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Ask Amy: Mysterious IM leads to wild Googlechase

Tuesday, January 25, 2011; 6:06 PM

Dear Amy:

At the end of my workday recently, I received an instant message that said, "Hey, sexy." There are very few people I know who would IM me that, even jokingly.

I wrote back, "Who is this?" then the person immediately got offline. I Googled the screen name and in the list of results from the search was the Facebook page of the husband of one of my friends.

My friend lives across the country. We haven't talked directly in years but send each other cards. We are not close. The husband seems to use this screen name for everything (Facebook, e-mail, IM), so it's definitely him.

I've never actually met or talked to him before, although we're Facebook friends and he has sent me e-mails (I'm on a distribution list) to announce their kids' births, etc.

I figure either he IM'd the wrong person, someone hacked his account or he's a scumbag. But then further down the list of results in the Google search was a link to a personal ad he posted on an adult Web site.

He posted his age and said he's married and bisexual and is looking for e-mails, chats, meetings and "casual encounters" with women or couples.

It's definitely my friend's husband because of the unique screen name and the city he lives in.

Maybe my friend and her husband are into this together. She doesn't seem like the type, but you never know. If not, my heart breaks for her and her 3-year-old and newborn.

Should I tell her about this? I would hate for her to be in the dark or feel like a fool later if she finds out herself. I have considered sending her an anonymous e-mail from a dummy e-mail account.

Conflicted

If this scumbag sent you an instant message and then immediately hopped off when you replied, then he's not very good at being a scumbag, if you think about it.

He's more of a dumbbag, really.

I can understand your curiosity, but this whole thing might be little more than a wild Googlechase.

There are myriad technical reasons that this might not be who you think it is, and even if your suspicions are correct, the technology that created this situation also provides plausible deniability.

I would ignore it for now. However, if it happens again and if the person originating the message actually identifies himself definitively and makes some sort of explicit declaration, then I would suggest you forward the correspondence to his wife.

Dear Amy:

My son is getting married in June. He and his wonderful fiancee live together in a small apartment.

At this point they have all the stuff they need and really don't have the space for a large quantity of wedding gifts.

They are designing their wedding invite and would like to suggest, in lieu of gifts, perhaps a monetary donation to their honeymoon. My question to you is how to word this properly.

Lucky Mom

You can convey to this lovely couple that there is no proper or appropriate way to notify guests about gifts on a wedding invitation.

An invitation is just that: an invitation to be a witness to a wedding, not an invitation to contribute to a honeymoon.

If the couple would like to invite people to contribute to their honeymoon, they should do so separately, in response to queries.

There are various online "honeymoon registries" available, giving guests a way to contribute to this trip. You could help the couple by doing some research on these commercial sites.

Dear Amy:

I could really relate to "Regretful," the young woman who was ashamed that she was already divorced at age 22.

I understand the shame of a failed marriage at such a young age. Mine didn't even make it a year!

I choose to refer to my marriage as a "long date" as opposed to a short marriage! Maybe that concept would make her feel less anxious about her early divorce. I am 62 now and did not wed again until I was 41.

No Longer Ashamed

I love the "long date" concept. Thank you.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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