This is the story of a relationship I had last year with a woman who I met online. I'll call her "Karen."
Since I'm very shy, I don't go out to meet people, so if I date at all it's women that I meet online. That's because online I can tell the woman upfront how big I am, what my hobbies are, etc., and she can decide whether she wants to reject me before we meet, which is much more preferable to being rejected face to face. So Labor Day, 2003, I'm surfing online personal ads when I come across one from a woman living in Wisconsin looking for a black man over 200 lbs. with a shaved head, which was her "weakness." Well, I'm a black man over 200 lbs. with a shaved head, so I decided to contact her.
Karen and I chatted through e-mails for about a month before I decided to try to get up to Wisconsin to meet her. Our first meeting was at a women's pro football game in Kenosha, WI. Why there? Because my friend got a job broadcasting those games, and I could tag along with him going up to Kenosha and coming back. Karen actually lived about 45 minutes away from Kenosha, but she agreed to come down to meet me because otherwise we weren't going to meet unless she came to Chicago. She looked exactly like her picture, except her hair was brown in the picture and now it was blonde. She was 5'4", about 200 lbs., with glasses, and she seemed even more shy than me. She quietly sat through the football game, saying almost nothing, then she, my friend, and I went to a restaurant afterwards and had dinner. At the end of the date, which I thought didn't go well because she seemed so bored all night, Karen gave me a long hug and a kiss on the lips, which shocked me. I guess she liked me more than I thought.
We met the exact same way a couple of weeks later, and at the end of this date, we kissed in the rain for almost five minutes. So everything seemed to be going well. Our e-mails were getting steamier, and if there wasn't much we seemed to have in common outside the bedroom, it was becoming clear that we were interested in finding out more about each other in the bedroom. So, predictably, on the third date, Sweetest Day, when I took a Metra train to Kenosha without my friend, Karen and I went back to her house, watched some rented movies, and made love. We took too much time the next morning, so I missed the train back to Chicago, and without any complaints she drove me all the way back home, a two-hour drive. She thanked me with lots of kisses, and she wrote the sweetest e-mail the next day saying no one had ever given her flowers for Sweetest Day and that night was "like a dream...I'm asking myself, is this really happening to me?" I thought I was falling in love.
Karen kept doing things to make me believe that she really was in love with me, small things like having my favorite soda at her apartment when I visited, and large things like surprising me with expensive tickets to a wrestling match for my birthday. Around this time I found out that my job was being eliminated soon, and when I told Karen this, she immediately started dropping hints about how nice of a city Milwaukee was. I asked her if she wanted me to move in with her so soon, and she said yes. I had a nagging feeling that it wasn't a good idea, but because I wanted to be in love and I thought she was in love with me, I agreed to move up to Milwaukee with her as soon as my job let me go. Of course, my family wasn't thrilled about this when I broke the news on Thanksgiving. But I felt so much like Karen was the one I had been waiting for my whole life that I invited her to spend Christmas with me and my family. She drove to my apartment, I gave her the stuffed animals that she had been hinting she wanted for Christmas, then we drove to my uncle's house and spent a beautiful Christmas Day with my family. Once my folks saw how over the moon I was about her, and she seemed to be about me, they eased up on the worries that we were going too fast.
The first sign of trouble came when Karen didn't call or e-mail me for New Year's. This after she asked me no less than three times what we were doing for New Year's. Actually she never called me in the entire six-month relationship. Maybe that was the first sign of trouble and I didn't realize it. When she did write a week later, she claimed she was at her parents' house. No explanation for why she kept asking me to make plans, then disappeared for a week. Around this time she started being too busy working to meet me on the weekends, so I only saw her once between Christmas and Valentine's Day. And oh, what a strange Valentine's Day it was. It was on a Saturday, and that whole week she was on a cruise, so if we were doing anything for Valentine's Day I didn't know because I couldn't get ahold of her. That afternoon I e-mailed her asking if I should be preparing to come up to Wisconsin, and she wrote back telling me yes, leaving me wondering just when the hell she planned to let me know this. It was a strange evening because we met a friend of hers I'll call "Rhonda" who was married with kids and didn't mind letting everyone know that the guy with her as a Valentine's date was neither her husband nor the father of her kids. The poor dude, neither one of us knew the sick web we were in that evening. It was just dinner and dancing, maybe three hours, but it felt like eternity with that woman. I gave Karen two different Valentine's Day presents in addition to roses, and when I pulled out the second gift after we got to her place she cried out "No, no more presents!" Nice reaction. More quiet sex followed, which was normal, she always made almost no sound during sex, as if she was waiting for it to be over with. The next day she literally slept until 3PM.
