues with vertigo, but the pressure isn’t so strong on my brain that my face becomes paralyzed like it usually does when I’ve been upright for 30 minutes.

I honestly don’t know if the change is because it’s not terribly hot or cold. I don’t know if it’s because the humidity is relatively low for this part of the country at this time. I don’t know if it’s because the air pressure is at a certain level and is holding steady. I don’t have a clue.

But because I don’t feel like I’m dying, I suddenly have energy – at least, I’m back at fibromyalgia-style energy. I feel guilty for not getting in my car, which is currently being stored at my sister’s house and being prepared to be sold, to go to a concert, or the library, or the grocery store. I want to go out on dates like a real person! I have even thought about working because when I have this energy zinging through me, I hate to be idle. (Honestly, that’s what gets me into trouble. I either get really vocal on Facebook or I chat up a bunch of men on OKCupid.) But I don’t know why this is happening, and I don’t know how long it’s going to last.

My reminder of that is the notice I got from Metro Mobility letting me know I am eligible to use it until May of 2019. It’s a service set up through the bus system in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for people with disabilities who can’t use regular buses. Normally I can only take the bus if my aunt rides with me and takes care of the fare as well as keeping an eye out for our stop because I can’t see well enough. I have to ride the short bus now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for this service. I just really like my independence and, you know, being able to see, and using this emphasizes just how handicapped I am and what I have had to give up.

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In another nod to normalcy, I just got a message on OKCupid from a guy who is seven years younger than me who claims to be “long and thick just for [me].” I did specify in my profile that I didn’t want to receive any penis pictures. At least he stuck to the rules and described it instead?? I replied and told him his DNA determined his length and girth, and has nothing to do with me.

Is It A Date if You Can’t Actually Go Out?

This has been a tough seven days. Last week was the 19th anniversary of my father passing away; two days later it would have been his birthday. It also would have been my sister’s birthday; we lost her in July the week after I moved to Minnesota. My father’s brother is losing his battle with stage IV throat cancer. And I got my fifth rejection letter from the Mayo, supposedly the #1 neurology/neurosurgery center in the U.S., saying they don’t think they could come up with a name for my disease or a prognosis or a treatment plan.

Like with most major obstacles, I had myself a good cry, and then I called my family and gave them the update on my denied referral. I waited until I had a conversation with my disability attorney; that did not go well either because he seems to think that there is no way I can win my case if there isn’t a name for my disease. Yet his website repeats over and over that when our cases go to court, we should focus on the symptoms and how our quality of life is affected, not the name of the disease.

I have friends all over the U.S. and in locations around Europe, so it’s sometimes easier for me to get the word out on Facebook. I feel a little silly “liking” everyone’s message of support because it feels like I’m fishing for sympathy. However, it’s also nice to know that some of my friends are outraged on my behalf and willing to write/call/tweet in order to call attention to my plight. A few people have stepped forward to say that they have media contacts, so I’m widening my reach with giving them documentation to pass along to their people. The theory is that if the doctors won’t take me, maybe the news will?? My medical coverage is through medical assistance in Minnesota so I would not have any expenses covered if I went to a different state. However, Johns Hopkins has a “remote second opinion” option (for a minimum of $550) and they will review my case without me having to fly to Maryland. I may end up doing this. However, I do not think it’s very effective because it’s one thing to read about my symptoms, and quite another to actually see my issues in person. I have taken to scaring my friends by moving the fluid around in my brain so that my face stops being paralyzed momentarily – aka my “party trick.”

I’m a very social person by nature and being stuck in bed all day and night is really wearing on me and definitely changing my outlook and attitude. Last Friday night I caved and reopened my OKCupid account after a four-year hiatus. I barely had time to update the city when I started receiving messages – I was fresh meat! Generally speaking I don’t reply to obvious copied and pasted notes who claim they like me (without knowing me), but they just restate what they have written in their profiles. I also don’t like to talk to anyone who can’t write a sentence. I know it’s a huge reach to think that I can find anyone willing to just chat and not go on dates, but I have been up front with everyone who has contacted me to let them know that I can’t go out anytime soon. Dare I say I’m lonely??? It feels so whiny to say that. Yet here I am.

