The Man Who Wasn’t There

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...
huges mearnes

I’ve gone out with a variety of folks, as if you’ve read any of this blog, you can plainly see.

I’ve dated a pirate, who later cut his arm off – accidentally – if you can believe the photo of the severed arm I received. Could have been anyone’s arm I suppose but as the photo was not also attached to a request for money, I couldn’t otherwise figure out what the motivation could have been, so I’m sticking with his story.  He was in the business of cutting up ships underwater so the whole laser got his arm sort of fit.  Still, I tried to find the article somewhere because his story was he grabbed it as it floated away and swam up with it and many surgeries later they attached it.  I thought that was quite a story but either that kind of thing is commonplace in the Florida, Florida being one of those states where crazy  shit happens regularly (if you doubt me, read Carl Hiaasen) or it only made some local police blotter. Anyway, I couldn’t find anything to validate it, thus the doubt, and because pirates tend to be lying and crazy anyway, but for now, I’m going with it.  It’s a great story.

Then there was the guy who drank himself into oblivion regularly.  There were actually a couple of those but only one who ended up in jail from it.  This I know is true because I get mail semi-regularly post marked accordingly and, and I think I mentioned this another time, he’s still listed on a dating site. Mention of living in a ‘gated community’ goes unsaid.  Suddenly all the funny stories you’d heard fall into place, the unspoken ending being ‘because I was smashed at the time.’

I try to weed out the nuts before it goes too far, so I haven’t really long termed too many locos. Some of the drinkers hid it well and some of the crazy disguised it as ‘fun’ but for the most part, it’s usually just banal.  The loco stalkers, gun fanatics, artists obsessed with braids, sex maniacs etc tend not to get past the first – ok I’m exaggerating – 3rd date.  That depends on how bored I am but I’ll safely say 3rd.

However, I once met a man who wasn’t there.  I’m not talking about the guy who literally disappeared off the face of the earth (man hit by a bus is my moniker for him) or the guy who actually WAS hit by a car (he died, very sad). I’m talking about someone who didn’t exist, despite my having met him.

Match is a wonderful site maybe for dating but also for entertainment. Actually they all are. Tinder, in particular you can swipe and swipe and eventually a photo comes up which sends you to the floor laughing.  It’s not mean laughing in a laughing AT sort of way, more along the lines of, who would put a photo like that up on dating site without saying they were attending an ugly sweater contest (and won!).  Or here are 2 guys. One is intubated.  Which one is the date?   But every once in a while you come across someone actually date-able and on occasion you find someone who turns into a friend.  That to me is honestly the best scenario:. friends last forever, dating …… well the jury still seems to be out on that one.

So I came across a guy.  Very cute.  Hi, blah blah.  Turns out he’s in Israel.  Grew up here, but currently in Israel.  Ok, well that’s a shame but after a variety of emails we decide to become pen pals.  Great.  Interesting conversation about politics and life and why he never married and what’s going on here.  Wonderful friendship.  I reach out to this guy to talk about lots of things. I google him, seems to come up doing what he says he does.  Whole background etc.

Then he’s going to come visit.  Fun!  His brother’s in Brooklyn he can stay there we can meet.  What a fun world this is! Oh. But no.  He’s gotten an assignment he can’t refuse in Jordan.  Promotion, he promised his bosses he’d cover it.  Ok.  Fine.  Until next year in Jerusalem…..as they say.  But anyway, so a year.  Doesn’t matter. We have this virtual relationship anyway!  So we email more and then every Sunday night we Skype.  Face Time! How great is this world! You can chat face to face with someone half way around the world. He skypes me from the funniest places, his terrace, his bathroom, wherever he can get a signal. Shows me around his apartment on camera.  I’ve been third world-ish.  Signals are hard to find.  I didn’t realize how much they can get crossed, but getting ahead of myself.

So we discuss politics, which sometimes, oddly, we get cut off.  We laugh. Oh hahaha, being spied on. He tells me about Jordan and how sad it is, you never see women and the only bar you get a beer is in called ….. whatever it was called.  And how he’s tired of seeing mostly men and no one laughs and theres only 3 channels on all playing Giligan’s island.  And we laugh.  He can’t wait to get back to Israel where it’s fun.

