Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stalked, but It's All Good

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," the sorry platform of a wacky woman named Anne Johnson. Yes, that's me, Anne Johnson, the one with the unique name.

There's news off the pathetic Yahoo wire today about a young fellow in New Zealand who launched a cyber-stalking event as he tried to search for someone named Katie who lived in Washington, DC. Apparently the gent had made merry last New Year's Eve with said Katie in Hong Kong.

My, these youngsters get around, don't they?

Anyway, the young fellow got a great deal of bad press and scolding for trying to locate this young woman by creating a Facebook page and enlisting the help of fellow Facebookians.

I've always loved my name (it's real) for the privacy it affords me online. There are oodles of Anne Johnsons in America. There's even another Anne Johnson living in the next block on my street. It's a hassle for the local pharmacy, let me tell you.

This delight in the anonymity of my name evaporated when my high school boyfriend called Mr. J on Mr. J's land line, looking for me.

Mr. J came in with a phone number. "Do you know someone named **** ****?" he asked.

I did. I haven't seen or spoken to this person since 1978.

Well, Mr. J said, ***** ****** wanted to talk to me.

Frankly I was creeped out. It was unnerving to think that someone could actually find the specific me in all that wide Sargasso Sea of Anne Johnsons. It had to have taken some work, even if he knew my hometown (which I falsified on Facebook), my college, and my parents' names.

I could not imagine in a million years why this man would want to speak to me on the phone. We dated for a year, we were not intimate, and although I loved him at the time in that giddy, teenage way, he would not have been suitable as a long-timer. He was a Mormon. I attended church with him twice. No amount of love could have made that lifestyle palatable to me.

I debated whether or not to call him back and finally decided to do it. I figured he must have something important to tell me, if he spent valuable time stalking my girlish butt across the length and breadth of the Internet.

One day last week after school, I dialed him up and got him on the phone. It was indeed weird. He said he "died and was brought back to life" a few years back, and when he came back to life he dedicated himself to the task of finding and thanking everyone who had made a positive impact on his life. He had tracked me down, he said, because I turned him on to the love of books and learning. I changed his life.

This was an inspiring thing to hear. I remembered watching him play chess, beating my super-smart dad two out of every three games, and ripping through other opponents. He was not stupid, but he could barely eke out passing grades in school. I remember giving him books, most notably Lord of the Rings.

The conversation was pretty short for two people who hadn't spoken since 1978. I'd heard he married. He said his first wife died at age 47. He said he was remarried with a second family. He told me his employment history, and I told him mine. He did not elaborate on the "died and came back to life" issue, and I did not press. It was just too spooky, and yet he sounded pretty normal on the phone.

Inevitably, the conversation turned to how he had found me, Anne Johnson, amongst the plethora of Anne Johnsons out there in cyberspace. He said Facebook had been no help (thank you, bored gods, for that). But he did a lot of other sleuthing and found a very old, extremely old something on Yahoo where I had left my father's phone number in search of a new home for the dog that outlived my parents. Then he got my dad's obit from the Cumberland Times and in it found my married name and current place of residence, Snobville. It would have ended there, except Mr. J has the last listed Snobville phone number in existence.

**** ******** thanked me for making him a lifelong learner, for changing his whole attitude toward education. I told him I was touched by his call and that I hoped some of the karma was seeping into my school, because I was still sitting in the parking lot. He idly inquired how to find the exact me on Facebook, and I told him. But then I quickly added that I use "Anne Johnson" for reasons of anonymity, that not everyone exactly approved of my lifestyle choices. I deliberately left that as vague as his "back from the dead" pronouncement. He has not arrived on my Facebook page, that I know of.

I just did a Google image search of "Anne Johnson" and of my entire name. I'm not there. Doesn't matter, folks. If *** ******* had evil in mind, he found me. I'm just lucky that he's as nice now as he was in 1978. And just as odd.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Well, it must be nice to know that he thinks of you as a positive influence on his life. I can't think of too many of my exes that I would bother to track down and tell that to. Even if it were true, which it's not.

Anonymous said...

I was just talking yesterday with someone about the effects we have on people and how few times we get the feedback. Every once in a while someone comes back to tell you how it all came out. It can be very gratifying. I've gotten that kind of feedback a couple of times, and it's really cool to think you had a positive effect on someone even though you hardly did anything....

Anne Johnson said...

Yes, Kim, it was a very out-of-the-blue surprise. I think what I may have done for him, that seeped into him, was raise his self-esteem by pointing out that one has to be very intelligent to play good chess. (I once saw him play against a Grand Master who took on all comers at $15 per table. The other people got trounced quickly, but ***** had that master thinking, and thinking, and thinking.) Some people, especially shy people, drift through school without drawing notice from teachers. With ****, it was probably like just cracking the ground so he could push up a shoot and blossom. Anyway, it was nice that he had good news to tell me!