In June of 2021, I’d been a member of a country club in my hometown of Gadsden for only two months. Per tradition, its pool had opened on Memorial Day weekend. Growing up with it, the ‘club’ was a legacy passed down four generations. Having left for college and having lived in other cities, I was not around for its newest upgrade. That was a splash area ejecting cold spring water out from the ground sometime around the mid-2000s. Our ‘club,’ one of the most picturesque in America, was blessed with a spring aquifer underneath it. Large enough to nourish the golf course and pool on blistering summer days.
The second Saturday of that month, I decided to cool off in it after a sticky, humid expedition to a bird trail in Livingston at the University of West Alabama. I arrived at the pool, and signed my name on the membership roll, noticing how odd it was there were only no more than ten patrons using the facility. Strange for a mid-afternoon two weeks after opening day. Yet, advantageous for me, as a reader; you will learn in the next few paragraphs. I walked out of the foyer past two women in lounge chairs, who were positioned in front of the spring-fed splash pad in the southeastern quadrant of the pool area: overlooking a pond and tennis courts. I even brought a bar of organic soap to enlighten the experience. After all, I was in appropriate swimwear and there was no sign stating a mandate against such a thing. In less than two minutes I was feeling like a new man, on my way back toward the foyer, where I’d entered, and back to my car. I had no prediction I’d get into one of the most life-altering encounters concerning my reputation within the next thirty seconds.
Six feet from where the facility’s open area became protected in the foyer, I was stopped by a pudgy individual named Mike. I had a sense of what the complaint would be. My instinct was correct. Some ‘busybody’ had called pool management on me for cooling off in the splash pad with a bar of soap. Never mind the fact children and probably drunken adults consistently urinated in it all summer long. Except, this particular afternoon, the pool’s committee chair was out of town. So, this Mike clown was summoned from the main clubhouse. A cook of all things, with a swollen ego since he’d been assigned his new title of ‘fill-in general manager.’ The former one had just resigned under the stress of dealing with unrealistic expectations from meddling members. A role Mike was too proud of until the ‘club’s’ board found a more permanent one.
Now, illegally detained, since Mike ‘the cook’ had no police badge or any authority; I was quickly at a boiling point. He went on to tell me he was in fact approaching me because of my use of the splash pad to cool off and rinse. Yet, what he did not bother to tell me was that I was really being stopped because I was suspected of trespassing. As I assumed the ‘splash pad’ complaint was just window dressing.
I expressed my displeasure. I then focused my attention on holding the party accountable who had made the frivolous phone call against me. Of course, he tried to cover for them, by trying to persuade me not to question other patrons sitting around the facility. I ignored him and started walking toward the first group I saw. That being the same two women I walked past earlier, sitting in the lounge chairs adjacent to the sprinklers. I approached them and they acknowledged my presence by giving sheepish, insincere smiles displaying their discomfort. With some intent and a little luck due to my sleuthing the sandy blond, flecking patron named Claire loses her composure. Without openly admitting it, she stated I was not a member and that, the splash pad was for children only. An odd judgment to me since no one at all was using it when I was. An even odder claim, since I’d never met her and informed her of my membership status concerning any social club in town. As if I was obligated to in the first place!? The other woman sitting by her side and principal of an elementary school of the more affluent district in Gadsden across the highway from the club; sat adjacent at an awkward discomfort as Claire and I’s chat accelerated into foul language and shouting. Knowing I’d found the instigator, I unleashed all the guttural, primal poison toward her I could muster. The type anyone would feel in a situation where a stranger took the time to initiate conflict for no legitimate reason save for boredom, insecurity, and wanting to entertain the crowd around her. It also didn’t help the two women’s causes, that I’d discovered them, pointing and chuckling at Mike and I’s conversation, as if it was sport, before walking toward them. Their behavior also helped me determine it was most likely one of them who’d placed the call and that their intent was a malicious attempt at attention and entertainment.
By the end of Claire and I’s tirade, I was getting that gut feeling that I needed to leave the premises before more people got involved and things got more chaotic. I made my way back toward the foyer, but Claire; the elementary school principal, and her husband began to follow me in that direction. I had made personal and derogatory statements about Claire and the principal that he had taken offense to. It was not my finest hour of decorum. Humorously, Mike was still standing in the same spot I’d left him at, dumbfounded. He was watching the circus unfold and twirl around our interactive commode akin to his chances of ever becoming general manager permanently. Also, willing to join the fracas was a drunk, male guest of one of the other eight patrons. He followed us coming from the opposite end of the pool along with one teenaged female lifeguard. Before I got into the car to diffuse the storm I’d helped cause, Mike asked me to reveal if I was a member, the rest of the interaction was myself and the mob shouting back at each other with an invitation to come engage in a fist fight from the drunk from across the pool. It took me everything I had not to take him up on the offer. As heated as the situation had become, it had not transitioned into one that would involve ending up in a courtroom. I kept it that way by driving home to fume for four more hours.