I talked to about three of the 20 guys for more than a few messages – most guys were either put off by my request for no penis pictures or my warning that I can’t actually go out. One was far, far too young for me and located a good hour away, but gets kudos for truly creative questions. One was obviously a social recluse and did not do anything outside of his janitorial job, which is really a bit sad. That one would send me messages saying he was lonely and bored and he wanted to come over. I get a serial killer vibe, though, or he’s just not capable of conversation, which is just as bad. He would kill me with social ineptness. I have asked probing questions and he only answers with “yes,” “no,” “ok” and “oh.” I suggested that he check out Meetup because he would never have to spend another night alone and bored if he didn’t want to, and that way it doesn’t solely fall on my shoulders to entertain him. I have enough going on. The third guy was really, really responsive, funny, age-appropriate and not put off by the fact that my bed is getting a lot of my action. I’m actually hoping to meet that one very soon.

The last time I went on a date through OKCupid, it was with a tall, southern gentleman who was ex-military about four years ago – I’ll call him Mr. Army. Mr. Army met me out at one of my favorite restaurants in the Phoenix area. It started out nice enough, though I could tell immediately that he was used to dominating all conversations. I would describe him as being a perpetual mansplainer. Mr. Army was too old to have served in Iraq this second time around, but he made it clear that he had very strong feelings about being over there. I’m a tree hugger and liberal at heart and his very vocal support of George W. Bush and Cheney made my skin crawl.

Towards the end of the meal I explained to Mr. Army that my friend had moved to the U.S. from Iraq twelve years prior to that to marry a man through an arranged marriage, and that she was currently trying to sponsor her parents, brother and sister and their spouses for asylum because they were still stuck in Iraq. Her brother had even been shot in the leg during a failed kidnapping attempt; people in his community knew he had a sister in the U.S., and the kidnappers were hoping to extort money from her. Mr. Army became outraged and asked me, “How do you know that your friend isn’t part of Saddam Hussein’s family? How can you trust her? She has no right to be here!” I told him it was obvious she did not come from some super secret bloodline; she would not sponsor them and put her name on all of the documents if that were the case. She was not being “kept” by anyone through a super secret account. It was an insane exchange. I am not very good at keeping a poker face either.

As I was walking to my car, Mr. Army stopped me to say he wanted to go out with me again. I declined. Did he not see my face??? I’m not certain what we would have fought about on the next date, but I’m betting it would have been about guns or religion. He who squeezes his eyes shut and yells the loudest wins, right? No thanks. I’d rather have a no pride night and sit on the couch for four hours in my pajamas, sprinkle chocolate chips in a jar of peanut butter and eat it while watching “The Notebook.” If Mr. Army is the alternative to that, I’ll gladly stay home.

He Looks Good on Paper

One of the hazards about internet dating – and I’ve said it before – is that you can get wrapped up in making your grocery list. Shopping for men! In my 20’s I decided that my ideal mate would be tall with blue eyes, be smart and not have any back hair. The problem with this list is that I left out very important requirements, such as my partner should actually like me (and women in general, no misogyny allowed), pay his own bills, do his own laundry, be willing to help me if I needed it…well, I could go on and on. But after the two live-in boyfriends in Cincinnati, I altered my list a bit.

In my 30’s, I still wanted an educated man with whom I could hold conversations. I also added the need to have a sense of responsibility so that I wouldn’t be stuck with having to take care of everything including bills and hard labor. I mean, when I had to work two jobs to make sure the bills would get paid, or the guys sat on their asses while I hauled heavy stuff or packed for a trip, it was exhausting. I also got incredibly tired of hearing why the boyfriends wouldn’t help clean. Both of them said they didn’t know what to clean, and I had to tell them. I asked them how they thought I figured out what needed to be cleaned? I never got an answer to that question.

So around 2005 I was dating heavily through internet sites. I was very excited to start up a conversation with a guy I’ll name Al. He was a high school history teacher, and he could string complete sentences together and speak in a respectful manner. Al was completely average looking with straight brown hair and blue eyes and a very thin build. I thought he had everything I had been missing previously in other dates and relationships. Al was also very responsible.

Our first date was dinner. The conversation did not flow easily. I tend to be animated when I speak, and he was the complete opposite. I felt a little sorry for his high school students because he did not seem to be an impressive orator. But I thought I was probably being too harsh, and so when he asked me out again, I agreed.

It did not take long for me to reveal to him that I was wearing wigs to cover up my bald head. Al took it well and asked a few questions, but the conversation went much better than I expected, so it was a huge relief. We had more dates at museums and bowling alleys. We did not kiss very much and we never had sex or even got close.

