Confessions of a private investigator: J, C, and me

If you couldn’t already tell, I consider myself a woman who wears many hats. (Not literally. I look terrible in hats. Mediocre bone structure.) But figuratively, I do a lot of things besides my day job. There is blogging, there is book clubbing, there is babysitting, there is some serious Pilates devotion. Am I good at all these things? Not necessarily. But you know one side hobby I’m quite good at? INVESTIGATING. (Some people call it online stalking). Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. I learned 30% of my tricks from Law and Order and CSI Miami, which is why I have conferred on myself an honorary police academy degree.

And, I learned most of my skills from watching this chick:

veronica mars

Via: http://veronicamars-is-smarterthanme.tumblr.com/

Seriously Veronica, I won’t stop it, because you’re a goddess among mortals. For those of you who  were, sadly, deprived an adolescence, that beautiful, brilliant vixen you see is Veronica Mars, star of the self titled UPN series about a teenage, butt-kicking detective. Who my friends and I worshiped, and to this day, strive to be (minus all the near death experiences she has). 

Anyway, here’s the deal with investigating these days. It’s SO FREAKING EASY PEOPLE. I mean, remember how easy it was for S’s current dude to find our blog? 

Usually my investigation into my dates begins and ends with what I like to call “a little healthy googling.” Usually, the guy has shared enough with me via messages and his profile that I can perform an accurate enough google search to find his last name, and from there, perform another google search to learn everything about him. For example, if someone named Harry tells me he works at the World Bank and has 1984 in his username, I just search Harry, World Bank, DC, and, if needed, add the words graduated 2007 or 2006 and see if anything comes up. Once I realize his last name, I perform another search which usually reveals any letters he ever wrote to the editor, an old Myspace profile, his Meetup.com profile, and, if I’m lucky, perhaps some wonderful biography in his college alumni newsletter. Or I’ll get to listen to some wonderful tracks he and his band uploaded to Soundcloud.

Now, please don’t get all Judy Judgmental about “a little healthy googling.” First of all , information is POWER (and safety. You’re welcome mom. Told you I was taking care of myself). I am not meeting these guys through my cousin or mutual friends, I’m meeting them through the internet, a “place” where you can pretend to be anyone you want, including a bisexual Chechen with gastrointestinal problems. I want to make sure the guys I’m chatting with are who they say they are.

I understand that people often associate romantic things with mystery and surprise, but I believe that stuff belongs in the movies, or an at anniversary party you plan for your grandparents.

Now, the only thing about online stalking before your first date is that you learn things your date might want to tell you in a first meeting, such as where he went to college, what he does for a living, what his hobbies are, etc. And, for the sake of the conversation, you need to be able to nod along  as if you’re interested and ask interesting follow-up questions. It’s no good for your chemistry if you act like you know more about his background than he does.

Top-25-Ron-Hermione-movie-moments-24-Wingardium-Leviosa-romione-28675714-245-130

Via: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/romione/images/28675714/title/top-25-ron-hermione-movie-moments-24-fanart 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stalk J,a guy I first went out with in mid-December, before our first date. Every once in awhile, a guy has a  very common first name, and a nondescript job like “analyst at a think tank,” which describes 40% of the men in DC. So, I went into my first date with J blind. Fortunately, the date was super fun. He made a reservation at one of those exclusive little speakeasy places I’d be been wanting to try. And in addition to being really handsome, he was smart and a gifted conversationalist. We talked for two hours, and he asked me out again for a second date before our first date was over. He sent me a couple of texts over the weekend, reiterating what a great time he had, and confirming our date for the following week.

Of course, on the date, J had revealed his undergrad university and his hometown, which provided me with more than enough information to do a Veronica-esque internet search on his background, which basically confirmed all the facts he told me on our first date.  

Or so I thought…

Enter second date, which happened two weeks after our first date due to Christmas vacation. We met up a bar in his neighborhood for drinks, dinner, and another great conversation. I mean, I will admit that while J was interesting and smart, he wasn’t the nicest person in the world.  But, I figured, I was on the market for  a fun date, not like, new candidates for pope.  So I ignored that part of his personality for the time being.  

At the end of the evening, J asked me if I wanted to come over for “a nightcap.”

