Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The First Time I . . . was Duped by Craigslist

I've been feeling the itch to get back to some writing/blog posting lately. Posting that doesn't involve hobbits or Sweet Valley High (gasp! . . . or was that a cheer? . . . ) or erotic combinations of the two (2). Not that it hasn't been fun, it's just that sometimes you wanna think outside of Jessica Wakefield's box. You know?

Oh calm down; I'll still be thinking of you guys way more than any healthy, gainfully employed person should.

I want to get back into other projects. Back into letters (you know, when I send extremely detailed letters to companies and wait months only to receive a generic form letter with my name misspelled in response . . . I miss that) and back into plain old writing. Which is why I'm beginning a new blog projecta way to share stories, both extraordinary and completely ordinary. It will be a continuing series called "The First Time I . . . " followed by an experience.

It could be something very personalized to me, like "The First Time I . . . Got My Wisdom Teeth Removed and Discovered I had Five of Them" or "The First Time I . . . Received a Proposal of Marriage from an Egyptian Man Who Offered my Parents Fifty Camels for my Hand" or "The First Time I . . . Played The Flight of the Bumblebee in Front of My Entire High School While Wearing a Bee Costume." Or something more commonplace that everyone has been through, perhaps "The First Time I . . . was Completely Humiliated at School." (Like most good stories, mine involves 8th grade, a cute boy and vomit and still makes me feel very sorry for myself when I think about it.)


Was I nervous to do this? Yes. Did I screw up? Yes. Did I have bangs that were one inch thick until I was 18? Also yes. 

The best part about this new series is that anyone can contribute with their own experiences. Oh, what fun! I'm one of those people who likes to know every little detail about someone (common questions that I ask of my roommate Velvet include, "So you had pizza for lunch today? Any toppings? And you were wearing that new shirt? The one with the mock turtleneck and the cat print? How's the fit on that?"). If you're not one of those kinds of people, well, then, get back to reading Hobbit Heartache or whatever it is that you do. And what'd you eat for lunch today, anyway?

I had a box of Great Grains. (If you Google Image Great Grains, I'm currently the 9th result! Resume has been updated.)

So here's the first one: "The First Time I . . . was Duped by Craigslist."

Well, the first time I ever used Craigslist was actually the first time I was ever duped.

I will say that I have since used Craigslist successfully many a time. I have received free hair ribbons, purchased She & Him tickets, found a garage sale or twenty. One time I bought a tent that was advertised for two adults but clearly was meant for just one large child. But you know what they saythe first cut is the deepest. And he who laughs first laughs the loudest. And a bird in the morning is worth two in the desert. I'll confirm itthey're all true.

I bet this gal's never been duped by Craigslist. 

The duping occurred shortly after I had just moved to Toronto, the city I had been so desperate to live in for the past four years of undergrad. I was living completely on my own for the first time in my life in a basement bachelor apartment. It was gorgeous. Exposed concrete everywhere (like exposed brick, but way more elegant); glossy, fake-hardwood flooring which was pretty much almost finished (who cares about the corners, anyhow?) and snug ceilings which grazed my head and gave me a sexy, new, slouchy-cavewoman-kinda gait (ergonomics be damned!)(Oh, and I should maybe mention that I'm five foot four. Too short to even qualify for the America's Next Top Model "short models only" pity season). 

But Miss Tyra, I wanna be a model, too. 

Whenever it rained, I knew I could look forward to waking up in three (3) inches of water and seeing more of my crappy belongings destroyed.

Water stains added a kind of chic, lived-in, earthy feel to my sweet bachelor pad. Do you know how hard it is to obtain an earthy feel for your place? I was so grateful to learn I could scrap my plans for an interior designer early on.

And best of all, there was MOLD!

I regularly wore rain boots with pajamas inside my house. I was unemployed. I knew a total of four (4) people in the entire city and I was pretty sure that one of them actively disliked me.

I spent my days walking around my new neighborhood and sitting in a dog park creepily watching dogs and reading library books. I was lonely and bored and most of all, I was broke. I hated coming home to my dark square of confinement, which was smelling more and more like the distinctive musk that is wet gym bag each day. I needed a companion. And money. And groceries. But mostly money.

So I decided to check out the trusty "Casual Encounters" section of Craigslist, specifically the "Unusual Fetish" subcategory and . . .

JUST KIDDING. Calm down. No, no, that story doesn't happen for another couple of years. JUST KIDDING.

I decided to try cat-sitting. I figured it would be easy money, give me someone to talk to about all those dogs I saw earlier that day in the park and basically offer me all of the joys of owning a pet, but with none of those pesky long-term responsibilities. What could ever go wrong?!

I confidently answered an ad to cat-sit for three (3) weeks. (Let me state here that I much prefer dogs to cats, but the idea of trapping a dog inside my yard-less cube was just too mean. So a cat it would be.) The guy responded and we set up a date for me to come over and meet the cat that would be sat.

