LABELED: KIK Me, I Must be Dreaming by Alexander Rose
He’s not gonna show up.
I thought this as I stared into the open freezer drawer of my refrigerator. The Trader Joe’s pizza beckoned me from its holding cell. It wanted me to preheat my oven to 450 degrees and get the pity party started... Silly me, I had made plans with some dude (let’s call him “Hans”) I had met on Grindr.
Yes, I know what most of you are thinking: Ew. Grindr, Alex? Really? That’s so gross and weird and creepy and unsafe and you’re disgusting.
WELL, let me tell ya, I thought those things too. Before meeting Hans on Grindr I hadn’t been a subscriber of the gay, location-based dating/sex app for nearly four years. I initially logged on upon moving to L.A. in 2010. But after a scenario where I found myself getting cruised at 3 a.m by a hulking “former model” pleading with me to breed him (you’ll have to look-up these gay terms yourselves), I decided enough was enough. I deleted the app.
So for four years I didn’t have sex.
Just kidding, but I was mostly meeting people through a much more PG OKCupid, or sometimes in real life – how novel! But with some ups and downs, and feeling as if I was being matched with the same trolls from Pomona over and over again, OKCupid was more like OKStupid.
Years older and more comfortable with myself and Los Angeles, I decided to re-download Grindr. It was like picking up where I had left off with an old friend. Nothing had really changed. I messaged everyone. Old, young, bears, otters, jocks, whatever. I don’t have a type, so I would just go with my mood.
One afternoon, when I should have been doing my job, the b+w profile of a younger boy caught my attention. His thin, stunning face, street-chic style, and devil may care attitude had me sending some charming (see: aggressive, bullish, mean) messages his way. His profile said he was a “geek” so I started there.
Me: I’m also a geek. But I’m funny. Are you funny?
Hans: Haaaha, most people say I’m funny.
Me: Who are most people? Ur mom?
Hans: wow thanks lol
Me: LOL urself.
I don’t see how anyone couldn’t be turned on by my chat banter.
So as our conversations continued that week, I found out a little bit more about him: He was born in Germany, raised in Texas. He was attending UCLA for music (he played the bassoon), and he thought I was sexy. Oh, and he loved cars. Specifically old Japanese racers. Like a 1967 Prince Skyline 2000 GT or a Nissan Bluebird 1600 SSS Coupe. He also gushed about a DeLorean. And a Volvo P1800. He was testing my car knowledge. I pretended to have some (I have none). He would send me pictures of such machines, in addition to pictures of himself before class appearing apathetic. He even sent me a photo of his dog named Lugosi (an homage to his love of horror films). Needless to say, I was into him.
Having my moon in Aries, I’m an impatient motherfucker, so I gave him my number and told him to text me. He said he felt weird trading contact info since he hadn’t met me yet – and Grindr can be scary. I had to empathize, but I persisted:
Me: Let’s talk on the phone.
Hans: I told you my rule though.
Me: Rules are made to be broken, duh.
Hans: Say you like me.
Me: Bad day?
Hans: Kind of.
Me: Text me about it
Hans: Make a Kik.
What in the fuck is a KIK? I thought. Not only did having to look this up made me feel old, the messenger app proved no help in meeting him sooner. However installing the app was rewarded with sexts and several nudes.
Trading more messages, we couldn’t agree on a time or date to hang out. He’d ask me to come over to his place, but I was always in the middle of a dinner, or another social outing, and when I asked him to see me, he’d be at his job or way behind on schoolwork.
Finally, we picked a day. It would be a Monday, and he was going to come over and then we’d stroll to a nearby KBBQ joint I love. As I was getting ready, he KIK’d me asking what I was going to wear, or what he should wear, and that he might be a little late. “No worries,” I wrote back.
But late turned into an hour.
“Hey are you on your way?”
“I’m en route. Be there soon. Had an issue with a friend.”
And then “be there soon” turned into 2 hours.
I removed the frozen pizza from the freezer and stripped the packaging. Throwing the food into the oven, I leaned up against my sink and thought about it. For some reason, I wasn’t annoyed, or sad, I wasn’t even surprised. I actually knew this would happen.
Me: I just tossed a pizza in the oven. Figure you’re not showing up. Hope you’re okay
No response. So I ate my pizza indifferently while watching Netflix.
The next morning I awoke to a surprise. A series of KIKs -- frantic and impassioned:
Hans: ALEX IM SORRY.
Hans: ANSWER ME PLEASE. LET ME EXPLAIN.
Hans: I CAN’T HELP WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.
At this point in the day, I didn’t care about anything besides a cup of coffee, so I didn’t even bother responding. As they day wore on, I was more and more curious to what had happened, even though this romance was wilting.
Me: You owe me a phone call to apologize.
Hans: I know. I’m sorry. I’ll call you when I can.
Thank God. I could finally hear his voice and all would be right.
