Okay, so I’ve seen The Craigslist Killer movie, based on the true story of a serial killer who picked his victims on Craigslist. But I’ve allowed myself to indulge in a Craigslist Fantasy while I’m home sick with a cold and a hurt back.
Hell, it could happen, right?
This much is true: I’m selling a keyboard on Craigslist now. I got a response from a guy. Via text we’ve been making plans to meet so he can check it out. I had to reschedule once because I was too sick to deal with it, he responded by text that he hopes I feel better. Aw, that was nice.
And it got me to thinking . . .
What if . . .
Here’s the fantasy part (meaning none of this actually happened) . . .
Chris was scheduled to come on Sunday afternoon at 3:00. The kids were with my ex-husband. I started looking for him right before, because I don’t have a doorbell and my dogs were out back.
And there he was, a man at my door.
Chris was medium everything in my fantasy, medium-to-tall height, build, complexion, the kind of guy who could commit a crime and would not be remembered, except for his smile. A great smile. All and all, an impossibly nice mix of nerd and athlete. After all, this isn’t online dating, I don’t have to check all the boxes in my harmless fantasy. He was conveniently without race or ethnicity or age in my fantasy. He wasn’t big enough to scare me — since we are alone in my house, but he was big enough to be my manly fantasy — since we were alone in my house.
But I digress . . . from my own fantasy . . . so sad. Okay, back to it.
Out of habit I checked his hands. Clean and no ring. Good.
“Hey, how are you, I’m Chris.” He smiled, a Hollywood smile.
He seemed pleased to meet me. Which means my painstakingly effortless casual look had succeeded — tight tee-shirt and jeans, sneakers, but earrings,necklace, lipstick and blush. However, in an unconventional move — I left my glasses on and hair up in a clip. Hell, this wasn’t a date. Plus, if my glasses are on, I can get away with the lack of eye makeup, which means I don’t have to worry about taking off eye makeup later. (Always thinking, always planning, often lazy.) All in all, I presented a nice mix of nerdy femininity, thank you very much.
“Good, I’m Roxanne.””
“Nice to meet you.” He held out his hand.
I shook his hand, shouldn’t have, since I’ve been blowing my nose all day, but there was a man in my house and I was going to touch him, some way, some how . . .
“Anyway, the keyboard is downstairs.” Could you wait just a minute?
I pulled out my cell and called my mom, pretending that she was a boyfriend.
“Hey, sweetie, just wanted to let you know the man is here to look at the keyboard and I’ll call you later. No, take your time — he looks okay.” I smiled at him. “But you can come if you want.”
“Well, you can never be too careful.” Safety first, safety last, safety always. (I wonder if he carries condoms?)
He laughed again. So did I. I may have giggled. Damn.
The dogs were going crazy outside. He said, “You can let them in, I love dogs.” (Ding Ding, we have a winner.)
“No, they’re harmless, but they’ll be all over you.” (Insert obvious double entendre)
I showed him to the small door to my semi-finished basement and motioned him down.
He joked, “Now should I be scared?”
“Perhaps, a little.” (Bwah ha ha, you have no idea . . . )
I uncovered the keyboard and said, “Let me get it turned on.” (I thought, “I wanna turn him on.” Why? because he’s a man in my house. That’s all it takes. )
“Okay, looks good. Cool. Wow. ” Chris immediately starting playing, pushing the buttons, the joystick, changing sounds.
He was lost in the keyboard. Just like I like them, said the spider to the fly.
I watched him play with it for a bit. Keyboard technique only fair, but chording nice. Knows his way around electronics. For the first time in a long time I was not in a hurry for a person to leave my house. I offered him water. You should always offer a guest in your home something to drink.
“No, thanks, I’m good.” (Are you? I wonder.)
My back was aching and I needed to sit, so I sat at my son’s drums (which,by the way, are really mine). Before I knew it I was playing (at) drums along with him. Fun. To quote the great scholar — The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,
“A girlie who can play the drums can write her own ticket.“
Do ya think I’m sexy now, man in my house?
Chris wanted the keyboard. Yay! (I wanted him. Yes, I like musicians, even part-time basement musicians.) I explained to him that I threw my back out and couldn’t help him carry it. “Oh, I can probably do it.” He got up to lift the keyboard to test the weight. I watched.