"Things are looking up!" I thought as I made the walk to his place. "Soon I'll have a pet to love! A constant companion for twenty-one days! And money to buy a new pair of rain boots for the house!" I had a great feeling about this. I'm sure in my mind's eye my walk over looked very similar to this:

I met him at his apartment (with nary a cell phone, rape whistle or escape plan in mind! Innocent as a rose, indeed) and got my first glimpse of a black ball of fur hiding under a table.

"This is Money," he said. "Like the basketball player."

"Oh," I said. "Yes. The basketball player."

I hoped that nodding many times and vigorously would wordlessly convey my vast knowledge of basketball players and their curious names. And it turns out that you should never underestimate the power of a vigorous nod, because the rest of the meeting went wellMoney didn't seem to have any immediate violent reactions to me; I managed to demonstrate that I would be mostly capable of remembering to feed Money twice a day, etc., etc. It was agreed that I would cat-sit for Money for the following three weeks. And I didn't even end up needing an escape plan!

. . . Money the basketball player?

Money's first week at my house was an eventful one. Our bond was instantaneous and our chemistry undeniable. She spent most of her time hiding under my bed, preferring the dark, cramped futon frame to my company. She ignored my constant calls of "meow?" and emerged to eat only when I left to return my library books and check in at the ol' dog park.

But slowly, slowly, progress was made.

Sometimes I could tempt her into the daylight with cat treats. The exposed concrete brought out her ebony highlights nicely.

The day I came home and found Money perched on top of my bed was a beautiful, beautiful day.



Things went smoothly after we hit the "not cowering in fear under the bed" landmark. I was now permitted to pick up Money for brief periods of time. Sometimes we'd chase after the tiny clusters of mold spores drifting through the air or we'd splash through the puddles on my floor, and oh, how we'd laugh. My cute little hellhole was starting to seem a little less hellish. Also a lot more covered in cat hair, but hey, you can't have it all.

Here's the first picture of Money I sent to my Mom:

Our bond is pretty apparent, right? I've read enough Cosmos in my lifetime to learn that you can tell a lot from body language.

The three weeks flew by and I soon grew sad knowing I'd have to give this mysteriously named cat back to her rightful owner. But hark! What was this? I one day received an email from the owner, saying that he would be out of town longer than he thought, and would I perhaps mind watching Money a little bit longer? He'd pay me more, he assured me. I very eagerly replied that I'd be happy to watch her for a few more weeks. And he was even able to continuously drop off cat food and supplies to my house, despite being out of town. Sweet! And logic defying! But mostly sweet!

So Money and I continued on as roommates for a few more weeks. And then another email arrived asking for an extension. The owner was still traveling—could I do another few weeks? You bet your bippy. And then it was the holidays, and those are always busy—I could watch her, right? Sure. And then he had to inexplicably move into a new, non-cat-friendly place. But it was only temporary—one more month? Well, all right . . . by this time, my keen and perceptive brain had begun to suspect a pattern was developing. The emails were becoming shorter and the excuses more vague.

And then one day, the emails just stopped. As did the drop-offs of cat food and supplies. My emails to him went unanswered and after a few years I decided it was probably time that I start buying some cat food.

Even long-haired cats need food, I've learned.

Sometimes I wonder about what happened to him. Did he intentionally run a Craigslist ad to begin a very lengthy and complicated process of getting rid of his cat? Perhaps. Did he eventually just forget that he once used to own a cat and wow, it's been a few years, wonder where that thing went? Somewhat likely. Is he locked up in the slammer for an underground betting circle on professional basketball? Yes. That is what I believe.

And then other times I worry that I'll receive an email from him out of the blue demanding his cat back. My plan if that happens is to ask for payment for my diligent cat-sitting duties of the past five years. It should pay for a pretty sweet retirement of at least a month.

Sound of Music tour, here I freakin' come!

But by now Money has become such a part of my life that I can't imagine things without her. She's seen me through many milestones and has scratched me at least 300 times. 

She was there for me during the iron-deficient haze that was the "Vegan March is Over" celebration .

For the "I Didn't Hire a Lawyer and it Only Took Me Three Years to Get My Green Card" fete.

For the "I'm Giving Up on Life and Wearing Sweatpants to my Birthday Party" Party.

For the Demon Exorcism Ritual of oh-nine.

She's there for my friends, too, like during the aspirin-filled aftermath of New Year's Eve 2010.

And so much more. 

Oh, how I love this elegant cat o' mine. 

And that, my friends and people who were hoping this post would involve a sexy Craigslist dating scandal, is how I was duped by Craigslist and the cat named after a basketball player came into my life.

