Her eyesight was starting to blur. It was hard for her to believe that she had been staring at the damn computer screen on and off for over four hours. She thought of how some of her friends believed she was crazy because of the way she searched and played on the Internet for hours. "C'mon Jessica," they would plead, "Get away from that damn computer and join us in real life!", "Why don't you meet us at this bar?" "Meet us at that gathering?" She knew that five years ago she would've accepted their invitations without any hesitation and would have been out of the door to meet them as soon as she hung up the phone.
Not now though. Now, the smoky, alcohol filled bars no longer enticed her. She hardly drank anymore, so that wasn't her motivation. Quite the contrary, standing around sober while everyone around her was buzzed or drunk only made her feel more uncomfortable. Nor was she interested in a night of cruising women more than 10 years younger than herself who thought that bars are the salvation for lesbian social life and who change girlfriends almost as often as their hair color.
Oh my God! I seem to have become one of them! One of those thirty-something women I used to laugh at and call fuddy-duddy! Funny how the tide turns,'she thought to herself.
She had also tried the non-bar scene; professional women's mixers, parties, friends, but she still had not met anyone of substance. Her boredom and solitude quickly taxing her, she decided to turn to modern technologyC the Internet. She had some acquaintances that had relative success using the Internet to meet other women, couples who had now been together for years. Yet she also knew others who had shared their horror stories with her. She knew it was a risk, but one that she was willing to take.
She had spent the last few hours searching in vain through the lesbian personal ads. She found at least 30 "Soft Butch Seeks Femme" , 35 "Femme in Search of Athletic Femme" , 10 "I want to dominate you in leather" , and countless other posts that eliminated any possible response from her as they either wanted to party; have mindless sex no with commitment; who wanted the responders to treat their body like a shrine and to be very athletic; or who were allergic to cats. In other words, women who didnt seem to be anything like her. Nor did Jessica care for the chat rooms. She was shy and didnt feel comfortable jumping into the ongoing conversations. She also didnt relate to many of the topics of discussion, which seemed to concentrate on sex and have no substance. Frustrated and not feeling any connection with any other single lesbian in cyber space, she rested her head on her arms on her desk and closed her eyes, contemplating what to do next.
As she rested her eyes, the obvious suddenly occurred to her. > If I can't find anyone from their ad, why not place one of my own?'She immediately sat up and pulled up the section to create her own profile. She quickly filled out the sections where she just had to mark boxes, but once she got to the sections where she had to fill in with her owns words, the words eluded her and she stared blankly at the screen. She didn't have any idea what to write about herself. She knew the usual generic newspaper personal ad wouldnt be sufficient.
Taking a deep breath and clearing her mind, she finally began to type, carefully editing her words until she came up with an ad with which she was happy.
Romantic In San Diego...
This is my first time writing a personal ad,
so please bear with me. Here goes nothing ...
Words cannot aptly describe a person, but
I'll give it my best shot.
I'm an educated, intelligent woman in her mid-30's with a wickedly good sense of humor. Im 55", green eyes and brown hair and am hwp. I love my cat, baseball, movies, Xena:WP, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, music, theater, reading, a fireplace on a nippy night, a beautiful sunset, and a clear night to see the stars and planets. I still wish upon a star.
I am over "fake" and superficial women and wish to find a "real" woman with whom I can communicate and have fun. "Sex, no commitment" was fine for my twenties, but is NOT an option now. I'd like to meet a woman who lets her little kid come out to play, but who's also mature enough to know what she wants and that can handle the joys and challenges of life. No drugs, heavy drinkers; bisexuals, men, or confused straight women. Serious applicants only need apply.
Reading and rereading the post to be sure it was to her satisfaction, she gathered her courage and quickly clicked on the finish button, posting the profile on the GLBT personals page and then posted it on a number of message boards on another GLBT page. She logged off the computer and went to bed, not knowing exactly what to expect or what she had created.
* * *
Jessica McElroy awoke the next morning to the sound of the phone ringing. Picking up the cordless, she groggily said hello
" Hey Jessica! Did I wake you up? I'm sorry. I haven't heard from you in a while and I was getting worried." She heard the voice of her best friend, Shawn.
" Hmmff ...I'm awake now. Sorry I haven't called ...I've been busy," she managed to utter, rubbing her eyes with her free hand.
" With work?"
" That too," she ran her fingers through her short brown/auburn colored hair and sat up, leaning her back and head against the head board.
