I’m currently sitting at a bar in the business district of New Orleans. It’s a nice place – upscale compared to the general vibe of the city. It’s 1:32 and the business lunch crowd is here. I am the only single person at the bar. There is a couple sitting several seats down from me. They are not speaking. She is staring at the televisions and he’s buried in his phone. He’s got a glass of white wine, and she is sipping on a cocktail of some sort. Rum, maybe. They are bored with each other. She’s probably in her early 30s, pretty, long dark hair. She is twirling her hair with her fingers. She’s thin, wearing a teal long sleeved nike shirt, sporting the athleisure look. He is significantly older than her, twenty years or so. She’s trying hard to engage him but he’s bored out of his mind. This is what happens when you’re a man in your 50s, going after women young enough to be your child. He’s got a real-life status symbol. A tall, thin, brunette, twirling her hair like a 20-something.
At a nearby high top, there are three men, all in their late 40s to early 50s. Two of them are drinking beer, one a pale ale, one a dark brew. The third has a glass of red wine. They are dressed in jeans and button up shirts – I would guess this is a business lunch of some sort. A casual Friday affair. One of them just got up and is talking on his cell phone, pacing back and forth in front of the window at the front of the bar. I just overheard him commenting on how he thinks a guy “throws well” but he’s concerned about his shoulder. Maybe they are sports scouts. They look like sports scouts, not that I’ve ever seen one, but I imagine they look like this trio.
Another couple just came in to escape the unseasonably cold temperatures that have gripped New Orleans this week. They are married and not talking. Three men just walked out, past the bar, eyeing me like a starved lion may gaze at a maimed antelope. They were young alphas, maybe in their early 30s. Everyone I have seen so far, save the trio of young alphas (shall we call them TYAs?) and my gay bartender, are wearing wedding bands. And then there’s me. The single, 35 year old blonde at the bar, working on her second glass of wine, typing away on her laptop while none of these people realize they are actors in my latest narrative.
I am feeling jaded. Well, to be honest, I am feeling a bevy of things I’m still trying to understand, to tease out. I left my hotel about an hour ago, computer in tow, with no real plan other than to not sit in my hotel room questioning, over analyzing, kicking myself, and wondering what, exactly, the purpose of this latest adventure is. And so here I am, doing what I do best, drinking wine and writing, pouring my heart out through my fingertips, trying to understand my life. Or life in general. Right now, I have no idea what I am doing in this moment, other than writing. I have no idea if I will ever share any of this. Maybe it will just be a tool for me to sort out my heart and head right now, which feel so fucking scrambled my eyes just teared up a bit thinking about it.
So let me tell you a bit about how I got here, why I am sitting in a bar in downtown New Orleans, looking pretty and being very alone. And feeling quite stupid.
I met a guy online. I literally just laughed out loud and few people turned to look, because you can probably draw your own fairly accurate conclusions about the rest of this post without reading another word. At any rate, that is how this story begins. With me, feeling lonely one night in Arizona, filling out a goddamn dating profile online and throwing myself to the sharks – because, I am quite convinced that is precisely what online dating is. Or dating, in general. It involves sharks.
I have realized something about myself over the last decade. Oh hell, I’ve realized many things about myself. Some good, some bad. In context of the current word vomit you might be reading, I’ve realized that I am very, very bad at picking men. When I say bad, I mean terrible. And I’m mostly terrible at selecting men because I have a type that is fucking total and absolute poison for me. In many ways, my selection of men is self-destructive. I am wildly attracted to aggressive, alpha male, dominant men. You know the type – military, law enforcement, fire signs. Forget it. I’m putty in their calloused man hands. They’re irresistible to me. I melt in their presence. And every time, every goddamn time, I get burned. (Just to note, I am not claiming to be perfect in any way. Far from it. I own the mistakes I’ve made in relationships. I am simply saying that the type of dude that I find myself wanting to crawl over glass shards to get to, is not the best match for me).
