You: except it’s me, it’s 2004, and the stalker is real

Even individually, we continue to give more power to psychos.

When I was 19, I started talking to some guy from an AOL Instant Messenger chatroom. I had zero intention of ever actually meeting this person. I told him all about myself: favorite food, favorite movies, everything. I shared intimate details about my past. What I didn’t know? This person had every intention of meeting me, and he’d do what it took to do so.

Related image
Still from the series You. Courtesy of Lifetime.

I think the worst part of this for me is that this isn’t the first time I’d given someone way too much information about me online and ended up having a complete stranger figure out where I live.

The first time was when I was 15. I’d met him on EverQuest, and truly thought I’d met my soulmate. He showed up at my house after I’d told him where I went to school and followed my bus home. The guy was clearly anxious (and clearly not 15 years old). I was lucky that he didn’t have the nerve to knock on my door, or worse. He ended up leaving when I didn’t come back outside after claiming I was getting my stuff to go with him. I never heard from him again.

I soaked up his (and others’) adoration like any other form of internet clout points and continued to divulge my own history and plans for life.

A few months after I began talking to Natedawg99, some guy I met at a gas station near my house and I kept running into each other. After the third or fourth week of this, the guy started asking me out literally every time I saw him in all these random places. The grocery store, Guitar Center, the salon where I had just started working, the bank — I finally just caved because it was exhausting.

The last thing I wanted was to give him some reason to feel like we were bonding over this awkward dinner.

I ended up just telling him that I hoped I would get to see them live someday. Clearly agitated, he snapped back he swore he’d recognized me the “first” time he saw me [at the gas station], and he was certain it was from the Tool concert. He kept pushing, saying he remembered I looked uncomfortable the whole time, and wishing he had asked then if I was okay. The mood got increasingly tense as he wouldn’t stop pushing that I was hiding that I’d attended, so I told him was leaving.

I changed my phone number after I returned home after an all-day-turned-all-nighter to find 147 missed calls: all from him.

Soon after that, I noticed a car of the same color, make, and model as his sitting outside my house 2–3 times a week. I had several acquaintances who worked for Kirkland PD, so while I kind of reported the incident, they told me that unless I knew for certain it was him, and this person did something more than just parking on the street, there was nothing they could really do.

It hit me like thousands of bricks screaming, “DUH”.

Nathan was Natedawg99. Everything was so awkwardly scripted sounding because he literally knew I was already interested in all the things he was bringing up. We never disagreed over anything because he knew what I liked, how I’d respond, and what it took to make me feel comfortable.

He told me he was glad he didn’t ask, since he later learned I needed to be familiar with someone enough to be willing to get to know them in person.

He wasn’t wrong.