Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Devo Diary Chapter 58


December 2005

So I’ve finally finished my graduate degree but my life is a mess. I have no job, and the apartment I’m living in is about to be sold. I’m sleeping with some other girl’s boyfriend just because he’s a hot wheeler, even though I realize he’s kind of an ass, and I’m keeping it a secret from my friends. I went back for one last booty call with Sean the BMX wheeler even though I knew he was not worth it, and he turned out to be so much more of a manchild than I even realized. I’m thirty-three years old and still living like a kid. What the fuck am I doing with my life?
As all this bullshit is going down, I’m also somehow still finding time to chat online with a bunch of guys on the Paradevo message board. Most of the exchanges don’t go beyond a few self-introduction emails, others are friendly but platonic. A few get more flirty but there’s only one I feel like I really connect with, a French Canadian guy named Thibault, pronounced Tibo, a sporty low para who builds custom wheelchairs. We’re the same age, which is another point in his favor. My policy for online flirtation until now has been to search for local guys only, but since I’ve been applying to jobs all over the US and even Canada, I could end up living anywhere, so why not, I figure.
Tibo starts to get serious after I send him the photo of me with my Betty Page haircut in the tight vinyl pants. He writes:

First and foremost, how are you doing? Hope things are going well?

I've been thinking of you often over the past two weeks and realize that you
are incredibly fascinating to me in so many ways, it's a little freaky. I mean that in a positive way of course.

My main job would be building custom chairs, although they don't sell fast enough
to sustain me, so I do other things such as: automotive service adviser (sucks), welding, machining, male prostitution (joke), and whatever I can get my hands on. My number one passion besides meeting you of course, is racing.

How did you first discover Bettie Page? She is what I consider to be the sexiest woman. She is a pioneer, I have so much respect for her courage. That is one of the many things I find so attractive about you, your courage to actively seek what you want in life, no matter what the gen.pop thinks. Very rare quality to find in people. You’re a pioneer just like me.

Did I tell you that you are gorgeous????

So are you strictly a dom, or a you versatile?? Do you ever just make love?? My only experience is a girl who loved to have her ass slapped really hard. (it was so cooool) It is hard enough to find someone I'm really comfortable with,  let alone someone who will want to explore sex mutually.

It is such a comfort to know that you are so well versed in what my lifestyle entails, that I have to say that this is another reason you are so attractive to me. I fantasize about you  a lot, our first meeting, how experienced you are, how you smell, what I would do to your........ sorry just getting a little perved out by the thought of you.

You really are sounding like the woman I've been hoping to find. Are you
scared yet?

         sinfully at your disposal, thibault

While this is of course flattering, I find it alarming that he’s already creating this ideal fantasy of me when we hardly know each other. I have always heard that getting serious too fast is a big red flag, and after the fiasco with Sean I have seen it firsthand. I’m not going down that road again. So I gently remind Tibo that actually we don’t really know each other at all and he needs to slow down.

He responds:

Sorry for coming on so strong in my last correspondence, guess I got carried
away, I should have re-read it before I sent it to you. Don't worry I won't be showing up with a ring and flowers, I may wear my heart on my sleeve but I'm not a moron.

Thank you for the latest pics you sent me. They were very nice. Never realized nerdy city chicks were so hot. (joke)

Been welding and fabricating like crazy to keep my mind clear. The winter time means no biking for me so I get a little stir crazy. I wonder if steady sex would help getting through the winter season. What am I saying steady sex would help get through just about anything!

Have you ever heard that sex burns a lot of calories?? Not sure if that is
true but I tell women about it all the time. lol

Exhausted and overtired I'm off to bed.

                       sincerely Thibault

P.S. No matter what happens in the future, I will always be glad that I got to know you a little. The things you have brought to light for me have given me hope in areas of my life that have been a struggle in this last decade. (sappy)

January 2006

New Year’s comes and goes, and that bullshit with Trip goes down. Now I’m really, truly unattached, not hooking up or seeing anyone else. It’s a nice distraction to email more with Tibo, even if I’m not really taking it that seriously. After coming on too strong at first, he dials it all the way back, and we constantly remind each other not to get serious too fast, we’re just getting to know each other right now, we both might meet other people in person. He sends me some photos; they’re rather old and the quality is not great but he looks like a really handsome guy with dark eyes and glossy black hair. His chair, of course, is sporty and lean.
I tell him:

Thanks for the pics, that's a sharp-looking chair. What brand is it? Frog legs are cool, very sexy. Definitely send me a picture when you get your new chair, preferably a pic with you in it :)

He replies:

The brand is Invacare, the model is Terminator ss. Invacare is short for
invalid care, needless to say I remove all brand names on the chair because
the name makes me want to gag. And I am about to develop my own full
suspension and rigid model chairs, my aim is to make them affordably priced
to gold plated custom. Yes of course I will send you some pics of the new chair with me in it obviously.

