I answered the phone today to my daughter’s stalker, a seven year old called Tammy who knows Scarlett’s phone number and isn’t afraid to use it. On some occasions, several times a day. Now, luckily, I’m not a big one for answering the phone, so I don’t usually have to chat to her. Nevertheless, it is a tad disconcerting to come home sometimes to find that the Little Stalker has left a sequence of messages, asking, in a faint, plaintive tone, whether Scarlett can come over for a play date.
This time, as I answered the phone, without so much as a hi or hello, a babyish voice asked, “Did Scarlett get my letter?”
I knew at once it was Tammy. My brain knotted itself into a pretzel, trying to figure out what she was talking about.
“What letter?” I finally asked.
“An invitation to my birthday party?”
“No, she didn’t.”
Long silence punctuated by wheezy breathing.
“So is she coming to my party?”
“I don’t know when your party is, but I’ll ask your mum about it, okay?”
“Is there anything else?”
“I just wanted to know if she got my letter.”
Oh yes, Tammy is an old style type stalker. Surely all of us have at one time or another stalked or had someone stalk us. And we all know what stalking means, or rather, what it used to mean. Phoning the guy you were in love with who would rather eat cat food than go out with you again and just listening to him saying, “Hello? Hello. Who is this?” before gently replacing the receiver and crying yourself to sleep. Not that I’ve ever done that. Okay, maybe once or twice to an ex-boyfriend I was still sleeping with who had since moved in with his girlfriend. But I digress.
Sure I’ve dabbled in stalking, but I’m simply too lazy to be full on. Sitting outside someone’s house in a car all night waiting to see their new partner or rummaging through their rubbish bin for an old pair of their socks you can lovingly treasure. Sorry, but no. It’s simply too much like hard work.
And then, hurrah, the Internet came along. And everyone who’d ever had a restraining order slapped on them breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that they could now cyber-stalk anyone they liked without the threat of jail time.
The only rule of cyber-stalking is, don’t be a fool and leave footprints, like Felicity Jane Lowde, who hassled
Rachel From North London on her blog to the point where Felicity found herself with a six month sentence, simply for being an enormous pain in the arse.
Don’t get me wrong, I can sympathize with cyber-stalkers. I mean, I can see how easy it is to fall into it. You read all about some person on their blog. You get a totally subjective view of the person, usually a very rosy view, since the person wants you to like them. Before you know what’s happening, you have fallen for a bunch of pixels on a screen. And say you do end up hooking up with that person eventually in the real world. What happens when it all goes pear shaped? What torture to still read his blog, read about the women he’s dating, long after he’s forgotten about you. In the old days, when relationships ended, you never saw each other again. If necessary, you moved to a new town to make a fresh start. But these days an ex-lover/blogger (blover) will be on the Internet until he decides to take down his blog. It makes moving on difficult and is fertile ground for stalk-maniacs to take the final leap into insanity.
There’s this stubbly, unwashed guy at the library where I sometimes go to use the Internet, who I know for a fact sits there all day, every day, writing emails to a woman called Sophie. If I sit next to him I read his stuff, and it’s always a very very long email about some long held grudges: “I don’t know why it ended, maybe I couldn’t give you what you needed but the way it ended was simply so wrong you were so cruel. Why did you hurt me the way you did and go off with my best friend Greg I trusted him to drive you to the airport how was I to know that he’d book a ticket and fly off with you to San Francisco you bitch Sophie how could you do that to me etc. etc.”
I’m not sure if he actually sends these emails. But if he does, I’m pretty sure Sophie doesn’t read them.
It’s kind of admirable that he keeps going though. Warms the cockles of my heart. Ah, ain’t love grand?