But hey, this isn't just about me. Have YOU ever been duped by Craigslist? Been majorly ripped off? Cluelessly corresponded with a spambot for an embarrassing amount of time? Had a Craigslist-created first date that didn't turn out as planned? Been disappointed with your way-too-small children's tent? (Is there ANYTHING worse than this?!) Inadvertently adopted a pet for life? Visited the Unusual Fetish section? ( . . . just thought I'd slip that in here . . .) If you've got a story, please share in the comments! Let's revel in our foolishness together. 

Also please tell me ASAP if you know of a basketball player named Money.

PS—Just for fun, here's a look at how my very first place in Toronto is doing today. I pass by it often on my walk to work and recall my few asthma-inducing months spent there. The owner has wisely made a few changes in the decor.

Did I forget to mention the exquisite French doors? How lucky was I?!

Landfill chic: always in. 


  1. I tried to google "Money" Basketball player but could only find G-Money (not the same), and "The Money Man". Not the same guys, obviously! The search continues.
    I have been duped by many Craigslist posts promising amazing garage sales, which turn out to have only baby holders of some sort (strollers, walkers, bouncers, etc)and dirty toddler toys. So awkward to travel for miles to get there only to have to pretend that you were on that street for an entirely different reason as you creep past without buying anything.

    1. HA! I hate the weird baby garage sales! What's even worse is when you can't possibly pretend that you didn't come for the sale, so you have to awkwardly pick up baby blankets and stuffed animals and act like you're considering buying them. And then you just feel so badly that you end up buying stuff. That's why we have three (3) cribs in our house!

  2. Oh Money. She has caused me so many physical and emotional scars. She makes me feel so used and hated. The glares she gives me from across the room are so haunting. And when she swats at me after I shove her off the couch (just for a laugh), oh how they hurt.

    What's that guys email? I'll make him come around.

    1. Lies! I have at least one picture of the two of you together where you're smiling. You can't deny a love like yours!

      ...and as I typed this, you threw a pillow at Money from across the couch because she was grooming herself. All right. You win.

  3. I had no idea that's how you got your cat!

    Could Money be named for Eric Money?



    There are some nice photos in Google Images as well. Maybe you should also consider renting "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" (Wikipedia says he has an appearance in the movie).

    1. Yes ma'am! I used to try and keep it on the DL to not ruin Money's self-esteem. She's come to terms with it by now.

      And could you have solved The Mystery of Money's Name?! Eric Money seems to be the biggest lead I've seen yet. It still seems like it'd be a strange subject for a somewhat young guy to name his cat after, but I want to name my first child Buffy Liesl Claudia Kishi von Clark (regardless of gender), so I will refrain from judging.

  4. I also had no idea that is how you got your cat!! You are a woman of mystery. This blog post was awesome. I LOL'd a couple times at my desk and have forwarded this along to my coworkers. BTW I miss your bangs. You should consider cutting them again.

    1. Thank you, Rosebag! I knew you'd like this post because it's about cats.

      I feel like bangs came back in style pretty much the second I finished the year-long process of growing mine out. But I know if I ever cut them again, all the magazines would be like "It's the season of the forehead!" "Showcase those eyebrows!" "Bangs are for has-been freaks!" And you know what a slave to fashion I am.

  5. Money is lucky she ended up with you! Dude probably would have gave her to his bookies as collateral.

    If it was the guys plan all along, it shows at least he cared about her. He could have just left her outside. Roaming the streets. Money wouldn't have stood a chance!

    1. Haha, yeah, he's lucky I'm a sucker for animals. I'd never use Money as collateral, unless I absolutely had to.

      Money would last approximately two (2) hours outside, and that's just if she sat on the porch and didn't move. She struggles enough indoors--the jump to the couch can be pretty dicey.

  6. You're old bangs were such a good look! Maybe money is a good luck charm in disguise, like an old child who can calm you, with her soft fur and pur, and then lash out with surprise slash to the hand or face to keep you alert again. tell the story about the time you performed flight of the bumblebee next pleeze!

  7. There's a video of that performance somewhere out there (not on the internet, thank the lord). I watched it once and felt so embarrassed that I hid the tape somewhere in my house. And that's how I knew I could never be a professional bumblebee flute player.

    But I agree-Money is my good luck charm who definitely keeps me on my toes. I'm a lucky gal to have her!

  8. Money is a term widely used in Basketball, for example a "sure shot" "a given" ... It is a Given, that Money was and is meant for you SAM CLARK!

    Good Vibezz!

    1. Perhaps Money was so sure on her feet and suave as a kitten that people would often remark things like, "That cat is so MONEY" or "Damn, you see the nap that cat just took? Pure MONEY." It all makes sense now!

      Always Good Vibezz!

  9. Samantha Clark where have you gone? We all miss your blogs!! I hope all is well with you,please come back. Love your fans:)

    1. Anonymous! It is I, Samantha Clark! I have heard your pleas and have responded with a newish blog post. It is concerning everyone's favorite subject: Jillian Michaels BodyShred fitness class! Thank you for your kind words in my (prolonged) absence and I do hope you enjoy it! More to come.