Siobhan and Carl

The following is the transcript of this podcast episode.:

Jodi: Hi, Siobhan thank you for coming on the podcast to kick off the new season with me. It is terrific to have you on the show.

Siobhan: Thank you so much. I’m glad to be here.

Jodi: I’m glad you’re here too. Now our listeners like to get a feel for the guest who sharing her story, given this, it would be great. If you could please tell us some things about yourself.

Siobhan: Sure. I am a 56 year old divorced single mom. My twin sons are in college and I work. I’m a professional woman. I love the outdoors, hiking, biking. I’m on again, off again on the online dating scene. So the story will unfold from there. Ooh.

Jodi: Okay. That’s a great lead in. So we’re going to talk about an online date that you went on it. Now, let’s lay the groundwork for this story. Did it happen during the pandemic?

Siobhan: Yes.

Jodi: What was going on in your life at the time that this date took place?

Siobhan: Oh, gosh, so many things. So when the pandemic began, I was at the tail end of a two year relationship and we were working at remaining friends, but then for so many people COVID shut down relationships with anyone who was not in your immediate bubble.

And so, at the time, I wasn’t really thinking about dating at all, but, you know, then the kids were getting ready to go off to college. And I started thinking about, you know, getting back out there and back up on the horse. And so it was the summer of 2020, and I decided to dip my toe back into the online dating.

Jodi: You’re ready to dip your toe back in to online dating, even though we were in the middle of a pandemic, which is a really brave thing to do on multiple fronts. So how did you go about doing this?

Siobhan: Well, I mentioned before that I am, I love the outdoors and so I met a couple of my dates either on a hike or we would go someplace outdoors.

Always socially distance. And so to be honest with you, it was somewhat awkward. And so I, I went out on a few dates and it didn’t really go anywhere. And I, I didn’t think much of it. Frankly until I struck up a, a Bumble conversation with a man named Carl who was super attractive he was a few years younger than me and had moved from another part of the country nearby to be near his son, which was great.

And so he gave me his full name and we started having lots of phone conversations. A very funny guy, obviously intelligent. I checked him out as many people do and he checked out on LinkedIn, Google and all of those things as a security professional. He had been around in his industry for a while.

Jodi: He made you laugh. And that was something you were looking for in a man.

Siobhan: Definitely. He made me laugh to the point where my son walked in on one of our early conversations and said, “Mom, who are you talking to? What are you laughing at?” And I just, because I hadn’t really had those kinds of laugh out loud moments for many months being in COVID. He really was a breath of fresh air.

Jodi: That must’ve really felt good. And how long did this go on for?

Siobhan: So, as it happened this was last the summer of 2020, and we, we spent a good month talking on the phone. First, it was 15 minutes. Then it was an hour. Then it was an hour and a half, usually in the evening after work.

And the other bit of context that’s sort of funny is that we were also watching this deliciously steamy series called Outlander. And so that was sort of hanging out in the background and we would chat about that, As you can imagine, before too long, we were excited to meet in person. And so the first attempt was to meet for a hike. But then he had to cancel because he had a work obligation.

Jodi: Before the two of you met in person, did you meet virtually through FaceTime, Zoom or whatever video chat app.

Siobhan: No, we did not.

Jodi: But why not because the two of you had spent so much time on the phone together? Why did you not meet face to face over video chat?

Siobhan: That is an excellent question. And I couldn’t really tell you except to say that I don’t much like the video chat at work and this guy checked out pictures online and things like that. And so it didn’t. It just wasn’t the medium that we were choosing to use.

Jodi: How did it come about that the two of you eventually did meet in person?

Siobhan: It did not seem like it was going to happen because after he couldn’t go because of work. Then the fires came and the air quality was terrible. And so the hike that we had planned was canceled.

And so he then said, “I’d really like to make you dinner. Would you come over for dinner?” And I will tell you that I have a long-standing rule, which says you do not go anywhere except a place in public on your first date. You know, a smart, safe thing to do. But I had been speaking with Carl for easily a month, maybe five weeks.

