Saturday, April 18, 2009

Creepy, or Just Me?

A boyfriend from eons ago--let's call him David McCall--contacted me through LinkedIn. He used his American name and had shortened his long Middle Eastern last name to a less ethnic-sounding name. He was ostensibly looking for an editor for an engineering report and his resume. I wondered who the guy was, and why was he asking for rates from a writer in Chicago when writers in LA are a dime a dozen.

Then I put two and two together: the first name, the still-recognizable last name, the engineering specialty, the LA location, and most importantly, the LinkedIn connection through the university we both attended--and I figured out who he was. But why the sneakiness? Why contact me as a potential client instead of coming right out and saying, hey, it's me, how the heck are you?

It felt sneaky and manipulative to me, so I did not respond.

The next day, I had another email from David McCall--this time using his full name instead of the Americanized version. This time he was straight up, re-introducing himself, asking about my parents and siblings, and hoping to get re-connected. He also mentioned the engineering report--but I still think it's a smokescreen, a way for him to say how he found me without saying he was looking specifically for me.

I don't know--maybe I'm a little too optimistic about my own attractiveness. But hey, who wouldn't want to hook up with me? I might be a middle-aged, overweight, mildly depressed, unemployed, happily married mother of three above-average-but-incredibly-loud children, but I do have great hair and a killer sense of humor.

But since he was honest, and since I was impressed that he remembered my parents names and the names of all my siblings 20 years later, I responded to his email with an email of my own. I was friendly, but not too friendly, and included details about my perfect family and my deliriously happy marriage, so that there would be no misunderstanding about my intentions.

(Listen to me. I really do have an inflated sense of self-worth, don't I? Like if I'm not careful, every man on the planet who once vaguely knew me would be knocking on my door if I wasn't clear enough about my lack of availability. I crack my own self up.)

When David M. wrote back, I was immensely relieved to find out that he was married, with two very young children. I thought, finally, he's reached a happy, healthy place. (Early on in my marriage, this guy would call me once every four or five years, and tell me yukky stories about his pathetic lonely life and tell me I was still his best friend; and I could not wait to get off the phone. I was happy when he finally stopped calling after about ten years.)

Anyway, I started regretting accepting his friend invitation on LinkedIn when he called me on my cell phone one afternoon shortly thereafter. On my cell phone--after no contact for almost 20 years! My own parents don't call me on my cell phone! Where the hell did he get the number? I wondered-- and then I realized: it's on my email signature line. I gave it to him myself.

And here's the weird part: I picked up the call because the number had a 773 area code--the area code of my part of Chicago. I thought it was going to be a neighbor or a friend, and when I heard this voice from my past, I was flustered, creeped out, and probably rude. I told him I couldn't talk and to call back later. My stomach was still churning hours later--but that might just have been the tuna I had for lunch.

How and why was he calling from a 773 area code? Does he have some kind of magical re-routing software to hide the origins of his calls? It's very 24--and again, this felt slightly manipulative to me.

Later I found that he had emailed me again, requesting my parents' phone number because, he said, "I miss them." My parents. He misses them. Oh, and he asked again for a quote on revising his resume. Doing his resume will require talking to him on the phone for about an hour, and frankly, I don't really want that kind of contact with an old boyfriend who got a little too clingy after our relationship was over. I didn't respond.

About a week later, I got another email from him alleging that that he had heard about the shooting at a church in Illinois and was worried about my family's safety. Again, a little disingenuous. David McCall knows I live in Chicago, and the shooting was nowhere near Chicago. He asked again for my parents phone number.

I wrote back, curtly told him yes, we were fine, and said that I'd need to check with my parents first before giving out their phone number. I never did get back to him with the phone number, or with a quote on his resume. I should have emailed him and just told him it made me uncomfortable--but I didn't.

This week, a month later, I got another kind of weird and freaky email from him, written all in the third person about a man who happened to be surfing the internet looking for a technical writer when he happened upon the profile of a writer who turned out to be his old friend. He even mentioned the earlier calls from 15 - 20 years ago, and specified that he had no ulterior motive, "particularly after knowing that his friend is also happily married."