I wonder every day what would've happened if I hadn't been bored and surfed the singles website where I met Karen, but one day I did that, and I came across an ad from a woman named Tawanda Lou Benton advertising a BBW (big beautiful women) swingers and sex club in southern Wisconsin, complete with a link to the Yahoo group formed by the leaders of the group. Curious, I clicked the link. The front page of the Yahoo group had no pictures, but the text read, in part: "Our moderators, Karen, Rhonda, and Linda, will be happy to assist you with any questions." Hmm, I thought. The Karen and Rhonda I know are both BBWs, both live in Wisconsin, and Rhonda is a swinger and isn't the least bit ashamed of it. Wouldn't it be crazy if this is my Karen doing this shit, and I never knew? So I applied to join the Yahoo group, just to get in to see the messages on the message board and look at the profiles of the moderators and make sure in my crazy little mind that this wasn't my Karen. My first application was denied. My second application was denied. I used a different e-mail address and applied again, and again I was denied. The last time I ever saw Karen was on a Tuesday, about three weeks after Valentine's Day and about two weeks after I first saw the ad for this swingers website. I asked Karen of she had any weird fetishes that she had never told me about. She said no. I asked her if there were any surprises that she would have for me once I moved in with her, sexual or otherwise. She said no. I was this close to bringing up the website by name to see her reaction but I didn't. The last thing she ever said to me after I kissed her neck goodbye was, "Thanks for getting me all worked up."
Three days later, that Friday, I went to the swingers site after I came home from work. Instead of the usual front page, a new picture had been placed on the front page. It was Karen and Rhonda, in a photographer's studio, looking seductively at the camera, wearing no clothes. I almost fell out of my chair. After pacing for an hour not believing what I was looking at, I called Karen. No answer. I left a message asking her to please call as soon as possible. I guess I wanted her side of the story before I totally lost it. I waited all evening. No call. I wrote a one-sentence e-mail: "All I want to know is, why lie to me all this time?" Instead of calling me, she left an e-mail response the next morning: "I don't know what you're talking about, but believe what you want."
I called again, but again no answer. I then pasted the link to the website and e-mailed: "THIS is what I'm talking about." I don't know how long that e-mail was, but it contained such choice words as: "What kind of sick game were you playing on me?" and the sentence that made me cry while I typed it: "I let you meet my family you fucking whore!" She never responded to the e-mails or the voice messages. I was admitted into the group that same Saturday morning, and I got to read the posts she had left over the two years she had been running the site. Seems she's always had a fetish for black men with shaved heads. It also seemed that she didn't enjoy her Christmas with my family. A member of the group asked her what she got for Christmas. Her response: "A glimpse into my future...and a great big headache."
My mental breakdown was gradual. Every day I came up with more and more elaborate ways to physically hurt this woman. Every night when I went to bed I couldn't get to sleep. My gut felt like someone had blown a grenade up in me. I didn't eat as much, couldn't stop thinking about her, and when someone got me to laugh or tried to cheer me up, I wouldn't be able to do it for more then three seconds. It was like I had lost my ability to enjoy anything, even the things I usually enjoyed. Finally, two months later, sick and tired of thinking about nothing except how many ways I wanted to kill this woman, I checked myself into the Stone Psychiatric Institute at Northwestern Memorial. I stayed there a week. I learned ways to cope with my concentration level and to stop obsessing about the situation. I went on antidepressants. Now, eight months later, it feels like such a distant memory. Sometimes I still feel myself thinking of Karen and starting to become angry again, but instead of simmering all day, it fades. But the one problem I still have and always will is what I could've done to see it coming. People tell me that I can just take a lesson from it and move on. Exactly what lesson should I take? Don't trust anybody? Don't trust anybody I meet online? Don't trust women? Don't trust white women? Don't believe it when someone tells me they love me?
The only thing I learned is that anyone who says they know that their partner is faithful and would never hurt them is an imbecile. All humans are capable of hurting the ones they are close to. And some even get off on it.