" Have you been getting into mischief and not telling me?" Shawn asked inquisitively.
" Hardly," Jessica chuckled, "I seem to be getting desperate. I skimmed the computer personals and didn't find anyone, so I decided to post an ad of my own."
" You go girl!" Shawn congratulated. "It's about time you met someone. How have the responses been?"
" Don't know. Just posted it last night and then I went to bed. I haven't checked yet and given that I overslept, I won't know until I get home from work." She glanced at her alarm clock and realized she had less than an hour before she needed to be at her office.
" Well, get going then. Call me when you check your email and let me know how it turned out."
" Will do. I'll talk to you later." Pressing the off button on the phone, she stumbled over her long haired gray Maine Coon cat, Tasha, who was laying on the floor next to the bed, and made her way into the kitchen to make coffee and feed Tasha. Quickly showering and dressing for work, she tried to mentally prepare herself for the busy day that she knew laid before her.
* * *
She sat at her large desk, knee deep in work that didn't seem to end. Although her office wasn't huge, it was big enough to accommodate her large desk and return, where her computer sat, and a small table with chairs around it in the far corner of the room. Her desk was covered with piles of paper that she thought multiplied like Tribbles if left unattended for even a moment. As Marketing Director for a small chain of restaurants specializing in pan pacific cuisine, Jessica was inundated with press releases announcing the opening of yet another restaurant and the first quarter financials.
Glancing up, she saw her assistant, Carla, walk into the office and approach her. Jessica handed her the latest press releases approved by their legal department and instructed her to forward them to the company's advertising agency. The phone rang, the light of her personal line blinking.
" Jessica McElroy," she answered.
" Well hi ya Jess. How are you doing?" Jessica heard the voice purr over the phone line, causing her blood to run cold.
" What do you want Erin?" She asked coolly.
" Well hon, we need to discuss the property settlement. How about over dinner?"
Jessica paused, astounded by the audacity of her ex-lover. "Erin, there's nothing for us to discuss. The papers reflect the changes you wanted and that I agreed to. What more could you possibly want?" She felt the anger begin to erupt inside of her just thinking about speaking to Erin.
" There are a few things I still don't agree to ..."
" Erin, we've been over this for what seems like a million times. Just sign the god damned papers! You've dragged this out for over six months! I want to get on with my life. If you have a problem, talk with your therapist or your attorney and deal with it, but just sign them! I've agreed to almost everything youve asked for, just let me go!" she shouted, slamming the phone back onto the receiver before Erin could respond.
Jessica sat at her desk shaking, feeling frustrated, angry, and hurt. "Erin, my ex-lover, my ex-wife, who has and so thoroughly continues to screw me over," she whispered to herself. Leaning back into her chair, she closed her eyes to relax and to try to forget Erins unwelcome interruption, but the past uncontrollably started to play through her mind.
Erin Oliver; tall, dark, and captivating, stole Jessica's heart four years earlier; begged Jessica to marry her a year later; and within 2 years cheated on Jessica and proceeded to physically attack her when Jessica confronted her about her infidelities. The police arrived after receiving a call from a concerned neighbor who heard the unusual commotion. Jessica had her arrested and received a restraining order, but decided against proceeding with criminal charges. Despite everything that happened between the two, Erin would not let her go.
It had not been like that in the beginning. They had met at a party given by a mutual friend. Erin, five feet eleven inches, dark hair, and brown eyes, had a presence about her. The first time Jessica saw Erin sitting on the back patio, she was attracted and intrigued with the dark haired beauty. After finagling an introduction from her friend, the two sat and talked for a few hours until the party began to break up and everyone began to leave. Jessica learned that Erin's dark complexion was from her Portuguese descent and that she worked as a Border Patrol agent.
They exchanged phone numbers; Erin calling her the next day to ask her to dinner. After that, it seemed to Jessica like their relationship was a whirlwind. Erin courted her with cards and flowers and romantic walks and dinners. After dating nine months, Erin begged Jessica for them to move in together, and asked Jessica to marry her shortly after. It was a proposal that Jessica had dreamed about and readily accepted as she thought she was thoroughly and completely in love with Erin. After months of planning, they had the commitment ceremony and a large reception, with all their friends and even some family members in attendance. Shortly after that, they bought a house in the suburbs. They had the 2.2 cats and dogs expected of a lesbian yuppy couple.
