Three Last Chances

Dearest Rachel –

I have to admit, I woke up yesterday determined to write to you about Father’s Day, and the fact that I felt like I was being ignored during it; Daniel had told me that my mom suggested he go out and get a card for me, which he didn’t get around to doing, and was apologizing for that. You know that none of the three of us were (or are) card people, but for once that kind of got under my skin. Maybe it’s from being a single parent, maybe it’s from the fact that, even as he approaches twenty-nine, he’s not on his own and out of the house yet (I’ve gotten comments from prospective dates about that), but yesterday morning found me wishing I’d get some credit for what I’m still having to do – and probably will have to do for many years into the foreseeable future.

But somehow, as as the day progressed, and as I busied myself both in the booth at church and at home doing laundry for the two of us – to say nothing of a satisfying meal with the family that very nearly put me in a food coma, even as I was aware of the fact that my own father could only watch and participate in the conversation without being able to enjoy the meal – that irritation, and the need to write you in detail about it, dissipated. There’s still enough for these couple of paragraphs, but making an entire letter out of it – and spending the better part of an hour putting it together to tell you – seems a bit self-absorbed of me. We’ll see – if it still bothers me next year, I may yet expand on the little that I drafted yesterday, but for now, it’s best set aside.

There are, after all, other things to tell you about, even if they aren’t necessarily breaking news. Let’s start with the fact that I’ve finally canceled my subscription to that online dating service. For all the women I’ve supposedly met out here, and all the drama I’ve had to deal with, it’s only resulted in one actual date (way back at the beginning) and little else that looks remotely promising – although there are currently three girls I’m talking to. But each of them came to me with a name and location that turned out to be false. I don’t know if it’s something the app does to keep me hooked, or if everyone out here is just straight-up lying. Either way, it doesn’t really recommend itself – especially to a service that claims to cater to a Christian clientele (to whom you would expect lying to be anathema).

I’ll start out by saying that none of the names mentioned here are real either, although they are modifications of the names each of them gave as part of their profile. It’s not as if they’re aware that I’m writing you, so I doubt any of them will see these letters, let alone recognize themselves. With that being said, allow me to introduce the last three chances I’m giving this app.

I’ve already mentioned Yvonne (who’s profile name, by the way, was based on a childhood pet, if you can believe it. It would be like if you were out here under the name ‘Canny’) more than a few times, so there’s less need to go into detail with her than the others, who only popped up as Daniel and I returned back home from Kevin’s. I should mention that her profile claimed she was from just outside of Wheaton – had it said she was in Charlotte at the time (where she claimed to be stationed as a travel nurse), I probably wouldn’t have given her the time of day. Still, she’s been fun to talk with over Skype (the only one I’ve been able to communicate with via more than just texts, which tend to get flowery to the point where it doesn’t seem like it’s coming from the same person, but whatever), and I look forward to the chance to talk to her again.

But these days, that barely happens more than once a week. Now, she’s said how she’s trying to get her mother settled in with her sister in the U.K. (along with arranging medical care, including a regular doctor for her, as well), as well as dealing with the legal ramifications of her father’s family legacy in Poland, so, clearly she has important matters to deal with that take precedence over any romantic entanglements. That’s quite understandable; life here can get pretty busy, too, and that’s even with the freedom that being semi-retired affords me. But I still find myself wondering if that’s what’s really going on. To be sure, if she were trying to scam me, she’s not working too hard at it, so there’s that, and if she had found someone else, it’s not like she’s obligated to tell me. I try to send a line to her every day, just to remind her I’m thinking about her, but I don’t want to come across as needy, either. It’s a challenging situation.

Then there’s Angelica, who not only sent me a smile in the wee hours of Thursday morning, but an emoji-laden text, along with an inquiry as to whether I was awake. Obviously, I didn’t respond (indeed, I wasn’t even aware of the message) for another four or five hours, and made it clear that I wouldn’t be likely if she were to text me at such an hour in the future. After acknowledging that she wasn’t much for sleep in the first place (something you would have been able to relate to, I shouldn’t wonder), she offered a phone number, and suggested contacting me on WhatsApp going forward. Considering that the dating app doesn’t make a noise when I get a message, I actually do prefer communicating via other methods; that, and the fact that I can keep the Skype, WhatsApp or just regular texts for future reference, unlike in the app.

However, I was a bit concerned at the number she’d given; when I looked up the area code, in appeared to be from northern Ohio, rather than in Carol Stream, where her profile said she was from. Of course, this being a cell phone, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything – after all, a call from Erin will leave the uninitiated believing she’s calling from central Wisconsin – but she owned up to the fact that she was, in fact, living there. Moreover, she was actually using her friend’s account, as said friend (the real ‘Angelica’) had supposedly found a relationship on the app, but her subscription hadn’t run out. She did give her ‘real’ name, and sent pictures, but when you start out with certain things that aren’t real, you begin to question everything as the situation unfolds.