I felt like we had put the time in. I asked my sons, they said, mom, you got to. And so I left my phone number and his address with them and I made my salad and brought my nice bottle of wine and drove over. For what really seemed like, wow, it was despite COVID it was going to be a true blue date.

Jodi: There you are. You’re in your car, you’ve got your salad and your wine. What’s going through your head as you’re driving over to his place.

Siobhan: Well, I, as you can imagine, I guess you may not have seen Outlander, but if you have, what you know is that the protagonists have an incredibly romantic. Sexy relationship. And so I admit that I was really excited about this and I looked nice and I made every effort and COVID times.

Jodi: And that’s a big deal during a pandemic, especially when you’re getting out of your sweats.

Siobhan: I hadn’t had my hair done in six months. I mean, I made an effort. So

Jodi: Way to go! You stepped it up for this one.

Siobhan: Indeed.

Jodi: Take us through what happened next.

Siobhan: So I pulled up and I got out in the driveway and walked up to the front door. And the first thing I noticed was a dead Christmas wreath on the door. Now this right here should have probably been enough of a red flag for me to say, that’s really not my speed, but right at the same time, as I was noticing this dead wreath, he opened the door and stepped out. And lo and behold, he was easily 15 years older than his picture. And so at that moment, I went right to the question you asked me earlier which was, “Why didn’t I FaceTime?”

Jodi: We know why he didn’t suggest the face-time him now. So, so often there’s a 10 year gap maybe, but 15 years. Wow! He was really pushing it.

Siobhan: And I have to tell you that he had also tried hard. So he had a very nice shirt on, but he had clearly dyed his hair, maybe that very day, because we had a little hair dye action happening on, on the side of the space. So, but yeah, so already within the space of 30 seconds, it was like, Nope, this isn’t going to go anywhere. But that’s okay. He’s still a nice person. Right? And I am a nice person. And so I decided, I drove all the way over here, let’s just step inside and we can be.

Jodi: Did you hug him when you walked in, shake his hand? What’d you do?

Siobhan: He may have noticed the very brief look of shock on my face. I gave him a hug and I said, hello. And, and into the house we walked.

We walked back to the kitchen and whatnot, and I gave him the bottle of wine and he had, he kept having to run upstairs to his room to get a wine opener, to get a glass, to get the paper plates that we ate dinner on. It quickly became clear that this was not his home as he had earlier represented on our earlier call.

Jodi: I got to stop you there. I got to stop you there. So it was not his place. You walked into this house and you saw pictures of other people sitting around on the mantle? Tell us what were the clues in addition to him, disappearing to his room to get things that clued you into this.

Siobhan: So there were no pictures, so that, that didn’t clue me in, but what the first thing that did clue me in was that he was constantly having to run upstairs to get typical kitchen apparatus – a glass, or a spoon or something like that. And so I ended up and, and also there were a few decor items that that would be not at all likely to be part of his cultural background and you know, that’s cool.

That’s fine. And, and I eventually said to him, “Do you rent here? Or” And he said, “Oh no, I I’m just living here for a little while with my business partner.” So that, that at the time seemed enough of a satisfactory answer at the time.

Break your dating rule

Jodi: Okay, but why couldn’t he use his business partners, wine bottle opener or plates?

Siobhan: I don’t know. And it was bizarre and I do not think of myself as a snobby person, but drinking wine out of big gulp and eating dinner off of paper plates. I mean, okay. I’m a nice woman, right, in quotes. So I, you just go with it and the conversation was, was okay. Right. And he kept trying to kind of come in for the smooth action and, I was clear from the front door that that was not going to happen.

Jodi: Where did you have dinner? Where in the place? Because it seems like he was very cautious about how he used the house and that he didn’t use a lot of what was in the kitchen. So where were the two of you when you had your dinner together?

Siobhan: We ate in the kitchen. There was like a funky table in the kitchen. There was a dining room in this house, but he had set the table in the kitchen.

Jodi: You brought a salad over, what did he prepare for the meal?