I know about Invacare already and I agree about the name. I think it’s cool that he removed it. I’m enjoying this conversation about wheelchairs so much. It feels so good to just get into the details without trying to hide my specialized knowledge and without feeling guilty about it. I write:

I'm glad you think my devo geeking out is appealing. I have become much more attuned to these things. Like when I see a para in a chair with a high back, arm rests, or (good god) push handles, I think "What a dork!" My friend the Mantis has his chair set up all wrong, I keep telling him he would have an easier time pushing if he raked it better, but who am I to tell him what to do. Anyway he's sloppy about everything, half the time his tires are flat and he rolls around on the rims. Whatever.

Tibo finds this delightful. He writes:

Can't recall ever having a conversation with any other woman that was truly
into wheelchair tech and style, or for that matter set up of a wheelchair.
Breath of fresh air you are. Completely agree with you on flat tires and push handles. (dorky) Sometimes I will ask a fellow wheeler if he consciously runs the set-up he has or does he not know any better. The lazy ones are usually defensive and I will just walk away. (no pun intended)

We keep emailing about wheelchair tech, about our lives, everything. He reveals some family tragedy that’s happened to him in the past few years. I tell him about my hopeless, demoralizing job search. I’m working part time at Lester State now—my advisor got me a temporary gig so I’m not totally unemployed while I try to find a real position. But inevitably our conversation always quickly circles back to dev related topics.
Tibo complains about people staring at him, and asks how I feel about it when I’m out with a wheeler in public and people stare at us. I reply:

That's a really interesting question. Because I am a dev, I actually really love the staring.  When I was dating Rollerboy, I strutted around with a big smirk on my face all the time, like "He's the hottest guy here and he's mine." People seemed to pick up on my happiness and reflect it back to me. But I am a freak and an exhibitionist, so I like being stared at (most of the time). I know he did not share my feelings, but we never really discussed it.

Again Tibo seems to like this answer. He writes:

That's really nice to hear a different perspective. The older I get, the more my tolerance for uneducated people grows. Why would an AB educate him or herself about SCI unless they know someone or are just curious, in these times people have busy lives and I don't expect them to know or even have common knowledge (uncommon knowledge) of what my life might consist of. Don't pet me on my head like an animal though or I will bite your hand off like an animal. I am referring to strangers of course. If you were to pet me on the head I would probably start to pant. (without the drool though)

Feb 2006

My life feels like a slow moving disaster. Even though I’ve finally graduated, I’m still working at the same university and living the exact same life of a broke graduate student.
I don’t even have a proper office at work, just a corner of the copy room where they shoved a desk in by the door. The copy room is in the basement, across from the only bathrooms in the building, which do not have doors, just a hallway with a bend that offers the illusion of privacy but does nothing to diminish the sounds or smells issuing from within.
My apartment is also feeling disgusting, due to an ant invasion that I can’t seem to stop. They are all over the place, and every time I wash away one trail, another one forms. I seal up the holes where they are coming in, even track them outside and try to destroy the nest but more just appear from somewhere else. I try every kind of bait and poison but nothing works. I see them eating the bait but there’s never any reduction in the number of ants even after weeks. I feel like I’m merely catering the invasion.
Ant trails appear along the ceiling going straight into the kitchen cabinets. I’m reduced to spraying them with soapy water and watching the dead ants drip down the walls. It’s so gross. I feel like my skin is crawling all the time.
I have redoubled my efforts at job hunting, and now the rejection notices are pouring in. I hate to even check my email. It feels like every time I look, there’s another message telling me what a strong pool of applicants there was and how I should be pleased to hear the position has been filled. I get a few phone interviews, followed by more rejections.
At last I get one in-person interview. I fly across the country and back in just a few days, but in the end still no job offer. Instead, I get yet another sinus infection. I’m so fucking sick of getting sick every time I step on a plane. I can’t go to the student health clinic anymore because I’m not a student. At the community clinic when I tell the nurse practitioner this is my fifth round of antibiotics in less than a year she says, “Your poor body!”
Thankfully the doctor gives me a referral to an ENT. The specialist is kind of a jerk but he introduces me to the proper way to rinse out my sinuses, and I at last feel like my problem is solved.
The ENT’s office is very close to where Betty lives. Or used to live, who knows if she’s still there. I’ve never heard from her again since she broke up with me over email. I still feel slightly bad that I somehow offended her so deeply without really knowing what it was I said that set her off. Was I insensitive, or was she lashing out unreasonably because of some issue of her own? There’s no way to tell now.
My correspondence with Tibo starts to get slightly more serious, even though we’re both clear that this isn’t a relationship. I get a calling card so I can call Canada cheaply and we chat on the phone for hours. His accent is kind of cute, although he rambles on about people he knows as if I know them too. Sometimes I’m not really listening closely but it’s not a bad way to spend the time while I’m doing housework or cooking dinner.
“So I’m at the bar with my friend and his girlfriend,” he’s saying, “and she starts going on and on about how she can’t find her toonie, it was right there and now it’s gone so someone must have stolen it. And she’s like, give me back my toonie! And I’m like, girl, I didn’t steal your fucking toonie!”
Finally I have to interrupt him. “What’s a toonie?”
“Wait, what? You’ve never heard that word before?”
“No, what is it?”
“Well you know how the one dollar coin is called a loonie, eh? Because it has a picture of a loon on it. So a toonie is a two dollar coin.”
I’ve been to Canada so many times but I’ve never heard anyone say that before. It’s funny how you can be fooled into thinking it’s just like the US but then something comes along to remind you that it’s really different.
Tibo tells his mom about me, and now it feels like this is heading toward something more real. We start to talk in a vague way about meeting. I try to make it more concrete by suggesting I fly out to visit over a three day weekend, but he doesn’t write back for a really long time, and I figure he’s changed his mind. He’s probably started dating some girl in his town. He’s always talking about going out and he seems to have a lot of friends. He must have met someone. It stings more than I thought it would. As the silence stretches on for weeks, I realize how much I miss talking to him. Then suddenly he sends me an email with the header, “I’m a loser!”

