Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Paranoia. Part III.

If you're just joining me, I strongly suggest reading Paranoia and Paranoia. Part II. before reading part three.

Who knew I could stretch such a stupid story out so long? Stoker knows. My family knows. But they're not here right now so it's just hearsay. I really only planned on telling you a small anecdote about my strange bouts of paranoia, but it's warped into this monster because the paranoia didn't exist until Ted existed. Before that I was a clean slate, so to speak. Naive. Gullible. Trusting.

I had said get lost, essentially, to Ted. Then I began bidding on the magical script on eBay that would change everything. When my ship was nearing port, the one that was about to come in, some jerk began bidding against me. Email relationship ensued (and I have a weakness for the written word, really, and it extends to emails*) and the mysterious bidder told me all sorts of enchanting details about his life in San Diego.

Caught up?

Ok, so Ted denied being Rob. But only after I had tricked Rob into telling me what he looked like.

Now, I know you know where this is going because of foreshadowing and other reasons. Why include this stupid eBay story if it had nothing to do with Ted? You are clever enough to see that Ted will turn out to be Rob. You even know WHY Ted was doing what he was doing.

Recall that he only wanted what he couldn't have. Would he give up? NOOOO. What a brilliant idea. Track the prey down on the internet, lure your prey into a comfortable relationship with your assumed identity, be witty and charming and perfect, get into the mind of your prey, make your prey love you, and then wham! Reveal the truth to your prey. There will be no choice but a confession of love.

Did that paragraph even work? I was going for clever but I've failed miserably. The point is, Ted couldn't describe a physical appearance too far from the truth, otherwise I'd fall in love with a tall dark, handsome guy and then when he revealed himself to be Ted and not Rob, I'd be too disappointed. Better to make sure that Rob and Ted sort of overlap in my head. Right?

Oh man. This is why I'll have sudden bouts of paranoia.

Ok, ok. So, I hated to be paranoid and accuse Rob of being Ted. So I didn't do that until I felt pretty sure. In an email conversation I confronted "Rob."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Come on, Ted. I know it's you."

"Ted? Who the hell** is Ted? I can't believe you're accusing me of being someone named Ted. I'm Rob. Rob in San Diego."

"Like Rob in High Fidelity? And Rob's girlfriend Laura in High Fidelity? You didn't even get an original plot for your assumed identity."

"What's High Fidelity? Is that a movie? A book?"

"Oh please. You've clearly done your research. Watching all the movies I love suddenly."

"You're freaking me out. This Ted character has obviously worked you over."

Ok, so you get the point. The above conversation may or may not have taken place verbatim. Rob denied being Ted. But I knew I was right.

So, I can also concoct schemes and trickery, though I hate it and in truth I was rather sick the entire time feeling like I was living in a sort of nightmare***. It was my birthday at the time, so I guess this must have been happening in March and not December like I originally thought—although, the Christmas before my birthday, I received an acoustic guitar and a couple books (Spreading Misandry and Poetry Speaks) from a mysterious benefactor (another plot from another movie). Who could it have been? Ted hated it that I was turning into a feminist because of the English department. Though I wasn't a feminist.

March 27th. I email "Rob" and tell him how depressed I am because it's my birthday and I'm SO lonely (you will hate me for being scheming, but I didn't like being stalked. Weird, I know). I tell him how much I need the comfort of a male companion, but there is no one. "Well," I say, "there's my ex-boyfriend who is still my friend," . . . Dave, we'll call him. He was way older than me, had just barely broken up with me, but we were still friends. So I tell "Rob" that Dave will come over and I'm just going to sleep with him for the hell of it. It will ease the loneliness.

I had no intention of being so stupid. But "Rob" would think me just that stupid and impulsive. So I have Dave come over and he leaves his vehicle out in front of my house all night. Ted, by the way, had enrolled in some master's courses back at the university, despite the fact that he lived an hour and a half away. So he was commuting back and forth.

Just by chance, I woke up at five in the morning and glanced out my bedroom window. The sky was pink, I remember because that was the reason I looked outside. At that very moment, Ted drove by and slowed when he saw Dave's car. He almost swerved into it, I think.

Ah sweet retribution.

See, he had work that morning in the city. My brother-in-law worked with him at the time. That was part of the scheme, which was probably my brother-in-laws plan, actually, now that I think of it. Jason (brother-in-law) went by Ted's cubicle to say hey. Ted looked like he'd been awake all night.

"You all right, Ted?" Jason asked.

"Not really."

"What's wrong, man?"

"I wish I could tell you," Ted said, with a wistful look. He did want to tell on me, I'm certain. He was the tattletale sort. He probably wanted to drive straight to my mom's house on his way to work that morning, break down her door, grab her by the shoulders and say, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DAUGHTER DID LAST NIGHT?"

"I know what's going on, Ted. You need to stop," Jason said.

Guilt flashed across Ted's face, quickly replaced by feigned confusion. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Yes you do. Seriously, it's out of hand. Leave her alone."

"Fine." I'm sure his shoulders slumped and a cloudy look filled his eyes. I know that look very well, still.

Jason was quite nice about it. He liked Ted just fine, while being very aware of his stalkerly impulses. So he wasn't rude. And I wasn't either.

There's clearly a reflection upon my poor judgment in this whole story, that I would be such a jerk to share it with you, that I would date Ted's brother, that I would make him think I'd slept with Dave just to find out the truth.

Who is the bigger jerk? you ask. Me or Ted? Ted would say me. And I would say Ted, while adding the caveat that I made a bunch of mistakes and bad decisions, like all the times I let him back into my life thinking he'd finally gotten over everything and could let me be the one who got away (the girl he only wanted when he couldn't have her). Like when he got married and sent an invitation to my mom and invited me, through my mother, to email him a congratulations or something. Big mistake.

And then when I stupidly let him have the address to my blog when I was just beginning to date Stoker—he'd asked to get in contact with me through my mom or sister (again). I said all right, thinking once more that he could NOT be a weirdo. All the anonymous comments he left were evidence that he couldn't.

Oh the madness.

And oh the strange fears that crop up when someone says something or does something that reminds me of him. Sometimes when I meet a new person and establish a light email rapport with them, because I can't see them, if they say or write anything remotely like Ted, I feel myself wondering if this is another one of Ted's ploys to infiltrate my life again, and this time he's even gone so far as to hire an actor to portray a 3-dimensional manifestation of his assumed identity. Crazy, I know. And inevitably I feel the question burning in my head, the curiosity, the urge to jokingly ask, "You're not, by any chance, a forty-one year old man of Scandinavian descent with blond hair and blue eyes, with a background in electrical engineering now practicing patent law . . . are you?"


That's the paranoia.

*In fact, this is how Stoker won me over.
**Ted never swore, so this was incontrovertible proof that Rob was not TED.
***Recurring nightmare beginning when I was eight: a baseball scout claims he wants me on his team because he's seen how amazing my arm is when I'm throwing dirt clods at things with my friends. I don't want to be on his team. But he won't give up. Even after I've reduced him to being a wheelchair with my dirt clods (a creepy wooden wheelchair, no less). Nothing will stop this major league baseball scout. I wake up after his face is a bloody mess. Hmmmm. I must have seen some kind of horrible movie at my cousin's or something—they were always watching age-inappropriate movies. Some movie with a wooden wheelchair in it....

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