For what ended up being our last outing together, we picked a random music venue at the northern end of Phoenix. Al picked me up and drove us there at exactly five miles per hour under the speed limit the whole way. If you have never been to Phoenix, one important thing to know is that no one who wants to live to see the next day drives under the speed limit – most go 5-10 mph over as a standard. Anyway, that evening’s feature was a singer/songwriter that neither one of us had heard of before, and there were maybe eight people in the audience, but we both really enjoyed the performance. Al even bought the artist’s CD and had it signed.

Afterwards we went back to his house and talked for a while on the couch. Al made his big move and kissed me. I am not a fan of kissing with tongue (especially if my counterpart is a huge producer of saliva and I nearly end up drinking it). Poor Al had no technique whatsoever. It was if a fat worm stuck its head out of a hole and wiggled back and forth a bit. I was startled and consciously fought the urge to do the crab crawl backward. Suddenly, he grabbed my right breast and sort of did a “wax on, wax off” motion. I could not stop myself from making a sort of whimpering sound to match my thoughts, which were along the lines of, “Oh shit, this is very, very bad.”

Al sat back and said, “You know, that is the first time I have heard you respond with passion.” I lost all faith that he would know where any of my important bits were located or what to do with them. I extricated myself and told him I was tired and was heading home.

A few days later I called him and told him that I didn’t think we were a good match. Al was respectful, or stoic, or…gosh, nothing! I am sure he was probably disappointed because he wasn’t getting laid anytime soon, at least not by me, but I couldn’t tell from his voice if he was or not. And that is why I couldn’t carry on. This proves that a list is great as a guideline, but checking items off when they are met does not guarantee a love connection.

I’m in my early 40’s now and I still keep a list. If I would combine all of my previous and present requirements, it would look like this: The person I take on in the next relationship must be tall, have blue eyes, play the guitar and sing, have no back hair, do his own laundry, pay his own bills, give me back and foot rubs, not be a follower of any sports, love the arts, enjoy traveling and have an active passport, be at least a fair cook, be nice to me, be a feminist, not grab my boobs while we’re grocery shopping, take the initiative to clean, love animals but not have any, love kids and maybe or maybe not have any, not steal from me, have a witty sense of humor, chew with his mouth closed, brush and floss every day, be a master of lovemaking skills, and be a good driver.

But since the Keebler elves aren’t exactly making men to my specs, I suppose at this point I’m going to settle for someone being nice to me.

I Can’t Feel My Face!

I had two live-in boyfriends during my time in Cincinnati. The second one was Drummer #1, introduced by the guy who was in charge of our servers at the law firm. Apparently Drummer #1 had a weakness for women from Minnesota, with our light-colored hair and blue eyes (except mine are green). In theory he seemed like a good match for me too because of his musical leanings – besides drums he also played guitar – and he was a tech guy, which was my new field at that time.

I still remember our first date vividly. Drummer #1 was very tall (6’3″) with a big, toothy grin, deep-set blue eyes, short brown hair and a flannel shirt. He was very, very nervous about meeting me. We went on a double date with my friends, and we started off sitting across from each other at a crappy table with bad vinyl chairs while a band set up. An hour later the band was in full force and Drummer #1 managed to down four shots of Jaegermeister and two Jack & Cokes. He got up to go to the bathroom and when he returned, he sat down next to me instead of across from me, started rubbing my back and then poked his cheeks and said, “I can’t feel my face! I can’t feel my face!” Before the night was done he had four more Jack & Cokes.

I agreed to go out with him again, even though the drinking wasn’t ideal for a first date. I knew it was his nerves. Plus he kept telling me how cute I was.

It was another one of those things that turned into us spending loads of time together immediately. After the third date when he found out where I lived, he would throw pebbles and sometimes even dimes and pennies at my apartment window to surprise me and let him in. He was living with his parents at the time. After about eight months, Drummer #1 and I moved in together.

I didn’t have the easiest time with meeting his parents. I never went over to his house, he just met me out or came and picked me up. One time during the summer we were at a blues festival and Drummer #1 knew his parents were there as well, and they wanted to meet me, so we set off through the crowd looking for them. We walked back and forth and back and forth in mobs of people but weren’t able to find them, and I had no idea who to look for anyway. However, his parents saw us and didn’t call out to us every time we passed – because, as it turned out, his mother thought I was too fat and ugly for him. (Disclaimer: I was around size 8-10, pretty darned okay by today’s standards.) When they invited me to join them for Christmas that year, I absolutely did not want to go, but I did anyway. His parents ended up loving me.

