Day Four (Saturday)
I am so not a morning person. Some days, though, the Gods do not smile on you, and you’re forced to open your eyes, despite their screams of protest, and view the morning sunlight. Being a night owl, I of course have no plans for a Saturday morning, so let’s see what the email situation looks like. First, my “real” account, let’s read something pleasant to start the day with. If I start another day with a full-on pecker view, I might throw up.
“So, have you gotten any responses to your joke ad?” Whoo, boy, have I ever! “Yeah, the count’s up to 109, but I haven’t checked that account yet this morning... hey, and I think one guy got that it was a joke!”
“What are you going to do if anybody finds out it was you? I mean, I’d just die of embarrassment!” Yeah, good question. After yesterday’s work fiasco, I’m sort of wishing I’d thought of that a couple days ago. What will I do? Confess? Make up an excuse? Claim to be doing research for a novel? Maybe I could claim insanity, or that someone I thought was a friend was at my house, and borrowed my computer, and put up the ad. No, nobody’s going to buy that one, only my mother comes to stay, and she hasn’t been here in a while, and she would never write me up as “very sexually experienced”. I don’t think her “mother hormones” would let her do it, even though I am over forty. I could tell them I’m looking for somebody else, somebody without a computer... naah, that’s not going to fly, either. I don’t think I actually know anybody without a computer, c’mon, all my friends are nerds, too. Going to have to think about that one.
“Well, I think I’d be offended if I found out that somebody who posted an ad like that was joking. False advertising is a crime, you know? Fraud?” Wow. Okay, I can cross him off my list of potential friends, who wants a stick in the mud like that hanging around? Not me. I had no idea he was so “black and white”.
It’s time to check that account. I almost can’t bear to watch. I’ll go surf someplace else, first. What do I need to research? There’s got to be something I need to find out, something that will take me a few hours, and delay the next round of torture. On the other hand, though, if I wait until later, it’s going to be even worse, so might as well get these out of the way.
Not too bad, only seventeen night owls. How bad could that be? (Dare I even ask?)
“how r u 2nite?” Oh, lord, I don’t even need to go beyond that first question. Delete.
“What kind of a slut are you, anyway? What’s the matter, can’t get any?” Hm, I could ask you the same question, but I don’t think I’ll waste my time. Delete.
“Hey, I’ve got some time free at the end of the month, and my wife will be out of town, so...” Ugh. I should have specified “single”, I really should have. I wonder if his wife knows what he’s looking for while she’s out of town. It’s none of my business, really, but what are the karmic implications of not doing anything? Of course, I can’t exactly call her and tell her, since I have no idea who “Mr_Wonderful2” really is... so I wish my conscience would just shut up already.
Oh, cool! RomeoWithHammer wrote back!
“Mr. Happy? Wait – who told? ;)”
Okay, now I’m laughing. I must be a little sick, that it takes nothing more than that to have me laughing at my computer screen. I have to write a response, but how the hell do you follow that? “Ms. Smug”? Yeah, that’s about as good as I’m going to get, since it is still morning, after all. “Ms. Smug”. Send. On to the next one.
“Are you for real? What the hell kind of prank is this, anyway?” Well, at least he figured out that it’s a joke. Too bad he’s not laughing, it might be good for him. “Actually, no, I’m not for real, I posted that ad as a joke, to try to find a guy with a sense of humor. It’s not working too well, but at least you realized that it wasn’t real. Sorry to have offended you.” That should take care of him. Send.
Only two pictures so far today, that’s not too bad. I’m beginning to wish that they’d include something as a frame of reference, so that I could get some idea of the scope. How sick is that? But really, I don’t know just how close he had to get the camera to get it to fill the entire screen like that. And a little creativity would certainly make someone stand out in this crowd. I suppose, though, that it’s reasonable to assume that a woman who wrote an ad like that would actually want to inspect “the merchandise” before closing the deal. But most of them sure feel like I won’t want to see their faces. Can’t help wondering what that’s about – really, don’t we spend more time looking at someone’s face, even, well, during? Don’t we?
