Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 28, 2011 2:36PM

The Evolution of a Rock Star Dream - An Online Love Story

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I'm going to give away the punchline: I fell in love with a fairly well-known musician after developing an online relationship with him. Best to just blurt it out now and spare myself the embarrassment of having to admit it later on. His name is [fill in the blank] from this point on. (You may not have heard of him anyway, so who cares—a rock star to me.)


When in New York, I added him as a MySpace friend (back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the land). And much to my surprise, he wrote me back a personal message. I asked him if he was an imposter, like some bespeckled music geek with acne hiding out in his parent's basement, playing the part of a well-known musician.


His response? "I've been playing the role of [fill in the blank] since 1965." The year he was born. That’s when I knew it was him. Wow…he emailed me? Joked with me? I was red-faced and teeming with girlish glee.


We communicated sporadically at first, but over the years, the frequency intensified. At one point, we moved over to instant messaging. His little face would suddenly pop up on my screen, out of the blue. Wow. He's kind of in my bedroom now! And then we would weave this intimate and magical virtual world online.


Hours would go by, exchanging songs, jokes, links, stories, photos, struggles, heartfelt compliments, sarcastic zingers and little flirtations. Sometimes we'd type the same thought at once. Or send the same song to one another. It all seemed so perfectly uncanny. Is this my soul mate, if there is such a thing? Please let there be such a thing.


One night, after rapid-fire typing back and forth and wine, (he drank vodka straight. He had been recently diagnosed bipolar and tended toward excess), he suggested calling me to give my hands a break. On my actual phone!? Mother of god, this is getting real.


When the phone rang, I felt so small suddenly. Why is this amazing man interested in this little nobody wearing a coffee-stained robe at the Jersey shore? Okay, I don’t really feel like a nobody; it’s just when a dream of yours unfurls in front of you, its intimidating. It’s beautiful but it almost hurts. Am I worthy of my own dream?


Yes, I am. Indeed I am. So I answered the phone.


And I heard his sweet voice for the first time. We talked and laughed as if we'd known each other for a thousand years. Oh my god, he even sang to me that night! He played his guitar and sang one of his songs to me. Over the phone! And I sang with him, nervous and elated. Sing with him, Beth. Do it!


Phone sex erupted in the middle of our 4-hour long conversation (shocker, right?). He led the way, quick and wildly creative, he proceeded to spin these steamy stories, as if he knew all of my private hotspots and kinks.


He tucked me in that night, even though thousands of miles away. He told me to get under my covers. He whispered in my ear for some time and then said good-night at the very moment I drifted off. I hung up the phone and floated up to the heavens.


I dreamt of us living in a glass house on the beach in California. He'd play his music for me or ask me to sing a section of a song so he could work out a glitch. We'd be very musical and muse-like to one another. And we’d fuck a lot, in a deep and complicated way that made us believe in something holy.


When I woke up, he sent me an email with the news I secretly suspected: married. Though the "kids" were a surprise. Wasn't expecting that. Young kids. Fuck. How could you?


[Fill in the blank] apologized profusely and explained to me their situation: how he and his wife haven't slept in the same bed for years, he lives in an in-law on their property now. They stay together for the kids (oh that classic). Lots of animosity between them and blah-fucking-blah.


Shattered, I told him to leave me alone for a while--or fucking permanently--whatever sticks. Just get out of my life.


Torturous weeks went by and he either contacted me or I contacted him. "I miss you desperately" was the theme. And our strange, other-worldly relationship resumed without missing a beat. We jumped back in like two lovelorn idiots.


His bipolar disorder became more pronounced—or perhaps I just got to know him better. He was deeply struggling. But hell, so was I. Alone, broke both mentally and financially, in an old run-down family house on a desolate island. In New Jersey to boot!


He went on meds. And he became my medication, my “happy pill” for the disease of loneliness. But his moods changed quickly and radically. I'd hear from him consistently, then nothing. Nothing. Then he'd flood back in torrents, all over me. Until he was gone again.


