The Profile That Haunts Me

The first text message arrived while I was in the hospital.

I didn’t see it immediately because my phone’s battery had died but instead saw it while I was on my way to a gluten-free bakery in the East Village because I had only been able to eat a cup of peaches and a banana while in the hospital. The text was looking for “Maureen” and I kept staring at it, a bag of baked goods in one hand, phone in the other as the rain fell on me while I listened to “Europe Endless” by Kraftwerk.

“I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number,” I responded.

Having switched numbers before, I assumed Maureen was the person who had the number prior to me. I’ve run into situations where I’ve gone to sign up for rewards programs at stores, only to be told, “Oh, we have you in our system already. Linda?” I didn’t think much of it as I headed home, ready to finally eat, take a nap, and watch one of my favorite movies.

The messages for Maureen continued to come in for the next few days. As I sat in bed trying to build a Twitter bot, many of the texts were just “Hey Maureen,” followed by a photo of an erect penis. I blocked those numbers, but for the ones looking for “Maureen” and trying to set up a time for a date, I told them they had the wrong number. The first message where I was told where these people were getting my number was from a guy wanting to go on a bike ride who used “OKC” in the message, which led to me thinking it was from a guy from Oklahoma City I met at a meetup. By Friday, I had learned from a guy who would call me a “lying bitch” these men had found my number from a profile they had matched with on OKCupid. I reached out to OKCupid, told them what was going on, asked them to deactivate the profile, and spent the next few days apologizing to every guy who texted me.

In the middle of being incredibly sick, I was dealing with what seemed like more mysterious harassment. I had been dealing with tweets, direct messages, and emails from people who were fans of a comedian and podcast host–a redundant title when talking about a comedian in New York City–since late October, when I was so tired of the barrage of tweets and emails that I broke down crying in the self-service area of the Red Hook IKEA. The messages and tweets had become more sporadic, but as I got these text messages, my mind kept thinking these were connected, even though the fans seemed to be centered in New York while all of the guys who were texting me were from Los Angeles.

A guy texted me from a bar on an evening on a weekend, wondering where “Maureen” was. I explained what I knew and apologized profusely to him, but he was more intrigued than anything. J., as I’ll call him, explained to me he got a free drink and went to a bar near where he lived, which made it feel like less of a loss for him. When he got home–he is to date one of four guys who did not call me a “lying bitch,” a cunt, send me a dick pic, or a sexually explicit message–he sent me a screenshot of the profile for “Maureen” and the text of the conversation he had with the person behind the profile.

“Maureen” featured a picture of me from 2015 where I’m coyly smiling during critiques for DrekFest, a festival of intentionally bad plays in Chicago. Knowing this was a photo that had been my Facebook profile picture, I initiated the process of deleting my Facebook account, hoping it would stop this problem. I kept staring at the screenshot, noticing the details the person behind the account and created. “Maureen” was older than me and a couple inches taller. I would learn from talking with J. that “Maureen” claimed to have three college degrees, was Jewish, a smoker, and fluent in Hebrew. “Maureen” was in the messages to J. very vague, not willing to talk about things of substance, as opposed to me where I will talk about things of substance, I’m just incredibly prickly, stubborn, and cold on dating apps.

Two days after this discovery regarding “Maureen,” I received a text message for a guy looking for “Jenny,” a librarian. I told him he had the wrong number and rolled my eyes as I prepared to hide out in the woods of New Hampshire. I then received a message on Twitter from someone who follows me, letting me know he had matched with “Jenny” and it seemed to be someone who was harassing me. I thanked him, largely because it meant I was able to mentally prepare myself for what would likely be an onslaught of sexually explicit messages from random guys in the greater Los Angeles area. I emailed OKCupid again, letting them know the latest update to the bizarre saga, and headed off to New Hampshire.

As I drove north, I kept receiving text messages from guys looking for “Jenny,” wondering why she never showed up at their apartments, if she was still interested in smoking weed, if she could send them photos of her pierced nipples, if she wanted to get Korean barbeque tacos that night. The pierced nipples brought me back to the tweets I had received in October from fans of the comedian who kept suggesting I have pierced nipples, but I thought it was probably a coincidence and wanted to focus on enjoying being away from the city and this craziness.

