This is a story about love gone wrong...it is a true story, and is fairly long, but it tells of my experience in an internet romance, so if that doesn't interest you, I suggest you close this topic. If you are interested, continue to read and know that this experience is what made me me.
“Oh, beauty is a beguiling call to death and I’m addicted to the sweet pitch of its siren. That which starts sweet ends bitter, and that which starts bitter ends sweet.” Johnny Quid, Rock n’ Rolla.
Wisdom is rarely found in modern films which worship violence, drugs, and crime, and yet here it is. In this short scene of the film Rock n’ Rolla, the seemingly hopeless drug addict, Johnny Quid, makes a valuable observation. Though many stories have a bitter start and a sweet ending, my story is different.
I was enlightened on December 19th, 2009. A moment of clarity presented itself to me, revealing the concept of fate. But perhaps fate is the wrong word, because I do not believe in any form of intelligent construction of the universe. I do not believe in some omnipotent power guiding us along the path to our destiny from a throne in the clouds. Perhaps a better term for what I was enlightened to is “inevitable karma”.
“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Now when I think of this quote, I laugh at myself for denying its validity earlier. Sadly, this story is not like one of Tucker Max’s blogs, filled with hilarious adventures and ending with the reader huddled on the ground, gasping for breath. Where Tucker Max, a renowned womanizing asshole, would provide a story about him taking advantage of a woman or harassing some unfortunate sod, I will provide a story which will shed light on a subject which is often viewed as taboo.
Many people wonder why anyone would ever date on the Internet. The concept is quickly becoming taboo among the younger half of society. Everyone asks the same question: “Why not just date some girl in your town?” The question has been in my mind for some time, and I have been mulling it over, coming up with a variety of ideas. At first I thought of the usual insecurities: maybe I wasn’t good looking enough to land a girl- though if you ask any man who dates, they will tell you that looks are only one part of the “equation.” So I began to look at the other parts of the equation, matching them up with aspects of my life.
In most movies, this is the part where protagonists declare that they are socially awkward and afraid of women, or have some sort of self confidence issue. I don’t have these problems; I have many friends, many of whom are women. So why don’t I have a girlfriend? I like to think that I don’t have a girlfriend by subconscious decision. Though I often like girls and befriend them, when things got too serious I push them away, either by being an asshole, or by making up some sort of lie in an attempt to justify my discomfort. Any guy can get any girl, if he has the right tactics and is not a total asshole. Knowing a few tricks of the trade and being only a partial asshole, I think I could in fact get a girl friend; I just won’t.
With that being said, I will clarify right now that I did not create a profile on a dating website with the hopes of meeting the love of my life. That wasn’t where I met the girl that I would later refer to as the Irish Car Bomb. This is where inevitable karma comes into play.
The Internet found its way to me in the 7th grade. I was still in Turks and Caicos at the time and knew very little about the Internet, though I was quite proficient with the computer. One day, my cousin Delano, who was fourteen years old and three years older than me at the time, came over and spent the day at my house while our parents were at work. When he got tired of being beaten on the Playstation, he made his way towards the computer and opened MSN Instant Messenger. I was baffled by this, though having seen it several times at other friend’s houses I prodded Delano into creating an account for me, one which I still use to this day. At first things went slowly. I added friends from school, but soon got bored, not wanting to waste time on the Internet talking to the same people I talked to every day. That was when I got my first chain email.
The message didn’t even catch my attention, as it was buried under an armada of email address names. I had seen Delano copy and paste some of the names onto his address list. Unbeknownst to me, he was copying the emails of friends. When I saw him do this, I thought that was the purpose of a chain email, and copied the names of two hundred and fifty total strangers. I am still proud to this day that I could concentrate on this feat. It was not until two days later when I got my first message.
“Who are you?” I got giddy at the prospect of making a new friend.
“HI! My name is David, I am from the Turks and Caicos Islands, I like to play roller hockey, video games, go swimming, and talk to girls! Oh, and I love pizza! Who are you?”