Then there’s the bi g invite.  Why don’t you come to the Red Sea? I can get off a day and cross the border and come see you!  Oh, how fun would that be! I’ll be in Europe anyway, so we start to consider it.  Think about it.  Make it clear nothing else will transpire because we’re not about that but he could show me around and we could meet!  Finally, I can’t and there’s the whole, well probably for the best.  What if we fell for each other and he still has 6 months in the Jordan.  Back to Skype.

Six months go by.  His brother-in-law is deathly ill. His job is finally coming to a close.  He’s going to come look for a job in the US come hell or high water.  He’s sick of Israel and the ‘prickly’ women there he can’t find to go out with anyone.

He finally says he’s coming.  He’s here in fact! We meet up on the museum steps. He looks just like his photo! We walk through Central Park. Oh, it’s so wonderful here after a year in Jordan! Seeing people laughing and holding hands and women out everywhere isn’t this grand! He sure hopes he can find a job here.  I show him my home.  We have dinner and he goes off to job interview. I invite him to my house upstate. We originally met talking about how much he loved Litchfield county and that part of the world and what a coincidence that I have a house in that world.

So a few days later, he comes by. We hang out. He meets my mother. He meets her friend.  Meet Andy, my good buddy from Israel.  They agree he’s not my type but we’re not that so who cares. We hang out. We all eat, he stays in the guest room and in the morning we go out for a run.  We talk while we run and he tells me about his interviews and heads out for another few.  Before he leaves he tells me he had a job offer but has to think about it.

Ok.  Goes back to Israel. We continue to talk. He mentions some woman he’s dating but no longer going to move here.  Ok.  We check in time to time, chat about whatever. It’s nice. I feel like I have a friend in Israel. So we’re chatting about life and I say, casually in passing, maybe if I sell this house I’ll come visit you in Tel Aviv.  He says great, I can show you around.

Then the American election happens. Despite having put my head in a hole in the ground up until the very last possible minute that shitstorm hits.  I wake up to a text that says “WTF” and know that the world as we know it has just come to an end.   I’m distraught beyond my wildest imaginable ability to be distraught.  I don’t understand the world any more. I want to move to Europe. I want to move to Mars. I’m wondering how I can get off this planet, roll back time – where’s Superman spinning the world counterclockwise when you need him. I get out the white pages. I start looking for Arab-terrorist-when-you-need-him.  1-800-ISIS.  There must be an agency.  A web site.  Someone  HELP!!!  This can’t be happening.

And then I get the email.

Hi Ellen

…….  I lied about my name and status.  I am married to an orthodox woman and I’m miserable…….

It goes on and on about justifications for lying and everything and he signs it

……….. Mike   PS I’m sorry to send this letter on a very sad day, when so many of us are holding our heads in our hands……..

Now I’m literally in shock.  I’ve gone from being in shock to being in shock on crack.  I ask are there kids, was the whole time in Jordan a lie? I get a response back, yes it was.  WHAT!?  Not only has the universe upended civilization, my own eyes have deceived me. I start to call my bet guy friends and check that they are not women. I start to ask my women friends if they are strippers or on the run.  I call a good friend to bemoan the loss of this what I thought was friend and she has the common sense to say, you haven’t lost a friend, he never existed.  The man who never was.  I start to wonder. Is it possible that the whole lie is not the 2 years I’ve known him but this new information? Perhaps this is the lie. Perhaps there’s some crazy story and he wants to disassociate.  Now I don’t even know what truth is.  And does it matter? It’s a big philosophical question but in this case it’s just a clear no.  It doesn’t matter which truth is truth.  Because something is awry on a psychotic sort of level. Walk away.  Run away.

Wow.  What’s amazing is every once in a while I actually miss this guy.  It’s like someone has died and someone has haven’t they? You know who that someone is? It’s the itsy bitsy person left in me that thought they’d seen it all but is almost daily nudged back to reality with the idea that no you haven’t.   (New word a month ago: pegging.  Look it up, that’s all I’m saying.) And I think that oddly keeps me going because if you have seen it all you can stay home. But if there’s another story out there, bizarre or not, it’s awaiting to be uncovered and if you can find always a funny side to a dating site or a person or a crazy story then you can always welcome the next one.

And you know what hasn’t died? The president elect …….. just sayin’ ……..

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Post scriptum: to the CIA, FBI and whoever else is enjoying reading my blog posts.  I’M KIDDING ABOUT TRUMP.  There is no 1-800-ISIS. I mean…….I’m guessing, it’s not like  I checked.  Long live the king.