My ex-fiancé made me cry on our first date.
Huddled together in my cramped Manhattan apartment, I learned that Michael graduated from UCLA, knew the lyrics to every Air Supply ballad, and had recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer for the second time. He brushed away my tears while citing his recurring symptoms and chemotherapy schedule. I added "strong" and "brave" to my mental checklist, along with "handsome," "charming," "funny," and "sensitive." The Frisky: Do You Lie About Your Drug Use?
As colleagues, we saw each other often and quickly reached boyfriend/girlfriend status despite not having an actual courtship. He eluded intimacy and serious conversation, instead opting for small talk, Solitaire and ESPN. Not every girl’s fantasy, but I enjoyed being with him and he promised to have some hot dates lined up once the pain subsided. Meanwhile, I secretly pouted and anticipated the day we could cease the house-arrest routine.
Insurance-less, Michael struggled to pay his mounting prescription and doctor bills and my role as his ATM commenced. His requests were small and sporadic, followed by pledges to reimburse me when he received his commissions. "I know just where to find you!" I teased, handing over another $20.
The totals accumulated rapidly and, eventually, without my consent. Upon arriving home from a co-worker’s wedding, I rambled off a list of errands before conking out. I had two dollars in my bag; he ventured out to replenish my wallet and his nicotine supply.
He returned, money and Marlboros in hand. "Damn! I stopped at the garage to get something from the car and left your ATM card there. You’ll have it tomorrow."
Tomorrow came. And the next day. And the week after. Had I transitioned to online banking sooner, I would have detected seventeen $400 withdrawals.
The whispers among my colleagues amplified; some had also lent Michael money and since he had disappeared like a Witness Protection Program participant, the inquiries turned my way. "Are you sure he has cancer? Have you spoken to his parents? His oncologist? Have you seen his pills?" No. No. No. No. The Frisky: Falling In Love Gets You High
I had no answers but one big question myself: "Who lies about having cancer?" My generosity and naivety made me look like a complete buffoon who opened up her heart and wallet to a fraud. I visited the NYPD but charges couldn’t be filed since I gave him my pin number.