Anyway, up to that point, Drummer #1 had been an irresponsible bill payer and so I had to have all of the utilities put into my name when we moved in together to avoid having to pay large deposits. For the first year that we were together he was one of the sole tech guys for a small manufacturing company. At this point my hair was falling out with a vengeance. He always wore a blue fleece pullover to work and every day he managed to pick up thousands of my blonde hairs on it like he was wearing velcro. At one point the guys he worked with asked if there was something wrong with me based solely on the volume of my hair that would show up on his clothes.

After the first year Drummer #1 switched to a job at the University of Cincinnati. For some of his time there he happened to work with a doctor who was researching cures for alopecia universalis. He would come home and tell me about seeing others like me who were examined under a magnifying glass so they could be determined to be the most extreme hairless cases for the studies. I still would never qualify because no matter what falls out I manage to retain a few sprouts of hair on my big toes. And for some of the time, Drummer #1 said that he was being sent down to the “hole” – some underground network where he would have to suit up in a big yellow suit for 2-3 days while he ran programs. He also claimed to work with some cops and even some FBI agents.

Drummer #1 made the mistake once of claiming that I was not doing enough to keep my hair. You know that old tired tune of “Why don’t you just _____?” like everyone else is the expert on your body? I made him go with me once for a session where the dermatologist injected each patch with a combination of Lidocaine to numb my head after the shots were done and prednisone to inhibit the white blood cells from taking over my hair follicles. Every session would be about 75 injections; that time, Drummer #1 said, with big eyes, that he could see the doctor flicking the needle up slightly after each injection so it looked as if he was tearing my skin a bit every time. After that, Drummer #1 never told me I wasn’t doing enough.

I finally started wearing wigs when I knew trying to keep my hair or grow new stuff was completely hopeless. At one point I purchased a styrofoam head with a super long neck so the longer wigs wouldn’t rest on the counter tops when I took them off. I would perch the head form and hair on the back of the toilet at night. Every morning for a week, Drummer #1 was so out of it that he would scream when he got out of the shower because he thought someone had sneaked into the bathroom while he was bathing. I would lay in bed nearly pissing myself laughing.

After a few months of living together, things started to slip with the bill paying for Drummer #1. We began receiving calls that our electricity and water were going to be shut off for non-payment and every time I’d have to hurry and pay them, with him promising to investigate why his payments hadn’t been processed. He claimed to be clueless as to why there always seemed to be lost payments.

Then one day in June we were supposed to be flying back to Minnesota for my 10th high school reunion. The flight was out of Columbus, a good hour and a half away, and at night, so I told Drummer #1 what time he had to be home from work in order for us to catch the plane on time. When the time rolled around, he was nowhere to be found. This was prior to the time of cell phones, so I had to call his office. When I got no answer, I called campus security and asked them to cruise around to see if his car was there. After striking out again, I opened up his top dresser drawer where I knew he put all of his receipts and mail. I was stunned to find six months worth of bills in there, all unopened, including all of the utility bills he had told me he had paid. I was incredibly angry and still panicked about not being able to make our flight in time.

The kicker, though, was when I went to get the mail before trying his work phone again, I received my credit card bill with another nasty surprise. When I had been sick the month before with strep throat and stuck in bed on my birthday, he had taken my credit card and charged up hundreds of dollars. I was LIVID.

Drummer #1 showed up an hour late at home and not ready for the trip at all. He hurriedly threw things into a bag. The entire drive up to Columbus I only had my demon voice to use on him. I told him that if he touched the mail in any way including just taking it out of the mailbox, I would get a post office box and he would have to wait for me to give him his mail. No more hiding and lying.  I hated him.

Five months later Drummer #1 made arrangements to buy a car through a program with the University; the payments would come out of his check directly so he wouldn’t have to worry about making timely payments. However, “something” happened where payments were still missed and his car ended up being impounded. Drummer #1 promised to pay me back but it required about $1200 to get his car back.

