When I didn’t respond back right away he sent me another note reminding me it had been a week since I’d replied. He was drunk when he wrote it too – and the next email too. Same bar. Same bartender. Same highlights. I come from a family of alcoholics and rarely drink myself. There was no way I was getting involved with a drunk on top of everything else.
For some reason, I kept replying politely to his emails. I tried to discourage him by telling him how busy I was, what a mess my life was, and how I was already stuck living with one man I couldn’t seem to shake. I sent very clear messages, but Jerame was persistent.
Jerame sent me a photo of himself. At the time those little computer cams took distorted fisheye pictures and it made him look unattractive. His hair was dyed blonde in the photo. He assured me it was an old picture, he wasn’t blonde, and didn’t have a head shaped like a football. He wasn’t a drunk either, he said. He’d just drowned his sorrows in free booze and a bartender’s attentions for a couple of weeks.
At the time, I had a stalker who’d found me online. When I’d block him on instant messenger, he’d create a new account and pop through to try and get me to chat. He emailed me naked pictures of himself. He peeked in my windows. It was frightening and annoying. He’d leave gifts or send cards and e-mails. He started dating my roommate even so he’d have access to the house – and, therefore, me.
When he popped in over instant messenger one day to say, “I hear you’ve been talking to Jerame. He’s delicious. We’re old friends and fuckbuddies,” I just stopped replying or talking to Jerame at all. If he was friends with the weirdo, he was definitely out of bounds. I was done. Jerame was cut off completely.
Jerame and I had several friends in common even though we’d never met. Jerame’s best friend had talked to me before and at this point the roommate was dating the stalker. His friend shot me an email to tell me Jerame wasn’t a dangerous oddball loser, but I took it with a grain of salt. I didn’t know the guy that well and Jerame was his best friend; who wouldn’t help out their best friend?
One afternoon the roommate came home and told me he’d had dinner with the stalker and Jerame. Jerame seemed nice, he told me. I should give him a chance. I brushed him off. A few hours later I got an instant message from Jerame to tell me about the dinner. He said he’d gone just so my roommate could meet him and see he wasn’t a psycho. He said he didn’t really want to hang out with the stalker, they were friends from when he was much younger and he’d cut off the friendship when the guy had started stalking him too.
He asked for my phone number so he could explain everything easier. Begrudgingly, I gave it to him.
(I found out later that the stalker had already given him a link to my website, my phone number and address, and a couple of naked hookup photos he’d gotten from me by pretending to be someone else. Jerame knew what I looked like naked before I’d even given him my number!)
Once Jerame and I started talking on the phone, I loosened up a little. I tested him as much as possible over a telephone wire. I asked about his background, his friends (especially his relationship to the stalker), his job, everything I could think of that might pose a problem. He asked me to meet in person several times but I always found an excuse to delay. I still wasn’t convinced it was a good idea. He sounded nice and normal, but I wasn’t taking any chances.