Biceps, good. Oh my gosh, what is wrong with me?
His pants were too baggy for butt evaluation, which is good, because if he’d had on skinny jeans? Well, that would have been bad.
All in all. I like this guy, I thought.
He likes music and the same music gear I own. Good.
He’s got manners. Good.
He has a job of some sort because we had to schedule around it. Good.
So far he hasn’t tried to kill me. Very good.
A fleeting thought — I keep duct tape in my gig bag in the basement; he’s in my basement. Hmmm. I briefly considered getting out the duct tape to ensure a longer visit, but I decided against that. Sigh.
“Oh, I forgot about the case. It’s upstairs. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get everything down because of my back. Can you help bring it down?”
This meant he had to walk through my house to the upstairs attic storage.
I saw him glance in my bedroom. My bedroom is nice. Kind of hotel chic. Not too feminine. In other words, man ready. Yeah, baby.
My kids’ bedrooms? Not so nice. Messy. The kids weren’t home, and I have been too sick and hurt to clean their rooms. I apologized for the messes. He shrugged and said, “You should have seen my room when I was a kid.” (I’d like to see his room now.)
“Do you have kids?” I ask.
“No, I’m not married.” (I love that answer). “I’m still a big kid myself.” (I don’t know about that answer, but he was a man in my house.)
“My kids are with their dad today.” Awkward silence. Why did I say that? This is horrible, I’m awkward even in my own fantasy.
Why? why? did I say “their dad” ? Then I remembered my fake boyfriend call I’d made to my mother when he arrived. Oh no! So now he thinks I have multiple kids and at least one baby daddy plus a boyfriend. Damn. Not well-played. Now the awesome task in front of me was to slip in “Ex-Husband” and “single” in the conversation in the next 45 seconds.
I can be skilled in the art of conversation when I have to be (i.e. when I’ve already messed things up), so when he commented on a painting of me, I casually mentioned that it was the only thing my ex-husband gave me that I kept, other than the kids — ha ha — and that it was painted in Europe and I fantasize about moving to France when my kids get out of school — and I added, slipped in, really,
“I’m single and free, right?”
“Right.” He smiled.
Well-played, Roxanne, well-played.
Then Chris asked, the dreaded, inevitable question. He asked me how many kids I have. I mean, he saw the boy’s drums, now he was walking through my girls’ rooms and there are baby pictures on the walls upstairs.
Well, this is tricky. I have five children. Five. Sometimes I’m afraid to tell guys that. But I have to say, they don’t seem to care that much. Still, it’s a substantial number.
“Five. I have five kids.”
“Wow.” And he did what many do, glance at my waist. I pretended to ignore that.
“Yeah, you got that right. Wow. But I had them two at a time . . . so.”
We had the twin conversation and he adds the obligatory, “You’ve got your hands full,” thing. Blah Blah Blah. My stock may have plummeted. Damn kids. Whatever. There’s a man in my house!!!! Perhaps I should reconsider the duct tape to keep him here, I thought, now that he knows I have five kids. Hmmm.
So, long story short, in my fantasy I stood there and watched him load the keyboard and I didn’t drip snot on my chest. Lots of biceps and sweating were involved, his, which I enjoyed. He paid what I quoted, didn’t try to talk me down, and said, in parting, “I hope you feel better.” Aw, that was nice. (Which is how this whole thing got started.)
In my fantasy conclusion, my Craigslist guy doesn’t kill me. He calls me. And he comes to my next gig.
I don’t allow myself to fantasize any further than that . . .
Just Me With . . . a Craigslist fantasy. The G-Rated one, anyway.
Postscript from real life: Just got a text from him checking in, saying, “Before I made other plans later I wanted to ask how you are doing.” Aw. He wanted to know if today was going to work for me. He ended with, “FYI, I’m in no rush, in any case. Take care, Chris.” I replied that I’d reschedule and hold the keyboard for him.
I think I’m in love.
So the fantasy continues . . . for another day. Because today I feel like crap, look a hot mess, and walk funny.
Final Postscript from real life: He came to my house to see the keyboard — with his girlfriend. Sigh. At least he bought it. I used the money to pay off a credit card. Next fantasy? Becoming debt-free.
