(This is Part 4 of the story. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
She tells me that her and her boyfriend are in an open relationship.
Turns out that one was a lie.
So I guess I accidentally stole this guy’s girlfriend, but he doesn’t even go to my college (yet), which means that he isn’t going to be a problem (yet). It’s November of my freshman year at college, and no matter what happens to me, I’m just kind of going along with it. Helpless flailing is one of my specialties.
But it turns out that this girl is kind of… clingy. I keep trying to do homework in my dorm, and she just goes ahead and invites herself over. She seems to think that she’s doing something wrong if I don’t hang out with her at least once a day, which is odd, because I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I hang out with the same person every day.
And then winter break rolls in, and despite going back home to the other side of the state, this girl is texting me nonstop. So I get tired of that rather quickly, and I call her up. I tell her, “We’re not very compatible, so I think that we should break up.”
She says, “That’s a silly reason to break up. I think that we’re still dating.”
That response wasn’t really a possibility that I had considered in my script, so I’m at a loss for words. I fumble and babble until I manage to hang up, and then she acts as if the conversation had never happened. On the rare occasion that this event is mentioned in the future, she refers to it as the time that I “tried” to break up with her.
Well now I’m grumpy. Now I’m all grumpied up. So I resolve to put absolutely no effort into the relationship whatsoever. If she thinks that she’s dating me, fine. But I’m not dating her.
During winter quarter, I finished writing a book, and I needed somebody to read it and give me their opinion. Turns out that college students don’t have time to read books, which means that I have to do some coercion. I seemed to have this “girlfriend”, and she seemed to be appearing in my dorm uninvited a lot. Since she’s still somehow dating me, despite me not putting any effort into the relationship, maybe she’ll feel obligated to read the book that I’ve written. That sounds means, but I figured that she deserved it for not letting me break up with her, for constantly following me uninvited, and making me overall unhappy.
She read the book. She thought it was pretty good, but seeing as she was a girlfriend, I couldn’t really trust her review anyway.
By the time spring quarter starts, I’m actually avoiding her. I’m hiding off campus, in places so out of the way that she would never suspect to look there. I swear, she could be an excellent stalker if she put her mind to it.
Spring quarter, she’s in my chemistry class. She definitely planned that. She’s kind of struggling in the class, so I give her a couple tips, and she comes up with a great idea. She wants to convince her mom to pay me to tutor her in chemistry. Pay me? What is this?
Here’s the thing. The Wii U was about to be released, and that meant that Pikmin 3 was coming out. Seeing as Pikmin 2 was the greatest game ever made, I need to get a Wii U. How will I pay for a Wii U? By tutoring the girl that won’t let me stop dating her.
So I try tutoring my girlfriend. She’s going along with it for awhile, but as the quarter goes on, she basically stop trying. I start to suspect that she only set this deal up so I would feel obligated to continue dating her. Well that plan sure worked. I want my goddamn Pikmin. I’m still able to hide from her whenever she becomes too much of a nuisance, and she’s apparently fine with that, so we’re all good.
Since I’m double majoring in two majors that have nothing to do with each other, I realized that it was necessary to take summer classes if I wanted to graduate in four years. My girlfriend finds out and immediately signs up for summer classes. Stop. Please. Stop.
Early into summer quarter I try to break up with her again. Here’s how little I cared about this breakup: That night was movie night in my dorm, and my girlfriend was living a ten minute walk away. But I couldn’t go to her place and talk to her, because I would miss the start of the movie. So, get this, I write her an email. She’s pushed me too far. I’ve gone to the dark side. This is what I’ve become.
To my surprise, she allows this breakup. She gets very sad. But she continues inviting herself over to my dorm. I break up with her again (not strictly a breakup, as this time I was basically just telling her to go away), and finally, finally, she is gone.
Let’s take a detour.
Right around the time that I broke up with this girl for the third time, my friend Tom meets a girl named Nicole, who goes to the community college in town. She’s a wannabe computer hacker, but I entirely doubted that she had hacked anything in her life, because contrary to my desires, I do not live in a sci-fi action movie. Tom pops over to my dorm every once in awhile with Nicole, and ridiculous antics ensue. You see, Nicole might be the worst person that I’ve ever met. Her sole purpose in life is to make those around her miserable. I think that’s hilarious. So I play along.
