RE: Meeting People through the Internet
About four years ago, I was travelling a lot for work. I found myself home alone in my rental apartment a few nights a week, and with nothing better to do I started chatting with people on ICQ. One woman I met seemed really interesting... same taste in music, well read, funny, flirtatious, and based on the photo she sent me, reasonably attractive. When she invited me to come visit her out in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend, I figured why not? I told her I was just coming out of a bad breakup (which was true) and I was only coming out as a friend (which was only semi-true), and that she could meet me at the airport Friday afternoon.
This was pre 9/11, so she should have been able to meet me at the gate, but when I got outside I didn't see any smiling faces. Since it was Labor Day, the airport was packed and very loud, so I couldn't hear any of the announcements (you know, "Please meet your party at the baggage claim"). I waited about 20 minutes, and then went and had HER paged. Still nothing.
By now, I was thinking I was being stood up, and obviously that put me in a pretty surly mood. I had her paged one more time, and went and stood in a relatively quiet area to think about what the hell I was going to do. As I stood there, I noticed something moving towards me. It was large... very large... so I was pretty sure this was not who I was waiting for. However, as it got closer, I realized that "it" was in fact a "she", and if I squinted reeeeeeeeally hard, I could sort of make out the features I had seen in the photos she sent me. Photos, it turned out, which were well over 10 years old.
The woman in the pictures was cute... short hair, nice eyes, nice smile. The woman who stood in front of me was easily 150 pounds heavier than the one I had seen. The hair was no longer short... it was now long and greasy, with a poodle puff in front and a stringy mullet in back. The NASCAR racing jacket, her best attempt at wearing something stylish. I put on a brave face and gave her a quick hug. Nothing to worry about, since I was here just as a "friend", right? God, was I glad I had added that caveat before I came out! We waddled out to her car and headed towards what I THOUGHT was Baltimore...
It turned out she lived in a "suburb", if you consider a small town over an hour outside of town in a completely different state a "suburb". My thoughts of us at least going downtown to hang out were shot, so I asked her what her plans were for the weekend. "Oh", she said, "I thought we'd just rent some movies." It was now 6:00 on Friday. My flight didn't leave until 6:00 the following Monday. Things were looking bleak.
We pulled in to her house, a shoddy little ranch in the middle of a white trash neighborhood. Old washers and dryers were piled up in the back yard. When I asked her about it, she just laughed and said, "Oh, those are nothing to worry about". I still worried. I worried even more when I opened the door and was hit with a wave of nauseating odor. I'm not a neat freak, not by any means, but to me, cleaning your house does not mean, "Open a Glade Plug-in and relax". She had plugged in six... count 'em, six... coconut Plug-Ins in the living room ALONE. Underneath that overpowering odor was something darker, and more sinister. I couldn't figure out what it was, but I knew it wasn't good.
After the stench, the next thing that struck me was the decorating of the house. Those of you who have dotty old great aunts still alive will probably recognize it. Picture faux wood panelling... shag carpet... and wedding pictures on the wall. Not of your friends or siblings, mind you... Wedding pictures of your parents and grand parents, all in that lovely, faded yellow with a tinge of blue and pink that all photos taken in the sixties and seventies seem to have. These photos were EVERYwhere. As freaky as the photos were, I thought the little figurines, tucked in amid the mini ceramic castles, and the occasional wooden soldier/nutcracker, were even worse. Many of them were cracked. All stared at me with this glazed, pleading look, as if they realized they were in hell. At least one was missing it's eyes. I was now getting scared.
I don't know if it was the drinks on the plane or just fear, but I was suddenly overcome with an urgent need to pee. I asked where the bathroom was and rushed in. As I shut the door, I felt a crunching under my feet. Scatterd about the bathroom was kitty litter. Not just a few crumbs, mind you... it was almost like walking on a grainy beach. Beyond the gross out factor, this was significant because I had told her before I came out that I was deathly allergic to cats, and she just said, "Oh, that's a shame." No mention of the fact that she HAD a cat, mind you, just that it was a shame I was allergic to them. Thankfully, I had some allergy medicine with me, so I prepared to gulp down a couple as a preventative measure.