A quick aside on abandonment issues: when you have them and your romantic interest suddenly appear and disappear, you're in an excruciating state of pins and needles. Anxious and preoccupied all the time, you can't focus or work optimally, you can't even take a deep breath.


So I let his departures wreak havoc in my life because our times together were transcendent and blissful. A trade-off many of us often make.


Did we ever make plans to meet? We talked about it during our exchanges. Hotel rooms. Him, waiting for me in a hotel room. What he would do to me. What I’d be made to do to him. And how shopping and dining would be involved before or after. (A multi-layered fantasy, which I liked. Because we didn’t just want to have sex; we wanted to do things together.)


But did he ever really plan on meeting me? No, probably not. That's hard to admit. And perhaps I secretly knew that…but that silly dreamer in me believed that our love would prevail and lead us together. Dumb, dumb.


Would we be attracted one another if we met? Maybe it would be completely disillusioning if we broke that fourth e-wall. Maybe he would be a 4-foot boil-covered troll of a man. Or we just wouldn't have that "thing" that two people need between one another, regardless of looks.


But after years of our strange and wondrous intimacy, I worried less and less about that. We were already deeply attracted to one another on a level few could understand, including ourselves.


I loved (did I? Could I?) an introverted, troubled and blazingly creative man I never met who sang and played in a popular band in the 90's. And I believe he loved me too (did he?). A strange ether-like love. One that couldn't last unless we met, which wasn't going to happen.


I began to hear from him less and less. Then not at all. My self-esteem plummeted and I found it harder to reach out, for fear he wouldn't respond, which would send me spiraling for days.


He also made sure he covered his ass. I had no phone number or address, just his email. When someone left vaguely threatening comments on a blog of mine, I emailed him immediately. We had already drifted apart, but the comments mentioned him specifically. I felt frightened and confused.


At first I thought it was his wife, which was surprising, because she didn't seem very involved in his life or seem to care that much about him overall. Then I thought it was some hateful side of him during a manic episode. I'll never really know though I guess the latter, but those scary words have been locked in a metal box inside my brain ever since.


After several weeks, he emailed me back and claimed no knowledge of the comments. And that he had found God. He was deeply sorry for what he put me through. He lives with the guilt and the pain and etc, etc, etc. But thanks to Him (oh yes, a capital "H"), he is back on his path.


The hypocrisy incensed me. Because while he was busy finding God with a capital H, I was recovering from the damage of his decidedly un-Christian-like behavior. It just all seemed so tidy and convenient. God in a box, LA style. He probably wasn’t well known enough for the local Scientology chapter.


Eh, I'm being sarcastic and mean. Neither of us killed ourselves­­--a definite perk during our time together. And trust me, we were often within spitting distance. Let him have his God. Let me have the goddess (with a small “g”) he made feel like. All is forgiven. (It kinda has to be, right?)


He was my biggest fan during that crazy phase, heaping praise and respect my way. I wrote like crazy during our time together (because I knew he’d see it) and more people began to see my work as a result. This amazing musician was my muse. And I was the star of the star's eye, the princess at the ball finally…even though my prince was troubled, married and…not there.


I miss him and I fear I always will. When someone parts ways with you so poorly, the recovery time can be rocky and protracted. When you never had the chance to meet that person, it’s as if they never really existed, making the grief that much more complicated and hard to sort out.


I did my best to digest the loss by sending him emails (since it was the only way to reach him), expressing my pain, my longing for him, or a bad joke I found online. I knew he wouldn't respond, but I did it for myself, to purge and move on.


Eventually my need to contact him lessened to once in a blue moon. And then, I'd simply keep him posted on my life or send him a song he might like. He had become a distant pen pal and I was dating others, slowly getting back to real life again.


Then an email I sent him was returned: his had shut down his account. His exit plan was complete. A large immovable door had been shut. This was final kick to the gut.


Now your email account? How could you shut me out so resoundingly? This is how its going to end after years of communication? No phone call, card or, god forbid, a bouquet of apology flowers? I am a human, afterall. A human."