Well, the Random-Alley -Walking- Wanna-Be Landscaper Guy called again. See, Not Digging The Landscaper Guy — Part I. I let it ring. Number WITHHELD, no voicemail. The next time he called, approximately three minutes later, I picked up. Immediately he tried to set up a date. I suggested that we talk for a bit. I asked him to tell me about himself. His reply, “What do you want to know? My age? What I do? ” Well, I asked what he did for a living. He replied that he is an iron worker for concrete installations, plus, he volunteered his age. I hadn’t asked.
Then, he did what I really hate. He asked me my age, if “you don’t mind, telling.”
I replied, I thought in a light-hearted manner, “Well, I kinda do mind telling.”
His response, sounding a bit annoyed,
“Why don’t women want to tell that? I told my age. I just want to know if you are older or younger.”
(Lately, I’m always older. sigh). Still, forcing a conversation about age is another pet peeve of mine. Men: if I don’t volunteer my age and especially if I refuse to answer the question, don’t ask again.
Anyway, this is what I learned from the Landscaper Iron Worker Guy:
By “I’m in school” he meant, he’s doing some sort of required periodic training program for his craft, which is putting in rebar (pieces of steel) for concrete installations for large structures like bridges.
He’s in the union. Which pays well, according to him. (I told him I knew the difference between a union and non-union skilled laborer, as I have experience dealing with unions.)
He has two grown kids, living out of the area.
He lives with his elderly grandmother, but that won’t be for long.
Starting next week he’ll be out-of-town all weekends until August 4th.
When I asked what he did for fun, he said he likes to play basketball and baseball, but, because of work, he doesn’t do much other than play Play Station, well really X-Box lately. He said he hasn’t been bowling in a while and he always wanted to go horseback riding. He likes to walk, and is trying to lose a couple of pounds.
Things that bothered me:
*Asking for my age more than once.
*Admitting the video games thing.
*Asking why I’m single — again.
*Telling me (again) that I look good for five kids.
*Saying that someone offered him a phone but he didn’t take it. Not telling me that he is actually going to get a new phone.
*When I asked about the number WITHHELD thing, he said he’d change it but that it is his grandmother’s phone number.
*Pushing me for a face-to-face date after I said I’d like to talk for a bit first.
* Asking for music lessons.
*Saying he has lived in the area for a few years but not seeming to know about anything outside the neighborhood.
* When I talked about working on my house, he asked, “Couldn’t you use having me around to help you with all that?” I joked and asked him, “Where were you last year when I was putting down that heavy flagstone?” He said he was “around.” But it occurred to me that I should have met him before. I don’t remember him speaking to me before or even seeing him around — he must have been in the house playing video games.
* Asking me why I don’t have anyone, whether I’ve had anyone since my husband and I split, and whether I’m just waiting for the perfect man. “What you gotta have a particular kind of man?” His attitude revealed a sense of insecurity, maybe he knew he wasn’t doing well with me.
*Anyone who says that they are busy weekends — all weekends — for a defined length of time — well, it makes me wonder if it’s not a weekend jail situation. I’m suspicious that way.
All in all, sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, did anyone ever see that Friends episode where Chandler was seeing Rachel’s boss, didn’t like her but at the end of each date still said,
“Well, that was fun, we should do it again sometime. I’ll call you.”?
Chandler had no intention of ever calling Joanna, yet he didn’t know how to end the interaction without saying he would. Well, I’m the female version of that. (Season Three, “The One With The Dollhouse”)
So, even though I don’t want it, I have a phone date with Landscaper Guy next week. I’d call him to tell him that I’m not interested but I don’t have his number, remember? — number WITHHELD. During our conversation I tried to tell him that I wasn’t looking to meet anyone, I was just working in my yard. Sounding a bit defensive, he insisted that neither was he and he wasn’t asking for anything physical. He also asked, “What, you have too many friends?”
Now, if I wanted a new non-physical friendship, it would have to be with someone I found interesting– maybe someone who shared my interests. If I was looking for a physical relationship with or without friendship, I would have to find him attractive — which I don’t (He’s not cute, not ugly — just not offensive — there’s a big difference).
Plus, he’s starting to just piss me off.
Yet still, I, like Chandler Bing, told him he could call me next week.
