Monday, May 14, 2007

not just the elderly get duped

my roommates and i were watching a dateline show this weekend. the show was an investigation into internet purchases made with stolen credit cards.

the camera crew, in disguise as a shipping company, would deliver packages to an older couple's house. on a weekly basis, this couple received tens of thousands of dollars in electronics that were purchased (unbeknownst to them) with a host of different cards, under the name of a woman who didn't live at their address.

the dateline crew investigated a little bit more each delivery, asking questions about the person whose name was on the shipments, who they were, did they live there, were they family, etc.

dateline was able to interview the husband about the packages and their contents. evidently, his "business partner", a woman in australia whom he had met over the internet, was buying all these things and using the couple as a waystation. she would buy stolen playstations, cell phones, stereos, etc, and have them sent to this house. the couple would repackage the items and send them to different places all over the globe for this woman.

by the end of the investigation, the wife was no longer at the house. i'm not sure what happened to the wife, exactly, but i can guess. it turns out that through internet correspondence and photographs, the woman business partner (who was model-esque, young, and WELL endowed) had declared her love for this rotund, 60ish, balding man with a speech impediment. she sent pictures that might as well have been in barely legal, and told him she loved him, she wanted to marry him, and that from the moment they first met, she knew they were "soul mates." he continued to receive and "launder" these stolen goods out of love for this young woman, for her love and the promise of lots of money in return.

as it turns out, he got neither.

dateline finally revealed who they were, and confronted him. they let him know that all of these items he was reshipping were purchased with stolen cards, and that he was being scammed by this "fiance" of his. once the news set in, you couldn't help but feel your heart burst a little bit for this man. watching his face, you could tell that even more than caring about the $40,000 of his own money disappeared in this venture without a dime in return, he was heartbroken more than anything else. he loved her. so much so that he didn't see that it was implausible that a hot, young, single, exotic girl would devote herself to an overweight, awkward, older, married man whom she had never met in person. mostly, it didn't occur to him because he didn't WANT to see it.

at the end of the show, someone in the room said, "how can anybody actually fall for that? how could he honestly not know he was being had?"

i agreed silently, and then gave it some thought. i began to see how an intelligent, normal human being can be taken advantage of. i know this because i have been.

i didn't send money and my bank account information to anybody in nigeria, nor did i fall for any pyramid scheme, thinking that if i invested a little money, i would get it back tenfold. though i didn't lose my life savings. i did lose some sleep, lots of pride, and many wasted hours being miserable - all of which are actually more valuable than money now that i consider it.

as i've said before, my friend bob tells me that i have a beautiful ability to see the wonderful traits in people, no matter how tiny these traits might be, and love them for it. the problem is, because of this, i am unable to see the "big picture" in people. this has done me wrong more than once, but used in the right situation, it's an amazing gift. i've gotten to know people - friends, boyfriends - because i was mesmerized by this one, miniscule beauty about them. and it drew me into relationships with them i would have otherwise overlooked.

i dated someone about nine months ago. i saw so many great qualities in him. he was clever, fun, unique, funny. he wasn't striking my any means. he was older, and had not taken care of his body. the first thing i thought when i saw him up close was how pale and "soft" his body was. his body had succumbed to a decade of bachelor living and laziness. but there was something about him i loved. his eyes, his curly locks of hair, his energy. i looked past the negative and petty things, and realized i had found someone amazing.

from the beginning, my friends were skeptical. they didn't like him. they told me they didn't know WHY they didn't like him, they just didn't. it was a feeling, a "something isn't right" sort of situation. and even though i've been on that side of the fence with friends of mine and their new boyfriends/girlfriends that i didn't trust, i tried to argue that this was different. i explained away all the things they didn't like in him. i had an excuse for each one, or so i thought. i was offended that i had to defend him to my friends. after all, i knew him so much better than they did. he was attentive, he made me feel good, i LIKED him. how is it possible for a feeling that strong to mislead anyone? i trusted my feelings, and i trusted myself.

