We constantly tell our children to beware of strangers on the internet - don’t believe that the friend you’ve made on a games website is really the same age as you, never give out personal details etc.
And yet I didn’t follow my own advice and that’s when I found myself being groomed and duped - lied to and led on.
A very foolish Mummy Misfit, I know - I’m not proud of myself but it happened and I’ve moved on.
Here’s my story.
Back in June 2011 I joined Twitter - a true Twitter virgin (as opposed to the addict I am now!). I made friends, chatted, promoted my book and generally had a high old time - learning the ropes as I went. Who would have guessed the importance of one lesson I’d be taught.
I spent many a happy night chatting to ‘Eric the Gay Rainbow’ - being an incorrigible fag-hag, I was having a ball with our cheesy one liners and daft banter. He was aware that I had lost my closest gay friend a couple of years ago and I believed that Eric and I were beginning to build a genuine friendship.
We began to email one another and (stupidly) I began to trust him. When he spoke of coming to England from the States, I was delighted. We’d finally get to meet!
We arranged a date for a themed dinner, here at my place (with hubbie and a couple of friends - I may be stupid but I’m not that stupid!) and then the September storms began in New York. Suddenly it was looking like he may not be able to fly out.
I could have accepted this - you can’t mess with an act of God. But gradually the lies began to build - one minute flights were OK but he had no one to look after his cat, then suddenly he had a cat sitter but his flight was delayed.
At this point the alarm bells were beginning to ring but I still wanted to believe him. I was constantly being told different things, e.g. arrival Gatwick then Heathrow, but none of the flight information tallied with the checks we made online. A call to the hotel I’d referred him to also drew a blank.
I eventually received a tweet on the day of the dinner to say that he was about to board his plane but would be delayed until much later in the evening. “No problem,” I told him, “I’ll save dinner and we’ll wait for you.” L'il ol’ perfect hostess, moi!
The long and the short is, he never showed, never gave an explanation and probably had no intention of even leaving the country (assuming he/she/it was actually in New York in the first place!). I also know he arranged to meet several gay guys he’d met on Twitter - again, a no show.
First off, I was hurt - I’d put my trust in someone who I’d believed might become a real friend and I’d been made to look a fool. Then the anger set in - what a complete and utter time-wasting fantasist! Then the reality hit - I needed to be more careful and protect myself on Twitter - sometimes gut feeling is not enough.
Naturally, his Twitter account disappeared. He obviously wasn’t going to hang around to deal with the backlash from the people he’d so cruelly messed about.
BUT … he’s back, under another name - ‘Rick Rainbow’. I contacted him and tried to get some answers or at least something half way to a decent explanation. I got nothing - other than he wishes me well. Gee, thanks!
So, I don’t like snitching but I feel that it’s only fair to let other Twitterers know that he is not to be trusted. I can’t sit back any longer and keep quiet.
All I can do, other than ‘out’ him, is to thank him for teaching me a lesson - he turned a trusting, genuine individual in to a suspicious cynic.
I just hope he can rest easy in his bed at night but also that he eventually finds peace - because I don’t believe he can possibly have that right now.