When Your Readers Want You To Join ISIS

Dear Tariq:

Thank you so much for your note, which read, “How are you? I saw your pictures, you are looking so pretty. Hope you have time to chat with me”.  I also appreciated the 14 or so other notes you sent me throughout the weekend wondering if we could chats.

You should know that I appreciate each and every one of my readers. I’m deeply grateful for anyone taking the time out of his or her day to read my brand of humor. I’m equally grateful to my readers who reach out and contact me to say hello, compliment or criticize my work, or let me know something I wrote made them laugh or think. Connecting with my readers is a tremendous reward of my job. That and the money make it all worthwhile.

Because I am so grateful for anyone reading my work, I try to respond to each and every email, direct message or comment I receive. Unless someone writes in and appears dangerous or calls me fat, I write back.

But I will admit, when I read your note commenting on my pictures, remarking that I am looking so pretty, I was a bit confused and did not know how to respond. See Tariq, I only have one pictures on my blog. It’s just a headshot of myself, so readers can put a face with the words.

In general, when one references seeing pictures of someone else, the word pictures implies they have seen more than one photograph. In my case, you have not.

The reference to looking so pretty in pictures also had me perplexed. See friend, I’m 4000 years old. I’m happily married, a writer and mother to two kids. I haven’t been looking so pretty so I was a fetus, which was a long time ago. So despite your attempts to woo me with terrible grammar, I assumed your note to me was actually meant for someone else who is say, younger and wearing a bikini. I am neither.

Reviewing your note, I wasn’t sure how to write back since I wasn’t sure your note was actually meant for me. But then it became clear you had intended to write to me when you reached out no less than 14 more times over the course of one weekend.

You wrote, “Are you to there?”

You followed that up with a simple, “?”

And then you wrote a few more emails commenting on me being so nice to looking at. This was followed by your last attempt to reach out in which you wrote, “Heloo?” as if you were doing a Godzilla movie translation of Adele.

Because of the sheer volume of your emails, I took note. I’ll be honest Tariq, even my husband doesn’t reach out to me 14 times in one weekend and he sleeps right next to me. In attempt to learn a bit more about who might be stalking me I clicked on your direct messages , which took me to your Facebook page.

You should know that I was terribly pleased to see that you are indeed good looking. If I’m going to be hunted down via the Internet  and possibly shoved in the trunk of a random stranger’s car, I’d like to think that at the very minimum that predator would be handsome.

I couldn’t help but note two things from your Facebook page. The first thing I noticed is that you are about 20 years old, tops. I also noticed that under the category of where you live, you wrote “Kabul.”

That’s when I sat up and took notice realizing that you probably aren’t a 20-year-old looking for love in the form of a married woman whom you’ll never actually meet. I mean I have a lot of different kinds of readers living in different kinds of places, but a young man in Afghanistan isn’t my usual demo.

But as the messages from you kept coming in, I couldn’t help but become a bit alarmed. It occurred to me that you might actually be some sort of spammer trying to get my credit card information or my brisket recipe because truthfully Tariq, I think everyone is trying to get my credit card information. My mother can call and say, “How are you?” and I’ll respond by saying, “Why are you asking?” So I tend to be a bit paranoid and your email barrage didn’t help.

I mentioned to a writer friend that my weekend had been over run with your emails. She jokingly respondsed, “Maybe he wants you to join ISIS.”

“I think ISIS is Syria,” I said. “Afghanistan is the Taliban.”

But the thought stuck in my mind, where it stayed until about 3 am.

That’s when my paranoia induced anxiety tailspin began. See T, I’m a bit of an insomniac. Justin refers to me as a terrible sleeper, as if I could improve if I just took a course. But truthfully, sleep is not something I’m good at. Actually sleep I’m fine with, staying asleep is my problem.

That’s because shit gets in my brain and decides to escape while I’m sleeping. And if you’ve ever met a woman Tariq, you know that once a woman is awake, she’s awake. There is no going back to sleep for a woman whose been woken up at 3 am by the sound memory of her friend’s voice saying, “Maybe he wants you to join ISIS.”

It may seem ridiculous during daylight hours. But at 3 am, it seemed entirely possible. Geography and logic don’t come into play. There is only the plausible delusions that seem real when one can’t sleep.

So at 3 am, I decided that my friend was indeed correct. You don’t actually think I am looking so good. You are an ISIS recruiter and you’ve set your sites on me. You want me to punch up the terror state’s website with pithy jokes and pop culture references. And so you reached out to assess my interest. You reached out 14 times, to be exact.

And since I couldn’t sleep, I wrote what I think is a completely polite and well-intended note to you to say that while I appreciate your interest in me joining ISIS, I respectfully must turn you down. Truthfully, I’m not a real joiner. Clubs and terror organizations don’t bring out the best in me. I find it hard to work with others and I hate all those committee meetings and reply all follow up emails.  I didn’t even join a sorority in college because I thought all the sorority girls were stupid.

Even if I wanted to join Tariq, you should know that I don’t have childcare. That’s right! I work when my kids are in school and then I’m on duty when they return home. Can you imagine how Social Services would feel if I left my kids alone to go live a life of terror? I’m pretty sure they’d take my kids, even if I showed them the good work I was doing on your website.

There’s also the issue of cave dwelling. I don’t really do well with cave dwelling. Honestly, I’m a bit of a hotel snob. I like to sleep in nice places that have things like blankets and walls. I turn into a real beast when my travel accommodations don’t live up to my expectations. Just ask Justin, he’s seen it first hand.  So I feel like I’d be a total fun sponge living up there in the caves and mountains of Syria. You’d be annoyed at me by end the of Day 1. I  know my limits Tariq, and cave dwelling is one of them.

And I’m not big on murder. I’m kind of a fan of letting people live, especially ones you’ve never met whom you kidnapped for no particular reason. I’m sure this makes me seem like a hypocrite considering I do eat meat, but that’s different than mass killings of humans and journalists. We all have our rules.

At about 5:30 am, I finally fell back to sleep after checking to make sure my home alarm was on (it was!) and  after inputting the numbers “9” and “1” into my cell phone so that if shit when down, all I’d need to do is press that last “1” and the police would be called.  Unfortunately, my kids woke me up seven seconds later and were ready to start their day.

In the sobering reality of daylight and a tiny bit of sleep, it occurred to me there’s always the chance the you were in fact just another Afghani gentleman trolling the Internet. You saw my photo somehow and you thought I was pretty so you reached out.  Then I quickly dismissed that thought as illogical.

In an aging mother’s mind, it’s more likely that a reader wants us to join a life of terror halfway around the world than reach out to tell us we are looking so good.  It’s sad, but true. Motherhood can make you feel special, but it doesn’t exactly make you feel beautiful.

So if you did just see my photograph and want to chats, thank you. It’s never going to happen, but I appreciate the thought. And the fourteen emails, which totally scared the shit out of me.

And if you want me to join ISIS, I’m going to have to pass.  As you can see joining things just isn’t my thing.



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One thought on “When Your Readers Want You To Join ISIS

  1. Now I want your brisket recipe. I mean, it’s a brisket recipe for one thing, but you ranked it in fairly equal terms with your credit card info. This means a *good* brisket recipe…. I find myself wondering if I email 14 time pleading to chats if you’d fling the recipe at me to slow me down while you considered just how many weird people are out there on the internet and how to block them.
    Brisket aside, I think you’re hysterically funny on a regular basis and I link various articles to my hapless email contacts with glee. And fill sleepless hours wandering through your blog, because nothing says “give her some space” like helpless giggles coming from a darkened room. Long may you notice things!

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