Trouble in River City


It all started so innocently.

There I was, stretched out on my big leather chair on a lazy Sunday night, with a last weekend glass of wine warming my stomach slightly and making me a bit drowsy.

Fiddling with the computer, I happened across my Mac’s built in web camera feature, “Photo Booth”, and saw some photos that my friend Melinda had taken of herself that day.


I angle the computer just right to get the perfect, 45%-turn-towards-the-camera-so-no-double-chin action and…snap!

Hey, I thought to myself. I’m wearing practically no makeup, and it still came out pretty well.

Oooooh, what’s this?

Special camera effects….?

Flash forward to a couple of hours, a full makeup session, and a slew of costume changes later, I have a veritable soft-core porn actress portfolio on my hands. Let’s see….first, I am a pointillism-ed comic book heroine removing her top…and…Holy Areolas, Batman! That’s not for the kids! Then…I am a 1950’s pinup model in a polka dot lingerie set, drawn in colored pencil…eventually, I do my best jaybird impression…but all very tasteful and nothing too bribe-worthy.

I figure since I gave Catalan Man a kick-ass birthday present overseas not too long ago, the ball is in his court for a Valentine’s Day present (and I have dropped some hints that I want a present or at least that I’m observing the day).

But wait, this just in….

Just got off a fun video-Skype convo with Melinda (our first ever! We feel so Euro) who is of South American descent, and she seems to think that Catalan Man, due to his being Catalan and all, may not understand the concept of Valentine’s Day OR “his people” may have it on a different day/month. So I shouldn’t be super bummed if he doesn’t deliver the candy hearts goods.

Hmm. I’ll let that simmer on the back burner and continue on in the meantime.

SO, I figure it would be a torturous-yet-delightful treat to send him a photo album of my naughty Glamour Shots® (remember those?)---blue balls; the best Valentine’s Day present ever!---but I don’t especially like the possibility of him sharing them with his friends, or, worse yet, if things ever go badly at some point, sharing them online with every Dmitri, David, Duckwhan, and Deepak the world over.

I hedge my bets. I email him that I have some fun things to send him but he has to promise not to show them to anyone else. He agrees.

The next night, Catalan Man and I are on the Skype phone for a few minutes before I have to leave for a friend’s jazz quintet’s debut. As he’s 6 hours ahead, he had just gotten home, drunk from taking some visiting work colleagues out on the town, and I tell him that a little slice of a naughty photo is coming over…right….now. He murmurs appreciatively, in anticipation.

I hear a peculiar noise in the background.

“What’s that?” I laugh, feeling an air of frivolity coming from his end of the phone.

“Nothing,” he says.

The noise continues.

Wait a second here….

Am I going crazy or does it sound like he’s trying to repress a laugh?

Am I going absolutely bonkers or does it sound like there might be someone over there, and Catalan Man and this person (sounds like a guy) might be making a tremendous fool out of me?

I start to get angry but still can’t quite believe my ears. I don’t want to believe my ears. Could he seriously be taking a shit on the ONE thing I made him promise to me?

“No, really,” I say, not laughing now but my voice still steady. “Do you have someone over there?”

He denies it again but now it’s too late---the little awful rotten seed has been planted in my mind, and in my clouded, illogical mind, it’s growing like gangbusters.

“I’m really pissed off,” I declare, and Catalan Man sees the seriousness in the situation and tries to calm me down.

“Please, I’m asking you to trust me,” he urges. “Do you trust me?”

I think about it. In the heat of the moment, I honestly didn’t. But I also didn’t trust my ears, and now, worst of all, I didn’t trust my instincts.

“I don’t know---I’m confused,” I said, exasperated. “I guess I have no choice---you’re so far away---and---”

He puts himself on video phone to show me that there’s no one there, and otherwise scramble to save the rapidly-sinking-ship that our conversation had become. He keeps sighing and saying “shit” over and over again, regret thick in his voice.

I eventually do have to go so I’m not late to my friend’s performance, and I tell him as much, but what I really want to do is get off the phone asap so I can unleash the floodgate of tears I feel forming as a lump in the back of my throat. Oh my god!, my inner senses screamed. Who IS this person? I don’t KNOW this person! I’ve known him for 5 days face-to-face (a very pleasant 5 days, but still, a piddly stretch of time overall), with a month-long email-based relationship since, and I’m ready to just hand over my trust to him on a silver platter?

But damn! It had been blissful to be completely free, open and recklessly honest with someone and feel like they were doing the same; I had been surprised by how easy it was to do; how good it felt.

And now I was equally surprised by how much it hurt.

I felt like a wounded soldier stumbling blindly through Siberia for the first half of the night---“it was colder’n a witch’s titty” out there, as my ex from the South would say. Then, two sets of impressively good modern jazz and four stiff vodka sodas later, I decided to put it all into perspective and not worry about it. I focused instead on how many pieces of bar popcorn I could cram into my mouth at one time and still keep a shred of ladylike dignity. (answer = 3 or 4, give or take.)

He called me as soon as I logged into Skype the next morning, like he said he would. He had also sent 2 emails that night after I left, apologizing and also requesting that I not send the photos after all, as he would feel terrible if he knew I had the slightest doubt in his intentions.

We had a good conversation that morning. We admitted that we both needed more time to get to know one another, and that maybe we needed to slow down a little bit, but we were both looking forward TO getting to know one another better.

The best part was, I heard the noise again on this conversation too—and seeing how he had stepped out of a meeting at work to call me, I know for sure that he had been simpatico all along.

Our conversation fell back into its natural light-hearted and easy banter; our cheeks were rosy and dimpled once more.

“Now what?” he asked, as the conversation drew to a close. “What are ‘next steps’?”

“Get your beautiful butt out here and let’s see what happens.”

We laughed.