During the summer, Nicole and I made a lot of bets with each other, each escalating in monetary value to make up for the previous losses. I bet her that I could run across campus and back within fifteen minutes (I lost that one), she bet me that I would lose at the scavenger hunt that Justin had set up for me and Jamie that summer (I lost that one as well), and I bet her that I could trick my ex-girlfriend into having a lesbian experience (I won that one). Once the summer was over, I was up ten dollars. Neato!
Near the beginning of sophomore year, Nicole and Tom start dating. I think that’s pretty funny, but now I can’t really hang out with Tom without dealing with Nicole, and Nicole is getting more and more annoying with every encounter. I don’t like her. My friends don’t like her. Tom seems very passive about her. This relationship looks very familiar to me, but I don’t say anything.
As sophomore year goes on, I hang out with Tom less and less. The few times that I do see him, I basically just pester him to break up with Nicole. And in response he says, “Well, uh, it’s kind of, you know,” which doesn’t mean anything, so they kept dating.
During the spring, I finally made him see reason, and he broke up with her. Cool. Very cool. Now I probably won’t have to see her again.
About a week later, my ex-girlfriend sends me a text message. It said something like, “I saw you walking across campus, and I wanted to say hi, so I tried to follow you. But I lost track of you and you got away :(”. I had probably crossed paths with her three times throughout sophomore year, and each encounter seemed hysterically awkward for her. But this is new. I don’t like this. I don’t respond to the text.
She texts me again the next day, asking me to hang out with her. I still don’t respond. She texts me again the next day, saying that she’s going to come over to my dorm to hang out. I lock the door and don’t respond.
Hold on. Why would my ex by stalking me suddenly? That doesn’t make any sense. I broke up with her nearly a year ago. I do a quick Facebook check, and she’s had a new boyfriend for several months. Something doesn’t add up.
If anybody was going to be stalking me for sinister reasons, it would be Nicole, because I had recently convinced her boyfriend to break up with her. If it were Nicole stalking me, that would make way more sense!
And… didn’t I say that Nicole was a wannabe hacker?
So I call up Nicole. I ask her, “Did you hack my ex-girlfriend’s phone and start sending me creepy messages with it?”
And Nicole says no.
The next day, my ex texts me again. This time she says that she’s found an app that lets her track my phone. She can find me any time that she wants no matter where I am <3. I call Nicole back, and I ask her, “Are you sure that you didn’t hack my ex’s phone?”
Nicole says no.
The next day, my ex texts me again. Apparently she’d tried to follow me across campus again, and I hadn’t noticed. Whenever I leave the dorm, I start taking the battery out of my phone. That’ll stop her from tracking me.
I call Nicole again, and I ask her, “Are you super sure that you didn’t hack my ex’s phone?”
This time Nicole says, “Okay, you got me. I hacked her phone, and I’ve been using it to scare you.”
Fortunately I had yet to respond to any of my ex’s text messages, and if I had, it might have been very interesting. She would start getting replies from me having no idea that she’d been sending me any texts at all. So I start doing just that. I start responding. Every response I get seems to be the voice of Nicole. That’s kind of strange. Why can’t my ex see any of these text messages? Furthermore, why didn’t Nicole just stop pestering me when I called her out?
At the end of sophomore year, the text messages did eventually stop. I guess Nicole finally got bored, or she had finished her stupid vendetta against me. Finally I could rest easy without fears that my ex-girlfriend was going to come hunt me down and kill me in my sleep.
During the summer, I crossed paths with a mutual friend of mine and my ex-girlfriends. I figure that now would be a good time to warn my ex that somebody had hacked her phone. But I don’t want to actually speak to my ex, so talking to our mutual friend was the next best thing.
Megan didn’t sound pleased when I explained the situation. Some mean girl had hacked my ex’s phone for no good reason other than to spook me. Megan didn’t seem to think that it made much sense, and the more I explained, the less sense it made to me as well, but Megan did agree that she would talk to my ex and have her change her… passwords or something. What are you supposed to do to keep a hacker out?
Honestly, I didn’t care about what came next. My ex could figure things out on her own, because I wanted nothing to do with her, and nothing to do with Nicole. For an entire evening, I am home free at last.
The evening ended. Everything went downhill from there, starting the next morning.
Megan texts me back. She kept herself very brief. “It definitely wasn’t Nicole who was sending you those text messages.”
Alright. I hate everything.