When the person signed off, I thought nothing of it. When I told my cousin about this he nearly died laughing. I was introduced to the world of the block feature. He told me that I needed to be more subtle, instead of scaring them off with a bombardment of stranger prattle. I got my second chance when my cousin was there as well. The email address was something along the lines of Sexychic_91 or something of that Internet-tramp nature. My cousin gave me a coy smile, then pushed me away from the computer and began talking to her. With me watching over his shoulder, I witnessed my first ever Internet wooing session. By the time my cousin got off the computer, the girl was already telling him how much she loved him. He looked at me, giving me the ‘Yeah, I just did that’ smirk, and then walked off. I looked at the computer, then signed off and followed him, asking him question after question about how he did what he did. I won’t go into detail, but basically he told me that he was a manipulative asshole. At this point in my life, I didn’t think of it as a bad thing. It’s funny what you think when you are eleven.
Later that night, my cousin got on the computer and gave me tips on how to talk to girls on the Internet. The next day, I found myself with six Internet girlfriends. I loved the attention, so I expanded my game, moving to other chain emails and finding other random email addresses. I flirted with girls who were my age, as well as seventeen-year olds who loved me just as much. I did all of this sweet talking until I got bored with the girl. I used a false identity when I spoke to girls unless they were my age, which was rare; it was one of the first things my cousin had taught me. No seventeen-year-old girl is going to want to talk to an eleven-year-old boy, so I had a rule of making myself one year older than the girl I spoke to; since webcams and microphones were harder to come by in those days, I didn’t have to worry about being discovered. When I got bored with the mushy sweet talk, I would take the pleasure of revealing that I was actually an eleven year old boy who had a little too much free time. There I was, having hearts and souls pouring into me, then blatantly shattering them on a whim. Evil, right?
I did this for about a year, then got bored with MSN entirely and retired with an impressive list of thirty or so girls I had done this to. Years went by; I came to the U.S for high school, then graduated and went to college in Vermont. By this time, I was rekindled with the Internet, though I had all but forgotten about my “Internet love life.” I used the Internet for gaming and work, and left it at that.
It was the summer of 2009 when this changed. I was at home in Turks and Caicos, playing an online game called Samurai of Legend and had made friends with a few people on the site. The problem with Samurai of Legend was that it was run by typical Internet power fiends, the type that would ban you on a whim. These people had the ability to read private messages sent from player to player. I had upset a horde of them earlier when they tried to make fun of a friend who had a minor case of epilepsy; so needless to say, they wanted revenge and would use all means to get it, which included reading my messages. Not wanting them to find any sensitive materials, I asked some of my friends if there was another way to communicate. Several instant messaging services came up, but then mention of a chat website caught my eye. It was this that prompted me to join the website which would later be described by one of my friends as the “Sodom and Gomorra of the Internet.”
The website is called Chatango, which allows members to create a personal profile and speak to other people in private conversations as well as group chat rooms. I used this site sparingly for about a month before I noticed that there were a few attractive girls in the profile pictures. Naturally I decided to talk to them. I was no simple-minded Internet geek, so I knew fake profiles when I saw them.
There are three levels of Internet fakedom. Level One: girls with thumbnail pictures and only a sentence or two about themselves being superhot. These fake profiles are probably controlled by twelve year old boys, and are blatantly obvious. Level Two: With more elaborate profiles that were harder to recognize as a fake, they used actual full-sized photographs, though if you typed “Emo girl” on Google, you would probably find the picture. Usually talking to this fake girl would reveal whether or not she was actually fake, which she almost always was. Level Three: these are the home wreckers, Internet fakes that actually take the time to find a picture of a relatively unknown yet very attractive girl, possibly a friend of theirs. Mostly created by insecure girls, these profiles have a fair amount of depth and character to them, easily fooling their readers. Their downfall is usually the lack of enough photos.
I took pride in my ability to pinpoint and shoot down these girls, while finding real ones who were relatively interesting. I never sought to date any of the girls I met on this website, and I made it quite clear that I would never meet any of them in person. I bent this rule for the Irish Car Bomb.