After almost two years of marital bliss, Jessica started to feel something go terribly wrong. Erin started working more and more hours and was increasingly angry and sensitive in the little time the two did spend together. At first Jessica attributed Erin's mood shifts to the extra work and suggested to Erin that perhaps she should ask for time off or work fewer hours for awhile. Erin's reaction shocked Jessica. Erin verbally attacked her, accusing Jessica of being too possessive and that she had to work the hours in order to advance up the ranks. She berated Jessica for being selfish and not understanding. Dumbfounded, Jessica quickly retreated, not wanting the confrontation to get even more hostile.
Within a month after Erin's eruption, Jessica had dinner with Shawn, who reluctantly told Jessica that she had seen Erin at the movies on a night she knew Erin told Jessica she had been working. Shawn also told Jessica that Erin was not alone and was particularly attentive to her female companion. Hearing the news Jessica was stunned. She would not have believed the information if it had come from anyone else but Shawn. After crying on Shawn's shoulder, Jessica agreed that she should directly confront Erin. That's when Jessica felt the house of cards tumble down. After the initial shock of both the news and Erins violent reaction and once Erin moved out when she was released from jail, Jessica was angry at herself for not seeing the signs sooner and for being taken in by Erin's deception in the first place. She didnt understand how she couldnt have seen the truth for so long. And, in some ways, wondered what she had done wrong to cause Erins metamorphosis and anger. After many tears, therapy, and venting to friends, she finally realized there was nothing she could have done to prevent what had happened, and that she was not the who should feel guilty. She had done nothing wrong. It wasnt her fault. It was then that the anger and hatred toward Erin settled in and she could finally see who Erin really was under the facade; a manipulative, violent, and psychopathic person.
For the past nine months the two women had been arguing over the property settlement. Jessica had offered to give Erin almost everything she asked for, including giving Erin the 2 dogs and offering to buy her out of the house. But with each new draft of the settlement agreement, Erin would find something wrong, ask for the verbiage to be changed or ask for something more. Erin's inability to enter into an agreement caused Jessica's nerves to fray. She just wanted Erin out of her life. Erin, however, apparently had other ideas. Despite her lies and physical violence, she still wanted to stay together with Jessica, but without recognizing and admitting the error of her ways and taking responsibility for her actions.
Shaking her head to draw herself back into the present, Jessica realized she had to get off of her pity pot. She immersed herself back into work, trying to block the phone call out of her mind and the painful memories it had triggered.
* * *
Walking into her house after 7:00 pm, Jessica was exhausted. She quickly changed out of her business suit and panty hose and into sweats and a T-shirt. She fed the cat, grabbed a diet soda and plopped down into her computer chair, turning on the computer. As she signed online, she became extremely nervous. She was terrified that no one had responded to her ad. Pulling up her mail, her eyes grew wide and she almost dropped her soda can when she looked at the screen. Almost twenty responses within twenty-four hours! She was absolutely flabbergasted by the response.
Amazed, she quickly clicked onto and read the first response.
Great ad! I live in Wisconsin. Is that too far? I'm a professional woman, 42, and love to watch the stars and snuggle by a fire on a cold night. I'm 5'5", Rubinesque, and love to bowl. I'm going through a divorce, finally realizing I couldn't deny who I am and my sexuality. If you're interested in a new friend or ...please email me back.
Scanning the rest of the messages, she quickly realized that most of the responses weren't much different from the first: women thousands of miles away, bisexual women looking for a tryst, or women just coming out. She thought she knew exactly what they wanted and she wasn't the one to give it to them. She typed out a thank you but no thank you response and sent it off, deleting the emails.
She then turned her attention to the five remaining possibilities, carefully reading one at a time. She responded quickly to two, as they admitted their distance and just wanted to compliment her on the post. As she read the next one, something about it caused her to pause.
RE: Serious Applicant
An excellent first attempt! I'm usually not one to respond to ads, but yours certainly caught my attention. You seem like a very articulate and intelligent woman. That's very important to me.
I own my own business, and am a computer consultant. Although I live outside of Washington, D.C. in Virginia, I frequently travel for my job and go to California, including San Diego, fairly often. In fact, I lived there briefly what seems like another lifetime ago.
I can seriously relate to being over the fake and superficial woman. The last time I went to a bar, I felt old (I'm in my late 30s) and out of place. The women I meet at professional mixers or networking functions seem more concerned with their monetary status and external appearance than with their internal condition or what's going on around them. It's refreshing to see that I don't appear to be alone in my sentiments.
