Dearest Rachel –
“You’re judging me!” I can almost hear the hurt in the voice that I’ve never heard (and will never hear). Whether it’s an act or not, I really couldn’t say; I may not be a cinematic devotee, but I’ve always appreciated an authentic acting performance. The trouble is, while I can do so when I see it on the silver screen, I can’t necessarily recognize it in real life. What is real, and what is fake?
It’s a judgement call. And in that sense, she is absolutely right.
“You’re judging me based on how others failed you, and making me feel like them? That’s not right!” And perhaps it isn’t right for me to assume that she’s ‘just like them.’ But if she isn’t, she’s uncannily similar.
Perhaps I should back up a little, and give you a little context of what’s going on here.
For the purpose of this story, I’m going to refer to her as ‘Kim.’ That’s not her real name – or at least, it’s not the name she gave me – but it’s related to it. I know that I intended to use anime names to denote each girl I ran into throughout this process of finding a match online, but I know so few characters that fit these allegedly real-life girls – and ultimately, so many of these real-life girls wind up following such a similar pattern as to be indistinguishable, anyway – that I can’t really come up with a name for each of them as they appear (and just as quickly, either disappear or, in this case, get dismissed). So why bother? It’s a one-off story, in any event.
Or at least, I expected it to be. As it is, I have received another text from her since. I’m debating as to whether to answer it. Yet another judgement call to make.
Anyway, the story. I should point out that Kim contacted me through the social media site, and not through the dating app. That holds a little bit of significance insofar as I start out with no expectations from someone who contacts me this way. With the dating app, there is the assumption that both of us are looking for some sort of romantic connection, and the dialogue between us tends in that direction, with this assumption in mind. On social media, there is none of that; you literally have no idea why someone else is reaching out to you. You can only guess what their angle is, especially since – in my case particularly – there’s no history, no friendship, no commonality, no reason for them to reach out to you.
(Oh, and with all this being said, I should probably fill you in on my last encounter over this site; you know, the supposedly local girl needing me to pick her up to meet at Rep’s back on Thursday? Yeah, she finally responded with “No, I’m ready; I’m at home” to my request for a location at which to pick her up… on Sunday. Still no address, either, so even if I still wanted to pick her up, I couldn’t do so. Not that it’s ever advisable to give a stranger like me one’s home address, but if you want me to find you, I need something to go on. Seriously, I cannot roll my eyes hard enough. I can’t tell if I’ve been pranked, or if this girl is just that dim. Whatever; she missed out on a decent meal. So did I, of course, but that’s my call)
So, with all that being said, I’m already suspicious when someone reaches out to me over this social media site – apart from the members of the one media group that I joined the site to talk with from time to time (although it’s really quite amazing to see how often some of them are on the site; this practically seems like their home online. I tell you, honey, I can’t relate to this sort of thing these days. I remember the times we’d spend in the AOL chat rooms back when the internet was more of a novelty, but we grew out of that. Guess not everyone did). Still, as I’ve said before, I’m the ‘speak-when-spoken-to’ type, and I’ll honor a friend request when it pops up. What do I have to lose, apart from time?
Kim’s profile was sparse, as she’d only created it last month, but it did have a handful of articles about investing and the like. She also seemed to have quite a few friends – although I guess what constitutes ‘quite a few’ is a relative measure; sixty or so in barely a month seems impressive to me. I’m telling you this from memory, as this morning when I go to check her profile, it’s entirely devoid of material. No posts, no indications of friends, just a terse note that “‘Kim’ has not posted yet,” which makes me wonder if I imagined it. Or maybe it’s just the fumes from the gas light.
Gosh, I sound more bitter about this than I really am.
The thing is, I didn’t expect anything to come out of this connection, particularly after the non-events of Thursday. But I didn’t see any harm in accepting her request. And in fact, she started off the conversation by thanking me for doing so, followed by a photo of herself in a spaghetti-strap top, something you probably wouldn’t be caught dead wearing (not to mention a camera angle from a ways above herself, giving one a good look at her best angle). All very well and good, but also already a familiar pattern. It left me wondering when the other shoe would drop, and I’d find out what she really wanted from me.
