Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adventures in Dating, Episode 7: Stalk It Up to Experience

This is the 8th installment of my Adventures in Dating series.  You can chuckle at my misfortune in episodes One, Two, Three, Four, Four 1/2, Five and Six here.

Last Fall, I cultivated a stalker via match.com.  Which in retrospect is kind of designed to do precisely that.  His name was Freddie. 

Yes, Freddie.

The funny thing is, we were about one week into it and I emailed my Texas girls and told them that I was pretty sure I had met someone really special.

Well, not really met, per se, since we had only spoken on the phone and texted at this point.  But sure, he was special.  Why?  Um, I think it was because he was paying attention to me and no one else was.  And God knows, I had a long and sheepish history of liking the people who liked me.  If you were to ask me why I married my first husband, the truest answer I could give you is "because he asked."

Freddie allegedly lived in Phoenix but maintained a residence here in Denver as well.  He owned his own commercial real estate company and business was gooooooood, people.  In fact, he rarely even flew commercial.

What did he look like?  Well, I'm not really sure.  He had 3 photos on his match.com profile:  One of his alleged dog sitting in his alleged Jeep at the beach, one of the back of his shoulders and head reeling in a marlin or sailfish on a boat, and one from about 100 yards away of him looking incredibly buff on a jet ski.  Okay, if I was being honest with myself, the jet ski photo was suspiciously yellowed and crinkly-looking, like something quite old that had been scanned into the computer, and probably at Walgreens.  But hey, maybe he left it in the sun or something?  Maybe on his boat while he was sport fishing?  And after all, the back of his head certainly looked attractive enough, even if the shoulder looked slightly meaty.

This is where I remind you that I was lonely. Terribly lonely.

Plus, Freddie said his net worth was $32 million.  I actually had to ask a friend if that was good.  Clearly, I have an issue with finance-- and have long felt that math is a faith-based initiative.

So we chatted by phone at night and texted during the day.  And why didn't we meet in person?  Well, it seems Freddie grew up Catholic and felt it was improper for us to go on a date until my divorce was final...which was roughly 60 days away.  So "we" decided to wait.  Yes, I'll admit I thought it was something right out of a rom-com-like plot line in which the mega-rich hero is a little portly and needs to slim down before meeting the girl of his dreams... but I told myself that he was trying to do the right thing.

Insert Rocky-like montage of Freddie on a stationary bike in his amazing home gym, watching his personal chef preparing a chicken breast for him, jogging on the treadmill while staring dreamily at my photo (which would be taped to the display screen), peering hopefully over his belly at the numbers on his scale as they head south.

This is simply how my head works.

Freddie wasn't so much about the spelling.  And his punctuation was...well, let's go with creative.  And sure, sometimes he muttered things under his breath that sounded strangely like words he was pretending I was saying.  Still, I soldiered on for a few weeks, certain that I had met a nice guy who was just trying to do the old-fashioned thing.  A nice guy who talked a lot about taking me on fabulous trips via chartered planes.

In what can only be described as a rookie mistake, when he asked me for my home address because he wanted to mail me a gift... I gave it to him.

And several days later, it arrived.  A greeting card.  More exactly, a glitter-covered greeting card, with a drawing of two cups of coffee on it (cuz coffee-liking was something we had in common), and some free verse about how glad he was that I was his friend.  He signed it "Luv ya lots," a sentiment I hadn't seen since 500 people signed it in my high school yearbook.

I truly wish you could see the glitter.

I tried to imagine my handsome multi-millionaire game fisherman in the Hallmark store, choosing that card.  And I just couldn't.  His handwriting was a huge childish scrawl, and he wrote things like "your [sic] the best."  I began to suspect that my Freddie wasn't a slightly overweight yet incredibly successful businessman with whom I would spend lazy afternoons in the tropics...but rather a shut-in.  Or perhaps a 14-year old with a prematurely deep voice, likely caused by a disfiguring and inoperable tumor.

Before you start to think that Freddie was just a sweet and socially awkward guy, understand that at the same time that he was sending me his sparkly little greeting card, his texting and emailing had taken on a decidedly naughty tone.  Freddie had ideas.  Lots of ideas-- some of which strangely involved gummi bears.  And he was interested in talking me through each one of them.  Incongruously, he signed each of these emails "Take care and God bless."  It's one thing to be the object of someone's desire... it's quite another to be the object of a pseudo-religious nutjob's completely bizarre desires which involve high-fructose corn syrup and other things we don't speak about in polite company.  Especially when you really don't know what he looks like.  And he has your home address.

I stopped taking his calls, responding to his texts and emails.  I started feeling weird (well, more weird than usual) when I went out in public because I wouldn't know him if I saw him on the street (unless he was about 100 yards away and slightly yellowed). 

On the outside, my Texas girls and I laughed about it.  Stacy and I decided that he was a 500-pound wheelchair-bound hunchback who lived in in my attic.  We admired his chutzpah for getting his wheelchair up there, especially while carrying his oxygen tank.

But inside I worried.  A lot.

Freddie got upset with me for dropping him.  His emails and texts escalated rapidly...and then suddenly stopped.  He sent me a final missive in which he told me he was deleting my info from his Blackberry and I wouldn't be hearing from him again.  But that he'd be in town in January and maybe we could have lunch.


This was last November, and I still hear from Freddie every two months.  It is so to-the-day that I'd swear he has an Outlook reminder that pops up saying "Stalk Andrea."  Sometimes he'll do something like accidentally send me an empty email...with the hope that I'll hit reply.  I don't.

I do still have the greeting card.  It sits in a tray on the desk in my home office...mostly because if I disappear at some point, it contains his handwriting, his home address, and likely his DNA.  Also because sometimes Stacy texts me with "Take care and God bless" and I return the favor by sending her a photo of the card.

So what did we learn?  Well, we learned to keep our home address to ourselves.  We learned that there is a seedy side to the gummi bear.  And we learned to get a recent photo and a fairly immediate date before entering into a virtual relationship with an old-fashioned hunchback.

Damn it, I was never meant to fly commercial.

Yes, really.

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