So for some reason, my ex actually was trying to stalk me, despite us having been out of communication with each other for nearly a year and despite the fact that she has a new boyfriend. To make matters even worse, Nicole threw in a random curveball by falsely admitting to something that in hindsight was actually ridiculous. My ex is stalking me, while Nicole hates me and is intentionally confusing the hell out of me. I hate this. None of this makes any sense to me. This is some Agatha Christie trickery. This is some conspiracy theory nonsense. This is some VFD bullshit. And I won’t have it.
But my ex had said that she was tracking my phone which would involve phone hacking. The phone hacking was the Nicole issue, and it turns out that that never happened. Now, hold on. That means that the phone hacking was technically my idea in the first place, because I had been accusing Nicole of it. That was before my ex claimed that she was tracking my phone. What are the odds that two types of phone hacking would take place, or pretend to take place, if they’re completely independent of each other? Something isn’t right here. Nicole couldn’t be in contact with my ex, could she? How would that happen?
Do you remember how at the very beginning of this insane story I told you that I had accidentally stolen this girl from another guy? Junior year, that guy lived up the street from me. He was on my block. I was freaking out. And my roommates were friends with his roommates. A couple of times I ended up going to his house, and we had some crazy stare downs. I was afraid. This guy is twice my size, and he could pop my head right off of my neck if he wanted to.
Turns out he had no idea who I was, and still has no idea who I am. So that’s something nice for a change. I went to his house all the time to watch Game of Thrones, and it was like nothing. Sweet.
NaNoWriMo started, and the NaNo community at my college is surprisingly large. This year I actually met up with some of the people during November, and we would hang out, chat, have a good time, and on Tuesday’s we would go to a coffee shop that it just so happened had employed my ex-girlfriend.
The first Tuesday of November, I walk into the coffee shop, order my drink, hand her my money with trembling hands, and I watch to make sure that she hasn’t poisoned my drink. That’s silly. Why would she just have poison on hand? If anybody would just happen to have poison on them at all times, it would probably be Nicole, and I hadn’t seen her in person since Tom had broken up with her.
So my ex-girlfriend makes me some coffee, and I spend the rest of my time there avoiding eye contact. That went okay. Let’s see how that goes next week.
I go back the next Tuesday. She looked pissed. I feel unsafe. I order my coffee and avoid eye contact. Why would I feel unsafe? She didn’t do anything crazy last week. Why would she do something now?
I’m there for about half an hour before a cop walks up to me. “Are you Joe Fleck?” he asks.
I reply, “Huh?”
The cop tells me to chat with him outside. So I chat with him outside. He tells me that my ex-girlfriend works here, and I’ve been making her feel very unsafe.
I reply, “Huh?”
So the nice cop explains to me, “I don’t really understand your situation, but she called in a few minutes ago, and she wants you to leave and never come back. So I’m going to have to ask you to leave. And never come back.”
Now, this is extra flabbergasting. This girl has been stalking me, yet she does everything in her power to keep me away when I happen to cross paths with her by pure chance. Except I don’t think she actually was stalking me. She was just sending me creepy text messages claiming that she was stalking me, while not actually ever showing her face. So either she’s a really bad stalker, or she’s just trying to freak me out.
I’m pretty freaked out.
I lie low for awhile, trying to make sure that nobody slits my throat in my sleep. I’m jumpy. I’m overly observant. I carry sugar-free gummy bears on me at all times, because that’s the closest I can legally get to poison. I wait for her next move, and pray that she doesn’t make a move at all.
In February, I cross paths with her four days in a row, each time in closer proximity than the last. I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. The only way that she could do that is if she’s tracking my phone. But that doesn’t make sense! I’d recently gotten a new phone. My old phone wasn’t even a smart phone, so how the shit would she have been tracking that anyway, if she was at all?
One of my roommates shows me an app called Find My Friends. You and a friend can exchange contact information and set it up so that you can locate each other’s phones. I spent a solid two weeks drilling into this app, trying to figure out how it could be used to track without the other person’s permission. My search was fruitless. I try other apps with similar titles. Still nothing.
None of it makes sense. A guy who craves to make sense of everything has now been thrown into a pit of insanity.
I do still have that app, as do several of my friends. Turns out that it can be pretty useful if your friends get into any sort of jam, bind, or pickle.
I start rigging my bedroom door to check if anybody has been in my room while I’m not home. I consider ways to put Find My Friends on people’s phones without them knowing. I text friends of my ex to see if they have any intel. Nothing is working. Any minute now I’m going to just curl up and die, possibly due to poisoning.
Junior year ends. Intel informs me that my ex has graduated, a year early, and she is probably leaving town.
Why do all of these stories have such anticlimactic endings?
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)