It’s time to get out of the house for a while, so I think I’ll go do the grocery shopping. There’s got to be something said for seeing live, seemingly normal people, right?
Wrong-o. How weird is it, to stand in a checkout line in the supermarket, minding your own business... okay, eavesdropping, and hear people talking about you, without knowing that it’s you?
“You wouldn’t believe the personal ad I saw last night. This woman is looking for someone who will fix up her house, in exchange for sleeping with him!”
Okay, now I’m wondering, this can’t be the strangest ad anyone’s seen... can it? I might have to do some internet research to find out what the competition is for strange personal ads. Now, how am I going to do that without having all sorts of porno sites popping up? If I use any of the obvious words, I’m going to get the porn sites. If I don’t use any of the obvious words, I’m going to get a lot of very tame ads, and a lot that aren’t ads at all. I’ve seen enough sites that should get me good stuff, there’s adult friend finder, and, and... I guess I live a kind of sheltered life, if that’s the only one I can think of! Oh, no, craigslist. Can’t forget that one, the original Jack of All Trades. Oh, I could have lived without that image.
In the immortal words of Dr. Sam Beckett, “Oh, boy!”. Just the headlines, I haven’t worked up the moxie to open any of these ads – after the pictures I’ve been sent, and just reading these headlines, I’m actually shocked. I know I’m not unshockable, I’m kinda plain vanilla when you come right down to the reality. But. This. Is. Nuts. “Do my wife tonight”? “Want to lick you clean tonight”? “Suck your #$%^ NOW!”? Okay. It’s no wonder they’re taking me seriously. There are hundreds of these in this same vein. Time for some damage control. I can’t believe this, they’re all within easy driving distance of me. “Fulfill that fantasy!!!!!” I’m starting to be afraid I’ll see somebody I know, because there are so damn many of them! Four hundred “casual encounters” ads. And that’s just the ones posted TODAY! Okay, yeah. They really thought I was for real. Definitely time for some damage control. I’m going to pull the ad. But first, I’m going to check my email again.
“Hmmm... favors for home repairs... hmmm... the wheels are turning in my head! That's actually not a bad idea... ‘How to remodel your house in 3 months’” Okay, so I have friends who are as sick and twisted as I am. I know she’s laughing at me. Hell, I’d be laughing if I hadn’t just seen those four HUNDRED ads, and those amazingly graphic pictures! You know, they still need to think more about the artistic merit of the pictures. When you’re competing with that many others, you need something that makes you stand out. Er, that makes people notice. But you could tell who was cut, who was shaved, and who went Brazilian – yes some of those pictures were female! I still think a little more attention to the details would help. Good lord, what is wrong with me? I need to go pull that ad! Better check the other email first, though.
“What do you chicks want, anyway? Are you really going to pay up, or just throw me out after I fix your plumbing?” Ooh, baggage. A matched set, from the sounds of it. Delete.
Nigerian “businessman”. Delete. Russian “perfect lover”. Delete. Some incomprehensible mishmash of letters and numbers, oh, another kid. Delete. More pictures. Delete. Another resume. File! Hellfire and Brimstone. Delete. Size bigot. Delete. I can’t believe all this.
Oh, it’s RomeoWithHammer again! What’s he got to say?
“You are so funny. Have you gotten many responses to your ad?” Now, I am howling with laughter. How many is “many”, after all? The count is up over a hundred and fifty... of course, now that I know why, that’s not so funny, but his question has me cracking up. He continues. “At first, I almost thought you were serious, but the ‘safe home repair’ gave you away. Can we meet?” Oh, ack, slow down, Romeo! I want to know your real name first, at least! Oh. He signed this one. Jeff. Well. Running out of excuses, but still in high panic mode. How do I answer this? I don’t know. Damn, I still have to pull that ad, the responses are still coming in, even as I watch my inbox. It’s not like it was such a hot ad, you know? I mean, I thought it was pretty classy, if very straightforward. Okay, really, pull the ad, now.