I’m not going to use the actual last name of the latest schmuck in this post, even though, as you will see, it’s probably not his real name. Also, I’m halfway through my second glass of wine, so this is about to get good. His name is Jason (which is his actual first name, I believe) and he was my trifecta of poison. Fire sign (Aries), former military (Navy Seal… so he claimed), current cop (shall I keep going…?), big, muscled, handsome… I know that’s more than three things but I couldn’t stop myself. And I also take full responsibility. I am not a victim of anything other than my intense desire to give and receive love. To desire to connect, to feel passion and intimacy. Of those things, I’m guilty. But I get so turned around, so absolutely confused in the process. I’m not a stupid woman but I sure am braindead when it comes to navigating romance.
So anyways, Jason and I talked for a few weeks via FaceTime. Almost every night, for hours. We texted throughout the day every day. I was in Arizona, he was in Louisiana. I’d decided to come back to Florida to surprise my family for Christmas, and I figured if hot stuff and I kept talking, I could catch a flight to New Orleans and meet him for a few days. And you know, I’m an independent woman and all that shit, and I also believe strongly in carpe diem. I don’t want to live my life with any regrets…After weeks of talking with this guy, I was beginning to develop feelings for him. I felt like he could have been a match, someone special for me. And I didn’t want to wonder “what if?….” So I booked a flight and hotel for New Orleans. And on January 3, I hopped on a plane to meet him.
He picked me up from the airport and it was surreal… magical even. He was tall, handsome. I was so excited to see him, to hug him. To feel the things I was feeling in person. And it was all there. He smelled wonderful. He looked great. He felt amazing. I was enamored, minus the legit love. Maybe I was in lust. A sex and love-starved 30-something, who could blame me. I had a fine specimen of a man before me. And it felt right. It truly did. I didn’t have any alarms sounding, I didn’t have any feelings of distrust. Nothing. I felt like, maybe, this was something. Maybe I followed my heart with a dude and it would pan out. Maybe, just maybe, this was something that could be wonderful. Sexy. Exciting (spoiler alert: I was wrong).
He spent the night with me. I’ll spare you the details, other than to say it was moderately disappointing, which I’m glad about. It would have been pretty shitty to have a mind blowing physical connection with someone who ended up being a shady ass lying motherfucker (hang tight, details coming). Everything felt right, but I am probably deluding myself in some way I haven’t quite figured out yet. The next morning, he made a phone call to pay a bill and the customer service agent asked him for his full name. Imagine my surprise when he stated a different last name than what he told me. He had told me his last name was G______. He told the phone operator it was K_____. When he hung up the phone, he realized what he’d done. He came up to me and said “you know, nobody knows how to pronounce my last name.” I looked up at him.
“What do you mean?” I asked, fully aware of where he was going with this.
“Well, can you pronounce my last name?” Of course, this was lyingsackofshit’s way of trying to remember what last name he had actually given me. Amateur move, although I feel like the real amateur in all of this.
“Well, you told me your last name was G_______,” I said, carefully pronouncing it as he had pronounced it to me when I first asked him for his last name, when we first began talking. “Although,” I continued, “you told the customer service rep that your last name was K______, and then you spelled it for her.”
“Yeah, nobody can pronounce my last name,” he said.
He immediately grabbed his wallet and explained he was going to go down to the lobby to read the paper and give me some time to work. Cue Google and Jessica’s feverish search for the new alleged last name. One of the top results that came up with I searched “Jason+[K_____]+Louisiana was a Dateline NBC article about a Jason K______ who was charged with murdering his wife’s ex-husband. I’m sure you can imagine the fury this swept me into… of course he lied about his name. He’s a goddamn murderer and I’m about to become DEAD. I’m only half joking as I write this. I was legitimately scared.
I had my dear friend Kourtney jump on the case with me, and she called the police department where he allegedly worked to confirm if a Jason K_____ worked there. He did – IF he was really that Jason K____. I didn’t know what to believe. Now, I want to take a step back for a moment and acknowledge that I did do my homework before I flew to another state to meet someone. He’d told me he was a former Navy Seal (ALLEGEDLY!) and also had worked for the Department of State (ALLEGEDLY!!!!) when Clinton and Kerry were the Secretaries of State. If this were indeed true (which, who knows?) there wouldn’t be much available on the internet about him. I’d dated a guy for years who was a military aid to the vice president at one point – part of his onboarding was cleaning his name from the internet. So when I couldn’t find anything about a Jason G______ that matched the other [mis?]information this guy had given me, I didn’t think too much of it.