I had vowed to return to the southwestern U.S. about two years into our relationship. I didn’t feel any real connection with the city and the winters were depressing. I told Drummer #1 that I was moving with or without him. He seemed enthusiastic about a major change and we even took a trip out to Arizona to check it out. When we were driving back from the Grand Canyon towards Phoenix, we were stunned by a quadruple rainbow that glowed across the sky. I know now that it’s an extremely rare phenomenon, and believe me when I say that even truckers pulled over on the highway so they could snap pictures of these four perfect arcs filling the sky. I took it as a sign that I was making the right move.

When we returned from the trip, I went into working and saving mode. I put in about 70-80 hours between two workplaces to make sure I’d have money for the big move. Drummer #1, however, was still not being responsible for his bills and wasn’t making any effort to pay me back.

In January of 2003 I received a strange phone call from a girl who addressed me by name and informed me that she had been fucking Drummer #1 for at least a year. I kept calm and asked him about it when he returned from work. He said that the girl was calling all of his friends and trying to make their girlfriends freak out. I had no way to verify this because I didn’t know any of the girlfriends.

In July 2003, Drummer #1 missed more car payments. I was at the end of my rope. I told him he was on his own with figuring it out because I had to save money to move. Then in September, I received a call from the landlord who told me that he knew I was leaving, but Drummer #1 asked if he could stay on. Drummer #1 never had any intention of moving.

I bagged up all of his belongings in garbage bags and threw it all to the bottom entryway stairs. I went over to his parents’ house and told them he would need a new place to live. They revealed to me that he had borrowed $1600 from them, telling them it was to pay me back. None of the money made it to me, though. His parents told me that he had been a pathological liar his whole life and they hoped that living with me would have cured him of that. I wish that they would not have remained so loyal to their son and instead warned me.

My friend’s dad, an attorney, wrote a letter of intention to file suit if he didn’t pay me back all of the money by October 29th. On October 29th he appeared at my workplace with a cashier’s check for the entire amount he owed me, nearly $5,000.

I used that money to pay for the moving van and my new apartment in Phoenix.

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?

It’s Raining Johns

This weekend I received two random friend requests on Facebook, both men claiming to be named John. One had no friends listed, his background pic was of an army unit crouching on the ground and his individual photo was of a guy who was about 26 with full sleeve tattoos. There is nothing listed like his hometown or location, only that he is divorced. The second was of a guy who looked middle aged and had about 8 “friends,” all women, and his cover showed him getting into the European driver’s side of a luxury car. Before I accepted their friend requests I did a reverse lookup of their photos to see if they were borrowed. No hits, so I accepted, which is pretty out of character for me. Wouldn’t you know it – they both hit me up within 20 minutes of each other to introduce themselves 24 hours after I accepted their requests.

John #1 (Army): where are you from..
Me: I’m from Minnesota. My page contains a ton of info, but yours has none.
J1: who told you that my is none
wow nice to meet you, I am from Austin,Texas and I am currently stationed now in Afghanistan for peace keeping we need you prayers..
Me (cringing at the prayers reference): I have a friend in Austin. Are you Army, or Marines?
J1: Are you married and you have any kids? and what are you doing for a living……and how old are you
Me: I am not married and don’t have kids, it wasn’t my destiny this life. I’m 41.
J1: i am single divorce my ex cheated on me and i have 1 grown kid and one adopted son…….i am 42 now
Oh I see, would you like to get remarried again…?
Me: I’ve never been married.
J1: i have been in afghanistan fro 14years now
oh Okay, would you like to be in love again..?i am looking fro the right women to get in love with again ….how about you …how about you
Me: Well, the love question is a tough one. I am not sure how this brain disease is going to play out, and because it’s so rare, the doctors don’t know either.
J1: why don’t you want to be remarried again or be in love with someone again
Me: Quite frankly, I don’t know if I will ever be well enough to date again.
J1: that will never be true
Me: You are optimistic? I have had 10 surgeries in 4 years, the doctors have decided to stop operating on me for now.
J1: why dont he operating on you

Okay, at this point I’m thinking there’s a little Google Translate going on!

