Dearest Rachel –
Well, my subscription to that dating website/app is about to expire, and I’m not sure I’m really going to miss it. It’s given me a fair amount of fodder to write you about, to be sure, but up until now, there hasn’t really been all that much in terms of real results. I’ve had but one date, early on, but since then, it’s been little more than one disappointment after another.
Actually, ‘disappointment’ might be putting it a little harshly. It’s been moderately entertaining to listen to the ploys these girls (assuming they even are girls, although that’s not because I’m not a biologist. Rather, I wonder how many of these profiles are just scammers trying to separate fools from their money) use to accomplish their end goals, such as they are, and to play along just long enough to get them to think they might be making progress, only to cut them off when they get too transparent. But while Jan told me when the two of us put this together last year that this was more for entertainment purposes than something I should pin my hopes on to find Megumi, I don’t think I’ve really gotten value for money out of this extended series of adventures. I haven’t gotten my heart broken, either, but that’s more because I haven’t invested myself in any one of these girls enough for it to be in any more danger than my wallet (and probably less so than that) because of a suspicious nature that has, up to this point, proven to be thoroughly justified.
Which is a real shame, because you would think that there would be plenty of single people from both sides of the gender divide (although I do feel for those in Daniel’s or Joanna and Will’s generations, now that the pool has been divided into ridiculously small puddles of this or that gender; how do you match with each other, let alone figure out how a ‘cake’ can make love with a ‘kitten’? and yes, those are apparently separate genders now) even at my age looking to get back into the search. And maybe there are, but man, weeding out the fakes from the real people has been quite the chore, one that I’m just as happy to leave behind – even though I really want to find someone; I don’t want to spend the next twenty-odd years on my own.
So, as the app is about to sundown, I’ve taken the opportunity to make one last throw of the dice. I keep sending out smiles, and sometimes I even get responses… and these are probably the last two candidates before my profile shuts down for good.
I was going to introduce the first one as ‘Nellie,’ for Nellie Forbush, as – despite her profile indicating she’s from Lake Bluff – she claims to be stationed overseas with the Navy, and has been part of the unit for the last ten years (wait, so she enlisted at the tender age of thirty-eight, assuming her profile is accurate. Really? That doesn’t really pass the smell test, to be honest. Call it red flag number one). But you might well think of Nellie Oleson, from Little House on the Prairie, and, while her actress was nowhere nearly as mean as her character in real life, the character was mean enough to ruin that name for you pretty thoroughly.
So maybe I ought to refer to her as ‘Pauline,’ as she claims to be stationed in Damascus, Syria. Which seems odd, as a.) Damascus isn’t anywhere near the ocean (although Lars reminded me that Syria has about a hundred miles of coastline – half of which are taken up by various ports, including some controlled by the Russian Navy, as well as commercial interests), and b.) as I just mentioned, Syria is essentially more under Russian rather than American control (well, I guess either one is better than ISIS control), although the Russians do seem to be diverting much of their attention, manpower and materiel some ways north to the current conflict in Ukraine (which, for all of Daniel’s insistence that they’re the good guys – really? – they did roll their tanks into the place, so that’s rather on them). I even looked up a question about U.S. Naval personnel stationed in Syria, and with regard to certain locations (such as Aleppo, for instance), the general indication was that anyone claiming to be from there was outright lying. So… red flag number two? That same source did confirm that we do have personnel stationed there, just not many, though.
All that being said, I’m expecting Pauline to not really be real. She claims that she will be returning to Lake Bluff within a couple of weeks, but also that her tour of duty doesn’t end until January. That inconsistency – which I actually pointed out to her – could well be red flag number three, but it may be that they get a certain amount of ‘vacation’ time when they’re not in a hot war zone. As it is, to hear her describe the situation, she’s part of a team that serves as a de facto police force, performing night patrols and the like. But yeah, I’m thoroughly suspicious.
On the other hand, early in our conversation, we both discussed the difficulties we’d each been having in trying to find someone to connect to. She mentioned being asked for nude photos from various guys (a story I’ve heard from others both on and offline), which apparently is specifically forbidden by the armed forces that she’s a part of. And to be honest, that kind of makes sense, as (assuming she’s telling the truth – and let’s just go with that for now) she’s essentially representing the Navy, and by extension the country, wherever she’s stationed; such behavior would reflect badly on both, so I can see the idea of such a ban on that form of communication.
For my part, I explained the concept of catfishing, and gave several examples, such as Ruby and Lalla – including how I dealt with them (particularly the whole ‘meet in person’ requirement that it seems no scammer is willing to comply with). So, Pauline is aware that I’m familiar with various scams, and am wise to them. One would think that, if she is a scammer, she would take that into consideration, and ghost me at this point, because I’m likely to be a waste of ‘her’ time. And yet, she keeps in touch. So I don’t know what to think; maybe I’ll have a better handle on her if and when she returns to Lake Bluff later this month.
On the other hand, there is also one I will refer to as ‘Nee-san,’ as she’s the first person who’s older than me (albeit by just the one year) that I’ve bothered to communicate with, and our interactions may have proven to me that I’ve been going about this all wrong the whole time. You see, I’ve been trying to not be too aggressive with anyone; I’ll send a smile, but generally, I won’t send a message unless I get a response back from them. That may have been the wrong approach from the start, as the scammers treat this like a fishing expedition. The profile is the bait, and a smile is the nibble they’re looking for. They respond to test me as the fish, and I’m hooked – at least, until they start asking for money, at which point both of us realize we’ve been wasting our time.
With Nee-san, after sending a smile a week or two previously, I felt like I should comment on her smile in each of her pictures, as well as the fairly simple description of the kind of man she was looking for. To be honest, it sounded like a list of requirements I could fulfill, and I told her so. As she hadn’t responded to the smile, I didn’t expect anything in terms of a response, but it seems this reached her, and shortly thereafter, she suggested I call her (and, when I asked about her schedule, suggested a time a couple days from then), and gave me her phone number.
When I called at the appointed time, however, she was unreachable. I left a message, and sent a text with my number for her to get back to me – at which point, she responded by saying that her Bible study ran longer than expected, and she would call me in another twenty minutes. Well, what do you know?
We talked for nearly a half-hour before she had to call it a night – while I dropped the fact that I was retired and worked on a volunteer basis, she had her job to go to in the morning, and needed to get some rest beforehand. We promised to keep in touch via text going forward, and maybe something could develop from this – who knows?
It’s mildly upsetting that I might have been taking the wrong approach this whole time, sitting back and waiting for someone to approach me rather than being just that little bit more proactive, but I thought I was doing the right thing. Besides, only one such situation has to pan out to make it worthwhile. But it all remains to be seen, I guess. It’s a first step, as the old proverb says, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a thousand miles yet to go.
So whether I follow this path or that, or one I’m still completely unaware of at the moment, honey, please be so kind as to wish me luck. I’m definitely going to need it.