Saturday, March 29, 2008
Close call on Craigslist.
I have a confession. I have an addiction to Craigslist. Well, more specifically, to the Craigslist personals. Oh, it began innocently, like all addictions do, out of boredom. First I just read the personals, amused by some of the lengths people would go in seeking true love…or at least a quick lay…on the internet. Oh that didn’t last long, because, if anything, I’m not a very good voyuer. Voyuer’s like to stnad back and watch, while I’m the sort of person who needs to get involved or i lose interest. I guess if you wanted to push the analogy as far as it will go, I’m a much better swinger than a voyeur. But I don’t like the analogy as it is, so I’ll make another. As a student, I was always one of those kids who did better in class if there was a class participation project, or if I was frequently called on.
After discovering CL in the early 00’s, it wasn’t long before I began putting up personal ads of my own. Some were serious, and sincerely explained what I was seeking in say a dating relationship, or a new internet pen pal. I did that for awhile…but, repelled more often than not by the insincerity and just plain wierdness I was attracting with my ads, I decided if I couldn’t beat the freaks, I’d join them. So began the fictionalization of my Craigslist activities. I began to smurf ads on the various local boards, getting more and more outrageous, odd, or, most likely, specific with my descriptions and summaries of what I was looking for. Interestingly, I never lied about my age or ex or where i was from. (I think this hints at a deep rooted desire for honesty in the sense that I only liked spoofing ads if there still existed some possibility that I might actually meet the person who responds or writes back. I’d hate to portray myself as a 19 year old sorority girl and then horrors of horrors actually get a response from someone I’d like to meet. So, while I never outright lied or presented myself as someone I wasn’t, I did embellish, and often focused on some momentary preference or predilection of my own “I like blonds”, “I like brunettes”, “I want to meet someone who listens to the Silver Jews”, “I want to meet a townie in their 30’s who is not affiliated with the university and never eats at Zingermans”, etc. that sort of thing. In this way, I might actuallly attract someone I’d like to meet or have something in common with, but on my own terms, idiosyncratic as they were.
My results have been mixed. I’ve had good/bad/indifferent dates, friendships, and acquantances out of my years of Craigslist “use”. Relationships, stalkers, “now you see ’em / now you don’t” disappearing/appearing emails/prospects, weird pic exchangers and stealers, liars, cheats, more liars, golddiggers, Goths, obsessives, compulsives, men masqurading as women, black people who said they were white and white people who said they were black, people responding to say “I’m the exact opposite of what you said you wanted but i believe opposites attract”, and, most often besides silence or no response, one-line responses that lead nowhere and are never followed up on…you know the type, usually with a typo or in all one font: “iam innerested”, “id lik to talk to you”, i tink we could hit it off”, “hey there”, or, the coup de grace of meaningless emails, “hi”…just “hi”, nothing else. In all responses, sometimes I got a picture first, or in exchange for my own, sometimes not. So is an incomplete summmary of my Craigslist adventures. I might be able to write a book on this subject someday, because, believe me, in the above I was being very brief. It’s not what I came here to talk about today….I just thought I’d give some context.
Like all true addicts, I’ve tried “turning on” others to my addiction, and over the years, have introduced one too many people to the possibilities and promise of posting personal ads on Craiglist. The ultimate comeuppance of this strategy was also the most ironic; in that one of my ex-girlfriends, perhaps my favorite, who I met, ironically, not on CL but on Match, ended up meeting her future husband off Craigslist. After she dumped me of course. She didn’t even know about CL before we met, and, stupidly, I showed her it one day when we were hanging out around her laptop. “Check out these ads..there’s some weird ones!” I said innocently, hooking her in my disease. Flashforward a year later, post-dump. “Hey Steve” she began, calling me out of the blue for what I thought (hoped) would be our reconciliation call, “I wanted you to know I’m engaged!”
“Oh that’s great” I faked, “who’s the lucky guy?”
“Oh some guy I met off Craigslist. The place you showed me.”
“Yeah, after we broke up I thought I’d be lonely…alone…forever, or at least for awhile, and then about a month later, after we broke up, I was checking out Craiglist, laughing at all the ads like we used-to do, and this one…his…caught my eye…and so I wrote him…and well, well we’ve been together now a year! We’re getting married next october!”
“I’m so happy for you.” I lied.
What I came here to talk about was how last week I almost got tricked into meeting a hooker for dinner thinking it was real date.
It all began when I posted one of my ads, this time working an “angle” I’d thought might reel me in some responses. In this case, I voiced a preference for “a thick woman” who was “shorter than me” (I listed my height) and expressed that I appreciated the beauty of same and requested the polite reply and possible company of same on a date. All this was true. I DO like shorter thick women, and wasn’t lying. I got some responses and some replies and no dates, and after a day or two, the ad slipped to the bottom of the pile and I figured that was that. Then I got a reply with photos, a rarity in the first email (I mean, who the hell sends a picture of themselves unsolicited in a first message? Not me. I wouldn’t expect that. Maybe in a second email, but my rule of thumb is you usually don’t get or get around to asking for the pic until the third email. I won’t send mine out until I know it’s a real person and not a bot at least that is getting it. But this all starts anonymous, check before you know who’s getting your mail, ..I mean, it could be your boss you’re sending that pic to, or your sister.)
