Sex + Love

What Would LaceWednesday Do?

I could barely talk to boys in real life, but I was a femme fatale online.

Ryan and I kept chatting as the days counted down, but the tone of our chats changed a bit. We were weirdly snippy with each other, and he seemed more distant. I found myself suspicious of him being with other girls when he wasn’t in front of his computer, which was most of the hours of the day.

LaceWednesday I cannot wait until we’re finally together.
MustardGas Uhhuh.
LaceWednesday I’m gonna wrap my arms around you so hard!
MustardGas Sure.

I told myself it was just nerves, but I was terrified of what would happen between this 19-year-old grown man and me, given that I’d basically promised him my entire body and soul.

I tried to daydream about the magical moment when we’d see each other for the first time and fall into each other’s arms, finally complete, but it was oddly (or understandably) hard to do. Soon, I didn’t have to fantasize—it was time to go and meet him in a hotel room near the local mall.

Now, let me pause here. We made plans to meet in a hotel room. It was 1996, and I was (I thought) a street-smart 16-year-old who agreed to meet a stranger at a hotel with no hesitation whatsoever. Even better, I told no one, not even a friend, where I was actually meeting him. I told my parents that I was meeting a pen pal at the mall, which must have sounded harmless to them. This would all add an extra layer of intrigue for the 20/20 reporters when they came to interview my parents about my disappearance. Again: Kids! Don’t do this!

When D-Day arrived, I drove to the hotel in a nicely steeping panic. I had no idea if I’d end up running away with MustardGas, or deflowered, or dead. I didn’t want any of those things to happen, despite my Nair-ing.

I steeled myself and knocked on the door of his horrid motor inn and he opened it almost immediately. He was taller than I’d imagined, very handsome, and he was conspicuously not beaming at me. In fact he was kinda glaring at me.

My heart hammered, and just as I reached my arms up for a hug, he abruptly turned around and walked back into his room, which held a bed, some chairs, a TV, and a girl who looked to be 19 or 20. She looked older than me, in any case, with expertly applied eye makeup. She looked a lot cooler than me.

“This is my girlfriend, Lisa,” Ryan said woodenly, gesturing in her direction. “And this”—now talking to her and gesturing at me—“is Emily, that girl I know.” Lisa and I nodded at each other. This was not the scenario I’d imagined. I felt an angry, embarrassed flush crawl across my face.

First off all, “that girl I know”??! Second of all, he had a girlfriend?! Third, not only did he have a girlfriend, but he brought her along? And fourth, why was he acting like I had set this entire rendezvous up? I didn’t insist that he meet me at a hotel, but here he was, rolling his eyes and sighing impatiently. These questions slammed through my brain as I stood in that tiny hotel room, my mouth agape.

Years later I realized that he’d probably been in a relationship the entire time, and that he had perhaps been planning on cheating on his girlfriend with me. When she insisted on coming at the last minute, his plans went awry. Maybe she was onto him, or maybe she just wanted to go on a road trip. But back then all I could imagine was that I had disappointed him somehow and brought this misery upon myself.

At that point Ryan essentially shut down and stared at the TV, so I was forced to make small talk with Lisa, his girlfriend.

Me: So you took 134?
Her: Yup.
Me:That’s a good highway.

Lisa seemed unperturbed by this whole interaction, and I couldn’t decide if I respected that or if it just infuriated me more that she didn’t see me as a threat. I was just some kid to her. Some kid that her boyfriend had scheduled to meet in a hotel.

I wondered how long I could keep making small talk without wanting to throw myself out the window. It turned out to be 15 minutes. When it had passed, I gathered up every drop of sarcasm in my being and said, “Well, it has been just awesome finally meeting you, Ryan!” I wanted to cry but refused to do it here. I had used Nair for the first time for this dude and now I hated him.

He crossed the room to open the door for me, then he hugged me like a robot that has been programmed to put its arms around a person. I was shaking with anger, yet still my heart leapt. I hoped for a whispered apology, a secret plan to meet later. But he said nothing. “OK. Awesome,” I hissed, and I got into my car without a backwards glance. I drove for about two blocks before I had to stop to sob and tremble like a woman scorned. My fantasy world had just imploded on me, and reality wasn’t going so hot either.

I went home straight home and tried to make up with my actual boyfriend (he had dumped me), and decided it was time for me to leave the boards. There’s not much more you can do once you realize just how fake your love life actually is. But it wasn’t all bad. The parting gift Ryan gave me (besides teaching me to NEVER MEET ANYONE FROM THE INTERNET IN A HOTEL EVER) was the kick in the ass I needed to start incorporating my online persona into my everyday life, rather than hoping my imaginary Board Boyfriends would be as cool in reality. So the next time I had a boyfriend, I would take a deep breath and ask myself, What would LaceWednesday do? and then flirt it up with the best of them—hand in sweaty hand. ♦

* All the given names and internet handles, and some identifying details, in this story have been changed.

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23 Comments

  • healthyobsessions August 8th, 2013 7:50 PM

    Catfish: 1996 edition

  • KatGirl August 8th, 2013 8:12 PM

    When I was younger, I was on a site called New Moon Girls which had message board-y things and I remember wanting so much to be like the older girls on it (I really liked these girls Kado, Kara/Isis, Alyssa, and Maddie) and I did almost anything to be like them XD
    http://www.kawaiiunicornsandsparkleponies.wordpress.com

  • Sophie ❤ August 8th, 2013 8:18 PM

    This is really good writing! Love it!

    http://theneonpapaya.com

  • Ponyroux August 8th, 2013 8:27 PM

    This reminds me so much of a guy I met on Gaia (remember that) that turned out to be like a 30 year old cage fighter or something. I was fine talking to him until he sent me a picture of his face and then I just got freaked out and blocked him. I wasn’t even confident online hahaha You’re a brave/careless girl!

