This story is too strange to be believed. But it’s true.
It involves two people. I will avoid using their names in order to protect their identity, though I suspect that the woman in the story wouldn’t mind me using her name (she gave me permission to write about this), and I would take great personal pleasure in naming the man.
But I will refrain.
The woman in the story is one of my biggest fans. She has read all of my books, reads and comments on my blog regularly and has written me some of the kindest and most generous emails about my work that I have ever received. She promotes my work to her friends. Even her mother is a fan of my books. She lives in Wisconsin, so we have never actually met, but she has begun to feel like a friend to me.
I met the man in this story in the green room of a local television studio a few years ago. I was doing a promotional spot for an upcoming literary festival, and he had recently appeared on a game show and was being interviewed about the experience. He is also a writer. He has published a supernatural detective novel (though I can’t actually find his book online) and writes for various small, online entities.
After chatting in the green room for a while, we exchanged contact information and became friends on Facebook.
Over the course of the next year or so, he began commenting on my blog posts and status updates with great regularity. His comments were almost always negative. He attacked my positions, criticized my writing and challenged me at every opportunity. His comments were often biting and sarcastic.
Truthfully, I didn’t mind much. I like to fight. But it was admittedly disconcerting how consistent he was in his attacks on me. He never let up. My wife came to despise him for his constant rants. Friends asked me who this man was and what he had against me. He had quickly become my online nemesis.
Then one day he went away. Honestly, I never even noticed. I wasn't exactly looking forward to his frequent comments, so when they stopped, I failed to notice.
That was a couple years ago.
This week I received an email from my biggest fan in Wisconsin.
From her email:
I met a guy online a few years ago. He was nerdy and Mensa, and I was single and have never minded boyfriends who are 5'6" compared to my 5'10" frame. We got to know each other on Facebook for a year and a half. Sometimes things we were reading in our spare time would come up.
After more than a year of getting to know each other, he flew out here to Madison for a few days for a date weekend. He flew out here from Connecticut.
He saw one of your books on the table and said, "I know this guy."
I said, “Oh, I am obsessed with this guy's stories. My mother discovered his first book at an ALA convention and I cannot get these stories off my mind. I'm into book three, and it's good, but this author has me spinning because I never know what to expect.”
My friend said, “I know this guy. He is a know-it-all and I hate him and even unfriended him on Facebook,”
I was like, “Oh! I'm sorry to hear it. Please tell me more.”
He said that you thought you knew more than he did. Period.
The weekend did not end well because he spent most of his time playing video games on his phone. I asked him about this and he said there's nothing wrong with this.
His books make no sense to me and are not interesting.
I can't get 40 pages into his books.
He was a rotten date, boring dinner company, and played video games all evening long.
First, what are the odds that these two people, with such divergent connections to me and separated by such great distances, would come together?
Slim seems like a lot. Right?
But best of all is what my wife said when I shared the story with her:
“Your biggest fan and your arch nemesis went on a date!”
She’s right. Even though they live about 2,000 miles apart, my biggest fan and my arch nemesis came together for possible romantic entanglement.
I like to think that it was the presence of my book on that table that saved my biggest fan from years of dating misery, but I suspect that even if my name had not come up, she would’ve jettisoned this guy.
It’s an incredibly small world, especially when you write stories that crisscross the globe.