Disclaimer: This story is not written in any kind of attempt to shame anyone . In fact, while the “star” of this story and I have not communicated in many years and I don’t anticipate that we ever will, he is still one of my favorite people. I feel like I am allowed to write about this because it is my story too….Also, this is really long.
Back when the internet first became widely available, when I was in my 20’s, I decided to place a personal ad online. I had tried random newspaper ads, and exactly one of those turned out to be worthwhile, so I thought maybe eliminating the telephone equation made sense since I hate talking on the phone. It seemed easier to weed people out in an exchange of writing versus the more immediate feeling of an awkward, impromptu, on the spot kind of deal.
So I wrote a somewhat lengthy description of myself and vaguely what I was looking for and waited for the responses to pour in. Of course, the responses did not exactly “pour in”, but there were a few everyday, and just like in modern times, most of them were complete shit. Just short responses like ‘Hi, how are you. You seem interesting, want to meet?’… Nobody ever took the time to respond specifically to anything I wrote, or even really tell me about themselves. Some of the spelling and grammar was so bad in just those few short sentences that I wondered how these people managed their daily lives and lived with themselves. There was not one single person that intrigued me even the slightest bit.
Then one night I came home and a message was waiting. It addressed every single thing I mentioned in the ad, and the guy told me about himself. It was entertaining and very well written. He had been in a band, he had put out a zine with friends, he had a hilarious sense of humor. Basically, he was perfect. Then he mentioned he lived on the East Coast. I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time. Foiled again, I thought.
I wrote to him and told him that while I genuinely thought he was quite possibly my soulmate, the fact that he lived on the other side of the country automatically took him out of the running. I was looking for a live, in person boyfriend, not a pen pal. I assumed I would never hear from him again, quite possibly having offended him.
What made this all the more interesting was the time difference. We were both night owls, so it usually worked out that the lag worked overnight, so the new message was sitting there either late at night after getting home, or waiting upon waking up. There was no immediate gratification or resolution
So, the next day I got up, and was slightly surprised to see a response. This time he did NOT address all of what I had said at all. He blew right over the whole problem of opposite coasts and just asked me two questions: 1. What would you do if you woke up and went to make yourself a cup of coffee and your kitchen floor were covered with hundreds of very tiny turtles? and 2. You are walking on a path in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly a tiny parachute sails down in front of you with a sandwich attached to it. What do you do?
They were such good questions, I couldn’t even be mad that he didn’t even respond to my ‘not looking for a pen pal’ comment. I happily dove into answering them. I said the turtles would not bother me at all, I’d be kind of delighted. I would just sweep them up. The sandwich on the parachute situation was a little more dependent on specific details. I said I would first inspect the parachute, and definitely keep it. The sandwich would depend entirely on it’s condition, the weather, and what kind of sandwich it was. If it were a delicious looking roast beef sandwich, I would probably throw caution to the wind and eat it. If it were like – tuna, or PB&J or something like that, I would feed it to a stray dog, or perhaps offer it to a homeless person. Then I asked him a few questions myself.
It quickly became a ritual to write twice a day – once to answer the message upon waking up, and another at night to respond to the reply from that one. It became very addictive and I started finding myself wanting to leave parties and social situations early to get home and see if there was a message waiting. This went on for maybe a month or so, and I really didn’t even know what he looked like, nor he me. We finally started talking about the possibility of him moving out to Oregon. “You can live with me!” I said, without even really thinking about it.
But I did want him to. I remember I had to move, and when I looked at apartments I was envisioning “us” living there. I even chose a place a bit more expensive because it was bigger and cooler, counting on this probably happening. If it hadn’t, I would have had a really hard time affording it.
But it did happen. I remember being super nervous telling my parents I had invited some guy I had never met to move in with me. I made this very grave, serious announcement, and each of them acted kind of like this guys initial non-reaction to the distance. Neither of my parents seemed to even give a shit, and didn’t even ask me any questions about it really. It was weird, because even my best friends were like “shit, you should buy a gun. are you fucking CRAZY???!!” Hell, even I was starting to get nervous about how stupid I could potentially be for doing this.