  • Mollylou August 8th, 2013 9:05 PM

    Other people on message boards were always the coolest. I always wanted to be cool like them.

  • Roz G. August 8th, 2013 9:37 PM

    I loved this :)

  • ScarlettRed August 9th, 2013 12:27 AM

    In high school, I had a similar experience with MSN chat. Even though I knew and spoke to the guy around school (he was 2 years older), 90% of our relationship was conducted online chatting, where I was always more witty, flirtatious and emotionally upfront than in person. It wasn’t healthy because while we saw each other around and hugged in real life, we were closer online. I was completely nervous around him, and how we outwardly were did not match how we were in text. He also had a girlfriend, so it was like an emotional affair in a way, but I don’t think he saw it that way. My mistake was that while I had a crush on him in reality I made the move to get to know him online, and as scary as talking to crushes is, if you don’t get over the initial nerves and let things grow in person, that nervous feeling doesn’t really go away like it should. Bottom line- you have to let relationships grow naturally, in person, for them to be authentic. I personally feel from my experience that real human connections need to be lived in real life (not on Facebook or the internet) to be healthy.

  • jjjjj August 9th, 2013 1:15 AM

    great content but don’t forget to proofread!!! there’s a lot of unfinished words and sentences in here

    • Anaheed August 9th, 2013 2:04 AM

      I did proofread! I caught one incomplete sentence I had missed—thank you!—but I don’t see the unfinished words. Can you help me out—where are they?

  • Ayabagels August 9th, 2013 2:13 AM

    ‘Wy would Trent Reznor have a golden retriever?’ — Misspelled ‘why’. :)

  • Nimsi August 9th, 2013 3:37 AM

    First of all, I love the way it was written! It reminds me of how I think lol as a writter you are definately an insporation to me :)
    Second… I, shamefully, had the same problem throughout my first few years in High School. I was (still am) socially awkward. Specialy when it comes to guys! Once I remember being hit on by some guy as I was drawing and he said I should be an artist.. I responded by saying, “No because I’d have to die to become successful.” He walked away. Silently. And I just avoided him ever since then lol anyways I was on this one online website where you build avatars and talk with people and such. I was such a flirt with guys then! it just came so naturaly. It was easy and I was pretty damn good at it (not bragging or anything xD). I even had a couple boyfriends. And as I was reading this it so reminded me of those times! It was quite nostalgic but also emberrassing to think about(x
    The point is, great article. I simply loved it! Aaand please excuse my rant/ADD xP

  • decemberflower August 9th, 2013 3:51 AM

    This is so funny and poignant. I think most girls of our generation can relate to the notion of being more comfortable over text or IM than in real life. Sometimes I text with a guy so much that I start to wonder if I will be able to talk to him in real life anymore. Also, the thing about “figuring out what to do with your pubic hair” is SO accurate. A+ for you!

  • GallantRug August 9th, 2013 5:52 AM

    Oh, dude, that “pre-meeting an internet person” phase is so accurate.

    I met a guy after having him as my internet boyfran for two and a half years, and oh, the outfit planning.

    It went better for me than it did for you, though, Emily.

  • thenoisythinker August 9th, 2013 7:36 AM

    The writer’s style is outstanding. I loved reading this.

    thenoisythinker.blogspot.com

  • maxrey August 9th, 2013 2:34 PM

    It’s always nice to know others have made stupid life mistakes and been scorned by online lovers. Seriously. After a year and a half of OkCupid romances this is exactly what I needed to read!

  • billemiche August 10th, 2013 12:32 AM

    i met my best friend on a forum for south park fans when I was 11. we met IRL when we were twelve, five years went by and we kept in constant contact, calling each other every other day and what not. last week i met her for the second time ever and it was so much fun. having close internet friends is great but it really bums me out that we can’t see other more often. i hope someday we’ll live closer. great article :)

  • chawi August 10th, 2013 4:59 PM

    This is so so interesting, when I was about 11 or 12 I ended up talking to strangers online, how you managed to agree to meet them is beyond me!! (and really quite dumb haha)…So funny though!

    http://sunshines-and-blue-skies.blogspot.co.uk/

  • wongstea August 15th, 2013 3:41 PM

    It is so great to read a story and all the comments about this shared experience. I’ve been on online forums since I was 11/12 ish and I’ve met a handful of wonderful people who are still my friends to this day, despite those boards being shut down (thanks facebook!) I can totally relate to the weird feelings that you develop towards people you don’t really know, and how awkward it is to go about dealing with those emotions.

    Also, I don’t think meeting online friends is a terrible idea, especially if you do it in a public place, and even better with a third person.

    Great read, thanks for sharing :)

  • personne79 September 13th, 2013 10:14 PM

    Ok, where the heck do I begin??

    Fantastic fantastic article!! I totally feel you about your IRL bf. My ex (my first and only bf so far) and I were the most awkward pair in the whole school. We walked like a mile away from each other in the hallway, whenever we tried to kiss we almost fell over from losing our balance (not even the sexy “falling while kissing.” This is the “standing in the vacant section of the hallway trying to have a make out session and epically failing, almost falling over onto the cold hard floor” type of “falling while kissing.”), and we just could never make conversation in person. We could talk really well over text, but in person I never knew what to says I kept quiet and he never knew what to say so he would ramble on about random stuff and all in all it was just a pathetic excuse for a relationship. So I feel your pain.