Doesn't that clause imply that if his friend were not happily married, that there might have been an ulterior motive? I wonder what his wife thinks about that.

His email continued,

"The man kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a response from the writer, but for some odd reason, the writer never, ever bothered to get back to the old friend...Was it right for the friend just to put off the man and deny his friendship? Probably not. The good book says the following..."

--and then quotes three Bible verses, including this one from Job: "My relatives and my close friends have failed me." He asked me--in the third person still--to delete everything he sent me.

He visited my blog at least four times the first week that he contacted me--but I don't know if he still comes by The Green Room. He might be reading this right now and thinking, hey, what a bitch! Or perhaps it will give him a clue about normal social boundaries. Part of me is thinking, how does he have time for all this, with two very young kids and a wife and a big-ass engineering job? I can barely get a blog post written once a week even though I have no clients and my kids are in school all day!

The more I think about it, the more irritated I am that this person has any expectations of me at all, let alone has the nerve to send me an angry, manipulative email quoting the Bible at me! It's exactly this kind of response that confirms for me that my instincts were correct.

I'm probably I'm not being very Jesusy here, but at this point, I don't even know what Jesus wants me to do about this.

Is it creepy, or is it just me?


Anonymous said...

A tad creepy indeed... mostly the insistance on the parents phone number. But speaking of phone numbers and the 773 area code - maybe he is local now... Maybe he's residing that the Reed Mental Institute on Oak Park Ave. They would have a local number... But seriously folks, I have old flames look me up from time to time, just a few weeks ago in fact. This old beau of mine called me from New York, he's on his 3rd marriage, (no kids) bless his heart... and he found me on face book, correction he tried to find me on face book, but said about 5,000 people share my same first name and maiden name... so then he said he looked for my business and was delighted to see that I was still in business after 15 years. Once many moons ago, he even showed up at my business as did my very first love from the 1800's!(he has 3 kids) For that matter, my ex husband from the 1850's use to stay in contact for 10 years after we split up, right up until the time his mother passed away. I went to the funeral that he invited me to (because his mother and I remained friends all the years after we split up. I always say that was the relationship that was meant to be, because she was so much older, I felt like she was the grandmother I never had, anyway I digress) and that was the last I ever heard from him. He moved to Las Vegas with his wealthy 3rd wife.(no kids) My point is - I think guys, like girls get sentimental and are just looking at the past and interested in taking a walk down memory lane, when they were young and life was simple. Let's hope thats all that your contact was, a simple yearning for days gone by when kids weren't screaming in his ear and smelly diapers greeted him at the door. Maybe someday he'll look back and realize what a blessing it is to have screaming children and smelly diapers waiting for him when he gets home.
Signed me, Mrs. D.

Anonymous said...

JRO: someone like this need DIRECT communication only. Tell him to stop contacting you

Anonymous said...

I say it is a bit creepy. This happened to me recently. Old bf friended me on face book and we chatted and sent messages. And then one day he called me! Internet contact feels safe and distant, once someone picks up the phone it's taking it to another level. Seriously, I felt intruded upon! And wanting your parents' number? Puh-lease! Like Mrs. D suggested, it is fun to reminisce and maybe that's all he was looking for. You probably would have found out more than you wanted had you spoken with him. Maybe he just needed someone to talk to?

E. Peevie said...

Mrs. D--I have no interest in getting sentimental with an old boyfriend. My current boyfriends would not appreciate it.

J-Ro--I believe you are correct. If I hear from him again, that is what I'll do.

Elbee--I think you're right, too. I would have found out more than I wanted to know if we had talked. I already know more than I want to know, based on the inappropriateness of his last email.

Anonymous said...

Freaky deaky, indeed! Sounds like some of the same things I heard from a certain J-mel in a recent voicemail. Quoting the Bible in manipulative ways is very uncool.

E. Peevie said...

Spike-Gross! Sorry. Your creepster is way closer than mine. Thanks for your support.

Alexzandria said...

I had trouble getting through this post without my lungs collapsing from lack of oxygen, but I will agree with you: it is quite creepy. But it doesn't seem intentionally creepy, he may just be a naturally creepy person.