‘Is he watching me from a car nearby, gun in hand?’ I wondered as I darted the two blocks back to my apartment. I waited for him outside Nepal House, shivering despite it being a warm August day. I shrugged it off as first date jitters. Until his slew of texts informed me otherwise. ‘I’m sorry to have to do this to you. But you need to know what it feels like to be ignored, the way you ignored me. All you women are so shallow. Be nice to people! You and the 15 or so other girls I reached out to were so mean to me. You women only like frat guys. So this is a fair trade, just like my screenname,’ he texted around 7 p.m., when we were supposed to meet.
We’d agreed to dinner on a Saturday night. A cue. Who went to dinner on a Saturday night as a first date? Yet, I rationalized I had nothing else to do that night. I was wading through one of the periodic low tides of a single 20something’s social life.
I preferred to live a healthy lifestyle, my OKCupid profile said. Nothing crazy, just that I didn’t eat fried food everyday and chose stairs over elevators 90 percent of the time. A screenname paying homage to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles messaged me in response to this singular line. He described how he’d morphed into a healthy eater by way of unidentifiable stomach problems later treated by appendectomy. I didn’t respond.
Later, he sent me another message asking if I had received his initial one. Like history, I repeat myself. I didn’t respond. He chastised me for not responding. He knew I’d seen his message because he could see that I’d visited his profile, and that I’d been online. Despite wondering if I should coach him on how to talk to women, I decided to simply inform him I preferred dating city folk. He lived in the suburbs. 'Well, I come to the city at least once a month. I was just there in fact. And you could at least have been nice enough to respond to my message'.
A month or so later, screenname a-fair-trade and I started talking. Eventually, we got technologically serious. We started texting. Around the same time, the anti-Splinter contacted me yet again. 'Hi, I’m Mohammed,' he wrote. ‘Does he really think I’ve forgotten about him and his hostile messages?’ I thought and proceeded to once again, ignore him. Then he contacted me again, telling me he’d been having Internet problems and wasn’t sure if I’d responded. I ignored his message. In response, he messaged me to let me know I was rude for not responding to his initial message. He could see, once again, that I had been online and on his profile. History repeats itself.
Shortly before our interactions, Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista, California. He targeted attractive sorority girls. 'I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair,' he wrote in a manifesto. My friend studying for her PhD in psychology pointed out to me the similarities between Rodger and the Rafaello wannabe. They discussed psychological gender differences in one of her classes, using Rodger as an example. “If things are going poorly in a man’s life, especially his sex life, he places blame externally. If woman can’t get a date, she acknowledges she might be doing something wrong and looks for ways she can change,” she said.
I continued texting back and forth with a-fair-trade. A few things seemed off. For example, when he was at work, we texted back and forth while he was “on break”. When his break ended, he’d let me know. I thought this was odd since texting doesn’t require immediate response.