My boss was also on the edge of his seat wondering how this would work out. The guy was making his journey, rather sadly, on a Greyhound bus. He moved cross country on a bus with one big suitcase. The day he arrived I asked my boss if I could leave early to meet him at the station. “Hell yes you can, I can’t wait to hear about this tomorrow!”
My first visual of him was just this guy sweating in the hot sun in a white House of Blues jacket on, standing next to a giant floral suitcase outside of Union Station. I don’t remember if we attempted a hug, or if that was too awkward. I will admit though, and I feel a little bad about this, my first thought was for sure ‘well, he isn’t exactly my TYPE. Like, if I saw him at a bar, I wouldn’t single him out’.
So, the first few days were a little bit weird. I’m pretty awkward to begin with, so as the reality of this was sinking in, I was especially so. I think I slept a lot because I just didn’t know how to deal with it, and he thought that was weird. (He was sleeping on the couch) My boss asked me how things were going and I could only say “I’m not sure… I don’t know yet”. One day it was raining, so he showed up at work to present me with an umbrella. He didn’t have a job yet, so he had the time, and he was just so nice like that. My boss saw him that day and said “That is NOT who we expect you to be dating.” I guess because he looked far too straight laced or whatever.
But, after a few days we settled in just fine. It just took one or two drinking sessions where we just hashed it all out. He graduated from the couch, and before you knew it we were completing one another’s sentences. I remember him saying he thought we should get married and I said “God, why?!” thinking it was way to soon to bring that up, and he said “I don’t know, I just think it would be an interesting thing to do”. Meanwhile, it took me quite a while before I stopped referring to him as my “room mate” with friends and coworkers and eventually called him my boyfriend.
I remember right at the beginning I asked him if he had any fetishes. I don’t know why, I just figured it was important. He did, he said. “I have a fetish for hair. Long hair”…And then he pulled out this Barbie type doll he had brought with him that had hair down to her feet, almost as if to prove it. What is weird is that the doll was very unusual and as far as I know somewhat rare, but my childhood best friend had the same doll. We used to call her Martha. So I was more fixated on that than his admission to a fetish, and said ” Oh, I meant a real fetish – like feet or something”, and then just kind of dismissed it in my mind.
Things were going really well. Christmas was coming, and he was MISTER CHRISTMAS. He insisted we get a tree and decorate the whole apartment. I felt all of this pressure to get him a good gift. It was pretty easy because we had practically the same tastes and weird interests. One of the things I got him was a cleared and stained rat in a jar, which is hard to explain, but it’s like the hairless rat in clear liquid, and it’s skeleton has been shot with red dye so that you can see the entire skeleton through it’s still intact skin. super cool. I know he got me many presents that year, but the only one I really remember and have to this day is this:
It is the ponytail of an 8 year old girl from 1900. So that was clearly a special and weird gift. I loved it. I had forgotten completely the thing about his hair fetish, I just love bizarre shit like this. He got it on Ebay. It was a successful Christmas.
A few months later, another package came from Ebay. (we were both total Ebay freaks at that point). I asked him what it was and he said he couldn’t remember. He opened the package and it was an old photograph of this woman with Very, very long hair, and along with the photo was about two feet of her hair. Now I look back on that and bet he never intended for me to see it. But at the time, I just wasn’t drawing the connection, and so I was like “Cool, what are you going to do with it? Should we display it on our entertainment center?” And so the length of hair and the photo of the woman was proudly displayed in our living room for many months.
These things make ME sound weird now too, but I remember one time I asked if I could dress him in drag, just for funsies. I was kind of half joking, I figured he wouldn’t go for it, but he agreed on the stipulation that he got to have a decent, and LONG wig. At one point in my life I had fantasized about being a master of disguise, so I knew how expensive wigs could get. I argued that we could get him a reasonably priced mid length wig, but he insisted that it had to be long. So now it was like a challenge. We went to the wig store one weekend and found a really long wig. It WAS expensive, but not as much as I had thought, and he wanted it. I dressed him up that night, and I swear I have never seen him happier. He LOVED it. I remained pretty much clueless, and was just like ‘wow, I’m surprised at how much he dug that. Every girl should be so lucky!’
