flying too close to the sun on wings of pastrami
I hate that I’m waiting for him for him to message me. I hate that I allowed him into my heart; just a smidge, the tiniest bit that couldn’t be avoided. But it’s kind of like opening your front door a tiny bit while in a hurricane; not a good idea and very possibly a disastrous one.
We matched on Tinder and from the moment we began chatting, it was rapid-fire, sparkling repartee. I am at my best in an online conversation. Those extra few seconds between responses allows me to draft the perfect comments, the cleverest comebacks. Without the heavy cloak of my own physical self-consciousness, I am breezy, confident and downright scintillating. It’s not often that I find someone who can keep up.
Aaron kept up. He too, was quick, clever, and sexy. He got my references. We flirted outrageously. He liked me too much way too quickly. I liked him but I am constantly on guard against letting myself get emotionally invested in my FWB’s. Deep down I’m a hopeless romantic, albeit a non-practicing one. I’m careful to keep my emotions in check but it’s like that old Don’t-Think-About-Elephants thing. One ends up with rampant herds of elephants on the brain. Pink, polka dotted, tutu-wearing, dancing elephants.
A few days into our online relationship, I went back to look at his Tinder profile and a cold chill ran down my spine. According to the Tinder app, he was 6,400 miles away. I’ve been targeted by several scammers over the past few years. They are all “looking for a long term relationship” and are “ready to settle down”. Often their story depicts them as widowed with a child (usually a son. I guess boys appeal more to a potential, future stepmother…?). These scammers are often “in the military” and “overseas”. They go from zero to 60 in record speed and in a matter of days, they’ve fallen in love with you. With one of my earliest scammers, I played along just to see how far he would take his little charade. It didn’t take long for him to spin some cockamamie story about how his military pay was inaccessible to him due to government red tape but if I wired him X amount of dollars, he’d pay me back plus interest and then he could fly home to meet me and we could start our new life together. I played dumb and asked a zillion annoying questions about our future plans. Finally, I’d had enough. The whole thing was beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I told him, in what has become my go-to speech to scammers, “Enough is enough. I have no money and even if I did, I would never send it to someone I haven't met.”
Many, many scammers later, I can pick them out more easily. I avoid guys in the military or even ones who are out-of-state. I ignore anyone who claims to be looking to settle down. Their conversational syntax and grammar are often wrong and punctuation is inconsistent or missing. So when it seemed to me that Aaron had to be a scammer, it confused me. His writing was quick and flawless (not counting typos and stupid auto corrects). His knowledge of being American and more specifically, of our mutual city, was completely legit. But he had mentioned that he’d recently been living overseas. After he ignored my text asking if he wanted to meet up, then texting me hours later, seemingly confused that my plans had changed, I decided to call his bluff. It was around 4:00am and I’d gotten home from a club a couple of hours earlier. I invited myself over to his neck of the woods then sat back to see what he’d do. I was basically offering to drive 40 minutes just to blow him in the car. What guy turns that down? He did, more or less. Hemmed and hawed that he couldn’t think of a place we could be private and yada yada. I was convinced: he was thousands of miles away and thus there was no way we could meet and he was just jerking me around to ensnare me in his web. I texted him:
Me: Look Aaron (if that’s even your name). I’ve enjoyed chatting with you more than I have with anyone in a long time. Will u please just tell me what u want? Is that even u in the pics? Where r u really?
He kind of shrugged off my questions and concerns, almost like he was humoring me. I mentally shook him off, disappointed that one of the few guys for whom I felt a connection was only playing me.
A couple of days later he texts:
him: the day felt a bit empty without messaging back and forth with you.
I’d been feeling the exact same thing. We started chatting again but in the back of my mind, I took everything he said with a grain of salt. I wasn't sure what to believe. When I asked him about Tinder showing him as 6,000+ miles away, he explained that sometimes he used a phone he had from the time he was living abroad, hence the different distances. But why did he almost always text at odd times? Was he functioning in a different time zone? He was twisting my mind into a pretzel!
After much more flirting and sexual tension, one night at 12:43am he texts:
him: well come show me some action
[12:44] me: ok
[1:33] him: ok as in you'll come?
[2:27am] me: as in 45 mins ago i coulda. Actually 2 hours ago. Then i fell asleep waiting for a response
(3 days later after no reply) me: wellll?
Nothing until 6 days later. By this time I'm even more convinced he is scamming me. But I can’t figure out how he sounds so normal. What is he after, for fucks sake?! After nearly a week with no messages I figure this is one for the ages and I’ll never know what was what. It's frustrating and disappointing.
Then, out of nowhere…
Him: I feel you have too many guys lined up
That text is like a slap in the face and I feel that chill start up again. I mean, it's true, but he doesn't really know the extent of it.
Him: I was looking for more and you are settling for less.
Me: Ah, slu
I was trying to write Ah, slut shaming. But my finger went haywire and I pressed Send prematurely.
Him: you're awake
Me: obviously (calling me a slut brings out the bitch in me; go figure)
Him: Ah slu isn't english is it
Me: yeah well
Him: well what chick
Me: the universe efited me. Edited.
Him: failed you
Me: that too
Him: you're trying for something, but leaving behind things at the same time
Me: aren't we all
Him: not me
Me: well bully for u
Him: I’m honest as i said. I’m true as i said
Me: how would i know?
Him: how dare i expect the same. That's fine. Treat me with low circumstance. I deserve it right.
Me: I’m open and honest
Him: right. If only
Me: and what does it get me? Slut shaming from u
Him: i aint speaking of anything u chose in your life. I would be number one in line to lick you dry.
Me: actions baby
Him: nah. You chose. And left me hanging. So goodbye
Me: stop saying that i chose
Him: you did. You had chances. You chose otherwise. prove me wrong
Me: fine, u obviously don't know me at all. But why would u. Have a nice life.
Him: I know you too well. I wish i knew you less. I wish i could live the dream. But you're playing fool. and i ain't one of them. I'm not your number 2. So fuck off. I'm number 1 or nothing.
His short sentences are actually sent as 8 separate texts which I find mildly annoying. So that's that, I think to myself. I feel strangely bereft. We are over and we never even began. I was condemned for choices I didn’t know I was making. And shamed for living my life in the only way I know in order to keep myself safe.
I couldn't stop thinking about him. I missed our banter. I missed feeling special to someone. Three days later I caved. I decided, who cares if he isn't who he says he is. I enjoy him. I like him. And if he tries to scam me, I'm already on high alert.
Me: so i guess ur not even interested in being friends...Is it just me or didn't we get on like a house on fire?
And we start up again. And it feels really good.
END OF PART ONE