I first wrote about this story back in 2012. It's one of those stories almost too strange to be believed.
It involves two people.
One of them is a woman from Wisconsin named Charity.
The other is a man from Connecticut whose name I will avoid using in order to protect his identity, though I would take great personal pleasure in naming him.
But I will refrain. I'll simply refer to him as Mr. Mensa. You'll see why.
The woman in the story, Charity, is one of my biggest fans. She has read all of my books, reads and comments on my blog and social media 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.
I met Mr. Mensa 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 publishes supernatural detective novels and other things.
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 the consistency of his attacks were admittedly disconcerting. He never let up, no matter what I was writing about. Elysha 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 Mr. Mensa went away. Honestly, I never even noticed. I wasn't exactly looking forward to his frequent comments.
Two years later, I received an email from Charity:
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, entirely independent of me?
Slim at best. Right?
But best of all is what Elysha 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 Charity 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.
I wrote about that encounter back in 2012. Two years later, in 2014, I had the honor of traveling to Maine on a perfect August weekend to serve as the minister in Charity's wedding to her husband, Brent. I had never met Charity or Brent in person up until that point, but Charity wanted one of her favorite authors - who also happens to be a minister living in New England - to perform her marriage ceremony, and I agreed.
How could I not?
In addition to marrying them on the edge of a beautiful lake, I celebrated their nuptials with food, drink, music, and a late night fire-swallowing demonstration by one of their friends that frightened the hell out of me.
Charity remains in occasional contact with Mr. Mensa today. He reportedly likes to brag about his Mensa status (calling his Mensa status seriously into question), and he presumably still despises me and my work.
But who knows? Had Mr. Mensa appreciated my fiction as much as Charity does, perhaps my biggest fan and my arch nemesis date for a while, and Charity misses her chance at meeting, falling in love with, and marrying Brent.
Maybe Brent meets Scarlet Johansson at a roadside corn stand and they hit it off. Elope. Create beautiful music together.
It's fun to imagine. Right?