What I’d not known during and after the fact was that Claire was actually another member who lived directly across the street from my parents in the Club view subdivision of Gadsden. I only knew her brother, who ironically, I remembered from my childhood summers at the pool. I’d heard of her mother, Janice, who I’d hear other women talk about, due to her flair for the dramatic. I knew of her late father, Tim, who owned a small construction company in town. Yet, with her being over a decade younger, I didn’t know she even existed. She certainly knew who I was though! Apparently, she snooped on our family’s comings and goings. Whether that be in and out of my parent’s home or at the country club itself. The club had a summer policy where out-of-town nonmembers could visit the pool on Tuesdays with members. I’d shown up with Dad a few summers before the incident. Looking back, it appears she must have noticed my visits assuming I was not a member when I showed up on that fateful Saturday.
A few weeks later in July, I was walking my dog a mile away from my residence on my old childhood street. Mistletoe Hollow leads up a hill then down a hill leaning right into a thick wooded dead end out of a cul-de-sac. Each time I visit, I park at the dead end retracing the street from end to beginning past my old house. Placing my dog into the back seat, turning on the ignition, and turning my Lexus back up the hill out of the cull-da-sac, I noticed a black mid-level priced car driving toward me. In it was a sandy blond headed woman in her seventies waved at me displaying body language signifying she was doing something she was not supposed to be doing. With what had happened in June, and just how quickly word had gotten out about the ‘pool’ incident I was rightfully paranoid. My assumption was correct as in seconds I knew I was being followed. Turning up the incline of Mistletoe Hollow she kept pace with my speed, right in front of my old house, I slowed down, she did the same. I turned on a perpendicular road toward home increasing my speed. She followed suit. We transversed to the bottom of Country Club Mountain where a road called Merit Springs became Forest Drive. I made a quick left off of Forest Drive onto Redbud Drive about 1,700 yards away from my driveway. This was the moment of truth in my mind. If she drove on while I was stopped, then it meant I was being paranoid. Sure enough, I drove fifty yards up Redbud coming to a complete stop. My pursuer stopped right in the middle of where the two streets fed into each other, disregarding potential traffic. Looking into my rearview I could see her staring me down for a good 12 seconds. I proceeded to turn my car in a way to give the impression I was now going to give chase. At that moment she sped off.
Claire, the pool instigator, I’d seen make the same sheepish wave, the stalker had made; one time when I saw her pulling out of her driveway while I was in my parent’s yard talking to them. Genetics are an amazing dynamic. I began to put the two realities together to determine I may have been followed by Claire’s mother, Janice. Due to the fact both women had the same mannerisms. Both women also shared the same-colored hair and same pale complexion. With the timing of everything it seemed like a really good possibility both occurrences were connected. That following January I discovered the same car in the stalking incident sitting in Janice’s driveway, which was odd since it was not a car she owned.
Around the time of the stalking incident on my childhood street, I received a Facebook friend request from a Kenyan immigrant of Indian descent named Nanda. She was a hotel owner in town who oversaturated herself in civic causes to the point of being attention seeking. Being on Facebook for over a decade I was skeptical each time I’d receive new request to connect with anyone. Everyone I ever wanted to connect with from my past was in my feed and had been so for years. I’d only get two such new requests twice a year or so. Again, with the timing I surmised this new correspondence smelled fishy. Also, viewing her page I discovered photos of her time at the country club. How she posted about her art. How she bragged about her children in med school and bored readers with information about all the places in which she’d lived domestically after moving from overseas. Based off of her ‘low character’ personal dynamic, I had a strong hunch she was connected to the incident at the pool. It was also suspicious that she’d selectively post things away from some of her ‘friends’ tailoring her posts to specific people making it appear she was gossiping. I’ll always believe some of the posts could’ve involved me, even if I couldn’t see them. Regardless, my intentional acceptance of her ‘friend request’ paid off as I was able to connect her to the other women and ‘nail her to the wall.’ Days later I discovered she lived on the same street as Janice, the woman who I believed followed me in her car. Across the street and three houses down from her to be precise. I knew I had them cornered! In December of 2021, I sent Nanda a message on Messenger asking her if she knew anything about the incident with the car stalker the preceding summer. There was another Indian woman who lived on Mistletoe Hollow who shared the same surname as Nanda and whose husband was also a doctor. I sensed there may have been phone communication between Janice and the Indian immigrant on Mistletoe connected through Nanda on the day of the stalking incident. She immediately ‘defriended’ me! I was now certain she’d been stalking me on behalf of the other women electronically these past five months. In June of 2022, a year after the fiasco at the pool, I ran into Nanda at a fundraiser. Attempting to get clarity in person, I approached her. She literally ran away after nervously mumbling her vocabulary.
