Friday, September 5, 2014

Sincerely, Your Online Predator

The year was 1997. I had just celebrated my fifteenth birthday with an extravagant quincanera dress and photo shoot at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami.

“Look at the child bride!” tourists yelled.

I had also just joined my first ever online chat room. While not a significant part of most people’s adolescence the online chat room is where I found my voice as a writer and pathological liar so it holds a special place in my heart.

Maybe I should have been reading Tiger Beat or giving out hand jobs like a good ninth grader but I preferred the anonymity and confidence boost provided by total strangers who had no idea how uncool and hairy I was.

Unfortunately, when I started tinkering with the platform I was more online predator than creative storyteller.

Now that I’ve developed a conscience, I realize I owe some people an apology. Specifically, those of you I made believe I was typing with my feet after losing both my arms in a horrific gator accident.

This was during the slow dial up days and I remember crafting my story as the yellow AOL man “ran” in place.

Everglades. Airboat ride. Gator. BOTH arms.

SFX: Beep. Boop. Beee. Cksshhssshh. Beeeeep.

And then the curtains of the internet drew open for me to step on stage.

I joined a Stephen King fan club chat room or maybe it was a single parents support group and began typing. Slowly so I wouldn’t blow my cover.

TwinkleToes82: Hey every

PeterDan: Hi.TwinkleToes. Welcome to the group.

TwinkleToes82: body.

JOJO3489: Hi.

TwinkleToes82: Female here. Age 28.

PeterDan: You a single parent TwinkleToes?

StellaStar: You like Stephen King?

TwinkleToes82: Yup. 4 kids.

JOJO3489: Oh wow. Must be tough raising them without a partner.

Here goes nothing...

TwinkleToes82: Na. What’s tough is raising them

TwinkleToes82: without arms.

urGuy has signed off.

PeterDan has signed off.

Jenna24 has signed off.

At that point, about half of you left the group - the uncomfortableness palpable - but the rest of you stuck around to hear my inspiring story of survival and to offer your words of encouragement.

JOJO3489: That's truly amazing. You learned to type with your feet by practicing on an old typewriter in a dark basement.

StellaStar: My favorite Stephen King book is Pet Sematary.

You proved your worthiness as my new online friends and were there for me the way I always imagined a Stephen King Single Parents fan club would be.

And even though I wasn’t really typing with my feet or raising four kids without arms or a man, you still lifted my spirits. So, I want to thank you and apologize for online predatoring on your kindness.

Your friend forever,


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Woman's Trash is Another Woman's Breakfast

To the sweet old lady from that bakery in Hialeah, FL: 

I’m sorry I threw out your breakfast.  

I thought it was trash.  Mostly, because it looked like trash. But also because it looked like trash on a table I wanted to sit at.  

I guess I should have known that inside that dirty napkin was a mini tub of Philadelphia cream cheese you brought from home and intended to spread on your pastelito*. And that you were using this napkin-wrapped mini cream cheese tub as a device to hold down the table while you ordered your breakfast. 

Looking back, the signs were so painfully obvious. The napkin practically shouting, “This is my table and inside this dirty napkin is my motherfucking cream cheese which obviously makes this my table so everybody just back the fuck off!”

Only an IDIOT like myself would fail to understand this was your table.

When you yelled at me in front of my mom and the other customers, I wasn’t even angry. I quickly realized what I had done. The tragedy of it all came to me in a bone-chilling slide show: Empty table. Flash. Dirty Napkin. Flash. Hand in trash. Flash. Your angry face. Flash.

As you raised your fist and my mom giggled in the corner, I desperately wanted the cream cheese back. I wanted to undo what I had done. And to ask you where you got your shoes because they looked so fucking comfortable.  

I honestly don’t even remember what happened next. Maybe I paid for your breakfast. Or got the cream cheese out of the trash. Maybe I ran like a bitch.

Sometimes I wonder if you ate at all that day.

I know I can’t undo the events of that tragic morning, but I CAN prevent this from ever happening to you or anyone else again. 

I’ve designed a note (attached below) that you can print out yourself and place next to your napkin-wrapped cream cheese the next time you leave it behind while you order your food. I imagine it’ll be a lot more effective than your current strategy of walking away from your table.




*A pastelito is something like a Cuban apple turnover but with guava or coconut or cheese. It’s pretty fucking delicious.