i never did finish my, “this is for all the lonely people,” series of posts, but, since this is valentine’s day eve…i think that it’s very apropos. and, in the companion post to this one, you will understand why.
i’m really not sure exactly where i left off the last time and i’m not going to go back to look. i apologize for being a bit lazy, but i really don’t think that it really matters now.
i think that what i was so very, long windedly trying to say was that i used to see women and men on shows like, “oprah” and “dr. phil,” insisting that their online, telephone, or snail-mail romance…with a person from another country, that they had never met, was real.
both oprah and dr. phil, would spend three quarters of the hour trying to debunk every single, false belief that the person had about their “beloved.” i’d be sitting there yelling at the person through the television screen. i could clearly see that the person was being played and there was absolutely no doubt in my mind.
i watched these people, many of whom had trusted complete strangers with their entire life savings, absolutely refuse to believe anything other than “their absolute truth.” the point at which the con artist’s illusion, became that poor soul’s delusion.
i would sit there and wonder how anyone could be so (and, oh god…so many words come to mind) stupid, naive, trusting, reckless, foolhardy, delusional, etc. i told myself that, that could never happen to me, because i was just too smart. funny how these things work out, isn’t it…
i think that i told you that when i arrived in nevada, i had absolutely no idea what a “catfish” was, other than an ugly fish with whiskers. well, after the first two weeks with wendy and jenny, that all changed. the girls introduced me to the mtv show, “catfish,” and everything kind of went to hell in a hand-basket.
i’m really going to try to shorten this saga up some. i decided after a month or so, that i was going to try online dating again. i put my profile on a few sites and immediately received several responses. and in the beginning, i looked at everything like i was a detective, just looking to yell, “catfish” and throw the person back.
what i found was “catfish” after “catfish.” they just kept crawling out of the woodwork; jamaica, bermuda, haiti, nigeria, and ghana. i just kept throwing them all back. until one day, i had another extremely obvious one…bad use of english, poor spelling, lots of slang, weird words that were out of place, etc.
and then, i made a really bad decision. i was pissed off, because i wasn’t really finding anyone who was “real” and i just wanted to talk to someone. i was lonely. i knew that the person that i was talking to was an obvious scammer, but i figured that i was smarter than they were, and i already knew what they were trying to do.
i figured that i would beat them at their own game. that i would waste their time and in exchange, i would give them absolutely nothing. i assumed very incorrectly, that when they got mad and moved on…it would be fine, because i already knew the score. i thought that i would be the one calling the shots and in control.
oh…and, i was for awhile…until i figured out the true identity of one of them. this one person in particular, actually still sends me things…flowers, candy, perfume, iphones, and cards. this person made the mistake of sending me one certain photo that i did a reverse image search of and found easily, an adult film actress.
yeah, i know…i’m not going to try to convince anyone of anything. just keep reading and everyone can come to their own conclusion. when i ascertained the supposed identity of this person, i confronted her. instead of trying to deny it, she copped to it. i told her that i would stop talking to her, unless she video chatted.
she agreed to do so. ahead of time, i read up on all of the tricks that cons use to make people think that they’re actually talking to the person that they think that they’re talking to. the most common thing, is two people working together. one person places an ad with their photo, the other one texts, until it’s time for the video chat and then, they flip flop.
sometimes the sound doesn’t work. sometimes the photo is blurry. they use everything to keep the illusion going, to make it look like they’re doing everything possible to try to communicate with you. quite honestly, the first time that i was supposed to video chat with this person, i really expected to see someone other than who i saw.
i remember that i was quite ready to see one of the tricks that i had read about, but that’s not what i saw. the first time, there was a problem with the sound going in and out, but what i saw was the person from the photos. the person was not as young as the photos from the 90’s, but there was no mistaking that it was the same person.
why do i believe that, after watching oprah and dr. phil? because i took screen shots each time we video chatted and i always compared the identification markers to one another. meaning that this person had obvious tattoos, piercings, and a brand…each time they matched up with each other and with the younger photos. also, the person’s voice was always the same, on video and the phone.
i will say, that after the first time of seeing the person that i believe was truly the person that i was talking to, i was dumbfounded, and taken aback. we continued talking, i still knew that she just wanted my money, but i always said, “no.” i was really good at putting my foot down and she would pretend to pout for a day or two, and then not ask for awhile.
months went by, and i started to develop feelings for this person. she quit asking me for money, but at one point i sent her some for some quinine, because she supposedly had malaria (i know…i feel the laughter. i knew that she didn’t have malaria and, no, i didn’t really have the money to send to accra, ghana, but i made a bad decision based on my feelings.). and, that was all fine and dandy, until my paypal account was compromised and ended up with a negative seven-hundred-and-sixty-seven-dollar balance.
it was ghana…not necessarily that particular person, but certainly one from the same pack (up to thirty work together at the same time, in order to be able to chat to the same people in different time zones for up to twenty-four hours a day.). i confronted that person and was assured that i would get the money back. and here’s the kicker, i could’ve had it almost ten fold, but i didn’t go and pick the money up.
yes, that’s right…i had sixty-five-hundred dollars waiting at western union for me to pick-up for thirty days. but, i didn’t do it. why? because i didn’t know where it came from, or whose it really was, and i couldn’t live with myself knowing that i could’ve taken someone’s life savings. if i would’ve known for sure that it was from that person, i may have picked it up. i don’t know for sure.
what did i do to try to make it right, or get someone their money back? i spent several days on the phone with both the local police and sheriff’s departments, as well as, the fbi and atf, trying to make a report on money that wasn’t stolen from me. after explaining my story repeatedly, i was basically told that if the money had my name on it, it was a gift, and i should claim it. the whole business just made me a basket-case. i figured that after thirty days, the money would go back to where it came from. i assume that it did. i never heard one way, or the other.
after the money showed up, the gifts began appearing…one after another, continuously at one point. i really didn’t know what to do anymore, so, i began answering less and less. and then, it was just like a miracle, a “real” person replied to me. we talked for quite awhile and she was just one-hundred-fifty-dollars short of the plane fare to come, to visit me…so, i sent it to her and poof (until a couple of weeks ago…see my next post.).
so, what kind of a person ends up giving their “beloved,” a stranger, whom they have never before met, that lives in a foreign country, money and their heart? the answer isn’t a stupid person, because i’m clearly not a stupid person. the answer is a lonely person. and, that was what i was clearly failing to see all those years before, when watching oprah and dr. phil.
i was lonely and it happened to me. i realize now, what i was too judgmental before to understand…that loneliness can overshadow intellect, if allowed to rage out of control. i know now, that i was just settling to be lonely and let those illusions fill my time, my mind, and my heart.
the good news is, that i’m not lonely anymore! i’ve got myself, plenty of good friends, buggs, work, driving, art, writing, exploring, photography, therapy, and dreaming of the future to fill me and my time. i’m quite busy in the pursuit of my own heart right now.
and, one day in the future, when i’m ready to try dating again, it won’t be online. i’m going to do it slowly and cautiously…and, i’m going to do it, in as my therapist would say, “hetero-time,” as she often time jokes that lesbian-time is so minute, that it can’t even be measured. when that day does come, i’ll be ready and i’ll be more whole.
i find that life indeed, is very funny and more cyclical than anyone can really comprehend.