What the hell????
Just Me With . . . another phone call coming my way. It’ll be the last, I hope.
There are no handcuffs in my future with The Landscaping Guy.
Related, sadly, He Lives With His Mother?
The front of my house is on a busy street. The back of my house is on an alley. Not too much privacy. But since purchasing this little fixer home, I’ve been dutifully working on the yard. . Last year with the help of a friend I put down a flagstone patio. I built a fire pit by myself. I put up a split rail fence. This year the plan is to plant something that would give us a sense of privacy. But on this day, I was simply moving buckets of rock mulch from one part of the yard to another.
It was a beautiful day. I was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap, work boots, no make-up, glasses on but the lenses had transitioned to dark (so maybe I looked like I had on sunglasses). I wasn’t a beauty queen, wasn’t trying to be.
A man walked by, probably on his way to a nearby bus stop or train. Asked me if I needed help with my landscaping, said he really only does it as a side job, he’s in school right now. No, I say, I usually do it myself. (I was doing it myself, thank you very much.) He said he wouldn’t charge much, that he could plant and mulch for me. Again I say — I do it myself. Of course, I told him if I need him I’ll let him know. (I gotta stop doing that). He asked me if I lived alone, asked me if I was married, if I had a boyfriend, if I was looking. He offered, and I allowed him to, carry my bags of top soil from my car into my yard. Again, a woman doing exterior work, SCREAMS single to men. See The Snowman
Now, if you’ve read my previous posts you know that I am trying to open myself up to meeting new men. But does that mean ANY new man? Must I be indiscriminate?
He spoke fairly well and had all his teeth. (Could my bar BE any lower? Chandler Bing style) He wanted us to hang out, nothing big, maybe dinner or a movie. I said, “Can I think about it?” He wanted a way to contact me. Instead of offering my number, I asked for his number to put into my phone. He said he doesn’t have a cell phone right now, he dropped it in concrete. (This man was exhibiting the classic I don’t have a job giveaways — “I’m in school” “I don’t have a phone right now” and he appeared not to have a car in this suburban area.) Plus, though he spoke well and had a nice smile, he was sweaty, had a scarf on his head, had on a white tee and sweatpants. Since I don’t need a suit guy, his casual appearance is not a deal breaker . . . but his overall mojo was not working for me. Still, I gave him my number.
When he called the next day, he did not identify himself. (Poor phone manners, bad)
“Hey, are you busy?“
“Kinda, who is this?“
“Darren.” He said he wanted to talk, wanted to set up a time when we could get together and get to know each other.
I explained, truthfully, that I was in a store, and had a meeting that afternoon. Also, since I knew I’d be busy with the kids’ concert that night I asked if he could call tomorrow. Plus, I’d just found out that my Ex-husband is getting married again, in a horrible way and I didn’t feel like small talk right then and there with random alley walking landscaper guy. He said he’d call me tomorrow, but wanted to know whether he should call or just come by. (Dude, a call is sufficient.)
“Okay,” I said, “Nice talking to you, good . . . ” — click. He didn’t say goodbye or allow me to finish. (Poor phone manners, again.)
Bottom line: I don’t feel like talking to this guy. Is it because I’m justifiably not feeling him or it is because I’m still avoiding getting out there? Or is it because I was having a weird day, finding out about my Ex’s remarriage and all.
So, here are the red flags for me from Random-Landscaper-Guy-Wanna-Be. Everybody’s flags are different.
1. He lives in my neighborhood.
Frankly it’s not the best neighborhood, not the worst either, depends on the block and the house. He didn’t tell me which house he lives in. Still, he may know people I know or who know my ex’s family, some of whom live nearby, and I’m kinda turned off by going out with random dude. [Stranger Danger! Stranger Danger! — as my kids would say] Plus, what if I do go out with him and it’s not good — I may not want to see him walking behind my house routinely (I had a stalking incident at one time, so I’m a little gun-shy).
2. He had no phone.
Okay, so like most people I’ve lost/broken my cell phone before and had to go without for a couple of days, it happens — but it doesn’t happen for a long period of time. He offered no house phone number. I know, not everyone has one. But he offered no date or time frame in which he’d be getting his phone replaced. The last time I was “phone-less” I told everyone I’m getting my phone on [insert date].
