I laugh in the face of normal
One thing I learned to be very wary of on dating sites was the serial Hotmail lady collector. I know we might fib a bit on websites; we put our nicest pictures up, we don’t say that we love to sit around in our nighties at weekends eating salted popcorn and crying and we generally pretend that our hobbies are slightly wider than expected, in the hopes of not putting off that roller-blading, ten language speaking, kite flying fanatic that just happens to look a bit like David Beckham. (What of course we don’t take into account is that that picture caught him at a good angle and that he is only trying to widen his net; saying he loves salted popcorn and crying would probably get him far more women than he ever realised.)
No, I’m talking about the compulsive liars of the dating world. Who knows what they’re up to: I don’t have all lifetime and £250 an hour for the best psychotherapist, which they clearly need. The worst are those who befriend you and never, ever make a date or meet anyone in the flesh. I’m guessing they mostly look like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons and are huge fans of the Big Bang Theory; the closest they’ll come to any sort of bang in their lives, unless they move out from their mothers’ sometimes soon.
Perhaps, for those of you uninitiated into the world of internet dating, I should explain that it has its unwritten rules. One of those is that you realise that it’s better to talk to someone before a date if you can. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are no more serial killers on dating sites than there are in the pub; probably fewer, as you don’t have to have back links in the pub. But after meeting a few crazy people, you realise that getting to know them is a good idea if you possibly can. And some people don’t want to give their phone numbers until they’ve settled on a definite date. Nothing worse for a guy than handing out his phone number and then realising he’s on a permanent hotline to the local cat lady or, even worse, he’ speaking to his own nan, I’m guessing.
So a lot of people swap email addresses. That seems safe, you might say, how sensible. Wrong. There are enough serial subterfugers and wily willies out there to put the FBI out of business.
I’ll give you a strange and breath-taking example. I got speaking to a nice man with a fairly ordinary but handsome pic and we swapped email addresses. On reflection, he was doing that catalogue-look-into-the-middle-distance thing on one and I’m-casually-waiting-for-a-bus-look-at-me- in-my-smart-gold-buttoned-jacket in the other, but I only clocked that afterwards. The sort of pose that maybe Harrods wouldn’t use to sell a jacket, but Littlewoods might, you know what I mean now. In fact, you’ve probably got the jacket, because you sure as hell won’t have the man.
Now, I’m an upfront sort of woman. No, don’t try to contradict me, read my previous posts. After a week of fairly nice chats, I thought I’d ask HIM for a date. He lived in reasonable distance and was intelligent and friendly. (Incidentally, I’d like to point out that isn’t my order in my head for a mate – just the way the words came out, honest.)
I waited for the reply. It came and, with an outrageous attempt to tug at my heartstrings, he declared his difficulty; he was in a wheelchair. Now, you might say, how do you know he wasn’t? Well, I didn’t and it quite honestly made no difference to me whatsoever. I just emailed back saying not to worry, we’ll go somewhere with a ramp. I’ve just realised how desperate that made me sound, but I’ll plod on.
Anyway, it was a few hours before the next one arrived and this aroused my already deepening suspicions. “I wouldn’t want you to see me like this,” he replied “I’m too horrible.” Who do you think you are, Quasimodo, I thought, but kept it to myself for now. What woman would accuse a disabled man of being a fake? However, I’d kept a fake husband for 14 years and it wouldn’t get past me.
I looked at his email and his friends list. He’d added 12 women in the last 48 hours. Stupid chump didn’t realise I could, without much difficulty, see his updates; and theirs, all cooing and sympathising with the swindling swine. I’ll have you, I thought, you’ll need a wheelchair if I ever see you. (I’ve calmed down since, so if anyone maims a second rate catalogue model I’d just like to state, for the record, it wasn’t me.)
I started to send him challenging emails – “Why did you go on here if you couldn’t date?” I asked, for the world and 12 other divvy women to see. The reply came, unconvincingly, that he just wanted someone to chat to in the lonely hours. His replies were shorter now, clearly sensing something amiss. “It’s a lovely photo,” I cajoled, “you look almost familiar, where did you have it done?” A series done by his photographer friend that reminded him of happier days. Jeez this guy was good. I’d have to work harder than this.
A few hours and a bit less of a life later and I’d cracked it. I’d found his pic. Google had come up trumps and I was right – he’d clearly googled for his own pic and there he’d found it, hidden away on the searches so that only a crazy woman with clearly too little to do and not enough loneliness to swallow any lie would stand a chance of seeing it. I posted the link for them all to see. I felt like Judas at the Last Supper, but only briefly. In reality I can see now that I was Jessica Fletcher without the winning ways or the charm.
Perhaps it was a good thing life doesn’t always give you the chance to see how it ends. I’ve been there before and I’ve clearly learnt enough not to go there again. I bet he’s out there somewhere, before his mum calls him for his tea or, worse, his wife gets home from work, charming women with stories of disability and loneliness. Screw him, I had a life to lead.