I'm 5'7"; hazel eyes that often look blue, hwp, and dark hair. I also love to stare at the stars and wonder what's really out there. I guess it's the X-Files and Star Trek fan in me. :)
I also enjoy reading, movies, tennis, the theatre, and yes, I must admit, I'm still a closet Xena fan and catch it on "oh!" when I can. I also like both "Buffy" and "Angel", although I was quite disturbed with Taras demise.
I'd love to hear more about you. Hope to hear from you soon.
Jessica sipped from her can of soda and read the response a few times. She paused to formulate a response. Although she couldn't put her finger on it, something about this answer intrigued her. She felt inexplicably drawn to the anonymous person behind the message. Maybe it was the fact the woman traveled to and once lived in San Diego. Setting the soda can back on top of the desk, she clicked on the reply icon and began to type.
Hello GDGTCHK. (Would that be gadgets? Are you into electronic toys? I guess you may be, being a computer consultant.) I'm a marketing director for a small restaurant chain that's based here in SD. I travel a bit as well, but really not that often.
We must be going to the same bars and functions, as we seem to be meeting the same women. :) That's one reason I thought I would break down and try a personal ad. To be honest, I scanned the ads out there and didn't see any I wanted to respond to, so I thought, > what the heck', I'd give it a shot.
So, what type of consulting do you do? Networks, software; web pages, all or none of the above?
Movies ...I love all kinds, comedies, drama, romance, sci-fi, action-adventure, and horror. How about you?
Im glad to meet another Buffy and Xena fan. I dont many of them here, at least women who admit watching them J I have to admit I dont care for Angel too much. Just call me sexist I guess. J
Well, thanks for responding. I hope to hear back from you.
Before she could reply to the remaining two, her computer screen began to bleep with Instant Messages from unfamiliar screen names. She couldn't reply fast enough before another message would appear. Not experienced with using Instant Messages often and never having experienced such attention before, she didn't know what to do. Ignore the messages popping up before her eyes or continue to answer her them? She felt overwhelmed and awkward and that her privacy was being violated. She didn't know what to say to these invisible women that she knew nothing about. > Why can't they just email me?'she thought to herself. Deciding to ignore them, she opened up the next email.
Hi there. Loved you ad. Your honesty was so refreshing. I live in Orange County, Newport Beach, not too far away from you, right?
My name is Jean; I'm 5'5", brn hair, brn eyes. I'm 38 years young and regressing daily. :) I'm an investment analyst and financial planner. I love humor, country music/dancing, and having a good time. I go to a gay and lesbian country bar to dance, but am not much of a drinker and don't do drugs (I noticed your ad was silent as to these things, but just thought I'd let you know).
Well, if I'm not too far away, I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for the compliment.
I love country music as well, but don't get out dancing like I used to. I
don't drink much myself, but do smoke, less and less it seems. I'm 5'5",
grn eyes; brownish hair. I work in marketing for a restaurant chain. No, Orange County is actually closer than a number of responses that I've gotten. So, what else do you like to do other than go out dancing?
Running the reply through the spell checker, she sent her answer. Glancing at the clock and seeing it was after 10:00 pm, she decided to check the last response before going off to bed.
Hello ...Do you like candlelight dinners, walks under the stars, romantic music, dancing in the moonlight, just talking? I'm 40, not quite over the hill yet. I don't drink or smoke. If you want to know more about me, read my profile ...And yes ...I do wish upon a star as well. See you under the stars.
" Profile? What the hell is a profile?" Jessica muttered to herself, her ignorance of cyberdating becoming more frustrating. Not knowing what else to do, she clicked the mouse on the Member Services icon and scanned the menu. Seeing "Member Directory" , she clicked the mouse and soon saw "Member Profiles" . Again clicking the mouse, a subscreen popped up, and she entered "Casper" in the space for the member's name. "Member Profile: Casper" then appeared on the screen.
Member Name: Casper
Location: Southern California
Birth date: Taurus
Marital Status: Single
Hobbies: Moonlit walks; reading; biking; mountain climbing
Computers: Have one.
Occupation: Have one.
" Cool," she thought to herself, deciding to see if any of the other > applicants'had profiles. Not finding one for GDGTCHK or CNTRYLVR, she returned to Casper's letter to reply.
Well hello Casper. Yes, I am partial to those things you listed. I did read your profile, but why don't you tell me more about yourself ...like where do you live for starters?