Three months later I left a scathing letter in her mailbox indicating to her the circumstantial evidence I had against all three women. That night I received a call from a family friend stating she was playing ‘victim’ on social media, by trying to make it appear: her account had been hacked on Facebook and it was not actually her who sent the ‘friend’ request in the summer of 2021.She went on to try to convince my friend she barely knew the other two women who’d stalked me involving the ‘pool incident.’ I told my friend to tell her to call me so she could tell me this herself, knowing it would provide her little cover to hide any dishonesty. It worked! Two days later I received a ‘cease & desist’ letter from a dirty lawyer friend of hers attempting to stonewall my investigation. An attorney who conveniently was also a member of the country club, where the initial incident took place and legal representation for the club’s board, which had by then forced me to resign my membership. The same attorney who I’d mixed it up with in August of 2019 concerning another ‘Karen’ call incident at my old high school while I was watching a football game from my car and a friend’s house. The call had been placed by the lawyer’s friend and the daughter of the school’s founder who resurrected it when it almost went bankrupt in 1990. Some brats had hit my car with their football. I hid the ball for a brief second before throwing it over a fence back to them. It went over again, and I offered no help, the second time. Out of spite they told Reagan, the attorney’s friend, I was harassing them, even as I was across the street at a friend’s house, by the time they’d reported the incident to Reagan. Police were called and of course Reagan was caught by me and identified as the caller. I got an attorney, she got her friend and apparently, Nanda’s to and we butted heads. Looking back on the matter it was that first ‘Karen’ incident that galvanized my dismissal from the club over the pool episode, since the lawyer in that case was now connected to the club’s board. In other words, had the incident with the brats and Reagan not happened, I believe the country club incident would not have become so dramatic.
Of course, I balked at the attorney and Nanda’s latest attempt to stone wall me and hold them accountable. I told her any more correspondence from her office would be considered unprofessional conduct warranting a letter from me to the state bar association. She then tried to force me to sign certified mail stating I’d read her letter to leave her client alone. Suspiciously, I got a similar notification from the country club’s board after I posted public testimony about my experience there regarding the pool fiasco, trying to force me to read a letter that told me I’d be held criminally liable if I ever set foot on club property, for a lifetime. It became clear: Claire, Janice, Nanda and this lawyer were loosely in cahoots. I responded with a notice that I wanted to meet Nanda and the lawyer in person by Halloween. I got no response and filed a formal complaint on the attorney in January of 2023, with the Alabama State Bar.
She came unglued and used any dirty tactic she could in her response letter to the Bar. Quite honestly, committing libel on three occasions, trying to paint me as some low life who sought to start trouble with women and children. In that letter she admitted that her friend Reagan did in fact make the first frivolous police call on me in August of 2019. I guess she knew I’d out her old friend in public as I had done so with the club. I did in public forum. It appeared to me they must have become enemies also as the attorney knew feeding this information to me was like giving chum to a shark. In her response letter to the bar, she finally admitted Nanda’s complicity regarding stalking from the pool incident. But through making up a story of how Nanda stalked me on Facebook in order to soothe tensions between myself and my parent’s neighbor. I didn’t know invading someone’s privacy could bring enemies together. I guess it’s a new pop psychology technique. I also learned in the summer of this year she’d been reported to the state bar again for similar behavior toward a well-respected businessman in the community. As far as I know the three stalkers who initiated the issue are still members of our old club. My parents in protest dropped their membership ending a relationship with our family in September of 2021 spanning back to the 1910’s. Hopefully, like a wounded duck, the aforementioned attorney loses her license. Claire, Janice and Nanda and the club’s corrupt board were chastised by me by being called out in public forum. I have attempted to approach two known board members when I’ve seen them in public or sought accountability for bullying tactics. One literally ran from me and sped away in his car when I spoke to him at a pet supply store. The other hid in his office, as he got his secretary to give me his response, instead of speaking to me in person. I approached, Tim, Janice’s and Claire’s late husband and father respectively; in February 2022. He also hid in his office, getting his secretary to inform me he was busy. He died the next winter of a heart attack in his sleep, and I cannot help but wonder if the stress and embarrassment from his family member’s actions was what caused it.
I tell this astonishing, comical and tragic story that seems written as a teleplay for an episode of Marc Cherry’s Desperate Housewives, because these types of situations go on far too often. How many times have people instigated conflicts, then weaponized other people against their perceived opponents. This goes on often in paradigms like custody battles. It’s evident it goes on toward immigrants and communities of color every day all across America. Three years ago, San Francisco originated a mandate now taken up by California called the ‘Caren Act.’ It states that anyone invading another citizen’s privacy by making a non-emergency call in order to harass, by weaponizing law or any other rule enforcement apparatus against innocence is subject to a misdemeanor. It includes one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted. Also, it states it can open someone up to a suit if found guilty. This would easily curb racist, or heat of the moment custody induced rage against law abiding citizens. Yet, I fear Alabamians may like things the way they are. That being, a paradigm that allows low lives to gain feelings of control and significance by weaponizing arbitrary rules through invasion of privacy instances. For social media has set a horrible paradigm of allowing the pathological among us to believe someone else’s life belongs to them. As a potential legislator one day myself, I’m aiming for such as bill. I’m just frightened by the unenthusiastic or intentionally hostile reception it may get when it comes to a vote. Because in the deep South, it’s hard for both men and women to not want to keep Southern white women on a pedestal. Because one can continue to play the hero and other the victim. In modern society, we all know there aren’t such characters in this real-life play.