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February 15, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff up.

Dear Breakup Girl,

So I've been getting back in the dating groove lately via that newfangled contraption: the Internet. Specifically, the Internet personals services Match.com and Swoon.com. I've met several people via these services and before I tell my "tale of whoa" I have to say it's been worthwhile and sort of fun.

I met her on one of these services and we started exchanging e-mails. I liked her e-mails. She seemed to have the "right stuff." Potential girlfriend material. Well-educated, from a happy family, she was your typical smart Manhattanite who also sounded (unusually) happy with where her career was going and her life. We agreed to chat on the phone and because of our busy schedules we chatted this way for weeks. Now, after a few weeks of chatting with a stranger for hours, you're not strangers anymore. You're not really acquaintances either since you haven't actually "met." Funny how that works. We were virtual friends. The chatting started to get hot and heavy and before I knew it, we were having phone sex. Not the really dirty I-hope-no-one-is-Prince-Charlesing me kind, but you know, the nice kind. The sexy kind. I grew to enjoy this part of the day. Who wouldn't? She seemed very sex-positive and I was looking forward to meeting her in the flesh. Hell, after two years of flying solo, flesh of any sort is looking good to me.

It was going so well, I made the offer that we wouldn't have just one date...we'd hang out together and be friends no matter what. This made her happy. It was like she needed me to say this. And she wanted to ride my motorcycle.

OK, to cut to the chase we agreed to meet at a neutral location and there she was. Just like she described: about 5 foot 4. Black hair. Kind of busty. Except there was one thing she failed to mention. She has a rather extensive series of birth defects. I'm not going to go into them, but there were parts of her body missing. Big parts. She also wore too much perfume (she had a nose defect of some sort too). Now, I'm not one to exclude people on their appearance or anything--really I'm not--but after our meeting (we got along fine, but there were no sparks) she called the following day, no doubt hoping to make use of her cordless phone and another handheld electronic device...and I got this very queasy feeling. I said I was busy (lie). She calls and I'm afraid to confront her about why I'm blowing her off. Please help, Breakup Girl. I don't want to be the jerk I've become.

-- Queasy Rider

Dear Queasy,

Ooooo-weee. Hey, Queasy, you're not a jerk. You're writing to Breakup Girl instead of teasing this gal at recess, right? And think of the heinous mean letter someone else could have written on the same topic without even worrying about being jerky. Plus, look, in a society that overvalues, you know, limbs, you are allowed -- if not conditioned -- to be squeamish. And we are all still trying to sketch out that line between making an Issue out of someone's appearance and blithely pretending that something "different" isn't there (as in: "I don't even notice that you're black!"). Finally, if you tell me there were no in-person sparks, I'll just have to work with that; I can't tell you to go make some.

Also, you were surprised. No fair. I mean, I can fully fully fully see how she could have been too scared to say anything -- and risk meeting no one at all -- but yeah, she probably should give due, if discreet warning. Not only to ease others into something that may be -- let's face it -- distracting and jarring, but also for herself. One of the reasons it would be brave and good for her to be up front about her appearance is that she would have to allow herself to be wrong about the "fact" that everyone is a bigoted appearance-obsessed jerk who can't see past what's missing. Yes, people should be able to deal. But they don't. And when she doesn't pre-disclose, she practically guarantees that people are going to come home and freak out and write to BG, or worse, blow her off awkwardly/rudely. She thus gets to be right, and lonely. Lest I get in trouble for being insensitive to the differently-limbed, let me clarify that you all do this kind of set-yourself-up-for-it thing, in one way or another. Let me also say: yay, phone sex. Not that she "should" have anything to hide, not that "home alone" is her only option. But way to work around/preempt the complications and have some good, not-so-clean, sex-positive fun. Yeah.

(Hey, Breakup Girl, remember me, the one with the queasy feeling? In the letter?) Okay QR, here's what our resident Professional, Belleruth, suggested: "Tell her that you weren't prepared for the unconventional way she looked, and that it's going to take some getting used to, being as how you had a whole different image of her in his head, and now there's some internal reconciling for you to do... etc. etc. etc. That's at least more respectful and straightforward than just disappearing on her. And it and gives her time to reconfigure her expectations. And then you can be lukewarm friends if you so choose... or not -- my guess is not -- but either way, if you're not interested, this is better." Keep your browser and your mind open, and get back on that bike.

Breakup Girl

P..S. Boy, could I have used a ride when I lost my powers.

P.P.S. "Queasy, don't even think about it." -- Breakup Mom



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