But for the entire weekend, there were no dropped shoes. Apart from waking me up with a ‘ping’ every morning, asking me how I was doing and whether I’d gotten a decent night’s sleep (which I had, until the phone ‘ping’ed), there was little more than friendly chatter between us. I did learn that the reason she was always waking me up was because she was located somewhere in the Carolinas, and therefore a time zone ahead of me. Again, not that I would be seeking one through social media as much as through the dating app, but that kind of distance would preclude the possibility any sort of serious relationship. If this wasn’t going to pan out – and I’d already gone in with no expectations – that would be fine. I’m already dealing with a distance issue with Yvonne; I don’t need to have another such situation on my hands.
Speaking of whom, she’s very much the antithesis to this pattern. She doesn’t contact me every day (although, given her story about being overseas in the U.K. to settle her mother in with her aunt, as well as in Poland to deal with her father’s legacy, that would be understandable), and if it weren’t for me taking a screenshot of her profile before she took it down, I wouldn’t have a picture of her at all. Don’t know what that says about her – whether it’s all true, or she’s just playing a longer game – but thus far, she doesn’t fit the typical pattern.
Which I should be getting back to, since this letter is supposed to be about Kim, not Yvonne. Anyway, we chatted pleasantly throughout the weekend, and since I had no expectations nor interest in whether this developed further, that was fine. But yesterday…
After asking me about my day, she told me that the shop that she and her mother run had no customers yesterday (and their traffic has dried up really ever since the pandemic, in fact, but they’re still going, it seems, which is actually quite impressive), and she wasn’t sure if they could even so much as afford a refill of her mom’s prescription inhaler medicine. Now, I knew what was coming, but decided to play dumb, and looked up the price on the stuff. Sure, the name brand runs $70-$90 for a 90 mcg inhaler, but I could find coupons for the generic version of the drug for a little more than $20-$25 – and that’s here in Chicago; I’d expect that the cost of living, while maybe not as low as back in your hometown of Macomb, would be considerably less in North Carolina where they are. But no, she evidently pays $75, and could I spare it for her?
You know, I don’t really like to say ‘no’ to someone in need, but I have no idea if I’m being sold a bill of goods or not. And with the distance between us, there’s no way I’m ever going to find out. Really, if she is lying to me, it’s the perfect non-crime; I can’t prove a thing. And as much as I feel I might be doing her a disservice to her by refusing, why would she be asking a guy she just met online over the weekend to help with this? Doesn’t she have any other means of support? It’s an infuriating position to be in.
But, it’s not like I’ve lost a potential romantic partner or anything. I would have dropped every bit as much money on the girl I met on Thursday, but I would have gotten a decent meal and hopefully some interesting conversation out of it. Even those simps that would spend a C-note on a vial of bathwater from some internet thot like Belle Delphine (remember that controversy a couple years ago?) get that vial of supposed bathwater. There’s nothing here from this. Maybe, just maybe, I’m helping someone poor out that I ought to, but… not likely. So even any good feeling I might get out of it might well only be in my mind.
And if I say no, and she refuses to speak to me for it (she accused me of ‘monitoring’ her when I told her about how her request mirrored so many others. No, Kim… it’s only that the pattern is one I’m familiar with, and I see no more reason to take the chance with you than any of the others)? Well, I’m only back where I was Friday morning, only with the weekend behind me instead of in front. No big loss, really.
I don’t know how you’d feel about this; you were never one to turn down anyone in need, but you’d probably be less than happy that I was allowing someone to flirt with me (and responding in kind, to an extent). Or – since this sort of thing wouldn’t even happen were you still here – would this all simply be a moot point that wouldn’t even come to mind?
Anyway, continue to keep an eye out for me, honey, and wish me luck – I’m clearly gonna need it.