So I've had a few weird experiences with Instagram. One of them is the fact that men have started messaging me, and sending heart emojis or just HELLO DOLL! in CAPITALS. And these men are a strange lot. Or let's just say that they are not the kind of men I meet on the pre-school run, or at children's birthday parties, or in Lidl. These men are often in the military. They are often very senior in the military, and their profiles show them in their full military regalia (sometimes mid salute), and I can't help wondering WHY these men are sending me messages?
Do I come up in an hashtag search for #oldwomenwhofancymeninthemiltary or #miltaryfanclubgals...and then this week something even stranger happened.
Two days ago I checked my messages and I'd got one from a man I vaguely recognised. I was just about to decline it - as I always do (because funnily enough I'm in a relationship and not actually looking to have one with someone senior in the military who is eighty years old, called Brett and from Oklahoma) and then I got distracted and it sat there. A day later and I looked again. The message was just a giant heart emoji. Then a HELLO popped up. I clicked on the account.
It was VIN DIESEL. The actor VIN DIESEL. THE HOLLYWOOD ACTOR VIN DIESEL.
Now I'm not actually a big fan of this guy and I'd struggle to name any of his films but I know they usually involve a lot of cars racing about and explosions and there might be a token good-looking woman thrown in, but they are GUY films and not the kind of high-brow fare I like to dine out on (ha ha), but I had of course heard of this actor, and had a momentary lurch as I realised it wasn't Lieutenant Brett from Oklahoma, it was a real, live famous person.
And then I made spaghetti bolognese. I did some editing. I tried to win a project but it didn't go ahead. I pitched numerous ideas and there was some enthusiasm but nothing came of it. I lay on the floor and tried alternate nostril breathing (this is what I do when I'm feeling stressed about my lack of full-time employment), and then I checked my phone. Vin Diesel had left me another message. This time it was another heart emoji and a giant HELLO. I decided to engage.
'Are you really Vin Diesel?' I typed.
'Yes, yes I am,' came the reply.
'What are you up to?'
There was a small pause.
'I'm making a movie in Africa.'
Then there was silence and my daughter came home and I had a bath and watched an episode of 'Liar' and thought how I didn't really like the main character, and yet felt like I had to like her because she had been through so much hell. Then I lay awake thinking about Vin Diesel filming in Africa. The photos I'd seen showed a man who liked to work out a HELL of a lot. A man with very little neck going down. A man who possibly spent four-five hours in the gym each day, and probably didn't have a stunt double.
What did he see in a forty-something, freelancing Mum who was still carrying two stone of baby weight and liked eating Tortilla chips in from of ITV Dramas?
'Vin Diesel is messaging me,' I told the Mums at my daughter's swimming class.
'Are you sure it's him?' one of them asked.
'Yes I checked and there's a link to his Facebook page and there's even video on his IG account. So yes it's real.'
I could see them checking me out in my baggy dungarees and frizzy hair (it's very humid in that swimming class) and they were all thinking the self-same thing. WHAT THE HELL WAS VIN DIESEL DOING?
'If we don't see you next week then we know that you've run off with Vin Diesel,' one of them said.
'Too right,' I replied, 'Too right.'
But I was also a little worried. This thing was getting out of hand. I wasn't ready to elope with this guy. I was happy in West London. I was happy in my relationship. Besides he'd never actually seen a full body shot and if he did he would see the two stone of baby weight I was still carting about like a drunken Shetland Pony. He would force me to work out for four hours a day and then he'd book me in for a radical face lift. I'd end up looking like one of those weirdos on 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,' and then I'd live in one of those enormous houses with my own swans swimming about in a moat outside. But would I be happy? I doubted it.
'You should get him to appear at one of your events,' my friend said on the drive home from swimming, 'Imagine getting Vin Diesel to do an appearance for The Hotbed Collective.'
'I don't think he'd do that,' I said, as if I was actually his agent and knew what was best for him, 'He's making a film in Africa and he wouldn't want to fly all the way over here in November and besides...I'm not sure he's a feminist.'
'Are you a single Mum?' the message said, 'I have seen that you are and I like what I see.'
It was at this point that I talked to Paul. I felt like this relationship with Vin Diesel was moving way too fast. Like maybe we'd be talking about blending our families together and all sorts and I needed to be totally honest.
'Vin Diesel is messaging me,' I said, 'Look here's a video of him with Samuel L Jackson and another one with him and Charlize Theron.'
'Why the heck are you telling me?" he said stirring the recycled bolognese, which was now getting mashed potato plopped on top of it (we are trying to make meals stretch for at least two days if poss.)
'Don't you think it's surprising that he's contacting me? Don't you think it's nice that someone like VIN DIESEL actually fancies me?'
'But it's not actually him is it?' he said.
'Yes it is. It is,' and I stomped off and went upstairs.
I had warned him about this relationship- THIS CONNECTION and he'd not been interested. I Googled some images, and then looked up his wife. Turned out she basically looked like a younger version of Yasmin Le Bon. Then I watched a video and he was singing the praises of his wife and how beautiful she was, and what a great Mother, and I thought - God this guy is a real creep. He's sending me all these messages and hearts, and here he is with his lovely wife and she's carried his kids and I didn't really like him or his films, but I've definitely gone off him completely . I went back and looked at his Instagram account. In the meantime, he'd sent another heart and a giant HELLO. It felt as if our interactions were getting a bit repetitive.
Was he waiting for me to send him a picture of my boobs? (I wasn't doing that. I didn't like him. It was time to draw our relationship to a close).
I Googled 'how to tell if someone has set up a fake celebrity INSTAGRAM account.' I looked at his account. I could hear my daughter laughing downstairs. This time I discovered a different account- this one had many, more followers and the self-same video footage. It had a blue tick which meant that it was legit.
THIS was the real VIN DIESEL. This man with more than 36 million followers. This man who worked out all the time and had a beautiful wife and three children. This man was not the man who was sending me giant HELLO's and heart-shaped emojis. I deleted the messages and blocked this impersonator. . I wondered if it was Lieutenant Brett from Oklahoma again. I wondered why he'd chosen the actor Vin Diesel. I decided not to tell the swimming lesson Mums. It wouldn't do my reputation any harm to think Vin Diesel was in love with me. I tried to think of something that wasn't mince that we could eat tonight.