The year 2007 started off with me deciding to go on Zoloft. I ended a four-year relationship with a guy who might as well have been my brother, I fired my agents (I’m an actor), and I stopped leaving my apartment.
My new Tempur-Pedic bed didn’t help this situation. Around July, my sister started to worry. She begged me to consider dating again. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to date, it was more that I didn’t want to get serious. Had it not been for the promise of really expensive sushi with no strings attached, Jason and I may have never met.
Like me, Jason, too, was a fan of Zoloft, newly single and a recreational agoraphobic. He was also charming, brilliant, compassionate and rude. Believe me when I say, I didn’t want to fall for him. Not even remotely.
I prided myself on being the only actress I knew to never date an actor. Then all of a fucking sudden, this actor comes along and tries to sweep me off my feet. I wasn’t interested. So uninterested, in fact, that I married him nine months later.
Okay, look, I still don’t know how it happened. He mind-fucked me into falling madly in love with him, and I’m not entirely convinced a virgin sacrifice wasn’t involved. The point is things were fast and furious. They were also still very raw for the people we left behind.
While my taciturn ex retaliated by dating someone equally as boring as him, Jason’s ex – let’s call her Sam – spiraled into a deep depression. She made a web series about how he broke her heart. She commented on my IMDB page under fake names. She even made sure to call his nephews on their birthdays (something I still don’t do because I don’t care about kids’ birthdays.)
Was I pissed? Scared? Freaked she’d filet me like a rabbit Glenn Close Style? Are you kidding me? SHE WAS A-MAAZZIING! Jason’s ex is still obsessed with him and by default obsessed with me? I LOVE IT!
Now before you judge, think about it for a second. I had my first fan! She was watching my every move. For all intents and purposes, Sam wanted to be me. This was a huge ego boost and, for someone with issues of inadequacy, like pouring fuel on a fire. I started imagining myself through Sam’s eyes. Never meeting me, she could only glean what I was like through press photos and MySpace quotes.
My MySpace profile was still private, as was hers. I pictured her reading my friends’ pages trying to decipher exactly who I was. The two-dimensional me was so much cooler than the real me. She was flawless, and bronzed, with perfect hair and awesome taste in music. Grooming my online image became a full-time job. I took pictures of myself in my underwear, scoured iTunes for the most obscure songs and even refurbished quotes from Henry Miller to make them look like my own.
My advice to all girlfriends everywhere is this: if curiosity compels you to want to meet the last woman in your boyfriend’s life, trust me — it’s not worth it! You’ll never live up to the you that some chick creates in her head. There you are perfect. You are free of acne and pigeon-toed posture. You can get away with saying something corny, and your boobs always appear symmetrical. So, for a while, I was content with the arrangement and having the time of my life.
When I was still on speaking terms with my ex, before I wrote a short film about kidnapping his new girlfriend, I would tell him all about Sam and her crazy antics and laugh about how lucky he was that I wasn’t crazy.
Then, one year later, things suddenly stopped. No more Sam. There was radio silence on her end, a silence that could only be interpreted as rejection. Where the fuck was she? Quick, Jason, do something cute! I need my audience back!
I changed my MySpace security options to “free for all” and still felt like she wasn’t seeing my most recent outfits. Didn’t she care what my new hair color was? Didn’t she want to try and reach out to a family member or show up at an event we were attending?
Sam had literally forsaken me! She maturely extricated herself from the drama, and I still wanted to play. I had all these scenarios worked out in my head where I would walk in and say, “Hello, I’m Jenny. Yes, haha. THAT Jenny. How are you?” (Note: I’d be carrying my Chanel purse.)
Suddenly the tables turned, and I was the one obsessed. I wanted to know every last detail: where she grew up, who did her boob job, why she wore so much leopard.
I needed to see this woman face to face. Maybe if she saw me, her fire might be reignited and she’d love me again. I tried to stage run-ins by driving past her apartment with my dogs. In one very desperate hour, I agreed to attend a wedding I heard she was invited to.
It was a fucking addiction. Every morning I’d have my coffee and troll MySpace for clues. You see, unlike me, Sam’s MySpace settings were still private. We weren’t friends, nor did we share any mutual friends. When she and Jason broke up, she severed all ties. This fact alone told me she was more advanced than I suspected. It also told me I needed to get hardcore. How do I get hardcore? By creating a fictitious friend who would of course be me in disguise! Obviously!
I had to be smart about this. I needed someone credible, someone who she’d instantly trust and someone who wasn’t obviously affiliated with Jason or me in any way. After days of labor-intensive research, I settled on my agent, Sarah. I knew if I deleted Sarah from my list of friends, Sam would have no reason to be suspicious. Sarah didn’t really understand her MySpace page, and, after several beers, she seemed fine giving me her password to add a few people so long as it was only to look.
And for the first few days it was. I watched Sarah’s friend request sit in the “pending” category for a solid week before, eureka! “Sam added me!” I blurted out in the middle of a movie with my sister. Chills ran up and down my spine as I did a little jig in the theater lobby.
Dying to get to my computer, I passed on dinner and went straight back to my house. There, I locked myself in the study and spent a solid two hours reading every inch of Sam’s profile. I had so much insight into this girl’s mind, I started to think I knew her better than my husband ever did. I’d find myself watching TV or strolling through the mall, see something and think, “Oh, that’s so Sam.” It was almost as if we were friends.