3. When he called, it came up number WITHHELD.
4. When he called, he left no message, just called repeatedly.
Again, ‘Nuf said.
5. “Should I call or just come by.”
And again, ‘Nuf said.
I am seriously regretting giving this guy my number.
But since I don’t really want to go out with anyone anyway, is there anything this guy could have done?
YES!!!!!! If he actually lives “down the street” from me, there was no need for him to close the deal on the phone number right then and there. He could accidentally on purpose run into me later. Like later, when he has a phone. Like later, when he is not so sweaty, like later, when he hasn’t just asked me for work. The point is, it was not a classic Craigslist missed connections kind of thing. He knows where I live and reportedly, lives nearby. Moreover, he could have engaged me in conversation to see if we had anything in common, other than “I look good for five kids” (a pet peeve of mine, though I know it’s meant as a compliment) and “I look too good not to have a boyfriend.” As if not having a man to mulch for me was some sort of enigma he couldn’t comprehend. Again, I know it was meant as a compliment, but it’s all in the delivery. If he’d offered these “compliments,” wished me a nice day and walked away, only to see me another day, marveling how we keep running into each other, well, that would have been better. Still, even with the red flags, I was trying to have a conversation with this guy. I was trying to be open. And trust me, this is not the cabana boy – – romance novel- -six pack having- -strong muscular arms — looking man I could simply enjoy watching mulch in my yard. No sir, no ma’am.
Ugh . . . . . . I’m SO not feeling it now.
So, what to do if he calls? (To be continued, because . . . he did call again).
Just Me With . . . number WITHHELD and possibly on my way to Home Depot to buy some privacy plantings.
I was in the midst of a nasty divorce and remodeling a nasty house. (See Piss, Puke, and Porn). I was learning how to do so many construction type things by myself. I went almost daily to the Home Improvement Store.
Sometimes I bought what I needed.
Sometimes I’d just stare at items and plan my next project.
Sometimes . . . I would just stare.
I had decided I would learn about electrical work (dangerous, I know). My thinking was that carpentry is all good but it requires a fair amount of strength – man strength that I just don’t have, and I’d often need help for those projects anyway, same with plumbing. I was looking to learn how to do things I can do my own damn self. So electrical work– nothing big– more like just being able to trouble shoot and maybe one day being able to replace a receptacle or put in a light fixture — could be a skill I could use by myself. It doesn’t take a whole lot of strength, and it seemed like something about which I could at least try to develop a working knowledge. So I bought a book and was standing in the electrical aisle — you know, just looking.
(As an aside, if you like the work boots kinda guy, it’s fun to look at the home improvement store customers early in the morning during the week if you can get there. Weekends, not so much, unless you want to ogle married guys with their wives and kids in tow.)
Anyway, a nice gentleman working there asked if he could help me. He was okay cute, well-spoken, friendly — impressed when I told him about my projects but not condescending. The conversation turned personal and I found out he was divorced with grown kids (he must have married young), and he owned his home. I told him I was getting divorced too, hence my move to the fixer home (my Hoarders dump).
I started to think: Well, this is The Perfect Man. Based on his store discount alone I could justify falling for him. Plus — bonus, he actually had skills, electrical skills, construction skills — and a nice smile. This man could teach me things. (I was still mid-divorce nastiness, not dating but trying to be open to it.) I started to fantasize about power tools and having someone to hold the other end of the tape measure. Ahhh “Maybe I should go out with this guy,” I thought. “What can it hurt?” So when he finally got around to asking if he could give me his number (very gentlemanly I thought), I just said, “Sure.” At the time, this was a huge step for me. Though my husband and I had been separated for a while, I did not feel very single yet and was not ready to be “out there.” (Sadly, some of that has not changed.) Anyway, he got some paper, scribbled his name and number and handed it to me.
His name? —- SAME FREAKIN’ NAME AS MY ESTRANGED HUSBAND!!!!
What the . . . ?
I kept his number for a while, but I couldn’t bring myself to call. I knew I’d never be able to say his name. Never. Ever.
My Home Improvement Store Guy Fantasy was over.
Just Me With . . . the digits of a guy with the same name as my husband.
The Snowman — another chance meeting