That’s all right. I didn’t need a stinkin’ computer or cell phone to contact him. I just raise my frequency and use the airwaves of the universe to send my message, anytime and anywhere. And he feels it, I make sure. It's not black magic or the like, just some spiritual balancing.


Sometimes I fantasize about bumping into [fill in the blankety-blank] in some random hotel lobby in New York. I'd spot him and speak his name plainly. He'd turn around slowly. And I'd see his face for the first time.


Ha...what would we do? Maybe we’d cry. And hug. Then I'd slap him hard across the face and he'd be stunned and then laugh at my brazenness. Then I would punch him in the gut. This wouldn't be so funny. He'd have to sit down after that one. And I wouldn't apologize. I'd wait until he caught his breath, then I’d....


No, I could never hurt him. No matter how much he hurt me or denied me the chance of respectful closure or a physical meeting, I'd never do anything to harm him.


I wish he had the same kind regard for me. In the long run, he was a bit of a narcissistic, entitled LA-style jerk who kinda used me, right? But it's not that simple. Never is. He remains one of the best things that ever happened to me and the most amazing men I've never met.  


Besides let’s look at my part: I chose to avoid the obvious red flags and plowed full steam ahead. I knew what I was in for yet still bought into some sandcastle version of us that simply didn’t exist.


It's taken me a while to move past him and I still have my heart-stabbing moments. Though most of the time, he's just a pale ghost drifting around my heart, bumping into things occasionally.


And I’m sure he has fully convinced himself that its best not to contact me. You know, save me from any additional heartache. Well, that’s not the best for me. At all. But I’ve witnessed others rationalize in this passive manner, so its not surprising he’d take that road.


By now, The Book of Life says I'm supposed to move on and "let it go, man." Yet I still struggle with the fact that we’ll probably never meet. That I may go to my grave never seeing him in person, let alone having anything more significant with him, like say, a relationship (silly, silly girl). I bought into a lie and I paid a price.


And I'd probably do it again. Because it was the most beautiful mistake. 

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Being a guy, if I fantasize about punching someone in the gut of the opposite sex who left me dangling, there wouldn't be any sympathy.

This works on that level.
Ha... this is easy since I already read it, and loved it, from your fb link to your other writing site (what is it?).
Beth Mann gets an OS editor's pick... go figure!!
:( Stupid rock star!! "I found God!! Sorry!!" Typical!!

"I'm going to give away the punchline: I fell in love with a rock star after developing a long-term online relationship." ME TOO!!

Okay, not really, mine was a porn star and she turned out to be an auto-responder and well, I won't go into the details how I fell in lust with an auto-responder!!!! :(

"Then he'd flood back in torrents, all over me." So great.

I could feel your elation, your attraction, your pain and despair. Great story.

Beth, Ii's ok to fantasize about punching someone who wronged you.
We do tend to fall in love with the idea of people but the reality of them is pretty harsh. Thankfully my on line love affair is a one way street and in three years she has tweeted me once. Maybe it's better that way. :)
ah, beth, this is a gorgeous, glorious story that i hope is at least mostly true (knowing your penchant for writing a better version than real life does). and if so, then "it's not that simple. It never is" is the key.

now that i think for a moment, it's the key even if the story is embellished. it's pretty much what most of life is, not reducible to some banal, predictable phrase. or maybe i'm just a romantic. there *is* that. :)
Wow, Beth. This is a story with so many resonances.
I get it. Tripping over ghosts.
Absorbing to read and beautifully written.

I suspect many of us have been in a similar position at some stage since the advent of the net, though not with anyone famous.

I've been very lucky in meeting many folk from around the world who I formed friendships with on the net. All have been just as I imagined. No romance involved, but there is one left I haven't met and imagination often takes me down that road.

Maybe though, those sort of relationships are better left to fantasy, but I'd be devastated to lose someone the way you have. Great entry.
ouch. wish I couldn't relate.
The honesty and the complexity of this post floors me.
So if this is fiction, way to go getting an EP! It was a great story whether it is real or not.... ; )
Beth, Wow. The agony and the ecstasy all right here.