Then, one day, Sam posted a note to her MySpace page asking if anyone had a winged back chair she could borrow for a photo shoot. I guess I was feeling particularly boundary-less that day because, as “Sarah,” I instantly responded.
“ I do!” I quickly replied, then sat in my chair killing myself laughing at how ballsy I was. PING. Wha- Wait- No! Holy shit, Sam wrote back! I started hyperventilating when I read her response: “Could I use it?”
Oh my God, my husband was going to murder me. My little hobby just spiraled out of control. Quickly, I called Sarah.
“Hey, so remember when you gave me your MySpace password and you made me promise to never use it for evil? Well, do you have any winged back chairs in your apartment you currently aren’t using?”
There was a long pause on the other end of the phone when finally Sarah replied, “Actually, I do have one.”
Holy shit! The universe was conspiring for my success just like Joseph Campbell always promised it would! “You have one? Well, can Jason’s ex-girlfriend borrow it? She has a photo shoot.” Did I really just say that? I’m helping my husband’s ex-girlfriend prepare for a fucking photo shoot? This was now beyond insane. However, I couldn’t stop! I was too close! In less than a week, I could actually be seeing this person in the flesh! I needed to devise a way to casually intrude upon this meeting. Maybe I’d jog down her street, or maybe I’d ask Sarah to do the exchange at her place where I’d be hiding in the closet. I just had to get a glimpse of this enigma who was haunting my life.
Eagerly, I wrote Sam back and told her she could use the chair. She, in turn, gave me all sorts of juicy details like her phone number, email address and current employment status.
I then called Sarah and asked if she’d be able to hand the chair off to Sam, as I obviously couldn’t be seen. Reluctantly, Sarah agreed. Why? I still don’t know. I like to think it was my compelling argument, but in reality I think she just wanted me to shut the fuck up.
The morning of the drop off felt like prom. I went to the hairdresser, had my roots done and even got my toes painted “You Don’t Know Jacques” grey. Sam didn’t want to meet till eight, so I had ample time to organize my attack.
After much debate, I decided the best thing to do would be to hide in Sarah’s trunk. Sarah drove an SUV, so I wasn’t exactly hidden. Nor did I want to be. I needed to see Sam’s face to judge how much older she looked than me. I also wanted to see her expressions when Sarah, as instructed, gave away intimate details about my sex life. Evil? Horrible? I swear I didn’t mean it like that. I just wanted to see this girl in her element, hear her in her own words, and try to understand what prompted her initial descent into madness. Sarah reluctantly stuffed me in her trunk, bitching the whole time that if I ever told anyone about this, she would break my face and ruin my career.
Parked outside Sam’s house, I could feel anxiety diarrhea boiling up inside me. From the front seat, Sarah rolled calls and waited for Sam to show up. “I’m hungry. This is annoying. I’m missing a screening,” she bitched. Roughly a half hour later, Sam pulled up.
“Sorry I’m late,” she said. “This is so sweet of you!” Whatever! Stop with the niceties and move to the left so I can gage what size jeans you wear.
Then, standing there, her hip to my eyeball, I saw her. She looked like every picture I’d ever seen, except more eccentric. She wore these white furry yeti boots and a sequined beret. Her voice sounded like she did the nightly news, and she had a tattoo that said, “dream” in gang writing on her wrist. I tried to imagine my husband having sex with her, but I just couldn’t get past the yeti boots. I guess I wanted her to be softer, more timid, and more vulnerable. This didn’t look like a girl who just had her heart broken, this looked like a girl who didn’t give a fuck and would probably stab me in the head if she discovered she was being duped.
Sarah helped Sam carry the chair inside, leaving me in the trunk. She was gone for roughly 10 minutes before I started psycho-dialing her cell phone. “Are you OK?” “What is happening?” “Did she kill you?” were a few of the more memorable texts. When Sarah did finally return, she got in the car and said nothing. As soon as we got around the block, I started in. “What else happened? What does her apartment look like? Did she mention me more? Please tell me you guys took a picture together!”
Sarah looked at me plainly and said the one thing I didn’t want to hear. “Jenny, you need to move on.”
It took Sarah a few days to cool off before calling me. When she did, she told me what was discussed that night in Sam’s apartment… nothing!
Jason did come up but never by name. Sam just made reference to a really hard breakup. Then, casually talked about how she moved on. That’s it? That’s all she said? What the fuck! Didn’t she want to talk about her pain or her sleepless nights spent thinking about what my unborn children will look like? This was terrible news!
SHE MOVED ON. And here I was stuffing myself in a trunk, trying to prevent her from moving anywhere.
I was the fucked up one, the person who didn’t want to move forward, the girl who couldn’t let go. Overcome with empathy, I started crying. This poor girl gets her heart broken, then – for sport – I want to open up the wounds and look around inside. What a fucking bitch I am. I love Sam. She doesn’t deserve this! She’s awesome! She’s even a better aunt to Jason’s nephews than I am. And so what if she wears leopard leggings and lots of crazy scarves and shit? She’s a caring person who just wants to be happy.
After that, I stopped looking at Sam’s MySpace page. Because it was the right thing to do. Also, because Sarah changed her password.
For the first couple months, I was sad. To be honest, I think I had a harder time getting over Sam than my husband. But whatever it was I wanted to know or prove wasn’t important. I was married to a man who deserved my full attention. My priority needed to be my marriage and not my own ego. My obsession with Sam, though thrilling, wasn’t fair to anyone. So like smoking, I quit.
P.S. Protect yourself from the coming data-powered panopticon by getting a VPN.