Now that the ad’s down, let’s see if there’s anything else of any worth whatsoever left in the pile. Who am I kidding? I’m putting off answering Romeo. Jeff. Whatever. Whoever. But I do have to read the rest of these emails... it’s like when you’re sitting in traffic for three or four hours, and you finally get up to the scene of whatever’s been holding you up, you just HAVE to look, you can’t just speed up and drive off. Or like when you’ve felt a sneeze coming on for ten minutes, and suddenly, it’s just gone. Or like a chord progression that didn’t resolve. Unfulfilled.
“So, do you wanna get screwed first, or nailed?” Are there actually two guys on the planet with a sense of humor? I should answer this guy, too. Just have to think of a witty reply to that, because it was pretty good. Witty reply. Sure. Any minute now. What’s his email address? “ScrewDriver”. Yeah, definitely a sense of humor. Okay, I’ll leave him in the stack with Jeff.
More foreigners. Delete. More pictures. Delete. Am I really at the end of the inbox? Finally! Uh-oh, now I have to answer Jeff and ScrewDriver. And I am utterly speechless, still reeling from the four hundred sleazy ads on craigslist. I’ll just go make some lunch.
Right. Into the kitchen, where I discover the sink has started to drip. Now how the hell am I going to convince anybody that this ad was a joke, when my sink’s dripping in the background? Crap, I need a wrench. But I need some lunch first. No, that sink’s going to drive me insane. Drive? Hah! After this week, I don’t have a single marble left to my name! It’s karma. Instant karma, from deceiving all those poor men... wait just a damn minute, there... they were all looking for an ad just like that, and they found one. I’m not going to waste any sympathy on them. But the two who figured out the joke... I gotta fix this damn sink. After lunch. Really.
Peanut butter and jelly was about all I could muster after that. Nice soft comfort food for someone who’s in dire need of nice soft comfort. Now. Jeff. “Oh, hey, hi, Jeff!” Good. Relaxed. Casual. Like I wasn’t expecting to hear from him. “Yeah, I’ve gotten a couple of responses.” Back into a fit of howling laughter. I really do sound like a hyena when I’m hysterical, and I am currently quite hysterical. “I’m glad you saw the humor in it, not many guys have.” Oh, I’m going to wet myself if I keep up this understatement stuff. I can’t type if I’m laughing myself into paralysis. “My schedule’s kind of full right now...” oh, no. Backspace, backspace, backspace! He’ll think I’m boinking the masses if I tell him I’m too busy to meet! Shit. How else to put him off? I’m not ready to meet after three emails, one of which was a whole five words. “Why don’t you give me a call...” No, that’s a bad idea, too. Backspace, backspace, backspace! I’m not ready to give out my phone number to this complete stranger yet. What if I just ignore that question? Stick with “safe home repair”? “Did you find a condom that would fit your hammer?” Oh, god, he’s going to think I’m insane. Backspace, backspace, backspace! What about asking for a picture? He’ll ask for mine, but that’s okay, I’ve got a decent one here someplace, don’t I? Well, don’t I? No, I don’t have one I can stand. Great, so now I’m going to do a VanGogh, and try for a self-portrait. Let’s see if I can manage to not take an ear off. Well, but I don’t have to do that right this minute, let’s ask for his picture and see what he says. Maybe he won’t ask for one. Yeah, and maybe pigs will learn to fly this afternoon, too, better watch out the window. Well, at least it’ll give me some time to work on a picture. “Do you have a picture?” Yeah, that should be safe enough. Cross my fingers and my eyes for luck, and Send.
Oh, yeah. ScrewDriver. What am I going to do with the ScrewDriver? Okay, maybe that’s too easy a question, but I’ve got to figure out the witty response to “do you wanna get screwed first, or nailed?”. “I’m more like linoleum, I should get laid”? Oooh, yeah, classy. Not. “Well, I’ve got this blown fuse” Oh, they just get better and better, don’t they? What ever gave me the idea I could keep up with a guy with a decent sense of humor? “I’ve a door that needs to be hung” Sheesh. I’ll come back to him later. I’ll go live my real life now.