Sorry but I can't phone you anymore as I have no long distance on my phone
and I don't have internet either. It isn't permanent. A visit over a holiday weekend sounds really cool!! I don't want you to overextend yourself though.
My mom will take a few pictures of me next week and I will send them to you. A holiday weekend sounds wicked!! Did I already say that?? How long would you come down for??? When would it be anyways??

How is your work going??

How are you doing??

I will keep in touch more often... I can't get any privacy right now so the next time I e-mail you I will try to do it from a better location than my buddy’s house... the guys here keep reading over my shoulder.... Talk to you soon sexy.

                sincerely Thibault

P.S. here is a recent picture. One more thing, it is not because of the calls I made to you that my long distance service is no longer.

I’m happy to hear from him, but the photo is of him doing wheelchair BMX with a full helmet covering his face. I think it’s a little funny that he’s sent me a picture of himself where I can’t even see his face, especially since he’s been talking a lot about sending me more recent pics of himself, so I have to tease him about it. I write back immediately:

Seriously? I really thought you weren't interested anymore...
Actually I was originally going to try to convince you to come down here then but I bet you still don't have a passport yet :P I was thinking of maybe trying to fly out the last weekend in March. I haven't looked at how much tickets would cost, that might be the bigger problem.
Things have been pretty much the same here. I'm running around like crazy.
Ha ha, that's pretty funny that your friends are watching you as you're writing. Get the phone turned on already! How much longer will it be off?
Thanks for the pic, it's really cool, but you know it could be anyone--how do I know it's you? I'll be waiting for those new pics next week :)

At the same time, very unexpectedly I get an in-person interview in the same province where Tibo lives. It’s not exactly the same town but I’ll be about two hours by car away from him. How cool would it be if I got that job and moved there? Now all those long phone calls don’t feel so much like wasted time. I start scheming how I can carve out some time to see him while I’m there for the interview, but in the end I realize that since the company is flying me out, they have also scheduled every minute of my time for me and there’s no way I can sneak off. As I’m scrambling to get ready for the trip I first excitedly tell him about it then have to immediately follow up with an explanation of why we can’t meet.
The interview is a disaster, the worst one yet. One of the interviewers says that my answers to her questions don’t make any sense, then thanks me for my time and tells me good luck with my “career” while making air quotes with her fingers before stalking off down the hall. I try not to let it get to me, but I still feel like the world’s biggest loser.
I’m still thinking of Tibo the whole time I’m traveling, wondering what he’s doing, if he’s seeing someone else, if he’s gotten tired of me. I’m disappointed I couldn’t find time to see him during my interview, but since the last time I asked to meet in person he never followed up, maybe he’s just not into me. I try to accept that too, but it still hurts.
Just when I think things couldn’t get any worse, I come home from my trip to my ant-infested apartment to find the following email from Tibo:

So I should tell you that your last e-mails about my pictures not being good enough and the fact that you’re too busy to meet..... really pissed me off, and the fact you kept sending back the I'm a loser e-mail. You must think that I'm a loser I guess. I feel bad enough being a thirty-two year old who has cut his internet and long distance off just to save a few bucks... I thought things were good between us??? But the last e-mails I got from you were sort of bitchy...What the hell? You know that I want to meet up with you, but telling me you have a life and all that makes me think you are out of patience with me already???????????
If you are down here in the province I would like to hook up with you.