Me: Because all of the operations have failed to fix the problem. So are you using your Facebook page strictly to find romance?
J1: no i don’t use it
(Except for now??)
J1: i am looking fro the right women to get in love with again ….how about you …
Me: I’m not into women.
J1: why not?
Me:  I’m just not. I see tatts on your profile pic. Where have you been getting them done?
J1: there is no tatts on my profil pic

(I can see that the guy in the picture has tattoos from his shoulders all the way down to his wrists, full sleeves)
Me: I am on a laptop and can see pictures on a larger scale, it looks like you have full sleeve tatts. Is that not correct?
J1: there is not some thing like what you are saying to me
Me: I can see the top of the bicep in the picture.
J1: dont make me to be came angree with you
Me: So you don’t have tattoos?
J1: yes i have but first i did not know what you were saying..What are you looking to meet on here..?
Me: I’m not looking to meet anyone on Facebook. I’m also not doing internet dating.
J1: why
Me: I’m not well enough to date right now.
J1: why dont you want to be in love with me or any one
Me: I have to concentrate on my health right now.
J1: i no thta you have to concentrate no your health now but you can be in love wells concentrate no your health
Do you have Yahoo Messenger Id were we can get to know more about each other..?
Me: I’m sorry, I don’t use Yahoo messenger. I can’t put any energy into dating right now.
J1: Oh Okay, can you go to http://messenger.yahoo.com/ and download it now..?
I was hoping that it was lights out soon for him, since it was about midnight his time when he messaged me…if in fact he was where he said he was.
Then John #2 hit me up:
J2: Hello C____ . you have a good and nice name , i really like you so much to be your and i will like to be friend, Have interest i knowing more about you, am a nice good and honest person 49 years of age . hope to hear from you soon .
Me; Hello John, where are you from?
J2: Am from Brazil but i live in Californian
Me: I noticed you were getting in on the European side of the car in your cover photo.
J2: I took the photo when i was in England , do you like the photo
Me: It’s a great action photo.
J2: Lol … you look pretty

How old are you if i may ask ?
Me: Thanks. I’m not on Facebook to date or make hookups though, just be warned.
J2: Why do you say that ?
Me: Well, I usually don’t accept friend requests from people I don’t know because I post somewhat personal stuff.
J2: But why do you accept me , don’t you like me ?
Me: I am always open to making new friends, but there are some things I post on Facebook that people who don’t know me wouldn’t understand.
J2: I understand that so very well, i don’t get into people stuffs i just like the person you are and i am looking for friendship that’s the reason why i send the request
(Yeah, right!)
J2: Am 49 years of age  How do you see me ? But right now am in Africa for work
(Ah ha – there it is!!)
Me: What are you working on there?
J2: I work as an Contractor and right now u got a work of roads so am making it and directing am also the Supervisor.
what do you do for a living ?
Me: I am not well enough to work now. I’m not sure if I will be able to work again. I have had 10 brain surgeries.
J2: Ohh so sorry to hear that what has gone wrong with your brain ?
Me: It is a rare disease – so rare that I might be the only one with it – and none of the doctors know what it is or what to call it. They have tried 10 operations and have decided for now to stop operating.
J2: How did it go on with you ? Qhat are the observation, i think you are on good track right now and i don’t think there is something wrong with you but i may not understand please explain
Me: You mean, how did I become sick?
When I am upright, the fluid in my brain presses on the nerves that lead to my face and also puts pressure on my brain stem. My face becomes paralyzed and I can’t see, and it also makes me very dizzy and unable to walk.
J2: and how do you get along ? does that have any problem with the way you talk or send message ?
Me: I can’t drive or walk great distances. When I lay down, the fluid moves away from the nerves that it presses on, so I can see nearly perfectly again. So in order to do anything, I have to be laying down flat.
J2: i can send you some african herbs and will heal you but it’s cost
Me: lol – no thank you, no herbs necessary.
J2: You don’t believe in herbs ?
Me: That would be like throwing parsley down your clogged drain.
After that, crickets.
This just reminds me of a Family Guy episode that a friend sent me a long time ago – it has to do with a guy insisting that a few minutes with his penis would cure a woman of all of her problems. I am convinced that is the universal belief around the world.

Hey, Peter Pan, I’m Going Home Now

An article was posted in a local paper about a woman, an attorney for a meat packaging plant, who was trying to adopt a teenage girl out of the foster system and provide her with a stable home and a brighter future. She had never met the girl but rather read about her, and something in her was motivated to change her life completely to give this girl something she had never had before. The woman went through parenting classes for a year in order to learn how best to help this girl who had suffered neglect and abuse. The article bemoaned the fact that though this woman had jumped through all of these hoops, the state was dragging its feet on placing the teenager with her simply because of bureaucracy and red tape.