So, this one comes in from “LizzieGirl”, a yahoo address, with two grainy pics, one of a smiling woman in a white bra but otherwise clothed and PG-13, and another of her standing in a doorway, fully-clothed., G rated..the one line : “I MUST BE THE ONE YOU WAITING 4”.
So I didn’t respond until the next day. I’ll be honest. I was sorta scared-off by the photo. But then my usual midweek winter boredom set in. And I responded, just a general hello, and a question or two: where you writing from, age, interests, hobbies, etc. The usual innocent “get to know you” email.
I should have known something was up when she said she was from Toledo.
And that she said Toledo was “less than 30 minutes” from Ann Arbor. Maybe if you’re driving 120 mph, it is. But in my world Toledo is a deal-breaking drive away. I don’t date in another state and I won’t cross an international border to date. I expressed this in a response, “Hey you seem cool, but I’m sorry Toledo is just a little too far for me. Pllus it’s a little difficult for me to entertain around here all the time so I don’t think it will work. Sorry. Good luck on your search!”
That didn’t stop her.
LizzieGirl writes back, “Hey I hav a car and dont mind coming to you. in fact for professional reasons i don like to date in the city anyway. I can come to you anytime and like to do lots of activities in ann arbor that is cool town i love coming there, let me know when I am up for it I will come you no problem any day you want just let me know, good night to you sleep tite. ps i have more pics.”
The next day get another email.
“Hey didn’t hear back from u. i wanted you to know i am up for it and also i have more pics more up to dat ones that i can send you that i can send to your phone [no emphasis in original] so why dont you send me your and i can send them there and we can set this up i’m up for it. Liz”
Ok, so that was suspicious as hell, but like I said, I was bored, and moreover I was lonely, so like an ass, I send her my cell .
Uh-oh, next day that thing is going off at work. It’s a text. No pic. But a text, with Liz’s and a short message that i should call as soon as I can and she’ll come right up…that night…no problem she’s up for it. It ends with “what is it you like about the thick women steve i want to know bye.”
My intuition is going off like a Spidey sense :”Steve don’t you dare call that number!” So, I listen. I don’t call. But I sorta want to see those other pics. So I text.
“THX!” (O.k. so it wasn’t the most verbose text…but at least I responded.)
I didn’t want to let on I’d actually set this up but you know I was already doing so in my mind. I get bored at work, driving around, so I was already planning a first date with Liz. And a second, and a third, and imagining how I’d like visiting scenic Toledo, and thinking about the things to do around there, with Liz. What it might be like to live in Toledo. That sort of thing.
So, the day passes, and around 6pm I’m sitting in a cafe, booting up to the internet, in the back of my mind still thinking about what I’ll say to Liz when I call, what we’ll talk about, where we’ll go to dinner, and how all that will play out. I’ve even got a restaurant picked out, near the freeway, so it will be easy on / easy off for Liz as she drives all the way up for Toledo.
Toledo. Then it hits me. I really oughta do a quick “internet background check” on “LizzieGirl” just to see that everything checks out.
The usual obsessive-compulsive drill: Search Google for name and email, check myspace for email, check…check Craigslist. Wait. I never did check to see if this “Liz” might have an ad up of her own. (And yes, in my experience, most people who respond to ads also post their own…I should know…that’s what I do. That’s how I got started after all in this whole business.)
Everything checks out on the level. No matches on Google, Myspace, or Ann Arbor CL. She did say she loves the town and likes to date outside Toledo. “For professional reasons” was her exact parlance.
Then it hits me (again!) Toledo. I’m a numskull. I better check there. I go to the Toledo Craigslist. Check the personals, the w4m, Casual Encounters, I even check “Missed Connections”…nope…no ads for Liz or anyone that sounds vaguely like Liz, or same age or anything. Seems like it checks out.
I go to make that call…but figure I’ll give one more quick check of the Toledo CL, this time checking the “Erotic Services” (Escort ads). I scan down the listings, a day or two, and then it turns up “Erotic Massage by Thick Liz (outcall only!)”. And then I scan some more…multiple ads, on multiple days, all with the same info, same outcall only rule, same name, age…I open the ad.
Yep. There it is. The same pictures “LizzieGirl” sent me in her first message, here posted in the Erotic Services / Escort ads in the Toledo Craigslist.
My romantic dinner plans, the easy-on /easy off restaurant pick, the whole shebang, it evaporates. I’m almost relieved. I text “Liz” one more time “Sorry something came up I’m not interested anymore apologies.”. She texts back within the same minute (I’m not shitting you…the very same minute):
“R U sure?”
“Some other time then.”
“I dont think so. Bye.”
So, that was that. I’m trying to stay off Craigslist now. I still go, but you’re more likely to find me in the Missed Connections or “Rants and Raves” than messing with anymore of them personal ads!