When I returned to an area of New Hampshire with more reliable cell service, I had dozens of text messages from guys looking for “Jenny,” as well as one guy who had tried five times to FaceTime with me. I tried to get information from the guys to figure out who was behind the OKCupid profiles, but I usually reverted to my usual prickly, stubborn, cold public persona when someone would suggest I had daddy issues because I wasn’t ready to bone at a moment’s notice.

Eventually, a guy sent me info about “Jenny.” I did a reverse image search and discovered the sole photo of “Jenny” was from a post on The Chive of girls who were definitely a bad idea of things to do this weekend because women are “things” to Chive readers. I emailed OKCupid again with this info, this time also frustrated by the presence of ads for the website that promised all over the subway that “dating deserves better.”

As I waited for a response from the site, I did more digging and found out that “Jenny” claimed to be a librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library who lived in Boyle Heights. If there is any good to come from being harassed for several months, it’s that claims made about you by random people on the internet. The people who initially harassed me in October, leading to me crying at IKEA because having to put back multiple boxes for a wardrobe was a bridge too far, had insisted I was a filthy slutty librarian from Los Angeles who had worked for the LAPL and had moved to New York City to stalk their favorite podcast host.

As OKCupid banned the IP addresses associated with the profile, I kept digging and found out my name had been shared to the subreddit for the podcast hosted by the comedian, as well as with an incredibly ludicrous story that even I don’t believe, although it involves a lot of conveniently deleted posts. I talked this through with my therapist and psychiatrist, both of whom were much more concerned about this than me. (“No one has threatened to kill me since October,” I told my therapist. “And even then, that was, ‘Kill yourself, you fat Jewish slut,’ which is much less threatening than what I’m used to.”) I gave myself permission to be angry about this and then went back to living my life normally by visiting family, going camping, practicing aerial acrobatics, reading books, and spending a gratuitous amount of time in The Bronx for someone who lives in Brooklyn.

I have not changed my number, but I have accepted I will probably never use another dating app or website again. Even though I was affected by this as the person whose phone number was distributed through a dating website, there’s this huge question in the back of my head as to if I can ever trust people I’m not meeting face-to-face. This decision is made easier by dating in New York being a hellscape filled with creeps, finance bros, and stand-up comedians who think they’re entitled to sex. The few men who don’t fall into these categories always tell me to be nicer, to smile more, to lose weight, to wear contacts instead of glasses, or to stop dressing in layers. But there is the thought that someday I might move and eventually I’d like to settle down, have a husband, maybe kids. I am in a place where I have learned to love myself, from my frizzy dark brown hair to my feet that have pronounced tan lines in the summer, embracing my laugh that is so loud, I’ve been asked to stop laughing at Upright Citizens Brigade shows.

But much like the men who went to bars and coffee shops waiting for “Maureen” or “Jenny,” I have spent too much time at bars in Manhattan and at incredibly trendy performance venues in Gowanus, waiting for men to show up after they charmed me online. How many of these guys I matched with on Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, or Bumble were like the profiles men in Los Angeles matched with, malleable to be whatever the guys were interested in? How many of these guys were just someone with a phone or a computer who was really bored?

I still talk with J., who keeps encouraging me to come out to Los Angeles so we can hang out, to which I always reply, “Southern California is my home and I’m long overdue for a visit!” With two other guys who weren’t creeps to me, I’ve found myself wondering because I didn’t see the full transcript of the conversations or all of the profile for “Maureen” and “Jenny” what they were led to believe.

How old do you think I am?

What interests do you think I have?

Do you think I’m incredibly well-educated?

Do you think I’m a practicing Jew?

What were you told I enjoy doing in the bedroom?

What version of “me” do you prefer?

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Maniac.