I shouldn’t read the comments section of ANYTHING published ANYWHERE, I know. But I did, and it was just as frustrating as I expected. Instead of the commenters being outraged about this teenaged girl’s case not being accelerated to be adopted by this woman who obviously wanted to give her stability, structure and love, the majority of the commenters left nasty statements about this woman’s hair and weight. This woman, an attorney, had a bright turquoise streak of hair at the front of her otherwise “normal” brown hair, and she was overweight. I did not receive any intelligent replies to questions that I asked that were to the tune of, “What does her appearance have to do with her being able to provide a loving home to this child?” Some people told me that I was stupid if I couldn’t see it, others said she obviously lacked self control. One young woman remarked that the turquoise in her hair shouldn’t be allowed in someone her age. I have to say that that really got to me.

The first and obvious problem I have with all of these trolls is that this woman is clearly intelligent – her company is obviously not bothered to be represented by legal counsel who happens to have an unusual color in her hair – and financially stable, and strongly committed to giving this girl the best possible start to her young adult life after being mistreated and neglected for so many years. Second, why is she “too old” for something fun like putting a turquoise streak in her hair?

Over and over I’ve seen advice columns about what not to wear over ages 30/40/50. (One of the funniest items was advice not to wear “suntan” pantyhose, because no one is going to believe you have a suntan after 40.) There are some things I agree with, like it’s weird to see an middle-aged woman trounce around in sweatpants with “PINK” written on the ass. Then there’s the whole class of women who think their only value in this life is to compete with their daughters (and even their granddaughters) for the attention of men, so they dress in tank tops and short shorts that would normally show up on a 14-year-old. But a turquoise streak? Maybe it’s because my father was a hair stylist, or maybe it’s because I have always been a little rebellious, but I think the day I swear off experimenting with color in my life is the day I die. I haven’t worked up the balls to get a blue wig, but I’m getting there. And I’m 41.

So this leads me to the next question:  At what age or event did you feel as if you were truly a grownup? I posed the same question on my Facebook page and received interesting answers. Of course there were a bunch of men who declared that they still hadn’t grown up, all over the age of 40. One man said it was the day his eldest daughter was born. One woman said that her wedding day made her feel like an adult; another said it was when she gleefully anticipated canning, making bread from scratch and putting out a big spread for the holidays. One woman said, “34, maybe?” Obviously this is a small sampling, and is by no means scientific, but I think it enforces the concept that you are only as old as you feel mentally. And this attorney with the brightly colored streak in her hair obviously was not giving in to old age and mediocrity just yet.

For me, I felt like an adult at 16, because it was my first year living away from home. From that point on, I threw myself head first into the world, paying bills (on time!) and finding new places to live around the country without seeing them in person first. Creating a circle of truly close friends is a totally different playing field when you aren’t in school anymore.

Lastly, I am pondering this because I think it demonstrates the challenges of dating. I, as a 41-year-old woman who hasn’t lived at home since I was 16, have felt like an adult for that amount of time. I might want blue hair, but I think that’s a shout-out to my artistic tendencies, not my level of maturity. None of the women claimed that they still hadn’t “grown up” and the majority of the men said they were never going to “grow up.” So whose job is it to change in order to make a relationship work and endure?

(Title by Patty Griffin, first line to her song “Peter Pan”)

Rubbernecking

Whenever I listen to the album “Happenstance” by Rachael Yamagata, I am reminded of a guy I dated who belonged to the big social group that I mentioned previously. We bonded over our love of all things music (with the exception of Christian, contemporary country and rap) and at the end of one date we sat in my car and listened to the album from front to back – he was impressed with the range of styles of songs included on that one disc. He was a recruiter for a small music and sound tech school. The only way I can describe his appearance is that he looked like the love child of Chris Farley and Guy Fieri; henceforth I will call him Chris Fieri. He was mostly bald and the remaining hair he had he dyed fluorescent blonde. He was outgoing and enthusiastic – sometimes without being aware of social cues. I thought it would be nice to date someone who was inherently social rather than introverted because I love to get together with various personalities and it would be great to not have to worry about him wandering off to a corner by himself.

Chris Fieri and I went on a series of dates over the course of a few months. I even made him a part of my birthday celebration, and the best gift he could have given me turned out to be absolutely fantastic camping chair that I have now used for years to go to outdoor concerts. We went to movies and dinner dates, and then joined back up with other people from the group for shows and bar outings.

