I used to be very shy around everyone – boys included. This all changed when I was introduced to the world of internet chat rooms as a pre-teen. I had many great connections with boys/men that stemmed from this forum, but they all started after I met Wayne.
Yesterday I started in on a little bit of a rant over how online is the only place where I find connections with men in a romantic way. It’s not just limited to online dating, but in the real world most men can’t see past my exterior to understand and value the interior. When I was younger I was very shy in all my interactions. I found it hard to make friends because of that and to really show my personality. This all changed when the “age of the chat room” emerged as a new fad. I remember my first screen name for Yahoo! Chat well. My parents would sit in the same room as I spent 30 minutes online talking to different people around the world, and I felt I could really connect with them since my shyness wasn’t a factor. I was starting to open up and blossom as a person in the online world.
I didn’t really chat with the same people a lot, until I met Wayne. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but probably with someone asking the “a/s/l?” question. For those of you not old enough to have lived through Yahoo! Chat or ICQ, that means age, sex, location. Well I was 12 or 13 at the time, and he said he was 17. That was a little over the age limit I was comfortable talking to, and up to that point I had only talked to girls, but something about him made me forget all about my insecurities. We somehow started talking on a regular basis. I think it was after I moved into Kitchener from our little country town, but I’m not exactly sure. However, I do know I talked to my new friends in Kitchener about him a little.
After talking for a little bit, Wayne started to say the things that all teenage girls want to hear. He liked me – ACTUALLY LIKED ME! Well probably not in real life, thinking back I am sure I was being a stupid little girl, and should have told my parents about him, but I liked what I was being told. I liked hearing that someone would be able to like my personality. That is when it started – the feeling that I could be found attractive by someone just by using my words. They hadn’t seen the real me so they were just connecting to my personality. It was a great feeling, and one that keeps being validated today.
The longer we talked, the more attached I became. I was being completely honest about everything in my life with Wayne. I never told a lie. The same could not be said for him. He was a man (at least as far as I know he was), and he lived in England, but he was not 17. After a while it came out that he was 19, and he was “sorry he lied to me, but he didn’t think that I would like him if I knew he was so much older than me”. I forgave the small lie – what’s the big difference between 17 and 19 anyways? I was 13 so obviously I knew what I was doing. Then a little while longer, he came out with the real truth – the reason why his username had the year 75 in it was because he was BORN in 1975! Making him a whopping 12 years older than I was. It turned out he was in fact 25, not 17 or 19. He had a son, but his mother had died (or so I was told). And again – I kept talking to him!
At one point, I told my brother of my new found connection! He’s 25 and British and used to be in the army but not any more *swoon*. Que big doe eyes and a large sigh of love reserved only for the town triplets in Beauty and the Beast who would fawn over Gaston. Well, being a year older and smarter and protective of his little sister, my brother told my parents. I was forbidden to talk to Wayne any more. It was inappropriate and if I couldn’t limit my chat times to appropriate people that it would be taken away. Of course as I’m sure you can already guess, that didn’t go over well. I agreed of course to keep my internet privileges, but I kept talking to Wayne in secret.
At one point, we exchanged addresses and he sent me a package in the mail. I remember it well – he sent a picture of him, and one of him and his son. A hand written note and a mixed tape of the Beatles (ooo the mix tape! The soundtrack of love). I kept these little trinkets hidden in my room. Proof that we were meant to be together (Are you gagging yet? I think I might be gagging a little). I think I sent him a school picture and a note as well – but that was 15 years ago so I’m not sure if I ever returned the favour….. or maybe I wrote first?
Well – as with all things that are as creepy as this guy, it got worse. One day I was sitting on the computer and he logged into the chat room. I said hi in my normal 13 year old way of flirting and apparently it wasn’t him. It was his pregnant wife or girlfriend or something. She yelled at me and swore at me and all that, and it broke my little heart. I thought that I was the only one in his life – how could this be happening! I literally was heart broken and crying. I confronted him about it the next time we talked and finally ended things for good. He kept popping up in messages over the next few weeks until I finally blocked all communication with him. But the damage was done. I blocked his email and burnt the things he had mailed to me. In my mind, it was my first break-up. Even if there was no relationship in real life, the feelings where real for me, and the tears were definitely real when it ended.
I was thinking back over this a few years ago and realized how lucky I am in this whole situation. I’m not sure what this person’s game was – if he was just fooling around or if he was a dangerous person. Back in those days, I had no concept of internet safety. No one had ever had that talk with me, or my class at school. Now, every child is taught the importance of internet safety from the moment they step into kindergarten. The school board I’m in right now sends a constable out to grade 6 classes and has a course teaching the students about the law and how it applies to their life. One of the sessions is about internet safety and predators on the internet.
Even after all of that – there is one thing I am grateful to Wayne for: he brought me out of my shell. Just being told that I was beautiful and he loved me, or that if we ever met he’d want to kiss me – that was enough to give me self-worth as a girl growing into a woman. It was the first time anyone of the male gender had shown any interest in me romantically. I’m still slightly attached to Wayne even after all these years. Sometimes I wonder what became of his life, if anything he told me was true, and just exactly how dangerous was our connection?
I’ll never know what happened to him, but I hope in some way he found happiness in life. I thank him for opening up that aspect of my life, but also am kind of mad for him taking away the trust I had in other people. It’s something that I can’t get back since our encounter is always in the back of my mind.