The phone ringing rouses me from my half-napping reverie. It is, after all, mid-afternoon on a day that I woke up too damn early for my own good, so of course I’m taking a nap. Caller id is a gift from the universe. Oh, no. Mom. With my luck, she’s heard about my hare-brained scheme, and is calling to ground me. You can’t do that, Mom, I’m over forty now. But I’d better answer the phone, because otherwise, she’ll decide I’m dead. After all, mid afternoon on Saturday, I should be just getting out of bed about now.
“Hi, Mom, what’s up?”
“How’d you know it was me?”
“Nobody else calls me, Mom, they all email.” We don’t get into the technology of caller id. And I really DON’T want her to know that I know when it’s her!
“Well, I email, too, when it’s not important.”
“So what’s so important today?”
“How’d you know it was important?”
Sigh. Mothers. “Well, because you called.”
“Oh. Yeah.” I’m starting to remember where I get my caustic wit and amazingly speedy repartee from.
“So what is it?”
Oh, don’t I hear the doorbell ringing or something? Surely, there must be some way to get off the phone so I can go take a nap. Is that a cat with a hairball I hear? Surely, that would get me off the hook... or at least off the phone. No, my karma’s already under enough of an attack, I really don’t need to give the universe yet another reason to smite me.
“Is it Fred?” I never have been able to call him anything but “Fred”, I guess by the fourth time you get a new stepfather, the shine wears off a little.
“Is WHAT Fred?”
“Mom. Wait. Stop. Why did you call me today?”
“Sounds like somebody needs a nap!”
Finally, she’s hit one on the head. But can I tell her this? No, because that would send us back into the mother/child thing, and I am. Not. Going. There. Ever. Again. Nope, not gonna and you can’t make me.
“Sure, Mom, whatever. Give Fred a hug for me, okay?”
“Okay, will do. Love you, sweetie, see you tomorrow.” Click.
Tomorrow. Shit. What’s tomorrow? Sunday. So? What’s up on Sunday? I can’t call her back and ask, we’d just end up right back in the middle of it again. If I don’t call her, how do I find out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing tomorrow? When and where might be good to know, too, you think? Sigh. I’m going to have to call her. No, wait. Maybe Katie’s involved, too, in whatever this is, and I can find out from her, instead. At least my sister has a brain. She and I must have split Mom’s brain between us, and left poor Mom with nothing but a few crumbs to her name.
“Hey, Katie, what’s up?”
“Hey. Not much. You ready for tomorrow?
“I don’t even remember what tomorrow is – what’s going on? Mom just called, but she didn’t give me any details at all. Just sort of flailed around. You know. The usual.”
“Oh, yeah. Fun, fun. It’s the party at Auntie’s.”
Groan. Oh, God, no. If anybody in my family has seen the ad, I am so screwed. I can’t go. I can’t not go. What am I going to do?
“Helloooo? Anybody there?”
“Yeah, I just don’t want to go.”
“Oh, go, you’ll get over it.”
Can I tell her? I know she’ll keep my secret, but...
“Well, it’s like this.”
“You know it. Only worse. I took out this personal ad. It was...”
“A PERSONAL AD???? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”
Oh, great. She hasn’t even heard the details, and she’s already thinking I’m insane. Okay, I AM insane, but she doesn’t know that yet. Oh, wait. This is my sister. Of course she knows I’m insane.
“It was a JOKE. Only nobody got the joke.”
“What do you mean, nobody got the joke?”
C’mon. How many things can that mean? Are there options other than “they all took it seriously instead of seeing it was a joke”? Which one of us is insane? Oh. Right. Both of us. This is my sister.
“Well, they... took it seriously. And responded like people would who took it seriously. And I thought it was silly enough that any idiot would see it was a joke... but then I...”
“Okay, how silly was it?”
“Very silly.” She’s not going to leave it at that, I know her better than that.
“Come on. Read me the ad.”
Noooooooo! I can’t do that! What if she’s never read those ads on craigslist? Oh my god, what if she HAS? She’s married, what would she be doing reading those? Hey, some of those people were married, that might be what she would be doing. Oh, I don’t even want to think about this. I don’t want to KNOW what they do. Or don’t do. Or want to do.
