(This is the first in a six-part series that will run over the next two weeks at A ‘lil HooHaa)
If all had gone to plan in 2005, I’d be hitched to a Russian beauty, probably have a few kids and be living some sort of a melting-pot American Dream, no?
Well, maybe not.
See, this story is going to go in two directions. But before I get to the second direction, I need to go to the first. And that takes us back to 2005.
Let me explain one thing, though. I’m a skeptic about most things. Maybe it’s the journalist in me. Maybe it’s just my nature or that I’m the son of a cop. Could be anything, but I’m skeptical about many things that come before me.
Especially random e-mails I get online or through websites.
Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun with those people sending these e-mails. I’ve had exchanges with the people who have told me I have a dead uncle in Zimbabwe who left me the equivalent of $25.5 million and all I have to do is give them some bank info and I’ll be instantly rich.
And, yes, I’ve responded to some love e-mails. So let’s go back to 2005, and I will explain.
In 2005, I signed up for a pen pal website. I always thought it would be cool to have a true pen pal and I figured as the Internet started to grow, that sort of thing may come to an end, so I wanted to try and see if I could find somebody from a foreign country. I had forgotten about the site, for the most part, until receiving a note on there from Irina in late April or so.
She wasn’t really looking for a pen pal, though. She was looking for love. And, apparently, it was with me. She wanted me. Who can blame her, right? Especially with no pertinent information, no photo or anything along those lines.
This is what Irina wrote to me:
Hello my new friend.
My name is Irina. I to become interested in your structure on www.penpalnet.com and to decide to write to you. I live in Russia. To me of 29 years. I never was married. I the soft and gentle girl, like when in the house warmly and cosy. I believe in the God and in the soul. I love walks on nature, I adore fresh whiff of a wind, tender beams of the gentle sun. I am looking for a serious relationship leading to marriage and I am not interested just in a internet chat or adventure. I am interested only in how the man hisself is and not what he has. If you have become interested in me please write on this e-mail: (e-mail address). If you to answer me on my e-mail i shall write in more detail about myself and I shall send you the photo. I very much to hope for your fast answer.
Holy smokes! With prose like that, who couldn’t fall in love immediately?
Well, of course I was going to write her back. That’s like having the large blind in Texas Hold ‘Em and not seeing the flop when everyone else just matched the bet.
I mean, heck, who doesn’t adore the fresh whiff of a wind or the tender beams of the gentle sun? This is pure gold.
Plus, she was looking for marriage. I needed to see what she looked like. I wasn’t disappointed, on that aspect, either. This was a match made in heaven, wasn’t it?
Language differences aside, this was a ploy from the beginning. I knew it, too. Again — skeptic. I realize there are dating services and all that, but even back in 2005, somebody randomly sending you a message proclaiming love to you was a red flag.
Especially when my profile at the pen pal website basically said I was looking for a pen pal and nothing more.
And that red flag? A big one.
Still, far be it from me to test the gods. After all, she believed in the God, so I felt I owed it to her to see what this was all about. So, I wrote her back. Short and sweet, yet making it sound like I was fully interested. Heck, in one letter, she even gave me an address where I could send a real letter (it’s one thing I regret not doing – just to see what would happen).
Soon, she responded to me. She spoke about how she enjoyed receiving my letter and was happy I answered, though one or two of the words were still in Russian. So the translation wasn’t there, unfortunately. Damn those services, anyway!
What followed was about a month and a half worth of e-mails (I can’t believe she continued, especially when I wouldn’t send a photo and obviously was shying away from anything personal or what she requested. I won’t paste all the letters, but I am going to now go through this “romance” and talk about some of the letters and the laughter that ensued as it went on) between us, though there were gaps in times, either by me not responding or her taking a while. Eventually, I think she realized I wasn’t some gullible guy on the street willing to pay to bring her to the states, so she stopped responding.
Alas, for the time this happened, it was quitter entertaining. Read on.
I to want to write to you and to learn you closer. I to think, it will be interesting to you to learn me further? I to send you the picture and it is a little to describe of myself. My name is Irina. I to hope, that you can understand my English language. English my second language and I know him not absolutely well, but I hope, that in the future my English will be much better. I hope, that you will not test problems with understanding of my letters.
It’s hard not to fall for somebody when they write you words like this. I think I was smitten from the beginning, hopeful that our love would be strong and grow through choppy words, skimpy photos (turns out they weren’t) and a fling for the ages. But, she needed to make sure I knew all about her.
I want to describe to you myself. Hair at me fair-haired. But sometimes I to paint them different colors. Eyes brown. I have growth 5 ’ 7 and weight 110 lbs. To me of 29 years. I was born on June, 18,1975. Earlier I never to be married and to have only long attitudes. But the life passes, and I and to not select the partner in life.
Talk about speaking my language! She is near my age, she sounds quite nice and she’s single and in search of love. And I don’t know how it is in Russia, but in the US, there are many ways to find love, including the internet. It seems our heroine didn’t know, initially, that she could seek this love elsewhere.
According to the girlfriend I to try to address in the Internet, to find the love. And so I do not know why, but to me the fuse in soul your structure was remembered also. And I have decided to write to you. I hope you too you will become interested in me and you will write further. Probably once in the future we to decide to meet and create with you strong and happy family.
Whoa! Apparently, we’re a match made in the interwebz!
She goes on to say she works in a hospital as an administrative worker of sorts, dealing with databases and such. She lives in Omsk, which apparently is about 1,400 miles from Moscow. Omsk is on the southeast part of Russia, closer to Kazakhstan. She then requests to know more of where I live etc.
Then she ends the letter:
I shall finish the letter. I hope, that you have become interested in me and will write back. I to promise to tell to you about myself everything, that it is interesting to you. I very much would like that you to continue to write to me. Your new friend Irina.
In 2005, I had been working at a daily paper for a bit more than a year and I had grandeur thoughts of books and all sorts of writing riches. So this was pure gold. I was going to run this as far as I could in hopes of something worth writing about.
My response was much shorter than hers, basically talking covering a broad subject base about myself, explaining the area in which I live, noting her English wasn’t as bad as she thought and that I, too, hoped for a magical connection.
She had sent me one photo – with more that followed. But this was the first – of many – e-mails where I avoided sending a photo of me.
There are some gaps, too. I don’t know why, but going through my e-mail filters, I can’t seem to find all the e-mails, whether my responses or not. I don’t know why as I purposely saved everything and there are things that don’t make sense. For example, if she wrote me on May 5, then 7 … and my responses are dated weeks later. It may be a glitch in the calendar.
That being said, my responses were very basic. I would answer questions as honestly as I felt comfortable with (favorite foods, colors, things I did for fun), but stayed away from more direct info, such as where I lived and identifiable things In fact, I even used my fill first name, rather than what I’ve been called my whole life – figuring it was much easier that way.
But – this post is getting long. So I am going to stop it at this point and continue tomorrow with this story. I’ll get deeper into the conversations and where the actual “phishing” came into play. And I’ll also share why I decided to finally write about this entertaining experience and then have something even better.
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