Misery Loves... You!
by Andrei Codrescu
I once had a stalker. She started out slowly, just a curious fan, asking about something I'd written.
In her e-mail, she also flattered me by confessing that she had all my books in her bedroom. That should have been my clue, but I answered anyway, in a friendly but not overly warm way.
I ignored her e-mails after that, even as they got steamier and more desperate. I also ignored the flood of perfumed envelopes with protestations of love on fancy stationery that began filling my mailbox.
How did she get my address? I didn't open the gifts that started arriving nearly every other day, though I did open the first one. It was a silver heart about the size of a large peach with our first names — mine and hers — engraved on it.
When the telephone started ringing at odd hours, I just changed the number. She found the new one. If I lifted the receiver, she said nothing. If I wasn't home, she read her love poems to me on the answering machine until the tape ran out.
Amazingly, I didn't do anything. I didn't know what to do. It was only when she moved from 3,000 miles away to my city that I started being seriously worried. When she took a room in the house of an acquaintance of mine and began meeting my friends, I knew that the time had come to get Miss Marylou Arden off my back.
I went to her house. Her landlady, my acquaintance, looked at me reproachfully, as if I was some kind of heartbreaking monster from a Victorian novel. I stood in the hallway as she went upstairs and knocked on a door. I heard my stalker say that she'd be right down. After about 10 minutes of nervous chitchat with the landlady, who never asked me to sit down, Miss Arden came down the stairs.