i'm not sure whether the negatives about him got worse, or whether i was becoming more able to see them. but just like i did to my friends, i explained the little things away. but at that point, i was trying convince myself.

he refused to let me go anywhere where his ex girlfriend would be out of "courtesy" for her feelings. i thought this was gracious, until it happened four or five times. and i called him on it. "she's going to know you're dating someone eventually, right? you can't hide from her forever." now i know he wasn't hiding from her. he was hiding me.

he kept his apartment in as bad if not worse condition than he kept his body. i've had dirty, disorganized boyfriends before. it's a small battle that i'm over fighting. it's petty to me, and i can think of so many other important things in a relationship.

dishes would be piled up, hair covered his shower/sink, years of layers of dust rested on shelves. he was barely home, and his bed and shower were the only things that looked relatively clean because they were the only thing he really used on a daily basis.

there's no excuse for a man in his 30's to live like he lived. yet i tolerated it because i thought he was sweet, funny, quirky. and i was happy, wasn't i? i was most of the time, anyway.

things had been on a slow but steady downhill for a few weeks. and late one night, i woke up cold in his bedroom, him asleep next to me. i crawled out of bed and felt my way to his closet. at the bottom of his closet was a plastic basket where all of his clean boxers went, and i reached in to grab a pair to put on. what i grabbed turned out to be a pair of women's underwear. and i could tell even before i turned the light on that they weren't mine.

instead of walking, rather running, out of his apartment and never looking back, i woke and confronted him. my position was, "if you're sleeping with someone else, that's fine. i just want to know. i deserve to know, not only for my piece of mind but also my physical well-being, since we're sleeping together. so, are you sleeping with someone else?"

he explained it away, that of course he wasn't sleeping with anyone, and they had probably been in there since his last girlfriend had stayed there. possible and plausible -- especially due to his housekeeping practices. still, i should not have done what i did, which was turn off the light and crawl back into bed. my small act of defiance, brushing his hand off when he tried to wrap it around me, didn't turn out to be enough.

the really ridiculous part was that i didn't leave that night because it was a relationship i wanted to salvage. i adored and wanted him. hard to believe, but i did.

it continued to get worse, and at the end he made some extermely shallow excuses as to why it wasn't working for him anymore. instead of being liberated and relieved, i was devastated. and for a long, long time afterward. i wanted the wonderful thing that we had back. i wanted him back. badly. he was too wonderful to let go. what did i do to push him away?

i think back on this and i want to die. i think of all the things i wish i would have done. i wish i would have listened to my friends. and then later i should have listened to those little whispers in my head. i showed weakness, and blind, stupid love for a person who was and still is unworthy of me. i was the one who was abandoned, and hurt. i was the one that wasn't good enough for him. i was pathetic and sad. a reject.

i began to see things like this man on tv saw his life. all the signs were obvious, but my naive, optimistic, loving side saw things as i wanted to see them instead of how they really were. on good days, like today, i wonder why? why would someone like me, with a heart larger than my head, care about a soulless, lying creep? why do i feel like i lost the game? why do i feel inferior? why do i feel like i was tricked? why do i, to this day, still want him back sometimes?

i want to be the person i am in my blogs - bitter, pessimistic, judgemental, and skeptical about everything and everyone. i know if i were. it would protect me from just about everything in my life that hurts me. but i can't. i will always show someone i love them even if it makes me look weak, because i'm being true to myself and my feelings. i'll always love people who don't deserve my attention. i will always lose. i will always lose, that is, until i find someone just like me. someone who gives more than they get, who loses more than he wins, someone who nobody else can see the real beauty of. and when i do, i pray to god i don't fuck it up.

but in the meanwhile, all i can do is continue to be true to me, and make sure to listen to my head more than my heart every now and then. after all, my head reminds me never to send money to anybody in africa who claims to be a long, lost relative.

No comments: