Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish, Catfish

I thought the love was real

Some black kid- obviously in pain.

My life is best described as a series of unfortunate events that were completely avoidable. When I was 7, I almost severed my finger after closing it in my mother’s sliding door van. I used peroxide and a band-aid in lieu of stitches. When I was 10, I was hit by a car after ignoring the basic fundamental of looking both ways before crossing the street. And when I was 15, I thought I found the love of my life on Myspace.

The year was 2005- the Mcdouble was the greatest burger ever engineered and Ja Rule was on the tail-end of an unlikely run.

Like all great millennial love stories, ours started with a DM. I added a lot of girls. Tons of girls. All the girls. Girls who liked to be added. I sent them all “thanks 4 da add” messages, to let them know, despite what they may have heard- they were appreciated. But she messaged me first.

“H3Y! CuT!E” her message read. “HeY. S3Xy”, I replied. That’s how we typed in the early 2000s.

When I clicked on her profile, she was beautiful. Like, unbelievably beautiful. Flowing black hair, blockbuster smile, and skin smooth as butter, to boot

She was, for all practical purposes- a dime!

She was also a great HTML coder. Beauty and brains. My type of lady.

A few messages later, we exchanged numbers. The first time we talked on the phone, my heartbeat rattled every bone in my body. Sure, I had experience with good looking women. A couple of hard 6’s here and there. But a dime? Never! Her voice calmed every thought and feeling of inadequacy I had. “Do you want to go out?”, she asked. Things were moving fast. I said yes before I blinked.

Our only dilemma was she lived in Baltimore and I lived in Texas. “I’m getting a car soon, I can drive to you.” I wasn’t getting a car soon, but love can make you say some crazy things. I thought about her in the shower that night. Then again in the moments before I drifted into my first sleep cycle. And once more when I awoke.

I woke up to dozens of glitter comments on my page from her. One I particularly remember was a shimmering Minnie Mouse that said “missing you” in a weird Sans-serif font. The love was real.

When I showed my friend my new girlfriend’s pictures, he said she didn’t look real. But she was real, I talked to her. “If she’s real, tell her to write your name on her hand and take a picture of it.” He insisted.

I asked her to do just that, and she did. But she only showed her hand. To be fair, I didn’t ask her to include her face.

When I asked her to take another picture, only this time with her face, she said she was embarrassed to take one because of a recent acne outbreak. That made sense because we were at peak puberty.

She didn’t call me that night. Our communication became less frequent after that. Every time I asked her for a picture she would have a convenient excuse. Once she told me that someone had stolen her webcam and she wasn’t sure when she would get another.

After a few weeks, my haunting suspicions got the best of me.

I asked her if that was her in the pictures. It had never occurred to me that she might not have been. I needed to know.

But she never returned my calls or messages. I broke up with her via Myspace message. The same way you get them is the same way you lose them. I can deal with acne. But lies? No way, Jose. The true tragedy in this was Kanye West had not created ‘808s and Heartbreak’ yet, so I had to go through this alone. But I got through it.

A few days later, my now ex-girlfriend sent me a picture of the “real her.”

The picture she sent wasn’t unbelievably beautiful. She was pretty pedestrian. A soft 5 at best. But decent for her time.

“Who is that in the picture then?” I asked.

“Some girl I found online,” she said. That was the last time we talked.

The picture that my ex-girlfriend used was a picture of a young Jhene Aiko. When I told my friend, he handled me with care.

“It be like that”, he said.

I felt a numbing pain in my chest- wondering what else it could be like.

“Yeah, it does.”