Thursday, April 05, 2018

ADHD: Playing Cat & Mouse with Catfishers

She was a total stranger. She was cute and posed with a kid in her profile pic. She had an aversion to punctuation. Suddenly, she said, “Hi Douglas”, and I was off.

Art by Zoe Mozert

Today is technically Day 42 of my bout with adenovirus. Some aspects of the cold linger like our obstinate Winter this year, but I’m feeling better. This was fortunate, because today was the last day my daughter, the Brownie, would be wearing a home EEG to capture a seizure. She had gone the entire week seizure free, so I spent the day trying to induce one. I finally resorted to flashing a strobe light in her face. When that didn’t seem to work, she, her Mum, and I had a last, desperate prayer. Her seizure began one minute later. Coincidence? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

During my weeks of sickness, I finished the research phase of my latest Pokémon book. At this point, I am finishing the project out of sheer will. My enthusiasm for the project fled to more sparkly pastures weeks ago. I hope to wrap up the second draft this week before sending it off to an editor. See? I’m not entirely wasting away, but I am still wasting time, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some wasted time is a lot of fun, like when I string catfishers along.

I’m wrapping up my current project, so I’ll post a meatier article for you next week, but what follows is the most stultifying romance I have ever lived through. You can read for yourself that sharing is not her goal. She is trying to get ME to do all the talking. So I obliged, drifting further down the rabbit hole the longer she kept at it.

How do I know she’s a catfisher? When an unknown girl hits on me online and tells me how handsome I am, I can’t take her seriously. Real girls didn’t even do that when I was a god-like, 185lbs, all-muscle twenty-year-old. So I play with them.

I test first to see if she’s perhaps just conversationally challenged, but when her (or his, to be honest) idea of conversation is to exchange pictures, I know she is fake. Then I like to see how weird I can take things before she’ll break out of character. Because they want money out of me, they won’t stop messaging me no matter what I say or post. I let the ADHD in me go wild. By their rules, I’m engaging them, falling in love, and ready to mail them money, but we know better, don’t we?:

MAR 19TH, 9:23PM
Claire H——: Hi Douglas

MAR 24TH, 4:29PM
You accepted Claire’s request.
Douglas: Hi Claire
Claire H——: How you doing today?
Douglas: Just great! And you?
Claire H——: Am doing good thanks
I saw your profile on my friend suggestion list…you handsome and i have to tell you, lovely smiles you got
Douglas: Wow! Thanks! You good smile too
Claire H——: What are you up to
Douglas: Preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Got any plans for Saturday? Mine crashed.
(I should have said, “Mine were eaten,” but you live, you learn.)
Claire H——: Oh not really
Douglas: Yeah me neither
Claire H——: Just at home relaxing
What do you do for fun
Douglas: I am boring. I have forgotten what fun is. Haha
Claire H——: Lols don't be dirty minded…what do you do at your leisure time
Douglas: I plait goat hair. It's very relaxing.
Claire H——: Oh okay
I will like to know more about you
(Claire took my comments in stride. I have to admit it took me a while to stop laughing.)

MAR 24TH, 6:02PM
Claire H——: Hi Doug

MAR 24TH, 8:13PM
Douglas: Hi! Sorry! I've been away shaving my back. How's your night going, love?

(Completely unphased, Claire returns the next day.)
MAR 25TH, 6:11AM
Claire H——: How are you doing

MAR 25TH, 3:49PM
Douglas: You're back! I thought I scared you off.

MAR 25TH, 5:42PM
Claire H——: No
What are you up to Doug
(At this point, I have decided that I am being too subtle. It’s time to pull out the stops.)
Douglas: I am sick. Day 29. It's very exciting. I may be getting better, but the humongous boils on my feet are making it difficult to ballroom dance. At least the facial swelling has reduced. I can see again. Great, huh?
Claire H——: May I have some pictures of you

Are you with me

(Claire is getting nervous that she’s spooked me, but I am scouring the internet for the perfect photo.)
Douglas: This is a pic of me and my pet bear, Killer. I don't believe that last time was his fault. Besides, the guy was really old.
My and my pet bear, Killer, enjoying the 70s countryside.
Claire H——: It seems like a photo shoot
(Now we know that Claire is not a bot.)
Douglas: It is! My bear and I pose at petting zoos professionally. We have had zero casualties this year. Let's not talk about last year.
Claire H——: Okay
Can I have another pic of you
Killer and Me. The blood being lapped up is in no way related to the missing salesman we ran into. This is me with Killer. He is licking blood off my hands, the rascal!
Hey! This is awkward. I don't have any pictures of you!
Do you have any pics of you cosplaying as Laura Ingalls? I love bonnets.
They're hot.
Claire H——: I don't want pic like that
Send me a pic of you without bear
Douglas: You first. It doesn't have to be pioneer cosplay. I think pilgrims are hot, too.
Claire H——: If this is a pic of Claire, I am the Easter Bunny. (Claire sends a picture that is square in format, complete with white borders on the side, as if copied off the web.)
Douglas: You're cute! I like the borders, too. They've got that screencapped-from-Instagram feel that's super popular these days.
Claire H——: Oh thanks

MAR 26TH, 5:27AM
Claire H——: Hi

(I am beginning to suspect that my account is being passed around the catfisher office to different workers. How many times can one person say “Hi”‽ It’s time to wrap this up.)
MAR 26TH, 2:54PM
Douglas: Hi. I think I am feeling something that I haven't felt since Mia Sara kissed me in the second grade. I really feel like we have a connection here. This conversation has been riveting. Can you move out to Nebraska to be with me?
I don't live in Nebraska, but I'd consider it if you were there.

MAR 27TH, 1:53AM
Claire H——: Lols
(At this point, I feel that I won because she broke from the script with her first honest response. It’s time to say “Goodbye”.)

MAR 28TH, 4:40PM Douglas: The game is done. Wave goodbye!
Claire H——: Why are you sending me the bear
Send me a picture of you

(And so I bid Claire adieu. I wish her the best of luck in reeling in the big one with her captivating conversation skills. I could have continued sending bear pics, and she would have kept replying, but I had lost interest. Nevertheless, this was almost as fun as when I convinced the car scammer that my name was Mick Dundee and I would love to pay to have the car shipped from North Carolina, but could they ship it to the Australian outback instead?)

Coping Strategy: Sometimes I use ADHD as a coping strategy for depression. During the nadir of my illness, I was bedridden and miserable. Playing cat & mouse with a scammer was a perfect distraction and a healthy boost of endorphins. Hi.

If you’d like to support me or see how I use creative coping strategies to overcome suicidal depression, buy my book.