One reason I chose not to use my last name on The BetsyG-Spot is I did not want to be googleable to this site. And one of the reasons for that is I did not want a certain annoyance from the past to find me and know this much about my life.
He’s actually something less than a stalker. It’s more that he’s clueless and annoying. In any case, here’s the story, which I share now because I think I put the period on the end of that sentence this week.
In 1977, I was 16 and an active member of my temple youth group. Our advisor was Scott (not his real name), who was also a teacher at our high school. We liked him, as teenage girls would like a guy with a beard who could play “Leaving On a Jet Plane” on his guitar. We also liked that we could call him by his first name, though if we saw him in the hallways at school, he was always Mr. Wasserman.
Scott was only about 10 years older than we were, but at 16, for us that could just as well have been 20 years. He was a grownup and we were kids; he was a teacher and we were students, though he was never my teacher. In any case, he was the advisor for one year, and then we moved on.
I can’t remember the exact sequence, but Mr. Wasserman’s time at the high school was marked by a number of noteworthy events. His wife, who we had known in the youth group, was in a car accident and ended up in a vegetative state. She eventually died. Naturally I felt very sympathetic toward Mr. Wasserman at that time. Truly tragic.
Shortly after that, he went off the deep end professionally. I don’t know the details, and barely recall the few nuggets that came my way, but I believe he became a talent agent while still teaching at the high school and recruited female students to be models. I’m not suggesting something sketchy happened between him and students, but I do know that the powers-that-be didn’t like what he was doing, so they demoted him to the junior high. (Probably not the smartest move, when you think about it.) I heard he was eventually fired, and he moved to a southern state.
In 1988, which was sometime between his wife’s death and his firing, he saw my older sister at her high school reunion and asked how he could get in touch with me. He called and asked if I wanted to get together, and I figured why not. I was intermittently in touch with some of my other high school teachers, and though I didn’t feel especially close with Scott, I didn’t mind the idea of catching up with him. He had been a good guy, though I’d heard about the talent agent thing and was a little wary.
We ended up meeting for dinner, and within moments of sitting down it became apparent that we were on a date. I tried in every way I could to make it known that I was not interested, but this was the first glimpse I would get into Scott’s cluelessness. As we left the restaurant, he put his arm around me. I assure you, I gave no invitation for him to do that, and I slithered out from under his arm and almost certainly said, “Please don’t touch me,” because that’s what I said in those days when I didn’t want someone to touch me. (Go figure.)
After that, he called me a number of times and sent me things in the mail. One was I think a puzzle? Or am I confusing that with someone else who incessantly sent me things after I thought I’d made it clear I wasn’t interested? I do remember he sent a question, “What is Betelgeuse?” and I was supposed to figure it out and call him. I’m sure there was some big surprise waiting for me if I could answer, like a night out at the planetarium or something. Who knows. I didn’t call, threw everything he sent me in the trash, and screened my calls for several weeks so I wouldn’t have to talk to him.
This is when it really starts to get creepy. He eventually did reach me and told me that on my birthday he had arranged for Charles Laguidara, the biggest DJ in Boston at the time, to call me during his drive time show, The Big Mattress. I was a huge fan of the show. The first thing they did each day was the wake-up call, in which they made a prank call to someone at 6 a.m. (I think that person got to play Mattress Mishigas at the end of the show, a quiz game as I’m recalling, but I could be wrong.) At the big reveal at the end of the call, Charles would tell the victim who had arranged the call, and it was invariably a brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, or some other close friend or relative. Definitely not your former youth group advisor from 11 years earlier who you’d turned down romantically. Totally inappropriate, and besides, I wasn’t even available that morning, which anyone in my inner circle would have known. So The Big Mattress was left without a call, and I understand Charles was not happy.
I think I managed to finally get rid of Scott by getting engaged shortly after that. (Clearly I would have done anything to get him to stop calling.)
Fast-forward about 10 years. By this time, the Internet was burgeoning, and even if people weren’t yet using “google” as a verb, it was getting much easier to find people and contact them via e-mail. I was registered on Classmates.com, which shields your e-mail address but forwards messages to you. Only paid subscribers can send messages. Scott found me this way and dropped me a friendly note, telling me where he was living and that he was teaching there. He asked about my friends who had been in the youth group and asked for their e-mail addresses, but they didn’t wanted me to give them out. I wrote him back, telling him where I was in life, though if I was already divorced at that point, I certainly did not tell him that. My note ended definitively, with something graceful like “Nice to hear from you” or some such thing that suggested that no further correspondence would be needed.
