Ratting on one Internet creep at a time

Special to The Times

My epiphany came one clear and moonlit night. The stars were glistening in the sky, the whippoorwills were calling from the distance, and I was on an online dating site with my coon dog, Buck, by my side and a hunting rifle on the other when the instant message appeared on the screen.

"Hi sexy," he wrote.

I perused the young buck's profile and did the math -- he was barely a gleam in his mother's eye when I was getting my college diploma.

Now, Internet dating sites have become one of the best ways to meet people, but they are fraught with pitfalls. Take the ones that occur when a younger man approaches a woman old enough to be his mother, or maybe his elderly aunt. Common wisdom indicates that he may have a few things in mind -- her stock portfolio, her bank account or just a little good old fun.

After all, my own profile made clear my own reasons for belonging to the site, and shenanigans was not one them. How could anything good come of this? So . . .

"Want to get together tonight?" I typed.

"What's your phone number?" the gullible one answered.

I found a copy of the Yellow Pages and typed in the first number I could find, which was to a maid service.

"There's no answer," he wrote. "Call me."

"I can't. My phone's broken. Want to meet?"

He gave me his address and phone number, and I promised to show up in something naughty. Then I tried rerouting him to the nearest police station but couldn't find the address in time, so I entered the one for the local public library instead.

"Meet me there in an hour," I wrote, knowing full well that it would be closed by then. "I can't wait. It's going to be fun. And now I want you to look in the mirror and . . ."

"And?"

"And say that I am the biggest fool in the world."

He typed some words that are not used in polite company, and I forwarded them to the site administrator.

Several days later I received another message from another young swain.

After a few rounds of "Hello, how are you? I'm fine," I was leafing through the Yellow Pages again in search of a "rendezvous." Finally, I found one to an appliance store and typed it in.

"What will you be wearing?" he asked.

I teased him by responding with a little multiple-choice.

a) A black lace teddy;

b) A red lace teddy;

c) A vodka gimlet;

d) A gun.

Then I went with "d."

He then inquired about my mental health. After I threatened to report him to the site administrators for abuse, he apologized. I only hoped he wouldn't report me because of my whimsical answer.

All I know is that saving the world from guys like these is a lot like recycling -- it takes one bottle, one can and one case at a time, but someone's got to do it.

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