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Open Features: Cyberspace Dating Could Kill You

Mollie Mercer's story brings the warning that searching for true love on the net could put your life in danger.

My dearly beloved husband of nearly fifty years died January 25, 2006. As with all marriages we had our differences but our love for each other was real and strong.

Life threw some mighty powerful punches at us. Like the time a lightening storm set fire to our home and we stood helpless as it burned to ashes. We climbed the mountains together hand in hand. I called him my prince. We did everything together and often our friends would laugh and say we were joined at the hip. We loved being together. Looking back I think he spoiled me in many ways. After a long day at the office he would massage my feet and if you enjoy a foot massage you understand how relaxing that can be.

After his death, when our family and friends had returned to their homes, I became severely depressed. The evenings were terribly lonely and I can only watch so much television. I lost interest in reading and writing, and I stopped going to church. I didn't even feel like talking to anyone including my friends. The depression left me numb and I did not want to do anything but sleep.

Our daughter and both grand daughters would call me and offer to take me out to eat or tell me about the latest movie and encourage me to get out of the house. "No thank you dear for thinking of me," but all I wanted to do was be alone to cry and grieve. Looking back I was very close to a nervous breakdown. I finally made an appointment to see my doctor. She gave me an anti-depressant.

In the meantime our daughter and grands, encouraged me to join the e-harmony web site. At that time, Papa as I called him had been dead for eight months. Feeling guilty and somewhat ashamed, I decided to join the web site in hopes of finding a pen pal or activity partner. I knew I had to do something.

What a surprise was in store for me. It took about two hours to fill in the questionnaire. I found my latest photo, posted it to the site and answered all the questions about my personality and the requirements of what I was looking for in a gentleman friend.

To my surprise and amazement I began to get offers from at least five other friend finder sites, including one from a very famous doctor who has a popular television show each week. The email from his site guaranteed to make my profile very enticing. The title of the program they wanted to sell me was How To Sell Yourself On the Web. I passed on that one, because I didn't think of it as trying to sell myself. Like Popeye use to say, "I yam what I yam".

Each one would offer me a discount rate and several offered me the first month or first three months absolutely free. In my loneliness and depressed state I fell for each and everyone. I soon was a member of so many sites I could not keep up with my screen names.

I began to receive hits from several men. I communicated with at least three a day. Soon one asked me out for lunch and he drove fifty miles to meet me at Applebee's restaurant here in this little country town south of Atlanta, GA. He was rather handsome, very polite and exhibited excellent etiquette while eating. We said good night and I thanked him for the delicious dinner then we both drove our separate ways from the restaurant.

To my amazement the very next communication from him was a proposal to marry him. During the course of our communication he explained that the reason for the urgent marriage was that he wanted to travel and his religious beliefs would not allow him to travel with me until we were married. I quickly and simply said no thank you, and that brought a quick end to that. Never heard from him again.

I am not a hot looking female, I dress very modestly, and could not quite understand why this man would offer a marriage proposal to me so quickly. It just didn't add up and made no sense to me at all. Curiosity killed the cat, so I did a background check on him to perhaps get a better picture of what I might have missed. It revealed a somewhat to that indicated in his profile or based on what he had told me.

I printed out the background check, shocked to see that this man had been married five times and had two aliases. On his profile page on the match website he had said that he was a widower. I truly felt blessed to have learned this, even if it was after we had said our good byes at the restaurant.

At that point I began to wonder if he had killed anyone.

Then there was the one who was traveling through in his motor coach. I met him at a restaurant for lunch. This gentleman had only one thing in mind, and that was to lure me into his motor home and have sex. The clue that gave away the fact that all he was interested in was having sex was, he kept saying, “time is of the essence" and "at my age, time is running out on me." I don't think one would have to be a Sherlock Holmes to figure things out.

I refused to go inside to see how beautifully he had decorated his motor coach. I think he got my drift. I said a quick good bye and told him that I hoped time would not run out on him until he at least drove his motor home back to Florida. I certainly didn't want him to die on the interstate somewhere!

The third and last man was a retired engineer. This gentleman told me that his home was insured for half million dollars. I thought "Wow, I sure hope this is the one.'' Rememeber, our communication was going on through a match finder web site that we had both paid dearly to join, and not through our own email addresses.

After several months of internet communication he asked me to visit him, announcing that he had just had a cornea transplant and was under doctor’s orders not to drive too far from familiar surroundings. I told him I could understand that and that I would drive to his place.

Again I did a background check on him to be sure he had no criminal record. I have a GPS in my car and I drove approximately three hours to the city where he lived. We agreed to meet at a church there in the heart of the town. After we met, I followed him in his car to a very nice restaurant where the town people seem to know him and he introduced me to several of his acquaintances. He had a way of making me feel at ease and I felt very comfortable with him.

We had a delicious luncheon and the waitress cleared the table, but we lingered and talked for at least an hour while we had several cups of coffee. He then told me he wanted me to see his place out in the country. As I said, I felt very comfortable with him and in fact was quiet taken aback that he had not already been taken by some lucky lady.

We finally arrived at a gate set several feet from the paved road. At the entrance I could tell there was a camera, or some special light, suggesting he was very protective of his property. The memory of what he told me regarding what he had his home insured for went through my mind.

He gave me a grand tour of a home that was immaculate and he stressed again and again that he had designed it himself. And that all he needed was a good woman to enjoy it with him. So far all this sounded very good to me. We toured the home upstairs, downstairs, even into a huge basement. This house had everything money could buy. He told me that the counter tops in the kitchen were specially ordered from India. "Nothing but the best for my lady" he kept saying.

A few hours later he brought out a picnic basket with red and white checkered napkins sticking out from under the top of it. He said he wanted to show me some more beauty in the gardens. I followed him into the woods directly behind his mansion home. We walked for at least 30 minutes. I could hear the sound of water flowing over rocks in a huge waterfall.

Near this waterfall he took out the checkered table cloth and spread on the ground under the most gorgeous trees I have ever seen. The light from the sun cast rays in between the trees that could have been an artists’ dream picture. The sound of the water kept harmony with the sounds from the birds as they chirped and flew from tree to tree. At times I thought I was dreaming.

After we finished the last sandwich and soft drink, he placed everything back into the picnic basket. I was amazed at how neat he was. I failed to mention that this wealthy gentleman wore overalls with great big pockets. Now I'm a country girl from the word go. I don't have a problem with overalls.

All of a sudden this man that I thought was a dream come true, pulled a rope out of one of his overall pockets. He told me to sit very still. That he wanted to show me some tricks he had perfected. Now folks, I could not in a hundred years explain how I felt. Here I am way back in the woods with someone that I just met and he has a rope and has asked me to sit still. My mama didn't raise no fools. I jumped up and ran as fast as I could back toward his house.

At one time I thought he was about to catch me and if he had, I intended to hit him right in his eye where he had just had a cornea transplant. I ran until I was out of breath, jumped in my car and took off as fast as I could.

That was the end of my search for a "pen pal, activity partner, and or companion". as far as the match maker web sites go.

That is when I woke up to reality. I since have cancelled all my memberships in match finders on the internet. They sent me questionnaires asking why I had cancelled. My reply was simple. "Peopdle dond't tell the truth.''

Now, I understand that there may be people that meet on these sites and can truly say that they have found their soul mate. But as far as I'm concerned one has about as much chance of winning a 50 million dollar lottery as they do of finding a suitable partner.

I'm sure the owners of the sites are laughing all the way to the bank.

Now I can sign myself as Never Too Old To Learn.

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