That was when I noticed the state of the tiles. About one third of the tiles were missing. Gaping holes were in the walls where the tiles once stood. I turned to look into the bath tub, and saw that it was in much the same state, but with a lovely sheen of black mold coating just about everything to make the scene complete. I looked down at the toilet seat, noticed a similar coat of grime, and a large, jagged edged crack in the middle. I was going to have to be careful when it came time to sit there!
After relieving myself, I went back out to the living room to see where I was going to sleep. It suddenly hit me why the room seemed so strange. There was a small TV at one end, a fireplace on the other, but absolutely nothing in between. No couch, no chair, nada. My stomach sank lower as I knew what this meant... she expected me to sleep in her bedroom with her.
She took me in to the bedroom so I could put my stuff there, and that's when the worst shock of all hit. No, it wasn't the water bed, or the continuation of the wedding picture/figurine decor. No, it was the fact that the cat was lying in the middle of the floor, suckling her kittens... and that the afterbirth was still there, too. I damn near threw up at that point. Chuckling, she said, "Oh shoot, I meant to take care of that." She grabbed a towel, wiped up the mess, and THREW THE TOWEL DIRECTLY INTO HER CLOTHES HAMPER. No rinsing, no washing, nothing... just straight in on top of her OTHER clothes. I was ready to leave right then.
Thankfully, we went out to get something to eat, and I was able to stop shaking. After dinner, we watched a movie, and around 11:00 I was ready to go to bed. Dreading what this meant, I crawled onto the king sized waterbed. I was in shorts and a t-shirt... no way was I going to give her any ideas... when she came back into the room wearing nothing but an old, worn, white t-shirt that didn't hide much at all. As she lowered herself onto the bed, I felt myself being tilted towards her, much like a star being drawn into a black hole. I rolled over onto my side, as far from her as possible, and said good night. Within minutes, she began snoring so loudly that it almost drowned out the train noises from down the street. After an hour of laying there staring at the ceiling, I got up, took a dining room chair into the living room, and sat down to watch the video again.
At about 4:00 in the morning, I decided that I couldn't make it another day and a half in this hell hole. I called the airline, and asked if there was any way I could transfer my ticket so I could leave that day (Saturday) instead of Monday. The $150.00 transfer fee they required seemed like a bargain compared to what I was facing, and I asked for a new ticket. I didn't want to seem like I was fleeing, so I told them to put me on the second flight out of BWI, leaving around 2:00. When the woman woke up, I was sniffling (allergies) and I told her that I had to leave... I didn't know she had cats, and my allergies were really starting to act up. Not to worry, though, as I had asked for a later flight so we could spend some time together. She just glared at me, spun around, and went to get dressed.
We left the house at about 10:00 that morning, and I asked her if she wanted to stop and get lunch on the way, my treat of course. She mumbled "OK". I asked her what she was in the mood for, and she spit out the words, "A salad." "No problem, where's a good salad place?", I asked. She didn't say anything and kept driving.
After about 45 minutes, she pulled in to an Arby's. "Can you get salads here??", I asked, honestly puzzled (I really was trying to be nice to her at this point). Suddenly she turned on me and started screaming, "You fucking asshole! You come out here and lead me on and won't fuck me and now you're leaving early? Fuck you, you asshole bastard!". Or something to that effect, at least. That was the opening I needed to let her know what I thought of her. I gently reminded her that I was not the one who 1) sent a 10 year old picture, 2) lied about where I lived, 3) ignored the fact that I had a health issue with her cats, and 4) lived like a fucking slob. OK, maybe I wasn't so gentle about it. We screeched out of the Arby's parking lot and made it to BWI in about 20 minutes, without saying a word to each other for the rest of the trip. As she dropped me off at the curb, she had one last shot for me. "You're a fucking fag", she said. I just smiled and replied, "Fuck off, you skanky cunt."
You might think an experience like this has scared me off internet dating entirely. Actually, it hasn't. I'm a lot more careful about it now than I was back then, but I really have met some incredible people on the 'net and in a time when it's getting harder and harder to meet people, it's not a terrible way to go. All I'll tell you is be very suspicious, question EVERYthing, and don't go off to someone's house until you're damn sure who he/she is!