Three years ago, I was the light and sound board operator for a production of the stage version of Footloose and my mom was in charge of the follow spot crew. One day, she typed up the follow spot plot and schedule and showed it to my sister and I. (She was on the follow spot crew.) We looked at it and pointed out that it said Flashdance Spotlight Schedule and Flashdance Spotlight Cues. My mom corrected the error and commented that they’re both movies from the ’80s that had dancing as a key plot point.

As it turns out, there is an actual stage version of Flashdance. It opens on the West End this September.

You guys, my mom wanted to do it three years ago.

(Also, do the Brits seem to have an affinity for transforming movies into musicals? Just asking.)

(h/t Gil Varod.)

My Girlfriend’s In Love With Holden Caulfield

J.D. Salinger, the author of Catcher in the Rye, noted recluse and creator of the archetype of the angsty teen, Holden Caulfield, is dead at the age of 91.

Although I liked Catcher in the Rye, I personally remember his short story “A Perfect Day for a Bananafish” better. But there’s no denying that that novel had a strong impact on teenagers and American society. The title of this post even comes from a poem in David Levithan’s The Realm of Possibility about a boyfriend who’s girlfriend is in love with Holden Caulfield and is obsessed with Catcher in the Rye.

In other news, I had no clue that Salinger was that old.

Moments of Wow

First of all, I turned on my computer yesterday morning to find messages telling me that I was mentioned on The Guardian’s theater blog. Chris Wilkinson of the Guardian addressed the lack of female theater bloggers on his 2009 best theater bloggers list. He pointed to a list on the Drama, Daily blog, which I was mentioned on along with many other very talented writers, many of whom I admire greatly.

He then pointed to particular posts that caught his eye and one of them was my post about the Halcyon Theatre’s Alcyone Festival, which is featuring the works of María Irene Fornés.

I’m really not sure what to say about this. I’m quite flattered and a bit surprised because I’m just a college student. I really don’t expect to find my blog linked to by the Guardian.

The second moment of wow is brought to you by Catey Sullivan of the Chicago Theater Blog, who sent WNEP founding artistic director Don Hall, who writes the blog An Angry White Guy in Chicago, a cease and desist letter after he put her review of WNEP’s The (edward) Hopper Project on his blog and commented on it.

It should be noted that Hall has done this with all of the reviews of the show, including the ones from the Windy City Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader and Time Out Chicago. Sullivan is the only one to send a cease and desist letter and I’m really not sure why other than that she was upset that it was put on there without her permission. In my opinion, if you’re writing something that will be put online, be prepared for people to copy it in its entirety. However, I also think that what Hall is doing is a great idea because it’s creating a dialogue between the critic and the artist, which I think needs to happen more.

*sigh*

I was walking through my neighborhood today when I came across a simple, black and white newspaper called the Lincoln Park Statesman. I was intrigued by the paper because of a headline declaring “A Socialist DePaul” due to GPA Redistribution, which gives me an “Okay, what sensationalism journalism is going on here” thought. (It was also free, but the header states that subsequent copies are $3.00.)

The article that prompted me to pick up a copy is difficult to read because of how poorly written it is. Mind you, I’ve read some poorly written articles for newspapers, but this is confusing. I don’t know if the GPA distribution is being implemented by DePaul or by the DePaul College Republicans? Is this hypothetical? Is there a reason why the writer didn’t cite any sources or quote anyone?

But anyway, the Statesman is apparently “a conservative newspaper dedicated to truth in journalism.” (I’ll show you truth in journalism with my friend the AP Stylebook and Guide to Media Law.) Naturally, I’m probably not going to agree with the views expressed in this publication, which is connected to the DePaul Conservative Alliance. But reading this, I can’t even chew on the content for a bit and try to digest the opinions, like I can with a Charles Krauthammer column. I really can’t even take these people seriously, partly because having “the” before “der” is repetitive. But there’s also a guide to how to milk free healthcare for what it’s worth, that includes “get pregnant,” “save money on a gym membership by getting routine liposuction,” and “take up the art of sword swallowing…with no formal or informal training.”