                             sincerely Thibault

My stomach drops as I read this. I feel horrible that he’s misunderstood me so badly, and is feeling so hurt. I write back as fast I can to try to make things right.

What??? I thought you were the one who wasn't interested in me, my feelings certainly haven't changed.....when I didn't hear from you for weeks I figured you had started dating someone else. I sort of asked if you had and you didn't answer, I thought that meant yes. Anyway you had told me that you were still going out and thinking about picking up girls, we shouldn't be thinking seriously before we even met etc etc. I'm sorry I kept sending back the I'm a loser subject line, but honestly I didn't even think about it, in the email client I use, the subject header doesn't show up when I hit reply. I really didn't mean anything by it. I don't think you're a loser at all, I think you're really cool. And I'm a thirty-three year old who hasn't had a boyfriend for like five years and I'm borrowing money from my parents just to pay the bills and I've been turned down for every job I've applied for, so how big a loser am I :(
I have to admit, when you disappeared I felt really hurt and sad, maybe even more than would be reasonable considering how we have never even met. I'm sorry if I sounded bitchy, that was not my intention. I just was sure you had found someone else, if you didn't want to be so close then I wasn't going to bug you by being all clingy and needy :( I thought things were good between us too and I have really missed you these past weeks. I tried to call several times but the last few times I got a busy signal. Maybe this misunderstanding would not have happened if we had talked rather than just emailed. I'm also sorry if I was mean about your pictures, it was unintentional. I liked your pictures, I think you're cute and hot, and I wouldn't have mentioned coming to visit if I didn't really want to meet you. Anyway you should know I have been thinking about you every day and wondering why you stopped writing, I was sure you didn't like me anymore and wanted me to leave you alone, it made me really sad  :(
Please can we at least talk on the phone? Tell me when and I will call you.
We don’t talk on the phone. He doesn’t respond to my email either. About two weeks later, he asks if I’m still going to visit at the end of March. I apologize and explain that I’ve just been booked for two more interviews at that time so I can’t get away for a trip to see him. I still don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong but I feel terrible that he’s so upset and thinks I’m blowing him off. I explain about the job interviews in detail, hoping he’ll understand that I’m not making up excuses. I end with another apology:

I'm really really sorry--I feel bad that I have to go back on my word, but these things are beyond my control :( And I'm sorry that I've been acting like such a freak lately. I think the pressure of this job search is really getting to me. I'm sorry and I wish things had gone differently :(

He doesn’t write back. He deletes his profile on PD and I never hear from him again.


  1. This sounds so exhausting and disappointing, on top of that dispiriting job search. I've also had those interactions where two months later they're like "your reusing that insulting email subject line really hurt my feelings, I can't believe how insensitive you chose to be," and you're like whhhhhhhat ? ? ? He seemed like such a cool guy in other regards (the custom wheelchair business!), but definitely some glaring red flags of immaturity in there.

    I'm glad you at least got to enjoy some geeking out over wheelchairs along the way...

    1. Yeah, but I think we didn’t really have anything in common besides geeking out over wheelchair tech. It might have ended even faster or worse if we had met in person. I was in no place to be looking for a relationship either but it’s hard to put your whole emotional life on hold for so long until the job thing is sorted out.

  2. My wild guess is: if any of the pictures he sent you show him, they are way older than he told you, he doesn't do wheelchair BMX, if he works at all it isn't building custom chairs, and he may live in Canada and maybe even in the region he told you, but he definitely freaked out when you wanted to visit, so... Smells like catfish.

    All in all it seems like you were better off without him. Though your job hunt sounds grueling, so at least he was a distraction.

    I also love being stared at when I am with a disabled guy. Once I flashed my "Yes, he's MINE"-smile at a way older guy passing us. Only much later did I realize that the other's smile had been a "You're such an angel" kind of smile. Ugh.

    1. It's possible! But as I recall, he seemed genuine at the time. He did want me to visit, and got upset when it turned out I couldn't make it. Also I didn't go into a lot of detail out of respect for his privacy, but he had suffered some major family trauma about a year before, and I think a lot of his problem was that he was still processing that. Neither of us were really in a place to be starting a relationship.

      I know, the proud dev smile can be misinterpreted but I think we just have to keep putting it out there :)