Now here’s the thing people. I know I talked a bit about how I wanted to run a longer game in 2014. But you should have seen J’s body. I mean, I could see it under his shirt. His button down, preppy shirt. I swear, it was in the neighborhood of this:

ryan-gosling-hey-girl-8

Via primarybeats.com 

So, I hope you will not judge me when I tell you that I said yes to the nightcap. And when we got up to his apartment and he said, “Actually, I don’t even really have any alcohol. We can split a beer if you want.” I stayed. I wasn’t in it for the beer, friends.

So, an hour later, I am using J’s restroom, and I decide to do another investigator move called, “a little healthy snooping.”  Before you get all Jay-Z on me and tell me I’m gonna need a warrant for that, let me explain the parameters of this exercise:

  • Anything in plain view is fair game. Always. If you don’t want me to see your DVD copy of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” put it away.
  • If I’m staying over, the medicine cabinet and under the bathroom sink are fair game. I mean, don’t you want me to brush my teeth? Change the toilet paper roll? C’mon.
  • Thou shalt not inquire about any prescription bottles that she finds. (Googling prescriptions surreptitiously on your phone is allowed, however.)
  • Never ever ever open any dresser drawers or that bedside table drawer. Just don’t.

Per rule #2, I was staying over and therefore had grounds to access anything in the bathroom. (Don’t you like all my legal jargon? I told you I had an honorary police academy degree!)  PLUS, J had just moved apartments and his stuff was in little boxes all over the floor. And what did I see on top of a box but a hair dryer? Now, J had pretty short hair, so I was guessing the hair dryer wasn’t his. But who knows? Maybe he kept it for guests, or used it to dry his socks? But then I opened the medicine cabinet (ostensibly looking for toothpaste and face wash). And, sitting on one of the shelves was an open pack of Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover wipes.

My spidey senses told me something was off here. So, what did I do? First, I used the makeup wipes to take the mascara off my eyes. Nobody wants to go to bed with that on. But then, I went back to J’s room and said, “Why do you have makeup wipes and a hair dryer in your bathroom? Did you just break up with a girlfriend or something?”

J looked a little caught off guard. “Uh…yeah…that’s it.  I just broke up with my ex-girlfriend. How did you know?”

“Why else would you have feminine products in your apartment?” I replied.

But then, without missing another beat, J said, “I kept the hair dryer because I might need it again someday. And I use the make-up wipes for camping trips.”

Maybe I was tired. Maybe I wanted to believe him, just for a few hours, because we were having so much fun. But I dropped the subject and we got back to business.

But the next morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was up. When he kissed me goodbye, and said, “See you later, right?,” I decided to take a stand and not respond like a normal, conflict-averse person. I said, “Listen J. It’s fine if this was just a fun fling, and you don’t want to see me later. But there is no reason to tell me that if you have no intention of calling me again.”

Now, between last night’s investigative plunge into his bathroom supplies and this aggressive statement, J’s spidey-senses were probably going off too. And, while, they may have said, “This lady is CRAY,” they most certainly must have said, “This girl is ON TO ME.” Of course, J, was like, “No, I really want to see you again. As long as you want to see me too.”

When I returned home, I decided to find out a little more about who J’s ex girlfriend was. So, I returned to his facebook page, and examined the public posts on his wall, and who had liked and commented on his photo. I noticed one girl commenting and liking photos again and again. Her name was C. I clicked on C’s profile and what did I find? A picture of her and J, together, arms around each other.

Now, some of you may be thinking:That means nothing. C could be a sister,  a cousin, a friend. But J didn’t have any sisters. And if she was a relative, he was holding her a little too close for comfort. 

Now you still may be thinking: Maybe that’s an old profile picture. But she had just posted it a week ago. And someone had commented, “Is that you two at Christmas?”

Our old friends Benson and Stabler would call this circumstantial evidence. And indeed it was. So I decided to dig deeper. And what did I find? C had a wildly public online presence, complete with a blog, public Instragram, Pinterest, and Twitter account. Instagram featured a bunch of pictures of her and J together. On Twitter, she was promoting some articles J had written. And, on Pinterest, C had a Pinboard dedicated to J, and one dedicated to, presumably, her future wedding.

So, what’s an investigator’s next move? Bring in a trusted team of consultants, of course. I immediately g chatted my friend K and asked her to review the evidence:

k and l chat about j                            

Of course, I reached out to S for a good old reality check:

l AND s DISCUSS J

So what was the result of these investigations? I never contacted J again and he never contacted me either. Maybe it was just a regular old fade away, but I like to think that I avoided an untimely death by a hot, Gos-bodied sociopath.  And, for the record, while C’s obit hasn’t appeared in the paper yet, she has not updated her social media in awhile, indicating a possible disappearance. I mean, when you put all the evidence together, J was one sketchy individual. And, after a careful review of the evidence, even S came to that conclusion:

j serial killer

So cheers to being alive readers, even it’s alive and going on lots of first dates. See you next week, unless J gets to me first.