Her name was California Kollin, one of the things that caught my eye. Seriously, who names their kid California? The most interesting thing I noticed when I was looking at her profile was that she had written it in Gaelic, the ancient, almost dead Celtic language. Being of Scottish descent, I knew a little bit of it and naturally wanted to talk to the girl, hoping to expand my knowledge and have a friend that I could speak to in Gaelic. At this point, I was only looking at a preview of her profile, and a vague thumbnail of her picture. I based my judgment on her written work alone. I messaged her with something along the lines of: “Ta me David (I am David). I can speak a little bit of Gaelic too!”
We talked for a long time; she was excited to meet someone who could speak the language without making her feel lost and dimwitted as an old Irish man would. It was not until she signed off a few hours later that I opened her profile. My jaw dropped. I was talking to a nine out of ten hottie, without even knowing it. It probably surprised her that I made absolutely no remarks on her looks, and it might have insulted her. It took a moment for paranoia to set in. Maybe she was fake, maybe she was some creepy old Irish man. I looked into her profile, following several links to social networking sites. She had detailed profiles on Facebook, MySpace and Skype, with friends. It seemed that this girl was too good to be true, so I addressed her with skepticism in the coming days. We continued talking to each other, switching between Gaelic and English.
Days went by and we bonded more and more each time we spoke. We spoke about simple things: she was living in Connecticut, near a town that I visited. When she asked about where I was from, I told her that I only live in the U.S for school, and that I am from Turks and Caicos. Apparently there was something that she could relate to in this, telling me about her dreams of going to Trinity College, a highly regarded school in Dublin, Ireland. I told her that I didn’t like Vermont very much and wanted to move to Newcastle, England, to be closer to my family. We then spoke about hobbies, hers being parkour (free running), playing the guitar, and video games. Being a musician was an appealing feature in a person, and I felt ashamed to say that my only skill was making people laugh. She found that to be funny and cute, then assured me that I probably possessed some other untapped skill. She told me that she had been to Killington Mountain and I told her that I had always wanted to learn how to ski or snowboard. She suggested that I go there and she could teach me this winter.
This is where I had to stop and assess the situation. Why would a beautiful girl want to meet a complete stranger? She told me that she was already planning on going to Killington with her friends this winter, and that since I was close, she wouldn’t mind picking me up and teaching me how to snowboard. I got excited at the prospect of learning how to snowboard, and meeting Cali. I agreed to meet her at Killington in December. It was still summer when all of this happened. As we spoke, I noticed she would hint at a health condition, something I tried to avoid bringing up. One day she told me that she was going to Boston; when I asked why, she said something that caught me off guard.
“I am going to see if I have cancer again.”
She waited for my reaction, and when I didn’t give one, she continued on, telling me that she had stomach cancer when she was younger, though they thought it was gone after chemotherapy. When she went for her last physical the doctor found symptoms that her cancer might be coming back and told her to get checked in Boston. This was probably a catalyst for our relationship to follow. When she went to Boston, it was me who she confided in. She was afraid to bring this burden on her friends, and she was afraid of chemotherapy, having already experienced it; she knew it had negative effects on her psychologically. Instead of putting this burden on her friends, she chose to confide in me, someone who knew about her, yet was still a complete stranger. We got close when she went to Boston; she gave me her phone number so that I could call and text her when she was in the hospital waiting room. My dad still hates me for the bill he got with all of the international texting between Turks and Caicos, where I was, and Boston.
When I first heard her voice, I felt the clichéd butterflies in my stomach; she had such a beautiful voice. We spoke for hours on end, and whenever I asked her about her phone bill she would brush it off. By the time she left Boston, I realized that I didn’t just see her as a friend. You know the part of a romance movie where the best friend admits his love for the girl he has come to know so well? Well, that didn’t happen here. I panicked, fearing the prospect of having a long distance relationship. I immediately stopped using Chatango, MSN, and Skype, since we spoke on all three.
