Friday, September 16, 2011


by Ramona and Annette

In the Harry Potter series, Harry is bequeathed a cloak that makes him invisible, which he uses to sneak into a forbidden part of the library. In real life, you don’t need a cloak to be invisible. All you have to do is be a middle-aged woman. There are beaucoup self-help books and articles in psychology and women’s magazines about battling the “invisible years.” 

I have a simpler solution. Join Facebook.

A year ago, a man hadn’t hit on me in…well, we don’t need details, do we? Let’s just call it a while. But after I joined Facebook, I was suddenly irresistible.

First came a message from Georgo, who couldn’t control his emotions after my picture caught his eye; Fred wrote from his business trip to Africa to call me captivating; Nifty Wilson wanted to build an “enviable” family with me; Austin Mike had a lonely heart only I could mend; Alexandro just had to point out my great hair. 

Once the thrill of being inundated with compliments wore off, I noticed a few things. Like, the high level of illiteracy. Didn’t they see I was a writer/editor? Ditto on fact checking. I’m looking at you, Ralph Bricks, an engineer on the high seas…of London. Terry Lynne had an email address of LolliPopLynne. Can you say sucker, anyone?

Several fellas needed a new mom for their young sons because their wives had died tragically, and they’d tell me all about it when we Chatted. Right. I’m up for that fun conversation. One old guy invited me to go camping. Me. Camping.

Finally came this gem: “I have the feeling that in to day’s world, neither race, or nationality nor religion will any longer posse a barrier to male/female relationships.” Posse? This guy wanted to round me up or something?

I shared my disdain for these lonely losers on my Wall and guess what? I was not alone in my sudden  irresistibility. Our very own Annette had her own set of sad sacks with poor grammar skills. And, surprise, some of hers were mine!

And so was born the Outlaws of Love.

(Annette jumping in here) When I saw that message Ramona received about the “posse” I couldn’t resist and told her “you’re just an outlaw of love.” Well, the name stuck. 

Yes, I’ve had my share of propositions from the illiterate men of Facebook. Not only can’t they spell or understand proper punctuation, some of them can’t read either. Like Russ Jean (where do they get these names?) who started by calling me a Diva, then proceeded to write: “Believe me i can hardly believe you're single. I mean, you are too good to be single.” That’s probably because I’m NOT, and my marital status is clearly displayed for anyone to see.  

As for those names. None quite match good ol’ Nifty Wilson, the two-timing jerk who propositioned both Ramona and me on the same day, but one of my personal favorites is Jack Daniel. I wonder what he was drinking when he went in search of a pseudonym for his love letters! A lot of the guys have first and last names that could easily be switched around: Don Terry, Adams Walter, and the previously mentioned Russ Jean to name a few. Not sure what’s going on with that.

Before I turn this blog back over to Ramona, I have to share a small portion of one very long, very poorly written Outlaw of Love letter: “i saw your profile and read through it with a deep thought of life,after reading through your profile I got attracted to you and thought it nice to let you know that someone like me out here care to know you and even meet with you if the future says well.”

All grammatical errors are his, not mine.

Ramona, back to you…

Lots of women on Facebook get these pathetic propositions. Why do the Men of Facebook send these messages? Because some women Friend them. Chat with them. Open up part of their personal lives, innocently, because it’s online and it’s not like meeting face to face in a bar, right?

We’ve all been told of the dangers of getting too personal online, but we’re also constantly hammered about using social networking to build a reader base.  How do you do both, safely?

Some things are blatant. I mean, who still falls for the Nigerian Letter scam? If a guy wants to meet in Chat or needs your email address so you can raise his motherless kid and be an “enviable” family, you know that means RUN.

What bugged me about the Outlaws of Love was not the BS, but the commonality with Annette. Not that I mind sharing these yahoos, mind you, but how did they find us? Did Nifty and his boys target us through some writing connection?

A common warning is never to Friend someone who has no connection to you. But the Security and Exchange Commission has posted a warning about scammers who target members of groups by dropping the names of other group members when introducing themselves. It’s called Affinity Fraud.

None of my messages ever mentioned a mutual name, but I work in the mystery writing field, so I’m inclined to suspect some Friend trolling involved here. So beware. The need to up your Friend numbers or to draw in possible new readers should not outweigh your common sense. 

Remember what your mama told you: Never trust a guy with a bad line--or an outlaw.


Gina said...

Amusing post, Ramona and Annette. I knew there was a good reason I've been avoiding Facebook - other than the deadly dull descriptions of people's every move, of course. Even if I love you dearly, I don't giving a flying f**k whether or not you're making a sandwich or eating one.

That said, I guess I'm missing out on some interesting come-ons, linguistic quirks that put those guys a cut above the drunks who shout at me enticingly while pee-ing in the alley. [An offer I can definitely refuse!]

And, yes, I suspect those would-be Romeos take their leads from groups. I know the Nigerian scammers do. Once an international organization I belong to had my name backwards in its on-line member list. I got dozens of emails about my rich dead relative, Mr. Gina. And professional listings - I find it hard to believe anyone has heard so much about my legal skills when the email begins, "Dear Mr. Sestak."

Ramona said...

Gina, you prove that different strokes thing, because my reaction would be, "Really? What kind of sandwich?"

Despite the over-eager charmers, I love Facebook. For someone like me, who works at home and lives far away from family, it's a great connector. I also have Friends who post the best links to business and writing articles. There's no way I'd catch those without Facebook.

But like any community, in real life or online, it has its drawbacks--and whackadoodles.

Annette said...

I'm with Ramona. I feel so much more in touch with friends, family, and the writing community thanks to Facebook. For someone who grew up in (and still lives in) farm country with not a lot in the way of neighbors, Facebook lets me feel like I'm surrounded by them.

And, yes, some of them are definitely whackadoodles.

Unknown said...

These are great! The whole thing makes me think of the "Pompatus" of love - a made up word that also references the Gangsters of Love.

Patg said...

I agree with Annette and Ramona. I do like FB. Not that I'm on it every day, but when I feel like being there, I have a good time.
When it comes to those weirdos, I'm glad for my delete key.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Oh you two.... I've been attracted to you for some time now. :) LOL LOL Hysterical. I'm feeling left out. I've been poked twice now, and that's scary enough. I never keep my chat light on, and I've gotten a couple. But you two are truly Outlaws of Love!

Fun blog with serious underlying topic! Sad to say but someone somewhere is replying to these losers.

Ramona said...

Kathy, you've been reading Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs again! (One of my personal favorites.)

Pat, I'm always happy to see you on FB. You, too, Donnell!

You're right--despite all the warnings, people still fall for scams. At least we are getting some laughs out of this one.

Ramona said...

PS - Donnell, I turned off my "poke" button.

I hope that's not too personal. ;)

Anonymous said...

Well said, Annette and Ramona! From Cheryl Williams

Cheryle said...

I've had trouble posting on these boards lately, glad to see it took.

Annette said...

I didn't know you COULD turn off your poke button. Hmmm...

Jenna said...

I've had my share of them. Most seem to be African. And most seem to have missed that I'm married, even though my husband is on FB and shows up, prominently, face and all, on my page. I'm sorry to say I've started unfriending some of them, because they insist on chatting with me - which I don't want to do; my mother told me not to talk to strangers, and I don't know these folks - and when I don't, or say no, a few get downright abusive. One fella kept asking me if I was just another racist white. The thing is, I get a lot of readers wanting to friend me, and I don't want to be rude and say "If I don't actually know you, then sorry."