Siobhan: Well, it was clear to me that he had bought some frozen items at the store and he did have a sheet pan, so it was frozen salmon and those Pillsbury popovers. You know, my kids love them. And so that’s what he had. And I thought to myself, thank God for the salad. It was pretty bad! (Laughter)

Jodi: Yeah. Not the meal you were expecting…..a freshly caught salmon drizzled with some wonderful sauce and served with a wonderful side of some fresh vegetables, no?

Siobhan: No. And the thing that’s funny about that is in the calls leading up to the date, he was so excited and so proud of himself that he was going to make me dinner, which, which in and of itself is a sweet thing. Right? It’s a sweet thing to do, but the man clearly did not know how to cook, which also.

The rest of the evening, kind of calm into sharp relief because I don’t ever think it was about making me dinner. Now I can see that looking back.

We finished up dinner and after dinner…the plan had always been to, to go out into the living room and watch a few episodes of Outlander. Had he been sort of the person that I thought he was, this might’ve been a very exciting time, but ‘twas not to be.

So I sat on my side of the couch and he inched ever closer. And just as we’re starting to get into the episode, the front door swings open and a lady walks in with a suitcase.

Jodi: No way! Oh my gosh! (Laughter)

Siobhan: I was like, Wow! This night is the trippiest night I’ve had in a while. Okay. So she’s very pleasant. Turns out it became eminently clear that it was an Airbnb. So now I’m feeling irritated and like, okay. There’s nothing about this guy that stacks up. And I was now getting to be glad that the Airbnb lady was there cause now there was somebody else in the house.

Jodi: This woman  bursts through the front door with a suitcase can imagine that was shocking. What sort of interaction did you directly have with her?

Siobhan: Well, she was very pleasant. And that’s when I first really came to realize my suspicions were true, that it was an Airbnb because she said, “hello.” She clearly had not met Carl before. And of course I had never been there before, but she basically went on to tell us that she had stayed there several other times and she was in town for a workshop. And she knew how to get back to her room and said good night and have a nice evening. She was very pleasant woman and she, she seemed more familiar with the place than he was and had been there multiple times.

Jodi: So he had lied to you about the home. He had lied to you about having a business partner.

Siobhan: Yep.

Jodi: You must have been questioning every single thing this man had told you.

Siobhan: He lied about his age. Yes, absolutely. But still, you know, I’m feeling this sense of obligation to see the date through and to leave on good terms. Why? I don’t know. And I should probably talk to somebody about that. But, as it happened, the episode goes on and I got up to walk back into the kitchen and get some water. And I just happened to look up and I noticed….this is the weirdest part of the story…..and notice that there are cameras in every corner of the room. And so now

Jodi: Cameras?

Siobhan: Like cameras. I walk out and I say, “I’m sorry, what’s up with the cameras?”

“Oh, well, you know,” he says “I’m in the security business and they’re not on, don’t worry. They’re not on.” And now I am certifiably creeped out by this guy. Even though he’s like, down-home, he kind of presents as a very, down-home safe older gentlemen. Now I’m thinking this is truly not okay.

But I have to use the restroom before I can leave because it was an hour away from my house. And it’s now like nine o’clock at night.

Jodi: Okay. So you’re very cautious when you go into that bathroom, I imagine.

Siobhan: I’m cautious looking around, where could the camera be? I mean, it’s. It was bizarre. So I came downstairs, I grabbed my bag and he, he said, oh, you’re, you’re leaving so soon.

“Carl, I have to tell you that you’re a very, you seem to be a very nice man, but nothing of what you’ve told me is, has been true. And I’m sorry, but I, I don’t believe you about the cameras. I’m not here to be recorded.” And he got upset. Then, then he got defensive and angry and I was glad that I had my bag and I quickly made it out the front door with him sort of being upset with me.

Because I have to say in retrospect, I think the plan was for me to get over there and, you know, to feel romantic and for him to record all that. And not that anything was going to happen anyway. But it’s a funny story, even though it has undertones of also, could have gone other ways. And all the way home, I chastised myself for breaking my rule which is, you do not go on a first date unless it’s in public and you’ve actually met the person maybe even more than once in public.