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OKC Questions: S’s Makers and Breakers

Last week L kicked off our three part series by sharing the OKC questions that mattered to her. Now it’s my turn. So without further ado, here are my three picks…

1) The personal hygiene question:

okc questions brush teeth

In the same way that having peace loving parents influenced L to care about a war question, having a mom who worked in the dental field for most of my life taught me to care about this one. This was the first question that I really paid attention to when I joined the site because I was shocked by how many dudes FREELY ADMITTED to brushing their teeth once a day or “only on days when they feel like it”. First and foremost, guys, you… don’t brush your teeth twice a day? Seriously?! Obviously we’ve all had nights when we’ve been super tired/drunk/whatever and didn’t brush before bed. No one’s perfect. Sometimes shit happens:

I’m talking about your standard everyday routine. Brushing twice a day is basic, basic hygiene that all second graders are aware of. And if that didn’t stick with you, I’m nervous to find out what else didn’t make it into adulthood.

Second, even if you only brush your teeth once a day or less (!!!!), you still know that twice a day is the normal, acceptable standard for human beings living in the first world. So why are you voluntarily admitting to having subpar personal hygiene on a dating site? You do know that the goal is for us to eventually kiss, right? Do you think making me imagine these scenarios staring back at me when we get to that moment is helping your cause?

okc questions food-in-teeth

austin-powers-teeth

dental work

*FYI consider yourselves lucky that I chose these super tame pics because there were some seriously grizzly alternatives available. Google imaging ‘bad teeth’ is officially the most traumatic thing this blog has done since L Wiki’d sociopaths last week.

Last but not least, why the sudden candor? L, D, and I have all experienced the lies dudes tell on Okcupid firsthand, most notably in the height and looks department. Height exaggeration on OKC has literally been documented:

okc male height distribution

Click here if you want to read up on the other things men (and women) lie about on Okcupid. Spoiler alert: it’s looks and money. My point is, men are obviously cool with lying about all. kinds. of shit. So why not this? Why not just tell me you have exemplary oral hygiene, and I’ll be none the wiser? You literally are 100% kosher with claiming that you’re 4 inches taller than you actually are, but when it comes to brushing habits you’re suddenly Honest Abe? Next time do yourself a favor, sir, and skip the question altogether.

2) The cheap date question:

okc questions tippers

I promise I’m not attempting to fan the flames of our ‘who should pay’ debate (which PS was our most hotly discussed and contested post to date. We love how fired up you all got!). This question has zero to do with gender. It is, however, a major pet peeve of mine and has been for as long as I can remember. I can’t stand bad tippers. To me, the bare minimum you tip a server in the US “who did a fine job” is 15%. Really unless the service is bad, I always try to leave 20%. If the service is amazing I try to leave more. You’re probably thinking I feel strongly about this because I used to be a waitress, but my Vaudeville routine level of clumsiness has prevented me from venturing into the service industry. Also, watching Rachel Green struggle for so many years was a bit of a deterrent.

However, while I may not have waited tables, I have had my share of low paying thankless jobs *coughjuniorsdepartmentatKohlscoughcough*. And there’s nothing worse than working your ass off and feeling like you have nothing to show for it. Actually, there is: being out to eat with people who basically make it rain at the beginning of the meal ordering drinks and food…

make-it-rain-guys

but when faced with the bill are suddenly too broke to tip properly. I’m not going to stand on my soap box any longer, I promise, but this one is important to me. Be kind to your fellow humans who work hard for little pay. Tip your servers! If you don’t, I can’t date you. *End PSA*

3) The wtf are you doing on this site question

okc questions meet in person

You would think that this one would be a no brainer. YOU. WOULD. THINK. After all, you sign up for online dating voluntarily. No one puts a gun to your head and makes you do it. So the question is, if you don’t want to eventually meet in person, what exactly are you doing on here? Just browsing? Window shopping? Fair enough, except I’ve actually been messaged by seemingly normal dudes who I later discover are “not interested in meeting in person”.