Anyone who has ever dabbled in obsessive love lust lost (and haven't most of us at one point?), feels the gnawing when they read this. I know I did ... I like that you mentioned the good things too, the creative burst, writing like a madwoman, the celebration of yoursel(ves). Then damn UGH ... the inevitable crash! I think maybe best that you didn't meet him. In fact, I think I have to recover from this reading. Whew ..
I believe there's something very intense about distant love affairs, those that start electronically especially. There's a distillation of your personalities, the best, most amusing, most charming, sexiest stuff becomes the entire correspondence. No worrying if you're too fat for that skirt today, or should you clean out the car, or can you afford a decent restaurant. I find myself really understanding how it's hard to let go when you've never seen him. The beautiful, perfect, electronic relationship is not something that you can easily move on from. It's not flawed. It can't be. Not like the guy himself.
I just love your writing, your zest for life, and your spirit, Beth.
I love your honesty and humility admist the great fun/torment of being the object of attention of a Rockstart. Thanks!
Congrats on the EP, Beth. Really enjoyed reading this. Still sense your regret.
Incredibly interesting this is...
I've missed Leepin Larry!
The relationship, no matter how detached and distant, is a gift whose treasured nature has rewarded all of us, the readers of your work. I applaud him, even with his inability to see anything through with you in a more substantial setting. It (the relationship)was as real as you allowed it to be, and perhaps the level of control you had in this situation was broader than you first reckoned, thus making you the winner....original in thought, owner of a first-rate mind, and generally magnificent....
Painfully beautiful... ~R~
great story.
sometimes you hook a fish. other times, you should throw it back.
uhm, what does it say about you psychologically that your main LTR is an extremely unavailable guy? both geographcally & maritally? a zen question to ponder...
similar to "what is the sound of one hand clapping"
Fascinating account Beth. Terminated at the stage where it seemed so full of possibilities. You explain pretty clearly why it's so hard to compartmentalize as one of those buried in the past episodes.
Oy. I know this kind of love more than I can say. I will say this though. It hurts much more when you are together in real life. The chicklets who come to flirt after the show are always younger than you, and they look at him with bigger stars in their eyes. As much as he claims to love you, sooner or later, or many times, well, you know. He who sings in your ear knows exactly what he is doing. When you're face to face, he puts his lips on yours, and then sings the damn love song. It's how they got women into bed since they were fifteen, and they've had years of practice. Give me an old bald fat dude now, one who knows nothing of EADGBE. And is that cute fellow with the glasses who loaned you his coat?
Well told Beth. Your straightforward and honest manner is always appreciated. And I love this line: "Though most of the time he's just a pale ghost drifting around my heart, bumping into things occasionally."
This gives me the shivers. For many years I was in a long-distance "relationship" with a songwriter. We went to grad school together, got engaged, broke up, and stayed friends off and on for 20 years, living half a continent apart. He shared his songs, and many other writers' songs, with me over the years, telling me one time that the ones he wrote weren't complete until he shared them with me. I'll never forget how it felt to listen to the warmth of his voice, how his laugh tickled my ear during those hours long conversations. The love was real for us both, I know. I wouldn't trade the joy that friendship brought, but the pain of it never reaching fruition in day-to-day life has been excruciating as well. 10 years after its ending, I still feel a deep sadness at times. Thanks for writing this...there are many kinds of love, and not all of them end up in the sharing of lives.
What Cranky said. Whew. Riveting.
Once I started, I couldn't stop. It was so damned good. In the spirit of your 1965 rock star, "What a trip, man."
That's quite a virtual love story.
That's the great thing about imaginary lovers: they're never ruined by reality.
Fascinating & complicated. Honest and SO well told.
Fascinating and well told Wow!
beautifully told- factual story line or not, the emotions are always real. I love the way you can get the emotions to come through in the words Beth.
Oh my I am sure you have gotten over it by now?
Captivating story. It caught my eye because of a similiar experience that I had in the cyber world. I planned on scanning the first paragraph but found myself hanging on with you through all of your trials.

