Late last night I was at the end of the Santa Monica pier and looking out for that friendly seal that is usually quite a ham and hungry for free bait. Most performers and vendors had left for the night. It was after 11, and I noticed an angler next to me with funky fishing line. I’m used to a monofilament line that is transparent or slightly blue and maybe green. I sent all of my fishing rods to the ex but we used a 4 pound test for freshwater fishing. This man’s line was white and blue and it looked like twisted string. He was fishing with an 80 pound test – braided line and trying to hook lobsters. He used really large treble hooks stepping up along the line and a 5 ounce or so weight to sink his line to the bottom. I watched him cast his line, and he let it sit. We chatted as he watched his rods for the bounce of a strike. I watched him yank upward to set the hook in his prey and he reeled in quickly. He showed me the leg of a lobster he had maimed, and told me he had caught small lobsters and crabs but I didn’t see him catch anything because his questions wandered into my fishing knowledge and the husband I don’t have anymore. He started telling me he just filed for divorce from his wife, and I decided it was time to go. He seemed nice enough. I just wasn’t interested in talking to him about marriage and divorce because he was looking at me in a way that said he found a connection in me and he thought it was worth exploring, but I didn’t. He was lobster fishing without a trap and using treble hooks which was so many shades of illegal and his moral compass wasn’t pointing in the same direction mine was because he was doing it, but I watched and felt it was wrong.
A few days ago I wrote about a man that I felt was reading a script when he was flirting with me and not getting to know me. I thought he was a bit of a player casting a wide net for the most possible results in his search for the right person or a good time. I was entertained. It was interesting. I was enjoying it for what it was and not taking it seriously. This morning I got a text from him. I responded. He responded back, then repeated the very first text as if he was copying and pasting and going through a list. He would text me throughout the day and ask about my plans. He’d call me every dessert imaginable and talk about eating me up. He said he was in my city but he would ask what time it was and what the weather was like. Yesterday I mentioned I was at the 3rd Street Promenade. I was. People watching and a long walk make me happy. He sent me a text that I’m sharing, because I can.
I can’t make this stuff up. I wasn’t heart broken. He wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful. He wasn’t an intense conversationalist. He wasn’t even someone I really wanted to meet. I was mildly curious about why he wasn’t interested in meeting in person. I wanted to know why my mind was telling me what I knew in my gut. I wanted to see things through until there was a clear picture. I don’t know what I plan to do. Part of me wanted to respond angrily. Part of me gets a kick in him wasting his time on me. The part of me that felt anger was mainly upset that he thought I couldn’t see through his hustle. At the end of the day, it’s not a game. It’s a hustle and he’s trying to make money.
On the way back to the pier, I was liked by a really hot profile picture that was actually a woman posing as a man. It’s amazing that she would so clearly know my taste in men. Three days ago she started reaching out to women to compile a list of men to beware of. She has nine men listed so far with a profile name and a description of their wrongs. There are scammers, sex offenders, catfishers, and felons. I just added one to her list this morning.
Yesterday I was determined to go out and explore the Promenade and smile. I was determined that I would enjoy being in my skin. I would be in the moment. I would take slow steps and I would walk swiftly in a pace that felt good to me. I suppose some would call that interval training. I was smiling at strangers and getting smiles back. I even got a high five. It was a friendly kind of day.
I was still thinking about this scammer and the whole climate of online dating as I walked across the uneven wood of the pier. I thought I would try ghosting him. I hear it’s a thing and I wonder if there’s satisfaction in it or if I would feel guilt and shame. I typically try to be kind and I don’t know if I’m ready to confront him or ignore him or just tell him his game with me is over. I’m just as guilty. I am starting to really enjoy rejections. It started out as being picky but became control in being able to reject people based only on my choice. It became an exercise in confidence boosting.
Grace shows up in the most random and beautiful moments. I found a bench to sit on. There was a man sitting there already and he didn’t seem bothered that I would share a bench. After a while we struck up a conversation. We talked about veterans, mental illness, homelessness, dating and God. We sat through the sunset that was only visible in brilliant rays across the ocean. We sat for hours and talked about everything in a way that wasn’t pressured or uncomfortable and he gave me great dating advice. I made a new Facebook friend.
A while later while on my way home, I was in a great mood and smiled at a stranger driving to his home. I think it caught him off guard. He asked if I knew him and I didn’t. He asked if I needed something and I didn’t. I just wanted to smile at him. After about the 3rd light of driving inconsiderately for others, I offered for us to pull over and we stood and talked for a while. Over the ocean the cloud cover was dense, but where we were the sky was clear and he pointed out the big and little dippers and told me how I could find cassiopeia. How awesome was that? We were on different paths, and I made another Facebook friend, but it was great to feel so confident and empowered by a smile at a stranger going in the same direction I was. There was a shift in our conversation where my choices and perspective shifted his thoughts and perspective. It felt amazing to be able to create change in just being who I am.
I had been building a profile (or two) with the hopes of casting a pick up line in an email and hooking a great guy to spend time with. I had been hoping my endless selfies would prove I am who I say I am and I had been looking at profiles (mainly because I like looking at handsome men) and trying to imagine tomorrow and next week and a comfortable future of companionship because I can be alone but I don’t enjoy it. I had a night of learning that sometimes all it requires is a warm smile and a willingness to respond with kindness.