“Come on, Lacie, read me the ad.”
Stall for time. Yeah. Stall for time, and distract her, and maybe we can avoid this.
“Oh, I’m looking for it.”
“Oh, like you don’t remember every word.”
I don’t. That would be creepy, wouldn’t it? I mean, to remember, word for word, the whole ad? That would be... insane. Oh, and what was my point?
“No, really, it’s only funny if you get the whole thing. So while I’m looking, am I supposed to bring anything to the party? And what time is it? Even if I don’t go, and I don’t want to go, I probably still need to know what time, so I know when to call and cancel, right?”
“Just give me the highlights. Four o’clock. And you’re GOING.”
“I caaaaaan’t goooooo!”
“Yes, you can, and you will. Where did you put that ad, anyway? At the bottom of your stack of bills?”
This is a golden opportunity to get out of this mess! I’ll just pick a fight with her, and then call my mother back, and tell her I’m not going because Katie and I are fighting, and I don’t want to share the fight with the whole family, and I wouldn’t want to spoil the party for anyone else, so I’m just not going to go! This is GREAT!
“Oh, piss off. I don’t have a stack of bills. And I’m not reading you the ad. It was only a joke, anyway, and nobody got it. There are no single men with a sense of humor any more.”
“You don’t have a stack of bills? Give me a break. You always have a stack of bills.”
“No, I just put them in a pile until it’s time to pay them. That’s not a stack of bills.” At the very least, I’ll distract her.
“Oh, then how is a pile of bills different from a stack of bills?”
Oh, the stupid arguments we can get into. But it’s working, she hasn’t mentioned the ad in a few sentences, maybe it’s left her radar screen.
“It’s just different, and you wouldn’t understand. Sorry, you just don’t get it. I have to go now, I have to go pay my damn bills.” Click.
Phew. Another bullet dodged. Well, eventually we’ll make up, but in the meantime, I’m off the hook for the party, off the hook for telling her about the ad, and off the hook for... oh. No, I’m not off the hook for the ad yet, am I? I still have to answer ScrewDriver. While I’m feeling feisty, maybe I’ll just do that. Now, what was it he wrote again?
“So, do you wanna get screwed first, or nailed?” That’s right. Short and “sweet”. Ha. Take this, Mr. ScrewDriver.
“You know, I’m more soft and plush, like carpet. I think I wanna get laid.” Send.
Oh, crap. Did I really just send that? Did I really just tell a complete stranger that I want to get laid? What have I done? I gotta call... nope, just pissed her off, better not call my sister. Certainly I have one friend left who thinks this is funny. Oh, that’s right, Julie thought it was a hoot.
“Oh, Julie! Shoot me now!”
“What did you do this time?”
“What do you mean, “this time”?”
“Out with it.”
“Okay... you remember the ad.”
“I could forget that? That was the funniest thing I’ve read this month! How’s it going?”
“Do you remember I just asked you to shoot me now?”
“Oh, yeah. Okay, what happened now?”
“I got a reply from a guy, I thought it was pretty funny. I just sent a reply, and now I think I’ve completely lost my grip.”
“What did he say?”
“So, do you wanna get screwed first, or nailed?”
Laughing. She’s laughing. Whose bright idea was this conversation, anyway? Oh. Right. Mine.
“You want to stop laughing and hear my problem?”
She’s laughing so hard, I almost can’t understand her.
“What’s his name?”
“Name??? He asks me if I wanna get screwed first, or nailed, and you want to know his NAME??? He didn’t tell me his name! All I’ve got is an email address, and that’s “ScrewDriver”!”
Now, I really can’t understand her.
“Stop laughing, I’m in pain, here!” She might believe me if I stopped laughing myself.
“You mean there’s MORE?”
“Yeah, I replied to him, and I hit send before my brain engaged.”
She should be howling at the moon with a laugh like that. I’m starting to worry that she’s not going to be able to breathe right for quite some time.
