A monkey trapped in a desolate cage marvels at the sight of a shiny metallic ball placed just outside his reach.
"If I only had that ball," the monkey convinces himself, "my life would improve tremendously."
Place the ball within reach, and the monkey instantly grabs and cherishes that ball. It's new, it's shiny, and it's something different, a means to temporarily escape from the horrifying monotony of his life.
Within a couple days however, the monkey will usually discover that the ball doesn't look so fucking shiny anymore. He's run out of new ball-related distractions, and the sparkling surface has dulled from constant contact with his hands.
Now he's just a monkey trapped in a desolate cage with a stupid cloudy-ass ball.
As humans, we all experience a sense of loneliness and isolation at some point in our lives. In recent years, the internet has become our go-to method to relieve these feelings of isolation, a source for us to find our own shiny little ball.
And like the monkey, we often learn just how quickly our balls can tarnish.
Pun completely intended.
Annie's recent letter to PLFM started out like so many of the contributions I receive here at WWHM Headquarters.
"Oh, this story is so embarrassing to tell, but I was ... well, ... I was reallllly really lonely."
Annie, trying to meet new people on the internet does not make you lonely, it makes you human. Having a 10-year subscription to Cat Fancy magazine? Well, yes, that kind of makes you a lonely person.
And if you're using the internet to meet cats, then you have a serious fucking problem.
Anyway, Annie had been visiting an online forum for some time when she met a nice man named Robert.
Robert seemed to have everything she wanted in a man. He was nice, considerate and charming, and didn't spend the majority of his time online wagging his genitals to and fro like an unattended fire hose.
Annie admits she became smitten with Robert immediately. A few late night chat sessions soon morphed into something of a relationship. They chatted daily, and exchanged phone numbers so they could text each other when they were away from their computers.
After a month their relationship reached the point where they knew someone had to take the next step, but they lived halfway across the country from one another. And of course, Robert stepped up to the plate.
Annie was excited to play with her shiny new ball.
Robert made the long drive to spend five days with Annie, and Annie had a fabulous time. They walked in the park, went out to dinner, and probably visited the please-touch aquarium exhibit. Hands were held, asses were slapped, and non fruit-based juices were exchanged.
Yes, everything was just fine and fucking dandy with Annie and Robert.
Robert returned home and the online relationship continued. Robert, however, began talking about getting married, having kids, and buying a house together, which Annie thought was a little odd after only meeting each other once. It had been a great 30 days, but marriage? Kids? Mortgage? It almost sounded like Robert loved Annie, but come on, that's preposterous.
"I love you Annie," beamed Robert.
Okay, maybe not so preposterous.
A few days later Robert purchased Annie a plane ticket to come visit him for five days, and once again they had a good time together, minus the part where Robert kept bringing up all his "crazy" ex-girlfriends. At the end of the trip, Robert proposed that they become an "item" and agree to see each other exclusively.
Annie was a little puzzled as they lived halfway across the country from one another, and she really didn't believe in long-distance relationships. She reluctantly agreed because she liked him, and Robert was elated.
In fact, Robert was so elated, he immediately did what any guy would do in that situation. He logged onto Annie's Facebook page and began sending her friends unsolicited messages, such as: "Thanks for being such a good friend to Annie."
Ball? Not so fucking shiny anymore, folks.
The tone of his Facebook messages wasn't at all friendly. He wasn't actually thanking her friends for being nice, it was more of a "Hey thanks, but you're really not needed anymore" kind of thank you.
Robert soon turned passive-aggressive and controlling. His cute little texts turned into interrogation sessions. Who was Annie with and why? What was she doing?
He demanded to meet her parents, and harassed her friends online. No matter how much he could find out about Annie, it was never quite enough.
So he bought another plane ticket to come see Annie.
A one-way ticket. Yay!
They had to "go look at rings" and "plan his move to her hometown" he said.
Soon after Robert arrived, Robert's juvenile antics started driving Annie crazy. She writes "I began to see Robert as clingy, controlling, needy, and honestly ... a pussy."
Vaginas everywhere were offended.
Annie quickly prepared for "the talk." Couch pillows were fluffed as lines were rehearsed, and Annie called Robert into the living room to inform him that he was no longer welcome at her home, and would have to leave first thing in the morning.
Robert reacted by vomiting on her couch, which pretty much negated the purpose of her earlier pillow-fluffing.
Fresh out of vomit, Robert began to cry, and continued crying throughout the entire night. Sobbing, actually. Annie couldn't believe what she saw. "His reaction to the end of a relationship that had been at the most two months long and mostly phone-based made me tell him to nut the fuck up and get over it," Annie says.
