Since about Valentine’s Day I’ve been visiting a particular message forum that’s much like any other Internet babble-board except that the women are a little creepier. There’s this one chick who, I noticed right away, is kind of clever with the one-liners and such, and when I first noticed how many of her posts were replies to my own, I chalked this up to her being just one of those innocently gregarious types who responds to pretty much everyone in every topic.
In the six or seven months since, however, I’ve noticed that this isn’t really true. I’ve kept an exact count of the fraction of her replies that 1) are in direct response to my posts, 2) are responses to others’ direct replies to my posts, 3) are replies to those posts, 4) contain vague references to someone who very well could be me, and 5) seem completely unrelated to anything she might have ever seen me express. (I’ve had to do this by hand since the board lacks an automated post-count feature.) As it turns out, it’s obvious that at least 498 out of 513 of her posts in this span fall into one of the first four categories.
This was an especially disconcerting discovery, because this woman had mentioned being married with a couple of teenage kids and also because, frankly there’s something about her that’s kind of alluring. It’s hard to say just what, other than the focused flirting she does with me that she probably assumed I haven’t picked up on–for example, talk about the SF Giants’ chances of making the playoffs, a joke about a talking dog, YouTube videos of I Love Lucy clips, and so on. So this soon became a real concern, because even though I wouldn’t act in any way on any urges I might have in the future, I didn’t want to accidentally become a source of conflict in someone’s marriage (it wouldn’t be the first time). She doesn’t use her real name or post pictures of herself, but I was able to blow up a tiny photo of her from a huge road race where only part of her number and none of her head was visible. Through a combination of meticulously searching through the records of the race to cross-reference the numbers of the runners around her in the photo with finish-line times, e-mailing the photo company giving the part of the bib number I could see and saying I forgot the rest of it and wanted to order “my” pictures, and the services of a PI (cost me over $900!) I was able to get a name, street address, DMV photos, her social security number, the name of her ISP, her husband’s name and place of work, her kids’ names and that of their high school, and the date of her last Pap smear. It turns out that she lives only 1336.2 miles from me, so I’m on my way there later to camp in the woods near her house and just watch her in secret to make sure this crap doesn’t get totally out of hand.
Anyone ever been stalked like this? I’ve agonized over the right course of action but I think calling the cops would be premature.