Sunday Rush

Dearest Rachel –

After a couple of days of relative quiet upon enrolling on this dating app, starting this morning, things went somewhat crazy. I’m not complaining, exactly, but the ‘feast or famine’ situation – if this is what the typical experience is like – is a bit disorienting.

As I mentioned previously, for the last couple of days, I would dip my toe into the app now and then to look at various profiles, and mark this one and that one with a smile if they seemed at all promising, with plans to check back later, as some of the ladies hadn’t been online for a few days or weeks, in some cases. Lo and behold, yesterday morning, my phone was inundated with notifications. The weird thing is, I don’t think any of them were from any of the ladies that I had smiled at, necessarily – maybe one or two, I’m not about to rule it out completely – But for the most part they were entirely unsolicited. Equally strange, some of the ones who were responding were from far flung locations. Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, Arkansas and California, just to name a few… and most of them were looking for someone within 500 miles of their location. So, why were they looking at my profile? I won’t say that I had my guard up, but it did strike me as odd.

A couple of them even left messages; kind of like texts, but within the bounds of the app itself, rather than actually texting me. To those, I would respond in kind. One of them, interestingly enough, shared Erin’s name and address, and was based in Milwaukee (again, bear in mind that my profile was only looking within a range of 25 miles from home). I actually asked Erin about this during our gaming session yesterday afternoon, since she regularly continues to get together online with her some of her classmates from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (like our own gaming sessions with Ellen and Kevin), and one of those friends is in fact named Erin (which must lead to some confusion); Could this be by some impossibly remote coincidence, be her friend? No, as it turns out, because that particular Erin is several years our Erin’s junior. Well, it was fairly unlikely, but I was still curious.

Another one started sending me messages just before we were to head off to church; I even informed her of such, figuring that on a Christian dating app, of all places, she would understand that there were other priorities I had to deal with. Nope. Even as we were waiting for what we in the A/V booth referred to as the ‘preroll,’ that quick video of church activity that more or less serves as the call for people to assemble in the auditorium, but most resembles the opening credits of a television show, she kept sending one message after another.

You think I’d be flattered to be getting messages like this in such quick succession, even at such an inopportune time. The funny thing is, after having read all those things on the “personal safety” page, I found myself looking at this particular ‘woman’ through that lens, and it was astonishing how many of the warnings ‘she’ ticked off. Barely two or three valleys back and forth, and she was asking for my phone number so she could text message me directly, wish I wouldn’t of had any problem with if I hadn’t read those safety protocols. I seriously didn’t see an issue, but having been warned about this kind of behavior, I explicitly replied that it seemed odd she was doing this so soon. Was this safe of her? She replied that she had done it before, and proceeded to give me her own phone number, so that I could contact her if I wanted to. Thus reassured, I made the mistake of responding in kind.

At which point, she proceeded to send text after text my way. Again, under certain other circumstances I might be flattered, but it’s a Sunday morning, I’m in church, and the service is starting. I may have been a little brusque telling her all this, but at this point it felt like it was kind of necessary. She finally responded with “okay, I’ll let you go, but text me back as soon as it’s over.”

You know honey, I don’t like disappointing people, even those that I’ve never met. And while I’m aware of the concept, I can’t quite wrap my head around the possibility that I’m dealing with a bot. Once the service was over, we were going to meet mom and dad and a local restaurant – but since dad still had to go home and do the whole feeding tube routine, that wasn’t going to be an immediate thing – so we were in no rush. So I texted ‘her’ again.

And this was on a few other red flag starting to pop up. She asked for a photo, and I obliged with a quick selfie – I think I’m going to have to get used to that regardless. She then sent a couple of photos of herself – And they looked nothing like her profile picture. These had long dark hair, and vaguely Latino looking features, whereas in her profile, she had blue eyes and crinkly blond hair. She explained the profile used pictures of her late aunt, claiming she still missed her.

Who does that? And how did she think I was going to react to that?

But she continued to message, even as I’m explaining the situation to mom and dad in the restaurant in a sort of bemused fashion. Needless to say, they were all drop her like she’s hot about it, especially when I mentioned her asking whether I own a house and a car (which, at my age, shouldn’t be all that remarkable, but it’s also still a weird thing to ask about).

Again, I would tell her I was busy, either at the restaurant with the folks, or later on, during the gaming session with Kevin, Erin and Ellen – and you have to know I told them everything about her story, too. She would hold back for a few hours – eventually – only to pop back up with a response that sounded to me like a kid in the back seat of a car during a long road trip: “Are you done yet? Are you done yet?” I think I’d be more annoyed if I didn’t find it so silly.

Meanwhile, even as I was asking Erin about this namesake girl from Milwaukee, she had literally disappeared from my history while the four of us were online (I would say while the four of us were gaming online, but actually it was just three of us – Erin is having issues with her computer monitor, and while she can listen to us on the phone, it makes participation in the games a little difficult). One of the more interesting exchanges we have had before she ghosted the entire app is a question I asked her about the age of men she was looking into: 45–60, despite the fact that she was only 37. She responded, seemingly unoffended, that younger men were more likely to “play games.” I don’t know if that was meant literally or figuratively, but considering that I was in the middle of an online gaming session, that struck me as a little close to home. So perhaps I shouldn’t be too concerned about this one getting away. It’s still a little bit of a mystery.

And it saves me from confusing her with our Erin, so there’s that.

An interesting aside this morning; one of the profiles I smiled at earlier this weekend responded to me this morning with an actual message, apologizing for not noticing my smile until today. She mentioned she had been wading through a whole bunch of similar notifications, and so many of them were from out of state that she simply figured ‘why bother?’ and set everything aside until now. I commiserated with her about the situation, but haven’t heard back. I have a sneaking suspicion that this whole process on this app is going to teach me patience of one kind or another; either being patient with those who don’t respond right away, or with those that do not stop responding. Either way, I get a lesson out of it, and you (And everyone else reading this) get an interesting story out of it all. So it’s a win all around, right?

As always, honey, wish me luck.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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