"A quick aside on abandonment issues: when you have them and your love interests show up/don't show up, you're in a constant state of pins and needles. Anxious and preoccupied all the time, you can't focus, you can't work optimally, you can't even take a deep breath."

This is so similar to the emotions that children experience when they face abandonment in their formative years. It is a trauma that persists right on through adulthood. Dr. Drew Pinsky refers to childhood trauma as a petri dish for substance abuse and mental illness as an adult.

I can identify with the bipolar side of things. Not too high, not to low! That be the goal...
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
~ T.S.E.
The internet has made possible so many complicated situations. I don't think our collective psyche has had time to adjust to it. A compelling story beautifully told.
Wow. I mean, wow.

I kind of get it, though. Through a fluke, I met this East Coast guy on Facebook. For over a year, we communicated about our lives, books, writing, music, everything. He once sent me a book, which I still have. I could never understand how people could develop feelings for someone they've never met, until it happened to me.
Wow! Resonates, tho I've never been in a similar situation. Great experience, great telling.
Damn, but I love to read your writing . . . what a great story . . .
Resisting the urge to put up a link for The Carpenters, "Superstar".
Amazing. I was enthralled.
Like others, I found myself reading through to the end without even noticing. Wow!
Very absorbing. Loneliness is a killer.
"Love is a dog from Hell." Charles Bukowski
Wow, how easily drawn in to your tale...
I so appreciate your sharing the ludicrous ups and downs that occur with this kind of affair, the feeling of being more alive than you ever thought possible, the dreary lows when there is nothing.nothing. for ages...
Someone I loved once upon a time strung me along like this.
"What a f***er" is all that's left in my heart....except maybe "poor wife."
This is written for him, I wonder? How else to get closure when all avenues are blocked? I love how you write "he is a pale ghost..." Likely true in person on some level. (Is my own bitterness showing?)
You deserve to be adored.
Real-life adored.

I too fell in love/lust/longing for a man I barely knew, though we knew each other well enough as work colleagues. That obsession lasted 10+ yrs, and to this day I still can't listen to Heart's music w/out feeling a tug.

I was in a transitional phase of my life, and I now believe that the changes (huge weight loss, new social life, etc) just brought this man into my sphere during that metamorphosis. He also left 1 day w/out saying goodbye; that was 14 yrs ago, and I still wonder about him sometimes, though not obsessively anymore; those days are gone, thank God.

I'm so glad to know I wasn't the only one who "lived in my head." I think that's what bothered me most about that whole episode, that I felt so alone w/my passion and heartache. To this day, the only one who knew about it was my therapist; I'm still too embarrassed to admit to it, until now. Thx for sharing, Beth!
Mesmerizing, stunning and so very human.
Your highly effective writing reminded me of my own brief online pas de deux. No one believes how intense one can feel about the IDEA of someone we've never met. It seems so dangerous, too.

spineless invertebrates are painfully beautiful.
I can relate to your well-told story, having experienced similar situations myself.

I've come to believe that certain persons possessed of unusual charms make a habit of collecting lonely and inexperienced lovers.

Why? Because its easy, ego-reinforcing, and risk-free.

Over-privileged and lazy beauties, both men and women, can make the most confounding and irresponsible lovers, leaving lacerations on the heart. Entering such affairs, one should proceed at one's own risk — and expect nothing in return.
I love this. You write it so right. ~r
Aw come on. PM me with his name.

Makes me want to reread Sally Swift's account of meeting Bob Dylan when she was a teenager and her broad hints in comments that she bonked him.
Also, it makes me want to repost from my defunct CR blog my account of meeting and marrying Herman's Hermits. That's right. All of them.
Dear Angel,

While being a surfer is a true blessing; being a tortured artist is the only way to write with any significance. We must write about what we know; what we've done; and, who we know.