Kourtney confirmed that a Jason K_____ did indeed work for said police department, from the information she found. So, he ended up not being the murderer in the article (which is good, I think). Next, I looked a prescription pill bottle he had left on the bathroom sink for some antibiotics for an ear infection, and sure as shit, the bottle read “Jason K_____.”
Several questions overwhelmed me. Who was this guy? Why had he lied to me about his last name? Mostly… what was he hiding?
I needed to confront him, and I needed to do it somewhere public. Jason lyingsackofshit came back to the room about an hour later. I’d already gotten dressed and ready to walk around downtown. We got to a coffee shop, grabbed a cup, and sat down. I told him I needed to ask him something. The expression on his face was one of a kindergartener who’d been caught lying. Childish. Immature. I’d seen this expression countless times on the faces of my many poorly-selected men.
I asked him about the name discrepancy. “You know I have to ask,” I began, “what’s up with your last name? What is your actual last name?” I watched him squirm in his chair. For a narcotics investigator (ALLEGEDLY), he got antsy. He was giving away all the cues of lying and I was suddenly enjoying myself, for a moment, anyways. I felt like a lioness who had cornered her wounded prey, watching him desperately search for a way to escape. You’re going down baby. Don’t fight it.
“What’s the deal with my last name?” he asked (repeating the question back, is of course, a tell-tale sign of lying). I blinked at him and nodded as I sat back in my chair. “Okay, you want to know the deal about my last name?” he repeated as his eyes darted around. He knew I wasn’t an idiot (although, that is arguable), this would need to be good. And so, he gave it a shot. Allegedly, his biological father was a K_____ – a man who beat the shit out of his mom and was in and out of his life while he was growing up. When he was 17, he told his father he wanted nothing to do with him. They had been estranged ever since, although they’d both lived in Lafayette since then (which, by the way, was another lie). Jason claimed he’d not seen his dad since he was 17 (almost 20 years of living in the same town and never running into one another). So his mom remarried a man with the last name of G_______. This man, according to Jason, was the guy he considered his father. So he identified as a G_______, but his last name was K______.
I listened intently, noting how hard he was trying to maintain eye contact with me as he talked. His eyes kept darting. “Okay,” I said. “But I asked you what your last name was, not the name you emotionally identified by. You realize how shady it is to give someone a name that is not your real last name, right? Like, to a woman who’s flying from out of state to meet you? You know my immediate assumption is that you’re hiding something, right?”
Unprovoked, he immediately listed off the things he was (ALLEGEDLY) not lying about, beginning with his marital status. He really was divorced, he said, for 9 months (previously, he’d told me he’d been divorced for a year and a half). They were still fighting over money, but he was not married. She took the house that they’d been living in together and still owed him money for that. The house, he explained, was in New Orleans (although he’d previously told me he’d never lived outside of Lafayette). He also had a daughter, that was true, he insisted. When he was done, I looked at him, nodded my head, and said “thank you for sharing. I hope that didn’t make you uncomfortable, but I had to ask.”
Truly, in that moment, I felt sad. I didn’t believe anything he was telling me, and I also felt confused. I had misread him, I guess. I felt foolish. And now I was on the second day of a five-day trip in a city I don’t know, with someone who was not who I thought he was. Immediately, Jason’s body language shifted. He sat up and leaned over the table and said, “well honestly, it is very private, Jessica. So that felt really intrusive. I don’t discuss these things. I didn’t expect to have to explain myself like this, and I think this conversation was premature.” I’d called him out and he was not on the defense. He was trying to grasp for a thread of power back. Then, I made a phone call to a client and he walked around outside. When I was finished, we walked around town a bit more, but he was cold, removed.
More than anything, I felt humiliated. How could I have thought I got to know someone and have been so off?
I will write the rest of this story today. That’s enough for one post… but it gets even better. And by better, I mean, worse.