But he still dodged getting on the phone. He decried that he was “too busy” and that a phone call “wouldn’t change anything”. My suspicions began to grow.
As I stood in line outside a bar called Harlowe on La Brea with my co-worker/Taurus friend Caroline, I explained the situation. What was the hold up? And maybe, I feared, maybe this guy had something to hide. A speech impediment? A gross disfigurement unseen in the photos he sent me? A social anxiety disorder?
Or worse maybe he was just toying with me.
“You should Google image search him.” Caroline told me.
“Wuh?” I had no idea what she meant.
“Upload the pictures he sent you and you can search them on Google, and see where else they’ve been used on the internet.” She said casually. Like she’d done this 1000 times before.
“You can DO that?!” I was blown away.
Once I was home, a little drunk, I image-captured a few choice photos. I was sure whatever came up would validate Hans’ existence. Or maybe not:
The first photograph I uploaded (A picture of him chewing on a pen seductively) was FOUND. On several websites. And these websites were all in Russian thus indecipherable by me.
What in the fuck, I thought.
The next upload was just the same, some website not in English (Portuguese?) plastered with photos of this young man I thought I knew. Then, I plugged in that nude he sent me. And, naturally, the results were various X-rated porn sites around the Internet.
This could not be happening.
Delving further online, I traced all the photos he sent me back to a Tumblr of some mildly internet-famous cyberpunk scenester living in the Pacific Northwest. We’ll call that guy Isaac. Isaac was born in London and raised in Seattle (similar yet different to Hans’ narrative). And he loved cars, just like Hans. All the cars Hans had talked to me about, I found on Isaac’s Tumblr. The Bluebird. The Prince Skyline. The DeLorean. The Volvo. Even the freakin’ dog, Lugosi was pictured (IF THAT’S EVEN THE DOG’S REAL NAME?!).
Then panic started to set in, this guy had my phone number and home address. Not to mention all the stupid things I had messaged him for weeks. But even more distressing was that I had been catfished. Like an idiot.
Clearly, whoever Hans was, he was in love with Isaac and his Tumblr. And he had decided to assume Isaac’s identity to reel me in. And he had snagged me, hook, line, and Goddamn sinker. Not to mention the embarrassment I had made of myself since I’d been talking Hans up to all my friends.
A normal person might have just dropped it there, knowing full well that what had taken place the last few weeks was a complete sham. However, I still couldn’t shake that the geeky, cute guy I had been chatting with was a deceitful, manipulative, faceless, piece of shit with an iPhone. I was hoping I had made some mistake. Or maybe I knew he was actually a psycho, and that’s what was still intriguing.
Getting onto the KIK (and fuck KIK btw) – I messaged him casually.
Me: Hey, u still up?
Hans: yep. Just reading.
Hans: What are you up to?
Me: ohhhh nothingggg, just exploring the Internet.
Hans: Oh yeah?
Me: That ol’ chestnut.
Hans: Anything interesting?
Me: No… Not really…. OH MY GOD, wait!
Then I sent him picture after picture of Isaac from his Tumblr. Different than the ones Hans had sent me previously.
Me: Check out all these photos of you that aren’t you?! Weird!
No response. Then –
Hans: Lol. Where’d you get those?
Me: The Internet, you idiot.
Hans: No, like where?
Me: So who are you, really, dude?
Hans: Just tell me where the fuck you got those pictures.
Me: Why does it matter? I have them, they’re not you. You’re a lying creep. And a loser.
I was having my fun now. All the fun that he had been having at my expense for weeks. I imagined him squirming with panic.
Hans: Lol. You’re going to feel so stupid when you find out you’re wrong.
Me: I dunnooooooo
Hans: That’s me. That guy is pretending to be me. Don’t you believe me?
Hans: Aren’t you going to let me prove myself to you?
Me: You can call me.
Hans: I can’t talk to you right now.
I deleted my KIK and blocked him on Grindr.
So, I never heard this guy’s voice. Never found out what he really looked like, if he went to UCLA, liked cars, or even watched horror flicks. He was a complete enigma, and wasted nearly a month of my life.
After all the lies, I thought I’d stop thinking about him. But I still haven’t. I still wonder who Hans is. Was he just lonely? Or was he just a sociopath getting his KIKs? I figured he wasn’t too different from me or anyone else online. We all lie IRL, and especially online -- on our profiles, our “about me’s”, the tweets we send, the statuses we update. And those pics we post that flatter ourselves: the right angles, lighting, coloring, framing, etc.
This guy just took it to the next level. And I was his prey. One of many, I’m sure. Not the first, and surely not the last. But where am I on that list? I hope I was his favorite victim.
ABOUT ALEXANDER ROSE
Alexander is a writer living in Los Angeles. Aside from documenting infrequent sexual escapades, he writes a gastro-blog detailing his obsession with local restaurants called EAT PRAY SH*T. Famous in his own mind, Alex is clearly homosexual and single. Follow him on Twitter @OmgAlex.