First of all, I have zero interest in a creepy online only relationship (unless it ends like You’ve Got Mail did. In which case, sign me up!)

You know what else I have zero interest in? Being catfished. I’ve seen that MTV show (PS, if you want to feel really effing old, watch some MTV) and it terrifies me. And what do the people who lie about their identity all have in common? Oh I don’t know, maybe that they’re RELUCTANT TO MEET IN PERSON. So I don’t think I’d be remiss in calling this question a red flag. With all the liars and creepers that lurk on online dating sites, the sooner we can meet and I can confirm that you’re not a 15 year old boy or a 65 year old woman, the better.

Stay tuned for our third and final installment of Makers and Breakers featuring the lovely D!

OKC Questions: L’s Makers and Breakers

For those of you who don’t have the good fortune to be as familiar with online dating as we are, allow me to enlighten you. One of the things these sites try to do, is to determine how good of a match you would be with other users, so you don’t have to sift through every single profile making this determination all by yourself. OKCupid is particularly famous for this, and uses a series of questions (I think there are over 2000) to determine how compatible you are with other users. Once you sign up for OKC, you are given the option to answer  a number of multiple choice questions about all sorts of topics: dating, sex, lifestyle, politics, etc. You also mark which answers you’d find acceptable from other users, and how important the question is to you. The “scientists?” at OKC swear these questions can be great predictors of long term potential. And I kinda believe them. While the questions can be a little excessive, there are plenty of them that S, D, and I use to make decisions about if we’ll go out with someone or not. We use the questions to screen out rapists, and to avoid men, who, in general, scare us. We’ll be doing a series of posts on the questions, starting by each sharing some questions that are particularly important to us. And I’m up first…

1) The Leonardo DiCaprio question:

wherefor question

If you haven’t noticed already, the ladies of StuCu are a little bit snobby about our grammar and spelling. I mean, after all, we are  authors of a venerated literary blog. We cover serious topics like sexting, men who like to wear women’s clothing, and how to live every day like Liz Lemon. I don’t expect every guy I go out with to be an expert on James Joyce’s Ulysses, but I do expect them to know how to identify the meaning of unknown words in a sentence. Or to have seen this amazing Baz Luhrmann flick:

Apparently, Leo and Clare got those lines from a guy called William Shakespeare. 

I’m amazed by how many guys answer “where?”  At the very least, you should be able to google a phrase and figure out what it means before you confidently interpret the question for prospective dates, many of them who will have taken at least a college level English class.

It’s not just the wrong answer to the question that bugs me. If you don’t know it, don’t answer. Or say, who cares? It’s that these guys care enough to answer the question, and then they still answer it incorrectly. I can already smell their bullshit.

2. The Animals vs. People Question

starving children question

Now before you go all PETA on me, I want to state for the record that I don’t LIKE abused animals. In fact, I think abusing any living thing is a pretty shitty thing to do and a symptom of being a sociopath, (OMG guys, that Wikipedia link is truly terrifying. Do not read at night like I just did or you’ll “have to” watch 3 consecutive episodes of Parks and Rec to calm yourself.)  So clearly, I want to avoid men altogether who are completely OK with humans and animals in pain. (And you should too!! Did you read the above Wiki article about sociopaths???)  But, I have a clear hierarchy of what matters to me in life, and people rank above animals.  

In case you were wondering, nothing ranks above cheese.

lizlemon5

Now, you’ll notice I also said it was acceptable for someone to say both are bad. I made this answer “acceptable,” just so I didn’t miss out on any super compassionate, empathetic guys. But, truth be told, I’d still MUCH prefer somebody who knows where he stands on dairy products, people, and animals. In that order, of course.

3) The Make Love, Not War Question

nuclear war

My parents went to Oberlin, and I am pretty sure I could sing you a mean acapella version of Buffalo Springfield’s, For What it’s Worth. So I have a pretty healthy skepticism of war in general. I can say with confidence that I would not enjoy nuclear war in any way, shape, or form. It would not be exciting, cause we would all be dead. Fans of nuclear war include:

adolf_hitler

Kim_Jong-il_on_August_24,_2011

So I tend to avoid men who want to join the good company of the above gentleman. I assume they are a dictator in the making, or, and perhaps WORSE, they don’t what nuclear war is.

Let me tell you, eliminating on these three questions alone weeds out a lot of men. Which is why I am heading into this weekend dateless. (WHOMP WHOMP). But I’d rather be dateless than going out with the next Kim Jong-il.