2012-05-31 / Sandy Days, Salty Nights

Worst. Break-up. Ever.

My job is to collect stories. I like happily-ever-afters and disastrous never-should-have-beens. I like stories where the men are the bad guys and the women are always wronged, and I like stories where women do the dirty deeds and men maintain the moral high ground. I like tales of heartache and heartbreak and hearts that have found their missing piece.

I like them all — so long as it’s a good story. Like this one.

I was at a weekend-long seminar recently, and on the first day I sat next to a pretty young woman named Michelle. We made small talk over coffee and bagels and I asked if she was married.

“No,” she said with an eye roll. “I’m just now getting back into the dating world.”

“How’s that going?” I asked.

“You won’t believe this story,” she said, and I knew I was in for a treat.

Michelle met a man through a popular online dating site and they went out on a couple of dates. Actually, they went out on two dates. On the first, the man was polite and well-mannered. He spoke about his hobbies, his hometown in the Midwest and his job as a computer programmer. He came across as extremely non-threatening, she said, like lukewarm tea or vanilla ice cream.

On their second date, he continued in the same mild manner, but this time he disclosed that he had made up the part about his job.

“I was actually fired a while back,” he said.

Michelle recognized the dating red flag right away and at the end of the evening, when the man asked if he could see her again, she politely declined.

“I don’t think that’s a great way to start a relationship,” she said. “With a lie.”

They parted company, and when the man called Michelle’s phone over the course of the next few days, she ignored him. The calls tapered off until her phone went quiet.

And then the phone calls started again, from numbers she didn’t recognize. They began one morning and continued throughout the day, call after call after call, all from different phone numbers, most in the local area code and always from men.

“I’m calling about your ad on craigslist,” one of them said when Michelle answered the phone.

“My ad on craigslist?”

“Aren’t you the woman looking for a man to -- ?” The list was extensive, with heavy use of the word naughty. The original two-date, lie-telling suitor texted Michelle later that day. “Bet you’re answering your phone now,” he said.

He had played his hand, it seemed, with the modern day equivalent of a “For a good time” message scrawled across a bathroom wall.

Michelle reported the problem to craigslist and the ad came down; she told the police, but there wasn’t much to be done. The story was already fizzling out over the weekend of the seminar. What can I say? Love blows on mercurial winds. Sometimes these stories end happily, sometimes they end tragically, and sometimes they end with smutty voicemails. The best we can do is read caution where we will and throw ourselves back into the game. ¦

Return to top