For two weeks my cell-phone rang, and for two weeks I didn’t answer it. Then the phone stopped ringing. That was when the guilt set in. Why did I stop talking to her? Why didn’t I tell her that I liked her? Was it not obvious that she liked me too? For the first time in two weeks, I turned my computer back on, my screen cluttered with messages prompted by neglecting the Internet. None of these messages mattered, only Cali, who was offline. I left the computer on for a whole day, but she didn’t sign in. I sent an offline message apologizing, making up some ridiculous excuse about why I went missing for two weeks. There was no response. I would have called, but my dad got the phone bill that week and took the phone away.
School started in two weeks, and I had arranged to stay at my friend’s house for a week before school started. There was no computer at this house, and Cali didn’t have my American phone number. I wrote her number on a sheet of paper and crammed it into my suitcase.
The plane ride back to the United States was a long one, with me deep in thought while staring absent-mindedly out of the window. When I arrived I traveled up to Poultney, where I met a few of my friends whom I had not seen since summer began. When I unpacked my bag, I couldn’t find the phone number and panicked. Luckily my friends were able to take my mind off of Cali for most of the day, yet there were still moments of contemplation which prompted me to run to the library to use the twenty-four-hour lab. Every time I turned on the computer and connected to the Internet I had a massive cluster of messages, none of which were from her. I always closed the computer in frustration. Two weeks went by, and school had begun. I tried to push her out of my mind though constant mentions from Frank Ho, one of my friends who had recently fallen in love with his new girlfriend, would always drag the subject back up for a few awkward moments before I stomped it down into oblivion. One day, before I went to a party, I posted on my Twitter: “I’ve got a feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night.” I went about my business that night and returned to my computer the next morning to find that I had received response to the tweet, it was from Cali. There was no awkward “Where have you been” or “I was [insert excuse for absence here]” It was just a message continuing the song. “That tonight’s gonna be a good good night!” So I sent a private message on Twitter, apparently she had just gotten access to a computer again and saw my message, which she was in the process of responding to. This was because she had been accepted into Trinity College, and was actually in Ireland. She had been too busy to gain access to a computer between the packing and travelling.
We started speaking again, and things were awkward at first, but then returned to their normal random Gaelic banter. She noticed that I had gotten rusty due to lack of practice. We picked things up and returned to the steady, inevitable approach to the topic of our relationship. It came up one night in the most random of ways. We were talking about Frank Ho, whom she affectionately liked to call “Mean Ho”. Being the hot headed bugger that he is, Frank blurted out something about her being lucky that I loved her, which meant he would let the comment slide. There was an awkward moment where I shot Frank a glare. Cali got all quiet, then messaged me on Skype, instead of saying it on the speakers.
“Is that true?” It was the moment of truth for me, I could deny it and act on my own insecurity, or admit it and hope not to get squashed. I admitted it and she told me that she had liked me this whole time but was too afraid to admit it. I kicked Frank out of the room, though he left smiling, feeling proud of what he had done; I don’t think I ever told him that I blame him for what happened.
We started the awkward Internet relationship simply, acting the way we did before though with more flirting. Things quickly escalated as she insisted that she wanted to see me. I told her she would if we went to Killington, which seemed to satisfy her.
Every day I spoke to her more and more, to the point where I would skip boring classes in favor of talking to her. I can distinctly recall leaving several parties early just to go and talk to her. This whole time, we called each other on Skype, though she had no webcam. I ignored this fact, blinded by my weak-kneed, butterfly-stomached, puppy love.
As the winter drew closer, we became closer. Now we were using the heavy duty word. When she first said “I love you” my heart stopped. I was unsure of how to react. I knew I was in love because I could feel a strange warmth spread through my chest whenever she spoke. It was the type of young love that makes people do stupid things. I loved this girl, and I had even started looking into schools in Ireland, just to be with her.
As the month of December rolled around, my friends noticed my behavior change and started to ask about it. I was deliberately vague, still slightly embarrassed that I was in love with a girl I had never met, or even seen moving. I never regretted that decision, since it saved me a lot of embarrassment. Up to this day, no more than ten people know what actually happened between Cali and myself.