He wrote again, but having nothing further to say, I didn’t answer him. And then he wrote again, saying:
Please write back. Please.
Because, you know, begging is always so effective in winning the attention of someone who isn’t interested in talking to you. I didn’t respond.
Let’s fast-forward a few more years. I was working at an elementary school, and received an e-mail from him at my work address.
Hey, is this the BetsyG who went to [Suburban Town] High School? It’s your old friend Scott Wasserman. Drop me a line if this is the right BetsyG.
I decided the best path was not to answer him. A few days later, I got another message from him saying:
At least let me know if this is the right BetsyG.
Right, because somehow I owed him that. But, being the nice person I am, I wrote a note saying something like this:
Yes, this is the right BetsyG, but I am not interested in corresponding with you. You checked in with me a few years ago, I wrote you back, but I said everything I had to say and am not interested in a continued correspondence.
So he wrote back (unbelievable):
I know I might have been drunk last time I wrote [What?? You were? Do I want to know about this?] and said some things that might have upset you, and I apologize.
Then he went on with some sad sack thing which would have elicited sympathy from me, except I didn’t want this man in my life at all. But I did write back a nice-ish note saying something like, sorry for your troubles, best of luck to you.
Fast-forward a few more years, to last year. This time he contacted another classmate, thinking it was my friend Julie, but it was another Julie. I think he sent a newsy note or something saying he was married. Who knows. My Julie told the other Julie not to give him her address (do I have that right, Jules?), and he disappeared again.
Until last week, when I received a Facebook friend invite from him and two e-mails. He told me that he’d lost weight, given up drinking, and gotten married, and he didn’t want anything creepy from me. But, as Greg said, “If you have to say you’re not being creepy, you’re being creepy.” What could be creepier than continuing to contact someone you barely know, off-and-on, for 30 years?
In the other e-mail, he commented on my friends list, which has since been made private (I think I got that right now) asking how I knew someone from his town. And he asked if I was still singing in a band, which I absolutely did not tell him about, so he could only have known by googling me. Which is perfectly okay, but don’t find stuff about me online and then act as if I told you about it personally.
Needless to say, I declined the friend invite, and I blocked him. What idiot wouldn’t take that as a door slammed in the face?
I got a notification from Classmates.com that there was an e-mail for me from Scott W. At first I didn’t want to read it, but then decided I would. It said this:
You can tell me to get lost, but at least [again with the "at least," like I owe him that at a minimum] let me know you’re alive.
I wasn’t going to respond, because of course he had ample evidence that I’m alive, as noted by the many hits from recent events he’d find if he googled me, and of course from the Facebook page. But I looked at that e-mail and thought about how it upsets me that I have to continue to deal with this person (married or not, drinking or not) who is, at the very least, clueless, and, more likely, mentally ill to some degree. I don’t believe he’s a danger to my person, but enough’s enough. It makes a good story, but ultimately it disturbs me that he has infiltrated my life in a way, and that I ever have to think about this person. Sure, it’s not a big deal to delete an e-mail every few years, but why should I be brought into his life as I have been, again and again? Don’t I have enough real friends with problems? Don’t I have enough real problems of my own? (I assure you, I do.)
So despite my deeply ingrained need to be nice to everyone, and the fact that it is the complete antithesis to who I am to hurt another human being, I replied to his Classmates note like this:
I honestly don’t know how I can make it any clearer. I do not want to hear from you ever again. I have told you this outright in the past, and if you do contact me again, I will contact the [Your Town] police. Seriously. It’s 30 years, and you were a youth group advisor. We are not friends, and you are harrassing me to continue to try to contact me when I have told you not to.
It’s not the first time I’ve had to start a speech that way, and as unpleasant as it may be on the receiving end, it’s very stressful on the giving end to have gotten to the point at which you feel you need to say those words.
In any case, so far he hasn’t written back to call me a bitch or to tell me his drinking status or whatever else he might think I would care about, and I hope that takes care of the problem.
There’s a part of me that worries that my note will send him into a depression or he will hurt himself in some way, but on the other hand, that’s exactly why I want him out of my life: because his troubles have no business even being on my radar.
(OMG, what kind of ads will Google put up to go with this article? I shudder at the thought.)