And I also have to wonder why I felt so obligated to be nice and stay there as long as I did. What I was glad about was that because I had already made a very certain decision even before walking through the front door, because of his lie about his age, the fact that he had a dead Christmas wreath on the front door, which I thought was just bizarre and it was just kind of a bizarre set up, I was cautious about what I said or the stories that I told. So that part, I feel like that was okay.

But honestly, at the end of the day, I wish that I had just said, “you know, I think, thank you. I want to thank you for dinner and I think it’s time to go home now.” And I wish that I had just been able to get over this sort of good girl point of view and say goodbye, but I didn’t, I stayed around for more. (Laughter)

Jodi: Well, we are taught to be like you said, good girls, and to be people pleasers and to be concerned about the other person and not offend. And there’s probably a lot of that going on with you at that time. That training, that conditioning that we’ve all had.

Siobhan: That’s right, indeed. But the camera thing really threw me and that’s when I knew it was, it was time to go.

Jodi: The camera thing is incredibly creepy and you were right to think that he may have had other intentions when you saw those and every reason to have exited as you did. So he went in and he wired up an Airbnb with cameras?

Siobhan: I can’t say that for sure. What I know is that it was not his home. So then I went back and I looked afterwards, right? The home was not registered to him at that address. And I think it was, it definitely was an Airbnb because the lady who walked through the front door unannounced.

So, I don’t know if he was renting a room or what the deal was, but at that point there was no way I was going to believe him that the cameras were off. Why do you need four security cameras in your kitchen and God knows where else in your house, right?

Jodi: Right.

Siobhan:  I actually wasn’t even upset when I left. I was a little freaked out and then I just started to kind of laugh because the whole thing was so bad that I was like, “how did I get here?” And then I drove and it was a long way, as I said, it was an hour. I get home and my boys are home. And he said, well, what are you doing home so early? And I said, you guys are never going to believe this!

Jodi: It is one heck of a story about a day that seemed like it had so much potential and turned out to be anything but the evening that you had hoped it would be. And thankfully you were smart enough to exit when you did. Did you ever follow up with Carl to tell him anything else about how you felt about the evening?

Siobhan: I really thought about it. I really thought about…because after a while I was angry right after I thought it was funny. I kind of went through the whole range of emotions after the whole thing. And I thought about texting him and just saying, “You know, That was super uncool. I don’t know what your deal is. I should report you.”

I thought about reporting him, but I ended up not because I thought, you don’t know some people really are creeps and he knew where I lived. And so I just decided, you know what, I need to let this one lay. And, I think it’s interesting that I did not hear from him.

So he knew that when I left, that was the end. So I think he’s lucky that I didn’t actually report him and I wish I knew how to do that because I don’t think, I think it was a nice guy, but God knows what else he had up his sleeve.…..

Jodi: and you never need to find it.

Siobhan: No.

Jodi: It’s in the midst of a pandemic. You wanted a connection. You met this man. He did not at all, on any level, turn out to be the person you thought he was. How has this impacted your thoughts about dating and meeting new men these days?

Siobhan: You know, at first I thought that it wasn’t a big deal, but I do recognize that it makes me maybe even more skeptical than I was going in.

I haven’t had terrific luck with online dating, a couple, but it has made me far more, I guess, you’d say, skeptical, and like I really wish now to just meet a man and the good old fashioned way. And so I’m off of all of it now. And we’ll see what happens.

Jodi: Well, as life is opening up now, more people are vaccinated, there are lots more opportunities to meet people in person for the first time in the sort of environments that we were used to.

Siobhan: Indeed. I hope so. I hope so.

Jodi: Yes. I’m glad to hear it did not turn you off of dating, but just made you more skeptical of online as a platform for you.

Siobhan: Correct. That’s true.

Jodi: Thank you. You so much for coming on the show to share this bizarre tale about Carl who seemed to be one type of person and ended up to be a very creepy type of person.

Siobhan: Exactly! Thank you for having me. I wish everybody out there, all of your listeners, good luck. And just know that I’m still smiling through the story because mostly it was just….you had to kind of chalk it up to one of the most bizarre evenings I’ve ever had in my life!

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