I’m aware that it’s probably satire, but instead of throwing hands up in the air and saying, “Oh, hey, we’re getting Obamacare, let’s abuse the system,” couldn’t they have said, “Write, call, fax your representatives and tell them to not give us health care reform.”? Because having a way to abuse the system, which I would assume would not cover unnecessary procedures, doesn’t help conservatives at all. It just makes them look crazier.

Now That’s Not Funny

tnsp
Last week Friday, before the revival of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” had opened, it was announced that David Cromer’s production of William Inge’s “Picnic” will head to Broadway next fall. “Picnic” was seen last year at Writer’s Theatre in Glencoe, and since Cromer seems to be the wunderkind of theater at the moment, I was very excited for this.

Then, Sunday night, “Brighton Beach Memoirs” opened on Broadway to fairly positive reviews. I was very pleased to see this since I wanted to go see both “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Broadway Bound” when my father and I eventually get around to going to New York since I’ve been a huge fan of Neil Simon’s comedies since I was a preteen and the idea of the plays being directed in a manner that seemed more realistic made me really excited.

But then last night, at intermission for “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety,” I was checking my Blackberry when I saw, on Twitter, that “Brighton Beach Memoirs” had put up a closing notice for Sunday and that “Broadway Bound” was cancelled.

I was deeply saddened and shocked by this news. (To be honest, I had to refrain from yelling “NO!” at the top of my lungs, which was my gut reaction.) For starters, the show had just opened and it had opened to fairly positive reviews. I would like to think that the show might’ve picked up some steam after the reviews–although with the way that everyone talks about the death of the critic’s influence, I’m crazy to be thinking of such a thing.

Still, I’m shocked that this show was not doing well commercially. Neil Simon is not an unknown playwright, David Cromer is not a nobody director, Laurie Metcalf is in the cast. I’d like to think that those might draw in audiences, but evidently they didn’t.

I really can’t say much about the play because I never got to and won’t be able to see it. But, there are other bloggers that have seen the show and have some terrific thoughts on the premature closing of this show. (I highly recommend you read these two posts from Esther at Gratuitous Violins.)

The biggest question that is looming in my mind with this whole matter is what this will do to the planned revival of “Picnic.” I would have to say that William Inge and “Picnic” are not as well known as Neil Simon and “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” so I wonder if that revival is going to go on and whether or not producers will do something like put big stars in it. I hope it does go on and it is successful because…well, I think that it is a production that should happen go to Broadway.

Things That Should Not Exist: Musical Theater Edition

This post could also be entitled, “If any atheists are looking for good arguments as to why there is no supreme being, I have one.”

If you’re not familiar Dan Goggin’s musical “Nunsense,” then I’ll fill you in. The first “Nunsense” musical is about a group of nuns in Hoboken that put on a variety show to be able to raise money to bury their dead sisters. The audience for the musical, as in the audience in the theater, is also the audience for the variety show, and there are also some scenes involving an audience quiz and bingo.

Now, I hope you’ve noticed that I used the word first in that previous sentence when referring to “Nunsense.” That’s because there are multiple sequels to “Nunsense.” There is “Nunsense 2,” “Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree,” “Nuncrackers,” “Meshuggah-Nuns,” “Nunsations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue.” There’s also “Nunsense A-Men,” which is apparently the original show, but the nuns are men in drag. If you would like summaries of the sequels, then I suggest looking at Wikipedia, since it will do a better job of explaining than I will.

Wednesday, Theatermania.com reported that Dan Goggin is going to direct a new “Nunsense” musical at the Fireside Theatre in Minnesota. This will be entitled “Nunset Boulevard: The Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show.”

I understand that Goggin might want audiences to enjoy in the success of the nuns, but “Nunset Boulevard” will be the sixth show. And just because a show is successful shouldn’t mean that you should make or keep making sequels.

I don’t think that the first musical is really good. The plot is horribly contrived and none of the numbers are memorable. But, evidently, people do think that it is good because the “Nunsense” musicals keep getting done.

But, really, Dan Goggin, could you stop after “Nunset Boulevard”? Please?