Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 07.01.16
Stanstead, Quebec


Ol' Catfish in the house, ladies!

I'm kind of funny looking. I see it most in photographs. "Wow," I'll say. "My head is huge." On good days, I like to describe my body as "streamlined." Wrists like chopsticks with veins like The Hulk. My son will never forgive me for his nose.

I'm convinced the only reason women agreed to go out with me -- a short list that came to a halt some 29 years ago -- Is because of consistently good lighting.

I don't say this to fish for compliments, though of course those are welcome. (No, please, stop, I'm blushing.) I say it to point out that I am not most people's idea of conventionally good looking, unless it's a convention of moley ectomorphs. And I'm okay with this. Imagine how insufferable I would be if I were both an amazingly gifted writer and devastatingly good looking! Very insufferable indeed. Even more insufferable.

So I was surprised to get an e-mail last week from someone named Loisida or maybe Gina or maybe Lo Isida. Lois? It was a bit vague, a bit spammy. The subject read "Writing... and Catfish."

"Dear Mr. Murray, Congrats and good luck with your novel," she began, so already I knew it wasn't some phishing ploy but someone who recognized that I was an amazingly gifted writer. Please, go on, Loisida/Gina, I said to myself insufferably.

"I had never heard of you, and what brought me to you was a Google image search. Someone who wrote to me on OKCupid. I thought they were cute. But, something was a miss."

Well, it's hard to tell these days who is a miss and who is a mister. Oh wait...

"The picture lead [sic] to you, and judging by the others it is indeed yours. I do not believe it is YOU that I was corresponding with on OKCupid."

No, it wasn't. I swear it wasn't. I'm happy in my list-ending life as a married man and would never dream... Wait a minute, did she just say "cute"?

"The picture comes up over and over again from below post, Yelp, etc, hell even a FB page."

And then she linked to one of my online articles from 2012, entitled "Summer beards make me feel fine." Yes, I clicked on the link from a stranger, but only because I knew instinctively I could trust Lola/Isi due to her familiar tone and her clear understanding that I was an amazingly talented writer and also cute. My computer did not freeze or threaten to sue me. Instead, it led to this picture:


"Maybe interesting to you," wrote Loisida/Lo/Lois before offering me her best wishes and not a single promise of inheritance from long-lost cousins.

Two things strike me as odd. First that someone has taken my image to lure people into a relationship - - known as "catfishing," which makes sense: I have whiskers, catfish have whiskers. And, second, that it apparently worked.

First, why would someone create a fake online identity with an image that didn't so much say "Hey, ladieas -- " as "Hey, you kids, stop peeing on my azaleas!"

If I were online dating, I would want my fake image to be sweet, rugged, smiling. Young. Less homicidal.

But, no, someone stumbled upon my picture and said to himself, "This. This is what I've been looking for. Poorly groomed, an old T-shirt, a stay-away scowl. And wrinkles that will help popularize the phrase 'face fracking.’"

Do women like this look? I know my mom doesn't. She hated that photo.

But apparently some women must. Remember that time Iolanthe/Gwynn said I was cute? Remember that? I have the e-mail if you don't believe me.

This give me hope. It gives me hope the way coming home to learn that my son had concocted a refreshing beverage of water, lemon juice, pureed ginger, and maple syrup gave me hope. It makes me feel the future is bright, especially for men with outsized honkers.

But I was still curious about who was using my image and why. I wanted to track him (or a miss) down. I wrote to Lasagna:

"So apparently there's a market for grumpy, scraggly, middle-aged singles? Thanks for letting me know about this. I assure you this other person is not me. I'd be curious, though, to know what identity he's working under."

She hasn't written back. Story of my life: she thought I was cute until I opened my mouth. So much for amazingly gifted writer. And good lighting.

Maybe if I'd offered my credit card number...