“What did you... “ break for more laughter “What did you...” she can’t get it out. “What say?” she finally gasps.
“You know, I’m more soft and plush, like carpet. I think I wanna get laid.”
Now, really, the end is near. She’s gasping for breath like a beached flounder, and I’m going to be on the hook for her murder, as well. I’m going to hell. I’m not even sure I believe in hell, but I’m sure I’m going there.
“You did NOT!”
Yeah. I’m going to call her and tell her to shoot me know because I didn’t just straight out proposition a complete stranger. I’ve got nothing better to do with my life. Well, okay, when you come right down to it, I don’t have anything better to do, but still.
“Yeah, I did. WHAT HAVE I DONE???”
The laughter is starting to wane, but it’s nowhere near over.
“Oh, babycakes, that is just TOO funny! Did you really send that?”
“Yeah, I sent it. To ScrewDriver. What is the matter with me?”
“Oh, I can’t wait to hear what he says. Call me back when he responds, I gotta know!”
“I can’t stand to read my email, I can’t believe what I just did! It’s all Katie’s fault, you know, we got into a bitch match over my bills which are none of her nosy business anyway.”
Wait a minute, that fight was my own fault. I picked it on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to go to the party. Things are getting out of hand. Is this what they call “shooting yourself in the foot”? Must be, my feet are getting sore. If it’s not that, it could only be from too much time spent in my damn smart mouth!
“Oh, yeah. All Katie’s fault. Uh-huh. Try again.” She snorts. “Did you really SEND that?”
“I sure did. Will you shoot me now?”
“If I can stop laughing long enough...”
Oh, yeah. That’s gonna happen. I’m so glad I called her.
“Well, if you’re not going to off me, I guess I’d better go... have a good weekend.”
“You too, Ms. Ultra Plush!” and off she goes again, into gales of hysterical guffaws. Click.
Well. That was productive.
I have SO had it today. Everyone, everything. I wish I’d never written that stupid ad, and I really wish I’d never posted it, and I wish I’d never told anybody that I did. I hate myself, I hate my life, I hate my friends, I hate my family. There is only one safe thing to do at this point, and it’s go to bed and sleep until I can’t sleep any more. And then try hard to sleep some more anyway.
Well, but I have to check the emails again. Oh, Romeo again! Stop thinking of him as Romeo, his name is Jeff. Jeff. Not Romeo. Okay. And there’s a picture. Holding my breath, I open the picture.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! This man is insane. The picture is of a hammer, that’s been stuffed into a condom. The claw part is starting to break through. I asked for a picture, I got one. I did NOT specify that it should be of his face. And I just can NOT believe that I almost sent that message about putting a condom on his... oh, wait, did I? Check the “sent items” folder...
“Oh, hey, hi, Jeff! Yeah, I’ve gotten a couple of responses. I’m glad you saw the humor in it, not many guys have. Do you have a picture?” Is that all I said? I guess I freaked out with all that loony shit I was coming up with, and deleted everything else. But how did that hammer/condom message get through? Am I reading too much into a bizarre coincidence? Nah, I’ve never done THAT before... Oh, look, he did send some text with that. Where’s my mind, that I’m opening the picture before I even read the email?
“I’m guessing this is the merchandise that you wanted to check out. Safe home repair, I’m ready! ...um, I think I’d better buy condoms a size larger for that, though, if it’s going to be totally safe.” Okay, I guess with what I sent him, I had that coming. How am I going to salvage this? Yeah, that “sleep until I’m done sleeping” idea is sounding better and better. At least I don’t hate myself or my life anymore.
I dream that I’m a dart board. No, not my face pictured on somebody’s dart board somewhere, but that I, myself, AM the dart board. And everybody’s playing at once... I can see my mother, and my sister, and my boss, and a couple of my friends, and a couple of generic underwear-model-looking guys, and they’re all throwing darts, nonstop, right into my face. They must be soft tip darts, though, because they don’t hurt, they’re just annoying the heck out of me. I’m glad when that dream ends, and I drift into the sound, dreamless sleep that only the truly exhausted can aspire to.