The outpouring of interest I get from my online profile is astonishing. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I am overwhelmed with responses from men who want me to move in with them, take me to the horse races, jump into bed, and make out on the beach with me like teenagers.
A lot of young guys who have no idea what they’re talking about, write to me.
One guy writes, “Hi, sexy.”
“Ick,” I write back.
“Ick?” he asks.
“Yes, ick is right. You haven’t read my profile. You’ve only looked at the pictures. You are making overly superficial judgements.”
“What are you looking for in a guy? Tall, dark, and handsome?” says the guy, who is tall, dark, and handsome.
“I’m looking for someone who reads what I write,” I say and delete him.
Then there’s Ronald, the realtor with a thick New York accent. I gush on the phone about how much I like the subway. “What do you like best—the crazies or the naked people defecating in public?” he asks
“There are naked people on the subways? Where do I go to see that?!” I ask.
He invites me to dinner, and I do a reverse lookup on his phone number, and see he’s lied about his age. He said he was 52, but he’s 62. When I confront him, he flies into a rage. “Time for you to get lost. Not taking crap from a below-average looking woman,” he says.
This doesn’t bother me. As a writer, I’m used to rejection. I once sent a story proposal to the Fresno Bee, and the editor called me personally to scream at me. “This is a good idea, but you have so many typos, you got your own phone number wrong! I had to call information to find it! I am sending this back to you!” she shouted, as if the Fresno Bee’s garbage was too good for me.
Another guy from Sarasota invites me to the horse races. “I’m not interested in horse races,” I say.
“You’re too young not to have fun,” he says.
Patronizing, I think. “Just because I’m not interested horse racing doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun,” I say.
Then, there’s Randy, the one who asks me to move in with him. The conversation starts out innocently enough. We talk about shoes and swimming pools.
My feet are hurting from walking so many miles a day. I need better shoes. He goes online to help me find local shoe shops. I also want someplace to swim. He sends me helpful links to local swimming pools. He’s an IT guy in Vermont. He offers to drive out to meet me. “How far are you?” I ask.
“Five hours, but I don’t mind,” he says
“That’s a kind offer,” I say, but I don’t say yes or no.
He tells me about his 14-acre ranch and how beautiful it is. We have some things in common. We both prefer pot over alcohol, love dogs, books, blues music, and hiking in the woods.
“Why don’t you move in with me?” he asks after a day of emailing.
I’m relaxing at home, tired from riding the subways all day, so I play along.
“What would I do for fun/work/friends in a place where I don’t know anyone?” I ask.
“You could do whatever you want. Write, do art—whatever. I make enough money,” he says.
I don’t know whether to be frightened or flattered. At age 55, the offer to be a “kept woman” on an idyllic Vermont ranch by a younger man ought to be flattering. But I’m a little creeped out.
I tell him I already live in a gorgeous place in Three Rivers. “I’m looking for more of a city experience right now,” I say.
That’s when he flies off the handle.
“Oy, I’m having flashbacks. You sound just like my ex-wife. You’re not going to make enough money to live in New York City. I’m a numbers guy. I know”
I flush with anger. Who is he to tell me what I can and can’t do? He sounds like some men I’ve known.
“You sound like you’re getting a little worked up,” I say.
“I just can’t deal with crazy,” he says. “After a year, you’ll be screaming to get out of New York.”
I hone in on the words, “Screaming to get out”. If I’m not careful, I could be screaming to get out of a locked basement in his house. I lift my fingers from my keyboard and stop responding. But he keeps writing. I watch with morbid curiosity as he spins out of control, ranting and raving. Then he deletes me. Then he undeletes me. Then he writes, “I’m opening a good bottle of Spanish red wine. Sigh..wish you were here. Are you there?”
No, I’m not there. I delete him.
Then there’s Gregory, a young medic. We talk a lot. He asks me what I was like in grade school, in high school, as a young adult.
I write back, “In grade school, the kids were mean to me. They called me ugly and stupid. In high school, people began to think I was smart. In my 20’s I became a professional writer.”
In my 30’s I had some commercial success. In my 40’s, I met and married the man of my dreams and lost almost everything—my work, my sanity, my friends, my health. Now, in my 50’s, I’m trying to get it all back.
I don’t send him that last paragraph. That’s just for me.
“When was the last time you made out with someone?” he asks.
“It’s been about a year,” I write back before I can stop myself.
“Do you want meet on the beach and make out?” he asks.
I imagine meeting him days before I’m about to leave for home. I picture us in the ocean, the waves crashing over us—me making out with a total stranger I’ll never see again. It might be fun. It might be adventurous. It might be something new to write about. But then again, he might push my head under water and drown me.
“I don’t know,” I type back. “Maybe I’ll meet you. Let me think about it.”
I think about it some more, and then I ask him my standard bottom-line question:
“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” I ask.
He takes a long time to respond. “I’ve never really done anything that bad. Maybe, I’ve pissed in public a few times?”
He’s asking me, as if I should know. And I do know. He’s lying. He’s done much worse things. We’ve all done unspeakably, horrible things, including, of course, me. That’s the nature of being human. We are all good and bad. I need to know the bad parts of someone before I can trust the good in them.
I decide this guy is too much of a risk. I switch off my computer, roll over in bed, and go to sleep.