One time he invited me to the Wrigley Mansion to watch his friend play a show. This friend was a guitarist and it was a great night for music; also included in the audience were a few others including the former drummer for the Gin Blossoms. At one point it was eight guys and myself in our little group. However, I could tell that this crowd ran at a different pace than I did – most of guys had well-groomed eyebrows and the same style of button-down shirts with embroidered designs over one shoulder as if they had an elaborate underlying tattoo that could not be contained by fabric alone. I am more the type that I am not constantly concerned with my appearance and can only truly relax if others around me are confident in themselves rather than overcompensating.

The Wrigley Mansion’s stage was tiny, only enough room for the guitarist and a percussionist. The Mansion’s version of packed is not your normal night club’s capacity; packed for them would be 75 bodies. As the set progressed, more of Chris Fieri’s friends showed up, including a shorter guy with a gorgeous girlfriend. The guy looked like he got into fistfights all of the time fending off his girlfriend’s admirers. The original eight guys of my group found excuses to be near her and compete to be the loudest/wittiest to get her attention. It was strange to watch because she did not give any one person attention, but instead found another guy in the bar and repeatedly turned and smiled at him while her boyfriend wasn’t looking. I kept thinking to myself, “How could Shorty be missing this??” Finally, more women made it into the bar area to check out the music. Well, Chris Fieri gave up on trying to get the one girl’s attention and went tripping after the other girls. And when I say “tripping,” I mean tripping. He launched himself at them without having a solid concept of inanimate objects like tables and bar stools that were nearby, and hooked his foot on the leg of a stool and almost did a full frontal body splat.

All of his buddies saw this too. A few of them turned to me, looking uncomfortable, and said, “I thought you two were together.” They could tell I wasn’t thrilled. After the end of the second set I was at the foot of the stairs leading up to the second floor of the bar area, and Chris Fieri came over to me and put his arms forcefully on my shoulders as if he was trying to drive my feet into the floor and sloppily kissed me. I couldn’t easily fend him off because he outweighed me by at least 150 lbs, but I did wipe my mouth with the back of my hand as soon as he was done and told him I was outta there. Immediately he went on the defensive and said, “Are you mad because I talked to other people??” I knew that trying to reason with a man who had had about five drinks too many would be a challenge, but I told him I wasn’t bothered by that, I was upset that he was trying to pick up other ladies right in front of me. Then his Chris Farley voice came out and he started bellering that everyone was talking to other girls and that he only did what everyone else was doing. So I said, “Fine, pretty sure you don’t need me here for that,” and I retrieved my car from the valet.

The next day he called me and told me the same thing – that everyone else was trying to pick up women, so he was just doing what they were doing. I told him even his friends were embarrassed by his behavior and it wasn’t my imagination. I didn’t go out with him again, even after being pushed by another group member who had taken pictures of us together and posted them on MySpace – and strangely enough, four years later again on Facebook – with the caption, “Where are these two?” I had to ask him numerous times to take down the pictures. It was obvious that Chris Fieri was trying to be “cool” like the rest of his buddies.

It’s human nature to notice attractive people around you. We are drawn to those who have perfectly symmetrical features, just as we subconsciously recognize symmetrical patterns in spider webs and leaves that grow on plants. However, the way that you handle that attraction is what sets you apart from the rest of the animals. Chris Fieri learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter if everyone else is rubbernecking; he’s not going to win points from me for tripping over furniture to chase down other women while I’m standing next to him. I can’t imagine the woman with the shorty boyfriend lasted long in their relationship either; she was obviously a trophy, and he was clearly someone to pass the time while she looked for a better option.

A fellow blogger posted thoughts this week on disconnecting from social media; she found that she was much more likely to multi-task or have online ADD, jumping from one project to another without completing one first. She also lamented the fact that she didn’t have the attention span required to read a whole book like she used to, but instead sought out short  and efficient text. How does this relate to dating rubbernecking? It’s everything. We like short paragraphs in personal ads, we cut off a date after 30 minutes if we feel zero attraction, we look at other people and mentally undress them while distractedly answering “Yes” or “No” to the dates sitting across from us.

It’s a lot harder now to not rubberneck. Our constant state of distraction is the bane of our love lives.