I was going to scroll up to copy this, but rooster stepped up:

"A quick aside on abandonment issues: when you have them and your love interests show up/don't show up, you're in a constant state of pins and needles. Anxious and preoccupied all the time, you can't focus, you can't work optimally, you can't even take a deep breath."

Instinct behavior is the biggest challenge to deal with- abandonment means separation from the group; instinct tells you this means death, fear of death hurts ... a lot.

The abandoned homo sapien does what? We've been told it is fight or flight to survive, but this is not the whole story. UH Researchers have determined the process of the endangered human is actually in 4 stages- freeze, flight, fight, or fright, in that specific order.

And what is freeze? It breaks down to stop, look, listen. So, the collective unconscious tells us to stop what we're doing immediately, keep looking around for something, and keep waiting to hear something every time we are abandoned. Hurts so much you may wish you were dead, but you're not.

Surfing in Oz I came across this brother one day ...

If you can stand the driest lecture style ever it pretty much spells it all out.

And, surfing Malibu back in the day I dated a couple Rock Stars, females, but have been hit on by waaayyy more rock dudes, so we have that in common as well.

Aloha Nui Loa
Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve
She didn't recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged
We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

- Dan Fogelberg, Same Old Lang Syne
Oh lessons learned are like bridges burned
You only need to cross them but once
Is the knowledge gained worth the price of the pain?
Are the spoils worth the cost of the hunt?
Are the spoils worth the cost of the hunt?

Lessons Learned by Dan Fogelberg
I fantasized about John Travolta for years (I did a post about it, no shame there). I've known many who've been smitten by other stars. I also know of some who've married people they got to know as penpals. There's no rhyme or reason for it, these things just happen. I hope you find your true love soon... someone that isn't entangled. I was about your age when I met mine. While you're mooning over this guy, Mr right could be just around the corner.
OMG, Beth, I (and I'm miffed to admit millions of others) have been there. I mean wtf? These machines, are they aphrodisiacs or what? I guess I was lucky. Mine wasn't famous. We wrote feverishly, orgasmically for 4 months. We met, enjoyed each other as much in the flesh as in the ether, once, twice. The third visit and reality thrust showed its evil face. He quit writing. Disappeared. I have never, ever grieved as long. And as wonderful and soulmate-ish as he was, I console myself with the thought that I probably don't miss him (the intimacy, the discovery, the rush) so much as the idea of him. If he'd lived across the street, maybe I would have dumped him. Reckon? Congrats on the EP. You deserve it.
I didn't find my attention drifting even once while reading this.
So great.
Your style of writing is really inspirational and relatable for me!
The Fogelberg quote drew me in to this post for I once had a humongous crush on the man. I held zero hope for meeting him but simply loved his music and words. I didn't think he had children but wasn't sure. Then I reached your "played in a popular band in the '90's" and realized you weren't writing about Dan Fogelberg. I see a number of folks have "commented" with more of his lyrics so I'll add these which are from the song that is a morning inspiration for me, "High on this mountain with clouds down below, I'm feeling so strong and alive. From this rugged perch I continue to search. . ."

I heartily applaud you for sharing your story, Beth. It was a great read. Thanks! There is something nice about knowing I'm not the only "grown woman" who has been emotionally swept away in the attentions of a rock star. Mine wasn't Dan Fogelberg either and mine ended differently. You've inspired me to post to my blog the last of three poems in what I call "Suite: Obsession" Thanks for the inspiration for my first blog post here on Open Salon, Beth! :) Nice we share the same name.
Beth, what a story! I was spellbound from start to finish. I've been away from OS for awhile, and then I come back to THIS. Just wonderful. You're an amazing writer...amazing! RATED.
Lovely story! I can relate all too well, only it's slightly different and my ending isn't here yet, and I hope it doesn't come until my dying day.
Great post- eh never say never- you may meet- my favorite line is this one ,"Though most of the time he's just a pale ghost drifting around my heart, bumping into things occasionally."