Exhausted, she signed off and went into her bedroom. Crawling into bed, she quickly fell into sleep mode
* * *
After performing her morning wake up ritual of making coffee and feeding the cat, Jessica sat back down at the computer and logged on to see if any new answers awaited her. Finding five more, she quickly deleted the three she wasn't interested in and replied to the remaining two. Before she could log off, an IM from an unfamiliar screen name popped on her screen.
2QT2B: Now, Jess ...I know it's you.
SDLVR2: Who are you? She typed in, not recognizing the screen name.
2QT2B: It's me hon, Erin. I never took you for a computer dating type.
SDLVR2: No, you just took me for a fool!" she angrily typed.
2QT2B: Now, now. I just wanted to say hi.
SDLVR2: What are you doing looking at the personals anyway? I thought you had a lover, or are you cheating on her as well?
2QT2B: C'mon Jess. Carol and I broke up awhile ago. I've learned my lesson. Why can't we just be civil and at least try to be friends?
SDLVR2: The day you cheated on me and the day you struck me were the last days of our friendship Erin. Please don't IM or email me anymore. I just want the property settlement finalized and I want to move on."
Not waiting for a response, she logged off and went to get ready for work.
* * *
Glancing around the crowded restaurant, she saw the blond crown of Shawn's head in a booth along the side of the dining area. As Jessica approached, Shawn glanced up and smiled at her best friend in greeting.
" Hiya hon. It's about damn time!" she scolded as Jessica slid into the booth across from her.
" Sorry. Had a hard time getting away from the office," Jessica apologized, settling in, and picking the napkin up off the table and placing it across her lap. "Been here long?" She asked taking a sip of her water.
" No, not really. Just like giving you a hard time," Shawn smiled.
" Yeh, Yeh, Yeh ...you're sure good at that, huh?"
" Yes ma'am, guess I am. But what is a best friend for?" She smiled teasing, "So ...how's the cyber ad working? Any cyber chickita yet?" Shawn closed her menu and directed her attention to Jessica who was studying her own menu. Shawn seemed to be her only friend who supported her internet endeavors.
" Well, I've certainly received some interesting responses so far, that's for sure. I'm overwhelmed. I've gotten at least 25, not counting all of the messages that keep on popping on my screen when I'm online, and women who just want to say hello and that they liked the ad. Im not quite sure of the cyber etiquette. This whole process is both addicting and exhausting!" she laughed.
The waitress approached the table asking if they wanted a drink before ordering. Each ordered an iced tea and also placed their meal orders. Picking the menus up off of the table, the waitress told them she would be right back with their drinks.
" So?" Shawn asked curiously as soon as the waitress walked away. "Any good prospects?"
" Maybe a few. We'll see. After all, I just put the ad up a few days ago. Too early to tell. But ..." Jessica paused nervously.
" But what?" Shawn asked leaning closer across the table.
" Erin found me online. I think she figured out the ad was me. I created the screen name solely for purposes of cruising the personals, so I dont know how else she wouldve found that screen name"
Jessica sat back against the rear of the booth, amazed. "No shit! What happened?"
" Nothing much really. I told her not to contact me anymore and to just finalize the property settlement so that I can move on. I > hung up'on her by logging off. That seems to be the extent of our conversations lately. She makes me mad and one way or another I hang up on her." The waitress placed their glasses of iced tea down on the table, saying she would bring their salads shortly.
" How do you feel?" Shawn asked, concerned.
" Angry. She screwed me over once and she still seems to be trying to screw me over some more. Every time I think it's over, she decides that the settlement agreement needs more changes. She's the one who screwed around on me and beat the crap out of me, yet I'm the one who's paying through the nose just to be rid of her."
" I know hon. It seems to me like she just doesn't want to let go of you."
" My thoughts exactly. I know I shouldn't let her get to me, but she does, even after all of this time. But, hopefully, it'll soon be over and our last ties will finally be severed. I just hate to meet anyone new before this nightmare of this chapter in my life is closed. I'm afraid that it will taint whatever happiness I may find."
" It will be over soon, Jess. Erin will get tired of it all, especially when she gets her attorney's bill, or meets a new hoochie mama. Just hang in there." Shawn comforted, patting Jessica's arm.
" Thanks, I know, but its not soon enough for me."
The waitress arrived with their salads. The two old friends settled into a leisurely dinner, laughing and catching up on other recent events in their lives.
Continued in Chapter Two
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