But alas, as with most relationships, the immediate excitement died down. We still got along great, but almost too great in some ways. If one of us bought a book, the other would say “Oh yay, I nearly bought that yesterday”. We couldn’t out weird one another, because we both loved weird dusty old treasures, serial killers, and taxidermy. We even fought over the same pair of pants. “the sweatpants”, that we got at a garage sale and were the most comfortable pants in the world. We would honestly wear the pants in shifts. They were hideous, and obviously women’s, but at the same time you had to be either a rather large woman , or a man to wear them with any kind of credibility. They were so comfortable though. I still regret giving them to him when we parted ways.
The one thing we most definitely did NOT agree on was karaoke. He began wanting to go sing karaoke with his work friends. (Why the fuck are all of my serious boyfriends into karaoke?) I draw the line here – there is no way in fucking hell I will participate in Karaoke, so I made one token appearance to pretend to enjoy the environment and then shitcanned the idea. So he just went on his own to do that pretty much weekly, and maybe that is where the crack started to form. But there was definitely a noticeable change over the year. This year Christmas was not being planned months in advance. To be fair, it wasn’t just a change in him either, I still kind of had it in my heart to move to NY and remember asking him how he would feel if I did a trial six month run while he kept the apartment. That can’t have felt good. What is weird is I really did love him, god he was such a nice guy. He would often bring me flowers for no reason (though that had been dropping off), and he was so smart it was amazing. I swear my dad wanted him to be his boyfriend just because he was so admirably good at trivia.
One time I got out of work early – maybe it was a holiday or something, and I opened the door to the apartment. He was inside vacuuming with a wig on. He looked quite startled to see me home. I asked him why he was wearing a wig, and he just said “why not?” and I was like, “yeah, okay, whatever”, not even really caring much, I thought it was funny. But I was watching when he put the vacuum away. Inside the closet where we kept the vacuum was also the giant floral suitcase he had arrived with. He had emptied it when he moved in, and it just sat in the closet. But this day I noticed that the suitcase was bulging, as if it were full of stuff. I was dying to know what he was hiding inside of it, but decided it was not the moment to ask. Part of me wondered if the whole downplaying of Christmas this year was in fact an elaborate ploy and there was in fact the best gift ever in there. If so, I had to know to reciprocate in kind.
I waited for him to go to work. He worked the graveyard shift at a hotel. So I spent several hours in suspense until he took off, and when I was sure he was well on his way I opened up the closet and unzipped the suitcase…
I can only describe it as being kind of like when the cops in the movies finally discover the killers lair and are surrounded by all of the crazy. Inside the suitcase were hundreds of pictures cut out of magazines of hair and women with really long hair. There were drawings he had done himself of women cutting their super long hair with tears in their eyes. That Barbie doll was in there, as well as a couple of other dolls with crazy hair. there was at least one mannequin head in there with a wig on it. There was a bag of some of my hair clippings from when I had cut it once . There were animated videos of some kind of Repunzel like character. Weirdly, there was a bag of eyeglasses from the lost and found at the hotel he worked at.
I think there was more in there, I mean, the suitcase was FULL. But I don’t remember anymore. I just remember it being kind of overwhelming. And then, the sensation of ‘Oh man, I never knew this was such a THING for him’. I didn’t even listen when he initially tried to tell me.
So anyways, yeah, that guy was really into hair. I did actually ask him about his trove. He was probably embarrassed, but also was willing to talk about it, because I think he could tell I was a bit freaked out.
This is a weird place to end it, but that is basically the story. I discovered he had a SERIOUS hair fetish. Which is interesting because my hair has always been short, and hell, now it’s falling out. Our relationship just got to be less and less of a partnership, and I think we both had weird trust issues after that. I asked him if I had long hair if it would make a difference. He said “No, it’s just we are too much the same. I feel like I am dating myself in many ways”
My dad was devastated to lose his best trivia buddy. So was I actually (well, not regarding trivia so much, but I too was devastated). I didn’t handle it well. We tried to be friends, but it wasn’t working out, so we cut off all contact. He now lives what appears to be happily in a small town back closer to the East Coast and seems to be living his best life, and I hope he is. I believe he even ended up with one of his karaoke buddies.