When December came, she told me that her mother wanted to visit her instead of having Cali come back to the United States. That meant that she probably wasn’t going to make it to Killington. This would have shattered the souls of most men, but I was so hopelessly in love that I called my dad and persuaded him to go to England to see his family, and on the way there, to allow me to go to Ireland to see Cali. It worked and I had tickets the next day. I told one of Cali’s friends this, since by this time I had a few on my Skype list. The one I told was her roommate, who told me that she heard Cali’s reaction in the other room, resembling that of a tea kettle that was ready to be taken off of the stove. I got so giddy that I didn’t care for my finals, I was just waiting for the day that I got to go to Ireland. I would meet Cali, be with her, and never leave her side. Sickening, I know, but it is called puppy love for a reason.
On the eve of December 19th, this dream was blasted into oblivion by a Facebook private message I got from some girl I had never heard of. Had I not deleted the message in my frustration, I would have been able to quote it directly, but it went a little something like this.
“Hey, my name is Mazz. I see you are friends with that girl California Kollin. She isn’t real, she stole pictures from this friend of mine. I am sorry, I can tell that you really like her, but that bitch is a fraud.” At the bottom of the message was a link, showing a MySpace profile which belonged to a girl by the name of Kaelin Detloff, aka Kiki Marie. The profile had all of the pictures that Cali showed me, and more, as well as videos. It was apparent that Cali was not the only girl to imitate her. I was in shock for a while, not sure what to think. When I walked around campus that day, my body moved on memory, like a lifeless husk. I couldn’t process the truth.
That evening when I got back to my room, Cali signed online and I interrogated her. I started off subtly, to see if she would tell the truth. She didn’t. I told her I didn’t care how she looked, I just wanted to know for a fact. She still denied it. Then I put up the link to Kiki Marie’s MySpace and let it sit there. There was a silence that I will never forget. I hadn’t even called her, I was using text, yet the silence seemed to jump off of the screen. Finally I asked her what she had to say to it. Then she spilled her beans.
It started off slowly. At first, she claimed to be California, though she was self-conscious about her appearance, which is why she used the appearance of another girl. I was tempted to believe this, and even forgive her for it; after all, it was common. Yet, something still didn’t sit right with me. I continued to prod her, asking for proof of her true identity, seeing as her social-networking sites were all fake profiles. After a while, something drove her to tell me, though I do not know whether it was pity or annoyance. The answer was not what I was expecting.
“Okay, fine, I am really Mazz, would you like the truth now?”
Mazz, whose full name was Kayleigh Devlin, told me that the girl I had come to know and love was entirely fictional. Kayleigh was actually from Seymour Connecticut, where she lived with her father, as opposed to Cali who lived in Ireland, though was originally from West Haven, Connecticut, where she lived with her mother and did not know her birth father. The real Kayleigh was actually a seventeen-year-old junior in highschool. She was never actually diagnosed with cancer, nor did she have any of Cali’s supposed talents. Cali’s roommates were entirely fictional. The only thing that Cali and Kayleigh had in common was their ability to speak Gaelic. That night, I couldn’t sleep, and the next day was the beginning of Winter Break. I was still supposed to go to Ireland.
We all know that in the movies and romantic stories, the main character will still travel to Ireland. He would learn to move past the events that occurred, and would find a “real” California on his journey. Needless to say, my life is not a movie or a story, and that was not what I did. The next morning I did what I was good at; I lied to my dad, telling him that the trip to Ireland was cancelled because my friend’s families were visiting and that I didn’t want to interfere. My dad believed me, and never pressed the issue apart from the occasional joke about what a disaster that winter break was. We both went to England, where I was forced to dodge questions relating to California and her whereabouts. I guess I deserved it for telling my family about her.
The irony of what had come to pass was not lost to me. This was karma revealing her true brutal nature. What goes around comes around, and after eight years, she had proven herself to be a true bitch. Many people ask me if I hate Kayleigh for what she did, and whether I would meet her if I had the chance. I wish I could lie to you and tell you that I accepted my punishment from karma and didn’t take it personally, but alas, that is not the case. They say that it is foolish to harbor hatred for someone when life is so short, and that may be so, but I will never forgive Kayleigh/ Cali. She destroyed my trust, and destroyed my heart, in one fell, well-planned swoop. And that is why I call her the Irish Car Bomb.