Robert left in the morning after insisting she keep his Army dog tags as a symbol of his undying love for her.
Fresh out of Kleenex, steam-cleaning coupons, and boyfriends, Annie decided to try another go-around with her ex-boyfriend Mike, whom she loved deeply. Mike and Annie began their relationship anew, but this time around they had a new, unexpected problem.
In his first week back home, Robert sent Annie 65 emails, 317 text messages, 52 phone calls, and even contemplated FedEx-ing Annie some fresh vomit. At first Annie tried playing the nice card, explaining she had reunited with Mike and was no longer interested in having any contact with Robert.
"That's ok," Robert said, "I'll fight for you."
He didn't get it, obviously.
The texts started increasing in frequency, blowing up her cell phone 24 hours a day. Her boyfriend Mike composed an email for Robert, telling him in no uncertain terms that he was entering dangerous territory and needed to stop all communications. To which he responded with more texts professing his undying love for Annie.
In between bouts of abusing his T-Mobile "Friends and Family" texting privileges, Robert began posting rambling essays about his love for Annie on the internet forum where they met, letting everyone know Annie was just "confused about her love life," and soon would figure it all out. But in the meantime, Robert was still planning his big move to Annie's hometown, where he would be welcomed by a huge parade.
A huge parade of lawyers and police officers that is, organized by Annie herself.
Annie and Mike's relationship was blossoming, and Robert was really getting angry now, as somewhat evidenced by the following text:
Robert: "I'm really getting angry now."
But Robert still planned to move, so Annie consulted her lawyers, who instructed Annie to block all communications from Robert and refuse all his texts and phone calls. If that didn't work, it was time for a restraining order.
She did, but Robert's incessant and threatening texts only increased to the point where Annie decided to finally answer one of his phone calls.
She told Robert he was a complete fucking psychopath, and needed to immediately cease all communications with her or a restraining order would be filed immediately at the court house. She made it very clear to him:
"Leave me the fuck alone."
Now, longtime PLFM readers pretty much know by now what happens when you threaten a stalker with a restraining order.
They write you another letter to tell you how they feel about you, of course.
And that is exactly what Robert did.
Let's see if Robert finally got the message, shall we?
My dearest Annie,
So I realized that I couldn't just keep lobbing things over the fence wondering where they were landing - or if they were even noticed. I had to tell you directly how I feel and give you a chance to respond.
Right or wrong, the simple fact is that I'm still very much in love with you. And much as I don't want to feel frightened about the future right now, it doesn't change how I feel about YOU... realistically, I don't want it to change. Having gone through all the expected emotions regarding this entire situation - fear, sadness, grief, anger, acceptance - I'm still left with one emotion that won't let go: love. I adore you, and you know it.
This has never happened to me. If this was a normal situation, I would have gotten pissed, called you names out loud and in my head, let that consume the love I have for you and simply gotten on with it. But this is anything but a normal situation.
I see that the two of us are very much in tune with each other. You said I understand you. It's true, I really do. And the events of the past few weeks notwithstanding, there isn't a fiber in my being that doesn't feel as though you're the girl I always wanted. Like I said before, it's that good. I love everything about you, hon, and there ain't much that's gonna change that.
I know what you're trying to do. I applaud your efforts. I don't think it'll work. You've read my thoughts on the situation. But I think there's a part of you that wants all the things we talked about so many times, wants the good things that we developed together, things that I very much want. And put quite simply, I want those things - with you.
So trust me when I say that I will 100% be be your guy when you're ready. We packed a year's worth of relationship stuff into a very short period of time and I'll be damned if I don't think that's something worth waiting - and, if necessary - fighting for. I miss you. I miss making love to you.
All I can offer you is more - much more - of the same things you expressed so much appreciation for when were friends, when we were lovers... when you could love me openly. That offer still stands, baby. I want you back.
Now I know that the idea of me moving to (city) really threw you for a loop, but there's a lot more to it than I had a chance to explain. I've long wanted to shoot for a position with (company in city).
You don't have to push me away to get the space you need to work on the things you need to work on, nor should it be necessary for you to push me away because Mike can't handle it. If I can deal with Mike, Mike should be able to deal with me.
Did I mention that I love you? :) Have I ever failed to mention that? Nope. Never will.
You are NEVER not on my mind.
You know, something tells me Robert just doesn't get the big picture here.
And as you can see, stalkers just really don't see anything wrong with what they're doing.
Annie wants us to know she is still dealing with Robert, who still texts her on occasion, and writes about how much he wants to hate Annie on his fantastic blog. "But he just can't," he says, "because he loves her so much.
Get a fucking life.
PLFM will keep you updated if we hear more from Annie.