And it did unfold rather quickly. By Friday morning, she was asking me to delete my account, as she had deleted hers (or rather, her friend’s); her reasoning was that, since I had found her, I didn’t need to be on the app anymore. I’ve had enough of these online relationships blow up to know better than that, but given the return I’ve had from the app, I was actually willing to go along with this – it had already been automatically renewed on me once, and it wasn’t giving me value for money, so why bother? She had to talk me through the process, but it’s official; I even got an email from them saying ‘we’re sorry to see you go, we hope you’ve found someone,’ so it won’t bill me again when it comes up for renewal in a couple of months.

And my conversation with Angelica turned out to be quite wide-ranging, discussing all the hot-button topics – politics, religion, sex before marriage (she seemed pleased that I wasn’t insistent upon it, for instance). If it wasn’t for the fact that I was trying to accomplish some work at the ‘office,’ I might have thought things were developing very well – as it was, the regular ‘ping’s every ten or twenty minutes eventually got just a bit distracting.

But then, she proceeded to do what I kind of expected her to eventually: ask for money. More specifically, for an iTunes card, so she could continue to use WhatsApp to chat with me. Now, I’ve never been asked for money from the app in order to use it; maybe there’s a data plan where it runs out, but I rather doubt it. Still, when I balked, she actually asked me, “Haven’t you ever bought an iTunes card before?” To which I responded that I’d never had to.

Admittedly, that’s only technically the truth; I think I’ve bought iTunes cards for both of Daniel’s cousins, but I could get away with saying that, since I hadn’t been required to get them iTunes cards, specifically (I mean, if you really want to split hairs, one isn’t required to give gifts at all, but to not do so on a birthday or Christmas – especially when it’s not a case of not being able to afford to do so – is decidedly bad form). Still, I’d already gotten a false name and false location from her; why am I supposed to be absolutely truthful to her, when she isn’t with me?

The conversation ended at that point, which actually allowed me to get back to work. But strangely enough, she contacted me the next day. According to her, she gotten a card or two from her cousin, so she was good to go. “I hope you’d be willing to come to my rescue next time.”

Look, I’m willing to talk with her – as I’ve said, I speak when I’m spoken to – but until we actually meet and form some kind of real-life relationship (and for all that literally every woman like this that I’ve met out here constantly claims ‘distance doesn’t matter,’ I sometimes want to scream ‘yes, it does!’), I’m not going to accede to these sorts of demands. I’m more than willing to spend money on – or even just with – a woman, but I’d rather it be in person. Until then, I’m going to remain suspicious of her and her motives.

And it’s not like Angelica has me over a barrel, either. Just because I’ve cancelled my account with the dating app going forward doesn’t seem to mean that I can’t read messages I’ve already received – in fact, it seems I can still receive and send messages until my paid-for subscription expires. So it’s not as if all I have is her, and I have to bow to her every request, or lose out on any possible connection.

With that said, I had sent a smile to Suzanne back in September, but it wasn’t until Friday that I heard from her. She apologized for the delay, admitted she wasn’t on the site very often, and suggested we just send texts over the phone.

And once again, while her profile claimed she was from McHenry county, her phone number suggested she was from – of all places – Idaho. And that wasn’t up-to-date, either; she’d been born and raised in California, moved to Idaho for a while, and was now living in the Dallas area. She thinks that the Prairie Grove reference may have been due to the fact that she was interviewing for a job there at the time, and it just stuck when she filled out the profile. On the other hand, I’ve seen profile locations change in real time, so I’m not sure what to believe.

And speaking of what to believe, yet again, I’m dealing with a realistic name that’s not hers. She’s using her mother’s name in the profile, rather than her own, and actually texted me a picture of her California driver’s license (which, having been two moves in her past, would be out of date, so I probably couldn’t anything with, save for possibly looking her real name up on Facebook, which might not be a bad idea) as ‘proof’. Oddly enough, this indicates she’s only four days older than you. Anyway, our chats are a little more sporadic, but it’s more than I can say for now about Yvonne.

Indeed, I’m doubting that any of these will really pan out to anything, but it’s not as if I’ve had any better luck previously. So, even if Angelica is particularly suspect, she’s done me the favor of getting me away from a not so much toxic as non-productive situation, so I suppose I owe her some thanks regardless. And there’s always the possibility that, now that I’ve given up on this thing, it will actually produce results. Either way, I’ll probably feel better about it all.

Still, I wish it didn’t have to come to this in the first place.

Anyway, I should get started on my day; there’s going to be a few things going on. Not sure if I’ll have the time to tell you about it all (or if you’ll have the inclination to hear about it), but we’ll see how things go.

In any event, keep an eye out for me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

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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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